Reviews You Can Rely On

Garmin Forerunner 55 Review

A basic GPS watch that will be perfect for those looking to track their activities without the advanced features of premium models or extended battery life
garmin forerunner 55 gps watch review
Credit: Garmin
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $200 List | $149.99 at REI
Pros:  Simple, inexpensive, lightweight
Cons:  Lacks premium health stats, shorter battery life
Manufacturer:   Garmin
By Matthew Richardson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 29, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 13
  • Features - 20% 5.0
  • Battery Life - 20% 5.0
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8.0
  • Accuracy - 20% 8.0
  • Design - 20% 6.0

Our Verdict

We are impressed with the Garmin Forerunner 55 and while it doesn't score as high as some of the more premium models, it's hard to argue that this isn't a great value. With a heart-rate monitor, color screen, and a lightweight design, this is perfect for those looking to get into the GPS watch market. It could also be a supplemental watch for those wanting a lightweight option. You still receive the same Garmin watch interface found on the premium models but with the cheaper price you don't receive some advanced health metrics such as sleep tracking and long extended battery life.

Compare to Similar Products

 
garmin forerunner 55 gps watch review
Awards  Best Buy Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $200 List
$149.99 at REI
$399 List$300 List
$300.00 at REI
$230.90 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$200 List
$200.00 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
64
76
74
72
68
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Simple, inexpensive, lightweightGood battery life, comfortable, easy to use, great valueExcellent quality, accurate, simple design, very easy to use, great feature set, very long battery lifeGreat design, responsive interface, inexpensiveLow profile design, great battery life, very accurate, low cost
Cons Lacks premium health stats, shorter battery lifeLacks some toolset functions, scroll wheel has unintended clicksBacklight isn't bright, heart rate monitor accuracy is a little offMinimal navigation, shorter battery life, lack of tool widgetsMinimal activity profiles, no navigation features, plastic construction
Bottom Line A basic GPS watch that will be perfect for those looking to track their activities without the advanced features of premium models or extended battery lifeA fully-featured GPS watch at a great price makes this one of our top recommendations for all user typesA well-constructed and accurate watch with a minimalistic design, excellent battery life, and all the right featuresA premium-looking watch with loads of features and health metrics for a great priceA fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting great battery life at an incredible value
Rating Categories Garmin Forerunner 55 Coros Apex Pro Coros Apex Polar Vantage M2 Coros Pace 2
Features (20%)
5.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Battery Life (20%)
5.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
Ease of Use (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Accuracy (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Design (20%)
6.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Specs Garmin Forerunner 55 Coros Apex Pro Coros Apex Polar Vantage M2 Coros Pace 2
Watch Face Material Chemically strengthened glass Sapphire glass Sapphire glass Hard-coated PMMA laminated lens Corning glass
Bezel Stainless steel Titanium Alloy Stainless steel bezel Stainless steel Fiber reinforced polymer
Case Glass fibre reinforced polyamide Alumnium Alumnium Glass fibre reinforced polyamide Fiber reinforced polymer
Strap Material Silicone Silicon or nylon Silicon or nylon Silicone Silicon or nylon
Tools Required to Change Band? No No No No No
Model Tested N/A Standard Standard N/A N/A
Size Tested One size only 47mm 42mm One size only One size only
Measured Main Body Size (diameter) 42mm 47mm 42mm 46mm 43mm
Measured Thickness 12.5mm 13.4mm 13mm 14.5mm 11mm
Measured Screen Width 26.5mm 33mm 33mm 30mm 32mm
Measured Weight 1.31 oz 2.0 oz 1.7 oz 1.55 oz 1.2 oz
Measured Charging Time 111 min 80 min 70 min 78 min 80 min
Battery Type Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion
Measured Battery Life With GPS On 19 hours 36 hours 24 hours 38 hours 29 hours
Manufacturer-Reported Battery Life Smartwatch mode: 2 weeks;
GPS: 20 hours
Smartwatch mode: 30 days;
GPS mode: 40 hours;
UltraMax mode: 100 hours
Smartwatch mode: 25 days;
Full GPS mode: 25 hours;
UltraMax GPS Mode: 80 hours
GPS: 40 hours Smartwatch mode: 20 days;
GPS: 30 hours;
Ultramax mode: 60 hours
Navigation Built In? No Yes Yes No No
Satellite Networks Used GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, GLONASS GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU
Maps? No Yes - basic Yes - basic No No
Back to Start Navigation? No Yes Yes No No
Water Resistance (max depth) 50m 100m 100m 30m 50m
Music Control? Yes No No Yes No
Music Storage? No No No No No
Daily Fitness Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Touchless Payment? No No No No No
Sleep Tracking? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blood Oxygen? No Yes No No No
Compass? No Yes Yes No Yes
Barometric Altimeter? No Yes Yes No Yes
Temperature Sensor? No Yes Yes No Yes
Main Software App Garmin Connect, widgets for other features Coros App Coros App Polar Flow Coros
Can Software Cross Over to Different Software Ecosystems? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Forerunner 55 focuses on providing great GPS watch features in a slim lightweight package. We are impressed with the value of this model given its size and offerings. It's clear that this model is a direct competitor to the Coros Pace 2 and we are glad that this pricepoint exists in the GPS watch market.

The light, small case size of the 55 is great for those with smaller wrists or those looking for a lightweight option. Whether this is your first GPS watch or one dedicated to running and races, we think that you should consider this model. Even being one of the cheapest watches we tested, this model still features a color screen, heart-rate monitor, and the same Garmin interface found on the more premium models.

