Garmin Forerunner 265 vs Vivoactive 5

Garmin Forerunner 265 is a runner’s watch and Vivoactive 5 is a lifestyle smartwatch. Forerunner 265 was released in March 2023. Vivoactive 5 is a relatively newer variant released in September 2023.

We compare Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 in this comparison guide. Both watches are compelling Garmin smartwatches.

Main differences

The main differences between Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 are shared below in brief:

  • Forerunner 265 supports multi-band GPS. Vivoactive 5 does not support multi-band GPS. Multi-band GPS helps in improving GPS accuracy and reliability.
  • Forerunner 265 has a higher device storage of 8 GB compared to the 4 GB device storage of Vivoactive 5.
  • Vivoactive 5 introduces a wheelchair mode in the watch. The wheelchair mode helps in tracking the activity of wheelchair users.
  • Vivoactive 5 lacks sensors for Gyroscope and Barometric altimeter. You will also need to get a tempe sensor separately for tracking body temperature. Forerunner 265 has all these sensors.
  • Vivoactive 5 introduces apps for meditation, nap detection, and sleep coaching.
  • Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 differ regarding activity profiles supported in each watch.
  • Forerunner 265 is broader (46 mm) than Vivoactive 5 (42 mm). Forerunner 265 is thicker (12.9 mm) than Vivoactive 5 (11.1 mm).
  • Forerunner 265 is more expensive than Vivoactive 5. The difference in list price between the two watches is $150.

We look at these differences and core product features of Garmin Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 below.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 in dark blue color

Display specifications

Garmin Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 use AMOLED display technology. Due to the AMOLED display, both watches’ screen or display experience is brighter. The display is clearer than MIP (memory-in-pixel) smartwatches.

Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 support the Always-on-display or the AOD mode. The only downside to using the Always-on-display mode at all times is the significant battery drain associated with it.

Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 use the 3rd generation Corning Gorilla Glass in the display lens. This is a pretty standard display lens used in smartwatches and smartphones.

The core display specifications of Garmin Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 are shared in the comparison table below.

Display specificationsGarmin Forerunner 265Garmin Vivoactive 5
Display lensCorning Gorilla Glass 3Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Display size33 mm or 1.3″30 mm or 1.2″
Color displayYesYes
Display resolution416 x 416 pixels390 x 390 pixels
Ambient light sensorYesYes
LED FlashlightNoNo

Forerunner 265 has a 33 mm screen and affords a slightly higher display resolution of 416 x 416 pixels. Vivoactive 5 has a 30 mm screen with a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels.

Physical specifications

Forerunner 265 has a relatively better set of physical specifications.

Forerunner 265 offers better internal storage than Vivoactive 5. It is also broader and thicker than Vivoactive 5.

Forerunner 265 also includes sensors for multi-band GPS, SatIQ sensor, Gyroscope, and Barometric altimeter.

We compare the physical specifications of Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 below.

Physical specificationsGarmin Forerunner 265Garmin Vivoactive 5
Watch size46 mm42 mm
Watch dimensions46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9 mm42.2 x 42.2 x 11.1 mm
Thickness12.9 mm11.1 mm
BezelFiber-enforced polymerAnodized aluminum
Watch body materialFiber-enforced polymerFiber-enforced polymer
Watch weight47 g36 g
Band size22 mm20 mm
Band materialSiliconeSilicone
Recommended wrist circumference135-205 mm125-190 mm
Water rating5 ATM5 ATM
Swimming profilesPool swimming, Open water swimmingPool swimming, Open water swimming
Device storage8 GB4 GB
NFC PaymentsGarmin PayGarmin Pay
Wireless connectivityANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-FiANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Barometric altimeterYesNo
Multi-frequency positioning sensorYesNo
SatIQ sensorYesNo
Garmin Pulse Ox SensorYesYes
Garmin Elevate Heart SensorYesYes
ThermometerYesYes (tempe sensor needed)
In-built speakerNoNo
In-built microphoneNoNo
Android compatibilityAndroid 7 or higherAndroid 7 or higher
iOS compatibilityiOS 15 or higheriOS 15 or higher

Forerunner 265 offers higher storage, more sensors, and a bigger smartwatch size than the Vivoactive 5.


The most significant difference, in our experience, is the availability of multi-band GPS in Forerunner 265.

Forerunner 265 has a multi-frequency positioning sensor. This sensor affords the functionality of multi-band GPS in Forerunner 265.

