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Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review – Biggest Battery Wins!

Suunto has been gradually refining the Spartan line of watches over the years. The Suunto 9 is the companies latest top of the line watch, and they have made some very competitive improvements

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Suunto 9 MulitSport GPS Watch Review – Biggest Battery Wins!

The Suunto Spartan series has had a troubled series of watches. Good watches, which could quite make the leap up to great. Things changed last year with the Sunnto Spartan Trainer releasing a great watch, especially from a price and features perspective.

So with Suunto’s latest uber watch, features and tweaks from lower in the line have trickled upwards, and have had another round of tweaks and refinements from the firmware team.

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Currently the Suunto 9 is available in white and black, but hopefully, over time we’ll see a few more variants across the range regarding colours and materials as we did with the previous Suunto Spartan Ultra

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Let’s be honest here, Suunto has been playing catchup in several important areas when it compares to Garmin. It must be acknowledged they have lead in some less crucial, but really useful ways, which address basic smart multisport watch functionality.  IThe Suunto 9 was launched within a month of the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, and most people looking at one of those watches will also be comparing the two for a purchase. So with that in mind, I think it’s going to be worth while occasionally bring the two watches directly into comparison for a tussle during this post

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Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review – Design

So what has Suunto put in the box for us?

Inside the box, we have a couple of manuals, the actual Suunto 9, a charge cable, and tiny Suunto sticker – nothing really mind blowing

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From the front, the Suunto 9 is dominated by the screen, on the black version of the watch, made to feel all the larger with the glass border before the bezel

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The Sunnto 9 ups the style points with a slightly chamfered inside to the metal bezel giving a nice splash of visual relief in against the otherwise black and black design.

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I’m really not a fan of scratches on metal bezels, and I’m pleased to say that over the month or so I’ve been knocking around with the Suunto 9, I’ve been very surprised how well the watch has held up, even after some surprising knocks while falling off bouldering walls!

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On the Suunto 9, we have a return of the Suunto touch screen. I’ve never been a fan of this, and still feel it doesn’t add any additional functionality to the unit. The only time I ever use it is to swipe back whilst deep in a menu, or occasionally toggle the back lightTitaniumGeek IMG 0501 2 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 0501 2

To be clear, I have no issue per say with touchscreens. The Polar touch screen devices work well, as obviously do the Apple and Samsung touch screen watches. BUT that is because touch is their primary mode of input, and the whole operating system is built around it. On the Suunto series, I gain no particular benefit from the touch screen, and find the buttons much easier to navigate around.

There is only one section of the Suunto system I have found where you need to use the touch screen. When looking at any of the data displays on the widgets, if you see two circles, such as with the barometer display, it means you can tap the display to review another page of data – so altitude and then temperature. But this still feels clumsy. I’d have much preferred just another button press TitaniumGeek 2BD12048 F328 4397 8F4F D8817C8A35AE Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of 2BD12048 F328 4397 8F4F D8817C8A35AE

PLEASE Suunto, ditch the touchscreen and bring the price down a bit instead. The Suunto Trainer doesn’t have the touchscreen and is all the better for it!

Staying with the screen for a moment, the backlight isn’t particularly bright, even at 100%. I appreciate that you can’t really see how bright things are from the picture, but for comparison, 100% on the Suunto 9 is about 40% brightness on the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (heck I can often use the Fenix as a rudimentary torch at night!)

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Back to the controls, on the RIGHT side of the case, we have the three afore mentioned buttons which navigate through the Suunto 9

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If we move to the left side of the watch, there is the Suunto Barometer

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This allows the watch to give altimeter and temperature data, as well as the pressure reading

Concerning button effects, middle button on the right side works as a “select” option, and the two outside buttons mainly act as menu navigation. Due to the software, all buttons can be contextual, with the function being indicated on the screen at the time if different from normal

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Similarly, the button functions can change with long presses – holding down the middle button, for example, will bring up a shortcut screen

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From the watch face screen, pressing the top button will take you through the functions of the watch: Exercises –> Navigation –> Logbook –> Timer —> Settings

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The down button, again from the main watch screen goes to your daily metrics, with the MIDDLE and bottom LEFT buttons then allowing your to scroll through any additional fields a metric might have

Whilst going down, you scroll through: Heart Rate –> Steps –> Training –> Altitude –> Sleep Tracking

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The heart rate widget is a good example of the additional screens off a widget. On the heart rate screen, pressing the middle button will bring you to 24×7 HRM tracking.

