Garmin Instinct Solar In-depth Smartwatch Review

Garmin Instinct Solar In-depth Smartwatch Review

Garmin completely changed the rules of smartwatch manufacture recently with the unveiling of their new solar powered watches and as part of the series, the wearable-watchmakers revealed a new collection of Garmin Instinct Solar watches. These incredible military approved timepieces now boast a battery life of up to 54 days with solar, which is 30 days more than standard, alongside some new case designs including Tactical, Camo and Surf Editions with coloured cases influenced by their respective environments.

Garmin’s first ever solar powered watch was unveiled just last summer, but the technology was only available within the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro, restricting its usability with those looking for a more affordable or smaller sized watch. Alongside the new range of Garmin Instinct Solar watches, we have also been treated to new Garmin Fenix 6 Solar watches, Fenix 6S Solar and a Garmin Tactix Delta Solar watch. For the outdoorsman looking for a highly durable piece built to U.S. military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance to 100 metres, the Instinct Solar is likely to be a first choice.

The solar powered technology on the Garmin Instinct Solar watch works by using the brand’s innovative Power Glass which replaces the classic Corning Gorilla glass or sapphire crystal. Beneath the glass is a very thin 1mm wide strip just on the inside of the bezel and another under the display face which absorbs energy from the sun and converts it into battery life. One of the more unique features on Garmin’s solar powered watches is its default dial which displays a sun icon with a total of 10 rays around its circumference. This clever feature allows you to see how intense the sun is where you are situated, whether it’s in the shade or directly in it, so you can see how well it will be charging you watch with each ray indicating 10% of intensity.

It’s safe to say that the Garmin Instinct has long been one of the brand’s most iconic models, fulfilling the need for a hard-wearing and high functioning smartwatch for outdoor adventurers. The new Garmin Instinct Solar watches come with a fantastic selection of apps and features for everyday use, all of which have been listed at the bottom of this review. Some of their most notable features include the wrist based heart rate monitor, Pulse Ox sensor, preloaded sports apps for surfing, swimming, running, biking, hiking, rowing, strength and more and a Body Battery Energy monitor which uses heart rate variability, stress, sleep and other data to gauge when you’re ready to be active or when you may need to rest.

For when 56 days of battery life isn’t enough, the Power Manager feature allows you to view how various settings and sensors impact your watch’s battery life, so you can make battery-extending changes when you need to. You also get access to the full range of multiple global navigation satellite systems including GPS, GLONASS and Galileo and ABC sensors for altimeter for elevation data, barometer to monitor weather and three-axis electronic compass. We love the TracBack Routing feature too, which is perfect for hikers who want to navigate the same route back to their starting point.

There are five designs to choose from of the standard Garmin Instinct Solar, some colours which we have seen before and some of which are new: Graphite, Tidal Blue, Orchid, Sunburst and Flame Red. Alongside these, we are also treated to three duos of special edition Garmin Instinct Solar watches which includes two Tactical Editions, Surf Editions and Camo Editions.

The Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical Edition is available in Moss or Black and is designed for those looking for a stealthy aesthetic for tactical training. Alongside all the features found on the standard Garmin Instinct, these variations feature night vision goggle compatibility, Jumpmaster mode for calculating high-altitude release points according to military guidelines and stealth mode which enables you to stop storing and sharing your GPS position and disable wireless connectivity and communication.

Similarly, the Garmin Instinct Solar Surf Edition watches feature additional functionality on top of the standard specs. These include dedicated surf features that can record the number of waves surfed, maximum speed reached, and distance travelled and tide data, so you stay up to date on ocean conditions to help catch the perfect wave. The Surf Editions are available in two designs nicknamed Cloudbreak and Pipeline. The Garmin Instinct Solar Camo Editions don’t feature any additional functionality but come dressed in two stunning camouflage aesthetics: Lichen Camo and Graphite Camo.

For those tempted and ready to order their own Garmin Instinct Solar watch, the standard range retails at a remarkable £349.99 while each of the special edition models come in a little higher at £399.99. You can find the full collection on the Jura Watches website here with many of the pieces currently in stock ready for next day delivery and available with interest free finance.


