Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Review: For adventure and “unlimited” battery life | Gmx Pharm

In this review, we’re talking about a no-frills fitness smartwatch designed specifically for those who love real adventures and are outdoors.

Although I’ve used Garmin’s running smartwatches before, this one is a little different.


The Garmin Instinct 2 stands out from other smartwatches with its robust construction and practical design.

This Instinct 2 Solar isn’t just for running or fitness enthusiasts, it goes beyond that. This one is more useful for those who like hiking in difficult terrain or hiking in challenging places.

What does the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar offer? Let’s find out in this review:

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar: design and display

The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar is a bit chunkier than the usual Garmin Forerunner series or Instinct series watches.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

The watch features a transparent “power glass” covering the screen and panels around the display’s edge that captures sunlight and continues to charge the battery provided you expose it to direct sunlight for at least three hours.

At a time when touch displays are quite common on smartwatches, touch buttons have their own unique charm.

There are usually 5 buttons in this watch. If you’ve used a Garmin smartwatch before, it won’t take long to get used to it. But if not, then it will take a few days to get used to the physical buttons.

The resin strap is very comfortable and the watch is really light at only 52g. You can even go to sleep with the watch on and won’t feel uncomfortable.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

All sensors are on the underside.

I’m not a fan of Garmin’s monochrome displays; The Garmin Instinct 2, no matter how good or rugged the watch looks, has a dull and boring display, but the logic here is that since these displays use less power it makes sense to use them in a watch that has an “unlimited” offers battery life.

The photovoltaic module for solar charging is placed directly around the display to give the watch enough light to charge.

However, most of the information on the screen is visible in direct sunlight, but reading notifications or using maps is a small task here. You can also use the backlight options in the dark.

There aren’t many customization options that you’d be happy about, as the monochrome screen makes everything look boring. I’ve tried a few watch faces and widgets, and that’s pretty much what you can do here since it’s not your everyday fancy smartwatch.

That means it’s good for those who use the watch for outdoor activities like hiking or trekking, as there are hardly any distractions with this serious adventure smartwatch.

Not only does the watch look rugged, it’s actually one of those rugged smartwatches you can use with its “military” credentials. It offers water resistance of up to 100 meters, so you can wear the watch while swimming and it will work properly.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar: Battery life

Battery life can vary a lot more than the company claims. Garmin claims up to 28 days of battery life on a single charge and unlimited battery life with solar charging.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

In my case, usage was heavy as I used the Instinct 2 Solar for activity tracking almost daily. I also often used the GPS function, which consumes a lot of battery. So I got about 8-10 days topped up with activity tracking, regular notifications, GPS and a few other features.

With normal smartwatch usage, the watch can easily last 2-3 weeks.

But since it’s a solar watch, I relied on solar charging, which isn’t noticeable even after spending 3-4 hours outdoors.

I used the watch for a bike ride on a hot summer day in June and expected the watch to get some charging, but that’s not how solar smartwatches work.

As I later learned, the solar charging feature means that the battery level does not automatically increase when you expose the watch to direct sunlight, rather the watch will last longer than usual with the small amount of solar charge it gains. So don’t expect a miracle here, but it’s a key feature for those who go trekking, hiking or cycling, as the watch gets ample sun exposure.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar: Performance

This is where it gets even more interesting. The Instinct 2 Solar supports 30 sport modes including running, swimming, cycling, strength training and more.

I’ve mainly used the smartwatch for cardio, strength training and running and it’s a delight for those who like to keep track of all their fitness metrics.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

I pay close attention to my heart rate readings and the watch does a good job of tracking the readings. For more details and insights you can use the Garmin Connect app.

I like to check my cadence, heart rate movements, elevation gain and interval data while running and you can get all this information in the app.

You can also check your VO2 Max – the amount of oxygen your body uses during an exercise.

The sleep tracking data is very interesting as you can see how long you were in deep sleep, how long you were light sleeper or the REM movements. This says something about the quality of your sleep and helps when you have a fitness goal in mind. Much of your recovery depends on the quality of your sleep. Here’s how you can use this feature.

Sleep is one of the key metrics to focus on in this day and age as many health problems arise from poor sleep quality. This is where the role of a good smartwatch comes into play.

I often find the stress monitoring feature data difficult to understand, but on workout days it makes sense. There were days when I walked over 20,000 steps in one day and could rely on the load data.

There are many sensors and I wish I could use the watch on a mountain trip because then I could have tested the watch’s true potential.

Nevertheless, I tried to subject the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar to all the important tests and I can say that the watch actually stands out from the rest in several areas.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar: Conclusion

At Rs 47,000, the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar may be pricey and not for everyone, but it’s not your everyday smartwatch as it’s built for harsh conditions where your average lifestyle smartwatch can just give up.

Activity and general health tracking are spot on, as is the case with other Garmin smartwatches, but it’s a serious smartwatch and you won’t find it very appealing. I’ve tried keeping the watch under sunlight for the most part, but everyday city life is tough, meaning its main function, solar charging, is almost impossible to test.

But those who are into real adventures can get the most out of this smart watch as it is durable, can work even underwater, not easily damaged, and a good amount of sunlight keeps charging the watch.

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