Suunto 9 Peak Smartwatch Review: Price, and Design, Display, Battery Life, and more
Suunto's 9 Peak lacks Garmin's software polish, but it tries to compensate with smartwatch design. Here's what we thought about it.
+Light, and comfortable enough to wear 24/7
+Solid support for navigating pre-planned routes
+A design unlike most high-end fitness watches
-Unreliable HR sensor
-No on-watch maps
-Software feels a bit clunky these days
The Suunto 9 Peak is a high-end smartwatch from Suunto. You can select between this and the Suunto 9 Baro at this altitude. It looks and feels nothing like the Garmin watches you might buy if you had $600/£500 to spend. The watch face is small and charming, considerably cuter than virtually any other expensive fitness watch, especially in the Moss Green colour I have.
That has no effect on battery life, which is comparable to that of the larger Suunto 9 Baro. However, when compared to a Garmin Fenix 7, which costs marginally less than the titanium Suunto 9 Peak but £110 more than the ordinary stainless steel version, the software appears to be outdated.
Other features are clumsy, and its heart rate readings during mixed-intensity workouts are inaccurate. Even so, advanced capabilities like pre-workout route planning for hikers, walkers, and phone-free runners, as well as the ability to connect additional sensors through Bluetooth (but not ANT+), are available.
We've already compared the Suunto 9 Peak and Suunto 9 Baro, and the results are intriguing. Let's take a deeper look at this high-end Suunto is worth considering if you're seeking for the best outdoor watch or best fitness watch around. Continue reading for a complete evaluation of the Suunto 9 Peak smartwatch.
SUUNTO 9 PEAK REVIEW: PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
In June 2021, the Suunto 9 Peak was released. You may purchase directly from Suunto, via a few select specialty merchants, or from Amazon.
If you've looked for this watch and come up with radically different pricing, it's because you're looking at the prices for the stainless steel and titanium variants.
The Suunto 9 Peak in steel costs $569/£489, while the titanium version costs $699/£609. Is the update worthwhile? Titanium, which is lighter than steel, can be a great benefit in large timepieces that risk becoming excessively weighty. The difference in weight is 10g in this mid-size watch, therefore you should be concerned about weight.
SUUNTO 9 PEAK REVIEW: DESIGN AND BUILD
If you believe most Garmin and Polar watches look like try-hards, the equivalent of someone who would corner people at a party and drone on about marathon training and macros,' the Suunto 9 Peak design is likely to appeal. It's brighter, lighter, and more enjoyable to look at. Smartwatches are more common than sports watches.
Suunto, on the other hand, hasn't thrown away all the important data for the sake of a nice face. The Suunto 9 Peak has a water resistance rating of 10ATM. It's only necessary to remove it when swimming beneath the surface of the sea or in a pool.
This is also one of the few devices we've lately evaluated that isn't built in China, which is a bit of a shock. "Designed and built-in Finland" isn't a phrase you hear frequently, despite many of the components that go into the Suunto 9 Peak were most likely made in China.
The display glass is Sapphire, which is superior to the Corning Gorilla Glass formulas used in watches, and the outer shell is available in stainless steel or Titanium. Ours is made of steel and weighs 62 grams in total, including the watch and strap.
It's noticeably lighter than a Garmin Fenix 7, but if you want a lighter feel that fits the design, the titanium version is a good option. It weighs 52g, which is comparable to an Apple Watch or Fitbit Sense.
Mind you, there are reasons why you shouldn't. Although the stainless steel Suunto 9 Peak should be the more durable of the two, I managed to ding the edge of the bezel. This watch has squared-off corners, which means that if you knock it, only a small surface area will bear the brunt of the impact. When the light strikes the gleam of sharp dented steel beneath the subdued exterior polish, it winks away.
The Suunto 9 Peak also lacks a protective lip around the display glass, which is common in fitness watches at this price point. Looking this wonderful comes at a price.
SUUNTO 9 PEAK REVIEW: DISPLAY AND INTERFACE
As soon as you start using the Suunto 9 Peak, you'll notice a disconnect between the outer hardware design and the display style. Between the 1.2-inch screen and the end of the watch face, there's a broad blank border. It's so noticeable that, while having the same display size as the Garmin Fenix 7S, the 9 Peak's whole width is somewhat wider.
