Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Instinct 2X Solar

Forerunner 965 and Instinct 2X Solar watches are new variants of smartwatches. Forerunner 965 was released in March 2023 while the Instinct 2X Solar was released in April 2023.

Which of these two smartwatches should you buy? We look at both watches and the capabilities below.

Main differences

  • Instinct 2X Solar is a solar watch that uses Power Glass to recharge the battery using sunlight. Forerunner 965 is not a solar watch.
  • Forerunner 965 has an AMOLED display while the Instinct 2x Solar has a MIP or memory in pixel screen.
  • Instinct 2X Solar has a water resistance of 100 meters and Forerunner 965 has a water resistance of 50 meters.
  • Forerunner 965 has SatIQ technology for optimized GPS and battery performance.
  • Forerunner 965 has full music compatibility while Instinct 2X Solar has limited music functionality.
  • Instinct 2X Solar has limited device storage. You cannot add user content on the device. Forerunner 965 has 32 GB device storage to add music, topo, and trail maps.
  • Instinct 2X Solar has much better battery life than Forerunner 965.
  • Instinct 2X Solar does not have Wi-Fi compatibility. It does support ANT+ and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
  • Instinct 2X Solar is broader and bigger than the Forerunner 965.
  • Forerunner 965 is costlier than Instinct 2X Solar by $150.

We look at these differences in detail below.

Display

Instinct 2X Solar cannot be called out for its display specifications and performance. It is designed as a rugged and robust smartwatch and focuses on the core performance and battery life of the watch.

Forerunner 965 is a modern smartwatch for runners. It has a vibrant display and a much stronger display configuration.

  • Forerunner 965 has an AMOLED display.
  • Due to the AMOLED display, the display resolution of Forerunner 965 is much higher than Instinct 2X Solar.
  • Forerunner 965 also supports the Always-on-display feature.

Apart from these display features, there are other differences in the display specifications of both watches.

All the display specifications of Forerunner 965 and Instinct 2X Solar are displayed hereunder.

Display specificationsForerunner 965Instinct 2X Solar
Display lensCorning Gorilla Glass 3 DXPower Glass
Display typeAMOLEDMIP (Memory in Pixel)
Display resolution454 x 454 pixels176 x 176 pixels
Pixel density358 ppi283 ppi
Display size1.4″ or 36 mmCustom, two window design of 1.1″ x 1.1″ or 27 x 27 mm
Color displayYesNo
TouchscreenYesNo
Ambient light sensorYesNo
LED flashlightNoYes

Forerunner 965 has a much better AMOLED display than Instinct 2X Solar. Overall, Forerunner 965 has better display configuration.

Forerunner 965 new smartwatch

Physical specifications

Instinct 2X Solar is a rugged smartwatch. The hardware specifications of Instinct 2X Solar exhibit the rugged and robust nature of the watch.

We look at the physical specifications of the Forerunner 965 smartwatch and the Instinct 2X Solar watch in a side by side comparison below.

SpecificationsForerunner 965Instinct 2X Solar
Watch size47.2 x 47.2 x 13.2 mm50 x 50 x 14.5 mm
Thickness13.2 mm14.5 mm
Watch weight53 g67 g
Watch bodyFiber-enforced polymerFiber-enforced polymer
BezelFiber-enforced polymerTitanium
Band materialSiliconeSilicone
Band size22 mm26 mm
Recommended wrist circumference135-205 mm145-228 mm
Water rating5 ATM (50 meters)10 ATM (100 meters)
Swimming profilePool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, Swimming/RunningPool Swimming, Open Water Swimming
Wireless ConnectivityANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-FiANT+, Bluetooth
NFC or Contactless paymentsGarmin PayGarmin Pay
Device storage32 GB64 MB
GPSGPS, GLONASS, GalileoGPS, GLONASS, Galileo
Multi-band GPSYesYes
Garmin Elevate Heart SensorYesYes
GyroscopeYesYes
ThermometerYesYes
AccelerometerYesYes
Barometric AltimeterYesYes
CompassYesYes
Pulse Ox (SpO2) Saturation SensorYesYes
iOS CompatibleYesYes
Android CompatibleYesYes

Go for the Instinct 2X Solar if you want a rugged watch with strong core functionality. The titanium bezel adds a premium look to the watch.

For runners, Forerunner 965 offers the best hardware experience and functionality.

GPS

Forerunner 965 and Instinct 2X Solar has multi-frequency positioning sensor. So, both watches support multi-band GPS capability.

