Garmin Instinct Review | The comparison

Garmin Instinct Review | The comparison

Two minute review

The Garmin Instinct is a new line of watches added to Garmin's already extensive collection designed for the outdoors. While the Garmin Fenix ​​exists to offer something to do for hikes, trails, and open water travel, it doesn't come cheap. Thus the Instinct offers an affordable alternative that offers the basic functionality you'd find on the Fenix ​​with more important features missing. The Instinct offers a design very different from anything else in the Garmin line of watches. It offers a brighter, more colorful case appearance and a display that uses a small secondary screen to display your stats in a more unique way. It's a transflective display, so it offers good walkability in bright light and also stays on 24/7. It comes with all the key sensors, including built-in GPS and other environmental and outdoor sensors like a compass and thermometer for that extra touch of data. There's also an onboard heart rate monitor for continuous monitoring and heart rate during exercise, which should be fine for long walks and regular runs, but can struggle with accuracy for high-speed activities. One thing that has been missing is the pulse sensor, which appears on the new Garmin Instinct Solar watch. While you don't get the topo map support that you get on Garmin's Fenix ​​range, you still get navigation features on board here, such as real-time navigation tracks, TracBack and Back to Top features. It's a basic experience that would benefit from a larger screen, but offers additional help with navigation.

Garmin Instinct

(Image credit: future) If you use it to track traditional sports like running, swimming and cycling, it offers an experience very similar to your typical Garmin Forerunner watch, giving you reliable real-time stats on the ground and around the world. It also has support for automatic rep counting, although this is a bit of a tedious process when using the mode and you can use it for strength and cardio workouts as well. As a smartwatch, it's better to display notifications, check weather updates, and choose from the data-rich watch faces available to you. Unlike the cheaper Garmins, you don't get a music player, but more importantly, there's no support for Garmin's Connect IQ store for adding extra apps, data fields, or watch faces. Overall though, the Instinct is a surprisingly nice watch to live with. Even without the extras you get on the Solar model, the standard Instinct still has a lot to offer outdoor enthusiasts for less.

Garmin Instinct

(Image credit: future)

Garmin Instinct price and release date

The Garmin Instinct first went on sale in 2018 and is available for purchase on the Garmin website for € 399 / € 269.99 / AU € 299.99. It's the cheapest of the five different Instinct versions and is significantly less expensive than solar-charged Instinct.

Garmin Instinct display and design

The Garmin Instinct is built for the outdoors, and based on that, you'd probably expect it to be big and bulky, but that couldn't be further from the case. It ticks those boxes for durability, but it also does it while offering a look that sets it apart from the Garmin collection for all the right reasons. It comes in four different colors and we had a nice pastel blue Seafoam option to live with. It is a 45mm polymer case with a matching polymer bezel and weighs 52g. It's paired with a removable 22mm silicone strap that uses Garmin's QuickFit mechanism, making it a breeze to replace official and third-party straps. As a package, the Instinct doesn't dominate the space on your wrist. It's a watch that slimmer wrists will certainly appreciate and overall it's a really fun and comfortable watch to experience. To kick things up in the durability department, it's also been given a 10 ATM water resistance rating, making it safe for a dip in the pool or in open water up to ten meters deep and you can wear it anywhere. safe in the shower

Garmin Instinct

(Image credit: Future) At the heart of the Instinct is a 23mm x 23mm transflective display that promises a 128 x 128-pixel resolution. It's not a touch screen, so it relies on five physical buttons, which have an additional textured finish to make them easier to use in all conditions. Garmin has traditionally used this type of display on its watches, although the Instinct is designed a bit differently. It's a completely round screen, but it also hides a smaller secondary screen that can be used to display additional information like battery status or real-time heart rate data. This means it sacrifices screen real estate for features like navigation, but it works pretty well and still provides good screen visibility and displays data in a way that's not problematic to absorb. It's also an always-on mode display, and there's a backlight here that can stay on while you follow a timed activity or split time.

Garmin Instinct

(Image credit: future)

Garmin Instinct Outdoor and Fitness Features

In typical Garmin fashion, there's no shortage of activities you can track, there's plenty of data to dive into during and after activity, and it also doubles as a fitness tracker for step monitoring and sleep monitoring. The basic tracking modes are run, bike and swim (pool and open water) and it's also about taking some of the useful outdoor features included in the Fenix ​​and putting them in the smaller frame - Instinct. There are dedicated modes for activities like hiking, climbing, and even skiing. The real draw here is the navigation features that make it a watch to help you find your way. You can download courses to take on the watch using point-to-point navigation. You also get real-time navigation tracks and features like Back to Top and TracBack to get you home. There are also widgets to display the built-in compass and elevation data and the ability to set sunrise and sunset alerts. The experience using these features is generally good, but can be compromised by the small nature of the screen. When navigating a route, it's just a line to your destination, with space to show the distance remaining to reach a destination. It also uses this secondary display to clearly point you in the right direction. It would definitely be better to have a larger in-game screen here, but it makes good use of that smaller space to make for a good browsing experience. When it's not exploring trails and climbing mountains, the Instinct does pretty much everything you'd expect from a Garmin sports watch. There's built-in GPS for reliably tracking runs, and it held up well for accuracy against the Garmin Venu 2 and Garmin Enduro. You can activate workouts on the watch once it's integrated with Garmin Connect and working with Garmin Coach if you want to use Garmin's adaptive running training plans.

Garmin Instinct

(Image credit: Future) There's an onboard optical heart monitor here, though according to our tests, even in steady-pace workouts, it generated significantly higher maximum heart rate readings compared to the HRM-Pro chest strap. Garmin. You can pair an external heart rate monitor to solve this problem, and this sensor support extends to cycling speed and cadence sensors as well. One sensor that doesn't make the cut is the pulse oxide sensor that started appearing on Garmin watches and is available on the new Instinct Solar model. While this is certainly a battery draining feature, it's a feature that would be useful to have available when training or exploring at altitude. As a fitness tracker and keeping an eye on your overall health, you get most of what Garmin has to offer in these departments. Daily activity tracking lets you count steps, distance traveled, and the onboard altimeter lets you keep track of altitude, too. There are some great auto goal and move bar features from Garmin that motivate you to move more throughout the day. In terms of accuracy, the step count was within a few hundred steps of a Fitbit Sense. When you go to bed with it, you get a breakdown of sleep stages, but like many Garmin watches, accuracy was generally a bit poor in recognizing sleep periods. It also finds room for all-day stress tracking based on heart rate variability measurements. There's also information about your daily resting heart rate and Garmin's body battery power monitor that uses those same HRV measurements along with stress and activity scores to tell you how much energy you have to put into your day. Continuous heart rate monitoring seems much more reliable than using it for exercise, so you can rely heavily on this data to offer useful and valuable insight into your overall well-being.

Garmin Instinct

(Image credit: future)

Garmin Instinct Smartwatch Features

While the more expensive Fenix ​​gives you pretty much the best Garmin has to offer when it comes to smartwatch features, things are a bit more limited on the Instinct. It still works with Android and iOS devices and can send notifications, let you control music playback on your phone, and check things like your calendar. You don't get paid support, a music player, or Garmin Connect IQ store support for downloading additional apps, data fields, and widgets. Based on the unique look of the Instinct, it might not be all that surprising that it wasn't open to developers, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing to see what's missing.