Garmin Instinct 2 vs Instinct vs Fenix 7 Compared – Initial Impressions

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The Garmin Instinct proved to be a huge hit for Garmin. The Casio G-Shock design combined with a feature set similar to the Fenix at a more affordable price was very appealing.

It is, therefore, no surprise Garmin were eager to continue this new line, and they have now expanded it to include a smaller Instinct 2S.

What's Changed – It really is like a rugged Fenix-lite

The original Instinct drew comparisons to the Fenix, it missed quite a lot of features but it was close enough considering the price.

The Instinct 2 has now upped its feature set to be more like a Fenix than ever. It basically just lacks maps, music and a colour display.

  • There is now two sizes and each size comes in Solar or not
  • Increased resolution from 126×126 to 176×176
  • Battery life increases. 16% improvement for smartwatch mode on the standard sized model with the potential for unlimited battery via solar
  • New Garmin Elevate Gen 4 optical heart rate monitor included PulseOx/HRV etc
  • Configure the watch via your phone
  • Garmin Pay
  • Connect IQ watch faces, apps, widgets, and data pages
  • Smart Trainer Support
  • power meter support
  • Bluetooth Smart sensor support (of all supported types)
  • Daily Suggested Workouts
  • Multisport/Triathlon/Custom/SwimRun Profiles
  • Sleep Score & Sleep Insights
  • Fitness Age
  • Health snapshot
  • Historical Data for Predicted Race finish times widgets
  • Support for HRM-RUN/TRI/PRO & RD-POD Running Dynamics data support
  • broadcasting of heart rate via Bluetooth Smart
  • VO2Max tracking
  • Heat & Altitude Acclimation
  • Training Load/Status/Effect
  • Recovery Time
  • Virtual Run sport profile (for broadcasting to Zwift with Pace/cadence/HR data)
  • Garmin Running Power Connect IQ App Support

Unlimited Battery Life!?

The Instinct 2 has followed the Fenix trend and significantly improved the battery life. The Garmin Instinct was already amazing with its insanely long 24 day battery life. This is now increased to 4-week! A 16% improvement. Furthermore, if you have the solar model the battery life can be extended further. It was 54 days with the original model now it is potentially unlimited. Probably not unlimited in the north of England, though.

Interestingly, the GPS battery life hasn't improved much/any. You get the same 30 hours, which is still amazing. Thought with the improved solar performance, you can theoretically get 48 hours GPS, a 26% improvement.

How does it compare to the Fenix 7?

The main advantages the Fenix has are:

  • Colour higher resolution display
  • Maps
  • Music
  • Additional sports/heatlth features iincluding: Stamina metric, Training Load Focus, Up Ahead, Live Segments, Pace Pro, more sports profiles, golf features and improved swimming functionality.

That is obviously quite a lot of advantages for the Fenix, but it is twice the price.

 Garmin Instinct 2 / 2SGarmin InstinctFenix 7
Lens materialChemically-strengthened glass
Power glass
Chemically-strengthened glass
Power glass
Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Power glass
Bezel materialFibre-reinforced polymerFibre-reinforced polymerStainless steel
Case materialFibre-reinforced polymerFibre-reinforced polymerFibre-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover
Strap materialSiliconeSilicone
Dimensions45 x 45 x 14.5 mm
40 x 40 x 13.3 mm
45 x 45 x 15.3 mm47 x 47 x 14.5 mm
42 x 42 x 14.1 mm
Display sizeCustom, two-window design; 0.9” x 0.9” (23 x 23 mm)
Custom, two-window design; 0.79” x 0.79” (20.12 x 20.12 mm)
Custom, two-window design; 0.9” x 0.9” (23 x 23 mm)42 x 42 x 14.1 mm
Display resolution176 x 176 pixels
156 x 156 pixels
128 x 128 pixels240 x 240 pixels
Display typeMonochrome, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)Monochrome, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Weight52 grams
42 grams
52 grams63 g
SensorsOptical heart rate, SpO2, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometerOptical heart rate, SpO2 (only Solar edition), barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometerOptical heart rate, SpO2, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometer
Sattelite connectivityGPS/GLONASS/GALILEOGPS/GLONASS/GALILEOGPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
Water-resistance10 ATM10 ATM10 ATM
Memory/history32 MB16 MB16 GB
NFCYesNoYes
Battery Smartwatch28/unlimited with solar
21/51 days with solar
24 days/54 days with solar11 days/14 days with solar
18 days/22 days with solar
GPS Battery 30 hours/48 hours with solar
22 hours/28 hours with solar
30 hours/38 hours with solarAll satellites:
26 hours/30 hours with solar
40 hours/48 hours with solar
ConnectivityBluetooth, ANT+Bluetooth, ANT+
EditionsStandard, Camo, Tactical Surf, Dezl, EsportsStandard, Camo, Tactical, Surf, EsportsStandard/Solar/Sopphire Solar
RRP£299 - £429Standard no solar £219
Standard with Solar RRP £319.99 currently £249.99
Standard = £599.99
Solar = £689.99

Instinct 2 Launch Price and Availability – Has the price changed?

The original Instinct Solar launched at £349.99 while the standard model was £270, and at the time of writing, the current RRP is £220/320, but the Instinct Solar is on sale for £249.99

The none solar Instinct 2 has launched for £300 while the solar model is £390, that's an 11.11% and 11.5% price increase from the previous generation.

Initial Impressions

The Instinct was a big success, and I think the Instinct 2 is guaranteed to be popular.

The overall aesthetic of the Instinct was appealing for many users, and now you have significantly improved features. They have improved it enough that it is well worth considering upgrading from the original model, and I didn't feel the same about the Fenix 6 vs Fenix 7.

The moderate 11% price increase seems reasonable considering there has been a huge bump in the specification. In comparison, the Fenix 7 had a 13% price increase for a much smaller improvement in features.

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