Garmin Intuition 2 Photo voltaic smartwatch evaluation: A extremely succesful journey watch

Whereas many exercise trackers attempt for glossy, discreet designs, Garmin created the Intuition 2 Photo voltaic for individuals who like traditional out of doors watch styling with out sacrificing superior options. Regardless of its rugged, reasonably old-school physique and show, the second iteration of this Garmin photo voltaic watch is a sturdy smartwatch with extremely correct GPS, wrist-based coronary heart price monitoring, and built-in photo voltaic charging. Whereas there haven’t been many adjustments on the outside, the watch’s software program has some updates that many will recognize, principally associated to exercise monitoring. The Garmin Intuition 2 Photo voltaic guarantees to provide you extra correct coaching info and maintain you from charging as typically and, in most respects, it delivers. 

The Garmin Intuition 2 Photo voltaic’s design

As already talked about, the Garmin Intuition 2 Photo voltaic doesn’t look very totally different from the unique Intuition Photo voltaic. The case is made from the identical fiber-reinforced polymer, the show continues to be Garmin’s transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) show, and each variations are topped with Corning Gorilla Glass for sturdiness. The Energy Glass tech permits the watch to cost by absorbing daylight via each seen facet panels and an invisible layer atop the show. The bezel has been ever so barely redesigned, although it’s like a spot-the-difference sport to see what modified because it’s so refined. 

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar on Abby's wrist at the beach
The smaller 40mm dimension possibility is a pleasant alternative for these with small wrists and fingers. Abby Ferguson

The Intuition 2 Photo voltaic comes within the authentic 45mm, 53g case choices and a brand new, smaller 40mm, 43g dimension (technically designated the 2S). The latter—within the shade “Neo Tropic”—is the watch I’ve been consuming, sleeping, and inhaling for the previous month or so. Regardless of my child-sized wrists, it matches effectively and, due to the 13.3 mm thickness, it doesn’t look clunky like different sports activities watches I’ve used. The band that comes with the smaller dimension is sort of brief, nonetheless. So whereas it matches me (simply barely), many will probably have to buy a separate, longer band.


Underside/clasp of the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar smartwatch on Abby's wrist
Although I may loosen the watch some, I’ve nearly maxed out the tiny band on the 2S, even with my small wrists.  Abby Ferguson

It’s a rugged watch, supposed to be put via the wringer. It’s water-rated to 100 meters, so it may possibly stand as much as some deep free-dives, making a little bit of sweat and rain a chunk of cake. And it’s thermal and shock resistant, so when you climb with it on and take some arduous falls, it ought to simply survive. I wore mine to the gymnasium, knocking it on a justifiable share of weight racks and bushwhacked via some dense forest, and it nonetheless seems to be model new with out a lot as a scratch anyplace. 

The show is a barely larger decision than the unique Intuition Photo voltaic (156 x 156 pixels for the 2S vs. 128 x 128 pixels for the unique) however, as talked about, it’s nonetheless the identical old-school, monochrome look. This fundamental show contributes considerably to the Intuition’s 21-day battery life even when in smartwatch mode. It isn’t very fancy to take a look at, nonetheless.

The watch has a fairly large bezel, which eats up fairly a little bit of display actual property. So whereas it collects tons of information and reveals you graphs of sure issues, comparable to sleep high quality, I’ve discovered it a bit troublesome to learn and assess the graphs on the watch itself due to the small, monochrome display. If I actually wish to see the data, it’s a a lot better expertise to tug it up within the Garmin app as a substitute. 

Organising the Garmin Intuition 2 Photo voltaic

Garmin makes the setup course of for any of its watches extremely simple, particularly if you have already got a Garmin watch and account. The watch comes with a partial cost proper out of the field, so you may get to arrange proper after opening it. You’ll need to obtain the Garmin Join app (obtainable for iPhone and Android), however the watch guides you thru the method step-by-step and makes it very simple to pair along with your cellphone/app utilizing a Bluetooth connection. 

I used to be already a Garmin consumer, so the setup took only some minutes on my Samsung Galaxy S10. However even if you’re ranging from scratch, it shouldn’t take for much longer. After all, if you wish to take the time to customise issues like notifications, tones, and watch faces proper out the gate, you could possibly spend fairly some time in each Garmin Join (the watch’s settings/metrics hub) and Garmin Join IQ (the watch’s app, or “widget,” retailer, which didn’t work with the unique Intuition). When in Join, you’ll see steps that also have to be accomplished for full setup by tapping on the watch on the high. Nonetheless, some, comparable to connecting to Garmin Pay, can wait or not be executed in any respect, relying on what you wish to use. 

