Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Fenix 7 Solar

Garmin Forerunner 965 and Fenix 7 Solar are premium smartwatches. Fenix 7 Solar was released in January 2022 while the Forerunner 965 edition was released in March 2023.

We look at the key features and differences between the Forerunner 965 and Fenix 7 Solar edition smartwatches.

Main differences

  • Fenix 7 Solar comes at a list price of $799.99 and Forerunner 965 costs $599.99. So, Fenix 7 Solar is costlier by $200.
  • Fenix 7 Solar is a solar watch that can use sunlight to charge the battery. You can also use the Garmin charger to charge the battery of a Fenix 7 Solar.
  • Forerunner 965 has an AMOLED display while the Fenix 7 Solar uses MIP or memory-in-pixel screen.
  • Fenix 7 Solar has a 10 ATM water rating while the Forerunner 965 has a 5 ATM water rating.
  • Forerunner 965 has a higher device storage or internal storage than the Fenix 7 Solar watch.
  • Forerunner 965 supports multi-band GPS. Fenix 7 Solar does not have the multi-band GPS feature.

We look at these feature differences in detail below.

Forerunner 965 in black


Fenix 7 Solar uses Corning’s Power Glass. Power Glass is a layer of photovoltaic cells that is superimposed on a regular Corning Gorilla Glass DX.

The layer of photovoltaic cells helps in converting sunlight into battery charge. Power Glass helps in building solar charge to charge Fenix 7 Solar’s battery.

Forerunner 965 is a regular watch that uses the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 DX. The DX coating on the display screen of Forerunner 965 is an anti-reflective coating that can improve display readability by 75%. It also improves the contrast ratio of the screen.

Apart from the difference in the type of display lens used, it is the Forerunner 965 that supports the AMOLED display.

Due to AMOLED display, the Forerunner 965 offers the following benefits:

  • The display resolution of Forerunner 965 is much better in comparison to the Fenix 7 Solar.
  • Forerunner 965 supports Always-on-display or the AOD feature.

The display specifications of the Forerunner 965 and Fenix 7 Solar are mentioned hereunder.

Display SpecificationsForerunner 965Fenix 7 Solar
Display lensCorning Gorilla Glass 3 DXPower Glass
Display typeAMOLEDMIP (Memory in pixel)
Display size1.4″ or 35.4 mm1.3″ or 33 mm
Display resolution454 x 454 pixels260 x 260 pixels
Pixel density458 ppi (pixels per inch)282 ppi (pixels per inch)
Color displayYesYes

The Forerunner 965 smartwatch has a much better display resolution of 454 x 454 pixels. The pixel density of Forerunner 965 is also higher than that of the Fenix 7 Solar.

If you were to consider the display specifications, Forerunner 965 has a much better display performance than the Fenix 7 Solar.

Physical specifications

The two significant differences in physical specifications of the Forerunner 965 and Fenix 7 Solar are:

  1. Higher device storage of Forerunner 965 – 32 GB
  2. Better water rating of Fenix 7 Solar – 10 ATM

Apart from these two differences, there are not too many significant differences between the Forerunner 965 and the Fenix 7 Solar

Hardware specifications of both watches are shared hereunder.

SpecificationsForerunner 965Fenix 7 Solar
Watch size47.2 x 47.2 x 13.2 mm47 x 47 x 14.5 mm
Thickness13.2 mm14.5 mm
Watch weight53 g56 g
Watch bodyFiber-enforced polymerFiber-enforced polymer with metal rear cover
BezelTitaniumStainless steel
Device storage32 GB16 GB
Water rating5 ATM10 ATM
Band size22 mm22 mm
Band materialSiliconeSilicone
Recommended wrist circumference135-205 mm125-208 mm
Charging Plug chargerPlug charger and solar charging

As mentioned above, a 10 ATM water rating means that the Fenix 7 Solar can go up to a depth of 100 meters below the water surface level.

5 ATM rating of Forerunner 965 means that the Forerunner 965 can handle 5 atmospheres of pressure at a depth of 50 meters under the water surface.

