Suunto 9 Peak Review, Top 10 Tips, In-Depth 9 Baro Comparison

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Suunto 9 Peak optical sensor ReviewSuunto 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
84%

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.

Pros

  • 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

Eu/$569-Eu/$699

Only available here for pre-order: Suunto.com

Cons

  • 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.

Suunto 9 Peak size Comparison & review
Image|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

Suunto 9 Peak review

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

Suunto 9 Peak Hiking Profile

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.

Suunto 9 Peak Review

Design Thoughts

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 9 Peak Review

General usage

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 9 Peak Body battery

Suunto’s platform is easily extended to your other favourite apps

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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)

Live Snap-to-Route

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.

Suunto 9 Peak Snap to Route
Suunto 9 Peak Review

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.

 

Ghost Runner

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.

Suunto 9 Peak Ghost Runner

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.

Suunto 9 Peak automatic backlight adjustment and review of manual actions
Image|Suunto

 

Special Uses: Navigation & The Extremes

Suunto’s pedigree is the outdoors and they have historically produced watches for that market. It’s their job!

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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.

Suunto 9 Peak Compass Bearing Review

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.

 

Suunto 9 Baro vs Garmin 935 open water swim gnss review accuracy
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.

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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.

 

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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).

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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 new Wahoo Bolt. 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 Peak9 Baro
Measurements43 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 “
Weight52 g / 1.83 oz81 g / 2.86 oz
Bezel material:Titanium Grade 5Stainless steel
Glass material:Sapphire crystalSapphire crystal
Case material:Titanium Grade 5, Glass fibre reinforced polyamideGlass fibre reinforced polyamide
Strap material:SiliconeSilicone
GENERAL
Strap width:22 mm24 mm
Wrist sizes:125-175 mm (accessory strap -215 mm)130-220 mm
Customizable watch facesYesYes
Touch screen lockduring exerciseduring exercise
Touch displayYesYes
Colour displayYesYes
Water resistance100 m100 m
Battery indicatorpercentage / iconpercentage / icon
Battery typerechargeable lithium-ionrechargeable lithium-ion
Firmware upgradableYesYes
Time, dateYesYes
Alarm clockYes1 configurable alarm
Dual timeYesYes
Integrated wrist heart rateYesYes
Automatic timekeepingYesYes
Stopwatch timerYesYes
Countdown timerYesYes
Vibration alertYesYes
BacklightLEDLED
Configurable backlightautomatic brightnessbrightness mode
Button lockduring exerciseduring exercise
Display typematrixmatrix
Display resolution240 x 240320 x 300
Metric and imperial unitsYesYes
Automatic daylight saving timeYesYes
Automatic firmware updates over the airYesNo
Blood oxygenYesNo
PHYSICAL SPECIFICATIONS
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 temperature0° C to +35° C /

+32° F to +95° F

0° C to +35° C /

+32° F to +95° F

BATTERY LIFE
Intelligent charge reminders
In time mode14 days14 days
With 24/7 tracking and

mobile notifications

7 days7 days
Training mode with GPS25h / 50h / 120h / 170h25h / 50h / 120h /

170h

COMPASS
Digital compassYesYes
Tilt compensationYesYes
Declination correctionYesYes
Direction scaledegreesdegrees
Needlenorth indicatornorth indicator
Compass accuracy
Compass resolution
CONNECTIVITY
Connectivity (between devices)YesBluetooth Smart
Compatible with Suunto appYesYes
Phone notifications on the watchYesYes
Compatible with online sports communitiesYesStrava, TrainingPeaks, Endomondo and more
Watch software updates from the cloudYesYes
Smartphone compatibilityMost common models supportedMost common models supported
ACTIVITY TRACKING
Step counterYesYes
Calories burnedYesYes
Activity targetssteps, caloriessteps, calories
Activity historyYesYes
Calorie burn rate and heart rate

during daily activities

YesYes
Daily minimum heart rate trackingYesYes
SLEEP TRACKING
Average blood oxygen levelYesNo
Deep sleepYesNo
Time awakeYesYes
Sleep qualityYesYes
Bed timesYesYes
Sleep durationDuration, average HR during sleepDuration, average HR during sleep
STRESS AND RECOVERY
Daily resource levelYesYes
Stress and recovery statusYesYes
GPS TRACKING & NAVIGATION
Satellite systemsGPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOUGPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOU
Intelligent battery modesPerformance, Endurance, Ultra, Tour, CustomPerformance, Endurance, Ultra, Tour, Custom
GPS recording rateBest, Good, OK, LowBest, Good, OK, Low
Waypoint and visual route navigationYesYes
Zoom levels in navigationYesYes
Auto-zoom based on route shapeYesYes
Breadcrumb trail in real-timeYesYes
Route planning with altitude profileYesYes
Outdoor maps by satellite, terrain and