The Garmin Intuition 2 Photo voltaic’s options

The Intuition 2 Photo voltaic is a relatively easy smartwatch regardless of costing $450, missing a few of the fancier options of higher-end, Garmin choices just like the multisport fēnix 7 Sapphire Photo voltaic and premium working Forerunner 955. These watches provide shade touchscreens, extra superior coaching strategies, and extra detailed navigation maps. However the Intuition 2 Photo voltaic continues to be lots feature-rich and supplies a great deal of insights and information.   

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Battery life

I’d be remiss if I didn’t begin out with the function marketed within the title since “Photo voltaic” is without doubt one of the predominant promoting factors of this watch. Due to the essential show and the photo voltaic charging, it may possibly final a severely very long time, although that appears to be with some caveats. 

Garmin Instinct 2S Solar in the sand displaying solar intensity
You may monitor how a lot photo voltaic life your watch is benefiting from (and the way a lot solar you’re absorbing, too) within the Photo voltaic Depth Look. Abby Ferguson

In line with Garmin, the Intuition 2 fashions enhance barely on the unique and the 40mm Intuition 2S can final 21 days in smartwatch mode/51 days with photo voltaic and has probably limitless battery life when in battery saver mode (extra within the standard-sized mannequin). Nonetheless, I’ve not been capable of get that form of battery life out of it, partially as a result of it assumes the watch will get 3 hours of fifty,000 lux daylight situations a day and partially as a result of that quantity relies on normal put on, with no or at the least restricted exercise monitoring. With a GPS-enabled exercise almost each day, and generally multiple, I’ve to cost it about as soon as every week (working GPS nonstop, battery life is rated at 22 hours/28 with photo voltaic). Admittedly, I’m additionally not spending a lot time in essentially the most intense solar proper now, due to the summer season warmth, so I’ve not been capable of take full benefit of the photo voltaic performance—although I plan to gauge the battery life claims extra as I consider different sports activities watches, so this part can be up to date. Even with out taking full benefit of photo voltaic, nonetheless, it nonetheless lasts longer than my much-loved Forerunner 745, and a while on the window sill or a sunbaked rock will maintain it working for a day or two in a pinch.

You may change how typically and what sensors pull from the battery, so you possibly can customise it to get extra battery life. And when the battery is working low, the watch prompts you to modify it to battery saver mode, which provides you a really pared-down show with no smartwatch performance. And when it is advisable plug it in for a cost with the offered proprietary multi-pin USB cable (although no wall adapter), it bounces again shortly. I used to be capable of absolutely cost the battery from 0% to 100% in about three-and-a-half hours, so it’s fast to high off the battery when it is advisable.

Exercise tracker

In the event you’re shopping for a Garmin watch, it’s nearly definitely for its acumen as a health tracker. The Intuition 2 Photo voltaic gives exercise modes for nearly each sort of train, exercise, and sport you could possibly think about, from treadmill and path working and biking (highway, eBike, indoors, mountain, and so forth.) to climbing, swimming, and even breathwork and multi-day expeditions. HIIT timers are within the newer mannequin, as effectively. Some you will have so as to add to the watch, however doing so hardly takes any time in any respect and may be executed on the watch itself or the app.

Garmin additionally makes a number of totally different editions of this watch, which have distinctive, hyper-specific modes. For instance, the Surf Version has particular monitoring for browsing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing, together with tide information you can’t entry on the Normal Version. There’s additionally a Tactical Version, with Jumpmaster exercise, waypoint projection, dual-position GPS format, preloaded tactical exercise, and a stealth mode. After all, the Normal Version has nearly all the pieces aside from a few of these specialised actions so, for many, it is going to be the one to get.

It doesn’t matter what sort of exercise you do, it’s easy to trace it. Totally different actions provide particular info on the watch face, although all of that’s customizable, so you possibly can select what info is most necessary to see whereas monitoring. For instance, I wish to have my coronary heart price and distance prominently displayed when on runs, whereas issues like cadence and lap time aren’t necessary to me. 

You can even select to silence tones and notifications throughout exercises. For instance, if I’m out for a run, I don’t wish to be notified that somebody appreciated my Instagram publish, so I can simply select to dam these throughout that exercise. 

