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Suunto 9 Peak Pro Review & Comparison
Today Suunto announced a deceptively BIG update to last year’s Suunto 9 Peak and I’ve had a good amount of use of the new 9 Peak Pro so here is a detailed review of what I found, warts and all.
The Suunto 9 Peak Pro is Suunto’s top-end Outdoors/Adventure/Extreme/Multi-Sport watch whose key differentiators are its classy looks and extensive range of sporting features all packed into a smaller case that’s eminently suitable for smaller wrists. The Pro model retains every feature from the 9 Peak and adds running power from the wrist, a speedy new processor, a new GPS chip, a new HR sensor and an avalanche-risk map layer, all now beautifully presented with a wholly new look throughout its menus & screens.
This is a media watch directly from Suunto and I buy watches that I use for my own personal training.
Here’s a summary review of the Suunto 9 Peak Pro followed by an in-depth look at the new features and the Pro’s performance. Please buy from the links to support the work here. Thank you.
Suunto 9 Peak Pro Review
Suunto 9 Peak Verdict: A classy and competent outdoors watch for thinner wrists that builds on Suunto's extensive pedigree for adventurers and endurance athletes.
This small-format, outdoors adventure sports watch is built to a very high standard. The all-new 9 Peak Pro looks the part and its app & software features perform well for committed athletes and outdoor adventurers.
- Distinctive, classy 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, STRYD, CORE, ActiveLook Glasses/H.U.D.
- On-wrist running power calculation
- Improved menu aesthetics with clearly readable screens
- Many features to support complex navigation in your adventures (routes, POIs, bearing nav, storm warnings)
- 40 hours of high-resolution GPS-tracking, market-leading 300hr GPS battery life (Tour), battery management profiles and a full recharge within an hour
- Breadcrumb routes but no maps on the watch (smartphone maps on the app are good)
- Music control on your smartphone only
- Optical heart rate and GPS need some improvement
- No payments (try the Sunnto 7 for music, maps and payments)
- Display/Bezel – Suunto needs to introduce larger display sizes with smaller bezels.
- The watch occasionally lags (probably a teething bug that will be fixed)
Suunto 9 Peak – What’s New?
A lot! Suunto 9 Peak Pro looks identical to the 18-month-old 9 Peak but it has MANY internal upgrades that make it faster and many new screens that make it look prettier. I’ll list the new features below…it has many of those too
- A lower price point than the older 9 Peak model.
- New processor – it’s faster and more responsive to use
- More memory – better able to handle upgrades
- The new Sony GNSS/GPS chip allows connection to 32 simultaneous satellites from all systems.
- Yet another new charging puck
- New optical HRM sensor from LifeQ.
- New, faster user interface with improved readability through new fonts, use of colours and new screen visuals
- Customizable watch widgets/tiles
- 2 new watch faces, some older ones that were rarely used have been removed
- Running power is now calculated on the watch, no external sensors are needed though Stryd is still supported
- Snorkelling mode, Mermaid dive mode
- new Gravel Cycle mode
- Road surface map layer (app)
- Avalanche risk areas on maps (app)
- App store and mode detailed app guides (smartphone). Apps can now be updated without needing a watch firmware update
- New endurance mode (doesn’t require FusedTrack)
- MIL-STD-810 Durability accreditation
- On-watch Strava live segment support (Autumn 2022)
- Structured workout support (recently added)
- Strava route support (recently added)
- Suunto App Editor (for 3rd party app developers)
- Support for novel sensors like CORE and ACTIVELOOK HUD for Engo/Julbo/Cosmo sports glasses to show performance metrics and TBT directions.
- 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
Who Will Buy the Suunto 9 Peak Pro?
There are a number of Suunto devotees and collectors. There is a broader appeal too and some of these might describe you:
- You care about 24×7 aesthetics and want a genuine, smart sports watch to support non-trivial outdoors activities
- You have thin wrists and/or want a smaller-format watch
- You want a navigational & environmental tool 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 market-leading 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 or owners of older watches.
Realistically, it’s a watch designed to get Suunto new customers.
Suunto’s changes to their smartphone partner app over the last few years have now settled down nicely. It’s a good, very well-featured app. But better than that, Suunto has nicely progressed with their Suunto Plus apps and 3rd party integrations to the point where I was recently thinking “Oh, this is actually quite good now!”
The watch interface itself has undergone a mini revamp. A few, key changes have been made and the new aesthetics that follow definitely give 9 Peak Pro a more modern lease of life, but the menus are now getting packed full of many new competencies to the point where the watch is becoming a bike Garmin-like in the complexity of finding that elusive setting.
Suunto’s apps are more limited than Garmin’s in how and where you can use them but the flipside is that developers can more easily integrate new apps with Suunto.
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 Pro 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 mostly intuitive menus, however the new new processor seems slightly laggy going from screen to screen.
