We are reviewing the brand-new Garmin Instinct crossover. This is an exciting watch. So the smartwatch is built to be a rugged outdoor hiking watch. It is, however, very similar to the older Garmin Instinct 2 that came out a while ago.
These two watches have a lot in common, and because of that, this is going to be a different kind of review. In most of my reviews, I do in-depth reviews and go through every little setting of the watch, but that would bore you in this review about the new Instinct Crossover because it’s so similar to the previous Instinct 2.
Instead, in this review, I will focus on what’s new and exciting about this watch and why it might be worth the extra high price tag compared to the garment instinct. Before we get to all that good stuff, though, please remind me that if you find this review entertaining or helpful, please consider giving me a thumbs up.
Pricing and Options
The first topic I want to tackle with the instant crossover is pricing and options. There are three primary options for this watch. There’s the base model that comes in at $499. Next is the Instinct Crossover Solar model with a solar panel on the front of the smartwatch at $549.
And then there’s the most expensive Instinct Crossover Solar Tactical, a very long name that comes in at $599. That comes with a few extra features that are made for tactical purposes, like stealth mode, which is the most expensive. And on top of the three main options, there are also a few different options in colors they can choose from.
When you’re picking up this watch in terms of pricing, the Garmin Instinct Crossover is a pretty expensive watch, especially when we go back in time and compare it to something like the original Garmin Instinct. When that came out, that was more of an entry-level watch. It was more of a budget option, whereas this new model is not a budget option, and if we compare it to something like the Garment Instinct two, it’s about a hundred dollars difference.
Similar Features for Instinct Crossover and the Older Instinct 2
For the Instinct crossover, these two watches are very similar in features and specs. Now that we’ve talked about options and pricing with the new Instinct Crossover, I want to briefly go over what’s the same between the Instant Crossover and the Older Instinct 2. Both have the same menu system, design, and user interface.
All of that is the same between these two watches. Both also have the same navigation features with breadcrumb mapping. That means there’s no built-in base map or topo map built into these watches, but you can use them with turn-by-turn directions if you create a course in Garmin Connect and sync it over to your smartwatch, which is pretty powerful.
Both of these watches also collect the same wellness data with step counting, stairs climbed, body battery, sleep tracking, and the new HRV status function on both of these watches. And, of course, these watches have the same excellent integration with Garmin Connect, the cloud platform where both watches will sync your wellness data, sleep tracking, activities, and everything else.
It’s the same between both of these. Let’s take a closer look at the hardware of the Instinct Crossover. When I hold up Instinct 2 on the right side of the Instinct Crossover, they look very similar. Both of these watches are a 45-millimeter form factor in diameter and slightly different in thickness.
The Instinct Crossover comes in at 16 millimeters thick. In contrast, the original Instinct 2 is a bit thinner at 14 millimeters thick, and that thickness difference is due to the hands within the Instinct Crossover because they add a little bit of thickness. Another difference between the Instinct Crossover and Instinct 2 is the weight.
The instinct crossover comes in at 65 grams, whereas the instinct two is lighter at 52 grams. Not a huge difference. Probably not something you’ll notice, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Besides that, these two wads are identical in terms of build quality. They’re both mainly made out of plastic.
They both have this kind of contoured band that wraps around your wrist nicely. It is replaceable, and they both have the same Garmin’s newer Elevate 4.0 heart rate sensor.
Regarding the display on the Instinct Crossover versus the Instinct 2, there’s a big difference in the instinct. They have a little window in the corner. You can see there’s a little circle, and in my case, I have the date in there, but you can customize that little window to show various bits of information within your activities.
On the Instinct Crossover, they’ve eliminated that little window and made the entire screen just one segment, so you can choose what information you want. You’re not shoehorned into using the little window as you did on Instinct 2.
The little window on the Instinct two was fascinating when it first launched, but it got old after that. I prefer having a larger single display on Instinct Crossover, even though the displays are the same size at around one inch. Remember that these displays are very low powers, so they’re monochrome, and there are no colors.
They’re low-resolution and small, so comparing this to an Apple watch is unfair. Because this is designed to conserve power, and you’ll understand that when we get to the battery life segment of this review, even though these displays are pretty dull and not vibrant or anything like that, they are very usable, especially out in direct sunlight.
