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Why my Garmin Enduro 2's LED flashlight is my favorite feature

You might think that a watch flashlight can't be all that powerful or useful, but in the case of Garmin's Enduro 2, you would be wrong.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

The top LED light on the Garmin Enduro 2 lights up the dark

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Earlier this year, I tested out the Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar watch and enjoyed using the LED flashlight. However, the AMOLED display on the Garmin Epix swayed me to using that watch instead. In September, the Garmin Enduro 2 arrived and despite all of the other watches I have tested since then, the Enduro 2 has earned a permanent spot on my wrist.

Review: Garmin's Enduro 2 is the ultra sports watch to beat

While there are a ton of reasons to love the Enduro 2, it turns out that one function I use just about every single day is the integrated LED light found at the top of the watch. It is advertised as being twice as bright as the flashlight on the Fenix 7X and just like the best camera is the one that is with you, the best flashlight may be the one that is always on your wrist.

The many ways I use my watch flashlight 

At first, you might think that having a flashlight on your watch is a novelty and you may even reassign the top left button hot key. Before you change things around, make sure to check out all of the functionality provided by Garmin for the LED light. Here are many of the ways I use the LED light in my daily life.

  • Lights up the area under the Christmas tree as I fill the water in the stand
  • Helped me find a missing sock my dog dragged under the bed
  • Lit up the garage around boxes to help me locate a screw as I was assembling an ebike
  • Red light at night helps me find my way to and from the bathroom in the dark
  • Strobe mode is key to making me visible as I run in the dark
  • A missing earing was found under a couch thanks to the reflection from the light
  • The tire stem was lit up so I could inflate a low tire on my car at night
  • The trail in the woods was lit up as we walked back to the campsite
  • Dog poop is never lost while out on evening neighborhood walks
  • Handy to light up ship bilges with both hands being free
  • Reading books at night while your partner sleeps
  • Investigating the cause of sounds at night

There are many more ways you can use a flashlight that is always with you. The one on the Garmin Enduro 2 and Fenix 7X is powerful enough to serve in the same role as the light on the back of your phone.


The LED light is well integrated into the top of the watch

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

How to use the flashlight

By default, when you double-press the top left button, the LED flashlight turns on. Another double press of this button turns it off, and at first, you might think that is all there is to it, but you would be wrong. Go into the controls screen (press and hold on the top left button of the Enduro or Fenix 7X) and then select the flashlight icon for much more functionality.

Also: The 5 brightest flashlights 

Once the flashlight app is launched, the top right start button is used to toggle the light on and off. There are four white bars and one red one on the display. Tap the bars to choose the white brightness level or the red light. When you turn the light off, the watch will remember your last setting and activate the same light option the next time you turn on the flashlight.


One level of red and four for the white LED

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

While in the flashlight app, press and hold the center-left button to access even more light settings. Here you can choose either strobe or distress patterns. If you select strobe, then available options include blitz, beacon, pulse, blink, and custom. You can select them and then scroll up and down to view the light pattern. The light pattern is shown at the top of the watch display too.

When you select distress, then the light will flash SOS in white light while showing the owner and emergency contact on the face, so this might be useful if you find yourself in some kind of dire emergency situation.

Review: I put the Apple Watch Ultra through a Tough Mudder: Here's how it held up

There are also flashlight strobe modes that you can set up for specific activities. For example, in a trail run, scroll down to the flashlight strobe option. You can select the strobe to activate after sunset and then have the light match your cadence. This cadence option means that a backward swing will light up in red and forward in white. The intent here is that you can see ahead and then be seen by people behind you in red. The cadence mode works fairly well, but you can also choose to have the light shine in blink, pulse, beacon, or blitz patterns.

What's the competition have?

Many other watches have a flashlight mode on them where a white image covers the full display at maximum brightness. This works best on watches with OLED displays, but the glow from this only shines so far. The Apple Watch Ultra also has a night mode where a red color image is shown to help you maintain your night vision.

Review: Garmin's Index BPM is the blood pressure monitor that I've been waiting for

Of all the other watches I have tested, the Apple Watch Ultra performed the best and I could probably get by with it in most of the situations listed above. In side-by-side testing in complete darkness with the Apple Watch Ultra, the white mode of the Ultra is about equal to level one of four on the Garmin LED light. The night (red) mode is also about 25% as illuminating as the red mode on the Garmin Enduro 2 with the red light being darker and maintaining night vision better too.

Most other watches have a very limited visibility distance provided by showing a white image on the watch face and it's better to use the LED light on your phone with other watches. With a Garmin Enduro 2 or Fenix 7X you can also still use all of the functions on the watch with the LED light turned on.

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