In the Box
The clean-looking & compact box contains yet another, new, proprietary USB charging puck, the Suunto 9 Peak Pro watch and pieces of paper you will never read.
Special Uses: Connected Health, Activity Tracking, Sleep, Fitness, Physiology Insights & Recovery
The Suunto 9 Peak Pro is a smartwatch so you get all the basic connected features like notifications and 24×7 HR.
The 9 Peak Pro 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 physiological features are extensive, they are also somewhat complex, unclear & unwieldy in places. In contrast to Suunto which has the key metrics in place for good-to-recreational level athletes, for example, readiness to train from an HRV-stress perspective as well as readiness-to-train from a TSB/CTL/ATL perspective. Those metrics are not as complex as the acronyms sound and there are also super-simple physiological numbers like ‘recovery time’ in hours. As you ramp up your training, these kinds of insights become crucial.
More Info: Suunto’s Training Load
Suunto’s platform is easily linked to your other favourite apps
New Software Features
The Suunto 9 Peak has all the features introduced since my initial review of the original Suunto 9, 9 Baro and 9 Peak. The new features today are mostly improvements a physically better watch plus new features on the Suunto app and revamped app store. The watch itself boasts a redesigned interface and the addition of running power calculated from the wrist.
Special Uses: Navigation & The Extremes
Suunto’s pedigree is the outdoors and it has historically produced watches for that market. The Outdoors is its job!
As the name PEAK implies, this watch is built for mountains. The lightweight titanium model’s shell is super durable and light. The SpO2 sensors can guide your acclimation to altitude and you can get warnings about upcoming storms. You could be 100m underwater or in -20Celcius temperatures and the Suunto 9 Peak Pro would still work. Just whacked it on a tree? Yep, it’ll probably still work and Suunto has proved that with a new tranche of MIL-STD-810 durability gradings
Here are some screens from the app to give you a flavour of heatmaps, POIs and route creation pus the new surface-type map overlay.
Suunto covers most of the bases for the more serious outdoors adventurer who wants to navigate. The Suunto 9 Peak Pro is a ‘workhorse on the wrist’ and is also a one-stop shop for directions, elevations, air pressures, temperature and more. The only major downsides here are that the Suunto 9 Peak Pro 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 Pro shares the same, wide-ranging sports features as previous models.
If you are a predominantly single-sport athlete then the Suunto 9 will 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, chest straps and now even smart glasses with a Heads-Up-Display.
Recreational multisports are nicely covered but if you are training seriously for Age Group triathlon glory then you’ll always buy a Garmin – if you are training for fun, enjoyment or a multisport 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. Suunto, Polar and Garmin all now have running power calculated solely from the wristwatch. Polar and Suunto are optionally open to running power from Stryd whereas Garmin’s running power is a proprietary affair although an excellent Stryd app can be used there.
There are many nice linkups with 3rd party sports services where you can share your stats with friends via Strava or impress them with a full Re-Live video of your route.
Special Uses: Running Power
The Suunto 9 Peak Pro is Suunto’s only watch that can calculate running power entirely within the watch. You don’t need Stryd, although Stryd will be used by default if it is paired to the 9 Peak and the internal calculations for running power will be switched to if Stryd ran out of battery.
Other than reminding you to correctly set your height and weight for running power to work, there’s not much else new to point out. Suunto has had a good, native, running power ecosystem for several years.
Special Feature: Battery
Every new Suunto comes with a massive boost in battery life compared to the previous model and this is no exception with a whopping 50% increase for the Pro model over the 9 Peak. Along with Garmin and Coros, these 3 brands offer mouthwateringly good battery lives.
GPS (full system) battery life is an impressive 40 hours and there is an impressively quick 10-minute fast charge time to get you 10 hours of training time. Batteries usually take a bit longer to charge the last 20% and so the full charge time is 60 minutes.
Suunto is usually conservative about their battery claims so the quoted figures have a good chance of reflecting reality.
Special Feature: SuuntoPlus
SuuntoPlus is the name Suunto gives to its apps. You can only use one of these at a time and a ‘clever’ page is added to your current workout. The page is ‘clever’ in the sense that it controls some alerts, a link to a sensor and the metrics that are shown on the page.
Suunto originally created apps called: Climb, for Hill training; Loop, to time repeated laps; and Sprint, to automatically identify, display and record efforts. However, there are now many more including apps created by 3rd party companies such as Stryd’s running pod, CORE body temperature monitor and for ActiveLook Head Up Display smart glasses.
The SuuntoPlus Store is the new App Store. Essentially it offers an easier way to find to a particular app and learn more about it. There are also detailed Guides for some apps such as the Running Form drills shown below.
Structured Workouts are another app.
The workouts contain a series of efforts and recoveries, often supplied for your watch as part of the purchase of a digital plan. Structured training is used by many runners and cyclists yet it is hard for smaller companies like Suunto to support it. Despite this being one of the key features of any credible sports watch, Suunto finally re-introduced this earlier in the year and the good news is that it works well and integrates with key sports training platforms like Training Peaks. Alternatively, you can easily and quickly create your own structured workouts on the app and the watch guides you through each step and alerts you if your efforts wander from your target. Suunto’s Workouts progress to the next step with the press of the lap button or when completed.