I have zero issues going for a run, running in the dark, or anything like that because these watches also have backlights.
Mechanical Hands for Instinct Crossover
Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room when it comes to the Instinct Crossover, which will be the mechanical hands on top of the display.
Like any old watch, these hands mainly tell the time of day, but they do a lot more than that. So first off, there is an hour hand and a minute hand. What’s interesting about this is the numbers around the perimeter of the watch, and the hand, the little white segments on the hands glow in the dark.
So if you have this watch out in direct sunlight or even under artificial light, the numbers, tick marks, and everything will charge up. When the lights go down, they’ll glow with that iridescent green color. This is a fantastic feature.
It does help you tell the time of day in the dark. However, this glow-in-the-dark function only works for a couple of hours before the charge wears off, and you’ll have to charge it back up again by putting it back out of direct sunlight or using your phone flashlight or something like that.
Now, what’s interesting about the mechanical hands on the instant crossover is that when you cycle through the menu, They actively move out of the way so as not to obstruct what you’re trying to do. If I scroll down, the hands move to be perfectly horizontal so that it does not obstruct the view of all my widgets.
We can see that the hands are still horizontal, but if I go down to the weather forecast, the hands will go vertical. So I can see the columns of the weather forecast hour by hour and as sort of a gadget geek. This feature is really fascinating as I cycle through the menu. So you move down, and the hands move to the right. You move back up, and they move around, and there’s a lot of movement of the hands, making cycling through the menus entertaining.
Another compelling use case of the hands on the Instinct Crossover is that Garmin uses these hands as a gauge in certain widgets. So if I dive into my step count, You can see that the hands actively move into a position to represent where I am in terms of my steps correlated to my step goal.
So if I were higher on my step goal, the hands would swing all the way to the other side of the gauge to show that I’ve only almost completed my goal for the day, which is fantastic. Another fun use case of these hands is that you can use these to see what heart rate zone you’re in during an activity, which is cool.
It makes it easier to see at a glance, and it’s cool to see more functionality by using hands on the Instinct Crossover when it comes to the design in aesthetics of the instinct crossover. There’s something about this watch, and I can’t really put my finger on it. Still, if you compare Instinct 2 to the Instinct Crossover, you can see a 3D effect on the Instinct Crossover, thanks to the hands and the mechanical hands underneath the glass.
On Instinct 2, the glass surface is close to the display of the Instinct Crossover. The glass surface is further from the display, creating this sort of like diorama 3D-looking effect where shadows come off the bezel when you move the watch around.
Some shadows come off the hand, making for an exciting watch. It looks much more rugged and more interesting than Instinct 2. The watch even looks more attractive than the Garmin Fenix 7X; of course, the Fenix 7X has a brighter full-color display and many more features.
But side by side, the mechanical nature of the Instinct Crossover has an advantage in terms of looks, and maybe that’s just me, but I find it to look pretty interesting. So far in this review, we’ve been talking about looks, feel, aesthetics, and things that may matter to you as a buyer, and maybe you’re thinking, why don’t I save some money and get Instinct 2?
Let’s talk about GPS accuracy. So on the Garmin Instinct Crossover, Garmin has updated the chipset to be similar to the Garmin Fenix 7X, which has a multi-band dual frequency all-systems chipset.
It is the gold standard in terms of GPS accuracy in wearable technology. Even though the Garmin Instinct Crossover and the Garmin Fenix 7X have a similar chipset, there’s one significant difference. The Garmin Instinct Crossover does not have multi-band mode, while the Fenix 7X and many other Garmin watches do have multi-band mode, which is strange because they’re using a very similar chip.
It may be a software limitation. I don’t know, but that is what it is. Even though there is no multi-band GPS on the Instinct Crossover, I’ve been getting outstanding accuracy in terms of GPS from this watch.
I’ve taken this watch out on many different runs and compared it to my Garmin Forerunner 955, the Instinct 2, and the Apple Watch. In most cases, I’m getting excellent and stable GPS positioning from the Instinct Crossover right up there with multi-band modes such as the Garmin Fenix 7X and Forerunner 955. All the tracks these days are looking good from these newer Garmin watches with this new chipset, and it’s no exception here. So, it’s a bummer they didn’t add multi-band GPS mode to the instant crossover.
