Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar In-Depth Review: 15 New Things to Know!
Now, as usual, this review is based on all sorts of real world usage. Swim bike run hike all the things ive been doing with this watch. Putting it through its paces, so i can tell you about what works really well and what might lead to a little bit of work and then towards the end of the review. Well dive into all the accuracy charts. But of course, ive also got my full 13468 word review on the screen that you see right now for even more details, so with that lets get straight into it with the very first item, which is that there is a solar edition, so theres actually two additions. There is a solar edition. You can see little solar ring on the outside there, as well as a base edition the base edition cost of 499 and does not have solar versus the solar edition its 599 dollars and does have well solar. The two editions of the 409 555 are identical, except for, of course, the solar panel and then the battery life impacts, positive impacts that is of having that solar panel. You can see the solar panels on the unit itself, but theres, actually, two of them theres a solar panel on this outer edge thats that kind of most reddish looking area right there about four millimeters on the inside there. That has a photovoltaic level of a hundred percent, meaning its effectively capturing a hundred percent of the suns rays, theres lots of like technicalities there, but for simplicitys sake, 100 and then sitting atop.
The entire screen is another layer that has about a seven percent photovoltaic level, meaning only about seven percent of the suns rays hit that but of course, thats a much bigger space there. You can see the solar level itself at any point in time on either the watch faces or down into the solar widget, and if i look outside now this little sun that has basically 10 blocks to it uh when its filled up fully. That means theres roughly 50 000 lux sun conditions coming in 50, 000 lux actually isnt that much even in the winter. On a sunny day here in the netherlands, im cruising about 70 000 lux and the summer, if im at the beach or in the mediterranean or the caribbean, wherever it may be, youre gon na be clearing like 130 to 150, 000 lux so way more than the Standard 50. 000 lux that garmin talks about here. The good news, though, is that, while all garmin specs are talking about 50 000k solar power, the reality is anything beyond that is gravy for you. You actually gain that in terms of capacity and energy into the watch itself. Okay and a quick note, if youre, finding this video interesting or helpful or useful whatever the case may be, if you could just whack that, like button in the bottom there, it really helps out this video in the channel quite a bit. So next up is a biggie and its the addition of multi band gps to the 955.
. We saw multi band or otherwise called dual frequency. Gps added in the phoenix 7 series over this year and thats basically considered like the holy grail of gps accuracy and when it first launched on the phoenix 7, you could clearly see the benefits in more complex areas in mountains and stuff like that. But as each successive months gone on, they even continue to improve the accuracy and youre really starting to see it come out in a lot of areas and probably the best example. This was a run just this past weekend. I did where i went and did this like zigzag kind of swerve through the downtown building area here in amsterdam. This is the business district that has buildings that are 20 stories tall, but yet very very tiny streets in between them, and i meandered up and down – and you can see the gps track here, its astounding. It is almost perfectly on the road, despite being right in the middle of it. Of course, all this comes at a cost and that cost is battery life. If you enable multiband gps, which is actually the default for the 955, it has your gps battery life from roughly 42 hours down to 20 hours. Okay, so next up a bit of a breather here on something thats a little bit easier which is touch screen. You see right here. I can just simply swipe up like this tap into them again and so on.
The good news, though, is that you dont have to enable touch screen and by default its actually disabled for most the sport modes, you will have to individually enable for the sport modes and features that you want, and you can disable entirely across the watch. If youd like to as well for me over the last while i mostly just use the buttons, the one snare the touchscreen does, help out is mapping which allows you to go ahead and kind of move the map around with your finger. But the only caveat being you still have to use the buttons to enable that during the map mode and then once you enable that the map mode, then you can go and like move around the map and all that kind of fun stuff. So next up weve got running power. Garment has finally added native running power, kind of sort of, mostly so in the past garment, had running power on their watches, a lot of their watches for many many years in fact, uh using a connect iq app. That was an app you had a load on there and then from there you had to have a compatible garmin accessory, something like the rd pod, the hrm tri, the hrm run, or the hrm pro straps that fed data into this connect. Iq app, which gave you running power that was pretty cumbersome. The good news is that connect iq app is now gone while hes gone on this watch anyways and theyve built it into the watch itself and with that they added things like running power zones natively into the watch just like you would have for cycling as well As ability to go ahead and create running power based workouts that you can push to your watch, you can do data fields that are based on running power, its all very clean and very native.
