Suunto 9 Peak In-Depth Review & Comparison
Today Suunto announced a long-awaited update to their Suunto 9 Baro model and I’ve had a good amount of use of the 9 Peak so here is a detailed review of what I found, warts and all.
Be guided by the Suunto 9 Peak name but don’t be confused by it, this is a review of a significantly re-designed Outdoors/Adventure/Extreme/Multi-Sport watch that’s visually different from the original Suunto 9 Baro from 2018. The software remains nearly identical to that you find now on the 9 Baro in 2021, except with a few new features and tweaks.
The Suunto 9 Peak is slimmer, smaller, sturdier and everyone I’ve shown it to loves the classier looks. The titanium shell option is sweet and the new SpO2 sensor will appeal to some, personally, I was excited by what we might see from the new optical HRM developed with LifeQ and the kinda-new Sony GPS chip.
The Suunto 9 Peak has been my 24×7 watch for everything from sleep to indoor workouts to the gruelling stages of my training in the build-up to two Half Iron distance triathlon races. For sure it’s shared some of my blood, sweat, snores and tears.
This is a media watch directly from Suunto and I buy watches that I use for my own personal training.
With that, let’s go.
Suunto 9 Peak Review
Suunto 9 Peak Verdict: A classy and competent outdoors watch for thinner wrists that builds on Suunto's extensive pedigree.
This small-format, outdoors adventure sports watch is built to a very high standard. The 9 Peak looks the part and its app & software features perform well for committed athletes and outdoor adventurers, although sports data nerds will want more.
- Distinctive aesthetics on an easy-to-wear 24×7 smart sports watch.
- Many sports profiles with the usual, wide range of customisation opportunities including zones, alerts, power management profiles, many metrics per screen, many lap types, and more
- Suunto Plus ‘apps’ and 3rd party link-ups support a wide scope of sport/navigational uses
- Many sensors – Barometer, Altimeter, GPS, SpO2, Magnetic Compass, temperature, optical HR/HRV,
- Support for sensors like chest straps, power meters, cadence/speed sensors and STRYD.
- Intuitive and relatively straightforward menus with clearly readable screens
- Many features to support complex navigation in your adventures (routes, POIs, bearing nav, storm warnings)
- Market-leading 170hr GPS battery life, battery management profiles and a full recharge within an hour
Only available here for pre-order: Suunto.com
- Optical HR sensor needs work
- GPS sensor needs a tweak or two.
- No structured workout support
- Breadcrumb routes but no maps, music or payments (try the Sunnto 7)
Suunto 9 Peak – What’s New?
Everything! Suunto 9 Peak is a new watch that is smaller, lighter, thinner and faster than everything that has come before from Suunto.
Yes, it keeps the Barometer whilst losing the ‘Baro’ suffix from the name.
- Smallest Suunto watch – 43mm diameter face suitable for thinner wrists (Suunto 9 Baro 50mm, Suunto 7 50mm, Suunto 5 46mm, Suunto 3 Fitness 43mm)
- Thinnest Suunto outdoor watch – 10.6mm design (Suunto 9 Baro 15.4mm, Suunto 5 13.4mm, Suunto 7 13.9mm)
- Superlight case of either Titanium 34g or Steel 44g (add an 18g strap to give 52g and 62g respectively)
- Strong and stylish metal construction (Steel or Titanium Grade 5)
- New touchscreen, 1.2” trans reflective display with improved contrast
- New GNSS/GPS chip Sony CXD5605GF (previously CXD5603GF)
- A new charging puck that can be attached multi-directionally
- Three new, responsive buttons with positive click action. Situated lower and closer to the skin. Changed from circular to a rounded rectangular shape.
- Smaller 22mm strap (from 24mm) with a newly designed but generic-fitting pin mechanism and a new strap end securing button
- New optical HRM sensor. The Valencell model is replaced by one that is similar to that found on the Suunto 7 and developed jointly with LifeQ. Adds Blood oxygen (SpO2) for altitude acclimation
- The same core Lithium battery tech is significantly improved to give over 170 hours of GPS usage plus fast charging from empty to full in one hour (Suunto 9 around 4h charge cycle)
- Automatic over the air software updates happen while you sleep
- Bluetooth sync speeds improved with Bluetooth 5
- Adaptive screen brightness and configurable backlight
Here are a few headline software tweaks
- New Suunto 9 Peak watch face
- New screen to take and display SpO2 readings
- SuuntoPlus Ghost Runner for pacing (Suunto 9 Baro too)
- Snap to route mode for accurate instant pace tracking in an urban environment
- Battery-saving “Tour Mode” is a recent feature that also exists in Suunto 9 Baro
Who Will Buy the Suunto 9 Peak?