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Pressing the bottom button will then flick the trend screen over to give an estimated calorie burn per hour. All in, a much more useful screen than just a straight forward HR reading

This is probably a good time to look at the heart rate sensor on the Suunto 9, a Valencell system which we have now seen Suunto role out on several devices nowTitaniumGeek IMG 0509 2 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 0509 2

The Suunto have returned to having the sensor molded as part of the casing. I really think that this is the best approach so far. Other smart watches, even the Suunto Trainer, has the HRM as a separate part of the case, and regardless of how well things are sealed, there is still a join, which in turn can trap dirt, which in term can potentially cause skin irritations

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For the style conscious, it is worth pointing out that the straps on the Suunto 9 straps are quick release, but also of a standard 24mm size. TitaniumGeek IMG 1006 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 1006

So whilst the Suunto 9 is only available with OEM white and black straps you can also fit the strap from the Suunto Baro, so you so have access to at least a funky looking orange if you want something a little less black. The regular sizing approach means that you could also buy any “normal” watch straps to go with the unit as well.

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Above the optical HRM is the charging/ communication connector. Again as a direct port over from the previous Spartan range. That is no bad thing, as the cable and the port themselves are very robust, and the magnet for the connection is fiercely strong. You are not going to have an issue getting this watch attached to the charger

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Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Specification

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  • Screen Resolution: 320 x 300 – with sapphire crystal
  • Weight: 81 g
  • Bezel: Stainless steel (as this matters to some people)
  • Communication: BlueTooth – no ANT+ here, which will always be a deal breaker for some
  • Sensors: Altimeter, Digital compass, Optical Heart Rate
  • Battery – 14-day watch mode, three different durations with three different GPS options 25h/40h/120h
  • Waterproofing: 100 m
  • Activities: >80
  • Standard features: GPS, Valencell HRM, 24/7 activity tracking, HRM works with swimming

Whilst we are on the “watch” specification, might be worthwhile highlight an example of Suunto being held back by astonishingly small annoyances. When you change time zones the Suunto 9 doesn’t change with you. Not even an update pushed out via the phone app. Perhaps even more surprisingly, no time zone change when the watch connects to GPS

Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Manual

The Suunto 9 manual is available HERE


Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Using the Watch

When you switch on the Suunto 9 for the first time, you go through all the usual set up procedures, language, and body stats, etc.

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Still, once you have played around with things, input your data into the watch, it’s time to install the MountsCount App either from iTunes or Google Play – which will allow you to be notified of any firmware updates… but ONLY notified

In spite of the other lessons that Suunto has clearly taken to heart, you still need to plug the Suunto 9 into the computer *sigh* to change some of the deeper setting on sports, such as whether the unit will look for a separate HRM as well as use the internal hrm, and to rearrange exercise fields

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Suunto is in the process of transitioning over the a new Sports Tracker web platform to review all of your data in one. Frankly I feel that the transition should happen when the platform is built, not under construction, as a result, I’ve only used the Movescount software for this review – largely as I actually like the activity display in that site.

Yes I cant used the Movescount to view my sleep or activities, but the Suunto 9 watch can display a week’s worth of data, and in a clear manner, so I don’t feel I’m missing anything, while keeping my MovesCount setup

Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Smart Watch Features

A Bluetooth connection to your phone, to the new Suunto app app, will allow the Suunto 9 to receive smart notifications from your phone. TitaniumGeek IMG 0533 2 1 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 0533 2 1

So now you’ll get all the Facebook birthday reminders and other daily distractions directly to your wrist

TitaniumGeek IMG 1111 2 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 1111 2In a major update to the smart messaging system for Suunto, there is now a way of seeing old messages on the watch. From the watch face, pressing the middle button bring you to a sort of stages screen, with a dot and a number at the bottom. This number relates to the number of stored notifications. From here, you can press the down button and view the previous message. Although not interact with them as Android Fenix 5 Plus users can

