Garmin Forerunner 165 - all you need for kickstart your sports career

It's as if there weren't already enough Garmin watch models on the market. Here we have another addition to the Garmin watch lineup. The new Forerunner 165 isn't just a successor to the Forerunner 55, though. Nor is it a replacement for the Forerunner 265, despite having a set of features that evoke it.

At first glance, the Forerunner 165 might seem like the successor to the Forerunner 55 with its AMOLED display. Yes, perhaps it is... or perhaps not. For the vast majority of users, these watches will suffice perfectly, while athletes may miss some activities that are not included in the basic FR165 setup. More in the review.  

Nevertheless, I was personally surprised that one of the basic models in the Forerunner series already has an AMOLED display. I somewhat expected that the basic models would transition to AMOLED technology only as the last step. 

Whats on Forerunner 165 so extraordinary? 

The first thing you'll notice is the AMOLED display. It brings perfect data readability and a modern look to the watch, which some might miss in watches with MIP displays. It's a bit like the transition from mobile phones with black-and-white displays to phones with larger color displays, or even directly to TFT displays. Some people don't remember that transition, while others do. But nowadays, a new mobile phone without an AMOLED display is practically dead. 

There are many opponents of AMOLED who will argue that it drains the battery too much... and they're right. AMOLED displays are indeed more demanding than MIP displays. But that's about it. Garmin has long proven that GPS watches with AMOLED displays can keep pace with sports watches with traditional displays in terms of battery life. "And what about that terrible readability in sunlight?" Well, here's the thing - those who want to find an argument always will, but it's quite funny that those who criticize AMOLED usually don't have much experience with a specific model of watch or even with the brand itself. The Forerunner 165 has a perfectly readable display even in direct sunlight and boasts one of the most readable displays underwater while swimming.  

The only objective argument for opponents (mostly) of AMOLED displays (mostly because this is more visible with AMOLED than with traditional displays) is their curved glass extending beyond the bezel's edge. Well, even this isn't true for the FR165. Gorilla Glass is recessed beneath the edge of the bezel.  

The watch is lightweight and small. Band width is 20mm.  

Watch features 

Forerunner 165 entering the world market is again available in 2 versions. This time, not in two sizes, but in Music and non-Music versions. I was somewhat hoping that music would already be standard in all sports watches, and that this would be standardized in today's times..   

Music edition that was under test has following: 

  • Internal music storage for music providers (Czech handbook for music onboarding) 
  • Garmin Pay 
  • WiFi Synchronization 
  • LiveTrack 
  • Accident detection  
  • Garmin Coach (running - not cycling) 
  • Support for ANT+ and BT sensors 
  • Suport for cycling lights and radar Varia  

Hodinky mají barometr

Built in activities (main list): 

  • Run (standard, trail, track, indoor track, treadmill, virtual run (transmitting running metrics to Zwift), ultra run 
  • Bike (indoor, outdoors - no MTB metric, no powermeter support) - speed and cadence sensors supported. 
  • Cardio, Gym,  
  • Pool Swim, open water swim. 
  • Paddle board, piklebal, tenis, eliptical trainer, stepper, floor climbing 
  • Further cardio focused activities

What's not in: 

  • No training status and no training readiness - supported by higher models (eg. FR265) 
  • No winter sports profiles - at all 
  • No kick bik profile (quite popular in recent months 
  • Multisport profiles
  • Multiband GPS  
  • Non music version lacks WiFi 
Forerunner 165 vlevo a Forerunner 265 vpravo


In regular use, the watch doesn't hinder you in any way - they're small, light, and... they might even be excessively small on a man's wrist, though it's not a problem. They're thinner than other small watches, so they're quite comfortable and, for instance, almost perfect for swimmers.  

Unfortunately, the FR165 does not have controlled lactate threshold test, but it does have automatic detection. Moreover, it features training based on Garmin watts (running power), where the threshold value for performance gradually updates according to your workouts. It's practically what you really need for a reasonably managed training system - nothing more. 

Heart rate measurement from the wrist is done using the Elevate 4 sensor. It's the same generation as in the Forerunner 955 or 965 watches. It's not the latest generation, but it suffices. It measures accurately also thanks to how perfectly the watch fits on the wrist.  

You can also measure blood oxygenation, but I recommend turning this on only at night. The watches then monitor HRV (heart rate variability) during the night. That's a metric that many people might not understand, but if you do, I recommend tracking the trend to understand how your body reacts to workouts or to see if illness is creeping up on you. As for the size - I've already mentioned it. The watches are... smaller. But they are perfectly usable, unobtrusive, you don't notice them, they work, they measure... And with so many colorful options on the market. Wow... almost everyone will be excited - young, old, girls, boys … :-) 

Kalibrace kompasu :-)


The AMOLED display, besides offering a new look, also brings touch control to this category of watches. It's probably the first time on an entry-level model. Although it's an entry-level model... it's not exactly an entry-level model for that price, and it actually competes with models like the FR255 and FR255s.   

Otherwise, they are controlled in the classic way with five buttons, as we're accustomed to with Garmin watches. The only thing I miss is the ability to set custom shortcuts for long presses of the buttons, so you're left with only one option - a longer press of the top left button, which takes you to the quick access menu for functions.  

Sum up

With the Garmin Epix model, Garmin made it clear to us the direction in which the future of sports testers is heading. AMOLED displays will gradually replace and supplant all models with MIP displays - except for some exceptions, which will focus on the longest battery life and outdoor adventures. I wouldn't be surprised if in the next 2 years we see handlebars equipped with cycling computers like the Edge series with AMOLED displays. AMOLED is simply a future of increasingly clear outlines, and we will only adopt it if a new, better technology emerges. Otherwise, AMOLED will be on the wrists of the overwhelming majority of watches' users within 2-3 years at the latest.  

FR165 (AMOLED), FR265 (AMOLED), FR955 (MIPS)

Taking a pragmatic approach to watch purchasing overall, there are countless questions on the internet regarding features and uncertainties people have about using Garmin watches. Usually, these questions revolve around top models like Fenix, Epix, FR9x5... why? Because those watches have far more features than the average person can grasp, and most users don't need these features or don't know how to use them correctly. The Forerunner 165 solves these problems for you. They're watches you put on your wrist, pair with the Garmin Connect mobile app through a pleasant process, and... that's it - go out and start exercising. You don't need any knowledge... the watches guide you, and after a few days, they start offering meaningful advice on how to exercise. Simply put, everything a beginner athlete needs.  

And if you're asking whether it's better to buy another one? Good question. The 165 watches are not cheap with their starting price. 7990 CZK for the version with music support isn't a small amount, so I would probably choose between the VivoActive 5 (a model for actively living people who care about wellness, body and mind harmony, but only exercise occasionally) and the Forerunner 255 - I would recommend these for those who focus on performance and take sports more seriously, although their main focus is primarily running and other sports are secondary, with the caveat that they also support winter sports but have an older display. The Forerunner 165, on the other hand, is for users with a taste for sports but who are not extremely competitive.


Novější Starší