The problem is that you still need to have one of those garment accessories, whereas both coros and polar do not require those accessories. They can just do it natively on the wrist itself. So next up on the list is the addition of maps and map downloading via wi fi, and somebody like did. We have maps on the 945 and you did yes, you did, but if you ever traveled trying to add maps to another region was just a giant cluster of a dumpster fire now its easy, though now you can do it over wi fi and you can choose Other regions and countries easily via the watch itself, download all those maps for free, including all the popularity routing and the heat map data. These are the topo active maps and the unit itself has 32 gigs of storage space and then, while were at it on maps, they also added the new ski view: maps those maps have the resort names and all the trails baked into them too, as well as A cross country map, so next im going to dive into what i think are the biggest changes to the 955 itself. I know its easy to get distracted by solar panel and multi band gps and all thats cool, but these next pieces here are far more impactful day to day for most people and the first one is hrv status. So now itll automatically go ahead and track your hrv status at night, and you can see this in a widget right there, as well as something ill talk about in a second called the morning report that shows it when you first wake up.
So this is my hrv status right there. You can see its got, this kind of color band and this hrv color band status is based on my customized ranges. So both the widths of each one of these sections, as well as the numbers themselves, vary, and they vary based on your historical data. This wont even show up for the first three weeks of using the watch 19 nights to be very precise there, but once it does each morning, youll see where you stand, based on a seven day rolling average. The key thing, though, is that this is not designed to be like one bad night ruins it, which is a pretty big difference between some of the other competitors out there, where one night, like just plunks everything garmin, says that one night should not change just notably One night of drinking one night of not sleeping one night of something else, isnt going to change this instead, its that seven day trending against your baseline. If i tap down once, i can see my night last night, and this shows how variable hrv is and thats based on your sleep phases, even what sleep position youre in uh, whether or not you drank the night before there are tons of factors to this and The key is that hrv is all about long term trending, not short term trending. I can also then go down again and see my seven day values. You can see.
Theyve changed a lot despite the fact that ive kept things relatively stable but whats. Most notable is probably the next piece of that which is training readiness. So if i go back to the widgets there youll see this training readiness option, and this is essentially combining a bunch of different pieces together. So right now it says my training readiness, as if this second in the day is 67, but if i were to go out for a run, this would actually drastically reduce and the reason why is if i look at the factors here. These are all the factors that make up my training readiness, so you see at the top. There ive got my sleep and you can see last night my sleep quality was fair, but this sleep here isnt just last night, its actually the last three nights worth of sleep data fed into that. I look at my recovery time. This is my recovery time since my last workout right now, im fully recovered from my last workout, but as soon as i go out for my interval workout here in a few minutes, this will jump up again and this will change the entire picture here. My hrv status is balanced again. This is a seven day, trending against your up to 90 day historical background. If i go down again my q load, this is the load from the workouts over the last seven days, but its also weighted differently than the past.
In the past it was a seven day straight load, but now they burn off the older data faster. So if you had a big ride last weekend, itll have much less effect as you get closer to the next weekend than it would have for just the day. After that ride going back again, we see sleep history. This is last seven days of sleep history and then going down again we see stress history. This is last seven days of stress history, so all these components make up what is ultimately, this trending readiness score. So, each morning, when you wake up on the watch, you will see itll say good morning. Itll, basically give you a summary of last nights: sleep data last nights: hrv, did it your current recovery as well as your upcoming training readiness? It also shows things like the weather and any structured workouts that are planned as well, and i can look at all those stats and decide whether or not i should train as planned today or maybe tweak the plan because things arent looking so hot speaking of the Plan there is a news race, calendar and race widget. So if you go and add some events to your garmin connect calendar, they will show up here. Ive got to this race right here on friday month 2 against mr des and then down here. Ive got a fake race in july against a front im still going there just im, not sure if he knows that were racing or not, ive also got a triathlon but unfortunately, and frustratingly triathlons dont show up on the watch right now, so its on my calendar In june, but it doesnt show up at all right here, but whats fascinating is the outward calendar.
