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The Garmin Forerunner 165 could be a great budget running watch

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Garmin watches ain’t cheap. While the running community loves them, they’re often an investment, costing more than $500 for a midrange watch and going up from there. Which is why it’s neat that the new $249.99 Forerunner 165 and $299.99 165 Music are pretty affordable by Garmin’s standards.

In terms of features, the 165 sits between the $200 Forerunner 55 and the $450 Forerunner 265. But for the extra $50 over the 55, the 165 series comes with a 1.2-inch OLED display instead of a transflective display, 11 days of estimated battery life, more running features, and contactless payments. The Music version also allows you to sync playlists with Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music.

The design of the 165 is awfully similar to the 265, with two main differences: it lacks dual-frequency GPS and uses the last-gen Elevate v4 heart rate sensor (Garmin introduced the newer Elevate v5 last year). This means you don’t get access to Garmin’s newly launched EKG and atrial fibrillation detection features. I haven’t tested it yet, but as far as sensor accuracy goes, it’s not likely to make a giant difference for more casual users. It’s also likely to be slightly less accurate in challenging GPS environments like cities or dense forests. Even so, these are decent tradeoffs for folks on a budget as you’re not giving up a whole lot while knocking $200 off the price.

The 165 series supports race adaptive training plans — or plans that adjust based on your metrics, race day, or any goals you might have put into the Garmin Connect app. You can also view wrist-based running dynamics, import courses, and view a daily summary via the Morning Report feature.

The Forerunner 165 series has OLED displays but lacks dual-frequency GPS and the latest Garmin heart rate sensor.
Image: Garmin

I’d normally say Garmin doesn’t need yet another smartwatch in its already packed product catalog. But my biggest concern with the Forerunner 265 was the price. At $450, it’s a smidge more than what most beginners would pay for a midrange running watch.

The 165 series starts at about $80 more than a Fitbit Charge 6 but has more in-depth training features and doesn’t put anything behind a paywall. For folks who primarily want a fitness watch, or want to take on more serious training regimens, this is a fairly affordable gateway into the Garmin ecosystem.

The Garmin Forerunner 165 and 165 Music are available starting today for $249.99 and $299.99, respectively.



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