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Garmin Enduro 2 Hands-On: $1,100 Athletic Watch With Sapphire, 30 Days of Battery Life

This athletic watch is built for a demanding audience.

Garmin Enduro 2 fitness tracker on wrist
The Garmin Enduro 2.
Jared DiPane/CNET

Garmin makes some of the absolute best fitness wearables for professional athletes -- even if some of them are eye-wateringly expensive. The $1,100 (roughly £950 or AU$1,610) Enduro 2 is expensive for a smartwatch, but that's because it's designed for endurance athletes, not for the kind of person who'd typically get a Fitbit or an Apple Watch. I'm not exactly in the target demographic for this watch -- which again, to be clear, is made up of endurance athletes, high-performance runners and distance cyclists -- but I was curious to see how it might work for everyday use.

The Enduro 2 gives you a lot for the money, offering an advertised 34 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and solar charging via a panel wrapped around the 1.4-inch touchscreen display. That display is topped with a sapphire lens, which is a nice touch. 

You can navigate the watch using the touchscreen by default, but you can also disable the touch features and navigate using the more tactile five-button Garmin layout -- which is exactly what I did. The sapphire lens on the top of the display improves the overall durability of the watch, which should prevent it from scratching or breaking while you're out on the trails, climbing rocks or just going about your day. I've scratched plenty of smartwatches in the past, including my Apple Watch and Garmin Forerunner just days after getting it. So far, I've yet to notice any scratches on the display, even after wearing it while doing yard work and spreading new rocks at my house.

Garmin includes both an UltraFit nylon strap and a more traditional silicon Quick Fit watch band in the box. I've found both to be comfortable, but I definitely prefer the silicon band when I'm active as it feels a bit more secure than the velcro of the nylon band. You can use any 26mm watch band with it and Garmin sells a bunch of great options you can use to customize the look of the watch.

The battery is an absolute beast, and I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to fully drain it. For the past five days it's indicated that I still have the same amount of battery left, which is impressive. I do use it as a smartwatch, which means I have notifications enabled, but not for every app on my iPhone. 

In addition to getting notifications on my wrist, I've used the watch to check the weather, track my daily walks or runs, monitor my heart rate all day and track my sleep. I never take it off. You can disable some of the watch's features to boost its battery life, but I haven't had to do that. 

The built-in solar panel helps recharge the battery while you're outside, and I've noticed that it does seem to help even when doing basic things outside.

If you regularly take long runs or go to overnight events and need something you can depend on to last as long as you can, the Enduro 2 is absolutely the best Garmin watch for that.

Garmin Enduro 2 fitness tracker straight on
Jared DiPane/CNET

The Enduro 2 packs a number of desirable features, though they aren't all unique to this model. It comes equipped with a bright LED flashlight on the front, which can help guide you around those dark trails during your early and late endurance runs. The light is adjustable and is twice as bright as the one found on the Fenix 7X. The watch also comes preloaded with TopoActive and ski maps, it has Multi-band GNSS with SatIQ for improved positioning accuracy and more. These features allow the watch to display accurate maps while you're out hiking, skiing and doing other outdoor activities.

For professionals using this during large races, there are new features including grade-adjusted pace, which helps you pace yourself over varying terrain conditions. There's also a visual race predictor to help you see how your training is going and an automatic rest timer that can log your breaks or time spent at an aid station during your event. 

The Enduro 2 has been designed as an activity tracker and training companion first, with some smartwatch features peppered in. You can pair it with an iPhone, but you can't really interact with any notifications or reply to incoming messages like you can on the Apple Watch. If you're an Android user, you'll be able to reply to messages with a predefined list of quick replies. There's no microphone so you can't answer calls and there's no cellular option, which would allow you to leave your phone behind and still get all your notifications.

In the time I've spent with the Enduro 2 I've enjoyed using it, but I know that it's total overkill for my needs. It's also hard to imagine $1,100 being worthwhile for a smartwatch -- at this level it's more of an investment for professional-level athletes who could take advantage of its advanced features. 

That said, if you could make the most of this smartwatch, it's easily one of the best and most feature-loaded watches from Garmin right now. And if you're looking for something that's not quite as expensive and offers similar features, be sure to check out the Fenix 7 lineup as well as the Epix. If you want to compare more of Garmin's lineup, you can use the company's online quiz to see which watch is best for you.