Garmin’s entry level running watches have progressed dramatically since they introduced the Forerunner 10 in 2012. It is still an entry level watch relative to Garmin’s other running, multisport, and GPS fitness tracking watches. But the Forerunner 55 raises the bar so high, so it gives up little.
The Forerunner 55 is optimized as a compact running watch. It is smaller than Garmin’s other running and multisport watches and in-between the sizes of the Forerunner 45 and 45S models. It is 42mm x 42mm x 11.6mm and 37g. The screen is 26.3mm and 208 x 208 pixel resolution. Garmin does not have plans to release an “S” version of this watch.
The screen is still easy to read and does not give up clarity. The battery lasts up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode and up to 20 hours in GPS mode. That is longer than Garmin’s Forerunner 745 triathlon watch, for example. It is priced at $199 USD, the same as the Forerunner 45 that it replaces. The following pictures show the Forerunner 55’s screen beside the 945 LTE to get perspective on the size and clarity. The Forerunner 55 is excellent.
Case diameter, thickness, and strap length are all a little smaller than the full-feature watches. This is genuinely nice if you prefer a smaller fit. It feels amazingly light and comfortable.
On the back you see their optical HR sensor and charging port that is standard on most Garmin watches. The optical sensor does not include Pulse Ox, which is standard on higher-end watches. The wrist HRM worked very well for me, with no dropouts, cadence lock, or any other glitches common from early wrist HR monitors.
The Forerunner 55 has many features beyond its core GPS-enabled run tracking. Its pool swim profile was unexpected and came in very handy for me, because it rescued a workout. I do not count lengths during long sets and just rely on my watch to keep up with distance. When I was testing the pool swim on the Forerunner 55, my main watch glitched and quit counting lengths. I was super happy I could finish my workout with the 55 and not have to guess my distances. Following are the highlights of the Forerunner 55’s extra features.
- PacePro – helps with pacing to run a best time on a selected course
- Race Predictor – Estimates finish times for a current activity and standard race distances
- Cadence Alerts – You set a target cadence, and the watch alerts you if you go outside your range
- Swim Profile – The Forerunner 55 now supports pool swimming
- Track Mode – Garmin’s new Track Mode profile will snap your runs to a standard track size
- Firstbeat Analytics – Several performance analytics, including Recovery Time, Body Battery, Daily Suggested Workout, etc.
- Women’s Health Tracking – Tracks menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and logs symptoms
The Forerunner 55 is designed to be a 24/7 activity tracking device. It does not have a barometric altimeter, so it cannot count flights of stairs. But it does all the typical activity tracking such as steps, sleep, resting heart rate, stress & relaxation, intensity minutes, wake-up alarm, etc. When you are connected to your phone, it will give you notifications and do LiveTrack and Incident Detection like the more advanced watches.
The Forerunner 55 mostly gives up advanced analytics and multisport features from its larger siblings. For example, it is on the Connect IQ store, but it cannot use the Stryd data field that I like.
- Firstbeat Metrics such as running dynamics; performance condition; training effect, load, and status; Strava live segments; lactate threshold; bike power cycling dynamics
- No music
- No mapping or navigation
- No Garmin Pay
- Fewer data fields
- Smaller screen size and resolution
Overall, the Forerunner 55 is an excellent running watch for people who prefer a smaller and lighter-weight device. It performs its core function—tracking your runs with heart rate—as well as the most expensive watches on the market. If your focus is running with the occasional swim, and you do not care about navigation, multisport, all the analytics features, or very long battery life, then this is a great choice, regardless of your budget.