The exclusivity brought about by the premium pricing will increase the attractiveness of the 9 Peak to Suunto devotees. There is a broader appeal too and some of these might describe you:
- You care about the 24×7 aesthetics and want a genuine, smart sportswatch to support non-trivial outdoors activities
- You have thin wrists (I do) and want a smaller-format watch
- You want a navigational tool with competencies that could save your life one day
- You want a straightforward watch+app solution that is intuitive to use yet rich with personal insights
- You either forget to charge your electronics or go on very long trips off-grid…you need the battery life.
Q: Should I upgrade my Suunto?
A: That’s an interesting question because although a move from the Suunto 9/9Baro does represent an upgrade it’s unlikely many people will go from a large format to a significantly smaller format. So I would say this represents more of an upgrade for the Suunto 5 owner.
So really, it’s a watch designed to get Suunto new customers.
The design is unusual and unique. I’ve never seen a sports watch quite like this. Yet despite the uniqueness, it’s still circular with a strap and digital screen! The unusual aspects of the design include the lug section, the way it attaches to the rear of the case, the deep metallic bezel and the pushers/buttons located close to the skin. It exudes quality materials from its looks and it feels exceptionally well-made with great attention to detail even down to the click of each button press and slightly novel securing mechanism of the end of the strap.
This is a small format watch that is dwarfed when sat next to the earlier Suunto 9 Baro. It looks totally different to everything that has come before. If you like its looks and prefer the smaller format of watch for your outdoor adventures, then the 9 Peak could be for you.
In my opinion, it’s a great design that I like, although I’ve always liked Suunto watch design. However, you’ve come here for the negative stuff as well so here we go.
- The buttons are perhaps too close to the skin
- The push-stud securing mechanism at the end of the changeable strap can be fiddly to close and can trap hair
- The watch looks deeper than it actually is, perhaps because the proportions are non-standard
- The black ring around the usable screen area would be better if reduced or eliminated (technically not possible with this screen, I asked)
Suunto’s recent changes to their smartphone app have now settled down nicely. There’s no longer a web interface, it’s just your watch and the app and any links you have to 3rd party services like Strava or Komoot. The 9 Peak works well alongside the app as it syncs reliably and Suunto are now confident enough in that connection to allow silent firmware updates directly from the app to the watch.
The watch itself lets you choose between the touchscreen or buttons to work with the intuitive menus.
In the Box
The clean-looking & compact box contains a proprietary USB charging puck, the Suunto 9 Peak watch and pieces of paper you will never read.
Special Uses: Connected Health, Activity Tracking, Sleep, Fitness, Physiology Insights & Recovery
The Suunto 9 Peak is a smartwatch so you get all the basic connected features like notifications and 24×7 HR.
Suunto 9 Peak covers the super-basics with steps & calories but there is much more advanced physiology support as the watch develops a good grasp of your training loads, VO2max, sleep, sleep HR and recovery times and uses HRV feedback for 24×7 readiness states (body battery). Along similar lines, this data is mirrored on the app where there is more scope to glean deeper insights – for example, with larger format graphs.
Whilst Garmin’s physiology features are extensive, they are also somewhat complex & unwieldy in places. Contrast that to Suunto that has the key metrics in place for good-to-recreational level athletes, for example, readiness to train from an HRV-stress perspective as well as readiness-to-train from a TSB/CTL/ATL perspective. Those metrics are not as complex as the acronyms sound and there are also super-simple physiological numbers like ‘recovery time’ in hours. As you ramp up your training, these kinds of insights become crucial.
More Info: Suunto’s Training Load
Suunto’s platform is easily extended to your other favourite apps
New Software Features
The Suunto 9 Peak has all the features introduced since my initial review of the original Suunto 9 and 9 Baro. Plus there are some new features introduced today – Ghost Runner and live Snap-To-Route.
First up I’ll just reiterate the info from above in that we have a new watch screen that takes ad-hoc SpO2 readings. It’s a generally useless feature unless you are either acclimating at a high altitude or extremely ill when it becomes important.
