Smart, and smart-ish watches, are fantastic tools hampered by their size, which caps the amount of battery life you can cram into them. Not many full-featured timepieces can have their battery life measured in months, rather than days or weeks, but Garmin is hoping its solar technology will change things. The watchmaker is launching three new multi-sport watches with built-in solar panels in the hope of dramatically increasing the time they stay on your wrist, rather than connected to a charger.
First up, is the Fenix 6S and 6S Pro, both of which get Solar appended to their name and a solar-glass lens over their dials. For the regular 6S, you get the same battery life (nine days) indoors, but you can squeeze a further day and a half out of it “with sufficient solar exposure.” The 6 Pro Solar, meanwhile, can push the existing Pro’s 14-day battery life for an extra two days if you’re hanging out in the sun.
Both watches also get new modes for surfing, mountain biking and indoor climbing to help you track your waves, grit and flow or time spent on the wall. In addition, there’s a new Acclimation Widget that Garmin says will track your current elevation, and compare it against your pulse oxygenation. So if you’re climbing a mountain your watch will be able to tell you how well you’re breathing at the higher altitude.
The company’s line of Instinct watches is also getting a trio of new solar models, although in this case it’s the Instinct Solar, Instinct Solar Surf Edition and Instinct Solar Tactical Edition. Here, Garmin is boasting that if you activate Battery Saver mode, the watch can survive almost indefinitely without a charge. Use any of the more taxing modes, however, and the battery life is still pretty striking: up to 50 days in smartwatch mode if you’re out and about for most of the day.
Third, and last on this list, is the new Tactix Delta, Garmin’s military-grade watch with features designed for people on active duty. The existing model can last for up to 21 days as a smartwatch and up to 60 hours in continuous GPS mode. With the additional of solar power, the company says you’ll be able to squeeze that figure up to 24 days, as usual, if you’ve topped up the rays enough.
All of the new watches are available now, with the base model Instinct Solar setting you back $400, the lowest end Solar Fenix 6S priced at $850 and the Tactix costing $1,100.