Garmin Forerunner 45 vs. Forerunner 55: Which is right for you?

Garmin Forerunner 55 Activities
Garmin Forerunner 55 Activities (Image credit: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

Garmin Forerunner 55

Garmin Forerunner 55

If you want a whole lot of upgrades at a fair price, you'll want to check out the new Garmin Forerunner 55. In addition to getting interchangeable bands and longer battery life, this running watch is packing some killer new features that runners will love.

Garmin Forerunner 55

Excellent upgrades

Onboard GPS
Heart-rate monitoring
Two weeks of battery life
New activity profiles
Improved running features
No smaller size option
A bit more expensive

Garmin Forerunner 45

Garmin Forerunner 45 Official Render

The Garmin Forerunner 45 is two years old, but it continues to be a great entry-level running watch for those who are new to the game. It offers the basics, including GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/sleep tracking, notifications, and Body Battery energy monitoring. You can also choose from two case sizes.

Garmin Forerunner 45

Best for beginners

Onboard GPS
Heart-rate monitoring
Activity/sleep tracking
Smartphone notifications
Smaller size options available
Shorter battery life
Missing advanced running features
No women's health tracking
No quick release bands

Garmin Forerunner 45 vs. Forerunner 55 What you need to know

When comparing two running watches from the same company, you'll find many similarities. However, when it comes to the Garmin Forerunner 55 and the Forerunner 45, there are just as many differences. In this case, the newer model is going to provide more detailed tracking and more advanced features for runners.

If you're not sure which one is the best Android smartwatch for your needs, we've broken it down to the last detail. In short, the Garmin Forerunner 55 offers longer battery life, interchangeable bands, and some killer upgrades that make it worth the extra money. This is especially true for intermediate and advanced runners who need as many details as possible when tracking their workouts.

The Garmin Forerunner 45, on the other hand, is a good choice for new runners who want to start tracking their progress and working on their form. If you don't find the new features or upgrades to be beneficial, you might be perfectly happy with the Forerunner 45.

The Garmin Forerunner 45 is ideal for beginners

Garmin Forerunner 45 5k Race

Source: Garmin (Image credit: Source: Garmin)

If you're a newbie getting into running for the first time, you might want to get your feet wet with an entry-level smartwatch that's great at handling the basics. The Garmin Forerunner 45 is an affordable option that's worth considering. Those who don't have an immediate need for advanced running features will benefit from this smartwatch.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Forerunner 45Forerunner 55
Dimensions42x42x11.4mm39.5x39.5 x11.4mm42x42x11.6mm
Display1.04" sunlight-visible, transflective1.04" sunlight-visible, transflective
SensorsGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, HRM, accelerometerGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, HRM, accelerometer
Battery lifeSmartwatch mode: Up to 7 daysGPS mode: Up to 13 hoursSmartwatch mode: Up to 2 weeksGPS mode: Up to 20 hours
Water resistanceUp to 50 metersUp to 50 meters
Quick release bands✔️
Women's health tracking✔️
Advanced running features✔️

In addition to offering basic features, the design is also pretty basic. This isn't uncommon for Garmin Forerunner models, though. After all, these watches are made for runners who lead active lifestyles. You get a plastic case that comes in two sizes: 42mm or 39mm. The latter is formally known as the Garmin Forerunner 45S and comes in black, white, or Iris colors. The larger 42mm models come in black or Lava Red. Unfortunately, neither of these models offer quick release bands, so what you see is what you get.

The Garmin Forerunner 45 can last for up to 7 days in smartwatch mode.

For an entry-level smartwatch, the battery life is rather impressive. The Garmin Forerunner 45 can last for up to seven days in smartwatch mode. When you're in continuous GPS mode, the battery will last for up to 13 hours. Considering that some watches on the market only last for a day, this isn't bad at all.

The good battery life can partially be attributed to the 1.04-inchj sun-light visible, transflective display. It's still a color display, but it's not as rich or bright as an AMOLED display you'd find on higher-end smartwatches. It's also not a touchscreen, which means you'll need to do all of your navigating with the side buttons. There are three on the left side and two on the right. This takes some getting used to if you're accustomed to touchscreens, but it's great for runners who have sweaty hands.

