Skip to content
Two runner running out of an alley wearing Garmin Forerunner 265 running GPS watches

Garmin Venu 3/3S vs Forerunner 255 & 265—Similar Price Range, Different GPS Watch Experiences

You'll pay about the same for these midrange Garmin watches. But when it comes health and wellness insights, serious on-wrist training tools, navigation, and smart features—some of these watches offer more of an edge!

If you’re in the market for a smartwatch to help support your health and fitness goals, Garmin has a diverse selection of GPS watches offering a variety of feature sets and pricing. The Venu 3/3S fitness smartwatch and the Forerunner 255 and 265 running watches are the standout contenders for midrange budgets. 

And while all three of these Garmin watches fall within the $350–$450 price range, each offers a distinct experience on the wrist.

WhiteStone Garmin Venu 3 fitness GPS watch with AMOLED display 


The Quick Breakdown 

The Garmin Venu 3/3S with AMOLED display combines the benefits of the previous Venu 2/2S and Venu 2 Plus. With a more elegant style, it's more suited for those looking for personalized wellness insights, fitness support, and enhanced smart features. 

The Garmin Forerunner 255/255S has a sporty style and is geared toward runners and athletes. It puts some serious training tools on your wrist, and offers four different models, which we’ll get into later.

Finally, the Forerunner 265/265S combines the stunning AMOLED display of the Venu 3 with the running watch prowess of the Forerunner 255. 

Which one aligns best with your lifestyle and fitness goals? Let’s take a closer look at what these Garmin watches have to offer.

Venu 3 vs Forerunner 255 vs Forerunner 265 Display

If a bright, eye-catching display is at the top of your list, then you’ll definitely want to have a look at the Venu 3/3S and the Forerunner 265/265S Garmin watches.

An AMOLED display—as opposed to the still very respectable sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) screen on the FR 255—offers many benefits, including:

  • Smoother scrolling and smartwatch navigation  
  • High energy efficiency 
  • Increased brightness and contrast 
  • Boosted refresh rate
  • Richer black tones
  • Better viewing angles

And if you’re not used to an AMOLED screen, which used to be a larger device feature, you will likely find pleasure in simply looking at it. Considering the 24/7 wearability of smartwatches these days, that’s an upside for sure. Check out the video below for a peak at the 1.4” Venu 3 display in action.

The larger Venu 3 offers a huge 1.4” display, while the Venu 3S for smaller wrists puts a 1.2” plot of vibrant smartwatch real estate on your wrist. 

The Garmin Forerunner 265 and 265S feature a bright 1.3” or 1.1” display size, respectively.

If you’d like to forego the brighter smartwatch screen experience and save $100, the Garmin Forerunner 255/255S may be more your speed.

Size, Design, and Colors

All of these Garmin watches conveniently offer two sizes and with comparable dimensions. 

Because it offers a music and a non-music edition in each size, the Forerunner 255 Series consists of four models.

Garmin Venu 3/3S Dimensions and Weight

  • Venu 3: 45 x 45 x 12 mm / 1.4” display / 47 g
  • Venu 3S: 41 x 41 x 12 mm  / 1.2” display / 42 g

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S Dimensions and Weight

  • FR 255/FR 255 Music: 45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 mm / 49 g 
  • FR 255S/255S Music: 41 x 41 x 12.4 mm / 39 g 

Garmin Forerunner 265/265S Dimensions and Weight

  • FR 265: 46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9 mm / 47 g
  • FR 265S: 41.7 x 41.7 x 12.9 mm / 39 g

In terms of design, the Venu 3/3S smartwatch is the more elegant option with stainless steel bezel and stylish color palettes.

The Forerunner 255 and 265 lineups look more sporty with bolder color schemes.  

Gray Garmin Forerunner 255 running GPS watch


Both the Venu 3/3S and FR 265 are touchscreen GPS watches along with 5-button operation. The FR 255 Series is strictly the classic 5-button operation.

Overall, the FR 255 and 265 have a sleek, minimalistic design that may be a more comfortable formfactor for runners, triathletes, and cyclists.

Available Colors:

Venu 3: Whitestone, Black

Venu 3S:  Soft Gold/Ivory; Soft Gold/French Gray; Slate/Pebble Gray; Silver/Sage Gray; Soft Gold/Dust Rose


FR 255: Tidal Blue, Slate Gray, Whitestone (Music), Black (Music)

FR 255S: Light Pink, Powder Gray, Whitestone (Music), Black (Music)


FR 265:  Whitestone/Tidal Blue; Black/Powder Gary; Aqua/Black

FR 265S: Black/Amp Yellow; Whitestone/Neo Tropic; Light Pink/Whitestone

Fitness & Training Tools

Beginning with the newest Garmin watch in this comparison, the Venu 3 Series offers a new activity mode for wheelchair users. This new profile allows you to track daily pushes and receive weight shift alerts plus wheelchair-specific sports apps and workouts. In creating these new features, the algorithms of some existing features were modified to enhance the meaningfulness of key insights for wheelchair users.

Gold and tan Garmin Venu 3S with animated wheelchair activity on the AMOLED display


Like the Forerunner watches, the Garmin Venu 3 also provides over 30 sport activity profiles and all the usual activity tracking, including step counter, calories burned, floors climbed, and distance traveled. It also offers some new features: workout benefit and recovery, rate of perceived exertion, and interval creation. Additionally, it can now track cycling power when connected to a compatible power meter or indoor bike.

