Garmin Instinct vs. Amazfit T-Rex: Which should you buy?

Garmin Instinct Hero
Garmin Instinct Hero (Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Instinct

Garmin Instinct

If you want a watch that's built for rugged exploring and you don't mind spending more on some extra features, you'll love the Garmin Instinct. There are several variants to choose from depending on your needs. You get GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/sleep tracking, Body Battery energy monitoring, and TracBack routing.

Garmin Instinct

More in-depth details

Onboard GPS
Heart-rate monitoring
Activity/sleep tracking
Multiple variant options
Military-grade durability
More expensive
Shorter battery life

Amazfit T-Rex

Amazfit T-Rex

If you're a beginner when it comes to outdoor adventuring and you simply need a rugged watch that can keep up, the Amazfit T-Rex is a solid option. It's got everything required to handle the basics, including GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/sleep tracking, and 20 days of battery life.

Amazfit T-Rex

Tough but basic tracking

Onboard GPS
Heart-rate monitoring
Activity/sleep tracking
Amazing battery life
Military-grade durability
Only one variant
No altimeter

Garmin Instinct vs. Amazfit T-Rex: Choose your rugged

Sometimes finding the best Android smartwatch means finding the watch with the most features. For example, if you're looking for an outdoor smartwatch that's built for durability, you could very well be choosing between one of the Garmin instinct models and the Amazfit T-Rex. Both of these smartwatches offer military-grade durability and a rugged design that's built to last, so you know they're made for adventuring.

The main advantage of choosing the Amazfit T-Rex over the Garmin instinct is that you'll get more battery life out of it. However, the Garmin Instinct is a better choice if you want more features, a better water resistance rating, and multiple variant options. Unless you're a beginner or a budget shopper, the Garmin Instinct has more to offer if you're seeking a well-rounded smartwatch experience.

Get more details with the Garmin Instinct

If you consider yourself a bonafide wearable enthusiast, you're likely familiar with Garmin smartwatches. The company offers one of the most robust lineups in the industry, so there are plenty of options to choose from, such as the Garmin Instinct models.

The standard Instinct model will be a solid option for most people, especially those who are buying a rugged smartwatch for the first time. It comes in a heavy-duty 45mm case that's rated for military-grade durability. The color options include Graphite, Sea Foam, Tundra, and Lakeside Blue. You also get a 10ATM water-resistance rating, which means the watch can withstand pressures equivalent to a depth of 100 meters.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Garmin InstinctAmazfit T-Rex
Display0.9x0.9 inches two-window display1.3-inch AMOLED
Dimensions45 x 45 x 15.3mm, 52g47.7 x 47.7 x 13.5mm, 58g
SensorsGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometerGPS, GLONASS, BioTracker PPG Bio-Tracking optical sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, geomagnetic sensor, ambient light sensor
Battery lifeSmartwatch mode: up to 14 daysGPS mode: up to 16 hoursUltraTrac mode: up to 40 hoursDaily use mode: up to 20 daysGPS mode: up to 20 hoursBasic watch mode: up to 66 days
Military-grade durability✔️✔️
Mobile payments
Music storage

All of the Garmin instinct models offer a sunlight-visible, two-window display. Unfortunately, it's a monochrome display, which means it won't be a bright touchscreen like the one you get on the Amazfit T-Rex. With that said, the innovative dual-display design has a small sub-screen that allows you to view additional data. All of the models in this lineup are compatible with 22mm QuickFit Garmin Instinct bands.

When it comes to battery life, there's not much to complain about. The standard Garmin instinct model offers 14 days of battery life in smartwatch mode, 16 hours in GPS mode, and 40 hours in UltraTrac mode. For context, the company offers an UltraTrac mode that decreases the update rate of GPS data to once per minute so users can enjoy extended battery life in GPS mode. These battery life figures are the same for the Garmin Instinct Tactical and Esports models. You can expect even longer battery life if you were to upgrade to the Garmin Instinct Solar edition.

