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Garmin’s Instinct 2X Solar smartwatch never needs charging

If you look at the Apple Watch Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and think, “They aren’t quite up to the job,” then Garmin’s new Instinct 2X Solar may be the smartwatch that will keep up with your lifestyle.

The Instinct 2X Solar is a rugged mix of Ultra-style outdoor features and Casio G-Shock toughness, complete with Garmin’s excellent health and activity tracking features.

The Garmin Instinct 2X Solar on a person's wrist.

The massive 50mm polymer case meets the tough MIL-STD-810 standards for water resistance, shock resistance, and thermal protection. It can survive in water down to a depth of 100 meters, and the strengthened glass over the screen will resist scratches, which is important as underneath it is the solar charging array. In smartwatch mode, provided you keep it fed with sunlight, there shouldn’t be any need to charge it externally at all. Garmin says it produces 50% more energy than the Instinct 2’s solar array.

Garmin has improved the GPS connectivity for the new model, providing multi-band GNSS support for increased accuracy, plus a new barometric altimeter sensor and a 3-axis compass. This means you don’t have to hold the watch horizontally to always get the correct reading. Garmin’s Tracback routing feature is onboard to lead you back to your starting point … should you get lost.

The Garmin Instinct 2X Solar on a person's wrist.

The Instinct 2X Solar contains all the usual fitness and activity tracking, including sleep tracking, respiration, and blood oxygen monitoring too — just like what you get on the Garmin Forerunner 265. It’ll track running, cycling, swimming, and plenty of other activities, plus a new Obstacle Course feature has been added. Obstacles are manually added to the workout for the first lap, then automatically recognized for each subsequent lap, and details are included in the data at the end of the course.

Finally, the Instinct 2X Solar has a built-in LED flashlight with different intensity settings and the option to select a red or white light. Interestingly, it has a strobe mode that matches your running cadence and alternates between red and white lights, making you far more visible when running at night. The smartwatch connects to the usual Garmin app and supports Garmin Pay payments too.

The Garmin Instinct 2X Solar and Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Edition.
Garmin Instinct 2X Solar (right) and Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Edition (left) Garmin

In addition to the standard Instinct 2X Solar model, Garmin has also introduced the Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Edition. This version, as the name suggests, includes tactical-style features — such as Garmin’s Jumpmaster, which tracks Static, HALO, and HAHO skydiving and parachute jumps. There’s also Stealth Mode, which disables connectivity and only shows GPS data on the watch, and doesn’t save it. The LED flashlight uses white or green light to help aid natural vision in darkness.

Both the Instinct 2X Solar and the Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Edition are available now. The standard model costs $450, and the Tactical Edition is yours for $500.

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Andy Boxall
Senior Mobile Writer
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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