Performance Comparison


garmin forerunner 55 gps watch review - the garmin 55 sports a vivid color screen but lacks the pixel...
The Garmin 55 sports a vivid color screen but lacks the pixel density which is found on the more premium models.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Features


This model has the least amount of features that we tested, and while it scores lower because of that, it doesn't mean it can't be for you. Even with its low price you still receive a heart rate monitor, color screen, and some basic health metrics. If you find yourself overwhelmed with features and just want to hit start we think this could be a perfect model.

Notable Features:

  • Heart rate monitor
  • Alarms
  • Assistance tool
  • Several activity profiles
  • Pedometer and calories burned
  • Swimming features
  • Sleep Metrics

Peek at the Garmin website to see the full scope of all the features offered.

We do wish this model had sleep metrics, even better would be some simple route navigation or bread-crumb maps, but at this price point that's a no-go. For more advanced navigation, a compass or altimeter is pretty crucial, neither of which is found in this model. But if you find yourself on a known path or aren't venturing far into the backcountry, the Forerunner 55 will fit the bill.

garmin forerunner 55 gps watch review - the tools found on the garmin 55 - we appreciate that the assistance...
The tools found on the Garmin 55 - we appreciate that the assistance feature is included even on this basic model.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Battery Life


The battery life on this model is one of the shortest we tested, at a claimed 20 hours for standard GPS mode and up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode. This will of course change based on usage and the brightness level you choose. 20 hours of GPS recording should be plenty for the average user.

Battery life is a major selling point for the GPS watch market. If you would prefer to not charge your watch as often or if you see yourself approaching that 20-hour mark regularly, it's best to spend some extra money to increase battery performance. The Coros Pace 2 has a slightly better battery life at the same price point so that could be a consideration if you're hesitant to upgrade to a higher-end model.

garmin forerunner 55 gps watch review - our main tester got high above santa fe testing the garmin...
Our main tester got high above Santa Fe testing the Garmin Forerunner 55.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Ease of Use


The Forerunner 55 has a more basic set of features than any of the watches we tested and therefore it's incredibly easy to use. The Garmin interface is incredibly user-friendly and fairly straightforward after you have a chance to learn their menu system. And if you're coming from another Garmin product, this one will be easy to dial in quickly.

We prefer the dedicated buttons on the Garmin models compared to the Coros counterparts. We find the scroll wheel at high outputs is difficult to handle precisely. If you rarely find yourself switching the data pages or if you use auto-scroll this could be less of a factor for you.

The Garmin Connect App feels a bit dated, but we had no issues syncing our workouts even with our test watches and phones connected to many watches at once. Unlike some of the more premium options, you cannot change data fields and settings via the app for the Forerunner 55.

garmin forerunner 55 gps watch review - the data screens are easily readable even in direct light as seen...
The data screens are easily readable even in direct light as seen here. Due to the small screen size 3 data fields is probably what you want to stick with.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Accuracy


The Forerunner 55 performed excellently when tasked with our 3-mile remote GPS test which compared all the models in our test group. The accuracy was +/- 0.01 miles, similar to the competition. Luckily today's GPS watches seem to be getting incredibly accurate thanks to their multi-satellite connection capabilities. For the best accuracy in technical terrain, the dual frequency modes found on the Garmin Fenix 7 and Coros Vertix 2 offer the best results.

garmin forerunner 55 gps watch review - the heart rate monitor is accurate thanks to its thin small profile...
The heart rate monitor is accurate thanks to its thin small profile which should sit centered on the average user's wrist.
Credit: Matthew Richardson


We experienced accurate heart rate performance with the 55, something we found consistent across the Garmin line. We received just a 1-3 bpm difference at resting heart rate when compared to our heart rate monitor. For the best results, you should use a dedicated heart rate strap if this metric is super important to you. A good snug fit offers the best results and this watch being small fit our wrist nicely.

garmin forerunner 55 gps watch review - our 3-mile remote dirt road testing zoomed in on a corner looking at...
Our 3-mile remote dirt road testing zoomed in on a corner looking at how the various watches track.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Design


Due to the budget-friendly price, few premium materials are found on this model, which results in a fairly basic design. This is one of the smaller case sizes we tested so it's great for smaller wrists or those looking for the lightest design. The Forerunner series started being a running watch and those attributes are still found on it today. It's sleek, slim, and light; perfect for running.

The color screen is easy to read even while taking quick glances on the move and its five-button design makes navigation easy and efficient. For those looking for a dedicated everyday watch, you may want a more premium design but you will pay more for it. If this will be a purely dedicated activity watch we think this is a great choice.

garmin forerunner 55 gps watch review - design differences between the similarly priced and featured garmin...
Design differences between the similarly priced and featured Garmin Forerunner 55 and Coros Pace 2.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Value


Few watches on the market beat this in terms of value. The Coros Pace 2 has a slightly better battery life and more activity features, but they are nearly identical in performance and feature set other than that. We cannot recommend this watch enough if you are familiar with the Garmin ecosystem. The Forerunner 55 has all the essential features without the high-end features that can provide diminishing returns or are rarely used. If you don't need advanced mapping capabilities we highly recommend this watch.

Conclusion


If you are looking for the essentials and don't need mapping capabilities, check out this model. While there are not as many health statistics and features as the higher-end models, we are impressed with the sleek and lightweight design. The Garmin menu system and the interface are easy to use and will allow you to focus on what matters most during your activities. This watch is for users who want a smaller case size, basic GPS recording, and a heart rate monitor to track them throughout the day. If battery life, sleep metrics, and navigation are important to you we would suggest bumping up to the next price point. But if simplicity is what you are looking for we don't think you can go wrong with the Forerunner 55.

garmin forerunner 55 gps watch review - even the most basic units can lead to a great adventure. just make...
Even the most basic units can lead to a great adventure. Just make sure you've got enough battery to last for your entire outing.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Matthew Richardson
You Might Also Like

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More