While the watch’s exterior hasn’t undergone many changes, its software has undergone some improvements that many users will appreciate, mostly in the area of activity tracking. In most ways, the Garmin Instinct Solar delivers on its promises to provide you with more precise training data and prevent frequent charging. Adventure lovers looking for a smartwatch with a tough design that can withstand harsh weather conditions should consider the Garmin Instinct Solar. The Instinct series differs from other smartwatches in that it supports solar technology, which eliminates the need to plug the watch in to charge after every seven days. Your task will be completed by the sun.

Garmin Instinct Solar review: Design

The body of the Garmin Instinct Solar is made of durable fiber-reinforced polymer, and a silicone strap is included as standard. Although it has a very durable and practical design, it is obviously made of plastic and may not be sophisticated enough for everyday wear away from the tracks, trails, lakes, and ocean. It weighs just 1g more than the 2018 Instinct at 53g, and its case is the same size at 45mm. At 15.3mm thick, it feels a little chunky on the wrist but isn’t overly wide. Garmin’s watch use a technology called Power Glass, which harvests energy without compromising the appearance of the watch, in contrast to some solar-charged watches that use photovoltaic material in the face. Power Glass is still fairly robust and resistant to bumps and scratches, but it’s not quite as tough as sapphire glass, and Garmin advises against covering it with a screen protector. There are no bright colours on the display, which some users may find off-putting, but it is necessary for the excellent battery life.

Garmin Instinct Solar review: Interface and controls

The music control, smart notifications, and body battery energy monitor may be appealing to casual users. The Garmin Instinct Solar keeps track of all the important data points from your day, including your physical activity, steps taken, floors climbed, calories burned, and more. However, you can use the watch to manage the music that is currently playing on your phone. You also cannot play music offline. This wasn’t a hassle for me because we like to bring my phone on long hikes, and we can still change songs while moving around thanks to this feature. Garmin Pay is available on the Instinct S, but before using this feature, make sure your bank is supported. The onscreen interface is controlled by five buttons around the outside, each with a primary and secondary function label that is printed and etched into the display and bezel in classic Garmin fashion.

Garmin Instinct Solar review: Display

To ensure that if you knock it, you’ll probably hit the watch’s plastic frame rather than the glass covering the display, its bulky bezel surrounding the circular display area is raised a respectable distance from the screen. The onscreen interface is controlled by five buttons around the outside, each with a primary and secondary function label that is printed and etched into the display and bezel in classic Garmin fashion. It has a two-window design, so in addition to the larger round display in the center, there is a smaller round window in the top right corner intended for minor issues. Black and white displays don’t offer a high refresh rate or any fancy graphics, but they do enable the Instinct’s outstanding battery life, which is one of its main selling points.


Although the watch is marketed more as an outdoor trekking watch than a running watch, it can be used to track any type of activity, including running. We used it to record numerous runs and discovered that the integrated GPS tracking was incredibly accurate, easily able to log pace and cadence. On these fronts, Garmin is renowned for its dependability. It also used it to keep track of my walking routes while travelling and in the UK, and it has a useful breadcrumb trail feature that drops waypoints along the way so you can follow it back in case you lose phone service or are unable to access any maps. The watch can pick up GLONASS and Galileo positioning systems in addition to GPS for added security, ensuring that you always know where you are. In addition to this sensor, it also has a blood oxygen saturation monitor, an accelerometer, a compass, a barometric altimeter, and a thermometer for best-level tracking and readings. The other standard tracking modes are walking, hiking, and swimming in a pool, but you can add your unique workouts using the watch’s custom menus, including triathlons, indoor track runs, golf, bouldering, or fishing.

Garmin Instinct Solar review: Other features

The Instinct Solar’s ability to ping you with notifications from your smartphone, update you on your workouts, stress levels, and other metrics, or you can make it completely silent and stay out of the way, is one of its best features. This is frequently unusual for smartwatches, which are typically made to pique our interest so that we take out our phones and spend time using apps. Although the Garmin can receive notifications, disabled them because they are rather basic and you can’t respond to anything or take any action on an iPhone, but you can on Android. Although we occasionally forgot to turn off the phone call notification, the find my phone and find my watch features were helpful. Although the watch can be used to make NFC payments internationally. There are no third-party apps available for this operating system, but you can control your music or audio app from the watch.

Price and Configurations options

For the 45mm model we tested, the Garmin Instinct Solar costs. With a solid month of battery life and a competitive price for the feature set, this product targets outdoor enthusiasts who might want something a little more capable than an Apple Watch. Although it lacks a colour display, this watch offers the majority of the features found in the Apple Watch Ultra for less than half the cost. The rechargeable platform of the Instinct Solar is what makes it valuable. The features are acceptable but fairly standard for a GPS watch. This is one we’d suggest to ultrarunners, fast packers, mountaineers, or backpackers heading out on the long trail due to the solar collection features and the number of days it’ll last in the backcountry with sunlight. The watch does require sun exposure, so if you travel to cloudy areas, don’t anticipate it to function as well. Additionally, make sure to take good care of and routinely clean the screen because watermarks and scratches can degrade performance. There are much better watches for general fitness and outdoor activity tracking that are less expensive for people who don’t need them for these specific use cases.

Final Words

The Garmin Instinct Solar isn’t your typical timepiece. Because it is intended for trekkers or people who live in harsh climates, it has solar technology and a tough, sturdy design. All of today’s top smartwatches come with a variety of trackers, so the watch is no exception. The best candidates for the Garmin Instinct Solar are those who live an adventurous lifestyle, such as hikers, trekkers, or mountaineers who are frequently without access to electricity.

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