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November 29, 2022 2 min read

Not sure which one to choose? We can help. 

Garmin Inreach messenger vs Inreach Mini

We understand Garmin designed the Inreach line for multiple adventure uses, the question is how do the Garmin Inreach Mini 2 and the new Inreach Messenger work for us sportfish, center console, and back country flats boat guys? We need it to work seamlessly and it must be user friendly which Garmin is known for... sometimes.

At first glance there doesn't seem to be a lot of difference between the Inreach Mini 2 and the Inreach Messenger. We wondered why Garmin released a new Inreach device that's so similar?

What we learned is the real game changer here is the new Garmin messenger app instead of the Garmin Explore or Earthmate app that was often frustrating to use in several ways. The great news... the new app works with both the Inreach Mini 2 and the new Inreach Messenger. Next question, is the Garmin messenger app compatible with older Inreach devices like the regular Inreach Mini or the 86sci? The answer, unfortunately, is no. We do however think the messenger app alone makes it worth upgrading if you have an older device.

Important features of the new app:

  • Automatic switching between wifi, cellular, and satellite data
  • Only compatible with Mini 2 and Messenger not older Inreach devices
  • Pairs with phone contacts
  • Send and receive group messages

 If you're unfamiliar with the Garmin Inreach Mini 2 and the new Garmin Messenger device here are the basic features they both include:

  • Two way satellite communication
  • Not a cellular data hot spot for full phone use
  • Compatible with the free Garmin Messenger app
  • Both have SOS feature
  • Weather updates
  • Freedom Plan* - Allows you to suspend service when not using

Main differences between the two devices:


  • Longer battery life - up to 28 days vs. 14 days
  • less expensive $299 vs $399
  • Works as a backup phone charger for emergency charging

Inreach Mini 2

  • Map on display - although very tiny 
  • Saves waypoints and courses 
  • Compass sensor

In summary, If you have the Inreach Mini 2 there is no need really to upgrade unless the longer battery life is an important feature to you. If you are buying one for the first time consider the Inreach Messenger, it's less expensive and has a longer battery life. We have both available online and in the Sportfish Outfitters shop here in Jupiter.

If you don't already have a handheld GPS and you're looking to combine functionality, try the 86sci. It DOES NOT work with the new Garmin Messenger app though. Only the Inreach Mini 2 and Inreach Messenger work with the new app. 

Ready to buy? Follow the links... Inreach Mini 2, Inreach Messenger, Inreach 86sci

Here is some helpful info about available data plans. 

Garmin inreach plan subscription chart

Interested in hard wiring? you can also get the Inreach Mini 2 marine bundle

We attached ours to a Sea Sucker mount for easy use without drilling holes in your dash. 


*Resource information and some images from garmin.com

This article refers to the Inreach Mini 2 which is not the same as the original Inreach Mini

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