Garmin Instinct Crossover | Image source: Garmin

Garmin Instinct Crossover vs Instinct 2: differences & similarities

Garmin has made official Instinct Crossover earlier today (view on Garmin’s website). This is a new take on the company’s outdoor sports watch concept. It is the first hybrid in the Instinct range. The ever-growing list of Garmin variants has another entrant.

Such watches are not everyone’s cup of tea. They attempt to offer the best of both worlds by combining analog elements with smartwatch elements. For example, this might be a pair of mechanical hands on top of a digital display.

In this article we look at the differences and similarities between Instinct Crossover and the predecessor generation. Both of these are tough watches built for the outdoors. But which one is right for you? Read on to find out.


Garmin Instinct Crossover vs Instinct 2: Hardware

Rugged design, multiple variants

Garmin Instinct 2 has been around since February 2022. It comes in two size iterations – a standard edition and a less bulky S iteration. This is the first time the device is offering something for those with smaller wrists. That one measures 40 x 40 x 13.3 mm whereas the standard version comes in at 45 x 45 x 14.5 mm. Beyond that there’s not much of a design difference between generation 2 and the original device.

Which means you get a monochrome, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display with a custom, two-window design. This measures 0.9” x 0.9” for the regular and 0.79” x 0.79” for the S version.

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As far as the different iterations, you get a choice between a more pricey solar and a standard version. Beyond that you also get separate Camo, Tactical, Surf and Esports editions, along with a DEZL that is designed for professional truck drivers. So lots of options to choose from.

Garmin Instinct 2 vs Instinct
Garmin instinct 2 | Image source: Garmin

This is a rugged watch designed to last. To this end it comes with 100 meter water resistance and military-standard grading. The build is shock resistant with fiber-reinforced polymer case and scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass or Power Glass for the standard edition. The device is also thermal and shock-proof.

Garmin Instinct Crossover
Garmin Instinct Crossover | Image source: Garmin

Instinct Crossover comes with some design differences and one important novelty – a pair of luminescent, mechanical hands on top of the MIP watch face. They come with auto-calibration smarts so you can have confidence in being right on time. These “Super-LumiNova” luminescent analog watch hands have been designed to be bright and easy to read.

The hands flat-line to swing out of the way when you are navigating the menu or reading the data. They are also used as an indicator – for example when you go to the steps page this will display your progress for the day as compared to your goal.

The actual dimensions of the watch come in at 45 x 45 x 16.2 mm and weight at 65 grams. Which makes Instinct Crossover a bit thicker and heavier than Instinct 2. This is therefore more of a masculine watch than a unisex device.

The tiny display which appears in the right-hand corner of Instinct 2 is gone. Garmin probably felt it would be confusing to have two digital displays and a pair of mechanical hands on top of this. Which makes sense. The display is still monochrome and it retains the 176 x 176 pixel resolution. But its a full square display so is no longer broken up.

The bezel has received a bit of a revamp. It is now dual-layered with a combination of fibre-reinforced polymer and stainless steel. Water-resistance and the military toughness is unchanged from Instinct 2.

Instinct Crossover does not come in very many different iterations. The choice comes down to the Standard edition, Standard Solar and Tactical Solar.

Garmin Instinct Crossover
Garmin Instinct Crossover | Image source: Garmin

Under the hood

Under the hood there is not much of a difference between Instinct 2 and Instinct Crossover. In fact, a more precise name for the latter should be Instinct 2 Crossover.

Sensors include optical heart rate, SpO2, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer and thermometer. Plus there’s the multiple global navigation satellite system (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo). A bit of a difference is that Crossover has adopted the Airoha chipset whereas Instinct 2 relies on the Sony. The first is said to be a bit more accurate.

Another improvements to come with Crossover is a doubling of the memory – from 32MB to 64MB. Plus, you now get the NFC chip as standard. That means you can make payments on the go with the watch. On Instinct 2 it is only available on the solar and DEZL option.