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You also get the simple, smart watch functions allowing you to see who is calling, and dismiss them if need be

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From a smart watch perspective, i.e. a watch that something will live on your wrist most of the time, the Do Not Disturb function in the Suunto 9 is terrific. You can toggle it from the shortcuts menu for going to the cinema etc., or have it come on with a timer

TitaniumGeek IMG 1061 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 1061BUT and this is the bit that I LOVE not only does it protect your quiet time from notification alerts, but also dramatically pairs down the watch overall, rendering the Suunto 9 into “just” a time piece

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No step counting, no activity profiles, no move reminders, just a watch telling the time.Only a small thing, but I certainly like it, and is a very good way of actually helping you to disconnect

Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Activity Tracking

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As mentioned above, the activity tracking on the Suunto 9 is quite straightforward but does have some interesting points regarding providing the user with summaries

If you hit your goal, in my case of the default 10,000 steps, the Suunto 9 will buzz and give you an overview of your activity that day, telling you exactly where you have been active

Similarly, at the end of the week, you’ll get a little week report flash up on the  Suunto 9 which is actually quite a nice little feature if you’ve been a little lazy of late and gives you pause to thought. The converse is also true, if you are absolutely shattered, this unbidden overview of the week might make you realise if you are overtraining

TitaniumGeek IMG 0092 2 2 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 0092 2 2By comparison to the Garmin watches have more in-depth info in their app, but the Suunto watches tend to give a better overview of a persons activity. Or perhaps a different way of saying it would be that it is displayed in a clearer way that a greater number of people will be able to understand.

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Sleep tracking is available with the Suunto 9, but is oddly not enabled by default. You’ll find the option to enable it, nestled deep at the bottom of the first menu. It’s a little strange, as I would have thought it made more sense to either enable by default, or engaged during the in the initial setup,?

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The setup is a relatively standard; you tell the Suunto 9 when you normally go to sleep, and then when you usually wake, allowing the watch to more easily track your slumber. From there, tracking will begin automatically, and interestingly enough will also give an indicator of what your sleeping heart rate is, in a wrist version of the Beddit Sleep monitor. 

When you wake in the morning you a greeted by a brief overview of the previous night’s slumber

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Scrolling down this night report will give you: Sleep duration –> Variation from your target time –> Average heart rate –>Time fell asleep –> Time waking up –>Time awake –> Deep sleep duration.

You can also view your sleep data at any time, and also review the above report for the last week of nights from the sleep widget at the very bottom of the widgets from the clock face screen

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You can see part of the fractured Suunto ecosystem at play here. To view your sleep data, you have to use the Sports Tracker system, where as for the exercise activities, the vast majority of useful data is uploaded to Movescount.

Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Watch Faces

The Suunto 9 has a user choice of seven watch face options. However, the movements on the different watches are fixed

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I ended up using the above face, simply for the extra data of the steps, and frankly, it seemed the most, well, useful.TitaniumGeek IMG 1022 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 1022

You can quickly change your watch faces by long pressing the central button on the main which will bring up the shortcut menu, as mentioned earlier

Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Cycling

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There is now a plethora of optical heart rate enabled watches on the market, so it makes sense that the tests done from here on look at a Garmin unit, the Suunto 9 obviously, a Polar OH1 and a chest strap, in this case the 4iiii Viiiiva . This 20km ride was done out whilst visiting the SeeSense team to look at their pending ACE bike light – some great cycling in Northern Ireland!

Well, the Suunto 9 clearly had a few issues on this ride, most notable missing the toughs when I was probably going down hills. That said, noen of the units came out covered in glory particuarllyAt least the Fenix 5 Plus (black), the Polar OH1 (yellow) and the 4iiii Viiiva (red) and the less said about the Wahoo Tickr Fit, the better, clearly too much Guinness the night before

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Just pulling away from Suunto here for a moment. I actually thought I’d loaded the wrong data file when the Wahoo came out looking like this, but I hadn’t. There is an argument to say I should have junked the graph, and done another ride – saying the vibration from cycling are notorious for interfering with wrist-mounted optical sensors… but the Garmin and Polar units didnt seem to object too much, and the Wahoo TickrFit, was mounted on the opposite arm, same position (bicep) as the OH1.

