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Garmin Forerunner 245/945 vs fenix 6/6S/6X Comparison 2021

Which of These Best GPS Running Watches Is Your Next Running Partner?

We Compare the Forerunner® 55, 245/245 Music, and 945/945 LTE.

The best Garmin watch for running is the one that checks all the boxes on your wishlist. Health monitoring, training features, battery life, cost, versatility, and style are all factors to consider. More power, greater battery life, and more premium features usually add up to a bigger price tag. With Garmin watches, you can count on options at every price point, AND you can count on even the most basic Forerunner in the lineup having advanced features. Whether you're a beginner, a seasoned athlete, or somewhere in between—we're confident you'll find the best Garmin running watch and price point in this PlayBetter comparison guide.

You can also check out other Garmin watches that double as run trackers known for Garmin's proven health analytics features, accuracy of their GPS, and sleek designs, including the Garmin Venu lineup, the Garmin Fenix line, and even the Garmin Instinct Solar for trail and endurance runners who like to push it!

Short on Time? Jump to the Garmin Running Watch Comparison Table or the Table of Contents and choose a subject!

 

Check out more Garmin watch buying guides on the PlayBetter Blog:

Best Garmin Golf Watches 2021

Best Golf Watches for Women

Best Sport Watches for Men

Best Garmin Hiking Watches

 

Features in Common for the 2021 Forerunner GPS Running Watch Lineup

Color Display

Clearly see your stats on even the brightest days! All Forerunner running smartwatches come with gorgeous sunlight-readable color displays.

Built-In GPS

The best running watches all have access to at least on satellite built-in to track your location and stats. The Forerunner 945/945 LTE accesses multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo) to track in more challenging environments.

Wrist-Based Heart Rate

Get heart rate data along with alerts if your heart rate stays high while you’re at rest from the best Garmin watches. Even gauge how hard your heart is working during activities.

Running Performance Guidance and Metrics

Get workout recommendations and accurate feedback from features like Garmin Coach, Daily Suggested Workouts, PacePro™, Track Run, and more!

Smart Notifications

Stay on top of your day—before, during and after your run. Receive text, alerts, and emails with each of these Garmin watches. Control music and stay up on the weather.

Built-In Body Batter™ Energy Monitoring

Connect the dots between stress, recovery, sleep, and physical activity with built-in Body Battery. Keep track of how much you have left in the tank, so you know when you should rest and when you should go full force again.

The PlayBetter® Guide for the Best Garmin Running Watches
Table of Contents



Run with Confidence


The Forerunner 945/945 LTE Running and Triathlon Watch

The Forerunner 945 premium running watch is designed to help you chase down your most insane goals! And now the Forerunner 945 LTE let's you do that and keeps you safely connected while you leave your phone at home! We'd also call it the best health monitor watch in the bunch!

Put your running shoes on, because the Forerunner 945/945 LTE has a long list of features to run through and meet your specific needs as a competitive runner!

  • Garmin Coach for free adaptive training plans
  • Built-in sports apps, including cycling, pool swimming, track running, elliptical, stair-stepper and A LOT more!
  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • Multi-GNSS: Great GPS plus GLONASS and Galileo to track in those challenging environments
  • Running Dynamics (with a compatible accessory) to measure crucial running metrics like cadence, stride length, ground contact time and balance, and more
  • VO2 MAX can tell you how you might expect to perform with heat or altitude factors
  • The Pulse Ox sensor can help gauge how your body is absorbing oxygen—even while you sleep
  • Performance Condition lets you analyze real-time pace, heart rate, and heart rate variability for in depth fitness analytics
  • Training Status lets you know if you’re training productively, peaking, or overreaching
  • Aerobic and anaerobic training effect feedback
  • Training Load compares your most recent stats to your optimal and historical fitness stats
  • Daily Workout Suggestions guides you with daily run and ride recommendations based on your current training load
  • Recovery Time advises you on how long to rest be for your next big run, factoring in stress, sleep, and activity outside your workouts
  • Body Battery Energy Monitor lets you know the best times to be active and rest
  • Women’s Health Tracking used with the Garmin Connect app
  • Extended battery life gives you up to two weeks in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS mode with music. Use UltraTrac™ mode to make sure you’ve got enough power for your longest race.
  • Navigation features include: full-color mapping, the ClimbPro ascent planner, turn-by-turn navigation, and round-trip routing
  • Get notifications from your smartphone, assistance and incident detection features that send your location to your contacts
  • The LiveTrack feature allows friends and family to track your real-time location and see your preplanned course
  • Automatically upload activities to the Connect app, and you can download custom watch faces, data fields, and apps from the Connect IQ™ Store
  • Control your Tacx® Smart trainer courses or workouts from your watch
  • With the Forerunner 945 LTE, you get all of this plus (with an LTE subscription) you can leave your phone at home and get Assistance Plus, which automatically sends your name and location from your watch alone to the Garmin IERCC, a 24/7 staffed professional emergency response coordination center that can contact and communicate with local emergency services.
  • Also with the Forerunner 945 LTE running watch, get midrace motivation with audio and text messages from your family and friends with Spectator Messaging.

