Garmin has expanded its range of sports and running watches with solar panels, adding the Fenix 6 Pro Solar and accessible Instinct Solar, among others.
The first Garmin solar-powered watches were updates to some of its chunkiest models, the Fenix 6X and 6X Pro. Its new selection is much broader, and starts with the Instinct Solar at $399.99.
This lower-cost tracker watch also has the catchiest battery life claim. It can run in its “battery saver” mode indefinitely, as long as it gets three hours a day in moderate sunlight (50,000 lux).
It is little more than a watch in “battery saver,” but will also last over 50 days in its smartwatch mode with enough sunlight. Or 24 days without. Take that, Apple Watch.
Other improvements for this update include Pulse Ox readings and an extra two offshoot models for surfing and military-style pursuits, the Instinct Solar Surf Edition and Tactical Edition.
Long-term Garmin fans are likely to be more interested in the solar-powered watches of the main Fenix 6 line, the Fenix 6S Pro Solar and Fenix 6 Pro Solar.
The best way to judge the effect of the solar charging feature without the watches to hand is to look at Garmin’s own claims versus those of the standard Fenix 6S Pro and 6 Pro.
It says the standard Fenix 6S Pro lasts up to nine days between charges, or 10.5 in the solar version. The Fenix 6 Pro lasts 14 days, or 16 with the sun helping out.
Other watch features remain the same, but the Fenix 6 Pro and Fenix 6S Pro are already class-leading performers.
The Garmin Tactix Delta Solar Edition sits at the top of this new range. It is similar to the XL-size Fenix 6X Pro, but has additional “tactical” features like a wireless network-zapping Stealth mode, a device-wiping kill switch.
Its solar screen adds up to three days to the battery, bumped from 21 days to 24.
Garmin’s solar series watches use a Power Glass lens to suck up energy from the sun. It does not have the same level of scratch resistance as sapphire, but will significantly increase battery life when not actively GPS tracking.
The Garmin Instinct Solar starts at $399, the Fenix 6 series solar watches at $849 and the Tactix Delta Solar Edition is $1099.