However, this was the test ride that I did, and if I’d been using any of the other units along, this is the result I would have had to work without, without knowing any different. So the graph stays. Even if I had somehow inadvertently caused part of the issues here (I cant see how) any user could encounter the same. Anyway back to our scheduled broadcast

Also of note, as this is the first activity we’ve done, when you have completed your work out, you get a recovery advisor which pops up at the end of every activity telling you when you are good to go again

Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Running

I think out of the box, the strongest suit that the Suunto 9 has is running. Especially as there is running with power is deeply built right into the watch. Remember Suunto was the first to work with Stryd natively, and simply things work as expected when you hit the run with power activity.

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You can set power zones now directly on the watch, both for cycling and running. Which is great, however taking away with the other hand, you cant adjust custom fields for an activity on the watch, you need to use the MovesCount app. Do you see what I mean? When a say a good watch, just held back from greatness by large series of tiny things.

The same is true again when looking more closely at the Stryd system, yes native power with running, and yes custom zones, but no access to the other running metrics from Stryd

OK, but enough of the setup, sometimes a run can be overly complicated! To the fields!!

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I’ll be honestly I really prefer having the powered running built right into the watch, and no need to sideload apps etc. Yes, I might not have more detailed information on the run, but just being able to have the system working as it does out of the box is great.

You can set the Suunto 9 to display lap averages, and view as you go along – but not showing average power. Some a little bit more power related info on the laps would be nice. See above comment about great watch hidden inside, it’s not just that the Suunto does not support a feature, that I can live with. It is the surprise at the features which are not included. If you’ve gone to the trouble of baking in power with running, why not add a few more ways to access the data?

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At the end of the run, you get the break down displayed on the device

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You can easily scroll through this data on the watch screen

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Or have it all displayed in a very easily accessible manner from the MovesCount website for you to dig into.

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But if you look closely most of the metrics are to do with your activity, on the route. What you don’t get the additional running metrics recorded quietly to review later, as you do with Suunto swim heart rates.

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As alluded to above, some niggles remain. You have to select a particular exercise, eg “Running with power”. You can’t merely attach the Stryd pod to the running exercise. Different sensors, need different apps, so a running basic and a run if with power app exists which is a rather unusual way of dealing with things. The same is also true of cycling with power meters, which also needs two different exercise apps – basic and with power.

So in terms going for a run, how does the optical HR fair?

TitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2018 08 10 at 18.32.03 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of Screen Shot 2018 08 10 at 18.32.03Well on the first run, the Suunto 9 didn’t really cover itself in glory, clearly doing its own thing at the start. After things settle, but the Sunnto 9 remained reading a touch high

A couple of runs, and a firmware update later, and the Suunto 9 is much more in line with the other heart rate monitors I test with

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It is worth while noting that the graphs have a 2-second smoothing applied to them, to make the trends a touch clear. When we do that, while we can see that all the heart rate traces are now within the same ball park the Suunto 9 reads slightly high, but also tends to wander around within about 2-3 BPM. Looking at the pattern, it which seems to show regular oscillations, it appears as if the Suunto 9 fighting part of the actual calculation algorithm, which may be related to data input

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Although being fair, the Garmin Fenix 5 Pus does seem to have a fractional lag when it comes to adapting to changes in HRM

Unlike standard chest straps which record you pulse through electrical impulses, optical HRM’s are looking for changes in optical signals, which could also be induced by vibrations through the sensor device, such as high cadence running. What i think has happened is the Suunto might be getting interference from the vibration from my cadence rather than the pulse from my wrist, but changing the tightness of the strap did not appear to improve things.

One of the crowning features of the Suunto 9 is the hugely impressive battery life for during activities. Part of this is possible through reducing the number of GPS data points and letting the watch fill in the blanks – more of that in the open water swimming section – you’ll see why when you get there.

