Smartwatches are a tricky business. Stick too much battery in them, and they become uncomfortable and bulky. But if you go too small, it won’t hold a charge long enough, and it becomes a frustrating thing to own. Garmin’s answer to the problem seems so obvious you might wonder why it wasn’t the first solution—solar power.
Garmin’s three new solar-powered watches aren’t new. Instead, they’re variants of existing watches, the Fenix 6S, 6S Pro, and Tactix Delta. The idea is that by adding solar panels, the already decent battery life will get even better.
The Fenix 6S, for instance, already lasts nine days. But with “sufficient solar exposure,” you’ll get an extra day and a half. The 6S Pro jumps from 14 to 16 days. Garmin defines “sufficient solar exposure” as ” 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions.” That’s an overcast day with some sun. Presumably, a sunny day would give you even better results.
Solar power isn’t the only thing the smartwatches gain; Garmin is also adding new modes, including surfing, mountain biking, and indoor climbing. That last entry is particularly impressive as it will track the number of routes taken, vertical distance climbed, climbing time, difficultly of each route, and more.
Garmin is also adding solar to its Instinct Watches, and that’s where solar power literally shines. The company says that in battery mode, the three smartwatches will work indefinitely on sun power alone. And even if you turn on more taxing modes, you can get up to 50 days’ charge if you spend a lot of time outside.
You can choose from three options, the Instinct Solar, Instinct Solar Surf Edition, and Instinct Solar Tactical Edition. The final watch to pick up solar power is the Tactix Delta, a military-grade smartwatch. Garmin designed the Tactix Delta for people on active duty, and it should take a lickin’ and keep on digital tickin’. The smartwatch already enjoys 21 days of battery life, and Garmin says solar power kicks that up to 24 days.
All the smartwatches are on sale today at Garmin’s site, and range in price from $400 for the low-end Instinct Solar to $1,100 for the Tactix Delta.