Garmin Instinct Crossover vs. Instinct 2

Both the Garmin Instinct Crossover vs. Garmin Instinct 2 are solid smartwatches for serious users who want a full-on wristwatch that also has smart functions. Both come in tons of variations, including a solar-powered model that can function indefinitely without needing to be recharged. But there are some differences between the two models in their standard versions as well as with the special options that are available that could sway you to one or the other.

Garmin Instinct Crossover vs. Garmin Instinct 2: How they both look

Why you can trust Android Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Garmin Instinct Crossover

(Image credit: Garmin)

First, how do these versatile smartwatches look? The Garmin Instinct Crossover boasts a large, slightly thicker 0.9 x 0.9-inch 176 x 176-pixel monochrome sunlight-visible transreflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) screen as well as three side buttons for navigating menus and selecting options. The lens is made from chemically strengthened glass and the bezel from fiber-reinforced polymer and stainless steel. Bottom line: it’s a rugged watch. 

It comes in a series of different options: the standard model without solar power comes in black and Blue Granite while the solar, tactical version comes in black. It has luminescent analog hands and a round digital display that provides a nice combination of classic and modern look. 

It’s water-resistant with a rating of 10ATM, which is twice what you’d find in typical smartwatches, as well as thermal and shock resistant.

The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

The Garmin Instinct 2, meanwhile, comes in many more variations. With a similar round design and rugged look it has a 0.9 x 0.9-inch, 176 x 176-pixel screen as well, which is nicely visible in direct sunlight. This screen, however, comes in a custom two-window design. 

Boasting the same chemically strengthened glass, fiber-reinforced polymer, and monochrome sunlight-visible transreflective MIP display, it is similar to the Garmin Instinct Crossover in terms of the rugged build. It has three buttons on the side as well for scrolling, starting and stopping a workout, and navigating menus. 

The aesthetic differences lie in the many versions available, which also come with their own features. The standard comes with a 45mm case size, no solar, and in Graphite or Electric Lime colorways. Upgrade to solar and you can get the standard watch in Graphite, Tidal Blue, or Mist Gray colorways, with the 45mm case size of Neo Tropic or Mist Gray in the 40mm case size. 

The camo edition features a Mist Camo design and is available with a 40mm case size and no solar. The tactical edition comes with a 45mm case size, solar power included, and in black or Coyote Tan; and the Surf edition in a 45mm case size with solar power and only a Bells Beach finish. Finally, there’s the Dezl model for truckers that comes with a 45mm case, sweatproof silicone band, no solar power, and in Black only. I’ll delve further into the differences among these models in a later section. 

The Garmin Instinct 2 boasts the same 10ATM water-resistant rating. You can also access the Garmin Connect IQ store with both and choose from a wide selection of custom watch faces, adding data fields that are important to you and downloading different apps and widgets to customize the look. 

Both smartwatches are compatible with the QuickFit watch bands that are 22mm in size as well.

Garmin Instinct Crossover vs. Garmin Instinct 2: Let’s break down the specs

Let’s see how these two trackers compare when it comes to specs.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Garmin Instinct CrossoverGarmin Instinct 2
CompatibilityAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS
ColorsMultiple options depending on specific modelMultiple options depending on specific model
Band Size22mm22mm
Battery Life (Smartwatch Mode)Up to 28 Days, 70 Days with SolarUp to 28 Days, Unlimited with Solar
Battery Life (Battery Saver Watch Mode)Up to 71 Days, Unlimited with Solar Up to 65 Days, Unlimited with Solar
Battery Life (GPS Modes)Up to 25 Hours, 31 Hours with SolarUp to 30 Hours, 48 Hours with Solar
Battery Life (Max Battery GPS Mode)Up to 111 Hours, 533 Hours with SolarUp to 70 Hours, 370 Hours with Solar
Battery Life (Expedition GPS Activity)Up to 40 Days, 327 Days with SolarUp to 32 Days, Unlimited with Solar
AppGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Heart Rate MonitoringYesYes
Stress TrackingYesYes
Sleep MonitoringYesYes
Phone NotificationsYesYes
Screen Size0.9 x 0.9 inches0.9 x 0.9 inches
Screen TypeMonochrome transreflective MIPMonochrome transreflective MIP
Screen Resolution176 x 176 pixels176 x 176 pixels
Size45 x 45 x 16.2mm45 x 45 x 14.5mm

These two trackers are similar when looking at the specs on paper, but it’s when you drill down to the various different options that the variations shine through.

Garmin Instinct Crossover vs. Garmin Instinct 2: Tracking activities and sports

Garmin Instinct Crossover

(Image credit: Garmin)

The Garmin Instinct Crossover offers accurate timekeeping with Revodrive technology, so you’re never late for a meeting or appointment. It has all the usual built-in sports apps for tracking everything from a run to a weighted workout as well as things like HIIT workouts. With the tactical edition, you also get military standard toughness. 

You’ll get daily workout suggestions based on your current training load and status along with estimated recovery time. Runners will love the running power feature that tracks how much power you’re applying to the road when using a Running Dynamics Pro or HRM-Pro Plus monitor (sold separately). 

