Apple Watch SE vs Garmin Forerunner 255

Apple Watch SE and Forerunner 255 watches are priced in a similar bracket. We take a closer look at both these watches. We also uncover the main differences between the Apple Watch SE and Garmin Forerunner 255. This would help you in taking a decision about your next watch purchase between an Apple Watch SE or the Garmin Forerunner 255 smartwatch.

Android or iOS

The most striking difference between an Apple Watch SE and Garmin Forerunner 255 has got to be the mobile operating system supported by these watches. We all know that Apple Watch SE is compatible with iOS 15 devices. So, if you have an iPhone 6S or later model, you can pair it with an Apple Watch SE. Apple Watch SE cannot work with any Android phone. This is self-explanatory because the Apple devices do not talk to the Android mobile operating systems.

Garmin Forerunner 255 is compatible with iOS 13 and later devices. So, Apple iPhone 6S and later models will work well with the Forerunner 255. On a similar basis, Garmin Forerunner supports Android 7 and later versions of the Android operating system. As we write this, Android 12 is the latest operating system version. Android 13 is right around the corner. So, if you have an Android phone that runs Android 7 or a later version, the Forerunner 255 will be able to pair with it.

Physical attributes and specifications

Apple Watch SE and Forerunner 255 have substantial differences in physical specifications and attributes.

  • Apple Watch SE comes in box or rectangular shape and Forerunner 255 comes in round shape.
  • Apple Watch SE has aluminum watch body. Forerunner 255 is made of fober enforced polymer. In this case, Apple Watch SE looks better with the metallic finish.
  • Apple Watch SE comes in 40 mm and 44 mm size variants. Forerunner 255 has a size of 45 mm.
  • The display screen of Forerunner 255 is 33 mm. Apple Watch SE follows a thin-bezel styling. The display screen of Apple Watch SE is way bigger than the 33 mm display screen of Forerunner 255.
  • The weight of Forerunner 255 is 49 g. Apple Watch SE 40 mm is a little over 30 g and Apple Watch SE 44 mm is a little over 38 g. There is a substantial difference in weight of the Apple Watch SE and Forerunner 255. Apple Watch SE is almost 30% lighter than a Forerunner 255 watch.

Apple Watch has a contemporary styling. It is lighter. And, it has a metallic finish. You can choose from one of the multiple loops to go with your Apple Watch SE.


Apple Watch SE has an OLED display. Forerunner 255 continues to use the Memory-in-Pixel screen or the MIP screen. There is significant difference in display quality of an Apple Watch SE and Forerunner 255.

  • Forerunner 255 has a display resolution of 260 x 260 pixels. Apple Watch SE has a display resolution of 324 x 394 pixels with a pixel density of 329 ppi (pixels per inch) for the 40 mm model. The 44 mm model of Apple Watch SE has a display resolution of 368 x 448 pixels.
  • Apple Watch SE has a screen brightness of 1000 nits. The screen supports Retina display technology.
  • The watch screen of Forerunner 255 is made of the Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3. Apple Watch SE has a display screen made of Ion-X glass. Ion X glass has a good resistance to scratches. It is also considered to be a tad stronger than the Corning Gorilla Glass.

In terms of display resolution and screen brightness, you will have to give it to the Apple Watch SE.


Apple Watch SE comes with a rated battery life of 18 hours. If you use it on GPS mode for an outdoor run or activity, the battery degrades faster. Eventually, you will have to charge your Apple Watch SE every 15-18 hours. This is like a daily chore for the Apple Watch SE users.

Garmin Forerunner 55 has an extended battery life. It can last for 14 days on the smartwatch mode. When used on the GPS mode, Forerunner 55 can easily last up to 30 hours. Garmin watches always have had a better battery life than the Apple or Fitbit watches. If battery life is a concern, we always suggest making use of the Garmin watches.

Device Storage

Apple Watch SE comes with 32 GB on-device storage. This is, usually, enough to store personal audio files on the watch storage. You could listen to music offline with an Apple Watch SE. Garmin Forerunner 255 standard edition comes with 4 GB internal memory or watch storage. You cannot store personal audio files on the standard edition of Forerunner 255.

Forerunner 255 Music edition has 32 GB device storage and matches with the Apple Watch SE in terms of memory specifications.

Cellular support

Apple Watch SE has separate watch models with cellular support. You can connect your watch to a cellular network directly. The implied benefit of this arrangement is that you could carry your watch without the phone. You could make calls from the Apple Watch SE with cellular support. The cellular model of Apple Watch SE will also come in handy in the event of an incident detection episode. Internal emergency calling is also possible if you are using an Apple Watch SE with GPS and Cellular network support.