Higher device storage of Forerunner 965 is useful for adding additional topo and trail maps.

Some folks really like the titanium bezel of the Forerunner 965 as it affords a classy look to the smartwatch.

Fenix 7 Solar in gray


In our experience, the best thing for the Forerunner 965 is the improved GPS performance and accuracy of GPS data. This is next to the vastly improved display performance due to the AMOLED display.

The improvements in the GPS performance of the Forerunner 965 are on account of the multi-frequency positioning sensor. The sensor provides multi-band GPS capability to the Forerunner 965 smartwatch.

Multi-band GPS means that you can get GPS data from multiple satellites at the same time. This is very useful when the GPS signals are weak.

Additionally, Forerunner 965 uses SatIQ technology to turn on and off the multi-band GPS mode. The multi-band GPS mode causes a severe battery drain. Therefore, it is important to use it in situations when the quality of the GPS signal is poor.

SatIQ will use simple GPS mode or multi-band GPS mode after evaluation of the quality of the GPS signal.

SatIQ and multi-mode GPS is a game-changing development for the Forerunner 965. If you are a triathlete or a serious runner, there is nothing better than a Forerunner 965 at this point in time.


Fenix 7 Solar offers battery charging through the wired charger. It also, additionally, uses the photovoltaic cells to convert solar energey into the battery charge. So, Fenix 7 Solar supports regular charging and solar charging.

The important point to know is that Garmin recommends sunlight exposure to the solar watch for at least 3 hours in a day. We are talking about sunlight exposure with sunlight brightness of at least 50000 lux.

Unless you make use of the solar watch for at least 3 hours and have good sunshine, solar charging on the watch may not yield the desired impact on the battery charge.

However, in our experience, we can see that the Forerunner 965 offers an extended battery life. It is better or equal to the backup offered by the Fenix 7 Solar. And, all this without the hassle of using solar charging.

On different watch modes, we have compared the battery life of Forerunner 965 with the Fenix 7 Solar smartwatches.

Watch modeForerunner 965 backupFenix 7 Solar backup
Smartwatch modeup to 23 daysup to 18 days; up to 22 days with solar charging
GPS mode without musicup to 31 hoursup to 57 hours; up to 73 hours with solar charging
GPS mode with musicup to 10.5 hoursup to 10 hours
All systems GNSS with multi-band GPSup to 19 hoursMulti-band not available
SatIQ GNSS mode without musicup to 22 hoursSatIQ not available
SatIQ GNSS mode with musicup to 9.5 hoursSatIQ not available
All Satellite without musicup to 24 hoursup to 40 hours; up to 48 hours on solar charging
Ultratrac modeup to 34 hoursNot available

On various GPS modes, Fenix 7 Solar seems to have a slight edge over the battery backup provided by the Forerunner 965. However, the difference is trivial and can be ignored.

Other features

There are other miscellaneous features that differ between the Forerunner 965 and the Fenix 7 Solar watches.

  • Forerunner 965 has an ambient light sensor, a feature missing on Fenix 7 Solar
  • Forerunner 965 offers the safety feature of spectator messaging. Spectator messaging allows Live Track followers to send your audio and text messages.
  • Fenix 7 Solar has additional profiles in outdoor recreation.
  • Fenix 7 Solar has an additional profile in the cycling program for Triathlon.
  • Fenix 7 Solar has a jet lag advisor.

Final verdict

Fenix 7 Solar is a good solar watch. For people working outdoors under the sun, solar charging could be really useful for building the battery charge. In terms of appearance, Fenix 7 Solar has a premium presence and appearance.

However, Forerunner 965 is cheaper by $200 and has some very decent features that include the AMOLED display and multi-band GPS. The battery life of Forerunner 965 is close if not equal to the backup offered by the Fenix 7 Solar.

From a functionality perspective, the Forerunner 965 continues to impress us. And for runners, swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes, there cannot be anything better than the Forerunner 965.

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