First then well talk the race widget for the near term stuff. So, looking at this, this is the paris one i have you can see. This is the time ive set it for and the date and if i go down, itll show me my predicted finish time. This is based on my current vo2 max trends, and the only problem is every time i switch a garmin watch. It drops my vo2 max by like four to seven units and its done that here as well, and thus this isnt quite correct. Yet generally, i find it takes like one to two more weeks or about five to six weeks in total before it. Finally, like snaps back to reality, but this will update over time and thats fine. This is the average temperature on race day for that particular location uh, and this is the particular course that ive loaded into there and then. Finally, this is the route of the course itself. However, once my race day gets within range within, like weather, predicting range itll show my actual forecast for that day and that exact hour at that location, uh its pretty cool stuff. A couple caveats, though, number one is that the predictive time only works for running right now you can load cycling events in there and you can see those, but it wont show a predictive time for that today, anyways down the road that sounds like thats, probably in The hopper, however, that gets to probably an even more important change, which is that when you create a race on the calendar, it automatically revamps your entire training plan to target that rate itll actually build an entire training plan behind the scenes in terms of builds and Tapers recoveries for each successive week to get there now just sticking an event on the garmin connect.
Calendar doesnt necessarily build out all those workouts on the garmin calendar itself, but it does do it behind the scenes on the watch and if you go into the daily suggested workouts on the watch, you can see what event its targeting and you can also see what Workouts are coming up previously. You couldnt see the workouts beyond just today. Now you can see future workouts. You can also change things like what you want to be your long run or long ride day of the week, and this has even more implications beyond that, because its also tied into training status, so its looking at what youre trying to do from an event standpoint And saying: does this particular thing meet that goal and does it match what you need for training status? Next up is the addition of real time stamina. This was added in the phoenix 7 and epic series, and the goal behind this is show you whether or not you can reach the finish line based on your current effort. So this is that really ideal for longer term, workouts or longer term races, but it also works for short stuff down to like 40ish or so minutes is kind of the sweet spot there before below that it gets a bit tough to to nail. But during the workout you can see your current energy level at that, given intensity so that given pace or power itll project out how far you can go at that current level.
So, as you increase intensity, itll go ahead and decrease both the distance to lengthy, as well as your time until empty, and you can use those to try to judge based on you know your goal for a finish: duration or finish distance. Whether or not youll make the finish line next up. Another quick one that was added to the former 955 from the phoenix 7 et cetera series is phone based configuration. You can now configure all the settings all your data fields, all your data pages on the phone itself, as well as virtually almost everything on the watch, but the only things you cant do is sensor pairing from the phone as well as map downloads from the phone Uh tells you to go onto the watch for that next up, a quick one is that the 955 now supports whats called up ahead. So if you load a course in and on that course, on garmin connect, you add waypoints. So things like a cafe, stop or the summit or whatever it may be. Those will show up on a new data page on the watch itself, so you can now see the distance to each one of those waypoints with a little icon and whatever wording you defined. I find this super helpful on really long hikes or really long adventures so were getting down to the finish here. Uh, the next one is spectator messaging, so this was added in to the 945 lte year ago, but virtually no other watch.
