Garmin Instinct vs Instinct 2: What’s the difference?

Garmin Instinct vs Instinct 2: What’s the difference?

Earlier this year, Garmin revealed its latest series of Instinct watches, durable multisport GPS wearables designed for the wrists of outdoor adventurers and explorers. Suitably named the Garmin Instinct 2 and the Instinct 2S, the smartwatches delivered a whole host of new features including a smaller case size, new sports apps, higher resolution and an infinite power reserve. Let’s take a look at the differences between the Garmin Instinct 2 and the original Garmin Instinct.


When the original Garmin Instinct was released in 2018, it spoke to those looking for a tough, imposing watch with a 45mm diameter and 15.3mm height. It also revealed a rare fibre reinforced polymer structure which had been built to U.S military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance (100m) making it ideal for those looking to truly push their limits of adventure and came in a huge range of colours including red, blue, yellow, black and purple.

As for the new Garmin Instinct 2 watches, these now come in two sizes and several new colours. The regular Garmin Instinct 2 still upholds the 45mm diameter but comes in slightly shorter with a height of 14.5mm. Meanwhile, the Garmin Instinct 2S sits on the wrist at only 40mm by 13.3mm. Both are engineered from fibre reinforced polymer built to U.S military standards with a 100 metre water resistant rating. Some of the new case colours include a muted grey, turquoise and lime green.


The new Garmin Instinct 2 watches still offer the same monochrome memory-in-pixel (MiP) displays as their predecessor and still neglect touchscreen functionality. There is some significant improvement however in the resolution. The original Garmin Instinct has a resolution of 128 x 128 pixels while the 45mm Instinct 2 has a resolution of 176 x 176mm, and the 40mm Instinct 2S has a resolution of 156 x 156 pixels. Both past and present editions also come with the option of a solar powered display which as you’ll find out shortly, greatly increases the battery life.

On the non-solar Garmin Instinct, the battery assures up to 14 days of use in smartwatch mode and 16 hours in GPS while the solar edition of the same watch offers 54 days in smartwatch mode, an unlimited Battery Saver mode and 38 hours in GPS mode. The new Garmin Instinct 2 watches have greatly improved on this in both the non-solar and solar models. The non-solar Garmin Instinct 2 boasts a 28 day battery life in smartwatch mode, 65 days in Battery Saver mode and 30 hours in GPS while the smaller Instinct 2S offers 21 days in smartwatch mode, 50 days in Battery Saver mode and 22 days in GPS. Then, the Garmin Instinct 2 and 2S Solar references trump all the above with an unlimited power reserve. For a clear comparison of battery life, view the table below.


You can expect all the same functionality in the new Garmin Instinct 2 as the original alongside several new features. Some of the new smart features include Incident Detection which automatically detects when an incident has occurred and sends your name and location to your emergency contacts. Your location is determined using the LiveTrack location feature. There’s also an improved storage of 32GB compared to the 16GB of the original Instinct. The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar devices also boast Garmin Pay which allows you to make contactless payments using your watch. You’ll also find the same smart notifications, plus incoming calls and text alerts, music control and Find My Phone feature on the Garmin Instinct 2.


The original Garmin Instinct was already a well kitted out fitness tracker with a huge range of tracking modes and preloaded sports profiles. Now, alongside strength, cardio and elliptical training, stair stepping, floor climbing, indoor rowing, yoga, hiking, climbing, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, stand-up paddleboarding, rowing, kayaking, and Jumpmaster, the new Garmin Instinct 2 adds some additional new profiles. These are indoor track running, indoor climbing, bouldering, fishing, hunting, gravel biking, cyclocross, and e-biking. There’s also some new golfing features on the Instinct 2 including a digital scorecard, yardage to layups/doglegs, hazards and course targets, and green view with manual pin position.

The Garmin Instinct 2 and Instinct 2S watches, solar and non-solar, also introduce a new optical heart rate monitor which guarantees even better accuracy as well as a SpO2 sensor for tracking changes in blood oxygen saturation. There’s also training status, VO2 max and a recovery time feature which provides an estimate on how long it will take for you to fully recover and be ready for your next workout. For overall wellness, the Garmin Instinct 2 introduces sleep score and sleep insights, the Fitness Age app and a Health Snapshot feature.


The Garmin Instinct has also been one of Garmin’s more affordable premium smartwatches, offering some of their best technologies and a reasonably low price. The original Instinct retails at £269 for the non-solar and £319 for the solar edition while both the new Garmin Instinct 2 and Garmin Instinct 2S come in a little higher at £299 for the non-solar and £389 for the solar model.

If you’d like to learn more about the new Garmin Instinct 2 smartwatch collection and shop the full series for yourself, head over to the Jura Watches website here. Alternatively, get in touch with the team by calling 01335 453453 or send us a message at

Garmin InstinctGarmin Instinct SolarGarmin Instinct 2Garmin Instinct 2 SolarGarmin Instinct 2SGarmin Instinct 2S Solar
Case Size & Material45mm, fibre-reinforced polymer 45mm, fibre-reinforced polymer45mm, fibre-reinforced polymer45mm, fibre-reinforced polymer 40mm, fibre-reinforced polymer 40mm, fibre-reinforced polymer
StrapSiliconeSiliconeSiliconeSiliconeSilicone Silicone
RRP£269.99£319.99£299.99£389.99 £299.99£389.99
Lens MaterialChemically strengthened glassPower GlassChemically strengthened glassPower GlassChemically strengthened glass Power Glass
TouchscreenNoNoNoNo NoNo
Battery LifeUp to 14 daysUp to 54 daysUp to 28 daysUnlimitedUp to 21 daysUp to 51 days
Water Resistance100 metres100 metres100 metres100 metres 100 metres 100 metres
Screen resolution128 x 128 pixels128 x 128 pixels 176 x 176 pixels176 x 176 pixels 156 x 156 pixels156 x 156 pixels
Wrist heart rate monitor✔️✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Pulse Ox✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Connect IQ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
GPS, GLONASS & Galileo✔️✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Barometric Altimeter✔️✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Battery Saver Mode✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Music Storage
Garmin Pay ✔️ ✔️
Smart Notifications✔️✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Incident Detection ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Advanced Golfing Features ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Pace Pro Technology
VO2 Max ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Running Features✔️✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Training Status ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Cycling Features✔️✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Swimming Features✔️✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Sleep Score & Sleep Insights ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Respiration Tracking ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Fitness Age ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Health SnapShot ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Body Battery Energy Monitor✔️✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️

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