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Suunto 9 review : We take Suunto’s big battery running watch for a spin

Suunto 9 review : We take Suunto's big battery running watch for a spin

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The Suunto 9 is a robust, long-lasting sports activities watch for those that push endurance to the max. For those who actually really feel that a normal Garmin Fenix 5 Plus can’t final the space of a week’s arduous mountaineering – the Suunto is for you. Nevertheless, the syncing points, mediocre app(s), and the baffling interface imply that day-to-day, we’d advocate a Garmin to most individuals.

Hit
  • Large battery life
  • Good mid-run suggestions
  • Respectable mid-intensity HR accuracy
  • Strava integration
  • Syncing points
  • Not a nice app
  • Fiddly to make use of
  • HR craps out at highest depth

Suunto 9

Within the battle of the bad-boy sports activities watches, the Suunto 9 brings big numbers. A whopping 120 hours of GPS monitoring is the big boast of Suunto’s new flagship, with clever energy administration and alerts there to unravel the issue of running out of battery in the midst of your extremely marathon.

It’s a sports activities monitoring powerhouse as properly with 80 sports activities modes, full GPS navigation, an optical coronary heart fee monitor together with exercise monitoring and smartwatch options which have began to pop up in Suunto’s watches.

However does the coaching and sports activities monitoring on supply right here mount a critical problem to Garmin, which has run away with the sports activities watch market within the final couple of years?

We acquired it sweaty to seek out out.

Suunto 9: Design and options

Suunto 9 review

A big previous piece of watch, the Suunto 9 manages to be a little thicker and beefier than the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus – and isn’t almost as snug to put on. It has sharp plasticy edges and doesn’t really feel as pure on the wrist. It measures 50 x 50 x 16.eight mm, which makes it one of many greater sports activities watches available on the market too.

The touchscreen is a 320 x 300 matrix display, which isn’t that brilliant to take a look at. The graphics are fairly excessive res, and blows the very primary Garmin screens away when it comes to sharpness. Nevertheless, it’s not particularly readable and it appears Garmin’s sacrifice on decision to enhance visibility was the correct transfer.

It locks to stop any miss-presses, which suggests you’ll have to push a button first, after which begin swiping. The interface takes a lot of getting used to, and even after a few weeks we will’t say we actually felt we knew our method spherical.

When it comes to the important thing options, there’s lots to select from: 100m of water resistance is a headline, together with the boast of as much as 120 hours of GPS within the leanest energy mode (extra on that later) and 80 sports activities modes, wrist HR and built-in barometer.

Throughout a exercise you’ll have to cycle by means of screens to get the knowledge – nevertheless, every is properly detailed and also you get entry to a lot extra knowledge mid-run than your commonplace Garmin.

The primary display exhibits tempo and time, the second splits, the third coronary heart fee. It’s a nicer expertise than we’re used to – however once more, the display brightness makes it exhausting to learn. We’re unsure any of this additional knowledge actually added to our coaching.

Suunto 9: Battery life

Suunto 9 review

Battery life is generally final in our critiques, however with such emphasis right here, we’re tackling it proper off the bat. Whereas Fenix 5 additionally boasts a number of battery modes for longevity, the Suunto makes this simpler and extra clear. Whenever you begin an exercise you’ll be able to swipe down to decide on a mode – and also you get an estimate of how lengthy that may final. And there’s three totally different modes to select from:

  • Efficiency – 25 hours. All on
  • Endurance 60 second GPS, display brightness 20% – 40 hours
  • Extremely 120 second GPS, no HR, brightness 10% – 120 hours

We discovered that in Efficiency mode, the Suunto 9 was simply shy of the Garmin Fenix 5 each in regular use and through train – of about 1% per 10 minutes of tracked exercise. Endurance mode drained slower than that, virtually twice as slowly which checks out for round 40 hours.

We don’t have the health to check the 120 hours of Extremely – however two hours of running knocked simply three% off the whole, which is round 66 hours of GPS monitoring. Not fairly the Suunto estimate, however fairly good. Oddly, all runs appear to knock 2% off the full instantly, which we came upon the arduous method, once we went for a run with 2% battery. The Suunto 9 stated we’d get an hour, nevertheless it died instantly.