Suunto shared with me that very few people use the extended battery modes that seem to have become all the rage these days with earlier Suuntos, Garmin and Coros watches. It’s more important from the buyer perspective that the better battery life is used to power the device for just that little bit longer when it’s cranked up to the max! With that in mind, the new 1-hour full-charge ability of the battery is perhaps MUCH more useful than the claimed 170 hour GPS battery life (Tour mode)
The live Snap-to-Route is a novel feature that I’m not sure needed to be invented. That said, innovation always needs applauding and I have to concede that there are some valuable uses for this interesting addition to the Suunto stable. So, having just contradicted myself, yes it needed inventing!!! 🙂
Live Snap-to-Route is intended to be used in scenarios like urban races where a) you can download the route before you start off and b) where the GPS is likely to be impaired. At the start of the race or workout, you load up a course in the sports profile’s navigation menu, instead of using the normal ‘Routes’ option you choose ‘Snap to Route’.
To be clear: This feature will be mostly used when you know the route eg in a race. The pre-loaded route file is used to improve the accuracy of the speed/distance metrics.
When you are in the race/workout you will still get all the regular off-route type messaging and you can switch across to the navigation screen, however, that’s not quite the point here.
The Snap to Route feature changes the behaviour of the watch and how it interprets the GPS signal. Instead of determining your positional changes e to work out speed and distance, instead, the prime focus of Snap to Route is to work out where you are on the route. As you progress along the route the determination of true distance should be better when taken from the route file rather than from GPS. It’s a bit weird to explain.
To cut to the chase, the live Snap-to-Route does appear to give improvements to the accuracy of instant pace although not always. We know that instant pace is always pretty much wrong from GPS in all but the very best GPS reception conditions. You could get very creative with this feature and plan all of your runs and rides so that you always follow a course…or buy a footpod.
The algorithms stop if you deviate from the course too much and naturally they will be affected by a series of incorrect GPS readings but it should give fairly decent speed/distance numbers. When you re-join a course the algorithm kicks in again…clever stuff.
I’ve had a play with Snap-to-Route and can’t see how I would ever use it in the real world of my sporting endeavours as I always opt to get my instant pace accurately from Stryd. With my limited use of this feature (one 10k test), it did stabilise instant pace much more than I expected and I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t give a definitive view on the accuracy of the Suunto’s instant pace but on the occasions, I glanced at it, it seemed reasonable compared to what STRYD said via the Garmin.
If you are the kind of urban runner that wants a perfect Strava record of your route in Manhattan or London or Paris then Snap-to-Route will give you the aesthetics you desire…people like me will have to put up with Strava maps full of squiggles! Hey, each to their own.
Take Out: Some urban racers and highly organised runners will think this is brilliant. I certainly do think Snap-to-Run is super-innovative but will never use it.
This is another novel Suunto Plus feature that I’m not sure needed inventing but it might be the first step towards new features for Suunto where they can expand on the initial functionality, so I’ll be kind 😉
Ghost Runner determines your initial average pace and then uses that as your target. The concept seems flawed in so many ways as many of us would naturally start out too quickly and would end up targeting a pace we couldn’t maintain, plus wouldn’t it simply have been easier to manually set a target pace at the start of the run? This method will also not take into account pace changes caused by changes to gradients. It might be a good feature for track running but I suspect that the GPS wouldn’t be accurate enough on an oval to make it work properly unless maybe if you combined it with the Snap to Route feature or Suunto’s LOOP features(eesh!). Maybe not (You can’t simultaneously use more than one Suunto Plus feature)
All that said, if this is the first step toward Suunto introducing the ability to follow pre-determined pace profiles then I’m all for it. Perhaps more widely useful would be the more standard feature of a Ghost Runner against a previous effort (from history or from a FIT file).
In my one test with this, I initially had to stop for 15-20 seconds to cross the main road at the end of my street. Consequently, the target pace was wrong. Added to that the Suunto Plus features didn’t seem to give any feedback or alerts at all.
Ghost Runner will also find its way to the 9 Baro.
Configurable Automatic Backlight
Suunto watches have always been somewhat restrictive in their ability to precisely configure the behaviour of the backlight in a variety of scenarios. In one sense this has been a design choice by Suunto to avoid a multitude of similar menu options – as Garmin has found out if the watch vendor offers the ability to configure every last detail then the watch menu system becomes unwieldy, bordering on unusable for many people. So, Suunto’s approach is different and effectively what they are offering here are screen brightness profiles with elements of automation
I won’t try to explain the intricacies of the new feature as this table from Suunto sums it up much better than I ever could. Perhaps the confusion in the wording is that if you want the backlight to be ‘always on’ then you have to disable raise-to-wake and enable Fixed Standby mode.
Special Uses: Navigation & The Extremes
Suunto’s pedigree is the outdoors and they have historically produced watches for that market. It’s their job!
