Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Garmin Fenix 7 – Which is Better?

Most of you are here because of two reasons: you want to upgrade your running watch, and you have narrowed down your search to Garmin’s elite titles. Namely, Fenix 7 and Forerunner 965.

Right?

It is pretty obvious that they share more similarities than differences. In fact, on a scale of 1 to 10, we would give them a rating of 9 for common features. Still, they have their strengths and weaknesses. This post is all about spelling them out so you don’t have to sit on the fence. 

For those of you who are trying Garmin for the first time, it is important to understand the difference between the parent series of both watches.

The Forerunner series is geared toward runners and triathletes. Whereas, the Fenix is designed for outdoor excursions. 

In general, Fenix watches are tough or rugged; their body is made of stainless steel, with titanium bezel and sapphire glass protection on the screen. They are heavy, feature-rich, and have a premium price tag to match their capabilities. 

On the other hand, Forerunner tends to be lightweight, so you can wear them 24/7 to track performance and training metrics. Their plasticky design makes them less visually appealing, and the company usually cuts corners in terms of display technology and other design features. However, Forerunner 965 is a case apart. More on that later. 

Now that you have a basic understanding, let’s dig deeper.

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Garmin FR 965 vs Fenix 7: Pricing

The Forerunner 965 is the newer of the two watches, released in March 2023. It comes in only one size model (without solar charging) and costs around $600 USD.

On the other hand, the Fenix 7 was released in January 2022 and offers three case sizes (42, 47, and 51mm) and several editions (Solar, Sapphire). The price range starts from $699 and goes up to $999 for the Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar edition

The solar edition has a power glass screen to prolong the battery performance. And the sapphire edition comes with a titanium bezel for tough sports like rock climbing and surfing.

Winner: When it comes to affordability, the Forerunner 965 comes at the top as it provides top-notch features at a $100 lower cost than the Fenix 7.

Here are the latest Prices for the Garmin Forerunner 965 & Garmin Fenix 7:

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Garmin Forerunner 965

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Forerunner 965 vs Garmin Fenix 7: Design and display

Garmin Forerunner 965Garmin Fenix 7- Standard Edition
Dimensions47.2 x 47.2 x 13.2 mm47 x 47 x 14.5 mm
EditionsStandardStandard, Solar, Sapphire Solar
Weight53 g79 g 
Water Resistance5 ATM10 ATM
Strap Type, sizeSilicone, 22 mmSilicone, 22 mm
DisplayAMOLED Optional Always-On Modesunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Display Resolution454 x 454 pixels260 x 260 pixels
Bezel Materialtitaniumstainless steel
ColorsAmp Yellow/Black, Black/Powder Gray, Whitestone/Powder GraySilver with Graphite Band, Slate Gray with Black Band, Black DLC Titanium with Black Band+ 

Garmin Forerunner 965 comes with several improvements over its predecessor, the Forerunner 955. Although the internal hardware is almost identical, the exterior has undergone a redesign to enhance the watch’s usability and aesthetics.

Related Post: Garmin Forerunner 955 vs Fenix 7

The highlight edition? FR 965 has a 1.4-inch, 454 x 454 pixel AMOLED touchscreen display, the largest in any Garmin watch. There is a titanium bezel this time around to provide much-needed durability, however, Garmin decided to protect it with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The watch match and even surpass the base models in the Fenix 7 series. 

This larger AMOLED screen on the FR 965 has an advantage. Not only that it add to the aesthetic appeal of the watch by offering vibrant, colorful visuals, but also allows it to fit a wider range of data for an enhanced user experience. We compared viewing maps on both watches and FR 965 offers a bazillion times better experience than Fenix 7.

Display of Garmin FR 965 and Fenix 7
image by: Smartwatchcrunch

Fenix 7 doesn’t lag far behind as it also comes with a touchscreen color display, but its MIP display is no match to the appeal of the FR 965 AMOLED display. The MIP display on Fenix 7 has two main advantages: visibility in direct sunlight and low power consumption.

As there is only one variant of the FR watch, its size becomes a major shortcoming for petite wrists. The Fenix 7 series is more considerate in this department, as it comes in a small 42mm size option too. The other two sizes (47mm and 51mm) are more suitable for large wrists. However, even if you pick the smallest Fenix 7, the Forerunner feels lighter on the writ. (Fenix 7S: 62g weight | Forerunner 965: 53g)

Next, we compared them to the protection against water ingress. Fenix 7 is 10 ATM rated which is almost double the protection of 5 ATM FR 965. 

We have found the Fenix 7 tougher than 965. It has a bezel that is significantly raised to protect against scratches. The overall build is military-grade certified.

If it matters to you, FR 965 comes in three different colors – matt black, whitestone, and AMP yellow – to suit different tastes and preferences. Whereas, Fenix 7 color range is more versatile, and depends on the size and model you choose.

Winner: We will cast our vote for the FR 965 for its perfect combination of durability and visual appeal.

Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Garmin Fenix 7: Smartwatch features 

Garmin Forerunner 965Fenix 7
Contactless paymentYes (Garmin Pay)Yes (Garmin Pay)
Smartphone notificationsYesYes
MusicYesYes
Storage16 GB16 GB
Bluetooth CallingNoNo
SensorsSatiq Technology, Multi-Frequency Positioning, Garmin Elevate Wrist Heart Rate Monitor, Barometric Altimeter, Compass, Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Thermometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Pulse Ox Blood Oxygen Saturation MonitorGarmin Elevate Wrist Heart Rate Monitor, Barometric Altimeter, Compass, Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Thermometer, Pulse Ox Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor

The smartwatch features are almost identical on these watches. Both can stream music on popular platforms like Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer as well as store personal music for offline listening. 