But in most cases, it’s not going to be a big deal for most users unless you’re somebody who finds themself in a slot canyon or up next to a cliff face or something like that. You might find value in a multi-band GPS watch in those niche situations. Now that we’ve discussed GPS accuracy let’s dive into battery life.
Instinct Crossover Battery Life
A newer, more expensive watch would have better battery life than the older Instinct 2. However, that is not the case because the Instinct Crossover has mechanical hands with a little motor back to move them in. It has that newer GPS chip, which is more accurate, but it does take a little bit in battery life; however, it’s still pretty good.
So in smartwatch mode, in everyday life, when you’re not out on a run or a ride or using GPS or anything like that, you can get up to 28 days of battery life on the Instinct Crossover, which is the same as the Instinct 2. However, if you opt for the solar model of either one of these watches and get enough sunlight every day, that’s where there’s a difference. The Instinct 2 has unlimited battery life with the solar model as long as you get enough sunlight daily. It’ll never have to be charged, which is pretty cool.
The Instinct Crossover will last around 70 days with the solar model in enough sunlight. So not unlimited, but 70 days is a long time. Another big difference in battery life is GPS on battery life when you’re in a run, ride activity, or something like that.
That’s where Instinct 2, we’ll get up to 30 hours with the non-solar model, and the Instinct Crossover will get up to about 25 hours with the non-solar model. A five-hour difference in a GPS activity is a bummer, but 25 hours should be more than enough for most people. If you opt for the solar model, there is a difference in GPS mode where the Instinct 2 will get up to about 48 hours with a bit of sunlight, and the Instinct Crossover will go up to about 31 hours with a bit of sunlight.
So pretty big difference there. Is that going to make or break your decision? Let me know in the discussions down below. Specs aside, where these watches shine when it comes to battery life is that in smartwatch mode, you can wear these things for weeks and not have to charge them, and I appreciate that.
My Final Thought on Garmin Instinct Crossover
We’ve talked about all the new features on the Garmin Instinct Crossover, it’s time for final thoughts, and here I want to talk about what I think could be better about this watch and why I love it.
Let me start this by talking about why I love this watch. I don’t know how to portray this in words, but it’s the feel, the look, and the nostalgia I get when I wear this watch. It has a more classy look to it. I like this thing on my wrist, which is different from many other Garmin watches. It doesn’t have this sterile sports watch appearance, and that’s because of the watch hands. They make it look different, and I like that.
As I mentioned, hand integration into the menu system is how they move around and seamlessly work together. It makes this watch fun to use, and I enjoy having it on my wrist. This is very subjective. This watch is a lot of fun to wear. I never thought a sports watch would be fun, but this one is.
Even though this watch is fun and different, I like how it looks on my wrist. I wonder if that’s worth spending $600 on because that is a pretty expensive watch at the end of the day. Garmin Instinct Crossover is an expensive watch, and if you opt for the solar model, you’re looking at around $550. You’re entering the same price category as the Garmin Forerunner 955.
Forerunner 955 has way more features than the Instinct Crossover, costing $499, which is $50 cheaper than the Garmin Instinct Crossover solar. On Forerunner 955, I get music storage with offline playback from Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Amazon Music. I’ve also got multi-band GPS, full mapping experience with topo maps, navigation, and turn-by-turn directions.
I even get training readiness, a new widget that came out on some Garmin watches a while ago, and I get a bigger, brighter, full-color display that is much more than the display on the Instinct Crossover. With all that said, though, there is something different about the Instinct Crossover, the look, the feel, the mechanical hands, the monochrome display, it’s all got this nostalgic vibe that’s hard to ignore, and it’s something I really like.
Because of the cool factor of the instinct crossover, it will appeal to those who appreciate authentic mechanical timepieces. It might even convert some Casio G-Shock users looking for a more capable fitness or sport watch experience because this watch is far more capable than most G-Shock options.
But yeah, that’s my opinion, and that’s what I think about the Instinct Crossover so far, and now I want to hear from you. Are you interested in the Garmin Instinct Crossover, or will you save some money and go for Instinct 2? Or are you going to get something like the Garmin Fenix 7X, a G-Shock, or anything?
Let me know in the discussion below what you think about this new watch and if you’re going to get one.