Garmin Instinct 2 Series Smartwatch: All Models In Comparison

Garmin Instinct 2 Series Smartwatch 1

Garmin develops GPS devices in various markets such as aircraft, automobiles, and wearable products from everyday use to outdoor, high-precision GPS function, and smartwatch “Instinct” that supports solar charging.

The Instinct series is a series of Garmin GPS watches with outdoor features. It covers full-scale outdoor sports, including everyday outdoor activities and mountain climbing. It is characterized by its ruggedness compliant with MIL specifications, and it is a series that realizes a long battery with a lineup of solar power generation compatible versions. We also have a lineup of models equipped with dedicated functions for military and surfing.

It was high time that the manufacturer took care of the Garmin Instinct. After all, the first watch from the model series was launched on the market in autumn 2018. Although the Solar Edition was introduced two years later with a few new functions, not much has changed with the smartwatch over the years.

The Garmin Instinct 2 is also available in several versions that differ in size, color, and purpose.

When using the solar function, the manufacturer specifies the battery life as “unlimited,” which is why I have not included any specific information in the table.

As can be seen in the comparison, the Instinct 2 Standard, the Instinct 2 Camo, and the Instinct 2 Surf are offered in two different sizes.

The Instinct 2 Standard, the Instinct 2 Surf, and the Instinct 2 Tactical are also available in a solar version.

Garmin Instinct 2 Series Smartwatch 4

Here is a list of all Instinct models and the available colors.

Instinct 2 Color: Graphite

Instinct 2 Surf Edition Color: Mavericks

Instinct 2 Camo Edition Color: Graphite Camo

Instinct 2 Dual Power Color: Graphite, Mist Gray, Tidal Blue

Instinct 2 Dual Power Tactical Edition Color: Black, Coyote Tan

Instinct 2 Dual Power Surf Edition Color: Bells Beach

Instinct 2S Color: Graphite, Poppy

Instinct 2S Camo Edition Color: Mist Camo

Instinct 2S Dual Power Color: Graphite, Neo Tropic

Instinct 2S Dual Power Surf Edition Color: Ericeira

The Garmin Instinct 2 is the successor model to the Garmin Instinct smartwatch, which features a rigid body that can be used outdoors and in intense sports scenes without worrying about breakdowns and a long battery that can withstand long-term use.

In addition, Instinct 2 Surf Edition for surfing and windsurfing and Instinct 2 Tactical Edition for military use have also been added.

One of the features common to each model, the toughness body, has cleared the strict quality test set by the US Department of Defense procurement standard MIL standard: MIL-STD-810G”. It has tremendous impact, pressure, heat, and corrosion resistance.

Regarding the extended battery, which is another feature, the battery life varies depending on the case size and the availability of solar charging.

Garmin Instinct 2 Specification

Weight52g/ 42g52g/ 42g53g52g/ 42g
SensorsHF Sensor
Pulse Oximeter
Barometer, Compass
HF Sensor
Pulse Oximeter
Barometer, Compass
HF Sensor
Pulse Oximeter
Barometer, Compass
HF Sensor
Pulse Oximeter
Barometer, Compass

What’s new in the Garmin Instinct 2?

  • Watch case minimally thinner
  • improved display resolution
  • Improved battery life (also without solar functions)
  • internal memory from 16 MB to 32 MB
  • improved sleep monitoring
  • Health Snapshot
  • SpO2 measurement
  • Compatible with Connect IQ
  • Garmin Pay
  • Accident notification and emergency assistance
  • Vo2max tracking, heat, and altitude acclimatization
  • complete training analysis (like Fenix ​​7 or Forerunner models)
  • Multisport activities automatically and manually
  • HIIT sport modes
  • Routing on routes
  • With external sensor additional measurement data when running
  • performance status while running
  • lactate threshold while running
  • Pace Pro feature
  • complete golf functions
  • NTB Grit and Flow for cycling
  • Lap and max lap power for cycling
  • Compatible with Vector
  • Compatible with power meters
  • Wrist heart rate measurement while swimming
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There are a lot of new features that have been brought to the Garmin Instinct 2, which is why we will now take a closer look at the watch.