topography in web by Mapbox, Google

Maps & Android

YesYes
Heatmaps to browse and navigate during exercisesYesYes
Route planning with heatmapsYesYes
Personal route library synced to watchYesYes
Point of Interest (POI) navigationYesYes
GPS track analysisYesYes
Track logging, viewing and sharingYesYes
ETA (estimated time of arrival)YesNo
ETA (estimated time of arrival), remaining distanceNo?Yes
Bearing navigationNo?Yes
ALTIMETER
Barometric altitudeYesYes
GPS altitudeYesYes
Combined GPS and barometric altitude (FusedAlti™)YesYes
Altitude in daily modeYesYes
Total ascent/descentin exercisein exercise
Vertical speedin exercisein exercise
Automatic alti/baro profileYesYes
Log recording rate1 s1 s
Resolution1 m1 m
Range-500 – 9999 m-500 – 9999 m
Altitude acclimation with blood oxygen
WEATHER
Sunrise/sunset timesYesYes
Storm alarmYesYes
Sea level pressureYesYes
Automatic alti/baro profileYesYes
TemperatureYesYes
Temperature display range-20° C to +55° C / -5° F to +130° F-20° C to +55° C / -5° F to +130° F
Temperature resolution1° C / 1.5° F1° C / 1.5° F
Pressure resolution1 hPa1 hPa
Altitude graph is shown in exercise summaryYesYes
INTERVAL TRAINING
Setup intervalsYeson watch
Interval guidance during trainingYesYes
HEART RATE
Heart rate measured from wristYesYes
Heart rate belt compatibilityBluetooth Smart beltsBluetooth Smart belts
RR intervalwith Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart Sensorwith Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart Sensor
Heart rate in beats per minuteYesYes
Records heart rate in swimmingyes, with Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart Sensoryes, with Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart Sensor
Heart rate graph in real-timeYesYes
Real-time average heart rateYesYes
CaloriesYesYes
Peak Training EffectYesYes
Recovery timeYesYes
Personal heart rate zonesYesYes
Fitness level (VO2max)YesYes
Log recording raten/a?1 s
SPEED AND DISTANCE
Cadence based speed and distanceYesYes
GPS speed and distanceYesYes
ChronoYesYes
Foot POD supportBluetooth SmartBluetooth Smart
AutolapsYesYes
Manual lapsYesYes
Analysis of pace, speed graphs and

tracks on the map

YesYes
TRAINING RECOVERY
Training based recovery timeYesYes
Recovery time daily viewon watchon watch
Feeling stored after training to watchYesYes
TRAINING LOAD
Logbook with exercise detailsYeson watch
Exercise summary with lap detailsYeson watch
Training load with totals by sportYeson watch
Training logbook for long term overviewsYesYes
SHARE AND RELIVE
Exercise sharing to social mediaYesYes
Exercise rating and commentingYesYes
Follow other members and get feedback

via the activity stream

YesYes
SWIMMING
Pool swim pace and distanceYesYes
Openwater swim pace and distanceYesYes
Swimming time by pool length, lap, totalYesYes
Swimming stroke rate, count and typeYesYes
Records heart rate in swimmingYes, with Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart SensorYes, with Suunto Smart Heart Rate Belt & Suunto Smart Sensor
Stroke efficiency (SWOLF)YesYes
Automatic intervalsYesYes
Interval lap tableYesYes
Interval guidance with swim pace/duration/

distance training support

No?on watch
CYCLING
Cycling speedYesYes
Average speed in real-timeYesYes
Bike POD with speed/cadence supportBluetooth SmartBluetooth Smart
Bike power meter supportBluetooth SmartBluetooth Smart
Bike Power (W), average and maximum (with power sensor)Bluetooth SmartBluetooth Smart
Bike Lap and Lap Maximum Power (with power sensor)YesYes
Real-time lap table with avg HR, avg power and avg speedYesYes
Interval guidance with power/speed/heart rateon watchon watch
SPORT MODES
Customizable sport modes and displaysYesYes
Graphical displays in sport modesheart rate, speed and altitudeheart rate, speed and altitude
Numeric displays in sport modes1-7 fields, lap table view1-7 fields, lap table view
Pre-installed sport modes on watch> 80> 80
SuuntoPlus™YesYes
Available measurement parameters> 50 values on watch> 50 values on watch
Sport modes for a specific purpose

(racing, intervals, long training…)