The Garmin Forerunner 245/245 Music GPS Running Watch

Of all the Garmin Forerunner watches, the 245/245 Music running watch gives you high-end features for a midrange price. Get to know yourself as a runner and go next level with this fitness watch. And go even further with your most motivating tunes if you choose the Forerunner 245 Music.

This super smart sports watch for runners is stuffed with performance-enhancing features, including:

  • Garmin Coach for free adaptive training plans
  • Built-in sports apps (cycling, pool swimming, track running, elliptical, stair-stepper, etc.)
  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • Built-in GPS for accurate location, distance, pace, and intervals
  • A battery life of up to 7 days in watch mode; and up to 24 hours when using satellite tracking
  • Running Dynamics (with a compatible accessory) for crucial running metrics like cadence, stride length, ground contact time and balance
  • VO2 MAX can tell you how you might expect to perform with heat or altitude factors
  • The Pulse Ox sensor can help gauge how your body is absorbing oxygen—even while you sleep
  • Training Status let you know if you’re training productively, peaking, or overreaching
  • Aerobic and anaerobic training effect feedback
  • Training Load compares your most recent stats to your optimal and historical fitness stats
  • Recovery Time advises you on how long to rest be for your next big run, factoring in stress, sleep, and activity outside your workouts
  • Body Battery Energy Monitor lets you know the best times to be active and rest
  • Women’s Health Tracking (in app) lets you track your menstrual cycle or pregnancy
  • Receive text messages and view social media updates, emails, and more from this best Garmin smartwatch
  • Get built-in assistance and incident detection and manually or automatically send a message with your real-time location to emergency contacts
  • Automatically upload activities to the Connect community, and you can download custom watch faces, data fields, and apps from the Connect IQ™ Store
  • With the Forerunner 245 Music sync your playlists from select music streaming services right to your watch. Store up to 500 songs!

The Garmin Forerunner 55 Running Smartwatch

The Forerunner 55 is an easy-to-use running watch designed for every level of runner. At an ultra attractive price, it's loaded with tools that will help you achieve your fitness goals, take your training to the next level, and keep you in tune with your health and wellness.

  • Built-in tracking for how far, how fast, and where you run
  • Wrist-based heart rate provides data all day and night
  • All-day activity tracking counts steps, calories, sleep, and more
  • Daily Suggested Workouts take the guesswork out of training by offering personalized run workouts tailored to your training history, fitness level, and recovery time
  • Garmin Coach training plans offer on-screen guidance from expert coaches and free 5K, 10K, or half marathon training plans that adapt based on your goals
  • Safety features let you send a message with your location to family and friends
  • PacePro provides guidance to help you tailor your efforts to a selected course or distance
  • The finish time estimator lets you select a run distance and get an estimated finish time right on your wrist
  • Cadence alerts let you know when you’ve gone outside your target cadence range, helping to improve your running form
  • Built-in activity profiles, including track or virtual running, pool swimming, Pilates, HIIT, and more
  • Built-in recovery advisor lets you know how long to rest before your next big effort
  • Track stress and set relaxation reminders to do short breathing exercises
  • Use the Body Battery™ energy monitor to track energy levels to find the best times for activity and rest
  • Women can track their menstrual cycle or pregnancy and log symptoms, receive exercise and nutrition education, and more through the free app
  • Receive text messages and view social media updates, emails, and more
  • Get built-in assistance and incident detection and manually or automatically send a message with your real-time location to emergency contacts
  • Automatically upload activities to Garmin Connect (a free app and global community of Garmin users), and you can download custom watch faces, data fields, and apps from the Connect IQ™ Store.

