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Garmin Fenix 7 vs Forerunner 955 compared: Is the extra cost worth it?

NextPit forerunner 955 vs fenix 7 hero
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The Garmin Forerunner 955 and the Garmin Fenix 7 are visually very different, but they offer almost the same range of functions. However, the Fenix 7 costs $200 more. NextPit reviewed the two sports smartwatches and reveal which model is worthwhile for whom.

Specifications: Garmin Forerunner vs Garmin Fenix 7 vs Garmin Epix 2 head-to-head

  Garmin sport smartwatches
Garmin Forerunner 955
Garmin Fenix 7
Garmin Epix 2
Case size 47 mm 47 mm 47 mm
Bracelet 22 mm 22 mm 22 mm
Display technology MIP MIP AMOLED
Display glass Gorilla Glass DX Gorilla Glass or
Sapphire Glass
Gorilla Glass or
Sapphire Glass
Display size 1.3 inch 1.3 inch 1.3 inch
Resolution 260 x 260 pixels 260 x 260 pixels 416 x 416 pixels
Touchscreen Yes Yes Yes
Memory 32 GB 16 / 32 GB 16 / 32 GB
Weight 52 - 53 g 73 - 79 g 70 - 76 g
Battery life (smartwatch) up to 15 d / 20 d (solar) up to 18 d / 22 d (solar) up to 16 d
Battery life (GPS) up to 42 h / 49 h (solar) up to 57 h / 73 h (Solar) up to 42 h
Waterproof 5 ATM 10 ATM 10 ATM
Special features - - -
Solar function Dependant on model Dependant on model Dependant on model
Variants Standard
Sapphire Solar
Price (MSRP) $499 / $599 (Solar) $699 / $799 (Solar) $899
Read the Garmin Forerunner 955 review
Read the Garmin Fenix 7 review
Read the Garmin Epix 2 review

A look at the specifications already revealed several key differences: the Garmin Fenix 7 offers longer battery life and better diving capabilities. In addition, a sapphire option is only available on the Fenix 7 and its AMOLED sister Epix 2. The Forerunner 955, on the other hand, is significantly lighter in terms of its build.

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Garmin Forerunner 955
Button layout and operation are identical on the Garmin Forerunner 955 (pictured here) and the Fenix 7. / © NextPit

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs Fenix 7: Case and display

The name gives it away: traditionally, Garmin's Forerunner models are aimed at runners, and so they're built to be as light as possible. The Forerunner 955 is, depending on the version, 52 to 53 grams lighter than the Fenix 7 which weighs at least 73 grams. This is a significant margin across the long run (heh!) even though you might think that 20 grams do not sound like much: the difference is clearly noticeable.

On the other hand, the Fenix 7 also offers more robust materials. Depending on the version, steel or titanium is used for the case, while the Forerunner 955 relies mainly on plastic as the construction material of choice. If you go climbing a lot with the smartwatch, for example, you will enjoy a watch made of sturdier materials in the longer term. The particularly scratch-resistant sapphire crystal located above the display, for example, is also only found on some Fenix 7 models. In addition, the Fenix 7 is water resistant to 10 ATM, while the Forerunner 955 can withstand "only" 5 ATM.

Garmin Fenix 7 Buttons
The case of the Garmin Fenix 7 is water resistant up to 10 ATM. / © NextPit

Last important difference in terms of the case: unlike the Forerunner 955, the Garmin Fenix 7 comes in three different sizes. Apart from the standard model, Garmin also offers the Fenix 7S and the Fenix 7X. You can read more about the different Fenix models in our overview: Which Garmin watch should I buy?

Apart from the differences mentioned, the Forerunner 955 and the Fenix 7 are very similar in terms of operation and display. Both models rely on the same button layout with five buttons. The MIP display is also identical with 1.3 inches, 260 × 260 pixels resolution, and 64 colors. Both models come with an optional version with an integrated solar panel that extends the battery life.

However, you can also get the Fenix 7 with a fancy AMOLED display as the model that is otherwise technically identical to the Fenix watch is known as the Garmin Epix 2. All of the models mentioned offer a touchscreen, and the handling is also identical everywhere.

