Garmin Instinct 2 Solar smartwatches may never need charging | Engadget

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Garmin has revealed its latest lineup of smartwatches, including models you might never need to plug in to charge. The Instinct 2 Series includes 45mm Instinct 2 Solar models, which are said to be able to run continuously on smartwatch mode (i.e. with features like heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, activity tracking and 24/7 health monitoring turned on). The previous Instinct Solar was only able to meet Garmin’s “unlimited” battery life claim while in battery saver mode.

As the name suggests, 45mm Instinct 2 Solar models draw energy from the sun. But it seems you’ll need to be outdoors a lot for one of those smartwatches to obtain enough solar energy. 

Garmin says the device needs to be outside in 50,000 lux conditions for an average of three hours a day to maintain the “unlimited” battery life. The company suggests a normal sunny day should satisfy those conditions. For example, one Engadget editor achieved 30,000 lux in about two hours with a Fenix solar pointed directly at the sun for two hours. So, it’s likely not unrealistic but will heavily depend on local conditions. Thus the Instinct 2 Solar might need to be outside for longer than three hours on a given day to attain “unlimited” battery life. 

Beyond the Solar and standard models, there are a number of Instinct 2 Series editions. The lineup has a slimmer profile and two sizes, the regular 45mm bezel and the 40mm Instinct 2S format. Surf editions are available in either size and with or without solar. They’ll track watersports activities including surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding, and there’s a tide widget to keep users in the know about ocean conditions.

Tactical editions are geared toward military personnel. These watches, which are only available in the solar format, offer features including night vision goggles compatibility, stealth mode, kill switch and dual format position coordinates. They’re available in black or coyote tan. In addition, there are Camo editions designed to help the watch blend in or stand out via graphite and mist camo patterns.

Garmin says smartwatches in the lineup come with a new high-res, easy-to-read display with scratch-resistant glass. They’re water rated to 100 meters and built to military standard 810 for thermal and shock resistance. Between the bezel and band, you can mix and match your way to one of more than 240 design choices.

You can expect to access Garmin’s swathe of wellness and health features, such as sleep score, VO2 max, HIIT workouts and Body Battery. Instinct 2 Series devices can access the Garmin Connect IQTM (CIQ) store, from which you can download apps, widgets, watch faces and more. Some sports apps and activities are pre-installed, including a new Multisport option that’ll continue tracking your time and distance when you switch between activities. There’s also an incident detection feature that can automatically get in touch with your emergency contacts if the device suspects something’s gone wrong and it’s paired with a compatible smartphone.

Instinct 2 Solar models include Garmin Pay support as well. As for the battery life in the non-solar models, Garmin says they’ll run for up to four weeks with smartwatch mode activated. Instinct 2 Series devices will start at $350.

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