Garmin Instinct Crossover review: Great idea, iffy execution

Instinct 2 for the great outdoors.

Garmin Instinct Crossover
Garmin Instinct Crossover price in India is set at Rs 55,990. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Instinct Crossover is Garmin’s latest smartwatch to hit the Indian market. The premise is simple. It is an Instinct 2 designed for the outdoors.

The “crossover” bit is open to interpretation. You can call it a mishmash of the relatively mainstream Instinct 2 and more premium Fenix 7 watches. But the Instinct Crossover is also a hybrid, which is to say that Garmin has added analogue hands to it. Either way, it seems to be a great value proposition, at least on paper.  

Garmin Instinct Crossover
The Crossover has a 45mm dial. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The design of the Crossover is a cross between the Instinct 2 and Fenix 7. You can’t help but reminisce at the Casio vibe you get from every perceivable angle of this smartwatch. It is not that only old-schoolers would appreciate it. This kind of styling, we feel, is timeless and should resonate as much with the modern lot, if not more. Not to mention, it breaks from the trend of all the Apple Watch lookalikes that are a dime a dozen today.

The Crossover hits the sweet spot of form and functionality. The size –and weight— feels just about right to keep both serious and casual users satisfied. The bezel and casing are made of fibre-reinforced polymer. There is no touchscreen and your mode of navigation are five physical buttons. This may seem archaic to first-timers and there may be some learning curve too in the beginning, but the spotless tactility of physical buttons cannot be stressed enough.

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You get a 0.9-inch by 0.9-inch monochrome transflective display with a pair of analogue hands on this watch centred around a 45mm dial. The hands have luminous glow in the dark coating and are designed to dynamically move out of the way when you want to read something on the screen. But it’s not always the most elegant thing to watch. Your mileage may vary depending on the kind of content. The setup also renders many watch faces awkward-looking, even bordering useless in some cases. But at least, the reaction time is quick.

Garmin Instinct Crossover
The Crossover is rated to deliver up to 28-days of battery life in smartwatch mode. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Crossover ships with a 22mm silicone strap that is comfortable to wear and is easily swappable. It matches the case’s waterproof rating, too, so the whole package can –theoretically— be submerged in water up to a depth of 100 metres. You get MIL-STD-810 certification, too. The watch is available in both solar and non-solar options. The former is obviously a bit pricier. We have been using the latter.

The watch works much in the same way with both Android and iOS devices with fast and mostly effortless pairing through the Garmin Connect app. You can receive notifications, but quick responses are only available on Android. You can receive calls, too, but there is no in-built microphone or speaker so you’ll need your phone to do the rest. Offline music playback is also not available on the Crossover (though you can control your phone’s music with it).

The Crossover packs virtually the same set of sensors— and features— as the Instinct 2. Being an outdoor product from Garmin means you’d expect it to be great at GPS tracking and while the Fenix 7 may get you better accuracy and connectivity (at a higher asking price), the Crossover is an excellent tracker that holds up to Garmin’s high standards in every sense of the word. Only and only in some fringe case you will notice the watch loose connection or record in excess. 9 out of 10 times, it is spot on. You still can’t upload routes but you can always ask the watch to return back to where you started from, though the analogue hands’ overlay does take away some of the seamlessness out of the whole experience.

Garmin Instinct Crossover
The Crossover ships with a 22mm silicone strap. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Garmin’s heart rate sensor does tend to show you slightly higher than expected results, but mostly the readings are not too far off. The Crossover can monitor heart rate continuously while also sending you alerts when it detects any abnormal activity. Blood oxygen level monitoring is fairly accurate, too, though you must know that it is meant for reference purposes only. The Crossover, in addition, can count steps and is quite good at that. It can track stress and suggest guided breathing exercises as well. Sleep tracking is a hit or miss.

If you know a thing or two about Garmin, things don’t end at simply taking a measurement or detecting an abnormal behaviour. You also get deep-down analysis of stats and figures that you can collate and track trends over a set course duration. The Crossover has enough granular resources that its intended TG would appreciate while for casual users, it could be good motivation to ramp up their fitness (tracking).  

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The Crossover is rated to deliver up to 28-days of battery life in smartwatch mode (same as the Instinct 2). The solar edition can go up to 70 days, Garmin claims. This is up to 71 days in battery saver mode (solar is billed for “unlimited” use in this case) and anywhere between 25-111 hours using GPS continuously. Real-world figures may not be as ambitious but even with regular notifications enabled and regular GPS, heart rate, and sleep tracking in use, the Crossover can easily get you past a full week.

Garmin Instinct Crossover | Should you buy it?

The Crossover is a solid product from Garmin, to no one’s surprise, but it’s also a bit neither here nor there. It is clearly full of great ideas, but it falls a bit short on execution.The Instinct 2 already does about 90 percent of what it can do— and it does it pretty well— at a lower price. Garmin Instinct Crossover price in India is set at Rs 55,990 (the Instinct 2 costs anywhere between Rs 39,490-Rs 44,990 depending on the model). The solar edition is Rs 6,000 more.

We won’t go so far as to say that the Crossover is overpriced but it surely doesn’t do a whole lot more – than the Instinct 2— to justify the price bump, not unless you’re seriously planning to take it in to the wild religiously. For everybody else, the Instinct 2 becomes a no-brainer.

Premium, rugged hybrid design No touchscreen, no analogue-specific features
Analogue hands No mic, speaker, or offline music support
Feature rich Not a whole lot different from Instinct 2
Spot-on GPS, heart rate and step tracking
Excellent battery life

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First published on: 10-02-2023 at 19:42 IST