The Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar - A great watch with one infuriating design flaw

Posted by Conor O'Neill on Thursday, June 8, 2023

After a couple of great years with the Forerunner 935, the ever-reducing battery life started to become annoying and I decided last summer to upgrade to the 955 Solar.

955 Solar

Overall I like the feature-set and it generally feels like a solid upgrade to the 935. I particularly love the maps navigation. Being able to load up a course like the Beara Way Ultra and follow it via glances, along with some buzzes and beeps for major turns and going off-course, is an amazing time and hassle saver. I haven’t gone off-course or gotten lost once since I started using it.

But there is one infuriating thing, the damned buttons. Initially the mechanism just felt cheap and stiff. I bought a lot of $15-$30 watches from Aliexpress in 2019 for a work project and most of them had better button feel. But on the 955 they then started sticking and double-clicking. Remember this is a watch that cost €650!

I sent it back to the store and they had to wait 6 weeks for a replacement to arrive.

There was the same stiffness in the buttons of the replacement initially and then, you’ve got to be kidding me, they started sticking again.

I put up with it for months despite it driving me nuts, as I didn’t want to wait another 6 weeks for a replacement. Every time I pressed the crappy light button and it came half way out, paused and then came fully out, I thought “I paid €650 for this rubbish”.

Last week the annoyance got too much and I opened a support ticket directly with Garmin. I pointed out that it’s clearly a design flaw with the watch and plenty of people are complaining about it online. I asked if I could trade it in for a different model and I would pay the difference. The 2 day response time was 6 days: No possibility of a trade-in and they are only offering a pre-owned watch in replacement. Presumably I’ll get one of the thousands that have been returned due to having sticking buttons

That’s Garmin’s idea of customer service? A used watch for something still under warranty? A used watch that will almost definitely have the same problem as the other two?

Garmin feels a bit like mid-90s Nokia at the moment. Releasing a crazy number of devices for every demographic and clearly not putting the effort in to design or manufacture them well. Apple ate Nokia’s lunch and I suspect Apple + Coros will eat Garmin’s. Their one big defence is their existing customer base. But if offering a used watch to a loyal customer who has bought 5 watches and an InReach is how they want to do customer retention, they are in for a nasty surprise over the next couple of years.

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