Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Instinct 2

Garmin Instinct 2 and Forerunner 255 are interesting smartwatch options. Both watches were released in 2022 and have a committed user base and following.

Instinct 2 is a rugged smartwatch while the Forerunner 255 offers a credible watch alternative for runners and triathletes.

We look at some important aspects of Instinct 2 and Forerunner 255.

Main differences

  • Forerunner 255 uses a better display lens than Instinct 2. It uses 3rd generation Corning Gorilla Glass.
  • Instinct 2 is designed to provide longer battery backup than Forerunner 255.
  • Forerunner 255 has a color display while the Instinct 2 has a monochrome MIP (memory-in-pixel) screen.
  • Forerunner 255 has higher device storage than Instinct 2.
  • Forerunner 255 supports multi-band GPS or dual-frequency GPS. It helps in improving GPS accuracy and reliability.
  • Forerunner 255 can support NFC or contactless payments through Garmin Pay. Instinct 2 lacks contactless payments.
  • Garmin Instinct 2 has a higher water resistance of 10 ATM or 100 Meters. Forerunner 255 has a water resistance of 5 ATM or 50 Meters.
  • Instinct 2 is compatible with Golf. Forerunner 255 does not have compatibility with the Golf or Garmin Golf app.
  • Forerunner 255 and Instinct 2 have the same list price of $349.99

It may be pertinent to mention that the Instinct 2 smartwatch is meant for rugged sports activities. It has an exceptional battery life.

Forerunner 255 is a more wholesome package.

We look at these features in more detail below.

Display specifications

Forerunner 255 has a better display lens and better display configuration than the Instinct 2 smartwatch. This is on expected lines because the Instinct series of smartwatches is not particularly known for the display quality.

We look at the display specifications of Forerunner 255 and Instinct 2 below in a side-by-side comparison.

Display specificationsForerunner 255Instinct 2
Display lensCorning Gorilla Glass 3Chemically strengthened glass
Display size33 mm or 1.3″Custom, two-window design; 0.9” x 0.9” (23 x 23 mm)
Display typeMIP (Memory in pixel)Monochrome MIP (Memory in pixel)
Display resolution260 x 260 pixels176 x 176 pixels
Pixel density283 ppi124 ppi
Color displayYesNo
LED FlashlightNoNo
Ambient light sensorNoNo

The important thing to know is that hte Forerunner 255 has the third generation Corning Gorilla Glass and it has a color display. Instinct 2 has a monochrome display and lower display resolution.

Forerunner 255 for runners and athletes

Physical specifications

Instinct 2 is a rugged watch and looks like one. It is thicker than the Forerunner 255. We look at some significant physical specifications of the Forerunner 255 and Instinct 2 smartwatches hereunder.

SpecificationsForerunner 255Instinct 2
Watch size45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 mm45 x 45 x 14.5 mm
Thickness12.9 mm14.5 mm
Watch weight49 g52 g
Watch bodyFiber-enforced polymerFiber-enforced polymer
Watch BezelFiber-enforced polymerFiber-enforced polymer
Band materialSiliconeSilicone
Band size22 mm22 mm
Recommended wrist circumference130-205 mm135-230 mm
Device storage4 GB32 MB
Water rating5 ATM (50 Meters)10 ATM (100 Meters)
Swimming profilePool Swimming, Open Water SwimmingPool Swimming, Open Water Swimming
Wireless ConnectivityANT+, BluetoothANT+, Bluetooth
NFC/Garmin PayYesNo
Garmin Elevate Heart SensorYesYes
Pulse OX SpO2 sensorYesYes
Barometric AltimeterYesYes
ChargerGarmin wire chargerGarmin wire charger

There are not many differences in the physical specifications of Garmin Forerunner 255 and Instinct 2.

Forerunner 255 has higher device storage while Instinct 2 has better water resistance rating.

Instinct 2, however, is missing the Gyroscope sensor and functionaliy.


Forerunner 255 comes with a multi-frequency positioning sensor and a SatIQ sensor.

Multi-frequency positioning sensor helps in providing multi-band GPS capability to the Forerunner 255 smartwatch.

Multi-band GPS allows you to take GPS data from multiple satellites at any given point in time. If the GPS signal is weak or of poor quality, multi-band GPS will allow you to get GPS data from another satellite.

Due to this, multi-band GPS helps in improving GPS accuracy and reliability.

Instinct 2 does not support multi-band GPS as it does not have a multi-frequency positioning sensor.

Forerunner 255 supports multi-band GPS feature while Instinct 2 lacks multi-band GPS feature.

SatIQ technology

One of the more significant advancements in Forerunner 255 is the introduction of SatIQ technology in the watch.

SatIQ helps in optimizing battery usage on the GPS modes.

SatIQ will automatically toggle on or toggle off the multi-band GPS. If it finds that the GPS signal is of poor quality, it will automatically turn on the multi-band GPS mode. With multi-band GPS, you can get GPS data from another satellite.

If SatIQ finds that the GPS signal is of good quality, it will turn off the multi-band GPS mode and use the simple GPS mode instead.

Together with multi-band GPS, SatIQ helps in improving GPS performance without compromising on battery life.

Garmin Instinct 2 Standard edition


Instinct 2, for sure, has been designed for a long-lasting battery experience. The battery backup provided by Instinct 2 is higher than the battery backup provided by Forerunner 255.

Let us check the battery backup provided by both watches in different watch modes below.

Watch modeForerunner 255Instinct 2
Smartwatch modeUp to 14 daysUp to 28 days
GPS mode Up to 30 hoursUp to 30 hours
All-Systems GNSS modeUp to 25 hours
All-Systems GNSS mode plus Multi-BandUp to 16 hoursMulti-band not available
Max Battery GPS ModeUp to 70 hours
Expedition GPS ActivityUp to 32 days
Battery Saver modeUp to 65 days
Ultratrac mode without musicUp to 54 hours

Instinct 2 has a noticeably higher battery backup than Forerunner 255. We are looking at almost double the battery backup of Forerunner 255 on the basic smartwatch mode.


Forerunner 255 and Instinct 2 do not allow offline storage of music or audio files on the internal storage or device storage of the watch.

Instinct 2 has 32 MB of internal storage that is not available for offline music storage. On a similar note, you cannot store audio files on the Forerunner 255.

Both watches, however, allow you to control music on the paired smartphone.

If you like the Forerunner 255, you can consider Forerunner 255 Music edition smartwatch. This watch has in-built music functionality and allows offline music storage on the watch. So, you can use the smartwatch for playing music while you are offline.

Activity profiles

Instinct 2 is meant for rugged sports activities. Expectedly, it has a higher number of profiles for outdoor recreation and cycling in comparison with Forerunner 255.

On a similar note, Forerunner 255 targets athletes or runners. Therefore, it comes with a higher number of activity profiles for running.


Instinct 2 and Forerunner 255 come at a list price of $349.99. From time to time, you may get discounts on both smartwatches.

Final verdict

The choice between Forerunner 255 and Instinct 2 should ideally be made on the use case scenario. If you are into sports like cycling or other outdoor sports with rugged use, then Instinct 2 is the right choice.

For athletes, Forerunner 255 is customized to deliver training programs and profiles. There can be no better range of smartwatches for runners than the Forerunner range of smartwatches.

For people who are neither runners nor into rugged sports, Forerunner 255 emerges as a credible alternative. Forerunner 255 is a smartwatch that ticks most boxes and has a decent user experience in terms of features.

Suggested reading

You may like to have a look at more comparison studies for smartwatches given below:

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