Garmin Forerunner 265 vs Instinct 2X Solar

Garmin Forerunner 265 and Instinct 2X Solar are new smartwatches. Forerunner 265 was released in March 2023 and Instinct 2X Solar was unveiled in April 2023.

Both watches are priced in a narrow price band. And, both smartwatches offer credible features and functionality.

We review Forerunner 265 and Instinct 2X Solar watches in a side-by-side comparison below.

Main differences

The main differences between Forerunner 265 and Instinct 2X Solar are discussed below:

  • Forerunner 265 is a smartwatch for runners. Instinct 2X Solar is a rugged solar smartwatch.
  • The display lens of Forerunner 265 is a 3rd-generation Corning Gorilla Glass while the display of Instinct 2X Solar is a Power Glass. We talk about the Power Glass below.
  • Forerunner 265 supports dual frequency or multi-band GPS. Instinct 2X Solar lacks multi-band GPS capabilities.
  • Instinct 2X Solar has an extended life in comparison with the Forerunner 265.
  • Forerunner 265 also has an AMOLED display. This translates into a much more vibrant and brighter screen resolution.
  • Instinct 2X Solar has a higher water resistance of 100 meters while the Forerunner 265 has a water resistance of 50 meters only.
  • Forerunner 265 has higher device storage for offline music and mapping. Instinct 2X Solar has very low device storage.
  • Forerunner 265 offers full music functionality while the Instinct 2X Solar has limited music functionality.
  • Instinct 2X Solar has much more comprehensive profiles in outdoor recreation and cycling. Forerunner 265 cannot match the number of activity profiles that exist on the Instinct 2X Solar smartwatch.
  • Instinct 2X Solar cannot connect to Wi-Fi wireless networks. It works well on Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity.

Both watches are priced at a similar list price of $449.99.

So, should you get a Forerunner 265 or an Instinct 2X Solar watch? We discuss these differences and other features of both watches below.

Display Specifications

Forerunner 265’s display is altogether at a different level when you compare it against the display of Instinct 2X Solar.

Forerunner 265 uses an AMOLED display. The AMOLED display technology helps in enabling the following benefits for Forerunner 265:

  • With an AMOLED display, the screen resolution is higher. The display screen and experience are brighter and afford a better readability experience too.
  • AMOLED display also helps in providing the Always-on-display mode or the AOD mode.

Due to the AMOLED display, the display sharpness of Forerunner 265 is high.

Instinct 2X Solar uses the normal MIP or Memory-in-pixel screen. So, it affords a lower display resolution.

Apart from the display technology, another important aspect of the Forerunner 265 is the display glass. Forerunner 265 uses a 3rd-generation Corning Gorilla Glass in the display. Instinct 2X Solar has a Power Glass in the display panel.

We look at the main display features and functions of both watches below.

Display specificationsForerunner 265Instinct 2X Solar
Display lensCorning Gorilla Glass 3Power Glass
Display size1.3″ or 3 mmCustom, two-window design; 1.1” x 1.1” (27 x 27 mm)
Display typeAMOLEDMIP or Memory-in-pixel
Display resolution416 x 416 pixels176 x 176 pixels
Color DisplayYesNo
TouchscreenYesNo
LED FlashlightNoYes
Ambient light sensorYesNo

The most significant difference in display is Forerunner 265’s AMOLED display. And, also the display lens of both watches belong to different categories.

Garmin Forerunner 265 close up

Physical specifications

There are significant differences in the hardware specifications of Forerunner 265 and Instinct 2X Solar. Instinct 2X Solar is wider and thicker than the Forerunner 265 smartwatch.

We look at the main physical specifications of Forerunner 265 and Instinct 2X Solar is the chart below.

Physical specificationsForerunner 265Instinct 2X Solar
Watch size46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9 mm50 x 50 x 14.5 mm
Thickness12.9 mm14.5 mm
Weight47 g67 g
Watch bodyFiber-reinforced polymerFiber-reinforced polymer
BezelFiber-reinforced polymerFiber-reinforced polymer
Band materialSiliconeSilicone
Band size22 mm26 mm
Recommended wrist circumference135-205 mm145-228 mm
Device storage8 GB64 MB
Water rating5 ATM10 ATM
Swimming profilePool Swimming, Open Water SwimmingPool Swimming, Open Water Swimming
Wireless connectivityANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-FiANT+, Bluetooth
NFC PaymentsGarmin PayGarmin Pay
AccelerometerYesYes
Barometeric AltimeterYesYes
CompassYesYes
GyroscopeYesYes
Pulse Ox oxygen sensorYesYes
ThermometerYesYes
Primary chargerGarmin wire charger Garmin wire charger
Secondary chargerNoneSolar charging
Connect IQ storeYesNo
iOS compatibleiOS 15 or higheriOS 15 or higher
Android compatibleAndroid 7 or higherAndroid 7 or higher

There are quite a few differences that you may want to make a note of:

Instinct 2X Solar is a solar watch. However, Instinct 2X Solar has very low device storage for any user activity. Instinct 2X lacks Wi-Fi connectivity. It does have higher water rating than Forerunner 265.

GPS

Forerunner 265 and Instinct 2X Solar support GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo networks.

But, the essential difference lies in the functionality of duel-frequency GPS or multi-band GPS.

Forerunner 265 has a multi-frequency positioning sensor. The multi-frequency positioning sensor helps in providing multi-band GPS capability.

With multi-band GPS, you can get GPS data from multiple satellites at any given point in time. Multi-band GPS helps in improving GPS reliability and accuracy.