As the name PEAK implies, this watch is built for mountains. The lightweight titanium model’s shell is super durable and light. The SpO2 sensors can guide your acclimation to altitude and you can get warnings about upcoming storms. you could be 100m underwater or in -20Celcius temperatures and the Suunto 9 Peak would still work. Just whacked it on a tree? Yep, it’ll probably still work.
Here are some screens from the app to give you a flavour of heatmaps, POIs and route creation.
Suunto covers most of the bases for the more serious outdoors adventurer who wants to navigate. The Suunto 9 Peak is a ‘workhorse on the wrist’ and the one-stop shop for directions, elevations, air pressures, temperature and more. The only major downsides here are that the Suunto 9 Peak might be considered small for some and there are no onboard maps. Perhaps you get around the lack of maps by using a paper map or an app on your smartphone, depending on the kind of navigation you need to do. Sticking to a track is relatively straightforward but even a map won’t help you too much crossing the Sahara so you can navigate with bearings or to POIs.
When the going gets tough it’s probably a Garmin or a Suunto you’d feel more comfortable with on your wrist.
Special Uses: Sports, Swim, Bike & Run
The Suunto 9 Peak shares the same sports features as previous models and that means you have a comprehensive & wide-reaching set of sports features.
If you are a predominantly single-sport athlete then the Suunto 9 will probably have all you need with the ability to display appropriate metrics and pull some of them from a range of 3rd party sensors like power meters and chest straps. Recreational multisports are nicely covered but if you are training for Age Group triathlon glory then you’ll always buy a Garmin – if you are training for fun, enjoyment or a challenge then Suunto is a good option.
One interesting feature that a high-end Polar or Suunto watch shares is the native support for running with power (Stryd) meaning that running power is enmeshed with the zones, alerts and other features of the watch to the same extent that HR or speed is. Garmin does NOT have native running power.
There are many nice linkups with 3rd party sports services where you can share your stats with friends via Strava or impress them with a full Re-Live video of your route.
Special Features: Suunto Plus
Suunto Plus offers a range of ‘apps’ and you can add one of these to your workout before you start. Recently Suunto introduced 3 types of special apps that automatically detect and record repeated efforts – hills, loops and intervals.
Climb – Hill training
The CLIMB ‘app’ works for extended or repeated climbing activities. So, as two examples, this covers a runner performing fast, repeated hill reps as well as a climber trekking up a series of long hills. The display and recording of each climb as a lap is automated and the trigger is 10m of continuous ascent, once that kicks in you get to see the climb-specific metrics like ‘vertical metres’ and ‘% grade’. It might also be worth adding that you can also show Grade Adjusted Pace (Suunto call it normalized, graded pace NGP), vertical speed (m/hr) and vertical metres.
Loop – Lap timer
The definition of a ‘loop’ is somewhat nebulous, which is great as it will cover laps of a running track, repeats of a piste when XC skiing or bike laps of your local park. The loop is defined from the point where you manually press LAP and is then automatically triggered later by proximity to that point, I’m guessing the GPS sensitivity is something like +/-5m.
The LOOPS are treated exactly like normal LAPS, so there is a LOOP summary displayed at the end of each LOOP for 20-seconds, the LOOP screen shows your progress on the current lap, LOOPS are summarised at the end of your MOVE and LOOPS are shown on the Suunto app when you sync your data. I would LOVE AND USE this feature on my Wahoo Element or Garmin when cycling but only Polar has something similar.
Sprint – Running pace | Cycling power
The ‘Sprint’ app identifies harder efforts during the workouts while running or cycling and further includes functionality to allow for WARMUP/COOLDOWN. A SPRINT is triggered when either pace or power increases by 25% and then this works in the same way as LOOPS to introduce the various elements of displaying and recording the sprints.
Caveat: Using GPS causes a 5-10 second delay to identify the effort both when starting and ending the effort – for shorter efforts this notably reduces the usefulness. However, with a footpod or power meter, the delay is shorter.
Suunto 9 Peak GPS and oHR Accuracy Review
The Suunto 9 Peak is a mixed bag when considering the accuracy of GPS (GNSS) and HR (oHR). In both cases, Suunto is integrating new tech and will almost certainly push through many improvements long after this review is published.
The Sony GPS chip is one of the later ones from the 2019/20 generation of chips, presumably ‘better’ than those used by many competitors but this is NOT the multifrequency chip that may start to become commonplace later in 2021 and introduce new levels of accuracy (or not!). Similarly, much of Suunto’s previous generation of watches used Valencell’s optical sensor units but now Suunto is building their own sensor package in conjunction with LifeQ who also make sensors for TAG Heuer, Samsung, Fossil, Motorolla and others. Clearly, this is a new oHR sensor as it adds SpO2 capability for the first time for Suunto.
