Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Forerunner 955

Garmin Vivoactive 5 is the 5th generation Vivoactive smartwatch. It was launched in September 2023. Forerunner 955 has been around since April 2022.

We look at a quick comparison between the Vivoactive 5 and Forerunner 955 below.

Main differences

The main differences between Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Forerunner 955 are shared below:

  • Garmin Vivoactive 5 has an AMOLED display. Forerunner 955 uses an MIP or Memory-in-pixel screen.
  • Forerunner 955 supports multi-band GPS. Vivoactive 5 does not support the multi-band GPS.
  • Vivoactive 5 has a better display resolution than Forerunner 955.
  • Vivoactive 5 has a wheelchair mode.
  • Vivoactive 5 comes with apps for sleep coaching, nap detection, and meditation.
  • Vivoactive 5 is cheaper than the Forerunner 955. The difference in cost is $200.
  • Forerunner 955 has a marginally better battery backup than the Vivoactive 5.
  • Vivoactive 5 has a ‘Battery Saver Mode’.
  • Forerunner 955 has a much higher device storage of 32 GB than Vivoactive 5’s 4 GB.
  • Forerunner 955 has a considerably higher number of activity profiles in running, cycling, and outdoor recreation than the Garmin Vivoactive 5.
Garmin Vivoactive 5 boot screen

Display specifications

Garmin Vivoactive 5 uses the 3rd generation Corning Gorilla Glass. Forerunner 955 uses a DX-coated 3rd generation Corning Gorilla Glass.

The DX coating on Corning Gorilla Glass is an anti-reflective coating. It helps improve the smartwatch’s display readability, especially under bright sunlight.

Vivoactive 5 uses AMOLED display technology. It helps in improving display experience for the user. AMOLED display also helps in providing for the Always-on-display mode on the Vivoactive 5.

Forerunner 955 uses an MIP or memory-in-pixel screen.

You will find that the display resolution of Vivoactive 5 is higher than the display resolution offered by a Forerunner 5.

Display specificationsGarmin Vivoactive 5Garmin Forerunner 955
Display lensCorning Gorilla Glass 3Corning Gorilla Glass 3 DX
Display size30 mm or 1.2″33 mm or 1.3″
Color displayYesYes
TouchscreenYesYes
Display resolution390 x 390 pixels260 x 260 pixels
Ambient light sensorYesNo
LED FlashlightNoNo

The AMOLED display and improved display resolution of Vivoactive 5 is a big positive. Garmin Vivoactive 5 affords a much better display experience than Forerunner 955.

Forerunner 955 also misses an ambient light sensor.

Physical specifications

Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Forerunner 955 have considerable differences in physical attributes.

Physical specificationsGarmin Vivoactive 5Garmin Forerunner 955
Watch size42 mm46 mm
Watch dimensions42.2 x 42.2 x 11.1 mm46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4 mm
Thickness11.1 mm14.4 mm
BezelAnodized aluminumFiber-reinforced polymer
Watch bodyFiber-enforced polymerFiber-enforced polymer
Watch weight36 g52 g
Band size20 mm22 mm
Recommended wrist circumference125-190 mm135-230 mm
Water rating5 ATM5 ATM
Swimming profilesPool swimming, Open water swimmingPool swimming, Open water swimming, Swimming/Running
Device storage4 GB32 GB
NFC PaymentsGarmin PayGarmin Pay
Wireless connectivityANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-FiANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
AccelerometerYesYes
CompassYesYes
GyroscopeNoNo
Barometric altimeterNoYes
Garmin Pulse Ox SensorYesYes
Garmin Elevate Heart SensorYesYes
ThermometerYes (tempe sensor needed)Yes
In-built speakerNoNo
In-built microphoneNoNo
Android compatibilityAndroid 7 or higherAndroid 7 or higher
iOS compatibilityiOS 15 or higheriOS 15 or higher

The important improvements in Forerunner 955 over Vivoactive 5 include the following:

  • Higher device storage of 32 GB against the 4 GB device storage provided by Vivoactive 5.
  • Vivoactive 5 lacks sensors for the Barometric altimeter and Gyroscope.
  • Forerunner 955 has a full temperature sensor functionality. Vivoactive 5 requires a tempe sensor to be bought separately for temperature tracking.
  • Vivoactive 5 has a bezel made of anodized aluminum. Forerunner 955 has a body and bezel of fiber-enforced polymer.