Visually, the Instinct 2 has hardly changed compared to the previous model, except it has become a little slimmer. Again we are dealing with a watch case made of plastic – specifically fiber-reinforced polymer – and again, we find the five buttons typical of Garmin on the sides.

Garmin Instinct 2 Series Smartwatch 2

Even if the watch looks a little old school, it makes a very strong and solid impression. This is also confirmed, for example, by their water resistance of up to 10 ATMs.

The manufacturer relies on new technologies for other models; the Instinct 2 uses the tried and tested Memory in Pixel (MIP) display, which does not impress with high resolution and beautiful colors but is easy to read in all lighting conditions and uses little power needs.

The “Instinct” series is a model that boasts ruggedness that clears the standard MIL-STD-810G (heat resistance, impact resistance, water resistance) set by the US Department of Defense but also has a full range of functions as a full-scale smartwatch. An outdoor GPS watch allows you to enjoy all kinds of active scenes, from daily use to harsh natural environments.

Garmin Instinct 2 Series Smartwatch 3

The 40mm size “Instinct 2S”, which is easy for women to use, will also be developed, and all 15 models will be released so that you can choose according to the purpose and color. In addition to the standard model that runs on a long-powered battery, we will also develop an “Instinct Dual Power” model with a solar charging function.

In addition, specialties such as “Tactical Edition” with military functions such as compatibility with night vision goggles and stealth mode, “Surf Edition” that supports windsurfing and kiteboard in addition to surfing, tide graph (tide table). We also have a lineup of models with added functions.

Garmin Instinct 2 Series Smartwatch 5

The new “Instinct 2” series has a sharper display and an even more powerful battery while retaining its robustness and precision navigation capabilities. Functions for daily use have been enhanced, and a cashless payment function compatible with Suica has been added as a smart function. In the health monitoring function, in addition to “Body Battery,” which quantifies heart rate, stress level, and remaining energy, blood oxygen tracking, etc., a sleep score that evaluates sleep quality with numerical values ​​up to 100 is added.

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In addition, lightweight and supple band, GPS / GLONASS / GALILEO / Michibiki compatible (multi GNSS), altimeter / barometer / electronic 3-axis compass sensor installed, 10ATM / 100m waterproof, Corning Gorilla Glass DX installed, various notification functions, etc. There is a feature.

“Instinct 2 Surf Edition” and “Instinct 2 Tactical Edition” are specially designed for surfing and military use, respectively.

“Instinct 2 Surf Edition” is equipped with a “surfing function” that can measure the number of waves surfed, maximum speed reached, distance traveled, “tide graph” that can check the time of high tide and low tide, and “windsurfing mode.” From people who enjoy surfing as a hobby to people who engage in professional activities.

“Instinct 2 Tactical Edition” has “Stealth mode” that allows you to turn off GPS, “Night vision mode” that has high visibility of the display even when wearing night-vision goggles, and “Navigating the descent route to the destination during a skydive.” Equipped with “Jump Master” and “Kill Switch,” that instantly erases all data in the clock. The main target will be SDF personnel.


We also want to talk briefly about the solar function in this context when it comes to battery life. The necessary collectors are installed directly in the display. The solar panels on the edge of the screen collect 100% of the sunlight.
The battery lasts around four days longer in conventional smartwatch mode or even nine days longer in energy-saving mode.
According to the manufacturer, with the help of the solar function, the battery should even last indefinitely.

Garmin says that 3 hours of 50,000 lux sunlight is enough to get 1 hour of GPS mode or one day of smartwatch mode.

For comparison, a bright summer day brings about 100,000+ lux. This means that even in our latitudes, it is possible to use the solar function on the Garmin Instinct 2 even on a sunny autumn day.