Suunto 9 Peak GPS Accuracy Review
One of my first Open Water Swims (OWS) of the year was a real test for the 935 and Suunto 9 Peak. OWS is VERY HARD for GPS as the watch is unable to receive a signal when submerged. However here the Suunto 9 in red shows a perfectly acceptable track and, whilst the 935 shows me swimming in straighter lines, the reality probably was closer to Suunto on this particularly cold, windy & rainy day (the rightmost point goes around a buoy which the 935 has me skipping…I didn’t). This level of accuracy from Suunto is probably about as good as it can get from any vendor and probably this is about as good as it needs to get for OWS.
GPS performance when cycling is also good. Here the Suunto 9 Peak (green) is probably better than the Apple Watch SE (Blue) and 935 (Red), the Wahoo ROAM‘s battery died…grrrr. On this ride and other rides, all the devices are playing nicely and the kind of cycling I do in suburban London and hilly, rural Surrey generally poses just about zero problems for devices to record good GPS tracks. These illustrative sections show a suburban grid, a sweeping bend, some trees next to the Royal Ballet School and the glamour of a car park by a mini-roundabout (circle). I’ve highlighted a minor deviation which is of no concern to me whatsoever.
There’s always a but.
In my running accuracy review tests for the Suunto 9 Peak, my series of tests showed that the watch is at times in need of GNSS improvement. My formal GPS running test over a hard 10-mile route resulted in a below-average score of 67% (link to results) despite the overall distance being accurate to within +/-1%. Yet on other, easier runs the results were good.
This is the first time Suunto has used the Sony CXD5605GF GNSS Chip and that is probably the same chip that Garmin has finally managed to tweak to give their best-ever GPS results with the Forerunner 745, so I’m hopeful that Suunto will easily improve this in 2021. You can see in the examples below that the Suunto 9 Peak is sometimes perfectly fine, even in tricky GPS conditions, but then will stray off track in easy conditions and run vaguely parallel to the true position. That should be easily fixable when there are no buildings nearby.
By contrast, this is my suburban “round-the-block test” and the Suunto 9 Peak (green) was very good compared to the Polar Vantage M2 (red) and Garmin 935 (yellow).
Finally, I have only performed one test where I was specifically looking at elevation. The Suunto 9 Peak more closely tracked the actual elevation than either the Apple Watch SE or the new Wahoo Bolt 2. It seems to underestimate very slightly in this test but had I correctly calibrated the starting elevation results would probably be even better. This test was in stable atmospheric conditions.
Product Options – Cases, Straps & Prices
There are two case styles & 4 colours with an RRP of Eu/$569-Eu/$699
- Granite Blue Titanium and Birch White Titanium (Grade 5 Titanium)
- All-Black and Moss Grey, both in stainless steel
The watch straps are only sold in one size WITH a watch. If you buy additional straps then the new strap is supplied in two size lengths.
As time passes, Suunto tends to introduce a bundle with a chest strap and also the ability to swap out case components to further customise the watch colours.
