Not everyone needs a smartwatch to join them on their outdoor adventures, but for those who want one, Garmin has you covered. To balance out its Fenix 7 smartwatches, which go up to $1,000, Garmin just dropped its updated, more affordable, Instinct 2.
The Instinct 2 series doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Garmin’s more premium watches, but its starting price is half that of Fenix 7’s least expensive model. If you’re looking for a cheap, reliable digital companion for your activities and don’t really need things like a touchscreen, built-in flashlight or Spotify connection, the Instinct 2 will probably suit you just fine.
Features on features — Compared to the previous generation, Garmin did update the Instinct 2 lineup with a bunch of new features and modes. The Instinct 2 now comes with the Sleep Score and Advanced Sleep Monitoring programs, adding to the existing Body Battery Energy Monitor that tracks stress, heart rate and sleep to determine when you’re ready for your next workout.
Garmin also dumped a bunch of its fitness modes into the Instinct 2, including VO2 Max, Fitness Age, Training Status/Load/Effect, Recovery Time, HIIT Workouts and Daily Suggested Workout modes. The incident detection feature also makes its way to Instinct 2, which pings your emergency contacts with your name and location if an emergency is detected. The Instinct 2 has Garmin Pay now, so you can just tap your watch to pay through compatible payment systems. Of course, the Instinct 2 still has all the multi-GNSS support, sensors, and route tracking features that are in most of Garmin’s other devices.
“Unlimited” battery — At the minimum, the Instinct 2 base model without solar capabilities can get four weeks of continuous use in smartwatch mode. The 45mm Instinct 2 Solar models, however, have the potential for unlimited battery life with one caveat — using it in smartwatch mode and spending at least three hours per day outside in a decent amount of sunlight. Even if you hit a patch of cloudy days or get too busy to get outside enough, the solar models of the Instinct 2 still give you a much longer time in between charges.
Since Garmin designed the Instinct 2s with “rugged individualists in mind,” the smartwatches have a high-resolution easy-read display that’s built with scratch-resistant glass. Unlike the more serious Fenix 7, the Instinct 2 has more vibrant color options like neon green, deep orange and matte teal. Garmin is also planning to incorporate the Instinct 2 into its Your Watch, Your Way program where you can customize the case color, bezels, and bands.
Affordable action — There are two sizes for each of the Instinct 2 models, a 40mm variant for all of us small-wristed individuals out there and a 45mm bezel that’s more in line with the size of Garmin’s other smartwatches. The base model Instinct 2s start at $350, but if you want to add solar capabilities, they start at $450. There’s also some more tailored editions of the Instinct 2, including the Surf Edition, Camo Edition and the Tactical Edition that’s popular with military personnel, which all start at $500. Garmin even designed a dēzl Edition that starts at $400 and was created specifically for long-haul truck drivers and their on-the-road lifestyle.