Garmin Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Review - All about utility

Garmin Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Review - All about utility

  • Garmin Instinct 2X Solar Tactical is priced at ₹55,990
  • The smartwatch features GPS navigation and solar charging
  • Instinct 2X Tactical is MIL-STD-810 tested
The smartwatch segment in India is growing rapidly. While a major concentration of the customer base happens to be at the entry level products, there is a segment open to more niche categories. This is the sweet spot for Garmin, a brand making smartwatches which are performance oriented. In the past I have reviewed the Venu SQ 2 and the Venu 2 Plus, both having the Garmin DNA, albeit with some cosmetic appeal. This time I got to test an all out Garmin product - Instinct 2 X Tactical, a utility smartwatch with all the Garmin standard features. So, does it deliver on its promise and more importantly who should buy this? Read on…

Price & Availability
Garmin Instinct 2X is available only in a 50mm dial size . The smartwatch is priced at ₹55,990 and you can buy it from Garmin’s official website or Amazon India.

Complimentary Tech Event
Transform talent with learning that works
Capability development is critical for businesses who want to push the envelope of innovation.Discover how business leaders are strategizing around building talent capabilities and empowering employee transformation.Know More
Design & Display
Garmin Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Review - All about utility
The smartwatch is on the heavier side.

The Instinct 2X Tactical's design is in line with its purpose. The smartwatch sports a rugged build and has a character to it. By virtue of being a tactical smartwatch, it can be allowed to be big and chunky. The all black colour increases the appeal to the already thick dial.

That being said, the look can be confused with the G-shock. However, one realises it's a Garmin only on close inspection.Thankfully it’s a product built for a niche set of buyers that won’t mind the subtlety. Something I complained about with the Venu 2 Plus.

The 50mm dial size is definitely on the bigger side, and people with skinny wrists will take some

time adjusting to it. Once you strap on the smartwatch, it sits comfortably on the wrist, and the size doesn’t necessarily translate to the weight. It felt much like my Apple watch SE 44mm on the wrist. The strap situation here is also favourable, since the bundled straps are comfortable to put on.
Garmin Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Review - All about utility
The case provides solid securing to the dial.

The smartwatch comes with MIL-STD-810 certification which means it can go along with you in all kinds of terrains. Sometimes while walking we do bang our wrist against the doors, something that gives me anxiety with my Apple watch SE. This wasn’t the case here, accidental falls or some rough usage did not bother me. Another utilitarian quirk on the smartwatch is the in-built torch, which is surprisingly powerful and has a good throw. It is a crucial feature if you are out in rough terrains.

Garmin Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Review - All about utility
You get a built-in torch in the smartwatch.

Unlike a conventional smartwatch, the Instinct 2X Tactical doesn’t have a touch display for you to interact with. What you get are five buttons conveniently placed around the dial, with a dedicated use case. The buttons include GPS, control, menu, abc and set.

Garmin Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Review - All about utility
The straps are comfortable.

To help you navigate through them Garmin has carved them with dedicated inscriptions, which can be a bit hard to read. However, after spending some time with the smartwatch, you will be able to use them without any thought.

As one would expect, these buttons can be customised, for a more personalised experience. I have set most of my go to activities for shortcuts - my everyday workouts and notifications. While I did grow to like the all button situations here, I found myself missing a touch display quite often. Primarily when I interacted with the menu settings. I believe a crown here would have been more convenient for navigation in the menu like we see in the Apple watch. I will comment on the UI in the next section.

Talking about the display now, this is a black and white unit which provides bold texts. In my experience with tactical watches, this has to be the brightest display I have come across. It’s optimum to look at and even with its limitations provides plenty of customization options. I could read off of the display under direct sunlight as well. However it’s not at all visible in the dark, so thankfully we do have a backlight for it.

Connectivity & OS
Garmin Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Review - All about utility
The OS provides a standard Garmin experience.

Pairing the Instinct 2X Tactical involves three easy steps. You have to download the Garmin Connect App on your smartphone, find the smartwatch and tap on pairing. It connects very quickly and after feeding in your health stats the smartwatch is set. The Garmin Connect app happens to be one of the most easy to understand health metric applications. I will talk more about it, in the performance section, for now let’s focus back on the UI we see on the watch.