Suunto 9 Peak Technical Specs vs Suunto 9 Baro
Here are the Suunto 9 Peak specifications taken directly from Suunto.com. A couple of the ones that don’t look right I’ve put a ‘?’ by. Also here is the Suunto 9 Peak vs Suunto 9 Baro comparison
|9 Peak||9 Baro|
|Measurements||43 x 43 x 10.6 mm / 1.69 x 1.69 x 0.42 “||50 x 50 x 16.8 mm / 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.66 “|
|Weight||52 g / 1.83 oz||81 g / 2.86 oz|
|Bezel material:||Titanium Grade 5||Stainless steel|
|Glass material:||Sapphire crystal||Sapphire crystal|
|Case material:||Titanium Grade 5, Glass fibre reinforced polyamide||Glass fibre reinforced polyamide|
|Strap width:||22 mm||24 mm|
|Wrist sizes:||125-175 mm (accessory strap -215 mm)||130-220 mm|
|Customizable watch faces||Yes||Yes|
|Touch screen lock||during exercise||during exercise|
|Water resistance||100 m||100 m|
|Battery indicator||percentage / icon||percentage / icon|
|Battery type||rechargeable lithium-ion||rechargeable lithium-ion|
|Alarm clock||Yes||1 configurable alarm|
|Integrated wrist heart rate||Yes||Yes|
|Configurable backlight||automatic brightness||brightness mode|
|Button lock||during exercise||during exercise|
|Display resolution||240 x 240||320 x 300|
|Metric and imperial units||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic daylight saving time||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic firmware updates over the air||Yes||No|
|Operating temperature||-20° C to +55° C /|
-5° F to +130° F
|-20° C to +55° C /|
-5° F to +130° F
|Storage temperature||-20° C to +55° C /|
-5° F to +130° F
|-30° C to +55° C /|
-22° F to +130° F
|Recommended charging temperature||0° C to +35° C /|
+32° F to +95° F
|0° C to +35° C /|
+32° F to +95° F
|Intelligent charge reminders|
|In time mode||14 days||14 days|
|With 24/7 tracking and|
|7 days||7 days|
|Training mode with GPS||25h / 50h / 120h / 170h||25h / 50h / 120h /|
|Needle||north indicator||north indicator|
|Connectivity (between devices)||Yes||Bluetooth Smart|
|Compatible with Suunto app||Yes||Yes|
|Phone notifications on the watch||Yes||Yes|
|Compatible with online sports communities||Yes||Strava, TrainingPeaks, Endomondo and more|
|Watch software updates from the cloud||Yes||Yes|
|Smartphone compatibility||Most common models supported||Most common models supported|
|Activity targets||steps, calories||steps, calories|
|Calorie burn rate and heart rate|
during daily activities
|Daily minimum heart rate tracking||Yes||Yes|
|Average blood oxygen level||Yes||No|
|Sleep duration||Duration, average HR during sleep||Duration, average HR during sleep|
|STRESS AND RECOVERY|
|Daily resource level||Yes||Yes|
|Stress and recovery status||Yes||Yes|
|GPS TRACKING & NAVIGATION|
|Satellite systems||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOU||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOU|
|Intelligent battery modes||Performance, Endurance, Ultra, Tour, Custom||Performance, Endurance, Ultra, Tour, Custom|
|GPS recording rate||Best, Good, OK, Low||Best, Good, OK, Low|
|Waypoint and visual route navigation||Yes||Yes|
|Zoom levels in navigation||Yes||Yes|
|Auto-zoom based on route shape||Yes||Yes|
|Breadcrumb trail in real-time||Yes||Yes|
|Route planning with altitude profile||Yes||Yes|
|Outdoor maps by satellite, terrain and|
topography in web by Mapbox, Google
Maps & Android
|Heatmaps to browse and navigate during exercises||Yes||Yes|
|Route planning with heatmaps||Yes||Yes|
|Personal route library synced to watch||Yes||Yes|
|Point of Interest (POI) navigation||Yes||Yes|
|GPS track analysis||Yes||Yes|
|Track logging, viewing and sharing||Yes||Yes|
|ETA (estimated time of arrival)||Yes||No|
|ETA (estimated time of arrival), remaining distance||No?||Yes|
|Combined GPS and barometric altitude (FusedAlti™)||Yes||Yes|
|Altitude in daily mode||Yes||Yes|
|Total ascent/descent||in exercise||in exercise|
|Vertical speed||in exercise||in exercise|
|Automatic alti/baro profile||Yes||Yes|
|Log recording rate||1 s||1 s|
|Resolution||1 m||1 m|
|Range||-500 – 9999 m||-500 – 9999 m|
|Altitude acclimation with blood oxygen||–|
|Sea level pressure||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic alti/baro profile||Yes||Yes|
|Temperature display range||-20° C to +55° C / -5° F to +130° F||-20° C to +55° C / -5° F to +130° F|
|Temperature resolution||1° C / 1.5° F||1° C / 1.5° F|
|Pressure resolution||1 hPa||1 hPa|
|Altitude graph is shown in exercise summary||Yes||Yes|
|Setup intervals||Yes||on watch|
|Interval guidance during training||Yes||Yes|
|Heart rate measured from wrist||Yes||Yes|
|Heart rate belt compatibility||Bluetooth Smart belts||Bluetooth Smart belts|
|RR interval||with Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart Sensor||with Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart Sensor|