The point being, that if you have one of the battery modes engaged which utilises the FuseTrack system, you’ll be asked to calibrate the compass before you can start. Was was a touch surprised to see this on my first run out of the box!TitaniumGeek IMG 1071 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 1071

Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Swimming

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Swimming is one area that Suunto has managed to bring something unique to the table – functioning optical HRM in the pool! From the MovesCount site you can view the different fields on the swimming apps, but crucially you cannot adjust these fields

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However, unlike the optical HRM on the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, and Garmin’s other units for that matter, the Suunto 9 allows you to see your live heart rate data in the pool, or on your open water swim. Although between you and me, I’m not sure how useful instant optical HRM is whilst swimming. I’m normally a little too busy flailing my arms to check my watch. Heart rate zones with an audio feedback I think are more than sufficient thanks!

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When you go for a pool swim, before hitting start there is an options menu which will allow you to select your pool length – either from the default 25m, 50m, and 25 yard and 50-yard pools, or custom pool size from 15 m all the way to 330m!!!

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Then you do the whole splish splash thing

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I would advise in the Movescount app, toggling the screen power save OFF for swimming. The Suunto 9 doesn’t have an “activate at a glance” to view the screen, and it is much easier to use in this activity with the light permanently on. I’m going to talk about this in more detail here. There IS an industry leading multi-sports watch hidden in the firmware of the current Suunto range, and it’s so tantalisingly close I could scream. But it’s the little things, like not have an active “at a glance” backlight function which I feel is holding things back. Not one major point, just a lot of little things

You can review your swim on the watch after, but get a much better overview from MovesCount online

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As an interesting aside, the watch can detect your swimming style, here, basically pushing a bit, and then deciding just to have a relax for the latter half – we can all have a lazy day at times!

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Suunto 9 Open Water Swim

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Here I had a bit of a surprise. I don’t normally put much time into testing out the GPS chips within the sports watches, as long as watches are in the ballpark I’m happy. When doing the 5km run tests, there was a not inconsiderable spread of 0.1km between the Polar M460, Sunnto 9, iPhone X GPS, and Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. With the Suunto actually being the furthest outlier. For my training, I just don’t need military-level GPS distance calculation; I’m more interested in knowing my power outputs, and cardiac work load – which is an entirely different discussion.

However there is a considerable difference between being a handful of meters out, and nearly 600m out as I saw when testing the open water swim between the Fenix 5 Plus and the Suunto 9. I initially saw some variation between the watches, but I was largely just going for a swim for fun, noted it, but didn’t really do any formal recording.

But it still nagged at it, so out for a set swim at the beach between piers, so a known distance. The Garmin was set to record for accuracy, with GPS and Glonass enabled, and the Suunto 9 set for performance, again, to get the best accuracy

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So measuring the same distance on google maps showed approx 700m point to point, I’m not going to get hung up on 4m from on Google Maps. From here we need to make some assumptions to determine which watch is closer to the truth regarding the distance measured

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Garmin is suggesting 1.4Km, almost exactly double to measured distance on Google maps, now it is clear I didn’t go in a perfectly straight line from A to B. But is it possible that I floundered around for another 600m, over one-third of the total distance? Sure the swim isn’t my strongest suit, but I’m a long way from flailing around like a drowning man!

Now MovesCount defaults to MapBox as a mapping program, but you can easily change it to Google Maps, to match the Garmin Connect use of Google Maps. Looking at the detail in the Suunto 9’s trace (in green)

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The comparing with the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (in red)

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I do appreciate that the real mistake here is mine. Doing an open water swim test with only two devices with me. I’d daftly assumed as the calculations on the bike, and the runs were reasonable on earlier tests, so would the water swim be, and didn’t need to add a third device to my luggage!

Initially I had hoped that this might be the FusedTrack may be coming into play – where the Suunto 9 uses the compass function, and accelerometer, in concert with the gyroscope, when the GPS signal is lost, or in Ultra battery mode – i.e. taking a reading every 120 secs and filling in the missing data points using a calculation from these other inputs. However, a quick review of the actual system confirmed I’d got things backwards. The FuseTrack is ONLY active for trail and normal runs, due to the regularity of data coming the accelerometer etc. on the run, as most people tend to hold a roughly normal pace when running.