Here are a few screenshots from the Suunto app showing workouts made with pace and power targets. The last image shows how you can selectively send a workout to the watch and keep it as a favourite, although if you have purchased a plan workouts should be automatically scheduled in your calendar and disappear once the day has passed.
You can still use the old functionality to create ‘simple’ intervals and targets directly on the watch.
Suunto 9 Peak Pro Accuracy Review
TL;DR – The accuracy of all metrics generally looks pretty good and I’ve found nothing to worry me so far.
Suunto 9 Peak Pro GPS Accuracy & the new GPS Chip
Suunto’s new GPS chip is one of the latest generation multi-constellation chips from Sony. Suunto will not enable its multi-band/multi-frequency capability and there is only one mode of operation which simultaneously looks at all available satellite systems (GPS+QZSS, GALILEO, BEIDOU & GLONASS) potentially enabling the 9 Peak Pro to use 32 satellites simultaneously.
Over four runs and three rides in ‘normal’ conditions, the Suunto 9 Peak Pro performed well with its GPS and I have no complaints that I need to make. It was as good as the Forerunner 955 and better than the Apple Watch ULTRA. Sometimes under tree cover, it was off-course and sometimes its course seemed more jagged than I would have liked but I’m nitpicking there.
In my standard 10-mile GPS test of the Suunto 9 Peak Pro, the accuracy score was very much average and lacking significantly behind Garmin Epix 2 and Apple Watch Ultra. 9 Peak Pro had a track that was frequently too jagged and periodically, significantly off-track. Most of the time it was fine, certainly so at the high level as the following map of a sector of the route shows. Full details here.
Suunto 9 Peak Pro Elevation Review
The 9 Peak Pro doesn’t seem to be correctly picking up the manual elevation I have set at the start point. eg here I had it set to 18m but it starts at 0m.
That’s hopefully a minor glitch but auto-calibration didn’t seem to change anything on a different workout. Once moving, the Suunto’s elevation correctly tracks the other devices.
Suunto 9 Peak Pro Heart Rate Review
I was sometimes pleasantly surprised with the accuracy of the latest generation LifeQ oHR that has newly been included in the 9 Peak Pro; at other times…less so!.. Historically, Suunto’s wrist heart rate has been flakey on me regardless of the tech they’ve used, this time it’s better than I expected for the first uses of a new sensor but it needs work. At least it does for me and my types of usage (running, off-road running & cycling)
Suunto 9 Peak Pro Running Power Accuracy
These charts are not accuracy tests as such as we don’t know which device is ‘correct’ when it comes to any running power test. However, Suunto seems to broadly track Apple & Stryd. The Garmin 955 relies on different calculations and produces higher power values. That’s about all we can say!
Product Options – Cases, Straps & Prices
There are two case materials (titanium or steel), with 6 band colours with an RRP of Eu/$599-Eu/$629
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.
Suunto 9 Peak Pro Specs vs Suunto 9, 9 Peak and 5 Peak.
Here is the feature comparison from Suunto’s watch range. You can see it’s mostly the improved battery life, more accurate GPS and wrist running power that set the Pro model apart.
Suunto 9 Peak Review – Take Out
The Suunto 9 Peak Pro continues the company’s resurgence with more realistic pricing for the tricky economic conditions that seem to be upon us.
Another small format watch is an interesting move and perhaps Suunto has found a niche for the smaller-wristed amongst us seeking a refined look from a more compact, professional-level watch. The 9 Peak Pro doubles down on the kind of watch its predecessor was…it’s now just better in many respects. In other respects, it can’t really get much better – take the Grade 5 Titanium shell as an example.
Suunto’s app seems to be in a good place with most of the more significant updates and improvements being completed many months ago. Like most mature apps from the competitors, Suunto is now filling in the smaller, less significant gaps in its sports offering.
Suunto probably sees 3rd party apps and integrations as critical to long-term success and I suspect that’s true. SuuntoPlus watch apps do have their limitations but are straightforward for developers to create and now are more easily discovered by us athletes in Suunto’s new app store.
Maps and map intelligence remain the main omission on the watch. However, you have to question the true usefulness of maps on small displays. When deciding which fork to take at a junction, maps might give you an edge over TBT and a breadcrumb route but I suspect that a small watch face even pushes Garmin watch owners to consult the larger maps on the phones app we all carry with us.
Suunto watches also have a ‘certain style‘ and it’s a style that I personally have liked a lot for many years. The Suunto 9 Peak Pro really does exude style and quality construction more than any Suunto that has come before it and perhaps better than most Garmins in that respect. The quality of the physical package is also supported by the quality of the physical sensors which are up to demanding outdoors tasks.
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