When Garmin launched the Fenix 6 range of outdoor watches last year one of the most exciting features was reserved for a very expensive watch right at the top of the line-up: the Fenix 6X Pro Solar, which had solar panels built into the watch face to extend its battery life.
We hoped to see this appear on Garmin’s other watches and those hopes have been fulfilled. There are now solar versions of the rest of the Fenix 6 range and Garmin has also released the Instinct Solar, a new edition of its rugged GPS watch that includes solar panels on the face.
On the Fenix 6S Solar and 6 Solar watches, the addition of solar panels boosts the battery life by 1½ and two days respectively (the S denotes a smaller case size), assuming you get enough sunlight. The Fenix 6S will last 10½ days on a charge, and the 6 will last 16 days, with the GPS battery on the 6 boosted from 36 hours to 40. You can see how much sunlight the panels are being exposed to using the solar intensity widget on the watch, and on dedicated watch faces.
Pictured: Garmin Fenix 6S Pro Solar
It’s a handy boost, but the numbers are even more impressive on the Instinct Solar, where more of the watch face is dedicated to solar panels. The GPS battery life of the watch is extended from 30 hours to 38 and in watch mode it’ll last 54 days, up from 24.
Even more excitingly, if you stick the Instinct Solar in Battery Saver mode it’ll last forever, assuming you spend a bit of time in the sun each day. The watch has Garmin’s Power Manager feature which lets you toggle some features on and off to extend the battery life.
Pictured: Garmin Instinct Solar
Solar panels are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the features on the watches. The Fenix 6 series sits at the top of the tree for sports and adventure watches, offering excellent sports tracking and training analysis, navigation through built-in colour maps and smart features like music storage. For its part, the Instinct offers a cheaper option for adventurous types, with a military-spec build, breadcrumb navigation and long-lasting battery life.
The addition of solar panels does increase the price of the watches, of course. The Instinct Solar starts at £349.99, up from £269.99, while the Fenix Series solar watches start at £649.99, up from £529.99. The solar watches are on the Garmin website now and will go on sale before October.
Another watch getting the solar treatment is Garmin’s Tactix Delta, a watch built on the same design as the Fenix series and aimed at military personnel. The Tactix Delta Solar will offer 24 days of battery life with sufficient sunlight, up from 21 days. It costs from £999.99.