Wearables Week in Review

Report Type: 
Week In Review

A run in the sun with Garmin

Garmin has launched two new watches, the Forerunner 255 (an upgrade from the previous 245 model) and the Forerunner 955, which steps up from the previous 945 model. The Forerunner 255 is focused on the core runner, and now comes with full triathlon support, as well as better GPS and Garmin Pay. But the real interest should be in the upgraded Forerunner 955, which adds a touch screen and a solar model. The in-glass solar panel gives up to 20 days of watch use, and a whopping 49 hours of active GPS. Interestingly, by adding the touch screen, as well as recent software upgrades, the 955 is now very close to being a Fenix in all but the looks: the Forerunner comes in chunky black rather than more stylish designs.

The NPD Take:

  • The Forerunner 955 is not really a smartwatch in that it doesn’t have a higher-level OS that supports independent apps. But it does cover everything you really need, assuming your smartwatch is still on hand, thanks to the “app-lite” functionality that it supports. You are not going to see maps or social media solutions, but for the average fitness-first customer, the features the Garmin does offer far outweigh that deficit.
  • It’s not Garmin’s first solar option, but this is still a key enhancement. Battery life continues to be an irritant for many smartwatch owners and the fact that this model can charge (or at least, reduce its battery drain) while you are on a run is a significant enhancement.
  • Garmin is still lacking a cellular-connected version that supports features such as streaming music and messaging. Yes, this is a sports-focused  device, but we consider that all the more reason to be able to run without a smartphone strapped to our arms.
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