Garmin Instinct 2 Solar review: To infinity and beyond

Garmin aims to stretch the limits of battery life and make charging a thing of the past with the Instinct 2 Solar.

Typically, if a company claims its smartwatch has the potential for unlimited battery life, it would be fair to approach it with a good helping of scepticism. With Garmin so often able to pull off what other wearable companies can’t, though, it makes the Solar edition of this basic, rugged GPS watch an intriguing case.

Of course, the battery life isn’t the only thing that makes it appealing, either. Unlike the more feature-packed GPS sports watches from Garmin, this is available at a fairly reasonable price tag.

The question, then, is whether the Instinct 2 Solar can stand up to the rigours of daily tracking and stay away from charging cables.

Is this more of a gimmick than a game-changer? Here’s our verdict.
Where the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar gets it right is in the battery life department, and that’s crucial. As we’ve found with other Garmin devices, as well, this only improves further if you go with the larger model.

So, to answer the question posed in the intro: yes, it succeeds. For those who care about battery life more than anything else, the Instinct 2 Solar is ideal – even more so if you spend a lot of time outside or live somewhere with good levels of sunshine.

We think it’ll be a watch that appeals to those who crave the look of a classic digital watch but also want a device that acts like an activity-focused smartwatch.

With the bonus of all the advanced metrics and fitness tracking capabilities of a modern Garmin tracker, this is a very good option to consider – even if the design, small display and lack of touchscreen won’t be to everybody’s liking.
There’s a certain charm to the Garmin Instinct 2’s design, if only because it ditches the typical smartwatch look for more of a classic digital watch vibe.

It has a bit of a Casio G-Shock feel to it, we think, with the case made from a chunky fibre-reinforced polymer (fancy plastic) and designed to take a beating and survive water to 100-metre depths.
It’s also available in a good array of colours. While the standard Solar unit we tested only comes in black, light grey or blue, there are others available if you opt for the non-solar model. You’ll find a luminous Electric Lime, a teal Neo Tropic and an orange/red Poppy colourway.

By default, they come with a colour-matched silicone strap. However, if you use the customisation tool on Garmin’s store, you can mix and choose from a few different case colours and then choose a strap design and material yourself.

While chunky, the watch is relatively lightweight and very comfortable to wear. Part of that is down to the usual Garmin approach to silicone strap design. As well as being very flexible and a bit stretchy, there are strap holes running up the entire length, making it infinitely adjustable.

You also get the usual button layout. So, three pushers on the left, two on the right. And, in this case, they’re relatively low profile, while still being textured to make them easy to find and press even if it’s wet and cold.


Ajmal Solangi is a Tech writer specializing in the intersection of tech and reviews. He likes tech news, mobile unboxing, reviews, gadgets, and more.

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