Suunto 7 Announced
The Suunto 7 is announced today.
There are ZERO genuine surprises that it is number ‘7’ in the current Suunto range, however, the BIG surprise to most of you will be that this is a WearOS watch. Most people expected the Suunto 7 to be a direct update of the Suunto Spartan Sport – essentially a cut-down Suunto 9. It’s not that…AT ALL.
This is essentially the realisation of the rumour from September 2018 where only 6% of you who responded to a poll about the identity of the mystery, new sports player in Wear OS (link to the5krunner.com)
Totally Different Inside
There are new hardware components such as the latest Qualcomm SnapDragon 3100 processor, which is supposed to be the best processor to run WearOS with right now. But the biggest difference is that Suunto’s proprietary firmware has been replaced with Google’s off-the-shelf software offering.
This has MASSIVE positive implications for what Suunto is now able to offer. Almost overnight, Suunto has an app store full of thousands of apps as well as swathes of advanced, built-in functionality such as Google Pay (G Pay). That’s definitely great for their future especially when you consider that there is a reasonable chance that Google’ acquisition of Fitbit will also force the transition of Fitbit products to the WearOS platform as well.
Finally, the Apple Watch people might start to nervously look over their shoulders.
Maybe Garmin hasn’t been looking back over their shoulder and, instead, has been looking forwards and they might also be planning a Wear OS watch? Remember we speculated on this a year ago too here: link to the5krunner.com.
Suunto 7 – Some Very Pretty Pictures
From my experience with other AMOLED screens running WearOS, these screens really will be representative of the new great-looking screens on the Suunto 7.
Here are some quick pictures I took, they’re not so good but everythings seems to work well for the first few uses.
Suunto 7 – Some thoughts
Based on information from Suunto and the images above, here are some initial thoughts.
- Notice that the ‘Start Sports’ screen has a similar look to Suunto’s existing means of starting a sport in the Suunto 3/5/9 models.
- Similarly, the in-sport screen is highly similar to the corresponding screens on the current Suunto watches. There is an app which starts the ‘copy’ of the existing Suunto functionality
- Music – Spotify and Google Play will be supported from Day 1. As will any other music/podcast provider who supports Wear OS.
- Google Pay uses the inbuilt NFC chip for instant payments. I now use watches to buy stuff every week, it’s the way to go. I believe that G-Pay is able to load up MANY MORE credit cards providers than are supported by Garmin Pay and I’ll tentatively say that I THINK G Pay can also support PayPal (edit..it can’t unless you have a PayPal credit card 🙁 but I have loaded up multiple cards)
- Don’t forget Wear OS watches can also work alongside iOS smartphones. You can finally ditch your Apple Watch too 😉 Maybe.
- Offline outdoor maps are supported by 15 sports modes. ie you won’t need a smartphone with you.
- Suunto heatmaps are also available offline. The heatmap tile/watch face is COOL beyond belief.
- It’s a rugged device that also supports 50m waterproofing.
- Google FIT integration is also provided for linking and syncing health and fitness data elsewhere. PITA to download your FIT file but possible.
- Google Assistant support is also offered via a built-in microphone. “OK Google, navigate to HOME” will give you routable guidance home.
- There’s even a STRYD-supporting app for Wear OS to keep me happy. But this Wear OS watch, plus others that have come before, might start to make 3rd party sports sensor suppliers (like STRYD) want to support the Wear OS platform directly (eg STRYD and Humon already support Watch OS directly on the Apple platform). We’ll need to check if 3rd party sensors are supported by 3rd party apps as, initially at least, it looks like the Suunto WearOS app does not support 3rd party sensors itself. EDIT: 3rd party apps DEFINITELY support external sensors, I’ve got STRYD and a Polar H9 working.
- Edit: so far I really like it. Best Wear OS watch for sports so far would be a tentative announcement with the inevitable caveats about sensor performance…hitch up a Polar H9 and STRYD and you have a piece of awesome smart sports tech.
Suunto 7 – Problems
One of the problems I’ve found with Wear OS-based sports watches is their reliance on the touchscreen. Hopefully, 4 buttons should be enough from Suunto to counter that one 😉
Battery life too has been a problem with previous WearOS sports watches. Despite claiming > 1-day battery lives, earlier Wear OS watches that I’ve used soon SIGNIFICANTLY lower that life once the GPS and SCREEN are fully cranked up. Suunto is claiming “Up to 12 hours in (continuous) GPS tracking mode or up to 48 hours in daily use.” I’m sure that the reality Suunto 7 owners experience will be less than that HOWEVER Suunto’s claims are greater than, for example, Casio’s claims of 1.5 days with the WSD-F30. So I’m hoping that Suunto 7 WILL deliver market-leading battery life for a Wear OS sports watch that can easily support a full and proper sporty day.
Suunto is implementing new algorithms for both oHR via a new sensor (NOT VALENCELL, PixArt or LifeQ) and GPS (Qualcomm). I’m hoping this is a good longer-term move but I’m not sure that both will be nailed at launch. The proof will be in the testing.
Suunto 7 – Thoughts
This is very exciting tech news. But is it good news for Suunto’s future?
Priced at rrp in the US of $479, it’s coming in a little on the high side.
I can already hear lots of you shouting about battery life. Fair enough. I would counter that and say that the Suunto 7’s claimed battery life is on par with, or may even turn out better than, the Apple Watch in real-world scenarios. FYI: The Apple Watch is the best-selling smartwatch (wearable)…ever. So there REALLY IS a market for this sort of thing! It’s that you might not be in that target market 😉
One of the other elephants-in-the-room is the software platform that Suunto deliver. As well as migrating from Movesount to the Suunto app, we are now seeing Suunto throw Wear OS into the mix. So I’m not entirely sure to what extent Wear OS will be separate to the Suunto app or if the functionality will be fully integrated within your watch’s Suunto app.
It’s also obvious that Wear OS cannot ever be the one single future for Suunto. Wear OS will never be able to deliver the multi-day battery from the likes of the Suunto 9 Baro.
Whilst I have said that Wear OS comes off-the-shelf, it’s obviously more complex than that. The Casio WSD-F30 I had recently seemed to want to reboot itself from time-to-time (then again, apparently it wasn’t using a SnapDragon processor). So Suunto needs to nail the hardware/software integration from Day 1.
I’ve been a fan of Wear OS for a couple of years. Not necessarily as a pure sports platform, it’s not that. But it can be a smart sports platform for the masses. Things hadn’t looked too good for Wear OS over the last year as not too many exciting new devices came out. So the Fitbit acquisition and this announcement have cheered me up. FWIW: I WOULD STILL *BET* that Wear OS will be around longer than Garmin’s Connect IQ…
Suunto 7 looks good and the screen will look good. That’s simply what a lot of people want. If Suunto puts a rich sports offering onto that, then I reckon they could be on to a winner here in the ‘mass fitness/sports watch market’
FYI: Many of the above links in this post are to fairly detailed and content-rich pages of supporting info.