Garmin’s Forerunner and Instinct lineup have given runners and hikers some of the best GPS watches for years.Garmin Forerunner 255 and 255S are the latest in the series launched in June 2022, while the Instinct 2 lineup packs new rugged watches for the hikers, being announced in Feb 2023.
Despite being the members of two distinct series, these watches have a lot of things in common. That includes ABC sensors, Elevate V4 heart rate sensor, plastic build, and much more. However, they have their fair share of differences two.
In this post, we’ll compare Forerunner 255 vs Instinct 2 and see how they differ from each other.
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Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Instinct 2 General Comparison Table:
Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Instinct 2 Comparison: 10 Major Differences
There are 5 editions of Instinct 2 (standard, Camo, Tactical, Surf, Dezl), some of these editions also have a solar variant. Similarly, Garmin Forerunner 255 has a music addition too. Also, both watches offer two size options to fit everyone’s wrist.
For our ease, we will compare the standard editions of both watches as they fall into the same price bracket (<$350). Also, we will compare the 46mm FR 255 and 45mm Instinct 2.
So without further ado, let’s get started with our comparison.
Forerunner 255 has a color screen while Instinct 2 comes with a monochrome display. So there is a significant difference in their resolution.
FR 255 offers 260 x 260 px and Instinct 2, 176 x 176 px which makes FR’s display around 30% sharper. This helps in viewing the metrics more clearly, and also more widgets can fit on the FR 255’s screen.
Also, Garmin Instinct features two displays that further reduce the space for data points to fit on one screen.
Though both watches are made of plastic and have a similar screen size, Instinct 2 has a more rugged design and is bulkier too.
This is because Instinct 2 is designed to withstand tough outdoor conditions like extreme temperatures, shock, and water. So it has a thicker case and overall looks chunky.
Forerunner 255 has support for contactless payments via Garmin Pay while the base model of Instinct 2 doesn’t.
This means that you can make payments on the go with your FR 255 without having to carry your wallet or phone.
Dual-Frequency GPS Support:
Both watches support a multi-satellite navigation system. However, FR 255 can hook up to two satellite systems simultaneously for a more accurate position.
This comes in handy, especially when you are running in an area with poor GPS signals or an urban environment where the tall buildings can interfere with the GPS signal.
Garmin Instinct 2 has stellar battery life. It can last up to 28 days in smartwatch mode, 30 hours in GPS mode, and 32 hours in UltraTrac mode.
On the other hand, FR 255 has a shorter battery life of 14 days in smartwatch mode and around 20-30 hours in GPS mode.
Garmin Instinct 2 comes with more sports modes as compared to FR 255. This is not surprising considering that Instinct 2 is designed for outdoor activities and adventures while FR 255 focuses more on running and triathlons.
HRV status tracking:
Heart Rate Variability is a measure of the time interval between two consecutive heartbeats. It is a marker of your stress levels and recovery.
FR 255 has the ability to track your HRV continuously, even at night. Instinct 2, on the other hand, can only track your HRV during a workout.
This data can be useful for athletes as it helps them understand their bodies better and plan their training accordingly.
Native Running Power:
Garmin Forerunner 255 is the first mid-range watch to offer Native Running Power. This means that you don’t need any external sensors to measure your running power.
Only runners would appreciate this feature as it tells them how much power they are generating with each stride and whether they are running too hard or too easy.
Race Calendar and Widget:
This specific feature, first introduced in Fenix 7 and now in FR 255, allows runners to create races and add them to their calendars.
The race widget then shows the days left for the upcoming race and race-day conditions so that the runner can prepare accordingly.
FR 255 suggested workouts adapt to your race calendar and give you training plans to help you taper for the big day.
Garmin has refined its OS to make it more user-friendly and informative.
One such feature is the Morning Report which gives you a summary of your activities from the past week, including steps taken, calories burned, sleep quality, and more.
So far, this feature is only available in Forerunner 255. However, we are quite confident that it will soon be a part of Instinct 2 via a firmware update.
Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Instinct 2 Overall Comparison Table:
|Product Name||Garmin Forerunner 255||Garmin Instinct 2|
|Dimensions, Weight||46mm: 45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 mm, 49g | 41mm: 41 x 41 x 12.4 mm, 39g||45mm: 45 x 45 x 14.2 mm, 52g | 40mm: 40 x 40 x 13.3 mm, 42g|
|Band Size||45mm: 22mm | 41mm: 18mm||45mm: 22mm | 40mm: 20mm|
|Colors||Tidal Blue, Slate Gray, Light Pink, Powder Gray, Whitestone, Black||Electric Lime, Poppy, and Neo-Tropic|
|Waterproofing||5 ATM||10 ATM|
|Display Size||46mm:1.3 inches | 41mm: 1.1 inches||45mm: 0.9” x 0.9” (23 x 23 mm) | 40mm: 0.79” x 0.79” (20 x 20 mm)|
|Screen Type & Resolution||sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) | 46mm: 260 x 260 pixels, 41mm:218 x 218 pixels (active area)||monochrome, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) | 45mm: 176 x 176 pixels , 40mm:156 x 156 pixels (active area)|
|Screen Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 3||chemically strengthened glass|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, ANT+||Bluetooth, ANT+|
|Companion App||CONNECT IQ||CONNECT IQ|
|Storage||4G & up to 500 songs||32 MB|
|Timer & Alarm||Yes||Yes|
|Customizable Watch Faces||Yes||Yes|
|Music Storage, Control||Yes||Yes|
|Make calls, send texts & Emails||Yes(Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only))||Yes(Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only))|
|Contactless Payment||Yes (Garmin Pay)||Yes (Garmin Pay)|
|Built-in GPS||Yes (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo)||Yes (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo)|
|Heart Rate Tracking,||Yes||Yes|
|Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis||No||No|
|Sync Data With Strava, Apple Health||Yes||Yes|
|Battery Performance||Up to 6.5 hours to 14 days (mixed usage)||2S: Up to 22 Hours and 50 Dyas (mixed usage) | Instinct 2: Up to 30 hours to 65 days (mixed usage)|
|Charger Type||USB charging cable.||USB charging cable.|
Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Instinct 2 Comparison: Final Verdict
if you want a watch that can withstand tough outdoor conditions and comes with more sports modes and robust battery performance, go for Instinct 2.
Otherwise, we will recommend you to pick the Forerunner 255 as it offers more features in general as well as for runners. You will appreciate the mode and its high-resolution display once you start using it. Also, not even a single one of Instinct 2 editions has music storage, even though some have Garmin Pay.