Garmin Instinct review: Put running into your lifestyle

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on February 07, 2019

Garmin Instinct

A strong and stylish smartwatch which caters to all the essential needs of the fitness buff

Wearables are a booming market in India now with an assorted mix of players led by Chinese tech giant Xiaomi and homegrown start-ups dishing out smartwatches and fitness bands of myriad hues. In the crowd, Garmin has made a mark in the space offering innovative design and features. Garmin’s GPS-enabled smartwatch Instinct costs Rs 26,990 and the company calls it India’s first ‘lifestyle watch’ for those who want a wrist companion that is “rugged and reliable”.

We reviewed the Tundra variant of the Instinct. The GPS watch has a rugged yet suitably soothing looks. If you are a fan of tough looks, you will snappily fall in love with this. My eight-year-old son thinks it’s super cool, while wife feels it’s not so lady-like and she would even skip it during regular runs. Aesthetics are subjective of course but to be fair, I find the retro looks a charmer especially for those who want to look and feel young and rough.

Tough cool

The build is indeed strong. The watch hugs your wrist nice-and-tight and the silicone strap is not rough on your skin, like many others. Garmin says the smartwatch is built on US military standard 810G for thermal, shock and water resistance. In our experience, the watch could easily withstand falls and scratches. The lens is made of chemically strengthened glass, while the bezel and case are built with fibre-reinforced polymer. The watch’s vital stats are 45 x 45 x 15.3 mm and it weighs just 52 g, which is quite a fine mass for a watch of this size and one that is intended to function as a super-fitness band. The Garmin Instinct has a monochrome display that does not shy away in sunlight. The display resolution of 128x128 pixels is clear enough for all the function displays and notifications.

Feature fest

The Instinct comes with a series of superior features. It has an inbuilt three-axis compass and barometric altimeter, and has multiple GPS systems (GPS, the Russian GLONASS and Europe’s Galileo) support. This works really well even under Indian conditions, offering precise location data immensely helping runner and trekkers. The watch is equipped with a wrist-based heart-rate monitor, which helps you estimate activities and stress in real time.

The Garmin Instinct claims a battery life of up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, up to 16 hours in GPS mode, up to 40 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode. Our experience shows (nearly) similar results. It lasted nearly 14 hours in GPS mode and the battery saver mode is a bliss if you are away from power sources for long. Trekkers will find it really handy. The Instinct has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and has 16MB storage for offline data.

The device can be linked to your smartphone using Garmin’s dedicated app, which helps you collect your data and use it for analytical needs. Smart notifications and automatic data uploads to the Garmin Connect online fitness community are added incentives. You will take some time to get used to the controls and buttons. The CTRL button is a bit confusing at the start as it offers backlight, boot and shut functions as well.

The Instinct’s TracBack navigation feature is quite impressive. It helps users navigate back to the starting point from wherever they currently are. This basically makes sure you are not lost in the woods. The phone’s Bluetooth connectivity and Ant-Plus wireless capabilities are just superb. The Instinct also allows you to respond via text (reject a call with text) on Adroid. It syncs your calendar, weather data, can also help you control music from your smartphone. It supports features such as Find My Phone, Find My Watch, camera remote, etc.

To be frank, there are almost many features on this watch. If you are a pro-runner or a trekker who want to collect and contemplate on your fitness data, stress levels and plan your future activities based on community support, the Instinct rightly fits your bill. Considering the features and the support available online, the smartwatch is priced judiciously.

Price: Rs 26,990

Pros: Strong build, feature-rich, support systems

Cons: Controls are a bit confusing, no pure Wi-Fi support

Published on February 07, 2019

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