Garmin Instinct Solar, Surf Solar, Tactical Solar, Camo Solar
Garmin has today released a new Instinct SOLAR watch with minor variants called SURF, CAMO and TACTICAL
Garmin Instinct Solar – What’s New?
Garmin’s Solar Glass technology was introduced onto the top-end Fenix 6X Pro Solar in 2019 which boosts the battery charge from sunlight and today this technology has trickled down to the popular Garmin Instinct. Actual conditions play a big part in how well this technology works but it can have a nice positive impact on battery life. This is totally new tech for the Garmin Instinct, so there are physical modifications to incorporate the photovoltaic cells as well as a notable jump in price when compared to current ‘normal’ price levels. There are two photovoltaic cells added to each watch, one a circular strip around the watch face and another beneath the entire full-face display
Advanced battery management features are not required for this tech to work but they are added as well so you can use pre-defined battery modes which disable certain features like GPS and you can create a custom battery profile too. The new tech inside the watch is also more energy-efficient (Elevate OHR and Sony GPS chip).
There are also a few new screens that enable the battery management and others which give you information on how the Solar Charging has been working.
|Surf, Tactical & Camo|
|-Smartwatch||24 days/54 days with solar||14 Days|
|-Battery Saver Watch||56 days/Unlimited with solar|
|-GPS||30 hours/38 hours with solar||16 Hours|
|-Max Battery||70 hours/145 hours|
|-Expedition GPS||28 days/68 days|
Assumes 3 hours per day solar charging @50,000Lux
Putting the solar tech to one side for a moment we also see the addition of the newest Elevate optical heart rate monitor which is further enabled for any kind of swimming activity. The minor Instinct versions (Camo, Tactical, Surf) each get some minor functions linked to the sports profile for their respective designed activity eg INSTINCT SOLAR SURF gets a surf profile, tide information and special surfing-related metrics.
All the new Instinct models also get the latest Garmin Elevate optical HR sensor. This is their best one to date and probably one of the best on the market.
The sensor itself is more energy-efficient and will boost the battery lives but also gives you the ability to use the battery-eating blood oxygen monitoring feature. This feature is being added to many activity watches, I don’t really see much point for a healthy & sporty person like you to need this.
Garmin Instinct Tactical SOLAR
This is the same as the previous TACTICAL version with the standard added features talked about above ie mainly Solar plus PulseOx
Garmin Instinct SURF Solar
This version adds ina new SURF sport profile as well as local tides information plus the Solar and Pulse OX
Garmin Instinct Solar – Opinion
We also today saw this same tech spread its wings throughout the entire Fenix 6 range. That was expected. However, I didn’t necessarily expect the same tech to be applied to the Instinct. Well, I did because there were leaks last year (!) …but otherwise I wouldn’t have expected it. The fact that solar tech is now on the Instinct means that it’s highly likely to find its way to Edge and Forerunner devices too – certainly the top models in those ranges but just how far and when it will trickle down we don’t yet know.
The solar tech, in percentage terms, doesn’t add TOO much to the battery duration for the FENIX but for the INSTINCT the increases almost double the battery life of the original Instinct on a like-for-like (ish) basis and very significantly increase it with the new battery management modes. Smartwatch manufacturers like Samsung or Apple can’t add the same tech because, for example, a 20% boost to their battery lives would be a trivial increase to the overall battery life of maybe one or two hours. On the other hand companies like Casio or Timex who compete in the outdoors tech space might be looking closely at what they can do here to compete with Garmin and it’s going to be tough for them.
Nevertheless, the Garmin Instinct already has a good enough battery life that I would argue doesn’t really need improving with Solar. However, I accept that Garmin’s focus on SURF, CAMO and TACTICAL makes sense, as does the Quatix 6X Solar (marine) that we saw earlier in the year and the Delta Solar (+Balistics) also announced today. The marine environment must be perfect to enable this tech to shine. For more details on the Instinct read the updated Garmin Instinct Review Solar Update
Is it worth that extra price rise? For £220 you can buy the regular INSTINCT, is it really worth the £350 price tag for the solar version..ie over $150 more when compared to a ‘normal or sale’ price?
Yet Garmin invests millions into R&D and that’s why they are where they are now. You can be sure they will further improve this tech. They will make it work better and they will make it cheaper to integrate, so that price differential will fall over time and the boost to battery lives might become more significant too.
Price, Discount & Availability