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Garmin’s newest running watch is cheaper than you’d expect

Garmin's Forerunner 165 being worn on a wrist.

Garmin’s Forerunner is an intensely popular smartwatch with runners for a lot of reasons, and now there’s another incentive to invest in a running-focused smartwatch. The new Forerunner 165 and 165 Music are a pair of fitness smartwatches that were designed with the range’s laser focus on running in mind. They feature a number of advanced tracking metrics, with a bunch of smart and safety features thrown in for good measure. And best of all, they’re both available for a price that won’t break the bank.

Sitting between the enthusiast Forerunner 265 and budget Forerunner 55, here’s everything you need to know about the Garmin Forerunner 165 and 165 Music.

All of the running features you could ask for

The Garmin Forerunner 165 in use.

There’s no question where the focus is here. The Forerunner is for runners, and that’s reflected strongly in the Forerunner 165’s features. A lot of what Garmin is offering here will be familiar to anyone who has used any of its recent smartwatches and fitness trackers, and that’s a very good thing indeed. When you’re out on the track, your watch will furnish you with a slew of useful metrics, including your running power (your relative effort at any moment), cadence, stride length, and even your ground contact time. While these may seem a little odd to newer runners, those with a bit of experience will know the value of this information. Audio prompts are also available on the 165 Music, and will guide you through set workouts and offer performance updates.

There’s also a lot of running support even outside of your exercise. Beginners are sure to welcome the Garmin Coach feature, which builds you up to take on a 5K, 10K, or half marathon race, while more experienced runners can import other courses onto their watches and run with those.

Using the Forerunner 165.

Either way, the Forerunner 165 will offer a concise roundup of how your workout has impacted your fitness level. When race day comes around, your watch will monitor your progress and let you know whether you should take it a bit easier or push your limits.

While it’s clearly a running smartwatch, Garmin recognizes the importance of cross-training, so there are 25 other workout options to choose from as well. Swimming, tennis, and pickleball are some returning favorites, but also included are new tracking options for strength workouts, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), cardio, yoga, and Pilates.

Plenty of other health/wellness tools, too

Four Garmin Forerunner 165 watches on a branch.

The Forerunner 165 isn’t just about fitness — it’s also packing some of Garmin’s excellent health, wellness, and safety features. As you might expect, all the usual tracking systems are here — including GPS, heart rate tracking, and blood oxygen levels — but the Forerunner 165 also has sleep tracking (including nap detection), VO2 Max, and menstrual and pregnancy tracking. It also has the ability to offer exercise and nutrition education, which isn’t something we necessarily expect from a smartwatch, even one as fitness-focused as this one.

Most of those are fairly standard for recent fitness watches, but much more new is the collection of safety features. Like the Garmin Vivoactive 5, the Garmin Forerunner 165 includes some new features aimed at keeping you safe while you’re out exercising. If it detects an incident like a fall, the Forerunner 165 will send a message and location to a preselected emergency contact, or users can trigger an emergency mode themselves if they feel unsafe.

Design, smart features, and battery life

Three Forerunner 165 watches stacked on a forest floor.

Fitness trackers fall into two broad styles: watch-like and pill-shaped trackers. The Forerunner 165 falls firmly into the watch-like camp and has a round face with a 1.2-inch full-color AMOLED display. There are five buttons surrounding the screen for controls, but it also has a touchscreen. The battery inside is a particularly strong point, as Garmin boasts of an impressive 11-day battery life, with 19 hours of GPS exercise tracking as well.

Smart features are split between the models. The Forerunner 165 Music gets the lion’s share, including the workout audio prompts, as well as the ability to save songs from Spotify or other streaming services to listen to on headphones, even without your phone. The watch runs on Garmin’s proprietary operating system, but it’s a better piece of software than most, and you can download a number of apps and watch faces through the Garmin Connect app.

Garmin Forerunner 165 availability and price

Renders of the Garmin Forerunner 165.

The Garmin Forerunner 165 and 165 Music will be available on Garmin’s website, and prices will start from $250 for the standard Forerunner 165. If you want the ability to listen to and download music, then you’ll need the Forerunner 165 Music, which costs $300.

That makes the Forerunner 165 one of Garmin’s most affordable smartwatches, and considering all of the tech it has on offer, it’s shaping up to be one of 2024’s best smartwatch values.

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Mark Jansen
Mark Jansen is an avid follower of everything that beeps, bloops, or makes pretty lights. He has a degree in Ancient &…
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