|Heart rate in beats per minute||Yes||Yes|
|Records heart rate in swimming||yes, with Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart Sensor||yes, with Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart Sensor|
|Heart rate graph in real-time||Yes||Yes|
|Real-time average heart rate||Yes||Yes|
|Peak Training Effect||Yes||Yes|
|Personal heart rate zones||Yes||Yes|
|Fitness level (VO2max)||Yes||Yes|
|Log recording rate||n/a?||1 s|
|SPEED AND DISTANCE|
|Cadence based speed and distance||Yes||Yes|
|GPS speed and distance||Yes||Yes|
|Foot POD support||Bluetooth Smart||Bluetooth Smart|
|Analysis of pace, speed graphs and|
tracks on the map
|Training based recovery time||Yes||Yes|
|Recovery time daily view||on watch||on watch|
|Feeling stored after training to watch||Yes||Yes|
|Logbook with exercise details||Yes||on watch|
|Exercise summary with lap details||Yes||on watch|
|Training load with totals by sport||Yes||on watch|
|Training logbook for long term overviews||Yes||Yes|
|SHARE AND RELIVE|
|Exercise sharing to social media||Yes||Yes|
|Exercise rating and commenting||Yes||Yes|
|Follow other members and get feedback|
via the activity stream
|Pool swim pace and distance||Yes||Yes|
|Openwater swim pace and distance||Yes||Yes|
|Swimming time by pool length, lap, total||Yes||Yes|
|Swimming stroke rate, count and type||Yes||Yes|
|Records heart rate in swimming||Yes, with Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart Sensor||Yes, with Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart Sensor|
|Stroke efficiency (SWOLF)||Yes||Yes|
|Interval lap table||Yes||Yes|
|Interval guidance with swim pace/duration/|
distance training support
|Average speed in real-time||Yes||Yes|
|Bike POD with speed/cadence support||Bluetooth Smart||Bluetooth Smart|
|Bike power meter support||Bluetooth Smart||Bluetooth Smart|
|Bike Power (W), average and maximum (with power sensor)||Bluetooth Smart||Bluetooth Smart|
|Bike Lap and Lap Maximum Power (with power sensor)||Yes||Yes|
|Real-time lap table with avg HR, avg power and avg speed||Yes||Yes|
|Interval guidance with power/speed/heart rate||on watch||on watch|
|Customizable sport modes and displays||Yes||Yes|
|Graphical displays in sport modes||heart rate, speed and altitude||heart rate, speed and altitude|
|Numeric displays in sport modes||1-7 fields, lap table view||1-7 fields, lap table view|
|Pre-installed sport modes on watch||> 80||> 80|
|Available measurement parameters||> 50 values on watch||> 50 values on watch|
|Sport modes for a specific purpose|
(racing, intervals, long training…)
|Change sport mode during exercise||Yes||Yes|
|Preconfigured multisport modes||Yes||Yes|
|Multisport exercise summary on watch||Yes||Yes|
|Post-analysis of multisport exercise by sport||Yes||Yes|
|Running power with Stryd sensor||Yes||Yes|
|Foot POD calibration||automatic||automatic|
|Average, max, lap pace in real-time||Yes||Yes|
|Interval guidance with running pace/|
|on watch||on watch|
|SuuntoPlus™ Ghost runner||Yes||No|
|Snap to route accurate marathon pacing||Yes||No|
|Wings for Life World Run||Yes||Yes|
|Red Bull X-Alps||Yes||Yes|
Suunto 9 Peak Top 10 Tips & Facts
Here are some less usual points and tips for the Suunto 9 Peak that didn’t really fit anywhere else in the review. If you have more to delight us with…please comment below
- The new, proprietary USB charger only works with the Suunto 9 Peak. The 9 Peak can easily be attached to it in any direction and this contrasts the previous charger, that I liked, but which could be fiddly to attach in just the one right position. The old charger had a stronger magnet yet it is still possible to let the 9 Peak watch dangle from the charger held only by the weight of the magnet. The new charger is well-made and yet it is not heavy, one trend I have noticed for bedside charging devices is to have a weighty base to stop your device and base from falling off the bedside table. Suunto could improve this.
- It is now easy to turn the watch off to restart it, providing you have access to the menus: General>About>Power off
- It is now possible to invert the background colour of watch faces. this can look nice but draws attention to the black ring around the watch face so I prefer the black watch face background.
- The new ‘Quick Charge’ is impressive. You might find that different PC sockets and USB wall adapters yield different charge times however don’t be confused when the device seems to rapidly charge when empty but significantly slow down as it approaches 90%. That’s just the way the battery tech works and Suunto merely buy the battery package rather than designing every last detail of how the battery works.
- The useful screen real estate size is smaller on the 9 Peak than 9 Baro but handily comes full circle back to that on the Ambit 3.