However, the Garmin Forerunner 255 and 265 running watches offer considerably more training tools and feedback/recommendations about your performance. Some of these features that you won't find on the Venu 3, include: 

  • Race glance widget
  • Rest timer for ultra runs
  • Configurable alerts
  • VO2 Max for trail run
  • Training Status
  • Training Load
  • Training Effect
  • Daily suggested workouts
  • Custom alerts
  • Finish time
  • Virtual partner
  • Race an activity
  • Course guidance
  • Running dynamics
  • Wrist-based running power
  • PacePro
  • Trail run auto climb
  • Race predictor
  • Cycling courses
  • More extensive swimming features 

One thing the Venu 3 does offer that the Forerunners do not is Garmin golfing features.

Additionally, the FR 265 offers a training readiness feature that allows you to see when you are most likely to benefit from a hard workout and when to consider dialing down to let your body catch up.

Watch a quick video of a Garmin Forerunner 265 running watch with AMOLED display.

Garmin Health & Wellness Features

The Venu 3, Forerunner 255, and Forerunner 265 share a robust amount of beneficial health monitoring features, including wrist-based heart rate, Pulse Ox, Body Battery, all-day stress, relaxation reminders, sleep and sleep score insights, hydration, women’s health, and health snapshot.

 The Venu 3/3S, however, adds a few more features to your wellness insight, such as meditation, breathwork (FR 265 also), sleep coach, nap detection, and jet lag advisor.

Whitestone and tidal blue Garmin Forerunner 265 with training readiness on the display


Venu 3 vs FR 255 vs FR 265 Battery Life

Garmin Venu 3 Battery Life

  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 14 days (5 days display always-on)
  • Battery Saver Smartwatch mode: Up to 26 days
  • GPS-Only GNSS mode: Up to 26 hours
  • All-Systems GNSS mode: Up to 20 hours
  • All-Systems GNSS mode with music: Up to 11 hours

Garmin Venu 3S Battery Life

  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 10 days (5 days display always-on)
  • Battery Saver Smartwatch mode: Up to 20 days
  • GPS-Only GNSS mode: Up to 21 hours
  • All-Systems GNSS mode: Up to 15 hours
  • All-Systems GNSS mode with music: Up to 8 hours

Garmin Forerunner 255 Battery Life

  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 14 days
  • GPS-only GNSS mode: Up to 30 hours
  • All-Systems GNSS mode: Up to 25 hours
  • All-Systems GNSS mode plus Multi-Band: Up to 16 hours

FR 255S Battery Life

  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 12 days
  • GPS-only GNSS mode: Up to 26 hours
  • All-Systems GNSS mode: Up to 20 hours
  • All-Systems GNSS mode plus Multi-Band: Up to 13 hours
Side view of the Garmin Forerunner 265S laying flat with the run button showing on the side of the watch

Garmin Forerunner 265 Battery Life

  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 13 days
  • GPS-Only GNSS mode: Up to 20 hours
  • SatIQ (AutoSelect) GNSS mode: Up to 16 hours
  • All-Systems GNSS mode + Multi-Band: Up to 14 hours

FR 265S Battery Life

  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 15 days
  • GPS-Only GNSS mode: Up to 24 hours
  • SatIQ (AutoSelect) GNSS mode: Up to 18 hours
  • All-Systems GNSS mode + Multi-Band: Up to 15 hours

Garmin Watch GPS & Navigation

The Forerunner 255, 265, and Venu 3 watches all have multi-band GNSS (GPS, Galileo, GLONASS), but only the Forerunners have multi-frequency positioning with SATIQ™ technology—which determines the optimal GPS for your environment.

A key difference between the Venu 3/3S and the FR 255 and FR265 is that the Venu 3 has no navigation. And while these midrange Forerunner watches don’t have full-blown maps, they do have point-to-point navigation and breadcrumb trail navigation on watch. They also provide TrackBack, UltraTrac mode, Up Ahead, Elevation Profile, Distance to Destination, Barometric Trend Indicator with Storm Alert, Vertical Speed, and Projected Waypoint.

All of these watches—including the Venu 3—have Back to Start, in case you get turned around while your out.

Garmin Watch Smart Features

As a smartwatch, the Venu 3 claims an edge over the Forerunner 255 and 265 running watches. 

On all of these GPS smartwatches, you’ll get smart notifications, text response/reject phone call with text (Android only), morning report, calendar, weather forecast, find my watch, find my phone, smart trainer control, Garmin Pay™, and battery saver.

All of these watches control smartphone music. The Venu 3/3S, Forerunner 265, and the Forerunner 255/255S Music Edition also have on-watch music storage for phone-free listening. Your favorite training tunes are easily downloadable from streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music.

Black Garmin Forerunner 255S running watch with Spotify app on the display


However, there are some advanced smart features that only the Garmin Venu 3 can offer, including:

  • Viewing image from notifications on watch (Android only)
  • Bluetooth phone calling on your watch (must be paired with your smartphone)
  • Voice assistance support (must be paired with your smartphone) 

Venu 3 vs FR 255 vs FR 265 Price

Garmin Venu 3/3S Price: $449.99

Garmin Forerunner 265/265S: $449.99

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S Music: $399.99

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S: $349.99

Previous article Chase the Summit's Running GPS Watch Recommender
Next article Garmin Venu 3/3S vs Apple Watch | Which Smartwatch Is Right for You?