Garmin Forerunner 45s

Source: Garmin (Image credit: Source: Garmin)

When it comes to health and fitness tracking, the Garmin Forerunner 45 offers the essentials. This is a solid set of features that will meet the needs of most new runners. You get onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/sleep tracking, built-in sports apps, Body Battery energy monitoring, and stress tracking. During runs, it will track your GPS-based distance, time, pace, cadence, and calories burned.

The Garmin Forerunner 45 doesn't have the more advanced features that the Forerunner 55 has.

As far as what's missing, the Garmin Forerunner 45 doesn't have the more advanced features that the Forerunner 55 has. It also lacks an altimeter for tracking elevation or floors climbed. It doesn't come with the company's Pulse Ox sensor, which tracks blood oxygen saturation levels. If you're familiar with any of the higher-end Garmin smartwatches, you might notice that it's missing music storage and NFC for Garmin Pay.

You can control your phone's music from your watch and you'll receive smartphone notifications when your phone is connected via Bluetooth. As far as personalization, you can download watch faces from Garmin Connect IQ Store. You'll also be able to adjust your widgets and data sets as you see fit.

Get advanced tracking with the Garmin Forerunner 55

Garmin Forerunner 55 Front

Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

If you don't consider yourself a beginner and you'd prefer a smartwatch that offers more than just the basics, you'll want to check out the new Garmin Forerunner 55. While it only comes in one size (42mm), there are many improvements to go around.

The Garmin Forerunner 55 can last for 2 weeks in smartwatch mode.

At first glance, it might be difficult to tell the two watches apart. You get the same 1.04-inch, sun-light visible, transflective display and five side buttons for navigating the user interface. However, one of the biggest draws is the improved battery life. The Garmin Forerunner 55 can last for two weeks in smartwatch mode and 20 hours in continuous GPS mode.

The main change to the physical design is that you get interchangeable bands. The Garmin Forerunner 55 bands are compatible with 20mm quick release straps, so you can change them whenever you feel like it. This wasn't the case with the Garmin Forerunner 45, so this was a much-needed upgrade.

Garmin Forerunner 55 Vo2 Max

Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

All of the health and fitness tracking features found on the Garmin Forerunner 45 can also be found on the Forerunner 55. However, you'll also have access to menstrual health tracking. The built-in sports apps have been expanded to include track running, virtual running, pool swimming, pilates, HIIT, and more.

The built-in recovery time feature tells you how long to rest before your next big effort.

For many users, the most important upgrades are the advanced running perks. The company has added its PacePro technology, which offers guidance that will help runners tailor their efforts to a selected course or distance. You also get a finish time estimator that lets you select a run distance and view your estimated finish time. The built-in recovery time feature tells you how long to rest before your next big effort.

Runners will also now get cadence alerts that inform them when they've gone outside their target cadence range, which helps improve their running form. If you were hoping for a more personalized experience, you'll love receiving daily suggested workouts. The watch will take into consideration your training history, fitness level, and recovery time when providing your daily run recommendation.

Unfortunately, it's missing some of the same features that the Garmin Forerunner 45 lacks. You don't get music storage or NFC for Garmin pay. It also lacks an altimeter, so you won't receive elevation data or tracking for floors climbed. Finally, you don't get a Pulse Ox sensor for blood oxygen tracking. It would've been nice to see some of these added to the Forerunner 55, but the amount of new running perks that you get might just make up for it.

Garmin Forerunner 45 vs. Forerunner 55: Which is right for you?

The Forerunner 45 and Forerunner 55 are both great Garmin smartwatches, but when you consider all of the new features the successor offers, the scales will tip in that direction for most users. However, the Garmin Forerunner 45 may still be appealing to beginners and budget shoppers who don't need a ton of upgrades and new features. It successfully covers the basics without being too expensive. It's missing the more advanced running features, women's health tracking, and quick release bands. You also get half the battery life of the successor.

For all the new features you get, the Garmin Forerunner 55 is definitely worth the extra money. This watch is the best option for more experienced runners who will benefit from the advanced features, including PacePro technology, Race Predictor, and Recovery Advisor, to name a few. Some other perks include a full two weeks of battery life in smartwatch mode, quick release bands, and mentrual health tracking. If you've been waiting for a successor to the Garmin Forerunner 45, you'll be more than pleased with what the Forerunner 55 has to offer.

Courtney Lynch

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.