- Tour Mode extends battery life by temporarily disabling features but still periodically enabling GPS to get a quick positional fix. Suunto state that Tour Mode GPS battery life is 170 hours however this is wrong! Suunto pointed out that they just kept this the same on the specs as for the 9 Baro but, in fact, internal tests were giving longer lifespans. All batteries’ performances degrade over time so this is a reasonable figure to keep.
- The PC software, Suuntolink, is no longer required for firmware updates for the 9 Peak. Updates will be automatically downloaded via your smartphone app when ready.
- Bluetooth has been upgraded from v4.2 on the 9 Baro to v5 on the 9 Peak. Bluetooth 5 offers a speed|distance trade-off compared to v4.2. I don’t know for sure but it seems that Suunto has opted to boost the speed of the Bluetooth connection at the expense of Bluetooth range.
- Auto backlight – an ambient light sensor can be automatically set to adjust the backlight to the conditions around you.
- On the reverse of the watch, you will see two small circular, metal dots to either side of the optical HR array – these are the charging pins. I believe they detect skin contact so answering the question, ‘Are you wearing me?”. If the Suunto 9 Peak knows you are not wearing the watch it will save energy and not fire up the HR LEDs in a futile attempt to find your HR. This feature is most definitely absent on older Suunto which can spend long periods of time forlornly looking for your pulse whilst on the table.
- There are 3 new trail running modes MOUNTAIN, POWER (Stryd) and BASIC. You will need STRYD paired to get the POWER mode and each of these profiles has different pre-built screens and metrics.
- You will soon find that the 9 Peak asks you how you felt after every workout. This is endearing at first but annoying after a while. There are good reasons to track RPE/Feel but if you do not want to do that you can disable the prompt in the app or by pressing the down button before you START your workout. >Options>Feeling> OFF
- Before you start your workout, you can easily specify custom intervals by duration or time >Options>Intervals>(several settings)
- Before you start your workout, you can use the top right button to scroll through battery modes to extend the life if you need it.
- Calibrating the watch’s compass is an art and I am definitely not an artist. The on-screen graphic suggests you move it in a figure-8, what seems to work for me is to spin it several times in 3 planes (x, y, z)
Suunto 9 Peak Review – Take Out
The Suunto 9 Peak marks subtle shifts in the company’s direction. We see the initial launch exclusive to China, presumably mandated by the company’s ultimate owners and we see Suunto ramping up even more on the quality of hardware, certainly also realising the importance of a smaller-format case to several target demographics.
Suunto definitely has a loyal, core following and this watch will appeal to those and perhaps to their friends who previously thought some Suunto watches were “a bit chunky”. The smaller format will bring new customers.
China may well be the world’s largest economy by the end of this decade. The reality of having Chinese owners is that Suunto will probably (eventually) sell well in China as a premium outdoor brand with a Western appeal. If you think the geopolitical reality of a Taiwanese-American-Swiss company called Garmin will help Garmin Fenix sales in China you are very much mistaken. Suunto is better placed geographically in the long run than many think.
When playing the most-features-comparison-game Suunto, Coros and others will always lose to Garmin despite, perhaps, being able to beat Garmin on the usability of those features in some circumstances. But the reality is that the majority of Suunto buyers don’t spend half their lives at Everest base camp…some do…most don’t. The Suunto feature set is perfectly adequate for their customers’ needs.
Then we come to the app which has undergone numerous changes and enhancements in recent years. Despite my misgivings from 2019, the Suunto app is now generally ‘good’ and contains some cool stuff. Again, it doesn’t do everything but, certainly, neither does Garmin Connect. However, the app is focused on delivering many popular and useful sporting/navigational insights, it has the balance about right between ease of use and volume of features. The caveat here is that many people just buy all the features they can afford on a just-in-case basis.
One area for criticism is the watch software. Several individual features are missing on a small scale but the overall offering is certainly WAY more than merely competent. Maps on the watch are the big omission and maps do have a part to play in putting some kinds of navigation into context but watch-based maps are perhaps otherwise slightly over-egged in their usefulness on small watch screens.
Suunto watches also have a ‘certain style‘ and it’s a style that I personally like a lot. The Suunto 9 Peak really does exude quality construction and in that regard, it’s up there with the best of the competition and more refined than the Suunto watches I’ve had before. The quality of the physical package is also supported by the quality of the physical sensors which are up to demanding outdoors tasks – I bemoaned the optical HR but a similar story exists with all the competition…yes, including Garmin.
I finish this review with many hopes and a few reservations when I say that the Suunto 9 Peak and Suunto 7 that came before could herald the start of Suunto’s global resurgence.
Eu/$569 to Eu/$699 (£629), June 17th, 2021