Garmin updates Instinct 2 and 2S smartwatches

Garmin Instinct 2
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin has launched its updated Instinct 2 and 2S smartwatches and brings more health and wellnes, sports tracking, lifestyle features, and is the first watch in Garmin's range to feature unlimited battery life.

The watch features a rugged design that comes in two face sizes for both solar and non-solar versions, measuring 40mm for the 2S and 45mm for the standard Instinct 2. Offering two options should give a better fit for users with smaller wrists. The features are exactly the same between both sizes, with the only difference being battery life and solar-charging capabilities. The Instinct watch uses Garmin's established five-button layout for menu navigation and functionality. The Instinct 2 has a waterproof rating of 10 ATM, which is equivalent to a depth of roughly 100m.

Garmin Instinct 2

The Instinct 2 has a waterproof rating of 10 ATM (100m) (Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Instinct 2 and 2S: Battery life

The 45mm Instinct 2 Solar is Garmin's first watch to achieve unlimited battery life in smartwatch mode. Garmin claims to achieve this, the watch needs to be exposed to three hours of sunlight per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions. The smaller watch face isn't capable of this neat feat, although it can still return 51 days of battery life with solar.

In GPS mode, the solar capability extends the watch's battery life to 28 hours for the 2S and 48 hours for the Instinct 2. The non-solar models get 28 days / 21 days (S) of smartwatch activity and 30 hours /  22 hours (S) of GPS tracking.

There are additional modes that extend the GPS activity tracking battery life, including Expedition GPS Activity mode, which Garmin claims to achieve up to 32 days / unlimited with solar on the 45mm Instinct 2 Solar.

The Solar panel is built into the new high-resolution Power Glass face, which Garmin claims has no bearing on screen legibility.

Garmin Instinct 2

The watch has profiles to track a range of different sports (Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Instinct 2 and 2S: Bike features

The Instinct 2 can track a wide range of sports as well as connect to additional sensors. Garmin has added more bike profiles, too, including mountain biking, gravel, e-MTB and indoor biking. 

In addition to all of Garmin's fitness metrics such as VO2 Max, Fitness Age, Training Status/Load/Effect, Recovery Time, HIIT Workouts, and Daily Suggested Workout, Garmin has added MTB Dynamics, too. Similar to Garmin's best MTB GPS computers, the Instinct 2 will measure Grit and Flow to rate trail difficulty and how smoothly you descend. 

These added metrics should appeal to mountain bikers who are looking for watch-based GPS recording rather than a handlebar-mounted computer which is more prone to damage in the event of a crash. If you do crash, the Instinct 2 is also equipped with Garmin's Incident Detection function to send an emergency SOS message.

Garmin Instinct 2

The Instinct 2 Solar only needs three hours of sunlight exposure a day to offer unlimited smartwatch run time (Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Instinct 2 and 2S: Other metrics

It's not just activity metrics that are recorded – the Instinct 2 tracks health and wellness information 24/7 through a heart rate – and pulse ox sensor. This will allow you to track lifestyle metrics such as stress and sleep aa well as monitor your energy levels using the body battery feature. Utilizing these metrics should allow you to train and rest more effectively.

Phone notifications can be pushed to the Instinct 2 as well as being able to make Garmin Pay Contactless Payments through participating providers – ideal for when you need to grab a mid-ride coffee. 

Instinct 2 Series smartwatches can be personalized using the Garmin Connect IQ (CIQ) store, which will offer options to personalize your Instinct 2 with apps, widgets, watch faces, data fields and more. Health and wellness features such as Hydration Tracking, Connect Leaderboard, Menstrual Cycle and Pregnancy Tracking are also available to Instinct 2 Series owners through CIQ.

There are also special Surf and Tactical editions which feature specific additional features dedicated to water sports activities or tactical situations.

Garmin Instinct 2 and 2S: Pricing

As we have already mentioned, the new Garmin Instinct watch comes in solar and non-solar options in two sizes. Starting from $349 / £299.99 / €349.99 for the standard for the Instinct 2 and 2S.

Garmin will offer a range of customizable designs, too. As the Instinct 2 Series is not just aimed at activity tracking but lifestyle sports, too, Garmin is offering a number of color options including Electric Lime, Poppy and Neo-Tropic. 

For those that want a really personal touch and by using Garmin’s Your Watch, Your Way program the Instinct 2 or 2S Solar versions can be further customized. There are a variety of bezel and band choices resulting in more than 240 different design combinations.


View the Instinct 2 and 2S at Garmin.

Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro, and gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotland's wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes, or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect.

Rides: Cotic SolarisMax, Stooge MK4, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg