The Forerunner 165 series is Garmin’s essential budget training watch

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If you’re training for a race, some multisport watch brands do, like Garmin. But there are two things I don’t like about them. It’s expensive, and the platform can be intimidating to newcomers. Have you seen her online store? For newbies, it’s hard to parse which of Garmin’s dozens of watches get you the basics without destroying your wallet. Not now. After spending the past few weeks with the $299.99 Forerunner 165 Music, I’m convinced that it — or the $249.99 standard version — is the Garmin watch that hits the sweet spot.

Three hundred smackers might not seem budget-friendly until you look at Garmin’s flagship watches. It can go from $700 to over $1,000. Midrange watches like the excellent Forerunner 265 series also retail for $450. eye loved Forerunner 265 series. The only thing I didn’t like was the price. And it makes This Special watch very attractive. It’s close A clone of the smaller 265S but for $150 to $200 less. The things you’re really missing for atrial fibrillation detection are dual-frequency GPS and EKG.

Forerunner 265S (left) and Forerunner 165 Music.
Photo by Amelia Holovety Krales / The Verge and Photo by Amelia Holovety Krales / The Verge

seriously. Side by side, my 165 Music and 265S are hard to tell apart. The buttons on the 265S are a bit fancier. Fortunately, my units are different colors. I don’t think I could tell otherwise at a glance.

As for performance, in 95 percent of my daily use, I didn’t notice any difference. Even without dual-frequency GPS, you still get accurate outdoor activity tracking. I tested the 165 Music simultaneously with my phone and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 — both of which have dual-frequency GPS. Maps and distance reports are all accurate to 10ths of a mile. I probably would have noticed more of a difference if I had run In a challenging environment such as Manhattan’s financial district. He said, I have done it a lot Running with multisport watches with and without dual-frequency GPS. While dual-frequency GPS is More precisely, it mostly benefits people who train in the GPS dead zone. If it’s not you, you probably won’t notice.

Heart rate data was also similar with my Ultra 2 and Polar H10 chest strap. Since I am not a high risk person for AFib, I have never missed an EKG facility either. (Even if I was, EKG-driven AFib features aren’t a diagnostic tool and still requires you to see a doctor.) Unless it runs in your family or you know you’re at risk, EKGs aren’t everyone’s specialty. Requirements, especially high/low heart rate notifications are still available.

For activity profiles and health tracking metrics, you get the basics for a training watch. And Garmin’s basic definition is generous. Are you going snowboarding or boxing? No. More specialized activities like triathlon, golfing, mountain biking or team sports require a more expensive Forerunner or Garmin. But what if you usually stick to the gym, cycling, running, swimming, hiking, tennis (or pickleball!), and the occasional yoga or Pilates session? you are good Sure, spending more will get you more — but this will get most people their all need.


The Garmin Forerunner 165 Music gives you in-depth training metrics but gives up some more advanced features in exchange for a more palatable price.

Aside from these few things, you’re getting everything that makes a Garmin a Garmin: long battery life, durability, and tons of training. Data Even with the more power-hungry OLED display, the 165 Music lasts about 10 days on a single charge with the always-on display enabled and turned off. The 165 Music survived my cat chomping on it, and it’s more than capable of handling a dunk in the pool. You can still access Garmin CoachFeatures like adaptive training plans, nap detection, sleep tracking and more Body battery And Morning report. And, thankfully, the Redesigned Garmin Connect app It has decluttered a lot of information, making it easier to see.

You still get all the basic metrics — and more.

Normally, I’d start a TED Talk about why Garmin’s messy product lineup is necessary. Less Watches That said, the Forerunner 165 stands out because the price, feature set and product design are all very well aligned. Garmin’s missing a good training watch in the sub-$300 category, where most of its options are like the Venu Sq 2 or Vivomove Trend — they’re either geared toward casual users or those looking for a more stylish vibe. This is a good one training A watch, both in terms of design and function.

The only downside to the 165 series is that it further clutters an already crowded Forerunner lineup. Lord knows Garmin has the Forerunner 55, 255, 265, 745, 955, 965, and a handful I’m missing. There are other watch lines like the Instinct, which are similar to the Forerunner. But among all Clutter The Forerunner 165 and 165 Music are my choices for entry-level Garmins for training. It’s great for newcomers to the platform — as well as intermediate and advanced athletes who aren’t interested in the bells and whistles.

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