It's also worth noting that the Suunto 9 Peak's outside design suggests it might contain a smartwatch display. This watch has a 240 by 240 MIP-style screen, which appears dull but can display content 24 hours a day, seven days a week while using very little power. It thrives on natural light, getting clearer exclusively on bright days – the polar opposite of a smartwatch.
Despite having spent the previous few months with the equivalent Garmin Fenix 7, I found the Suunto 9 Peak to be excessively dim for the first few days of testing. The Sapphire glass on this watch appears to be more reflective than Gorilla Glass, and the indoor visibility is substantially worse than the Suunto 5 Peak, which has a basic plastic screen.
Front lights, similar to those found on vintage digital timepieces, are used to make displays like this more visible indoors. The default setting on the Suunto 9 Peak's illumination is quite dim. If you buy one of these watches, consider switching to the "high" option. Its "raise to wake" gesture is similarly insensitive.
When you whip the Suunto 9 Peak around to your face, the light should turn on, but it rarely does. It gives the impression that the watch display is dull or slow to respond, despite the fact that this is the planned effect of balancing gesture sensitivity against battery usage.
Unfortunately, the interface maintains the feeling of being a step behind your interactions. The software on the Suunto 9 Peak is comparable to that on previous Suunto devices. Vertically organised screens reside above and below the watch face, and touchscreen swipes or button presses scroll across them.
The ones on top of your head provide you access to the exercise and navigation modes, as well as the timer and the Settings menu. The ones below show your heart rate, training status, steps, altitude, sleep information, and VO2 Max on a daily basis.
Because of the distinct divide, the Suunto 9 Peak takes very little time to get used to if you have any experience with fitness watches. The "one stat per screen" approach, on the other hand, results in a lot of scrolling and a little too much slowness when viewing your information.
When you swipe down to your heart rate, you may have to wait up to two seconds for anything to appear. This would make sense if the Suunto 9 Peak was taking a new reading, but given that it includes all-day HR tracking, why not just show the most recent reading?
There's a clunkiness to this watch that shouldn't be there in a watch that costs up to $700. It also spreads to other places.
Your phone's notifications, including those from apps like WhatsApp, can be received by the Suunto 9 Peak. A bleat from the on-board beeper speaker and a buzz vibration are included as standard. The only way to get rid of the annoying beep is to turn off all audio notifications, which is highly advised. Because the vibration motor is unrefined, I'm still tempted to turn them off completely. There's no way to control how strong it is, and the buzz is too distracting.
Complaining about haptics may sound like someone complaining about the curvature of a fork in a restaurant, but when it happens 100 times a day or more, it counts.
SUUNTO 9 PEAK REVIEW: ADVENTURING CHOPS
Although there are several places where the Suunto 9 Peak series may be better, it does contain some key features that justify its status as a high-end sports watch.
In its Navigation mode, the most visible of these are present. You can design a route or import one using a gpx file after you have the Suunto app installed on your phone.
Suunto's software makes use of Mapbox maps, and creating a route may be as simple as tapping waypoints along the way. It will automatically snap to recognised routes and roads if you are hiking rather than riding, but you can switch to the free drawing mode for additional control if you are hiking rather than bicycling.
The program calculates distance and elevation, giving you a decent indication of what you're in for before you start walking. There are also "snap to" modes for various types of cycling to avoid rocky routes that would be a nightmare to ride on a road bike.
You can also save points of interest to allow you to travel to them without having to follow a set itinerary.
However, how do these routes appear on the watch? On-watch maps are not available on the Suunto 9 Peak. When you sync your routes, they display as line guides, free of the context of nearby roads, obstacles, and fields. The watch does, however, provide turn-by-turn navigation and a gauge of how near you are to the original path if you deviate from it for any reason.
It's possible that some of you will prefer this to full mapping. You can be sure you're not heading the wrong way on a country stroll without feeling tethered to a computerised map on your wrist or phone. Garmin, on the other hand, is putting a lot of pressure on you. Full on-watch maps are now available across the complete Fenix 7 line. You may data for entire countries and continents, giving you a far fuller experience.