So I’m going to chalk this one down the Sunnto 9 as greater accuracy. Although conceptually it would be interesting to see if the FuseTrack technology could be applied to an open water swim in the future, using perhaps a calibration from an indoor swim?

Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Indoor Cycling

One issue that personally bugs me about the Suunto system right now, but might concern fewer people, is the way Suunto handles sensors. This is particularly obvious when it comes to handling cycling sensor pairing. While I do have a lot of duplicate sensors in the Zwift cave, most people with have one heart rate monitor, and if they are lucky, a foot power pod. But it is not unusual to have more than one bike, which in turn may mean two cadence sensors perhaps

TitaniumGeek IMG 1073 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 1073Similarly, in the Zwift World, it is not unusual to have more than one power meter. That being one for the bike, and possibly one in the smart turbo. Here in liest the problem, I have the Tacx Neo, Elite Drivo II, 4iiii Precision and PowerTap P1 pedals broadcasting. So I search on the Suunto 9…

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Then the Suunto 9 searches and connects… great! But I have zero idea what it has paired to!

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If you look on the sensor page on the Suunto 9 in the settings of the watch, there is merely a Bike pod connected – no identifying features as to which of the units actually is sending the data. Which is a bit naff when BlueTooth sensors have the ability to broadcast more detailed names, rather than the ANT+ sensor ID

TitaniumGeek IMG 1080 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 1080This limitation might not both many people, but it is still a poor management approach to sensors

So we’ve already covered cycling, and running, and given that the optical heart rates were not brilliant on the bike, it seems reasonable to compare the how the heart rate sensor functions on a Zwift spin, as that should remove the issues with vibration.

The Suunto 9 does read fractionally high, but overall we have a much better trace here from all devices

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Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch

While we’ve looked over the big three sports, the Sunnto 9 has on board access to all of the 78 sports profiles from the Movescount site, really pushing that multisport title

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To access them, simply select Exercises

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Scroll to the bottom of the menu to see Other,

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After selecting that you can select any of the above sports directly off the watch.

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After you have used any activity, when you reopen the Exercise menu, the last used exercise will be at the top, which is actually rather helpful.

Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Navigation

When using the Navigation function you have a couple of options as to what you want to do – go to POI or a Route.

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The Suunto 9, unlike the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus though, has no internal maps available. So you have to use the Movescout website for populating the watch yourself, otherwise you’ll see nothing. So here I’ve just having dropped in a GPX file into MovesCount before a ride later. You can use auto store POI on the watch, but these will be personal POIs you have been to – you cant just say “navigate to cash point.”

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When you select a loaded route on the watch, you get a brief overview of the route, before you activate. With the route, you are then going to follow a bread crumb trail.

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If you do use the watch to navigate to a POI, e.g., as there is no map, there is also no breadcrumb trail. Now you are simply given a heading in which you need to be travelling, the blue arrow, which the unit wants you to orientate so that it is between the two blue notches as the 12 O’clock position. In the centre, you’ll also see the distance to your target, and ETA, whilst on the outside is a smaller red arrow highlighting north

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This is one area where the Suunto 9 is soundly beaten compared to the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, even when looking at price differences. Although personally, I tend not to use the navigation much at all, so it’s up to you how much weight you’ll put on this feature. Cool to have, a little like that barometer feature on the Suunto 9, but it doesn’t really affect my usage of the watch.

Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Battery Life

Now here is where Suunto have put a lot of time and effort, and as a result have produced a power management system which blows ALL other multisport watches out of the water currently. PERIOD

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When you load up a particular exercise, running, cycling, skiing, whatever, there is an options box, below the Start button. Pressing the bottom LEFT button will bring up an exercise specific option menu

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Inside this menu you can adjust various setting including those relating to battery life, and it is in here that Suunto has their battery magic – admittedly within another submenu, “Battery mode” –TitaniumGeek 9642592B A3D7 4C37 B699 85BD86C1E9C3 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of 9642592B A3D7 4C37 B699 85BD86C1E9C3

On the Sunnto 9 you get to choose Battery performances of : Performance, Endurance and Ultra, and then see the effect on battery life on the screen, up to 106 hours of activity, WITH GPS recording, using the presets.