Garmin Forerunner 255 series does not have any LTE or Cellular model. If you are looking to get a Garmin watch with cellular support, please consider buying the Forerunner 945 LTE model.

Heart Monitoring

Garmin uses an Elevate heart rate sensor. It can monitor your heartbeat on a persistent and perpetual basis. In other words, it can monitor your heartbeat continuously. When you define the normal heart beat range on the watch, Forerunner 255 can send in high or low alerts as well.

Apple Watch SE carries a second generation optical heart rate sensor. It monitors heartbeat continuously and can send in irregular heart ryhthm alerts to the wearer. Apple Watch SE can also detect conditions of Afbrial Fibrillation or Afib. Apple Watch SE does not have the ECG app support. If you intent to get an Apple Watch for its ECG functionality, do consider an Apple Watch 6 or Apple Watch 7.

In terms of heart monitoring, there are not many differences between the Apple Watch SE and the Garmin Forerunner 255.

Incident Detection or Fall Detection

Incident detection is a useful feature on the smartwatches. When the wearer of the watch experiences a hard fall, the smartwatch detects the fall. It automatically starts the incident detection program. First, it tries to get a response from the wearer. If the weares does not respond to the automatic messages of the smartwatch, the smartwatch sends in emergency message with the geo-location data to the designated contacts of the watch owner. Apple Watches can go a step further and send in message to the emergency services of your country to seek emergency help.

If your Apple Watch SE has cellular support, the watch will send an emergency SOS message through the watch’s cellular network. Else, it can make use of the cellular network of the phone that is paired with the Apple Watch SE. But the phone would need to be nearby to the watch. As an alternative, if your phone supports wifi calling, the watch can make use of the Wi-Fi network to seek emergency assistance for the wearer.

Incident detection feature has been proven successful on Apple watches. Apple Watch SE also supports the incident detection feature. If you intend to buy the watch for elders, Apple Watch SE should be prefered over the Forerunner 255.

Garmin Forerunner 255 also has an incident detection feature. But, it is limited to specific activities alone. When a Forerunner 255 detects a hard fall, it sends in emergency notification to up to 3 designated emergency contacts. It shares the geo-location data of the wearer. But, a Forerunner 255 cannot call the emergency services to seek 911 kind of support.

Clearly, Apple Watch SE has a better incident detection and response program on the watch that a Forerunner 255.

Oxygen Saturation

Garmin Forerunner 255 has a Pulse Oxygenation sensor that tracks oxygen saturation levels in blood. You can take a spot reading of blood oxygenation levels. Or, you could choose to track blood oxygen in your sleep.

Apple Watch SE does not track blood oxygenation levels as it does not have the pulse oximeter sensor on the watch.

Running and Activity Tracking

Apple Watch SE tracks multiple activities like swimming etc. It does so as part of activity tracking module. Most basics of activity monitoring for swimming are in-built into the Apple Watch SE.

But, Garmin Forerunner 255 is on a different level when it comes to activity tracking. It is a watch that has been designed for runners, fitness enthusiasts and triathletes. A Forerunner 255 comes with many in-built activity tracking programs. A few of these are listed below:

  • Forerunner 255 has an in-built swimming activity with pre-installed swimming profiles for pool swimming and open water swimming.
  • Forerunner 255 has multiple running profile that intend to provide exhaustive data about the quality of your run.
  • Forerunner 255 also has outdoor recreation profiles that are supposed to offer trackable data for the outdoor activities.
  • Garmin Forerunner 255 offers multiple cycling profiles and integrates cycling course data on the watch. It also allows you to integrate the watch with the rear cameras on the bike for the safety of the cyclist.
  • Garmin Forerunner 255 also has an in-built Gym profile to track and measure your indoor Gym activities.

All these fitness activities are tracked as part of a training and activity monitoring suite on the Garmin Forerunner 255 watch. The activity tracking will record the data of the activity and nail it down in terms of essential body parmaters like the heart rate, volumetric oxygen, elevation achieved etc.

If the purpose of your watch has to be activity monitoring and tracking, a Forerunner 255 is the apt choice over the Apple Watch SE.


An Apple Watch SE is a smartwatch with all-round capabilities. Forerunner 255 is a robust watch that caters to people who are heavily into running, swimming, cycling or indoor Gym activities. Forerunner 255 takes you through your training journey from being a novice to an enthusiast to a near pro level transition. It breaks down the fitness activity data to granular details.

For the elders, an Apple Watch SE may be more suitable on account of its reliable incident detection feature.

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Helen Kurt - Contributor on TECHEPAGES.COM. Reach me on email.

Helen Kurt is a geeky nerd who loves to cover the wearables space. She has over 5 years of experience in the smartwatch domain. You can reach her on email at [email protected].