The Best Running Watch — Forerunner 945/945 LTE

You run for the challenge and are constantly chasing a new personal best. You need a running partner on your wrist that can show you your performance and guide you to make strides toward improvement. The Forerunner 945/945 LTE can do all that. Plus, you and your loved ones can feel safer knowing you're connected, even when you leave the phone at home (945 LTE only).

This Forerunner 945 is an elite running watch that is lightweight and sleek in design, made with high performance materials—silicone band, ultra-durable Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX lens—that won't weigh you down in your fight for the finish line.

With so many adaptive training features, you can see improvement and dial into what needs attention. Garmin Coach, built-in sports apps, Running Dynamics, Performance Condition, Training Status, VO2 Max, Daily Workout Suggestions, Recovery Time, Intensity Minutes—all of these are just some of the tools this premium triathlon watch offers to help you optimize your workouts and ultimately optimize your performance.

Finally, because you run when you want, where you want, the Forerunner 945 offers superior navigation on your wrist and safety features in case of an accident. This includes full-color mapping, the ClimbPro ascent planner, turn-by-turn routing, and round-trip routing. And you'll have incident detection and assistance to manually or automatically send a message with your real-time location to emergency contacts.

Should you opt for the Forerunner 945 LTE (LTE subscription required), you'll have access to Assistance Plus, which can automatically send your name and location to the Garmin IERCC, a 24/7 staffed professional emergency response coordination center that can contact and communicate with local emergency services. With the Forerunner 945 LTE option, you can also get midrace motivation with audio and text messages from your family and friends with Spectator Messaging.


The Best Running Watch for Beginners — The Forerunner 55

The Forerunner 55 GPS running watch is the next generation of the Forerunner 45/45S—but very different.

Three things combine to make the Forerunner 55 perhaps one of the best running watches you can get in 2021:

  • It's simple to use for people of all skill levels—but especially new runners
  • The Forerunner 55 is LOADED with advanced features that can benefit every runner
  • At just $199.99 on the PlayBetter.com Garmin Watch Collection—it's a steal!

New features in this lowest price point running watch in the Garmin Forerunner lineup include new running features such as PacePro, Daily Suggested Workouts, Track Mode, and Virtual Run Mode. Finish Time Estimator and Race Predictor offer new ways to time your runs. Recovery Time, the new women's health tracking widget, and Respiration Tracking help keep you tuned into your body. And customizable workouts and increased battery life let you workout when and how you prefer!


The Best Running Watch for Music — Forerunner 245 Music

The Forerunner 245 Music fitness watch hits the sweet spot between robust running features and keeping you in touch with your tunes.

With storage room for up to 500 songs, you should never run out of motivation on a run. Upload songs from Spotify and listen phone-free during your run. But if you want to bring your phone, you can stream music from and control playback right from you wrist. Also, the Forerunner 245 Music lets you skip, pause, and adjust the volume directly from thew watch.

But just because Garmin gave you beats on this GPS running watch, don't think it's not packed with tools for tuning into your running performance as well!

Runner-specific features of the Forerunner 245 Music include Running Dynamics, ground contact time and balance, stride, cadence (all with Garmin running pod accessory), Daily Suggested Workouts, several running profiles, Performance Condition, PacePro, and Race Predictor.

This running watch is also gifted with some pretty sweet navigation for runners, such as point-to-point navigation, real-time bread crumb trail, and TracBack®. So go ahead, get lost in your run and your music—you've got this with your Forerunner 245 Music!


The Best Running Watch for Women — Forerunner 55

What makes the best running watch for women? Honestly, it depends on the runner in the individual. Is she hardcore? Does she care about size, style, and color options? Does she want music? Is she a beginner? Or is she training for her next triathlon?

For this category, we picked the Garmin Forerunner 55 GPS running watch, because it's designed for all skill levels of runners, has a smaller display, and is the first smartwatch in the Forerunner lineup to include the new women's health widget for tracking your menstrual cycle and pregnancy.

For smaller wrists, the Forerunner 55 display has a smaller diameter display compared to the rest in the Forerunner lineup—1.04" vs 1.2". And even the most seasoned runners may want a watch that is simple to use. Get several running profiles (Running, Treadmill Running, Track Running, Indoor Track Running, Virtual Running), GPS-based distance, time, and pace, cadence, PacePro pacing strategies, run workouts, and race predictor.

While you can't store your favorite songs on your Forerunner 55, you can listen to music through your smartphone and control it from your watch.

For women who want more performance tools, more navigation for remote runs and races, and want to store their favorite playlists on their watch, we highly recommend the Forerunner 945 premium running watch.


