So you’re serious about running, and you’re looking for a new GPS running watch. You want the best Garmin has to offer – and you’ve narrowed it down to the Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Fenix 7 Pro.
These two watches are at the top end of their respective Garmin product lines – the Forerunner and Fenix watches. Each is premium rich, quality built, and designed for serious runners. So which one should you choose?
In terms of features, they are remarkably similar. But there are some physical differences. Let me break it down for you below, and you can make your own choice.
Price Difference Between the Garmin Forerunner 965 and the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro
Before we get into the differences (and similarities) between the two watches, we should deal with the obvious – how they stack up in terms of price. You’ll have to weigh any potential differences between them against the premium placed on the Fenix 7 Pro – which is the more expensive watch.
The Garmin Forerunner 965 retails for $599.99. It only comes in one version with one price. I haven’t seen it available on Amazon, and I haven’t seen any discounts. Your best bet is to get it direct from Garmin. You can get similar features, cheaper, with the older Forerunner 955. More on that here.
By contrast, the Fenix 7 Pro has a few different versions. The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro Solar, which is the most similar to the Forerunner 965, is available for $799.99.
It comes in a few different options. There is a smaller 7S (the same price) and a larger 7X (an extra $100). There’s also a Sapphire edition, which is a $100 premium over each size of the 7 Pro Solar. The most expensive is the 7X Pro Sapphire Solar – which comes in at $999.99.
For more on the differences between the various versions of the 7X Pro, check out this post. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus mainly on the Fenix 7 Pro Solar and how it compares to the Forerunner 965.
So what’s the difference between the watches – and is it worth an extra $200 for the Fenix?
Feature Comparison for Forerunner 965 vs Fenix 7 Pro
Let’s first get out of the way the fact that the two watches are remarkably similar. In terms of features, they are almost identical.
Both watches do the usual GPS running watch stuff – track heart rate, distance, and such. They track sleep and other health metrics. They combine all this into some fancy health and performance metrics, like Body Battery, training status, and training effect.
The Forerunner 965 and Fenix 7 Pro both have multi-sport activities for triathletes. They have golf features. They also come with fully featured maps to help you navigate new cities and trails. You can use either watch to listen to your music.
Both watches offer Garmin Pay, so you can stop in a convenience store for some Gatorade without bringing your wallet. They have live Strava segments, if you’re into that sort of thing. And of course they function as smartwatches and show you notifications from your phone.
There are a few new features – like Hill Score and Endurance score – which premiered on the Fenix 7 Pro. But all of these new features are supposed to be coming to the Forerunner 965 in a future update.
Frankly, if you’re just concerned with the software and the features – there’s no meaningful difference when you compare the Forerunner 965 vs Fenix 7 Pro.
Comparing the Forerunner 965 and Fenix 7 Pro Displays
There are some differences between the two watches, though. Perhaps the most obvious among them is the displays.
The Fenix 7 Pro has the traditional MIP display that most Garmin watches have. It’s what you might associate with “sports” watches. This means relatively lower resolution (260px on the standard size) and fewer, less vibrant colors. It also means less drain on the battery and better visibility in bright sunlight.
The Forerunner 965, on the other hand, premiered Garmin’s new AMOLED display. This is what you might associate with a “smart” watch like an Apple watch. This means higher resolution (454px), more vibrant colors, and more visibility in dark conditions. But it also consumes more battery faster and it can be hard to see in bright conditions.
My first “fitness” watch was a Fitbit Charge 3 which had an OLED screen. One of the things that I hated about it was that it was almost impossible to read in the sun. When I got my Forerunner 245, I loved how easy it was to read on a sunny day.
I’m more likely to use my watch in bright conditions than dark ones, and I don’t like the idea of having the watch face turn off to conserve battery. For me, the MIP display is great, and given the choice between these two watches I’d go with the Fenix 7 Pro.
But preferences and use cases differ. If like the AMOLED display, you might want to opt for the Forerunner 965. Your only other option would be to splurge on the even more expensive epix Pro 2.
Fenix vs Forerunner: Size Differences
One potential advantage of choosing the Fenix over the Forerunner is that the Fenix comes in different sizes.
The Forerunner 965 comes in one size – 47.2mm diameter. It’s certainly not small, and it’s bigger than the more moderately sized Forerunner 265. It’s also not huge. For many people, it may be “just right,” but if you want something bigger or smaller you’re out of luck.
The Fenix 7 Pro comes in three sizes. The standard size is roughly equivalent to the Forerunner 965 (47mm). But for those who prefer a smaller watch, the 7S is similar in size to the Forerunner 265 (42mm). Going in the other direction, you can supersize with the 51mm 7X.
Which size you prefer is going to be up to you – but the Fenix 7 has the advantage of giving you multiple options. If you want something smaller or bigger, you’re going to want to go with the Fenix.
Forerunner and Fenix: Different Physical Features
Finally, there are a collection of other physical differences between the two watches.
The Fenix comes with a built-in LED flashlight. It’s a minor thing, but it can come in handy when you’re stumbling around in a dark room in the morning trying not to wake up your partner while you get ready for your pre-dawn run. It works a lot better than turning on the backlight of your Forerunner and using that to light up a small area.
The Fenix has better battery life. This varies by size, but the standard size is rated for 57 hours in GPS only mode, while the Forerunner 965 is only rated for 31 hours. Actual battery life will vary depending on how you use the watch – but apples to apples the Fenix will last much longer.
On a related note, the Fenix also comes with solar charging capabilities. This can moderately extend battery life (in GPS only mode, taking it from 57 hours to 73 hours). It’s not going to keep your watch perpetually charged, but it can help you drag out the time between charges. Garmin did offer solar charging with the Forerunner 955, but this is no longer an option on the Forerunner 965.
Finally, the Fenix has a slightly different and more robust build. It’s much heavier (79g to 53g), and it has a thicker bezel (which also translates into a slightly smaller screen). It’s generally built with nicer components, although there isn’t as big a difference as there would be with the mid-tier Forerunners.
When it comes to memory, both watches sport the same 32gb capacity for music and maps.
Bottom Line: Deciding Between the Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Fenix 7 Pro Solar
So, which of these two watches should you get?
If you want the AMOLED display, then you’ll need to go with the Forerunner 965. The higher resolution, more vibrant display is the one clear advantage to the Forerunner – assuming you actually like an AMOLED display.
If you like the MIP display, though, then it’s an easy choice for the Fenix 7 Pro Solar.
Another clear reason to choose the Fenix 7 is the battery life. If you regularly go for very long runs, or just generally want to avoid charging your watch, the Fenix has superior battery life. This would definitely be important for some into ultras and trail running.
Other reasons you might want to go with the Fenix: because you want to pick a different size, you like the style of the thicker bezel, or you really want that built-in flashlight.
It’s really up to you whether you think the Fenix justifies the premium on price. An extra $200 (or more, if you go for the 7X or a Sapphire version) is not nothing. And if the Forerunner 965 meets your needs, you’ll be very happy with it.
You may want to check out this post detailing the various options on the Fenix 7 Pro. If you’re looking to save some money and still walk away with a high-end watch, you also might want to consider choosing between the last generation Forerunner 955 and non-pro Fenix 7.