Then there’s the “intelligent” elements. The watch will spit out alerts at 10% and 20% ranges to remind you to cost, and determine when you need to use a mode that may get you to the top of your exercise. When you actually push issues to the restrict, the watch will enter “Chrono mode” which can merely monitoring right down to a easy timer.

We didn’t truly obtain any reminders to cost, however we did just like the tough estimate of how a lot battery you’d get for every run.

This does make this among the best watches on the market for battery life, though solely probably the most excessive customers would require this longevity. The watch might simply do a couple of days of strolling in Efficiency mode, and excessive hikers will recognize Endurance mode. Whereas Extremely Mode can be music to the ears of these tackling challenges like Marathon De Sables the place charging is simply not an choice, for probably the most half, we’d advise customers to take a look at different options.

Suunto 9: Sports activities monitoring

Suunto 9 review

The gamut of sports activities tracked isn’t fairly as much as the Fenix 5 Plus, however it’s nonetheless wonderful. Indoor and outside running, biking (and mountain biking), open water and pool swims and triathlon. There’s additionally weight coaching, circuit coaching, and a tonne of ski modes as nicely. That ought to see most individuals proper, though in need of the Fenix which provides a actually robust golf mode into the combination.

FusedSpeed

One in every of our favorite options of the Suunto 9 is FusedSpeed, which may algorithmically assist to work out velocity when GPS knowledge turns into unreliable. It primarily melds GPS and accelerometer knowledge collectively, and truly addressed one among our largest Garmin gripes.

The system helps once you use Extremely energy saving, when GPS location is just logged as soon as each 120 seconds – but in addition made for a a lot steadier and correct expertise whereas running. Our Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is recurrently flummoxed by tree-cover, which may imply stay tempo readouts seem extremely sluggish – not nice for path runs. We discovered that in these conditions, the Suunto 9 delivered extra secure, sensible stay tempo.

We’re going to give attention to running for nearly all of this review, and can add swimming and biking options on prime. This stuff take time to check correctly.

Running

Suunto 9 review

If you head out for a run, you’ll be able to anticipate insights into the next: Time, distance, tempo and energy burned and cadence are all included as you may anticipate.

It’s big on ascent and descent with each tracked, in addition to the time spent ascending and descending, and the very best altitude you hit.

After which there’s the physiological elements from the guts price monitor. You get common coronary heart fee, most coronary heart price, PTE (Peak Coaching impact), EPOC (the quantity of oxygen required to normalize your physique), and restoration.

When it comes to a breadth of knowledge it’s spectacular – however we had a few points. A couple of of those knowledge fields aren’t defined in any respect inside the app (PTE and EPOC), and there’s no context provided. We’re sports activities knowledge heads however even we discovered these a little baffling – and it’s not a patch on the Coaching Impact, Coaching Standing and VO2 Max stats provided by the Fenix 5 Plus that are straightforward to know and helpful.

Lastly, we had points with cadence, which was approach off being tracked precisely. We are likely to run at round 160 steps per minute – give or take – and the Suunto repeatedly estimated our efforts at between 70-80. We can solely assume it’s monitoring one foot (given the rating being round 50% brief) however like most different stats, there’s no rationalization.

Briefly, for these wanting for uncooked numbers there’s lots right here to work from, however as we’ll see, it’s a barely dated strategy that stems from an app that’s less than scratch.

Swimming

Like Garmin and Polar, Suunto has swim monitoring (pool and open water) nicely coated and that sizeable display has its benefits and drawbacks within the water. Firstly, it’s good as a result of it makes it a lot simpler to shortly review your swim knowledge throughout your periods. That knowledge consists of tempo, distance and coronary heart fee (by way of Suunto’s Sensible Sensor chest strap). There’s no SWOLF scores although. The dangerous is that as a result of it’s such a chunky beast it will probably weigh a little heavy on the wrist compared to different sports activities watches.

