Suunto 9 gets Firstbeat

Suunto 9 Review

Some great news for Suunto 9 owners. There should be a firmware release (v2.9.42) around about NOW which adds some sweet new features to the Suunto 9, I’m pretty certain it will be the same for BARO and non-BARO versions alike.

The Suunto 9 is, strangely, playing catch up with the Firstbeat features that are on the Suunto 3 Fitness and Suunto 5. Well…most of those Firstbeat features.

Bad News? The bad news is that you won’t get the Firstbeat adaptive training programme on the Suunto 9. That’s a slight shame but a) there could be licencing costs for Suunto and b) If you look at the details of the adaptive program then it’s not really suitable to the higher-level athletes that are probably the ones mostly buying the Suunto 9. Anyway, I digress. Here’s the good stuff.

Fitness Level & Fitness Age

The Suunto 9 now gives you a claimed >95% accurate take on your fitness level based on running and walking activities. It filters out “bad data” to give you an absolute VO2max level as well as stating what age your VO2max would be typical for.

VO2max factettes

  • VO2max DOES take into account your weight
  • But it doesn’t take into account the efficiency of your technique and some other factors. Just because my VO2max is higher than yours is no guarantee that I’ll beat you in a race, even if we are both equally rested.
  • VO2max is a feature that LOTS of people like…I’m less convinced about its actionability.
  • Firstbeat does use their VO2max calculation in some of their other Firstbeat metrics, so it’s a useful metric to produce from a sports watch design point-of-view.
  • I sometimes train with a 60+-year-old, his Firstbeat Fitness Age is 21. He’s ‘fit’ but was never a professional athlete and so if these calculations are true it just shows what a life-changing difference exercise can make.

Suunto 9 Review


Sleep Quality Assessment

This uses heart rate variability (HRV) during sleep. Whilst it’s NOT possible yet to get accurate HRV during exercise from oHR it IS possible to get it at resting levels of HR.

Looking at the mathematical variability of the time from one beat to the next gives HRV (Google: RMSSD) and other mathematical methods can determine the activity of your nervous systems in relation to each other and from that, for example, can be deduced the restorative nature of your sleep. So there we are looking at sleep QUALITY rather than just DURATION.

You get a nice mark out of 100 too. Easy to understand

All Day Stress & Recovery

This comes from HRV data too and is presented as an hourly log of your body resources throughout the day (16 hours worth). You SHOULD experience some stress every day but the important thing is to balance that with periods of recovery.

Body Resources

I guess this is just a different take on the ‘all-day stress and recovery’ data. telling you the cumulative effect right now of negative stresses and positive recovery periods. The higher the percentage number is, the more ready you are to go for it.



Other features


A small new feature is the automatic adjustment of the time zone via the Suunto app and it looks like the GPS accuracy has been improved too.

Finally, Suunto describes the addition of “In watch guidance tips for altitude and first exercise to help get the best performance from your watch

Suunto usually follows a staged rollout of new firmware. So yours might not be available at the same time as others. But v2.9.42 will be here soon!

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8 thoughts on “Suunto 9 gets Firstbeat

  1. Do you know if some of these new features are going to be added to the Spartan line?

  2. No news on any new suunto products how can the survive as a company as there are hardly any new products anymore

  3. Does this mean that Firstbeat licensing costs are not as high as Garmin makes them out to be? The Forerunner 645 is (notably) lacking Firstbeat features such as Body Resources and Racetime Predictor that is available on the 245. Even the Vivosmart has Body Resources.

    1. The costs vary by volume of units shipped, and ‘package’ of features bought. Garmin pays less than Suunto, because on numbers basis Garmin ships many many millions more devices than Suunto. Likely on the order of 30-50 to 1.

      I don’t think Garmin ever said the costs were high. I think, like any business, Garmin makes calculations on profit margins for a device. Having had past discussions with them around why features were or weren’t included, they have very specific minimum thresholds – and they don’t flex them. They either re-work something else, or it doesn’t happen. And in some cases, products simply don’t come to market because they can’t meet those thresholds. They are notoriously risk adverse (no surprise from Kansas), and notoriously cost aware. Which is also probably why as a business (in terms of money), they’re doing so well right now. Even if as consumers it’s at time confusing.

      The costs for FirstBeat really aren’t that high, as many companies well know – even for small volumes. The challenge is more around death by a thousand cuts on a BOM. Every $1 charge adds up here and there. Companies need to hold a given profit margin for not just their everyday retail price, but also for sales like Black Friday too. But FirstBeat basically gives companies an ‘easy button’ to getting some of these basics into their product and not having to deal with the nuance of science themselves. If you’re a startup and want things like calories, VO2, etc… There’s zero reason to bring onboard someone to do that. You’ll burn through an incredible amount of money doing that, versus just licensing it.

  4. Can it read the wrist HR while in a running activity? Mine will not read a HR by wrist or belt.

    1. a: yes

      unpair the hr belt.
      go for a run
      look at the lights underneath they should be green
      if not, send it back.
      if so.
      re-pair the hr belt and use that, double checking the battery has a charge.

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