Should you buy the Garmin Instinct on Black Friday?

We argue the pros and cons of buying a four-year-old rugged smartwatch from Garmin

Should you get the Garmin Instinct on Black Friday?
(Image credit: Garmin)

The Garmin Instinct has been immensely popular and is essentially the smaller, less feature-rich (but equally as rugged) version of the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, which comes equipped with a range of casual and hardcore fitness features that are enjoyed by those who love the outdoor life and perhaps the more extreme side of sports. It's also four years old now, which begs the question: should you get a Garmin Instinct on Black Friday just because it's cheap?

The first-generation Garmin Instinct was released in 2018, with its Solar-powered counterpart, the Garmin Instinct Solar, hitting shelves two years later in 2020. Both devices are knocking on a bit now, but they're much cheaper than their new and improved successors, the Garmin Instinct 2 and Instinct 2 Solar. Should you spend a little more money on the more recent models, buy the Garmin Fenix 6, or choose the runners' favourite Garmin Forerunner 245 on Black Friday instead?

We weighed the pros and cons of getting an older Garmin watch, but if you want something fresher, we have a guide to the best Garmin watches that might help to decide which GPS multisport watch is best for you. Coming back to the original question: should you get the Garmin Instinct on Black Friday, or would you miss out on some majorly innovative new updates by getting one? Let's weigh things up… 

How much is the Garmin Instinct on Black Friday?

The Garmin Instinct retails for $300/£230/AU$400 at Garmin US (opens in new tab), Garmin UK (opens in new tab) and Garmin AU (opens in new tab), respectively. The Instinct Solar sells for $400/£240/AU$700, also at Garmin, and as you can tell, it's a superb price for the solar watch in the UK (opens in new tab). We're not sure what the reason is for the disparity in the UK, but if you live there and fancy a new Garmin watch, the original Garmin Solar Instinct is the watch to buy right now.

In the UK, Amazon currently sells the Garmin Instinct for a mere £159.80 (opens in new tab), which is a total bargain. The best price we could find for the Garmin Instinct Solar in the UK is at Wiggle (opens in new tab), where it sells for just under £300 - we see no point in getting it from there instead of directly from Garmin, where it's £60 cheaper.

In the US, Amazon has the best price on the Garmin Instinct: it's $159.17 (opens in new tab) at the time of writing, which is almost 50% off MSPR. However, we'd recommend heading over to Walmart (opens in new tab) to buy the Garmin Instinct Solar in Cloudbreak colorway for $200. That's actually half-price compared to how much it sells for at Garmin!

In Australia, the Garmin Instinct is AU$264.73 at Amazon (opens in new tab) (surprise, surprise!). Ryda.com has the best price on the solar version, where it sells for AU$398.85 (opens in new tab) in Orchard colourway. For the best prices on this and all other Garmin watches, check out our best cheap Garmin deals page now!

Which features does the Garmin Instinct have?

The Garmin Instinct is an immensely popular Garmin wearable, mainly due to the watch's accurate heart rate sensor, solid GPS performance and accessible price point. The watch is especially sought-after for younger people who can't quite afford the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro or the Garmin Enduro but like to have a rugged Garmin wrapped around their wrists.

The original Instinct touts all the fitness tracking activities you'd expect from an advanced smartwatch, such as running, biking, swimming and strength, as well as health and wellness insights, encased in a case built to the U.S. military standard 810 for thermal, shock and water resistance rated to 100 meters.

The main difference between the regular and the solar edition of the first edition Garmin Instinct is that the latter boasts a light-sensitive layer sandwiched between the protective lens and the display, which helps to give the battery a little boost when exposed to sunlight. This means longer battery life, even in GPS mode.

As for the Garmin Instinct 2, it's slightly slimmer than the original Instinct, making it somewhat more comfortable to wear on the wrist. It added a few additional training features around recovery, training effect, and performance condition, which are common on Garmin's pricier Fenix range. Battery life is the biggest improvement, though, doubling that of the Instinct from 14 days (or 54 days with solar) to up to 28 days (65 days with solar).

Should you buy a Garmin Instinct on Black Friday?

Looking at the deals mentioned above, the Garmin Instinct and Garmin Instinct Solar are significantly cheaper than the newer Instinct 2 and Instinct 2 Solar. The newer models are certainly more capable than the original Instincts, but they look more or less the same, and the displays are also very similar. Under the hood, though, you get a newer GPS chip and an updated heart rate tracker, providing more accuracy, which might convince some to choose the Instinct 2 over its predecessor.

That said, the Garmin Instinct isn't a dumb watch, and since Garmin released many software updates over the year, it's also not outdated. Sure, the hardware can't be improved via these updates, but the algorithm that evaluates data is constantly tweaked, so although you buy a watch that was launched years ago, you still get a lot of up-to-date features and training advice. Check out more big tech bargains at our Best Black Friday deals and early sales page. 

Lee Bell is a freelance journalist & copywriter specialising in technology, health, grooming and how the latest innovations are shaking up the lifestyle space. From national newspapers to specialist-interest magazines and digital titles, Lee has written for some of the world’s most respected publications during his 11 years as a journalist.

With contributions from