You get around 32 GB storage on both watches to store music, offline GPX maps, and third-party apps from the Garmin Connect IQ store.

smartwatch features of Garmin FR 965 and Fenix 7
image by: Smartwatchcrunch

The same goes for the smartwatch notification and the ability to make contactless payments via Garmin pay. 

There is also an identical set of sensors on both watches: Garmin Elevate V4, Barometric altimeter, temperature gauge, Multiband GPS, Pulse Ox, and so on.

Note: Only the sapphire edition of Fenix 7 has multiband technology, and offers a 32 GB storage option. The base model offers only 16 GB storage.

Winner: The smartwatch features on Garmin FR 965 and Fenix 7 are identical. This one is a tie. 

Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Garmin Fenix 7: Fitness tracking and features 

There are some striking similarities between these watches in the fitness tracking department.

As far as the health monitoring is concerned there is one key difference: the Jet Lag Advisor, which is exclusive to the Fenix 7

As we checked the following feature set are identical: Safety & tracking, Tactical, Gym & Fitness, and Activity tracking. 

For sports tracking, both watches are almost equally capable. Here is the list of sports that both watches can track.

Type of SportActual Sports
RunningRun, Track Run, Ultra Run, Trail Run, Treadmill, Virtual Run, Indoor Track
Hiking and WalkingHike, Walk
Triathlon and MultisportTriathlon, SwimRun, Multisport Duathlon, Multisport Brick, Multisport Custom
Cycling and BikingBike, Bike Indoor, MTB, eMTB, eBike, Cyclocross, Gravel Bike, Bike Commute, Bike Tour, Road Bike
SwimmingOpen water, Pool Swim
Strength and ConditioningStrength, Cardio, HIIT
Yoga and PilatesYoga, Pilates
Cross TrainingElliptical, Stair Stepper, Climb, Climb Indoor, Row indoor, Floor Climb
Skiing and SnowboardingSki, Snowboard, Backcountry Ski, Snowshoe, Backcountry Snowboard, XC Classic Ski, XC Skate Ski
Water SportsRow, SUP, Kayak
Racquet SportsTennis, Pickleball, Padel
Other SportsBouldering, Disc Golf, Golf, Breathwork, Project Waypoint

However, there are a couple of sports profiles that are exclusive to the Fenix 7 series. That includes Adventure Race, Tube, Surf, Kiteboard, Windsurf, Boat, Sail, Sail Race, Sail Expedition, Wakeboard, Wakesurf, Water Ski, Tempo Training (Golf), Reference Point, Jumpmaster, Tactical, Tides, Anchor (Boating), Expedition, HRV Stress.

Also, there is one particular running feature that’s available on the Forerunner 965, but missing from the Fenix 7: course- and weather-specific race predictor. To use it, you just need to enter your race dates into the Garmin Connect app. Then, on the watch, the Race Calendar widget will give you a countdown to the race and show you the weather report for the day. It’ll also give you workout suggestions based on the race you have coming up.

Apart from this, Garmin has intentionally not added the advanced golfing features in the Forerunner 965 to give Fenix 7 an edge. There are in total 8 more golfing features in the Fenix series including Virtual Caddie, Full Vector Map, Custom Targets, and more. 

Winner: Everything that Forerunner 965 has in this department is matched by Fenix 7. The features that are missing will definitely come later to Fenix 7 via a software upgrade.

Garmin Forerunner 965 vs. Garmin Fenix 7: Battery life

Forerunner 965Forerunner 955 SolarFenix 7 standardFenix 7 solar
Smartwatch modeUp to 23 daysUp to 20 daysUp to 18 daysUp to 22 days
GPS-only without musicUp to 31 hoursUp to 49 hoursUp to 57 hoursUp to 73 hours
All systems and multi-band GPS and musicUp to 8.5 hoursUp to 8.5 hoursUp to 10 hoursUp to 10 hours
All systems and multi-band GPSUp to 19 hoursUp to 22 hours Up to 40 hoursUp to 48 hours
Ultratrac modeNAUp to 110 hours NANA

As the size of the watch can affect the battery performance as well as specs like solar charging, we compared the stats of the Fenix 7 standard edition with the FR 965. Both watches are of the same size and lack Solar charging support.

battery performance of Garmin FR 965 and Fenix 7
image by: Smartwatchcrunch

Unsurprisingly, Fenix 7 takes the lead in this department. It offers almost double battery performance no matter which mode you pick to compare. Of course, there are some exceptions. For instance the smartwatch mode. 

There is one minor upgrade in the Forerunner watch though in the charging department. The standard charging cable now comes in USB-C type instead of USB-A.


Winner: Garmin Fenix 7— No other watch nails the battery performance as the Fenix watch does. 

Garmin Forerunner 965 vs. Garmin Fenix 7: Verdict

The decision comes down to the design you prioritize and what fits within your budget. FR 965 is $100 cheaper and offers a larger AMOLED display. Plus it is lightweight and slightly more suitable for running than other sports. 

Fenix 7 offers better battery performance, flexibility in size options, and more sports profiles (but the one you would rarely use). Its rugged build makes it a good fit for extreme sports.

The other differences are cosmetic and Garmin will likely close the gap between the two watches in the coming years. 

Here are the latest Prices for the Garmin Forerunner 965 & Garmin Fenix 7:

Preview

Products

Check the Latest Price

Garmin Forerunner 965

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garmin fenix 7

Garmin Fenix 7