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Garmin’s Forerunner 255 is a 2022 update to the Forerunner 245, released in 2018. These are serious running and general exercise tracker watches, and cost significantly less than a high-end Garmin like a Fenix 7.

They don’t have touchscreens, do not offer full on-watch maps or other top-tier Garmin features like full bike turbo trainer control. However, the years that have passed do bring some fairly significant upgrades for the Garmin Forerunner 255, making it feel more at home as a current-generation watch.

Here are the key differences seen in the new Forerunner 255.

NFC and Garmin Pay

The Forerunner 245 did not have NFC, which meant it could not use Garmin Pay, the wireless payments standard. While not an essential feature in a fitness/running watch, the Forerunner 255 fills this hole to give the watch a smarter feel.

Check out the Garmin website to make sure your bank supports Garmin Pay before deciding it’s a reason to upgrade from the 245 to the 255.

There are now two sizes

The Forerunner 245 comes in one size, measuring just over 42mm diameter. It’s not a giant, it’s not tiny — a design that works fairly well across its wide audience.

Garmin mixes things up for the 255 series. There are two sizes. The standard Forerunner 255 has a larger 46mm diameter face than its predecessor while the Forerunner 255S is a little smaller, with a 41mm diameter face. It’s cute and petite.

This size split is seen across other Garmin lines, and simply brings a choice of designs to non-top-end buyers.

New heart rate reader

This one was predictable: the Forerunner 255 shares its Elevate V4 heart rate sensor tech with the more recent Garmin watches. It has more light sensors than the older Forerunner 245, for greater accuracy.

Most of Garmin’s recent watches use the same array, including the Venu 2 and Fenix 7. Its results are largely great, and you can expect the same from the Forerunner 255. Its stability may actually be a little better than some of the top models too, as the Forerunner 255 is a lighter watch. This leads to less bouncing around on the wrist.

HRV Status

Garmin employs its latest heart rate tech to deliver HRV Status, a brand new feature introduced in the Forerunner 255 and 955. This monitors your heart rate variability overnight, giving you a score each day.

HRV looks at the variation in time, measured in milliseconds, between your heart beats. Higher variability is a good sign, an indicator of better fitness, lower stress and a better-rested body. In the past Garmin required a chest strap to see HRV results. Recent watches like the Fenix 7 let you harvest HRV data from the Health Snapshot mode, but HRV Status makes the data much more accessible as it’s a passive overnight reading.

Health Snapshot asks you to stay completely still for two minutes, making it something you’re unlikely to use too often.

Multi-band GPS

Garmin has upgraded its watches’ heart rate reader — almost — across the board, and it does the same with GPS. The Forerunner 255 has multi-band GPS, letting it hook onto multiple satellite networks simultaneously for better location tracking accuracy.

This is not something you’d necessarily use all the time. Engaging multi-GPS eats up more battery during active tracking, so is largely useful if you find yourself in an area with patchy signal. But it’s welcome.

Better support for certain accessories

The Forerunner 245 can already be used with Garmin’s Running Dynamic Pod or its HRM-Pro chest strap. However, the Forerunner 255 integrates with them more closely, showing the power metrics they calculate on-screen, as you workout.

This is not a biggie for most people, but does make the Forerunner 255 more appealing to the hardcore crowd.

First Impressions

The Forerunner 255 does not take this low-mid series out of its lane. You still don’t get on-watch maps, and there’s no solar option — which is available in the Instinct Solar.

Those who own a Garmin Forerunner 245 don’t necessarily need to make the jump to the Forerunner 255. However, it needed to happen in order to make the Forerunner 2xx series seem relevant next to the Instinct and Venu watches, which are available at a similar price.

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