Garmin Forerunner 55 : GPS Accuracy Is Reasonably Good

I have had the Forerunner 55 for quite a few months now, and it has become one of my favourite watches. It comes with a lot of features that align with the kind of watch I was looking for. Although I have written numerous reviews and articles about the features of this Forerunner 55, I have not yet touched upon the GPS tracking accuracy of the watch.

The accuracy of the Garmin Forerunner 55 GPS is good, as it is designed for multi sport. It can’t give you exact results, but it is accurate enough for all the activities it is intended for. Here are some of my test results to provide a better idea of how accurate it can be.

GPS Accuracy Rating System

No of StarsDescriptionComments
5Zero mis alignments, no errorsExcellent precision, no errors, tracks correctly
4Up to 3 minor mis alignmentsVery good precision, some minor errors
34 – 5 minor mis alignmentsAverage precision
26 or more minor mis alignmentsBelow average precision
11 Major mis alignmentNot good,
0More than 1 major mis alignmentWay off

Forerunner 55 Final Test Results

GPS DifficultyRatingComments
Easy Level5Excellent precision
Hard LevelzeroNot so good
Very Hard Level4Very good precision

Ultimately, the Forerunner 55 showed strong results in the easy test, but it failed to compete in the hard test. I will now go into each of the three tests individually, providing an in-depth look into the results.

I would like to emphasize that I have never used this GPS rating system to evaluate the plethora of smart watches I have tested. This is the first time and I am confident that my evidence and reasoning for the rating will allow you to make a well-informed decision as to whether the watch is a good fit for you.

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Easy Level : Excellent Precision

In this test, I am attempting to replicate a situation in which the watch user takes a walk or a run around the block. On this pre-planned route that I have taken, there are very few impediments that would affect the accuracy of the watch. There are power lines, tall trees and bushes, but nothing that would hinder the accuracy.

After reviewing the final result, my expectations of the watch were high indeed. I had recorded countless running and hiking routes around my neighborhood, so I expected a rating of at least 4 out of 5. In the end, I was very pleased with the result. Not only were there no errors, it tracked the route nearly perfectly.

Test Results

  • GPS difficulty : Easy, very little obstructions such as power lines and tall trees
  • GPS accuracy rating : 5 out of 5
LEFT : Is my planned route, the red circle is to give a close up of a random area. MIDDLE : Gives you a closer view of the image on the left. Looks really good as I was walking really close to the building and trees away from the hot sun. RIGHT : View from the ground, as you can see it’s to simulate a person going for a walk or run through their neighbourhood.

Hard Level : Precision Not So Good

In this test, I am attempting to simulate a situation where a watch user goes on a jog through a metropolitan area or a rural town. There is a great potential for the watch to become inaccurate due to the tall buildings and when walking under an awning as it blocks the GPS satellite from determining your location.

After taking a look at the final result, I was deeply disappointed by what I saw. There had been a number of errors when taking the route, particularly when I went underneath an awning. When I tested the Huawei Watch GT3 or the Samsung Galaxy Watch, both of these devices didn’t show such an error in the route.

The Galaxy Watch 5 has an assisted GPS feature, which allows it to use other sources to connect to the GPS satellite, such as servers or cell phone towers. The Huawei Watch GT3 also has a dual band frequency that can access both the L1 and L5 GPS connectivity bands. The Forerunner 55 does not have any of those things so it maybe a factor in the errors.

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Test Results

  • GPS difficulty : Hard, tall buildings, walking under awnings can create errors in your tracking
  • GPS accuracy rating : 0 out of 5
LEFT: overview of my planned route. the red circle is the major mis alignment MIDDLE : Close up view of the red circle on the left. The red dotted line is my actual path. the blue and green is the Forerunner 55 tracking RIGHT : Ground view of planned route. The metal awnings above played a role in creating tracking errors

Very Hard Level : Very Good Precision

In this test, I am aiming to simulate a watch user who prefers walking or jogging through a park that has a great deal of thick and tall trees, with mountain ranges. Generally, I will be beneath the tree cover which can lead to inaccuracies in your GPS tracking.

After a thorough review of the final outcome, GPS tracking was very satisfactory. There was only one minor discrepancy in the GPS tracking; other than that, it was an outstanding result.

Test Results

  • GPS difficulty : Very Hard, dense forestry, tall trees, mountain ranges
  • GPS accuracy rating : 4 out of 5
RIGHT : overview of the entire planned route through our local mountain tracks, red circle is the minor mis alignment. MIDDLE: close up view of the mis alignment. the dotted line is the actual path, blue/green line is Forerunner 55 tracking RIGHT : View of the track deep into the mountain trackis

Final Conclusion

It is certain that the GPS accuracy of the Forerunner 55 is exceptional, as it did really well in the easy and very hard tests. The one issue that this device has is that it failed in the hard test, and it is the only one I have tested that had its tracking drastically inaccurate in the very hard test.

The GPS tracking system of the Forerunner 55 is generally very good, though you may need to make some adjustments and plan your route to avoid too many obstructions. The hard test I have completed is an example of what to avoid if GPS tracking is important to you.

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you found this article useful.