There’s also a special feature for mountain bikers called MTB Dynamics that has specialized Grit & Flow measurements, rate trail difficulty, and a sensor that can tell how smoothly you descend. 

With multi-GNSS support, you get ultra-accurate GPS along with an ABC sensor for altimeter (elevation), barometer, and compass. Hikers and trail walkers and runners will love the TracBack Routing and Reference Point to easily find your way back to the starting point and keep track of your location for safety purposes. 

With wrist-based heart rate monitoring, there’s also stress monitoring, sleep scores, Body Battery that advises when it’s time to rest or amp up a workout, blood oxygen tracking, fitness age, intensity minutes, and more.

The author at the finish line of a race, wearing a Garmin Instinct 2

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

The Garmin Instinct 2 has a similar feature set, though it does not have Revodrive technology. You get the same built-in sports apps, including HIIT, along with VO2 Max, daily workout suggestions, ABC sensors, Trackback and Reference Point, heart rate, stress, sleep scores with advanced sleep monitoring, Body Battery, PulseOX, fitness age, and intensity minutes. It also adds women’s health tracking. 

Where the Garmin Instinct 2 differs is with the specialty versions. The Surf edition, for example, has dedicated surfing, windsurfing, and kiteboarding tracking options and offers tide data and surfing conditions. The tactical version boasts military standard toughness, features like night vision, a stealth mode that can disable GPS and wireless delete, a kill switch to delete all stored data, and a “jumpmaster mode” that can calculate high-altitude jumps. 

The Dezl version, meanwhile, is designed specifically for professional truck drivers. It includes features like access to short break workouts from Kevin Rutherford along with break planning timers, notifications for upcoming U.S. weigh stations, and bypass decisions with an active PrePass account. You can use the Dezl app on a compatible smartphone to access loyalty program information with Love’s Travel Stop and Pilot Flying J Travel Centers. It also works with Dezl truck navigators. 

With both, opting for the solar model will provide practically infinite battery life thanks to gaining power from the sun. Indeed, in his review of the Garmin Instinct 2, Android Central’s Michael Hicks says he placed the almost dead smartwatch on his balcony for a single afternoon and got a full four more days of battery life after just a few hours of charging via UV rays. In terms of overall battery life in various modes, the Garmin Instinct Crossover lasts a little bit longer, which could sway you to that model if you’re an outdoor enthusiast that is often out on adventures.

Garmin Instinct Crossover vs. Garmin Instinct 2: Other features

The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar sitting on a pair of shoes

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Both smartwatches can display notifications from a connected, compatible smartphone, which includes both Android and iOS devices. With the Garmin Instinct Crossover, you can also respond to texts from a compatible Android phone. 

The Garmin Instinct Crossover has double the memory at 64MB versus 32MB with the Garmin Instinct 2. Both include Garmin Pay for making mobile payments at compatible terminals right from your wrist. 

Both also have additional safety features, with the ability to send your live location to contacts and detect potential incidents.

Garmin Instinct Crossover vs. Garmin Instinct 2: Which should you buy?

Estimated training effect for suggested workout on Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

In both cases, the Garmin Instinct Crossover vs. Garmin Instinct 2 are smartwatches you want to buy if you’re opting for one of the specialty versions. When considering the standard versions, you can find similar rugged smartwatches for less, including even other models in the Garmin line-up that rank among the best Garmin smartwatches.  

The option you choose will depend on who you are and what you like to do. For a rugged smartwatch for everyday sports and activities that can replace your wristwatch, both will fit the bill. The upgrades in the Garmin Instinct Crossover, however, might not convince you to opt for that model unless you really want the Revodrive timekeeping, thicker face, and running and mountain biking tracking. 

For the Garmin Instinct 2, which Hicks calls an “excellent device for a variety of sports that gives you plenty of data while letting you forget you’re wearing it,” this will save you some money and has tons of the same features as the Garmin Instinct Crossover. If you’re into water sports, there’s a model specifically for you. And for long-haul truck drivers, the Dezl version is the no-brainer best option with valuable features that you’ll use daily. 

With both offering a solar-powered version, it might be worth the investment for those versions if you want to recharge as little as possible and you tend to spend a lot of time outdoors. It will keep the watch going and going, with plenty of battery life to keep up with your activities. Even beyond solar, however, both offer pretty generous battery life, with the Garmin Instinct Crossover receiving a slight edge in that department. 

With that said, if you aren’t going to make use of the specialized features in these two smartwatches, you’re better off checking out what other models Garmin has to offer in its line-up. There are plenty of great ones that are a fraction of the price and will be a perfect match to meet your needs if you find these to be too much smartwatch for you.

Christine Persaud

Christine Persaud has been writing about tech since long before the smartphone was even a "thing." When she isn't writing, she's working on her latest fitness program, binging a new TV series, tinkering with tech gadgets she's reviewing, or spending time with family and friends. A self-professed TV nerd, lover of red wine, and passionate home cook, she's immersed in tech in every facet of her life. Follow her at @christineTechCA.