You can go further into the battery life via the custom menu, which really does open a raft of toggles. But again Suunto have simplified the complex workings of the watch. For example on the GPS modes you can select GPS accuracy: Best, Good, or OK.

TitaniumGeek IMG 1030 Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch Review   Biggest Battery Wins! Cycling Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running Sports Watches  watch Suunto running optical HRM multisport HRM GPS   Image of IMG 1030This is a major difference, and frankly, much better system than the Garmin has, allowing you to go through the various permutations of GPS, Galileo and position recording intervals, as you don’t see then result there. On the Suunto 9, choose your options, confirm you are happy with the battery life, and off you go.

But what happens if you screwed up the setting, or forgot to change for your even? As an additional squeeze to the battery life, you are also able to adjust the battery settings on the fly, as the watch will give you battery alerts, with estimated run times as the battery depletes, giving you the option to quickly adjust something to get you to the end.


Suunto 9 GPS Multisport Watch – Conclusion

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Suunto has clearly done a lot of work to improve on the Suunto Spartan range since it first launched. I think it is quite telling though that Suunto has dropped the Spartan name now, going for a clean break with the Sunnto 9. I think that the new Suunto 9 is certainly a contender in the way that the original Suunto Spartan Ultra could never hope to be.

The new Suunto 9 straddles two worlds. The hyper detailed sporting world, where monitoring is everything, and perhaps what I’d term the serious weekend warrior world, and perhaps, just perhaps it is better for it.

Whilst I’ve been writing this review, I’ve had a series of little irritations with the Suunto 9. Pet peeves which just niggle, but do stop ME personally moving over the Suunto 9 as a daily watch – the lack of “at a glance” activation of the backlight. The irritatingly poor sensor management system which should have been updated years ago.

I don’t like the inability to put custom watch faces on the Suunto 9. I don’t like that I can’t adjust the widgets to my preference. The smart messaging system, while finally here should be a touch easier to get to. I wish that ANT+ was enabled. I find the touch screen utterly pointless

Do you know what annoys me most though, what really get’s my goat so to speak

NONE OF THIS MATTERS!

The Suunto 9 is a cracking watch, it is well built, it has all the features a normal human could want, and it spent more time on my wrist than the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, as that was on charge every few days.

Everything on the Suunto 9 works, ok the HRM works in that it is “in the ballpark”. It is really simple for most people to just pick up and use. You don’t need a degree in satellite technology to get the most out of the battery life.

Yes if you want music on your wrist, you’ve got to go Garmin or Apple currently. But I think most people actually run with their phones as a safety/comms device first and foremost, NOT as a music device.

Garmin Pay currently is very limited, such that for me, it’s currently useless. Plus there would be a strong case to suggest Sunnto should be adding ANT+ before an NFC chipset.

Navigation – for people who need it, that is going to be a deal breaker, that’s just a fact.

But for everything else, the Suunto 9 works. Half way through writing this review I remembered why I love the Polar M430 so much – it just works. The Suunto 9 it the top tier “it just works” multisport watch.

 

If you want complexity (not that this is a bad thing) go for the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (and keep your charge cable handy). Suunto 9 has NAILED battery life with a serious multisport watch, without the complexity.

Heck staying with complexity, look at how difficult it is to get the Stryd and running with power set up – pair sensor and go. That. Is. It

Yes, I’d like the additional data from the other running metrics from Stryd on the Suunto 9. Yes, I’d like a little more data on power present on the lap screens. But that isn’t the point of the Suunto 9. The point of the Suunto 9 is to work, and no matter how great your device is – see Apple Watch here as well as the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus – when your multisport watch has run out of juice, it’s just a heavy bracelet.

I’m going to give the Suunto 9 a TG 4/5 score. Some of the little niggles, are just too niggly to displace my Garmin Fenix 5 (not the Plus) from my wrist, but damn it wouldn’t take much…

Maybe even a yellow strap (which we all appreciate makes ALL sports devices better :P)

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James Gill

Author of TitaniumGeek, which started after smashing off my RIGHT elbow. Feel free to drop me a line about sports tech, medicine, or frankly anything that you want to chat about!!