Garmin Instinct 2S Solar display on a wrist on a run
On steered runs, the info displayed varies from regular runs. It reveals you in case your tempo is falling inside the advisable vary.  Abby Ferguson

The watch can even provide you with steered working exercises to assist enhance your health. Once you click on to begin a run, a display will pop up with “At the moment’s Suggestion” that gives a quick abstract of the run and its coaching impact. It’s a pleasant option to combine up your exercises with out paying for a coach or doing your individual intensive analysis. 

Knowledge assortment and insights

The watch clearly collects various information whereas recording actions, counting on the plethora of sensors constructed into it. It connects with three International Navigation Satellite tv for pc Techniques (GNSS)—GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo—for higher accuracy, has the newer Garmin Elevate Gen4 optical coronary heart price sensor, plus features a barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, and thermometer. But it surely additionally collects a number of information while you aren’t explicitly recording an exercise. For instance, you possibly can at all times see your coronary heart price and step depend. 

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Back/sensors of the Garmin Instinct 2S Solar
Garmin’s Elevate Gen4 optical coronary heart price sensor is considered one of a number of on the again of the watch. Abby Ferguson

In the event you put on the watch to mattress, it would additionally monitor your sleep, supplying you with perception into your sleep phases all through the night time. I’ve discovered the sleep monitoring to be hit or miss by way of accuracy, with some nights exhibiting as glorious sleep despite the fact that I most undoubtedly was awake for chunks of time and don’t really feel rested within the morning. 

Although it’s not at all times correct, carrying the watch throughout sleep permits Garmin to get a extra full image of your health and restoration standing, which is new on this Intuition 2 Photo voltaic. On this second model, now you can entry Garmin’s Coaching Standing, VO2 max, and Restoration time. In case you are critical about your coaching, these are all very useful. 

Whereas the offered VO2 max worth depends on an algorithm and coronary heart price information, the estimation yields comparable outcomes to a correct VO2 max check, which depends on oblique calorimetry and requires costly lab gear. And, when you click on on the Coaching Standing on both the watch or the app, it would inform you if it is advisable modify your coaching in any explicit means to enhance your health. After all, it’s generalized, so if you’re coaching for one thing particular, it is probably not very correct, nevertheless it does a terrific job for normal health. 

Smartwatch options

Like most health trackers as of late, the Intuition 2 Photo voltaic is a full smartwatch. Which means it pairs along with your cellphone to supply notifications on the watch’s show. Any notification you get in your cellphone can come via, although some permit extra interplay than others. It’s useful if you find yourself in a scenario the place you possibly can’t or don’t wish to decide up your cellphone however you wish to know if any necessary calls or messages are coming via. When out and about, I usually depart my cellphone in my purse when out and about and solely take it out if it’s one thing I care to cope with proper then. 

The Intuition 2 Photo voltaic doesn’t have a mobile connection and it lacks a microphone, so you possibly can’t take calls or use a voice assistant, and so forth. However, you possibly can arrange prewritten responses to texts or calls and reply from the watch, which is right for if you find yourself in the course of one thing. You can even like Instagram messages from the watch, do you have to care to try this. 

Security options

One of many issues that I really like concerning the Intuition 2 Photo voltaic is the protection options. Garmin added Incident Detection to this second iteration, which makes use of the sensors in your watch to detect if a fall or crash might have occurred on a stroll, run, or experience. If it does detect an occasion, it would textual content your emergency contact, which you’ll arrange within the app.

There’s additionally the power to request help manually, although shortly, if wanted. By merely holding the highest left button for 3 seconds, the watch will ship a textual content or electronic mail to your emergency contact along with your precise location. It’ll proceed to ship your location till you finish it and might even ship an “I’m OK” textual content if issues resolve themselves. You’ll need to have your cellphone on you and have service to make use of it, however it is extremely good to know that function is there if I ever discover myself in a dicey scenario. 

Garmin Instinct 2S Solar on a wrist on a colorful trail
The TracBack function helps you to simply navigate again to your start line. Abby Ferguson

As a sturdy GPS watch, you’ll additionally be capable to use Garmin’s TracBack. It’s an especially useful software for any backcountry actions, because it permits you to observe your traveled path without having to put waypoints as you go. Must you get misplaced, it makes it a lot simpler to seek out your means again even when you don’t have expert-level navigation expertise.

Lastly, you’ll even have entry to Garmin’s LiveTrack. Once you begin a run, hike, or bike experience, you possibly can ship LiveTrack info to whomever. It’s a superb function for backcountry actions so that somebody can know the place you’re and in case your outing takes so long as anticipated. All these further layers of safety make me really feel safer when out alone on runs, bike rides, or hikes, and make my husband extra comfy with my solo journeys as effectively. 

