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Garmin Descent Mk2i: 2021 Watch Breakdown

Last updated: November 18, 2021
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vector graphic showing a Garming Descent MK2i against a red and black background

The Garmin Mk2i dive computer is a fantastic piece of tech that tries to be a part of your everyday life.

Let’s look at its diving functions and how this dive computer can become part of your daily life with its smart features.

What Is the Garmin Descent Mk2i?

The Garmin Mk2i is the upgraded version of Garmin’s Descent Mk2 diving GPS smartwatch.

These watches act as a watch, fitness tracker, and diving aid all in one device.

Thanks to the SUBWAVE connectivity technology included in the watch, the Garmin Mk2i can monitor gas usage and levels while connecting back to a diving computer.

This makes the Garmin Mk2i one of the better diving watches on the market.

Alongside its other many features, the watch comes with many capabilities to improve the safety, effectiveness, and enjoyment of your dives.

These features work for almost any kind of diver.

The watch also has several features that make it great for multisport training, such as heart rate monitoring and location tracking.

How Much Does the Garmin Descent Mk2i Cost?

Because of the technology and features that go into making the Garmin Mk2i, it is an expensive watch.

For the Mk2i model, the watch runs for $1499.99.

If you elect to buy the bundle deal, the price goes up to $1829.95 at the time of writing.

What Comes In the Box?

When you purchase the Garmin Mk2i watch, you receive a couple of different things in the box.

In addition to the watch itself, you will receive the rubber or titanium watch band.

You will also receive the charging cable for the watch, as well as the documentation and manuals for using the watch.

In the bundle package, you receive everything above, as well as a Descent T1 transmitter and an air spool.

Models of the Garmin Descent Mk2i

There aren’t any variations of the Mk2i out on the market right now.

Because of that, the options you have for this diving watch are either the standalone watch or a bundle.

Let’s look at what distinguishes these two options.

Standard Model

Currently, the Garmin Mk2i is the only upgraded version of the Mk2i.

It’s a variation of the black Mk2 that has air integration technology for monitoring air consumption rate and pressures alongside its other smart features.

You can choose to have the band be a black rubber or titanium at purchase.

Bundle

In addition to the watch, the bundle includes a Garmin Descent T1 transmitter and an air spool.

The bundle runs a few extra hundred dollars but could be a good way to flesh out your diving equipment if you’re just starting.

Standard Features of the Garmin Descent Mk2i

The Mk2i is the upgraded version of the Garmin Mk2 model.

Because of that, it shares many of the same features.

Still, there are some critical differences between the two watches.

Here are some of the key features and how they differ for the Garmin Mk2i:

Size

Overall, the size of the Mk2i is much bigger than the original Mk1 model.

It features a larger display, so it also comes with a larger band and case.

The screen of the watch itself is 1.4 inches wide, the band measures 26mm, and the case is 52mm.

Display

Compared to the Mk1 version, the Mk2i has a much larger display.

Coming in at 33% bigger than the Mk1, the Mk2i has a larger display for clearer display text.

It’s also photo-reflective, so it can be read while in direct sunlight.

While the display comes with a default setting, you can customize the display to have the information you want while diving.

With this option, you can monitor the information that you most care about during your dives.

Air Integration

Unlike the base Mk2 model, the Garmin Mk2i can integrate with gas measuring sensors.

Using the SUBWAVE tech inside the watch, it can connect to gs gauges and measure usage and gas levels during a dive.

Battery

The Mk2i also looks to improve battery life.

The battery can last up to 16 days without charging on a single charge, assuming you just use it as a regular watch.

Adding in diving or GPS options causes the battery life to come down to only 15 hours.

While that’s great for a weekend vacation, it won’t last much longer than that.

The battery life also goes down while connected to a T1 transmitter or dive computer.

If you are not diving, you can place the watch into a Battery Saver mode that can kick your battery life into overdrive.

With this option enabled, you can get your battery life up to 50 days when just using the Mk2i as a watch.

Dive Mode

The Mk2i features multiple dive mode options, depending on what kind of dive you’re going on.

Here are some of the options you can pick from:

  • Single gas: Used for recreational dives using a single type of gas for their dive.
  • Multiple gas: For technical divers, this option lets you choose from five preset gas settings.
  • Closed-circuit rebreather (CCR): Rebreather divers will want this feature with constant PO2 compression calculations and bailout gas options.
  • Gauge: The simplest option, this mode displays your depth, time, and bottom measurements.
  • Apnea and Apnea Hunt: Both of these options are for freediving, including a silent mode to keep from scaring away aquatic life.

You can also go into the watch and set your own diving modes using the Customizable Dive Modes option.

These can be displayed on additional screens that you swipe between on the watch.

vector graphic showing a Garming Descent MK2i against a water background

Safety Features of the Garmin Descent Mk2i

Another significant component of the Garin Descent Mk2i is the safety features included with the watch

Let’s take a look at what those features are and how they work:

Tracking

With its Multi GNSS support, an advanced satellite connectivity feature, the Garmin Mk2I can track your entry and exit points during a dive.

The ABC sensors of the watch can also track elevation and atmospheric conditions when above water too.

The watch can also use its GPS tracking features to map out paths while hiking or diving.

Rescue and Safety

In addition to diving safety features, the Garmin Mk2i has its Pulse Ox sensor.

This sensor can be used in smartwatch mode to check for altitude acclimation progress or used for sleep monitoring to make sure your rest and training are going well.

Other Cool Features

The Garmin Mk2i watch has plenty of other handy features to round out its diving capabilities.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Using a wrist based heart rate calculation, the Garmin Mk2i watch can track your current heart rate during your dives.

Any heart rate variability from what should be normal will be displayed on the watch, warning you if something is going on with your heart while diving.