The Garmin Instinct is compatible with the Explore app for off-grid navigation.

You'll appreciate that the Garmin Instinct is compatible with the Explore app for off-grid navigation. This Garmin app provides helpful features for those who often find themselves planning lengthy adventures. You'll have access to downloadable maps for offline use. When there's no service, you don't have to worry about losing your way. Plan your trip with the Explore app, and you'll always know where you're headed.

Garmin Instinct

Source: Garmin (Image credit: Source: Garmin)

In terms of health and fitness tracking, all of the essentials are present on the Garmin Instinct. You'll have onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/sleep tracking, multiple built-in sports apps, Body Battery energy monitoring, stress tracking, and more. You'll also have some key sensors that are needed for exploring. The ABC sensors include an altimeter for tracking elevation data, a barometer to monitor weather conditions, and a three-axis electronic compass.

Another important perk is the TracBack Routing feature. After you've finished your trip, you can take advantage of this feature to get back to your activity starting point. It's easy to use, too. Simply press the GPS button on your watch during the activity, press back to start, and select TracBack. You'll now have what you need to navigate back on the same route you took to get there. You can also press Straight Line if you'd prefer to travel back to the starting point in a straight line.

Tackle the basics with the Amazfit T-Rex

Amazfit T-Rex

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

One of the main similarities between the Garmin Instinct and Amazfit T-Rex is the physical design. You also get a highly durable 47mm case that comes in Rock Black, Army Green, Khaki, and Camo. The stunning 1.3-inch AMOLED display is bright and easy to read with seamless touchscreen navigation.

The Amazfit T-Rex is also rated for military-grade durability. So no matter where your adventurous spirit leads you, your smartwatch is strong enough to join you for the ride. It also offers a 5 ATM water-resistance rating, which means it's safe for swimming in pools and open water. These are also sport modes that can track pool swims and open water swims.

One of the most appealing aspects of the Amazfit T-Rex is the 20-day battery life.

One of the most appealing aspects of the Amazfit T-Rex is the 20-day battery life. This is referred to as daily use mode, which accounts for various factors. Daily use mode consists of 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, GPS turned on for 13 minutes a day, and 150 messages pushed daily. When in continuous GPS mode, the battery lasts for up to 20 hours.

Amazfit T-Rex review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

When you're headed outside, you'll have plenty of health/fitness tracking features on your side. The Amazfit T-Rex has onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, and activity/sleep tracking. There are 14 sport modes such as walking, running, indoor/outdoor cycling, hiking, and skiing. The watch is equipped with a high-end Sony GPS chip that pairs well with the dual-satellite positioning system for extremely precise tracking.

Remember that Amazfit has since released the Amazfit T-Rex Pro, which is slightly more expensive than the original. However, you get a few upgrades, like 10ATM water resistance, over 100 sport modes, a barometric altimeter, and blood oxygen monitoring. It's easily the best Amazfit smartwatch for adventurers. If you'd benefit from these upgrades, it might be worth the extra money.

Garmin Instinct vs. Amazfit T-Rex: Which should you buy?

It's clear that both of these smartwatches are focused on offering rugged durability for outdoor adventures, but some differences will impact your ultimate decision. If this is your first time buying a smartwatch, you might be content with the Amazfit T-Rex and its standard features. You get military-grade durability, so you know it's up for anything. Most importantly, you get a whopping 20 days of battery life.

If you're looking for a smartwatch that has a bit more to offer, you'll want to consider the Garmin Instinct instead. The standard model will be sufficient for most users, but those who want even more features could opt for the Tactical or Solar edition. The standard Garmin Instinct model gives you some great extras that you won't find on the Amazfit T-Rex, like TracBack routing, Body Battery energy monitoring, and detailed trip planning with the Garmin Explore app. As a result, it's the better option for experienced outdoor enthusiasts who want more features from their smartwatch.

Courtney Lynch

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.