It was very interesting to me, how Garmin has carved out a UI around a smartwatch which doesn’t have a touch display. And might I say, they have done a good job. The UI is similar to what I have experienced earlier in Garmin smartwatches. Except for how you access it and the fact that it’s not coloured.

You do witness all the tropes one can associate with a Garmin smartwatch. The control menu shows up in a circular orientation, familiar animations and access to all the features.

The smartwatch retains the conveniences with its UI mostly around tapping in and out of activities. The snappy response time on every click also helps to subside the initial reservations you might have with the smartwatch.

Vanity on the UI is very limited, but I can come to appreciate it, since it provides innovative outputs. There are some good options for watch faces here and all of them look appealing. The animations combined with haptic feedback will also give you a sense of accomplishment after you achieve a certain goal.

There is also a kill switch feature here that lets you remove all the user memory that is saved. This adds an extra layer of security which we can appreciate. Similarly there is a stealth mode here that lets you turn off GPS sharing.

Unfortunately you can’t take calls with the smartwatch, since it misses out on an in-built speaker and microphone. You do get notifications for an incoming call. Since it is indeed a Tactical smartwatch I can let this one slide.

While the UI retains and even amplifies all the fan favourite Garmin features here, it does the same for some not so convenient characteristics. Primarily notification management, this to me seems is the achilles heel for this UI. After reviewing three smartwatches, my complaint with the notification management remains intact. At least in my previous experiences, I could clear the notifications by swiping on the display. However, this time, I had to press buttons, find the notifications and clear them out one tap at a time. It got so tiring after a while, that I had to shut down the majority of the app updates here. I hope Garmin can look into this and perhaps provide us with an easier alternative soon.

This is a section where the Instinct 2X Tactical is in its element. And perhaps the only section you should be concerned about if you are buying this smartwatch. Spoiler alert - it does deliver on pretty much everything it says on paper.

Starting with the sensors. As you would expect from a Garmin, it checks off all the necessary tools you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.We have an all day heart rate tracking, sleep monitor, blood oxygen saturation sensor and of course GPS.

Each of these sensors perform optimally and help you in achieving individual tasks. The heart rate monitor works well in sync with the activity tracker, never missing a beat. I have strapped the Instinct 2X Tactical for my workouts in the last two weeks, and I could see the real time updates. The heart rate tracker and activity tracker were showing similar results to my Apple watch SE, which is good news.

While I won’t encourage depending on a blood oxygen saturation sensor on any smartwatch, the one here was mostly accurate. However, do not depend on the sensors of a smartwatch if you have a medical history.

Sleep monitors on Garmins are mostly accurate and very helpful to improve your sleep cycle. The experience here was also familiar, however the size of the smartwatch might discourage you from sleeping with it.

GPS connectivity on the Instinct 2X Tactical will surprise you like it did for me. The smartwatch lets you mark a position and helps you track your way back to it. Long pressing the GPS key enables the feature, which then lets you save a position that can be accessed later. The UI showing directions is also easy to understand. I did try the feature for a short spin around Aravali hills, and I wasn’t disappointed. This marks off the most important aspect of a tactical smartwatch.

Garmin Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Review - All about utility
Garmin connect app provides detailed metrics.

Another major factor of the 2X Tactical is the solar prowess we are promised here. In order for it to work indefinitely with solar energy, the watch needs to be exposed to sun for upto three hours everyday. So, if you are on a long trek outdoors it will do wonders for you. But what about us, in the concrete jungle? Well, the default battery life is very solid. I have been testing out the watch for about 10 days now, and I haven’t found the need to plug it in yet. For that matter it shows 21 days of battery life as I write this review. For people who have charging fatigue including myself, this is a blessing.

One knit pick here is how we don’t have a 3rd party charging solution for the smartwatch. Depending completely on the cable we are provided in the box. Additionally the cable is very short in length which makes it inconvenient.

The Garmin Instinct 2X Tactical prioritises utility, offering reliable features that can aid in surviving challenging terrains. With its impressive sensors and long-lasting battery life, it fulfils its purpose effectively, making it a dependable choice for a specific group of buyers.

If you're someone who uses a smartwatch in your daily life, this might not be the ideal option for you. Apart from the exceptional battery life, there are certain compromises in this smartwatch that could become inconvenient over time.