App Integrations

Multiple sports apps can connect to the Mk2i watch, letting you track your physical activity and training progress with it.

Many of the advanced training features in these apps are compatible with the watch’s sensors, making it a great training aid, too.

The Garmin Connect app lets you do all of this within the Garmin ecosystem.

By syncing your watch to the Garmin Connect app, you can analyze and share a dive log, your workouts, and other health information.

When connected to a diving computer, the watch can also access any music storage inside the computer.

Notifications

When paired with a smart device like a phone or tablet, the watch can receive smart notifications and display them on the watch’s display.

In the options, you can choose which of these notifications to receive on your watch and which to leave on your device.

Garmin Pay

Using the watch, you can pay for your stuff faster using the contactless Garmin Pay™ app within the watch.

Once you have a payment method connected, use the pad’s contactless pay options to breeze through checkout.

This app and others can be found in the Garmin app store Connect IQ.

Garmin Descent Mk2i Warranty and Support

Garmin offers an industry-standard warranty of two years for normal operations.

Their website has a list of specific warranty information if you want to see more specific warranty info.

Also, Garmin offers a 30-day return window for divers to try out the product and see if it fits them.

Garmin will take back the watch within those 30 days if you decide it is not for you.

Garmin Descent Mk1 vs. Mk2i

Overall, the Mk2i is an upgrade from the Mk1.

The screen size and resolution have increased, giving the diver more screen real estate to use.

This change increased the overall size of the band and frame, but only by a few millimeters.

The battery life has either improved or stayed the same across the different modes of the Garmin watches.

In smartwatch mode, the Mk2i can run for 16 days on a charge. However, the Mk1 can only run for ten days.

Finally, the biggest change is the Mk2i’s ability to pair with the T1 transmitter to monitor gas pressures and usages.

This was not possible before with the Mk1, making the Mk2i broader in its functions and better for diver safety.

Garmin Descent Mk2 vs Mk2i

The main difference between the Mk2 and the Mk2i is that the Garmin Mk2i comes with the SUBWAVE air integration technology and sonar data network.

This new tech allows for better underwater communication between the watch and a dive computer. It works up to a distance of 10 meters.

The Mk2i will let you monitor your gas usage while underwater as long as it can connect to a Descent T1 transmitter.

This T1 transmitter can connect to up to five different air tanks to monitor their pressures and usage throughout a dive.

However, this tech doesn’t come cheap. Compared to the Garmin Descent Mk2, the Garmin Mk2i is hundreds of dollars more expensive.

But, with the SUBWAVE technology and connectivity features, you can better ensure the safety and condition of you and your fellow divers.

For longer dives, this could be a valuable resource to have.

How To Use the Garmin Descent Mk2i

Using the Mk2i watch is straightforward.

As long as you connect the watch to a diving computer and the tanks of you and your buddies, you have what you need to monitor your dive.

The sonar technology will check integrated tank pressure during the dive and report it to your watch.

The GPS mode of the watch only has surface GPS capabilities.

Unlike the inReach Mini, another Garmin GPS product, the watch only gives you coordinates for where you are.

It won’t allow you to send messages or distress signals from the watch.

When you first receive the watch, turn it on and select your language and settings preferences.

Once set up, you’ll be able to use the Garmin Connect app to connect your watch to your smart device.

If you want to use the air integration features, you’ll want to set up the transmitter on the same side of the tank as the hand your watch is on.

By doing this, you’ll keep a solid connection for the devices during your dive.

Are Garmin Dive Computers Good?

Garmin dive computers are some of the best in the market right now.

They feature many functions that a diver wants from a modern dive computer, including smart features and integrations.

Beyond that, the current Garmin dive computers also act as versatile watches that can be used even when not in the water.

Extra apps and functions can be installed using the Garmin app store Connect IQ across many of their current generation of hardware.

Garmin Descent Mk2i Alternatives

Garmin is not the only maker of diving watches out there.

Here are some of the competitors out there and how they compare to the Garmin Mk2i.

vector graphic showing the best dive computers in generic form side by side

Shearwater Teric

The Shearwater Teric features a lot of the same kinds of functions that the Mk2i has.

These features include different dive modes, a compass, and diving gas preset options.

It’s also cheaper than the Garmin Mk2i.

However, the Shearwater Teric doesn’t have as many uses as the Garmin watch does.

Most of its functions relate to diving, making it specific for that task.

If you want a dive computer that can also act as an everyday smartwatch for you, then the Shearwater Teric isn’t the product you are looking for.

Suunto D5

Much like the Shearwater Teric, the Suunto D5 dive computer is better in terms of price point, being the cheapest of the three.

The Suunto D5 also has similar diving features to the Shearwater and Garmin models, though it has fewer customization options.

Still, the Suunto D5 doesn’t have the app integrations or everyday use that the Garmin has.

It is for this very reason that the Suunto D5 ranks high on our list of the best air integrated dive computers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the common questions we’ve seen about the Garmin Descent Mk2i:

How Deep Can you Go With the Garmin Descent Mk2i?

The maximum operating depth for the Garmin Mk2i is 100 meters.

Is the Garmin Descent Mk2i A Good Dive Watch for Beginners?

Because of the bundle offered by Garmin, the Mk2i is a good watch for beginners due to the easy setup and integrations for daily life.

Wrapping Up

The Garmin Mk2i is a versatile dive computer that makes it easy to use in everyday life and diving activities.

With its inclusive ecosystem, the watch is easy to connect to a smart device and multiple diver tanks.

Although it is on the pricier side, the Garmin Mk2i is worth checking out.

Review the product details for yourself and see if the watch is something that could make your dives more safe and more fun today.

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