So far as accuracy is worried although, we have been happy with the efficiency like we have now been on its most up-to-date Spartan watches. We put it up towards the Garmin Forerunner 935 and it served up the identical distance and tempo. Backside line, it’s a strong performer within the water.

Suunto 9: Coronary heart fee monitoring and accuracy

Suunto 9 review

The Suunto 9 options an optical coronary heart fee monitor on the rear, as just about each sports activities monitoring gadget has completed for years now. The Valencell sensor is able to 24/7 monitoring, in addition to throughout exercises in Efficiency and Endurance energy states.

So let’s drill down into accuracy – how good is it? Nicely, at low-medium depth ranges, we discovered the sensor to be wonderful. It was locked onto a chest strap, precisely monitoring peaks and troughs on a cease/begin coaching run, by which we have been reasonably pushing.

Suunto 9 review

However as per most optical sensors, efficiency dipped drastically when put via onerous depth. We carried out a collection of hill sprints on the finish of the session, which utterly bombed the sensor. The chest strap measured every peak at round 182bpm, however of the 4 intervals the Suunto learn 170 bpm, 144bpm, 182 bpm and eventually 148bpm. And such was the lag on the sensor that once we reached the highest of the hill, the Suunto was nonetheless climbing by way of the 140s and would peak spherical 20 seconds after we’d completed.

Suunto 9 review

Clearly, should you’re trying to get correct knowledge from exhausting interval periods or explosive health club courses, the info right here isn’t going to be wonderful. That’s an industry-wide drawback and investing in any sports activities watch (Suunto, Garmin, Apple or in any other case) requires an understanding what optical sensors are good for: all-day HR monitoring and regular runs/cycles.

The Suunto 9 is suitable with Bluetooth chest straps, in order that’s the reply for anybody who needs that degree of element throughout intense courses or periods. And it won’t simply be Crossfitters that ought to curiosity – some options are solely suitable with the Suunto Sensible Sensor particularly – specifically RR intervals (coronary heart price variability) and swimming HR monitoring.

Suunto 9: App and ecosystem

Suunto 9 review

We’ve been pretty important of Garmin Join and Polar Move through the years, however each platforms have lately undergone overhauls and are shaping as much as be fairly good locations to review your efficiency. Sadly, the Suunto expertise nonetheless has a option to go.

There’s an all-new Suunto app, which looks like Strava from round 5 years in the past. It’s visually underwhelming, and leaves all health monitoring parts to a separate Movescount app – which suggests it’s for exercises solely. However the truth that you’ll be able to solely arrange Strava pairing by way of Movescount exhibits you what sort of ill-considered mess we’re dealing with right here.

OK, that’s a little harsh. However the Suunto app is fairly primary – displaying your exercise historical past, which you’ll be able to faucet into to see related knowledge. That factor is ok, with all of the graphs based mostly on coronary heart fee, topography, tempo that you’d anticipate.

The display is dominated by your progress to a weekly exercise aim measured in hours. That’s not a goal I’ve ever adhered to, so this already feels fallacious to us. What’s extra, there’s valuable little macro element in your exercise historical past – you possibly can faucet into the Diary tab to see graphs in your exercise minutes/steps/energy and sleep during the last day/week/month/yr however it’s a fairly simplistic quantity, which can spotlight whether or not you’re accumulating kind of.

There’s a Leaderboard the place you possibly can add Associates from Fb, and there’s a Map tab which exhibits running/biking/strolling warmth maps – similar to Strava.

We’ve heard loads of considerations round syncing – and that’s definitely a problem round Android. On iOS we discovered syncing to be pretty dependable – however with some odd quirks. A number of runs uploaded with out maps. And a hike appeared to be imported, however dated three years early and once more, with no mapping. This was between runs that had synced completely. Bizarre.

Briefly, the newly-released Suunto app is approach behind the competitors – and doesn’t repay the onerous work of the Suunto 9 out on the paths.

(wareable.com, http://bit.ly/2NovHDK)

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