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Garmin adds solar charging to its popular outdoor smartwatches

Garmin’s Instinct, Fenix 6 and 6S, and Tactix Delta watches now come with solar charging.

Published onJuly 8, 2020

garmin fenix 6 pro garmin instinct solar
  • Garmin’s Instinct, Fenix 6 and 6S, and Tactix Delta watches now come with solar charging.
  • The Instinct Solar series can run indefinitely in a low-power mode.
  • Other models have had their battery life extended by days.

Many of Garmin’s fitness watches are built for use in the sunny outdoors, and the company wants to take advantage of that to keep your watch running longer. It’s introducing solar editions of its Instinct, Fenix 6, Fenix 6S, and Tactix Delta adventure watches, all of which use sun-based charging to keep your wristwear running longer. There are other upgrades, too.

The centerpieces are the Instinct Solar models in Surf and Tactical editions. The rugged designs last for up to 24 days on a charge indoors, but will run for 50 days with enough sunlight — they’ll even offer “unlimited” battery life if you use the Battery Saver mode. Those are under ideal conditions, of course, but there is the real possibility that you might never need to plug in during a weeks-long vacation.

The Instinct models also bring improved GPS, a pulse oximeter function to gauge your oxygen absorption, and Garmin’s Body Battery to optimize your energy. The Surf Edition is water-rated to depths of 328 feet and offers surfing-specific activity features, while the Tactical Edition caters to the military and enthusiasts with a stealth mode (data and wireless turned off) and night vision goggle support.

The Fenix 6 Pro Solar and Fenix 6S Pro Solar are geared toward activities like mountain biking, indoor climbing, and surfing, and don’t revolve quite as much around absolute longevity. They respectively last 14 and nine days indoors, but those figures jump to 16 days and 10.5 days with enough solar charging. You can expect a slew of general-purpose features, including sleep monitoring, pulse oximeter functions, and Garmin Pay.

The solar edition of the Tactix Delta, meanwhile, upgrades the “mission-ready” rugged watch with up to 24 days of use with sunlight and 21 days indoors. It’s built with military-level dust, water, and shock resistance and a 1.4-inch sapphire-covered screen that should resist scratches. You can expect a stealth mode and even a “kill switch” to wipe the memory in case you’ve been caught.

All of these watches are available now, but you’ll pay a premium for some of them. The Instinct Solar line starts at $400, the Fenix 6 range begins at $850, and the Tactix Delta will cost you $1,099. These are for devoted users who want to quantify every last bit of their activity — you may want to look at an everyday smartwatch if convenience and cost are more important.

Next: Fitbit vs Garmin: Which ecosystem is right for you?

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