With the Forerunner 55, Garmin aims to support runners in their preparation without breaking the bank. This specialized sports watch integrates Garmin Coach and its training programs.
Replacing the Forerunner 45, the Forerunner 55 retains the same design, but gains some new software features. Track and field running and swimming have been added to the list of available sports. Also arrives all the virtual coaching equipment dear to Garmin. From PacePro to training suggestions and time predictions, the Forerunner 55 intends to become the ideal ally in road race preparation, at least on paper.
Ergonomics and design
Those who are used to Garmin watches will not be upset by this Forerunner 55. It is indeed a clone of the previous model, but in 2022, no variation for small wrists: you will have to be satisfied with a standard size of 42 mm in diameter. The model is nevertheless very comfortable on the wrist. Light (37 g), the case is well finished, while the silicone strap does not irritate, even under water.
As is often the case with sports watches, the transflective screen housed in this Forerunner 55 is content to be readable. With a diagonal of 1.04 inches, it displays 208 x 208 px and offers only a limited range of colors. So it won't be the most pleasing to the eye, far from the Oled panel of the Venu 2 in particular. On the other hand, it is clear that whatever the light situation, the screen remains readable and not very prone to reflections.
The Forerunner 55 is certified waterproof 5 ATM (50 m). In practical terms, this means that it will be possible to swim with it. Surfing or jet-skiing, which would expose the case to strong pressure changes, should be avoided.
Designed for sports, the Forerunner 55 has a sober and efficient interface. The tricks of the city connected watches have no place here. For example, the screen is not touch-sensitive, and navigation is done using the five buttons surrounding the case. Although it takes a little time to learn how to use them, the essentials are quickly assimilated.
Let's take a quick tour of the owner... The upper left button activates and deactivates the screen backlight. Those who do not want to have to press the button as soon as they receive a notification can activate an automatic mode, to be configured from the Garmin Connect smartphone app (iOS, Android), which turns on the screen as soon as a wrist rotation is recognized. Very relevant in everyday life, this function can be a little too sensitive in a place such as a cinema where its activation would be quickly noticed.
The two other buttons on the left side of the case allow you to scroll up or down the content displayed on the watch. From the home screen, they give access to a fairly relevant summary of the day. We find the number of steps taken, heart rate, a review of physical activities of the week or the Body Battery indicator of the brand (estimated level of physical energy remaining).
Highlighted by the color of its base (green, blue, red or white depending on the model), the upper right button sends straight to the menu for launching a physical activity. The "favorite" sports are then displayed at the top of the list. A second press on this button allows you to start a session. In the meantime, the watch will propose the "suggestion of the day". This is based on the history of outings to indicate to the user the best training for his or her state of fitness. It is therefore important to record each session with the watch to take advantage of it.
It is thanks to this personalized approach that the Forerunner 55 stands out. With the arrival of Garmin's proprietary algorithms, in particular Garmin Coach, the watch becomes a real virtual coach. Its suggestions make it possible to keep a coherent sports program without in-depth knowledge. After an intensive session, for example, the watch will tell the user to rest or to "take it easy". It will also suggest slightly higher objectives if the reference session becomes too easy. After several weeks of use, Garmin Coach is convincing and allows the watch to go beyond its status as a witness to our training. It becomes a useful tool to progress and places this Forerunner 55 as a valuable ally in the preparation of a race.
Beyond the sports functions, the Forerunner displays some generalist features. Notifications are easy to read. Most apps are compatible. The only drawback is that they are not always announced. The content of the notification is sometimes displayed without indicating the source application, which can cause some confusion at times. It is also possible to control the music listened to via the smartphone, but impossible to store its songs directly on the watch. Similarly, Garmin Pay and Garmin Golf are not compatible with this model.
Forerunner 55 syncs with the Garmin Connect application available on iOS and Android. It is complete and pleasant to use. To learn more about the app, we invite you to consult the test of the Garmin Venu 2 watch in which we detail its main functions.
Uses and accuracy
As an entry-level model from Garmin, the Forerunner 55 does not have as many sensors as a Fenix or even a Venu 2. Thus, the GPS and the heart rate monitor are only accompanied by an accelerometer. Despite this reduced equipment, the data collected is on the whole relevant.
The GPS, for one, is of excellent quality. Its tracking is always appropriate and remains much more accurate than that of a smartphone. If it sometimes takes time - more than a minute - to locate the user, it is fortunately able to activate even after the start of the recording.
The heart rate monitor is less pleasing. Faced with a split session where heart rate variations are numerous, the watch loses its footing. Its measured curves are completely unrealistic and far from what the Polar H10 chest belt that serves as a reference informs us. Fortunately, the heart rate peaks and averages are consistent. During a less intense training, the readings are good with a margin of error between 1 and 4% compared to our chest belt.
A new feature of this Forerunner 55 is that it includes swimming tracking, a function that quickly becomes convincing. The lengths and movements are correctly recorded and analyzed, while the display in full effort evolves according to the phases of the session. If the watch vibrates well to indicate the passage of a stage (distance or time), it also displays the rest time between each length. Useful for timing your recovery.
Finally, the sleep monitoring seems relevant. The watch displays results that are often close to reality and offers globally coherent analyses.
For its Forerunner 55, Garmin promises an ambitious autonomy of two weeks, and the mission is successful. It takes 14 days to exhaust the watch despite continuous and intense use, with monitoring of heart rate and sleep, daily physical activities, not to mention receiving notifications.
As for charging, it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to give the Forerunner 55 its full energy thanks to the proprietary cable provided.
With the Forerunner 55, Garmin offers a new quality watch. With a very comfortable autonomy and accurate GPS tracking, this model is distinguished by the arrival of Garmin Coach. Thanks to it, the watch is no longer content to record your sessions and is able to offer a customized training. Thus, the Forerunner 55 is positioned as an ally of choice for an occasional athlete wishing to move up a gear and set up a training program.