The only downside to using multi-band GPS is the significant battery drain on the mode.

Multi-band GPS is only available in Forerunner 265. Instinct 2X Solar lacks it. The GPS accuracy and reliability is higher on multi-band GPS supported smartwatches.

SatIQ technology

Forerunner 265 uses multi-band GPS for better GPS accuracy. But, multi-band GPS causes significant battery drain.

To optimize the battery usage of the smartwatch, Garmin added a SatIQ technology sensor.

SatIQ manages multi-band GPS mode automatically.

When the GPS quality or connectivity is poor, SatIQ automatically turns on the multi-band GPS mode. When the GPS connectivity improves, SatIQ will turn off the multi-band GPS mode.

By automatically toggling on or off the multi-band GPS mode, SatIQ helps in conserving battery life in Forerunner 265.

Instinct 2X Solar does not have the SatIQ technology sensor.

Battery

The battery life of rugged smartwatches is always higher than other smartwatches. Understandably, the battery backup provided by Instinct 2X Solar is way higher than that of the Forerunner 265.

Let us evaluate different battery backups offered by Forerunner 265 and Instinct 2X Soalr below.

Watch modeForerunner 265 backupInstinct 2X Solar backup
Smartwatch modeUp to 13 daysUp to 40 days, unlimited with solar charging
GPS mode Up to 20 hoursUp to 60 hours; 145 hours with solar
GPS mode with musicUp to 7 hours
All-Systems GNSS mode + Multi-BandUp to 14 hoursMulti-band not available
All-Systems GNSS mode + Multi-Band with musicUp to 6 hoursMulti-band not available
SatIQ (AutoSelect) GNSS mode Up to 16 hoursSatIQ not available
SatIQ (AutoSelect) GNSS mode with musicUp to 6.5 hoursSatIQ not available

The battery of Instinct 2X Solar outlasts Forerunner 265 battery by quite a margin.

Garmin 2X Instinct Solar smartwatches

Health monitoring

The core health monitoring features are available alike on Forerunner 265 and Instinct 2X Solar. A side-by-side comparison below helps figure out all the major health tracking features of both watches.

Health featuresForerunner 265Instinct 2X Solar
Garmin Elevate Heart SensorYesYes
Pulse Ox Blood oxygenation sensorYesYes
Heart rate monitoringYesYes
Abnormal Heart rate alertsYesYes
ECG or ElectrocardiogramYesYes
Stress monitoringYesYes
Body Battery scoresYesYes
Women’s HealthYesYes
HydrationYesYes
Respiration rate trackingYesYes
Sleep monitoringYesYes
Sleep scoreYesYes
Health SnapshotYesYes
Relaxation remindersYesNo

Music

Forerunner 265 offers full music capability. Instinct 2X Solar has limited music capability.

The full music functionality on Forerunner 265 includes the following:

  • You can store audio content on Forerunner 265.
  • The audio content on Forerunner 265 can be directly controlled from the watch.
  • A Forerunner also allows you to control and play music from the paired smartphone.
  • You can stream music through Spotify and Deezer apps. For this, you will need to download Spotify and Deezer apps from the Connect IQ store. A valid subscription to the music streaming apps is required.

Instinct 2X Solar offers the following music functionality:

  • You can control or play music from the paired smartphone

Additional activity profiles

The rugged Instinct 2X Smartwatch offers multiple activity profiles. A quick snapshot of various activity profiles offered by Forerunner 265 and Instinct 2X Solar is shared below.

Activity profilesForerunner 265Instinct 2X Solar
Outdoor recreationHiking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Classic Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, RowingHiking, Indoor Climbing, Bouldering, Climbing, Skiing, Snowboarding, Backcountry Snowboarding, XC Classic Skiing, Backcountry Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking, Surfing, Hunting, Kiteboarding, Windsurfing, Snowhshoeing, Fishing, Horseback Riding, Obstacle Course Racing, Tennis, Tactical
CyclingBiking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking, eBiking, eMountain BikingBiking, Road Biking, Mountain Biking, Gravel Biking, Bike Commuting, Bike Touring, eBiking, eMountain Biking, Indoor Biking, Cyclocross, Triathlon
RunningRunning, Outdoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running, Virtual Running, Ultra RunningRunning, Outdoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running

Costs

Forerunner 265 and Instinct 2X Solar have the same list price of $449.99.

About Power Glass

Instinct 2X Solar uses Power Glass on the display screen.

Power Glass is a special type of glass. It has a layer of Photo voltaic cells or PV cells that are superimposed on the Corning Gorilla Glass. These PV cells help in converting solar energy into battery backup in the Instinct 2X Solar smartwatch.

About Solar Charging

Instinct 2X Solar is a solar watch that uses solar charging to build battery backup on the watch.

For solar charging to be effective, you will need to expose your Instinct 2X Solar watch to at least 3 hours of bright sunshine every day. The watch needs to be exposed to sunlight of 50000 lux or higher luminosity.

For people who spend at least 3 hours under bright sunshine, Instinct 2X Solar may offer a good value for its solar charging capability.

Final verdict

Instinct 2X is a rugged sports watch. I will buy it for the various activity profiles that come in-built into the Instinct 2X Solar watch. The solar charging in Instinct 2X Solar is also a meaningful feature.

For overall refinement and user experience, Forerunner 265 is my preferred watch for the following 3 reasons:

  • AMOLED display
  • Multi-band or dual-frequency GPS
  • Full music functionality

Suggested reading

You may like to read more smartwatch comparison studies shared hereunder:

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