Multi-band GPS allows your smartwatch to fetch GPS data from multiple satellites at any given point in time. If you experience poor GPS connectivity, multi-band GPS will allow you to try and get GPS data from other satellites.

Multi-band GPS improves GPS reliability, dependability, and accuracy in Forerunner 265.

Forerunner 265 supports GPS, GALILEO, and GLONASS satellite networks. The essential difference lies in approaching more than one satellite for GPS data at any time.

The multi-band GPS capability makes Forerunner 265 a solid choice for runners.

Vivoactive 5 does not have a multi-frequency positioning sensor. Therefore, it does not support multi-band GPS.

Like Forerunner 265, Vivoactive 5 also supports GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO satellite networks.

Multi-band GPS in Forerunner 265 offers better GPS performance and reliability. For dependable GPS data, we strongly suggest choosing a Forerunner 265 over a Vivoactive 5.

SatIQ technology

Forerunner 265 uses a SatIQ sensor to provide the SatIQ technology on the watch. SatIQ helps in automatically managing the multi-band GPS mode.

When the GPS connectivity is poor, SatIQ will automatically turn on the multi-band GPS mode. If the GPS connectivity is good, SatIQ will automatically turn-off the multi-band GPS mode and use the regular GPS mode.

SatIQ helps to optimize battery life by automatically managing the multi-band GPS mode. This is necessary because of the fact that multi-band GPS drains the battery faster than the regular GPS mode.

Garmin Forerunner 265 side profile


The battery backup of Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 is comparable. You will not find a marked difference in the backup of the two watches.

We have compared the battery backup of Garmin Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 in a side-by-side comparison below.

Watch modeGarmin Forerunner 265Garmin Vivoactive 5
Smartwatch modeUp to 13 daysUp to 11 days
GPS Mode without musicUp to 20 hoursUp to 21 hours
GPS Mode with musicUp to 7 hoursUp to 8 hours
Multi-band GPS mode without musicUp to 14 hoursNot available
Multi-band GPS mode with musicUp to 6.5 hoursNot available
Battery Saver ModeUp to 21 days

Garmin Vivoactive 5 has a Battery Saver mode. It allows you to use the smartwatch at extremely low power settings. The Battery Saver mode offers backup of up to 21 days on a Vivoactive 5.

Activity profiles

There are some significant differences between Garmin Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 regarding activity profiles supported on each smartwatch.

We have compared the different activity profiles of Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5 hereunder.

Activity profilesGarmin Forerunner 265Garmin Vivoactive 5
RunningRunning, Outdoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running, Virtual Running, Ultra RunningRunning, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running
Outdoor recreationHiking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Classic Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Tennis, Padel, PickleballSkiing, Snowboarding, XC Classic Skiing, Snowshoeing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Tennis, Padel, Pickleball, Disc Golf
CyclingBiking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking, eBiking, eMountain BikingBiking, Indoor Biking, eBiking, Handcycling, Indoor Handcycling
GymStrength, HIIT, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing, Pilates, Yoga
Sports profilesAmerican Football, Field Hockey, Ice Hockey, Soccer/Football, Lacrosse, Rugby, Ultimate Disc, Cricket, Softball, Baseball, Basketball, Volleyball

Wheelchair mode

Garmin Vivoactive 5 includes a wheelchair mode. Wheelchair mode is designed to monitor the pushes of wheelchair users as physical movements. This gets used in finding the daily workouts of wheelchair users.

Wheelchair mode enables wheelchair users to use wheelchair workouts that are included in the smartwatch.


Garmin Forerunner 265 costs $449.99 and Vivoactive 5 has a list price of $299.99.

Final verdict

Garmin Forerunner 265 is preferable for runners on account of the following reasons:

  • Multi-band GPS capability
  • Higher device storage
  • Use of SatIQ technology
  • Full support for sensors for Gyroscope, Temperature monitoring, and Barometric altimeter. All these sensors are not available in Vivoactive 5. For temperature sensing in Vivoactive 5, you will need to separately purchase a tempe sensor.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 is a decent lifestyle smartwatch. It brings in new features that include:

  • Nap detection, sleep coaching, and meditation apps.
  • Wheelchair mode

Unless you need a Forerunner 265 for running or training metrics for runners, Garmin Vivoactive 5 ticks all boxes of a modern and feature-rich smartwatch.

More Smartwatch Comparisons

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