Even before the release of the new Garmin Solar range, which includes 'solarised' versions of the Instinct, fenix 6S/6 and tactix Delta models, one of the biggest appeal of the best running watches was the long battery life; at least compared to 'ordinary' smartwatches such as the Apple Watch Series 5. Now, battery life on the new Garmin Solar range has just got way longer thanks to the Power Glass, a special layer in between the protection lens at the top and the actual display.
It's not hard to guess what the Power Glass does considering the name of the new range: the special technology harnesses the power of the sun and tops up the battery when exposed to direct sunlight. In some cases and under special circumstances, the top up is so efficient that it makes regular charging obsolete! A future filled with charger-free smartwatches has just got way closer.
As well as the new solar-charging functionality, the new Garmin Instinct Solar model has other tricks up in its sleeve too: new models include a Surf Edition with – you guessed it – surfing specific metrics and the Tactical Edition that serves as a more accessible tactix Delta variant.
Garmin Instinct Solar
The Garmin Instinct Solar can provide unlimited battery life with sufficient solar exposure in Battery Saver mode. Using Expedition Mode with sufficient solar exposure, Instinct Solar provides increased GPS functionality while still delivering over two months of battery life. The Instinct Solar series also has up to 24 days in smartwatch mode indoors and more than 50 days with sufficient solar exposure.
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Instinct Solar – Surf Edition is purpose-built with specialised surf features such as tide data and a dedicated surfing activity. Water rated to 100 meters, the Instinct Solar - Surf Edition can function as a multisport water-recreation watch too as it has useful features for other type of athletes as well. The Instinct Solar – Tactical Edition comes equipped with tactical-specific features such as night-vision goggle compatibility and Stealth mode, in which mode the watch stop storing and sharing your GPS position and disable wireless connectivity and communication.
The Instinct Solar now also includes Pulse Ox to gauge how well an individual’s body is absorbing oxygen and Body Battery to optimise body energy reserves through health monitoring metrics.
- Read our Garmin Instinct Solar review
Garmin fēnix 6 Series - Solar Editions
Built on the foundation laid by the excellent Garmin Fenix 6x Pro Solar, the new fēnix 6S Pro Solar and fēnix 6 Pro Solar are the newest members of the Garmin flagship multisport GPS smartwatch line. Expanding the robust activity profiles included in the fēnix series, the fēnix 6 and 6S Solar editions come surf, mountain bike and indoor climb-ready.
- Surf: Using a Surf Activity profile, also found on Instinct Solar – Surf Edition, fēnix surfers can track total waves, surf time, total time, max speed and their longest wave. When surfing in front of a Surfline® camera, users wearing fēnix or Instinct surf-compatible watches can upload their surf to their Surfline account and later view video of that surfing activity through Surfline Sessions.
- Mountain Bike: Using the new “Grit and Flow” activity, individuals can track the details of every ride with mountain biking metrics, plus specialised grit and flow measurements that rate trail difficulty and how smoothly users descend, giving a unique score to beat next time.
- Indoor Climb: The indoor climb activity profile allows climbers to track their sessions at indoor facilities. Metrics include the number of routes, vertical distance climbed, climbing time, difficultly of each route and more.
The fēnix 6S Pro Solar battery performance in smartwatch mode is up to nine days indoors and up to 10.5 days with sufficient solar exposure, while battery performance for the fēnix 6 Pro Solar in smartwatch mode is up to 14 days indoors and up to 16 days with sufficient solar exposure.
The fēnix 6 Series – Solar Editions also includes Advanced Sleep Monitoring, which provides a detailed breakdown of user’s light, deep and REM sleep stages as well as Pulse Ox and respiration data. This can be viewed on a dedicated widget that includes stress score and sleep insights.
Out of the box, the fēnix 6 series includes TopoActive Europe maps for outdoor adventures, ski maps for over 2,000 ski resorts worldwide and over 41,000 golf courses. The fēnix 6 series features Garmin Pay and on-device music storage of up to 2,000 songs, allowing users to sync playlists from several of the most popular music services (subscription may be required), no phone required.
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Garmin tactix Delta – Solar Edition
The tactix Delta – Solar Edition is the fourth generation of the tactix family, which is developed on the fēnix series platform. Built to military standards (MIL-STD-810), the tactix Delta - Solar Edition uses solar charging to extend battery life and Power Manager mode to provide up to 21 days indoors and up to 24 days with sufficient solar exposure.
Mission-ready features on the tactix Delta – Solar Edition include stealth mode, which disables location sharing and wireless connectivity, and a kill switch to wipe all user memory, in case you get captured behind enemy lines. The rugged design features an always-on 1.4” display, scratch-resistant sapphire lens, black DLC-coated steel bezel, black PVD-coated steel rear cover and all-new "military-inspired black tactical nylon" QuickFit band with reinforced stitching and exposed black metal hardware.
The model with the "Applied Ballistic Calculator" will cost you an extra £250 and I'm not sure who else would able to use this feature apart from military people, but then again I'm sure they won't base rocket launching decisions on their smartwatches' readings. I hope so anyway.