No?Yes
MULTISPORTS
Change sport mode during exerciseYesYes
Preconfigured multisport modesYesYes
Multisport exercise summary on watchYesYes
Post-analysis of multisport exercise by sportYesYes
RUNNING
Running paceYesYes
Suunto FusedSpeed™YesYes
Running power with Stryd sensorYesYes
Foot POD calibrationautomaticautomatic
Lap comparisonsYesYes
Average, max, lap pace in real-timeYesYes
Interval guidance with running pace/

heart rate/distance

on watchon watch
Suunto FusedTrack™YesNo
SuuntoPlus™ Ghost runnerYesNo
Snap to route accurate marathon pacingYesNo
SUUNTOPLUS
ClimbYesYes
Ghost RunnerYesNo
LoopYesYes
SafeYesYes
SprintYesYes
StravaYesYes
TrainingPeaksYesYes
WeatherYesYes
Wings for Life World RunYesYes
Red Bull X-AlpsYesYes

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

  1. 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.
  2. It is now easy to turn the watch off to restart it, providing you have access to the menus: General>About>Power off
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Auto backlight – an ambient light sensor can be automatically set to adjust the backlight to the conditions around you.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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
  13. Before you start your workout, you can easily specify custom intervals by duration or time >Options>Intervals>(several settings)
  14. 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.
  15. 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

 

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21 thoughts on “Suunto 9 Peak Review, Top 10 Tips, In-Depth 9 Baro Comparison

  1. Hey man, partially unrelated to the review… but putting referral links on a product, implying you can buy said product through the link, then just linking to random generic branded pages that are not said product, is skeevy. You get referral credit for other purchases without actually letting us buy the real product.

    1. apologies it absolutely is a comment relating to the review and I need to correct that, thank you for flagging it up
      i thought there would be a pre-order page there at launch…there isn’t

      Edit: Done!
      Let me know if it’s not clear please

  2. Hi, you say that the age group triathlete always would choose a Garmin. Why is that? I’m an active triathlete and multisport athlete. I’ve been happily using my Spartan Ultra since 2016 in sprint, Olympic and 1/2 distances as well as ö til ö swimrun events. Also the SSU watch works flawlessly for that use.
    I’m strongly considering exchanging the SSU with the peak due to the increased battery capacity, whr, reduced size/weight and added functionality. If so, why are Garmin devices superior for triathlon?

    1. hi there
      well, I suspect none of the triathletes in Tokyo will use a multisport watch on race day.
      Garmin has a superior and mostly complete triathlon capability including, for example, customisable multisport profiles that can properly handle Otillo or repeated bricks, they can properly handle dual-sided power meters, they can retrieve cached swim HR data, they can support lab sensors like those for CORE temp and SmO2, the watches have a smaller profile and will allow a wetsuit to pass over them more easily, they allow stored pairing of more than one power meter (TT-road-hill bikes), many pool metrics including rest and drill logging; there are many more subtle features like this. I’m sure you’d agree there are workarounds to all of them and that none are necessary to have but…that’s why most AG triathletes with gadgets have Garmin.

      Simple test: Can the vendor support pool:bike:run, OWS:bike run; run:bike:run; otillo …if it can’t support them all out of the box with optional transitions then it is not a serious triathlon watch but probably fine for most people.

      1. On a totally different note, can you swap the supplied band for any 22mm third-party band? It was difficult to work out from the pictures (and my wife and I haven’t owned a Suunto watch before). We both love the third-party nylon sports loops we’ve bought on Ebay/Amazon for our Fenix 6sPro and Coros Apex. Thanks for all your really informative reviews.

        1. good question
          yes it SHOULD be possible as this is a standard width band.
          however!!
          1. pin **diameters** vary – but the replacement ones tend to be smaller to save money rather than too large. so that should be ok
          2. then there is the clearance of the strap with the circular part of the case. there’s a couple of mm spare already so you should be ok.

          i just tried a band from a polar m2 and it fits.

      2. Well, using the multisport functionality, you can change activities mid-exercise (5 sec press, upper button) within the same workout with my SSU. The following activity is always the latest used activity prior to the current. I did a 4*4 bike-run brick activity accordingly last Sunday. That makes it super efficient for swim run. Triathlon is a native activity profile, with transitions. Screens are set up according to preferences for the chosen activities. The suunto belt syncs cached data for swimming.
        I do mis the multiple sensor (eg 2 ea different power meters) though. But the rest is there.