Garmin Forerunner 955
The Garmin Forerunner 955 (pictured here) uses the same optical heart rate sensor as the Fenix 7, but in the case of the Forerunner, is made of plastic. / © NextPit

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs Fenix 7: health and tracking features

At its summer launch in 2022, the Garmin Forerunner 955 received a few exciting features that were missing from the Fenix 7 that was launched a few months earlier. These included a race calendar and training suggestions as well as metrics on training readiness and acute training load.

In the meantime, Garmin has also introduced these features to the Fenix 7, Epix 2, and even the Fenix 6 via a software update. The only differences we could still find in tracking concern the solar models. On the Fenix 7, you get a bit more detail on the light intensity that you and your sports watch were exposed to.

Garmin Fenix 7 Front
The 32 GB version of the Garmin Fenix 7 comes preloaded with maps for the region where you purchased the watch. / © NextPit

There's also an exciting difference in memory capacity and navigation capability. While the basic models of the Fenix 7 sans sapphire crystal or solar capability are only equipped with 16 GB of memory, all Forerunner 955 models have 32 GB of memory. If you are regularly on the move on different continents, this makes a difference: The map data for North America and Europe is about 10 GB each.

Also important for those who want to track themselves: In the Fenix 7 models, you will only find the more precise dual-band GPS in the more expensive models that are equipped with 32 GB of memory. The Forerunner 955 offers dual-band GPS in every version, whether with or without solar function.

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs Fenix 7: Battery life

As mentioned at the beginning: The Garmin Fenix 7 is rather heavier than the Forerunner 955, but it also accommodates a slightly thicker battery in the case. While the Forerunner 955 runs out of steam after 15 days in smartwatch mode according to the manufacturer, the Fenix 7 even manages 18 days, which is 20 percent more. If you selected the solar versions of the two watches, the runtimes are extended to 20 and 22 days, respectively - provided you (or rather, the watch) see enough daylight.

There's also a slight difference in GPS tracking mode. The Forerunner 955 runs out of steam after 42 hours, while the Fenix 7 manages to last for 57 hours. Here and there, the watch should last longer than most of its users. In the solar versions, you can increase the GPS runtimes to 49 and 73 hours, respectively, with similar exposure times to the sun.

Garmin Forerunner 955 Produktfoto
Honestly, even the "weaker" Forerunner 955 lasts longer with its battery than most ambitious athletes. / © NextPit

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs Fenix 7 in summary: Which model suits you best?

With the Garmin Fenix 7 and the Forerunner 955, the two series are closer than ever. Nevertheless, there is a price difference of around $200 between the two sports watches. The Fenix 7 offers better water resistance, higher-quality materials, and options for sapphire glass and titanium models that boast far more robust cases. The Forerunner 955 relies on a plastic chassis across the board.

Technically, the Forerunner 955 and the Fenix 7 are almost identical - with 32 GB versus 16 GB of storage space, the Forerunner model even has the edge in terms of memory in the basic version and also offers dual-band GPS in all versions. In return, the Fenix 7 has a bit more battery life - although the difference should be negligible for most users in reality.

If you don't care about the differences in design, casing, and choice of materials, then the Forerunner 955 is clearly the better choice. But of course: The fancier and classier model is no doubt the Fenix 7.

Which model is your favorite? Or have you already decided on one of the two Garmin watches? I look forward to your opinion in the comments! And if you want to know more about the Garmin watches mentioned in this article, then I highly recommend you read our detailed reviews, where you can learn more about the different features of the smartwatches.

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Stefan Möllenhoff

Stefan Möllenhoff
Head of Content Production

I have been writing about technology since 2004 with a strong passion for smartphones, photography, and IoT, especially in the world of smart homes and AI ever since they debuted. I'm also an avid cook and bake pizza at least three times a week using my Ooni Koda 16. In order to compensate for all the consumed calories, I indulge in sporting activities on a daily basis while strapping on at least two fitness trackers. I am strongly convinced that you can DIY a lot of things if you put your mind to it - including a photovoltaic system and power station.

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