Can you perform much navigation without the added context of actual maps if you don't plan everything ahead of time on your phone? You can, but you'll need to look a little harder. You can utilise the Your Location option to log a position at any time. This generates a coordinates reading, which appears to be somewhat worthless at first. You can, however, store these as "points of interest," marking them with key phrases from a pre-made library.
This will come in handy if you need to track the location of your tent, automobile, or a meeting spot. Suunto's tags also suggest that you may use it to find hunting spots, although we're not hunters.
SUUNTO 9 PEAK REVIEW: TRACKING AND ACCURACY
The Suunto 9 Peak also has an Exercise section, which includes the normal activity logging modes for everything from walking and cycling to yoga. Suunto's phone app also allows you to design your own modes, such as frisbee and fishing, by utilising tags.
Then, from a library of exactly 100 measures, you populate each stat panel with metrics of your choosing (if our counting is correct). Average vertical speed, maximum temperature, and projected time of arrival to your specified endpoint are just a few of the more intriguing data points you can have.
Apart from the heart rate sensor and GPS, these also make use of the Suunto 9 Peak's sensors: a temperature sensor, altimeter, and compass.
It contains all of the features that a high-end watch should have, as well as the ability to link to additional sensors via Bluetooth. A bike power metre, which is necessary for several of the info panels, is one of the more obvious uses here. The Suunto 9 Peak, on the other hand, lacks ANT+, which is a pity.
This watch also lacks the more user-friendly aspect of fitness tracking via a wristwatch. There are no properly guided workouts, no yoga sessions that demonstrate proper posture, and no planned weight-lifting activities. The only actual meat in the metrics in the yoga and weights modes is your heart rate and the time spent.
The GPS performance of the Suunto 9 Peak, on the other hand, has completely satisfied me. Once properly updated via the Suunto app, it takes up the position outside in a matter of seconds, and its logged distance over a 7.5km run was within 10m of the Garmin Epix. GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, and BEIDOU are among the location standards it supports.
The results of the heart rate test are less encouraging. During one workout where the intensity level was varied every few minutes, it landed on a way too low heart rate in around half of the greater stress parts, roughly 20 bpm lower than the Garmin Epix 2 and a chest strap readings. This means that the watch will rely too heavily on algorithm-driven error correction at times, and will occasionally get the short end of the stick.
Other times, however, the outcomes were flawless. If I were reviewing the Suunto 9 Peak at the time of its release, I'd say that these flaws could be remedied with a firmware update, but the watch has been out for a while.
SUUNTO 9 PEAK REVIEW: BATTERY LIFE
Suunto claims that the 9 Peak will last up to seven days in "smartwatch" mode, 14 days as a simple watch, or 25 hours of complete GPS tracking on a single charge. Lower-power modes, on the other hand, allow it to track hikes for up to 160 hours with fewer GPS location checks.
A one-hour, 20-minute recorded run depleted the battery by 6%, which is close to the claimed drain. You should expect the Suunto 9 Peak to last about six days if you use it for a couple of long runs or a shorter one every other day, with notifications from your phone.
That's not terrible, though there are lots of Garmins that last longer. The Venu 2S or Venu 2 Plus might be the ones to consider if you're searching for a softer-appearing watch. The last 11 and 9 days, respectively, but if you wish to employ their "always on" display modes, you may cut each of those numbers in half.
SUUNTO 9 PEAK REVIEW: VERDICT
The Suunto 9 Peak is a serious fitness watch with a casual appearance. It offers several cool navigation capabilities that hikers, campers, geocachers, and people who like to plan walks and runs before going out for them would find useful.
The totality of these features must be discovered beneath the surface, and there are no appropriate on-watch maps, but there is enough substance here.
Suunto should, however, consider overhauling its software in the future. While the brand doesn't require the detailed exercises featured in many more mainstream watches, it still appears unpolished and slow in 2022. This may not detract from your enjoyment, but it stands out in a watch that can cost up to $700.