The Garmin Instinct range has been well-received by users, and it is no surprise that fans are eying the release of the next edition in the range. In this article, we look forward to Instinct 3 and its potential features and upgrades, along with the likely release date.
As with any new watch, rumours and leaks about the next iteration of a popular product will abound. However, there has been no information on Instinct 3 so far. Having said that, there are numerous theories circulating about improved sensors, tracking capabilities and design enhancements that a new edition might bring.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Garmin has not done a good job in recent years of keeping information on upcoming devices under wraps. Which means it is only a matter of time before info on Instinct 3 starts to leak through. We will update this article as when we hear more.
Garmin Instinct 3: Possible design and tech specs
The Instinct range is built to withstand tough conditions, with a durable and rugged design that can can keep up with an active lifestyle. These watches come packed with features that make them ideal for hiking, running, cycling, swimming, and a variety of other outdoor activities. They are able to handle extreme temperatures, water, and shocks.
There was a three year gap between the first two generations of the watch. So it is no surprise the second version came with lots of upgrades. Hopefully the wait for generation 3 will not be as long. As to what it will bring, we can look to the recent crop of Garmin watches for some clues.
Multiple build options – new case materials
What is clear is that the company is not moving away from the current form-factor. So expect once again a circular watch with five physical buttons, three on the left and two on the right.
What would be nice to see is a metal version of the watch – perhaps a titanium, aluminium or steel case option. The current range is made of fibre-reinforced polymer. This would add to the price, but it would be nice to have the option for those that are interested.
As before, expect at least two iterations – a large and a small. The most recent generation offers 40 x 40 x 13.3 mm and 45 x 45 x 14.5 mm case size options.
It is also a safe bet that thre will be other editions in addition to the standard. The current range has a Camo, Tactical, Surf and Esports and DEZL variants. The last one is new, it is designed for professional truck drivers.
Reduction in thickness
On our wishlist is also a reduction in the thickness of the watch. Instinct 2 is thinner than the original – a result of tech getting smaller and more power-efficient. Let’s hope Garmin continues in this fashion for Instinct 3.
The limiting factor is that a reduction in thickness impacts battery life. With less space there is less room for a larger capacity battery. And long battery life is important for those that like to be out in and about in the great outdoors.
Once again we expect an edition with solar charging. In recent years this has become more than a gimmick and such functionality does help to extend the time between charges. Of course, further improvements in solar and cable charging time would be good. And we’ve seen a number of posts on social media and forums asking for a protected USB-C port.
Larger, more high-res display (AMOLED version?)
The display hasn’t changed much between generations, so it’s still a monochrome, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel with a custom, two-window design. The regular version measures 0.9″ x 0.9″ and the S version measures 0.79″ x 0.79″. The only difference is that both of these are slightly higher resolution than the original.
Less bezel and more display space would be nice. It would improve visibility and allow users to see more fields on the screen that matter.
And what about a separate AMOLED edition? It’s a realistic posibility as evidenced by the Fenix and Forerunner range. Garmin has made strides with AMOLED displays and they are almost on par as far as battery life as compared to those with memory-in-pixel displays.
In fact there was a leak about a year ago on an upcoming Garmin Austin that was listed as an outdoors watch along with the Fenix, Tactix and Instinct range. Could this be an AMOLED version of Instinct 2 or 3?
Garmin Instinct 3: Functionality we would like to see
As a watch for those into outdoor activities Instinct allows users to track their location, distance traveled, and elevation gain. This is particularly useful for hikers and trail runners who want to keep track of their progress and ensure they stay on course. In addition to sattelite connectivity, the Instinct range also comes equipped with a variety of other sensors, including a heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, pulse ox and compass.
This watch range has always impressed us, and the latest iteration has added some nice upgrades. The majority of these are software-based and take the form of a plethora of performance metrics. The original isn’t even capable of producing VO2 Max readings. You now have access to nearly everything available in the Forerunner line. These enhancements transform it into a much more capable all-around fitness and sports device.
Blood oxygen is now available on all watches, allowing for spot checks as well as auto during sleep or all day. In addition, you will receive a 24-hour respiration rate, Fitness Age, advanced Sleep Score & insights, Health Snapshot, HIIT workouts, and a slew of sports activity profiles.
While impressive in its specs, the device is by no means perfect. Here’s what we would like to see.
In terms of smartwatch features, it is fair to say that the current Instinct line is lacking. The storage and playback of music, for example, is an obvious omission.
This feature would be a valuable addition to the Garmin Instinct 3. It would eliminate the need for users to travel with a separate music player or smartphone. This would be especially useful for trail running and hiking, where users may want to keep their pack light and streamlined.
This should be self-evident. Garmin watches from the past year have all had multi-band GNSS support. Multiple frequencies from each constellation can be used for improved positioning in areas where obtaining a satellite signal is difficult. The improvements in connection speed and GPS accuracy are obvious.
The Instinct 3 watch will almost certainly include this.
A smartwatch flashlight can be useful in a variety of situations. It can help you navigate in low-light environments such as a camping site, bedroom, or parking lot. Or perhaps during power outages when you need to get around the house or out of the house. It can also help you find items that you may have dropped in a dark area. Perhaps you need to draw attention to yourself while running or cycling at night. Finally, it can function as an SOS signal.
So far, the only Garmin timepieces with a built-in flashlight are the Fenix 7X and Enduro 2. The LEDs are located above the display, between the watch bezel and the band. The Instinct range is a natural fit for this.
More comprehensive map and navigation
Instinct 2 has a range of mapping abilities but they do not go as far as some other Garmin high-end watches. Omissions include Around Me mode, UpAhead, NextFork, ClimbPro Ascent Planner, preloaded topographical maps, preloaded road and trail maps, downloadable cartography support are more. These features will be useful for those who enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities.
Garmin Instinct 3: Potential release date
The original watch first went on sale back in 2018 and that was followed up by a solar variant two years later. There was also an interim eSports edition with a dedicated Esports activity profile. Those were all tweaked versions of the original that slapped on some incremental upgrades. It is only in February 2022 that we got the fully fledged second generation device.
And let’s not forget Garmin Instinct Crossover which was released only a few months ago. You can consider this as an interim version in the Gen 2 range as it packs the same sensors and functionality as Instinct 2. The difference is in the hybrid design.
Here’s the recent release schedule.
- Garmin Instinct (October 2018)
- Garmin Instinct Solar (July 2020)
- Garmin Instinct 2 (February 2022)
- Garmin Instinct Crossover (November 2022)
As far as the next iteration in the series, we certainly do not anticipate more than a two year gap. Most likely we will see generation 3 land in early 2024.
Having said that, we we could see an interim version of the watch. Don’t be surprised if Garmin releases an AMOLED version of the Gen 2 watch later this year. Now that both Fenix and Forerunner ranges have AMOLED versions, we definitely would not rule this out.
If you don’t want to wait another year for Gen 3, the non-solar variant of Instinct sells for $349 on Garmin’s website and is also available on Amazon (check price). The price is pretty reasonable considering the specs. The first generation now sells for just $189 – so while stocks last that one might be an attractive option for those on a budget.
So what do you think? What would you like to see on Instinct 3?
Like this article? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and never miss out!