The Garmin Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 255 are both among the best running watches on the market, offering a polished and accurate tracking experience, plus useful extra features like breadcrumb navigation and more expensive models with music storage.
Garmin made several useful upgrades to the Forerunner 255, but unless you’re a triathlete or absolutely obsessed with GPS accuracy, the Forerunner 245 could be a better option since it’s cheaper on RRP and often in sales.
The Forerunner 245 doesn’t have the 255’s multi-sport mode and lacks some other useful features, but still stands up as an excellent running watch and is often in sales.
- Cheaper than 255
- Excellent sports tracking
- Music storage
- No multisport mode
- No multi-band GPS
- Only one size
The Forerunner 255 is a full multisport watch with a lightweight, slim design that offers most of Garmin’s key features at a lower price than high-end watches like the Forerunner 955 and Fenix 7.
- Accurate tracking
- Multisport mode
- Longer battery life
- Music storage
- More expensive than 245
Garmin Forerunner 245 Vs Garmin Forerunner 255: Price And Availability
The Garmin Forerunner 255 comes in two sizes: the standard 255 and the smaller 255S, both of which have two models, one with music storage and one without. It costs $349.99 in the US and £299.99 in the UK for the base model, and $399.99/£349.99 for the music versions.
That’s quite a big jump from the RRP of the Forerunner 245, which only comes in one size and now costs $224.99/£209.99 for the model without music and $349.99/£299.99 for the 245 Music. During sales periods you’re now also usually able to get the 245 for under $200/£150 for the base model and $220/£180 for the 245 Music. We expect the Forerunner 245 to hit its lowest price this month – check our round-up of Black Friday Garmin deals for the latest information.
Aside from making the Forerunner 255 available in two sizes, Garmin didn’t change much in the design between the Forerunner 245 and 255. The standard 255 is a little larger than the 245 and has a bigger screen (33mm vs 30.4mm), while the 255S has a smaller case and screen (27.9mm). All models have Garmin’s standard transflective display that’s clear even in bright sunshine, and five buttons around the case.
Both watches have an optical heart rate sensor on the back, though the 255 has a newer version of Garmin’s Elevate sensor. There are other internal upgrades on the new watch, which has a barometric altimeter and compass, and offers multi-band GPS tracking.
You can also pair more sensors to the 255 than you can the 245. In particular the 255 supports cycling power meters, pointing to the fact it is a full multisport watch, whereas the 245 is more focused on runners.
If you’re a triathlete then clearly the addition of the multisport mode makes the 255 more attractive, but runners also enjoy some important upgrades. The biggest of these is multi-band GPS, which does increase the accuracy of distance and pace stats during outdoor activities. You can also use all-systems-on GPS, which uses one band but links to GPS, Galileo and GLONASS satellites at the same time. The 255 is the cheapest model in Garmin’s range to offer multi-band GPS.
That said, the 245 still offers reliable GPS tracking itself, and I didn’t encounter any significant problems with it during my testing. The 255 is better, but you might not notice the difference most of the time unless you are really into checking your GPS tracks for errors (no judgement – I am).
Other sports tracking upgrades include an upgraded race prediction widget that shows how your predicted times for 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon events change over time, though the 245 still does show predicted times. However, in my experience neither watch produces especially accurate times.
You can also set up a race calendar on the 255 to show your upcoming events and a forthcoming update to the watch will bring wrist-measured running power to it. Bear in mind that any other future software updates like this are also likely to land on the 255 and not the 245.
There’s little difference in heart rate tracking between the two watches. Both are pretty good most of the time but struggle to accurately track heart rate during interval sessions; I’d link both to a chest strap heart rate monitor to get the most accurate results and data for the training analysis offered on the watches. Our round-up of the best heart rate monitors has plenty of recommended chest straps.
The 255 models also offer Garmin’s morning report feature. Every morning this will do things like give you insights into how you slept, provide a weather forecast and suggest a workout to do that day. The 255 also tracks your heart rate variability in the night and gives an HRV status in the morning that can help you decide how hard to train that day.
Both the Forerunner 255 and 255S offer longer battery life than the Forerunner 245, with improvements to both the battery in smartwatch mode and when tracking with GPS. However, if you regularly use the more accurate multi-band GPS modes on the 255S you’ll need to charge it every six days or so, which is about what I got from the Forerunner 245.
|Header Cell - Column 0
|All systems GPS
|GPS plus music
|All systems GPS plus music
Both the 245 and 255 offer music storage if you opt for the music version of the watch. This allows you to link up with premium accounts for streaming services including Spotify to transfer your music to the watch to listen to offline.
One notable smart addition to the 255 is NFC payments through Garmin Pay, which the 245 doesn’t offer. The coverage for high street banks in the UK is still poor, though there are workarounds using apps.
Other smart features are the same across the board, like notification support and weather forecasts.
Get the Coach Newsletter
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, reviews of the latest gear and more.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.