So if you set up a live track session and enable the spectator messaging option, just like you normally would do, theyll receive a link to your live track session, where they can see where you are on the map. They can see the course loaded up ahead of time. They can see your heart rate, all that fun stuff, except now they can send you little messages like cheering and encouragement. Uh back to your watch. Of course, some events dont allow this, notably a lot of triathlons dont, but most running races do allow you to carry a phone with you, so its not a problem there and the last bit of new this before we talk about some of the accuracy. Is that the optical heart rate sensor on the 955 is garmins elevate, v4, its the same optical heart rate sensor weve seen for the past year or so its in here as well? And since i know some will ask theres no word on whether or not this particular optical heart rate sensor supports ecg thats, something that leaked out that garmin has been working on on their venue. Two plus, you can see my video up in the corner or something like that as well on that uh, i dont know whether or not its not on the 955 and theyre, certainly not saying okay. So before we get into accuracy, a lot of you are asking: will these new features come to the phoenix 7 and the 945 lte? And the answer is yes, garmin says virtually all of these software focus features are coming to those two watches.
Ive got an exact list here on the screen right now and expect those to come very very shortly so with that lets jump over the computer and talk accuracy starting off on this relatively steady state workout the 955 and the 255 were spot on across the board. Here, zero problems at all, however, switching to this interval workout, they actually had a rough go in the first couple minutes in the warm up which is sort of odd. Yet the complex part – these 20 by 20 second sprint repeats they nailed across the board every single one perfectly so, im not sure what happened there. In the very beginning, another interval workout here four by four hundreds, a very high intensity and then four by eight hundreds, high intensity, zero problems transitioning into an indoor trainer workout, with a slew of intervals, spot on across the board, actually even beating out the tick or Chest strap at the very beginning there uh. The same is true for yet another this ones a peloton workout then here is an outside ride. In the very middle of the red section is. I was doing some filming so just to ignore that. But if we look across the rest of the rye, its relatively fine theres, some kind of wobbles towards the end as i get back in the city with cobblestones and stuff like that, but overall it is mostly acceptable for an outdoor bike. Ride next were going to start off right in the swim for the gps accuracy, and you can see here, the 255 and 955 are virtually identical.
I actually think the 255 went into base gps mode here, a couple little uh, but i dont think it was actually a multi band correctly either way super impressive going into the forested areas here. It just gets super boring because its perfect, the 255 and the 955 are spot on across the board another round here out into kind of some farmlands or some bridges and whatnot spot on, but here is when things get fun. This is a run that had all sorts of goodness in it, including the city section. I showed you earlier. What i want you to look at here is all the variation in the gps tracks from the polar pacer pro the coreos vertex 2, even garmins own 945. Lte is sort of everywhere, but as i peel that away and show you just the 255 in 955 tracks, they are very, very clean. In this case. I think the 255 again had multiband turned off for some reason, due to firmer updates, but overall, its very, very close to where i actually ran this. Despite having giant buildings on the side of me again, super super impressive gps accuracy across the board here from both units. Okay, so where do we stand over on the watch? Id say im pretty impressed, especially with the price point. I was expecting this to be more expensive to be honest, but for them to come in at 499 for the base unit and 5.99 for the solar unit that is super competitive.
I mean thats like half the price of some of the phoenix 7 sapphire editions that have multi band, and this has multi band in it. It has a larger storage and it has touch and it has maps, and has i mean its basically a phoenix 7 except its plastic. If i look at the new features like the hrv status and the training, redness theyre, clearly like well thought out, especially the training readiness, i really like that. It emulates a lot of what we saw fitbit doing of having multiple components that drive kind of the daily readiness sort of score there, and not being so likely to be heavily swayed by just a single bad nights. Sleep, which is something like whoop and others, have some challenges with still its not perfect. The fact that im still seeing unproductive on this uh based on what im pretty sure is like a vo2 max new watch, bug sort of thing, isnt ideal. I totally get thats going to go away in a few more weeks once i you know, get just the right categories of workouts uh that recognizes my correct vo2 max score and at that point things will probably be pretty good anyways. Hopefully, you found this engine useful uh. If you havent subscribed, you definitely should ive got a huge beginners guide, complete user interface. Tour of this dropping tomorrow, ive been at 45 or so minutes. Long ive also got a video on the 245 as well thats been sitting over here this entire time, uh up in the corner there.
Another guide for that dropping in the next few days and plenty more things to check out somewhere on the screen and, of course, if you found this useful or interesting, just simply whack that, like button, it really helps out the video quite a bit with that.