Yesterday, Garmin launched the Instinct Crossover, a rugged GPS watch with both a digital display and physical hands. It has naturally drawn comparisons with watches in Casio's venerable G-Shock series (which turns 40 next year), but has Garmin done enough to win over die-hard Casio fans?
So far, reception to the Instinct Crossover seems mixed. Some love the analog hands, but others think its 16.2mm thick case is just too chunky. Some are also put off by the price, which starts at $499.99 for the standard edition. That's substantially more than the all-digital Garmin Instinct 2, which starts at $349.99.
That chunky shell isn't too likely to put off G-Shock fans though, particularly since it's due to the Instinct 2 having a dual-layer bezel to protect against heat, cold and impacts.
Price isn't necessarily a dealbreaker for Casio fans either. The G-Shock lineup is enormous, with new digital and hybrid devices launched every season, and there's something for every budget. However, if GPS is essential, you'll need to check out the pricier G-Squad lineup, which is designed with sports in mind.
At first glance, the G-Squad GBA-900 looks similar to the Garmin Instinct Crossover, with a chunky case and physical hands over a digital display. However, the GBA-900 is much more limited when you peek inside.
For starters, although it's able to track pace and distance, it doesn't have its own GPS module. Instead, it piggybacks on your phone via Bluetooth. This means the watch is cheaper to manufacture, and can be made smaller and lighter, but can't track your whereabouts unless you also have your handset within Bluetooth range. Connected GPS also tends to be less accurate than on-board GPS.
Workout data syncs with the G-Shock Move app, but the watch is only really made for running, and you don't get the same deep training insights – particularly since the GBA-900 doesn't have a heart rate monitor.
Watches in the G-Squad GBD-H1000 series are more similar to the Instinct Crossover in terms of workout tracking, but have purely digital faces (no hands). They offer on-board GPS, heart rate monitoring, a compass, barometer/thermometer, altimeter, pedometer, and pedometer, though unlike the Instinct Crossover, there's no NFC for contactless payments.
Nor will you get in-depth training advice, different workout tracking modes, sleep monitoring, SpO2 tracking, stress monitoring, or other health tools provided by the Garmin Instinct Crossover. You can view your routes travelled using Casio's smartphone app, but you can't import routes or get directions on a GBD-H1000 watch. Watches in this series cost around $400, putting them right in between the Instinct Crossover and Instinct 2 in terms of price.
If you want a Casio with Garmin-style navigation, you'll need one from the G-Squad GSW-H1000 series. These are are true smartwatches that run Google Wear OS, and have digital-only displays.
There are dedicated tracking mode for road and trail running, road biking, mountain biking, general cycling, pool swimming, surfing, sailing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, skiing, snowboarding, trekking, fishing, walking, and indoor workouts such as weightlifting. The watch monitors your heart rate, plus activity-specific stats (such as gradient, reps, and pace), all of which is synced with the G-Shock Move mobile app.
It's lacking some features you'd get with the Instinct Crossover, such as an SpO2 sensor, but also has some tools Garmin's watch lacks, such as a microphone for taking calls. You can make contactless payment via Google Pay, which is more widely supported than Garmin Pay, and you can also install apps from the Google Play Store, such as Strava and Komoot. It's an impressive watch, but at $699 it's $100 pricier than the Instinct Crossover.
So could the Instinct Crossover win over a G-Shock fan? It's quite possible. It's certainly in the right price range, and its hybrid design and sports-tracking chops mean it fills a gap in Casio's current lineup. It remains to be seen how well the Crossover sells, but right now it seems to offer something new that Casio doesn't currently match.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.