  • Lens Material: Power Glass
  • Bezel Material: Fibre-reinforced polymer
  • Case Material: Fibre-reinforced polymer
  • QuickFit Watch Band Compatible: Yes
  • Strap: Silicone
  • Case Size: 45x45x15.3mm
  • Display Size: Custom, two-window design; 0.9” x 0.9” (23 x 23 mm)
  • Display Resolution: 128×128 pixels
  • Display Type: Monochrome, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
  • Weight: 53g
  • Battery Life: Smartwatch: Up to 24 days/54 days with solar, Battery Saver Watch Mode: Up to 56 days/Unlimited with solar, GPS: Up to 30 hours/38 hours with solar, Max Battery GPS Mode: Up to 70 hours/145 hours with solar, Expedition GPS Activity: Up to 28 days/ 68 days with solar
  • Water Resistance: 100 metres
  • Memory/History: 16MB
  • Clock Features: Time, Date, GPS Time Sync, Automatic Daylight Saving Time, Alarm Clock, Timer, Stopwatch, Sunrise/Sunset Times
  • Health Monitoring: Wrist based heart rate monitor, Daily resting heart rate, Abnormal heart rate alerts, Body Battery Energy monitor, All-day stress tracking, Relaxation breathing timer, Sleep tracker, Hydration tracker, Menstrual cycle tracker
  • Sensors: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor, Barometric altimeter, Compass, Accelerometer, Thermometer, Pulse Ox blood oxygen saturation monitor
  • Daily Smart Features: Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, Smart notifications, Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only), Calendar, Weather, Battery Saver, Controls smartphone music, Find My Phone, Find My Watch, VIRB Camera remote, iPhone & Android compatibility, Garmin Connect Mobile compatible
  • Safety and Tracking Features: LiveTrack
  • Tactical Features: Dual grid coordinates
  • Activity Tracking Features: Step counter, Move Bar, Auto goal, Calories burned, Floors climbed, Distance travelled, Intensity minutes, TrueUp, Move IQ
  • Fitness Equipment/Gym: Strength, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing and Yoga activity profiles, Cardio workouts, Strength workouts, Automatic rep counting
  • Training, Planning & Analysis Features: HR Zones, HR Alerts, HR Calories, % HR Max, % HRR, Auto Max HR, HR Broadcast, GPS Speed and Distance, Customisable screens, Customisable activity profiles, Auto Pause, Interval training, Advanced workouts, Downloadable training plans, Power modes customizable in-activity battery settings, Auto Lap, Manual Lap, Configurable Lap alerts, Customisable Alerts, Audio prompts, Finish time, Virtual partner, Race an activity, Course Guidance, Touch and/or button lock, Hot keys, Auto Scroll, Activity History on watch, Physio TrueUp
  • Running Features: Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running profiles, GPS-based distance, time and pace, Cadence (provides real-time number of steps per minute), Run workouts, Foot pod capable
  • Outdoor Recreation Features: Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddle boarding, Rowing, Kayaking, Fishing, Hunting, Tactical profiles, Point-to-point navigation, Breadcrumb trail in real time, Back to Start, TracBack, UltraTrac mode, Elevation profile, Distance to destination, Barometric trend indicator with storm alert, Trail run and auto climb, Vertical speed, Total ascent/descent, Future elevation plot, Compatible with BaseCamp, GPS Coordinates, Sight ‘n Go, Area Calculation, Projected Waypoint, Sun and Moon information, XERO Locations, Expedition GPS activity
  • Cycling Features: Alerts (trigger alarm when you reach goals included time, distance, heart rate or calories), Courses, Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking profiles, Race an Activity, Speed and Cadence sensor support
  • Swimming Features: Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming profiles, Open water swim metrics (distance, pace, stroke count/rate, stroke distance, swim efficiency, calories), Pool swim metrics, Stroke type detection, Drill logging, Basic rest timer, Repeat on rest timer, Time and distance alerts, Pool swim workouts, Underwater wrist based heart rate

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