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Garmin app

Although you are able to do rather a lot on the watch, the Garmin Join app supplies the perfect methodology for viewing and analyzing information collected by the gadget. As talked about, it may be arduous to decipher some information on the watch, so with the ability to see all that info within the app may be very helpful. The app additionally supplies much more info and coaching information than the watch does, so you possibly can actually nerd out and get into the nitty-gritty. 

The app additionally helps you to absolutely customise your watch, from downloading specialised faces to altering notification settings and enabling security options. You are able to do a lot of that on the watch itself, however it could be simpler for some to do on the app. 

For many who just like the social elements of staying energetic, Garmin additionally has its personal platform for that inside the app. You may join with different Garmin customers, with choices to “like” or touch upon their actions. There are even challenges you can be a part of to remain motivated. It’s not as feature-rich as apps like Strava, however connecting with others generally is a huge motivator. And you may as well hyperlink your Garmin account to Strava, do you have to need your information to sync there. 

Usability and accuracy

General, the watch is straightforward and intuitive to make use of. The labels on the bezel assist establish what key features fall below every button (labeled Management, Menu, ABC, GPS, Set), however you’ll want to learn via the handbook or do a walkthrough to determine the place sure settings are hiding. I did discover the menus barely extra complicated than on my Forerunner 745, however not overly so.

I had some lagging points when pushing buttons for the primary time shortly, leading to me ready for it to go to the appropriate menu when wanting to begin a exercise or view sure stats. It isn’t terribly lengthy, nevertheless it is sufficient to be a bit annoying and hasn’t been a problem on different Garmin watches I’ve used. 

Forerunner 955 Solar next to Garmin Instinct 2S Solar on Abby's wrist
The Intuition 2S Photo voltaic’s show seems to be very old style subsequent to the Forerunner 955’s giant, colourful display, however the information gathered by each is constant and insightful. Abby Ferguson

I wore each the Intuition Photo voltaic 2S and Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic (which I’m additionally reviewing) on a handful of runs—each on my left wrist, although I additionally had a chest-based coronary heart price monitor that I solely had paired with the Intuition. Outcomes did range barely throughout just about all fields once I examined them in Garmin Join, nevertheless it was all effectively inside the margin of error. So, I’d absolutely belief the outcomes from each watches. I anticipated any coronary heart rate-related fields to be totally different since chest straps present way more correct and dependable information than wrist-based. 

Garmin will recommend exercises for you when beginning a run, and curiously these assorted barely between the 2 watches as effectively. The Forerunner 955’s suggestions appeared to align higher with my present health degree and pacing talents, although that’s strictly primarily based on perceived effort sort perception. The Intuition Photo voltaic 2S additionally didn’t have any motivational sort messages pop up after a run because the Forerunner 955 did. Though small and maybe considerably foolish, it made me desire working with the Forerunner. 

So, who should purchase the Garmin Intuition 2 Photo voltaic?

There are different fitness-tracking smartwatches which are sleeker and thus higher suited to mixing into on a regular basis put on (such because the Apple Watch Collection 7). The rugged styling of the Garmin Intuition 2 Photo voltaic implies that it doesn’t essentially match effectively with fancy apparel, although I’ve to confess I’m a type of who put on their Garmin it doesn’t matter what the outfit, so it is a matter of non-public desire.

Although the watch absolutely tracks actions and collects a great deal of information, it doesn’t current the data fairly as elegantly or completely as a few of Garmin’s extra specialised watches. In consequence, it in all probability isn’t the best choice if you’re an intensely targeted, multisport athlete (that’s the place the fēnix 7 and much more expressive EPIX Gen. 2 collection are available in). And, as a runner, I a lot desire the Forerunner 955, because it supplies higher exercise strategies and offers me extra details about my most popular sort of coaching. The upper-resolution shade display on the Forerunner additionally makes it simpler to see information whereas working, which I recognize. 

The sturdiness and lengthy battery life when outdoors, nonetheless, make the Garmin Intuition 2 Photo voltaic a very implausible smartwatch for out of doors lovers searching for a extra informal however nonetheless complete exercise tracker. It additionally has navigation modes which are useful for actions. I undoubtedly see the benefits of this look ahead to longer hikes, climbs, or multi-day adventures and plan on utilizing it for such journeys sooner or later. You may belief that it’ll survive some critical journeys and that the battery life, as soon as settings are custom-made, will sustain along with your life-style.