Multi-band GPS improves GPS reliability. At any given point in time, you can get GPS signals from multiple satellites. The feature is very useful when the GPS signal is of a degraded quality.

However, Forerunner 965 scores over the Instinct 2X Solar as it has an integrated SatIQ technology sensor. SatIQ is an intelligent smartwatch technology.

Multi-band GPS consumes a lot of battery. To optimize the battery performance, SatIQ controls the switch from simple GPS to multi-band GPS modes automatically.

When the GPS signals are weak, SatIQ turns on the multi-band GPS. And, when the GPS signals are of poor quality, SatIQ will turn off the multi-band GPS.

Combination of multi-band GPS and SatIQ on the Forerunner 965 is a game changing advancement for the GPS performance.

Given the fact that Instinct 2X Solar has an exceptional battery life, the actual battery performance difference is nominal.

Garmin Instinct 2X Solar smartwatch

Music

In terms of music functionality, Instinct 2X Solar has a limited scope. The device storage of Instinct 2X Solar is quite low and music storage is not available. So, you cannot store music files on the Instinct 2X Solar watch.

But, you can control smartphone music from your Instinct 2X Solar smartwatch.

For the Forerunner 965, complete music functionality has been made available. So, you can get the following music features on a Forerunner 965:

  • Control smartphone music
  • Store music on the watch
  • Play music from the watch

Forerunner 965 is a clear winner when it comes to music features on the smartwatch. Instinct 2X Solar has a limited music feature availability.

Solar functionality

Instinct 2X Solar is a solar watch that can use solar charging to supplement the primary method of charging.

For solar charging to be effective, you need to expose your watch to bright sunshine with a luminosity of 50000 lux or more every day. For optimum battery charging, Garmin recommends 3 hours of solar exposure every day.

Solar charging of the Instinct 2X Solar is pretty useful:

  • if you spend a considerable part of your day under the sun
  • you get decent sunlight all through the day

Solar charging is a supplementary battery charging method for the Instinct 2X Solar. It is a great feature for people who spend time outdoors under the sun.

Battery

Forerunner 965 has pretty decent battery life. However, Instinct 2X Solar is designed for basic functionality and preserves battery due to the basic display configuration.

Instinct 2X Solar has a long battery life that gets reinforced through solar charging. The battery backups provided by Forerunner 965 and Instinct 2X Solar are mentioned below in a side-by-side comparison.

Watch modeForerunner 965 backupInstinct 2X Solar backup
Smartwatch modeUp to 23 daysUp to 40 days, unlimited with solar charging
GPS-only mode without music Up to 31 hoursUp to 60 hours, 145 hours with solar
All Systems GNSS Mode without MusicUp to 24 hours40 hours; 65 hours with solar
All-Systems GNSS mode + Multi-BandUp to 19 hours27 hours; 36 hours with solar
All Systems GNSS with MusicUp to 10 hours
All-Systems GNSS mode + Multi-Band with musicUp to 8.5 hours
SatIQ AutoSelect GNSS Mode without MusicUp to 22 hoursSatIQ not available
SatIQ (AutoSelect) GNSS Mode with MusicUp to 9.5 hoursSatIQ not available

Compared to the battery backup of Forerunner 965, the battery backup of Instinct 2X Solar is almost 1.5-2 times.

Miscellaneous features

Aside from the main feature differences discussed above, there are quite a few miscellaneous differences that are mentioned hereunder.

  • Forerunner 965 offers safety features for watch owners. These include Spectator messaging, Group LiveTrack, Live Event sharing on Android devices, and Incident detection alerts. Instinct 2X Solar does not have any of these safety features.
  • Forerunner 965 has additional running profiles for virtual running and ultra running.
  • Forerunner 965 comes preloaded with 43000 Golf course data.
  • Instinct 2X Solar has an additional profile for Triathlon.
  • Forerunner 965 offers online workout animations and muscle maps. Instinct 2X Solar lacks these features.

Cost

Instinct 2X Solar comes at a list price of $449.99 and Forerunner 965 has a list price of $599.99.

Final verdict

Instinct 2X Solar is a rugged, solid watch that has been designed to handle strong activities with ease. For the multiple advancements on the Forerunner 965, our money goes to the Forerunner 965. In specific, the reasons that make me pick the Forerunner 965 are:

  • AMOLED display
  • Device storage of 32 GB
  • Full music functionality
  • Safety features, especially the spectator messaging feature
  • Decent battery life.

Suggested reading

You may like to read other smartwatch comparison studies mentioned below.

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