The Best Running Watch for the Money — Forerunner 245

If you want robust features and an attractive watch for a price that is also attractive but not so robust, we like the Forerunner 245. For just $100 more than the Forerunner 55 you can get additional features like:

  • Sensors for Pulse Ox and compass
  • Text response/reject phone call from the wrist
  • Cardio and strength workouts
  • Additional heart rate data
  • Training Status, Training Load, and Training Effects
  • Custom alerts
  • Virtual Partner, Race Activity, and Course Guidance
  • Running Dynamics (with Garmin running pod accessory)
  • Performance Condition
  • Point-to-point navigation, bread crumb trail, back to start, BacTrack, UltraTrac mode, distance to destination, GPS coordinates
  • More cycling features

If you're okay without as many Firstbeat analyzation metrics (9 compared to 18), additional sport modes and workouts (golfing, outdoor, advanced swimming and cycling) access to things like Strava Live Segments or Garmin Live Segments, a few more health monitoring features, and, of course, LTE connectivity—you'll pay $300+ less than the Forerunner 945/945 LTE if you opt for the Forerunner 245.

The Forerunner 245 is a high-end watch for a midrange price, making it the best running watch for the money on our list!


The Best Triathlon Watch — The Forerunner 945/945 LTE

You need functionality, precision, and options in a triathlon watch, and the Forerunner 945/945 LTE has all this and more to help you analyze and optimize your performance. Here's why and how you're going to love this premium multisport watch as your new training partner:

  • It's lightweight, doesn't feel bulky
  • Made with premium, durable materials
  • Stream your music and podcast to your bluetooth headphones; store up to 1,000 songs
  • Stores up to 200 hours of activity data, allowing you to go back and analyze your past several workouts without needing an app
  • Sensors galore for heart rate, temperature, elevation, weather, compass, and more
  • Garmin Coach and built-in sports apps, running dynamics on your cadence, stride, contact time, balance, and more offers insight on your form so you can adjust and improve
  • The most Firstbeat metrics (18), which are advanced performance analytics for stress, recovery, and exercise
  • More navigation features like full color mapping, ClimbPro, Turn-By-Turn navigation, and roundtrip routing.
  • Sports modes and training for running, biking, swimming, and much more!

If you're ready to do it all, give it all, and take it all ... get the watch that has it all! The Forerunner 945/945 LTE!


BONUS! The Best Multisport Adventure Watch for Running — The fēnix® 6 Pro

You're a rugged and sophisticated — meet your match!

The Garmin fēnix® 6 Pro multisport watch is loaded with the features that will help you hone your stride for your regular workouts and recreational activities, such as Running Dynamics, PacePro, Race Predictor, run workouts and profiles for swimming, biking, hiking, golfing, and more!

Get Garmin's cutting-edge design on your wrist along with Multi-GNSS (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo) heart rate, Pulse Ox, VO2 Max, and longer battery. This stylish sports watch offers access to advanced features such as built-in activity profiles, performance metrics, and training load balance readings. With the added customizable Power Manager, users are able to maximize battery life for efficient use throughout the day!

And for you mountain and trail runners and cross-trainers, when you leave the grid, so does the fēnix® 6 Pro. It has preloaded maps for 2,000 ski resorts, profiles for backcountry skiing, mountain biking dynamics, surfing features, PacePro technology for grade-adjusted guidance, and 41,000+ preloaded maps to golf courses around the world.

Push the limits in your running and more with the extensive health, fitness, safety and tracking, and adventure features of this ultimate sport watch from Garmin!


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COMPARISON TABLE: GARMIN FORERUNNER 55, 245/245 MUSIC, & 945/945 LTE

Forerunner 55 Forerunner 245/245 Music Forerunner 945 Forerunner 945 LTE

Price

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Garmin Forerunner 945 Premium GPS Running Watch - Black Watch Only - Right Angle
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Colors

Black, White, Aqua

 245: Slate Gray, Berry
245 Music: Black,
White, Aqua

Black, Blue (bundle only)

Black, Whitestone

Battery

Smartwatch Mode:
Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode:
Up to 20 hours

Smartwatch Mode:
Up to 7 days
GPS mode with music:
Up to 6 hours
GPS mode without music:
Up to 24 hours

Smartwatch Mode:
Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode with music:
Up to 10 hours
GPS mode without music:
Up to 36 hours