Garmin Instinct Crossover vs Instinct 2: Technical specs

Instinct Crossover
Instinct 2
Instinct 2s
Lens material
Chemically strengthened glass or Power glass
Chemically strengthened glass or Power glass
Chemically strengthened glass or Power glass
Bezel material
Fibre-reinforced polymer / Stainless Steel
Fibre-reinforced polymer
Fibre-reinforced polymer
Case material
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Strap material
Silicone
Silicone
Silicone
Dimensions
45.0 x 45.0 x 16.2 mm
45 x 45 x 14.5 mm
40 x 40 x 13.3 mm
Display size
Custom, with a center hole: 0.9” x 0.9” (23 x 23 mm)
Custom, two-window design; 0.9” x 0.9” (23 x 23 mm)
Custom, two-window design; 0.79” x 0.79” (20.12 x 20.12 mm)
Display resolution
176 x 176 pixels
176 x 176 pixels
156 x 156 pixels
Display type
Monochrome, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Monochrome, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Monochrome, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Analogue hands
Yes
No
No
Weight
65 grams
52 grams
42 grams
Sensors
Optical heart rate, SpO2, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometer
Optical heart rate, SpO2, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometer
Optical heart rate, SpO2, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometer
Sattelite connectivity
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
PS chipset
Airoha
Sony
Sony
Water-resistance
10 ATM
10 ATM
10 ATM
Memory/history
64 MB
32 MB
32 MB
NFC
Yes
Only Instinct 2 Solar/DEZL
Only Instinct 2 Solar/DEZL
Connectivity
Bluetooth, ANT+
Bluetooth, ANT+
Bluetooth, ANT+
Solar option
Yes
Yes
Yes
Editions
Standard, Tactical
Standard, Camo, Tactical Surf, Dezl, Esports
Standard, Camo, Tactical Surf, Dezl
RRP
$499 and up
$349 and up
$349 and up

Garmin Instinct Crossover vs Instinct 2: Battery life

Battery life on Instinct watches has always been decent. In some configurations, the devices can actually run indefinitely. That’s assuming you spend at least 3 hours per day outside in bright/sunny conditions (specified as 50,000 lux conditions).

Instinct 2 can run indefinitely in smartwatch and battery saver watch mode. The 2s version and Instinct Crossover cannot run indefinitely with solar in smartwatch mode, but can in Battery Saver Watch mode.

Garmin Instinct Crossover
Garmin Instinct Crossover | Image source: Garmin

The table below shows what you can expect in different modes. It is a bit of a mix. In some modes Crossover outperforms Instinct 2, in others it is Instinct 2 that shines. But it safe to say you won’t be disappointed as far as battery performance whichever device you choose.

Crossover
Instinct 2
Instinct 2s
Smartwatch mode
Up to 28 days/70 days with solar
Up to 28 days/Unlimited with solar
Up to 21 days/51 days with solar
Battery Saver Watch Mode
Up to 71 days/Unlimited with solar
Up to 65 days/Unlimited with solar
Up to 50 days/Unlimited with solar
GPS
Up to 25 hours/31 hours with solar
Up to 30 hours/48 hours with solar
Up to 22 hours/28 hours with solar
Max Battery GPS Mode
Up to 111 hours/553 hours with solar
Up to 70 hours/370 hours with solar
Up to 54 hours/114 hours with solar
Expedition GPS Activity
Up to 40 days/327 days with solar
Up to 32 days/Unlimited with solar
Up to 25 days/105 with solar 

Garmin Instinct Crossover vs Instinct 2: Functionality

The Instinct is a rugged GPS watch made tough for the outdoorsy types. To this end there’s lots of functionality on-board. You also get all the new recovery stats and features that first appeared with the Forerunner 255 and 955 watches (Morning Report, Running Power, Training Readiness, etc). Instinct 2 received these via a firmware update a month or so ago. Instinct Crossover comes with these out of the box.

If you are wondering if you will get extra functionality if you buy Crossover, the answer is no. But you won’t be missing out on any features from Instinct 2. The watches are identical as far as ability. There is no difference.


Garmin Instinct Crossover vs Instinct 2: the bottom line

Instinct Crossover is an interesting addition to Garmin’s sports watch range. It is not the first time the company has manufactured a hybrid watch, but it is the first such timepiece designed for the outdoorsy types.

The differences between this edition and Instinct 2 are entirely to do with design. The functionality is the same apart from perhaps slightly better satellite tracking performance.

With Crossover, you don’t get the two window display but you do get a pair of analogue hands. These have been designed to cleverly move out of the way when you are interacting with the device. This way they do not impede the usability of the watch for health and fitness tracking purposes or outdoor navigation. The other novelty is the luminescence of the hands.

You now get NFC as standard, double the memory and a slightly better build thanks to a dual-layered bezel. Battery life is still excellent and you can keep the solar edition of the watch going indefinitely in battery saver mode.

garmin-fenix-7

Garmin Instinct 2
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Garmin Instinct 2 vs Instinct

Crossover starts at $499 on Garmin’s website which is quite a bit more expensive than the $349 Instinct. But it is a good option for those looking for a rugged but fashionable watch for hiking and other outdoor activities. This is probably the most powerful hybrid out there.

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