GPS

Forerunner 955 has a multi-frequency positioning sensor. This sensor helps in providing multi-band GPS capability in Forerunner 955.

Multi-band GPS allows your smartwatch to fetch GPS data from multiple satellites at the same time. It helps in improving GPS performance and reliability.

Multi-band GPS is very useful when GPS signals or connectivity is poor. With the availability of alternate GPS data from different satellites, you are reasonably sure of getting accurate GPS data for the location.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 does not have a multi-frequency positioning sensor. It lacks multi-band GPS capability.

SatIQ

Forerunner 955 also has a SatIQ sensor. SatIQ is an intelligent technology.

SatIQ helps in managing the multi-band GPS mode automatically. It is designed to make the multi-band GPS experience an automated and hassle-free experience for the smartwatch user.

SatIQ will automatically toggle on or off the multi-band GPS mode. If the GPS connectivity or signal is poor, SatIQ will bring on the multi-band GPS.

When the GPS connectivity improves, SatIQ will automatically turn off the multi-band GPS mode and use the simple GPS mode instead.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 does not have the SatIQ sensor and technology.

Garmin Forerunner 955

Battery

Forerunner 955 is designed to last for longer times to improve the user experience of athletes and triathletes.

Compared to Vivoactive 5, Forerunner 5 offers higher battery backup. Below, we have compared the battery backup on different watch modes of Vivoactive 5 and Forerunner 955.

Battery modeGarmin Vivoactive 5Garmin Forerunner 955
Smartwatch modeUp to 11 daysUp to 15 days
GPS ModeUp to 21 hoursUp to 42 hours
All-Systems GNSS modeUp to 17 hours
All-Systems GNSS mode with musicUp to 8 hours
All-Systems GNSS mode plus multi-band with musicMulti-band not availableUp to 8.5 hours
All-Systems GNSS mode plus multi-band without musicMulti-band not availableUp to 20 hours
Battery Saver ModeUp to 21 days
Ultratrac modeUp to 80 hours

The Battery Saver Mode in Garmin Vivoactive 5 allows you to use the watch at extremely low power settings. It helps in extending the battery life to up to 21 days of backup.

Activity profiles

Garmin Forerunner 955, expectedly, has a higher number of activity profiles for running, cycling, and outdoor recreation.

We have listed the activity profiles of Vivoactive 5 and Forerunner 955 in a side-by-side comparison table below.

Activity profilesGarmin Vivoactive 5Garmin Forerunner 955
RunningRunning, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track RunningRunning, Outdoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running, Virtual Running, Ultra Running
CyclingBiking, Indoor Biking, eBiking, Handcycling, Indoor HandcyclingBiking, Road Biking, Mountain Biking, Gravel Biking, Bike Commuting, Bike Touring, eBiking, eMountain Biking, Indoor Biking, Cyclocross
SwimmingPool Swimming, Open Water SwimmingPool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, Swimming/Running
Outdoor recreationSkiing, Snowboarding, XC Classic Skiing, Snowshoeing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Tennis, Padel, Pickleball, Disc GolfHiking, Climbing, Skiing, Snowboarding, Backcountry Skiing, Backcountry Snowboarding, XC Classic Skiing, XC Skate Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking, Snowshoeing, Mapping, Navigating, Tennis, Pickleball, Padel, Track Me, Project Waypoint, Disc Golf

Wheelchair mode

Garmin Vivoactive 5 includes a wheelchair mode for wheelchair users. It helps in tracking the pushes of wheelchair users towards physical workouts.

Garmin has also designed wheelchair workouts for wheelchair users.

Forerunner 955 does not have a wheelchair mode.

Costs

Garmin Forerunner 955 has a list price of $499.99. Garmin Vivoactive 5 has a list price of $299.99. The cost difference is $200.

Final verdict

Forerunner 955 is a special watch. It is designed for runners. The features in Forerunner 955 are designed to keep runners and triathletes happy. Go for a Forerunner 955 for the following reasons:

  • Multi-band GPS
  • Higher device storage
  • Better battery backup
  • Higher number of profiles for running, cycling, and outdoor recreation.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 is a newer variant. Things that work well for Vivoactive 5 include:

  • AMOLED display
  • Wheelchair mode
  • Apps for sleep coaching, nap detection, and meditation.
  • Sleeker appearance

Other Smartwatch Comparisons

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