The Garmin Instinct 2X Solar uses the power of the sun to extend its battery life beyond most smartwatches. It's a rugged, outdoorsy watch — especially with its built-in LED flashlight — that's great for adventurers and fitness enthusiasts. It's undoubtedly a niche product, but an excellent one for its target audience. I tested the Tactical edition (S$759 compared with S$689 for the standard version), which adds several, even more niche features, such as Night Vision (makes the screen readable with night-vision goggles) and Stealth Mode (disables wireless and GPS connections) that are more suited for those in the military.
- 1.1-inch MIP screen (176 x 176 pixels)
- 50mm size, 67g
- Up to 40 days battery life as smartwatch, unlimited with solar
- Available in four colours (standard), and two colours (tactical edition)
With a 50mm polymer case, the Garmin Instinct 2X is on the bulky side, even though it doesn't seem that heavy (67g). It's particularly noticeable when I'm wearing it to sleep. If you're coming from your typical Apple or Samsung smartwatch, the Garmin's 1.1-inch monochrome MIP (memory-in-pixel) display is a complete contrast. It reminds me of E Ink, and it's also not a touch display. But it's very readable outdoors under direct sunlight. I did have to get used to pressing a button to turn on the backlight (or enable a raise-to-wake setting) to make the screen visible in the dark. There are five physical buttons, and they are clicky and tactile. I struggled initially with the button-oriented interface — lots of button-pressing — but you'll get used to it. However, it doesn't feel quite as responsive as some smartwatches I have tried.
As mentioned, battery life is one of the biggest reasons for getting the Instinct 2X Solar. In my testing, the Garmin's battery gauge dipped by around 30% after almost two weeks of constant use. I was wearing it almost all the time, including sleeping with it. But I didn't go outside as much as I wanted, so there probably wasn't that much exposure to the sun. The watch has a Solar Intensity measurement — mine showed an average of 2K lux — that charts the amount of sunlight collected. Your battery mileage will also vary according to the settings. For example, I only enabled standard GPS, but the Instinct 2X Solar also has All-Systems GNSS and Multi-Band GPS tracking, which will affect the battery life. Garmin says the watch needs at least three hours of 50K lux sunlight for unlimited battery life using one of the power saver modes.
The flashlight is nice to have. You double-tap a button to turn it on. I could choose between white and green, as well as make it pulse, flash, or even have the flashlight match the rhythm of my run. But my favourite feature is Garmin's Morning Report, which gives a quick summary of the weather, your body condition, and your agenda. It's really helpful, as you can get an idea whether your body is ready for physical activities. This Training Readiness feature is one that I had experienced with Garmin's Forerunner watches. You also get the usual health and fitness tracking features, such as heart rate variability and blood oxygen levels. There's no ECG or blood pressure measurement, though, unlike Samsung's latest Galaxy 6 smartwatches.
At S$759, the Garmin Instinct 2X Solar (Tactical Edition) is more expensive than a mainstream smartwatch. But the standard Instinct 2X Solar (S$689) is priced reasonably — an Apple Watch starts from S$604. Most folks probably don't need the features in the Tactical Edition. Meanwhile, the extensive health and fitness tracking features, and rugged build make the Instinct 2X Solar the ideal smartwatch for certain users. Personally, I prefer Garmin's Forerunner 265 with its touchscreen OLED screen. But the extra battery stamina of the Instinct 2X Solar grows on you. Get it from Lazada, Shopee, and Amazon SG.
Review unit provided by Garmin.
Any purchase you make through our links may generate a commission. It supports our work, but does not dictate our editorial reviews. See our FAQ here.