And even if all manufacturers usually like to exaggerate a little when it comes to battery life, even without solar energy – that the Instinct 2 can last up to 14 days with conventional use before it has to be reconnected to the charging cable.

Health & Activities

The Garmin Instinct 2 offers the usual functions such as steps, distance, calorie consumption, intensity minutes, or automatic activity recognition when tracking your daily activities. Real innovation is the improved sleep monitoring, which now provides more data and insights into how you sleep.

The comprehensive SpO2 measurement is also new. While the blood oxygen saturation was measured only occasionally and optionally while sleeping in the previous model, this measured value can now be determined permanently.

In addition, the Health SnapShot, which we already know from the Garmin Venu 2, is now also on board, which provides essential data such as pulse, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, and again SpO2 with a short measurement.

Other popular features such as the body battery, sports age, or resting heart rate have been adopted from the previous model and partially improved.

Sports and Fitness

This is the area where most of the innovations are. Specifically, many functions we know from the Forerunner or Fenix ​​models have also been adopted on the Garmin Instinct 2.

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First and foremost, the training analysis consists of training status, training load, and training effect. In addition, the Garmin Instinct 2 now also makes daily training suggestions. Also, a modern feature that has helped many users get fitter.

With additional functions such as comprehensive VO2max tracking, measurement of performance status and lactate threshold, automatic or manual recording of multisport activities, and the newly introduced compatibility with various external sensors, the Instinct 2 becomes a fully-fledged sports watch.

Pace Pro planning, a separate sport mode for HIIT, and route guidance complete this impression.

Outdoor activities

Although the Garmin Instinct 2 can now offer significantly more sports functions, the old virtues of the previous model have not been forgotten. After all, the first Instinct was an actual outdoor watch. And that’s why all the corresponding features have been transferred to the new smartwatch without exception.

It is essential to know that no maps are provided on the watch in this context. Specifically, you can do the following

  • You create a route on an external platform and load it onto your watch
  • You make a route on Garmin Connect and then transfer it to your watch
  • or you can put a route you have already completed back on your watch and walk the route again

During the hike or bike tour, point-to-point navigation, traceback, or the back-to-start function are available to you. In addition, ascents and descents, altitude, and distance are automatically recorded.

In addition, you can also use functions such as a compass, altimeter, and barometer.

Pulse measurement and GPS

Like the Venu 2, the Fenix ​​7, and the Epix 2, the Instinct 2 has also been equipped with the current Garmin Elevate 4 heart rate sensor.

As shown Venu 2 review, the new sensor generation is exact and delivers precise measurement results even with strongly changing intensities.

When it came to location determination and distance measurement, Garmin surprised me by not giving the Instinct the new multi-band GNSS. Especially with a watch that was developed for outdoor activities, among other things, the new technology would be taken into account.

So you are limited to the usual equipment, so the Instinct 2 only uses the satellite systems GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo.

Smart Features

There is one major innovation to report here because the Instinct Smartwatch is also compatible with Garmin Connect IQ. It is now possible to install watch faces, data fields, widgets, or apps from third parties. Garmin Pay can now also be used.

Otherwise, the usual smart functions such as various notifications, calendars or weather can be found on the smartwatch.


The Garmin Instinct 2 is not just a simple facelift from the previous model. Still, a watch was presented that has received many new functions and with this equipment corresponds precisely to what is understood today by a modern, sporty smartwatch.

For me, the Instinct 2 is one of the manufacturer’s most exciting watches because if you compare the range of functions with that of the Fenix ​​7, for example, then there aren’t that many significant differences. 

The Instinct 2 doesn’t need to shy away from a comparison with most Forerunner models either, and it’s even superior to a Venu 2 in terms of functionality.

The watch is not quite as high-quality and the display cannot keep up with other Garmin watches, but the real qualities of the Instinct 2 can be found inside, and they are compelling.

If you also consider that the Garmin Instinct 2 is relatively cheap, the watch offers a perfect price/performance ratio.