        1. yes i’m broadly familiar with most of what Suunto offers! not all the details i admit.
          I’m not 100% sure on these but i don’t think Suunto can do them neatly.

          so you can do a pool based tri? with pool metrics. in one profile…its the ONE PROFILE thing that defines a tri watch! it’s literally the definition of one.
          how can you do a duathlon…I’m talking a single sport profile not messing around changing sports during a race as you suggest. Age group athletes looking for qualification aren’t going to press and hold a button twice during a race for 10 seconds. this should be a standard sports profile …Suunto has racketball, squash marital arts and surfing and other sports where you shouldn’t even be wearing a watch. but no duathlon profile i can see (nor a pool based tri…thousands and thousands of people in the UK do those every year!)
          you can sync a calendarize a digital training plan? eg from TP
          you can create and execute a complex structured workout of your own making?
          you can control an FTMS or FE-C smart trainer with that workout file?
          you can display core body temp or SmO2 or cda?
          you can have a power target for stryd and a different one for a bike power meter..in one profile? (maybe)
          you can display lap NP and last lap NP? (might be possible)
          you get true dual LR power (I don’t think Suunto are compatible with dual-sided pedal PMs i think they just double one side, from memory, might have been fixed for total power if there is a unified channel, i think it was Polar that fixed this one a while back…could be wrong)
          can your bike computer and Suunto work together in your A race to avoid duplicates workout files and/or create a single tri workout FIT file? Garmins and wahoo can broadcast wrist hr to do that and actually wahoo has some superior transition detection facilities too (as do some apple watch apps).
          you can manually calibrate stryd by distance or with a calibration factor?

          I’m sure i could come up with a longer list. the point is that Garmin HAS nailed the wannabe-Pro end of the market and it will be a mammoth task to convince me to the contrary (and I’m not a garmin fanboy/fangirl by any means -in fact, quite the opposite…it’s just facts that i can’t argue with or gloss over). to make all these relatively niche functions is just too hard for financial returns that Suunto won’t ever get back. I don’t even think Coros will try these.

          obviously, you can do a triathlon with an apple watch perfectly fine as you can with a Suunto. you don’t see AG triathletes at ITU/ETU events using apple watches either (well…there probably are one or two)

          1. Yeah, I see what you mean about the native single profile functionality. And I totally agree with the lack of (multiple) power meter functionality! Then again, I have all of that in my Wahoo, and virtually never use it. But others probably miss it when it’s not there.
            The sport change mid activity works really well though, and takes the same time as it does when changing activity in the native tri mode. I assume that you also need to long press a button to change from swim – transit – bike – transit – run on a Garmin. To my knowledge only wahoo has made that completely seamless.
            Either way, I get your point about Garmin being more advanced on the multisport functionality. I also see that most people probably want the advanced features being available, even though they’ll never (have the genuine competence to) use it. Therefore they’ll choose Garmin.
            Though, according to my experience, a Suunto works really well in triathlon and multisport. Either way, thanks for the review.

          2. 🙂 yep
            it’s a single button press to advance from swim to t1 to bike to t1.
            yep it’s seamless on wahoo, yep there are automation apps like this https://the5krunner.com/2020/12/01/apple-auto-transition-located-triathlon/ . i vaguely remember auto-transition for swimrun on a garmin marq but have never seen nor used it. garmin will eventually introduce that more widely (or similar)

            wahoo: now, of course, you are encroaching on a more advanced argument which proves you right. once you have a bike computer you are effectively only using the watch as a running watch and data logger for swim/bike.
            so with a bike computer and running watch you have what you need and any old running watch will be fine.

            so the Suunto will be perfect after all 😉 (phew! good conclusion for comments on a Suunto review)

  3. The granite blue titanium version looks very sleek in the marketing photos, probably not that out of place in a more formal work environment. Have you seen that version up close?

  4. Just for clarification, but the Peak only gets RR intervals from the in-house Suunto Strap? You can’t get it from say a Polar H10 or Tikr-X?

    Also, Stryd internal support? I haven’t been on top of their products for a while and I remember there was support for some of their data fields, not all.

    One more for you. How does the Peak stack up against The Apex Pro (after the new metrics are introduced). is the Peak more robust? More accurate? Better user-side functionality?

    I’ve been with Coros for over a year now, and while I love the killer battery life, most of the metrics are base, even with new stuff being included. I’m in the market looking for a replacement and it’s either this or even….the next Forerunner evolution product (not the 945 lte). I’ve never really given Suunto much of a look before, this on paper looks interesting.

    1. I’m in a similar position myself. I had the Forerunner 645 music for just under two years. On a whim, I sold it and bought a Coros Apex. I wasn’t super impressed with the Apex (mainly poor hr and altimeter accuracy for me) so sold it after just six months and got a Fenix 6s Pro. I’ve had the Fenix just over a year but have never really loved it (I find it OK at lots of things but not really great at any one thing) and am thinking of a replacement. I’ve been looking at the Peak over the last few days after having never really considered Suunto before. I wonder how if compares to the Forerunner 745 which is a similar size and weight. Any thoughts anyone?

  5. Kudo to them that they think of the person who going to wear the watch the brands usually make them bulky, hope others follows

  6. Thanks for your great review. Possibly a dumb question but can you turn off the Suunto 9 Peak? I’m sure I read somewhere that you cannot turn off many Suunto watches and just have to leave the battery to drain,

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