Smartwatch Mode:
Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode with music:
Up to 12 hours
GPS mode with LTE LiveTrack:
Up to 10 hours
GPS mode with music
and LTE LiveTrack:
Up to 7 hours
GPS mode without music:
Up to 35 hours

Display

1.04" (26.3 mm) diameter
sunlight-visible, transflective
memory-in-pixel (MIP)

1.2" (30.4 mm) diameter
sunlight-visible, transflective
memory-in-pixel (MIP)

1.2" (30.4 mm) diameter
sunlight-visible, transflective
memory-in-pixel (MIP)

1.2" (30.4 mm) diameter
sunlight-visible, transflective
memory-in-pixel (MIP)

Advanced
Features

  • New Women's
    Health Widget
  • 24/7 Respiration Rate
  • New Fitness Age Widget
  • Relaxation Reminders
  • Control Music from Phone
    or on Watch (245 Music)
  • Stores up to 500
    Songs (245 Music)
  • Cardio and Strength
    Workouts
  • Running Dynamics
  • Virtual Partner
  • Point-to Point Navigation
  • Bread Crumb Trail (real time)
  • Back to Start
  • TracBack
  • UltraTrac
  • Varia™ Compatibility
  • Running Dynamics
  • Advanced Running Features
  • Golfing Features
  • Around Me Mode
  • Elevation Profile
  • Storm Alert
  • ClimbPro Ascent Planner
  • Trail Run Auto Climb
  • Preloaded Topo Maps
  • Preloaded Road/Trail Maps
  • Downloadable Maps
  • Projected Waypoints
  • Advanced Cycling Features
  • Advanced Swim Features
  • LTE Connectivity
  • Assistance Plus
  • Spectator Messaging
  • Running Dynamics
  • Advanced Running Features
  • Golfing Features
  • Around Me Mode
  • Elevation Profile
  • Storm Alert
  • ClimbPro Ascent Planner
  • Trail Run Auto Climb
  • Preloaded Topo Maps
  • Preloaded Road/Trail Maps
  • Downloadable Maps
  • Projected Waypoints
  • Advanced Cycling Features
  • Advanced Swim Features

Shared
Features

  • Activity Tracking Features
  • Built-In GPS
  • Basic Gym Activity Profiles
  • Wrist-Based Heart Rate
  • Recovery Time
  • Customizable Data Pages
    and Activity Profiles
  • VO2 Max (Run)
  • Auto Prompts
  • Finish Time
  • Activity History on Watch
  • Running Profiles
  • GPS-Based Distance,
    Time, and Pace
  • Cadence
  • PacePro
  • Race Predictor
  • Run Workouts
  • Swimming and Cycling Profiles
  • LiveTrack
  • Incident Detection
  • Assistance
  • Activity Tracking Features
  • Built-In GPS
  • Basic Gym Activity Profiles
  • Wrist-Based Heart Rate
  • Recovery Time
  • Customizable Data Pages
    and Activity Profiles
  • VO2 Max (Run)
  • Auto Prompts
  • Finish Time
  • Activity History on Watch
  • Running Profiles
  • GPS-Based Distance,
    Time, and Pace
  • Cadence
  • PacePro
  • Race Predictor
  • Run Workouts
  • Swimming and Cycling Profiles
  • LiveTrack
  • Incident Detection
  • Assistance
  • Activity Tracking Features
  • Built-In GPS
  • Basic Gym Activity Profiles
  • Wrist-Based Heart Rate
  • Recovery Time
  • Customizable Data Pages
    and Activity Profiles
  • VO2 Max (Run)
  • Auto Prompts
  • Finish Time
  • Activity History on Watch
  • Running Profiles
  • GPS-Based Distance,
    Time, and Pace
  • Cadence
  • PacePro
  • Race Predictor
  • Run Workouts
  • Swimming and Cycling Profiles
  • LiveTrack
  • Incident Detection
  • Assistance
  • Activity Tracking Features
  • Built-In GPS
  • Basic Gym Activity Profiles
  • Wrist-Based Heart Rate
  • Recovery Time
  • Customizable Data Pages
    and Activity Profiles
  • VO2 Max (Run)
  • Auto Prompts
  • Finish Time
  • Activity History on Watch
  • Running Profiles
  • GPS-Based Distance,
    Time, and Pace
  • Cadence
  • PacePro
  • Race Predictor
  • Run Workouts
  • Swimming and Cycling Profiles
  • LiveTrack
  • Incident Detection
  • Assistance

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