1. Verdict
  2. Design and comfort
  3. Performance and software
  4. GPS and accuracy
  5. Training metrics and data
  6. Battery life gains

Suunto 9 Peak Pro review

Suunto's sleek watch let down by some familiar software issues
Wareable Suunto 9 Peak Pro
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Suunto 9 Peak Pro
By Suunto
If the Suunto 9 Peak Pro was a sports watch designed to show the best of Suunto, then it might be worrying times. While the shift in design thinking is a firm step forward, the software both on and off the watch feels more like a step backward. What was once a brand fighting with Garmin and Polar also has to contend with newcomer Coros and Coros arguably offers a better all-round package navigation issues aside. Is the Suunto 9 Peak the best Suunto sports watch you can buy? Yes, it probably is. Is it the best sports watch you can buy at around this price? Absolutely not and Suunto is struggling to make a good case that you should go for its watches over other watches that are out there.

Hit
  • Sleek case and comfortable design
  • Strong battery life
  • Good GPS performance
Miss
  • Still sluggish and unintuitive software
  • No full mapping support
  • Training analysis doesn’t match its rivals

The Suunto 9 Peak Pro is the newest version of Suunto’s top-end multisports watch, with a big focus on battery life and sustainability.

The Finnish brand claims the Peak Pro has been built using 100% renewable energy, and over the watch’s lifetime, it will only use the same amount of CO2 as driving a petrol car for 44km.

Sustainable production credentials aside, it’s made changes on the software and performance front, which was a sore point on the non-pro Suunto 9 Peak. 

It also promises more accurate GPS and delivers longer battery life to keep you tracking for longer.

But it has a chunky price tag that, puts it around the Garmin Fenix 7, Polar Grit X Pro, and Coros Vertix 2

While the Suunto 9 Peak delivered better on the design front than the standard 9, it simply didn’t better rival watches at the same price. Has that changed with the Suunto 9 Peak Pro?

Here’s our take on how it performs.

Design and comfort

The Suunto 9 Peak was arguably the most attractive watch the company has built so far. It was light, had a sleek metal case and bezel, and finally felt like a Suunto watch you’d be glad to have on your wrist.

With the Peak Pro, thankfully Suunto hasn’t shifted away from that more refined look, but there are still some things we don’t love about it.

We’ll start with the good. You get six different models to pick from here and you still have the option of a stainless steel or a titanium bezel, like the one we tested. 

Each uses the same 43mm case as the Suunto 9 Peak, although the case is now just slightly thicker (10.8mm up from 10.6mm).

There’s sapphire crystal glass and a silicone watch band you can easily remove if you fancy dropping in another of Suunto’s bands. 

Though, we found the clasp on this band had a very annoying habit of popping out of the strap holes, particularly when taking it to bed.

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It’s a nicely weighted watch to wear for exercise and never felt cumbersome to wear during the day, so there’s a lot Suunto has got right as far as giving this 9 Peak Pro all-day wear appeal.

What’s not so great is that Suunto hasn’t budged from giving it the fat bezel it included on the Peak, and that bezel eats into the amount of screen you have to play with. 

It’s the same 1.2-inch, 240 x 240 resolution matrix touchscreen display, which is backed up by a very bright backlight. Visibility indoors and outdoors has been fine overall. But while you do have some color on that display, they are muted and it lacks vibrancy.

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The biggest issue, however, is that the screen is too small for our liking. The screen’s touch responsiveness is good on the whole but as we’ll get into later, there are some performance issues here to deal with.

Suunto sticks to the same level of waterproofing here, so it gets a 10ATM rating, so it is good for snorkeling, swimming, and watersports. You can read our water-proofing explainer here.

Basically you’re getting the same watch as the Suunto 9 Peak here, which is slightly thicker and unfortunately has the same display, which lets down an otherwise attractive-looking sports watch from Suunto.

Performance and software

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The software experience on the Suunto 9 Peak was pretty horrible. Whatever was powering the performance on that watch simply wasn’t good enough and the interface in general needed some work.

Suunto says it’s improved things on that front by packing in a more powerful processor and has made improvements to the UI that should make it a more intuitive watch to use.

We’d say that some improvements have been made on both those fronts, but there are still unfortunately some lingering issues here.

We’ll start with that promised processor boost, which does seem to have improved things slightly when you’re using the physical buttons to get around menu screens, but when you start swiping the screen it’s laggy. Saving a workout takes a little longer than it should, and general loading and launching of modes and features do labor. 

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The software itself does take some getting used to as well and we’re not entirely sold on where things live.

From the main watch face, you can swipe down to get into the main workout screen. Swiping up gets you to features like navigation, workout history, and modes like media controls and enabling the backlight.

You can then swipe left and right to see widgets for things like blood oxygen monitoring, activity tracking stats, setting timers, and seeing additional fitness insights. 

These tweaks do impact how well the Peak Pro performs as a smartwatch and fitness tracker as well.

First and foremost, we often experienced syncing and pairing issues with the iPhone 14 we tested it alongside where it randomly chose when to connect and not connect to our phone.

The presentation of features like notifications feels clunky too while music controls are a bit better presented. You can change watch faces, but that screen simply doesn’t elevate watch faces.

What we also found is that the integration of physical controls and touchscreen controls feels muddled as well. The learning curve to use that software took longer than other watches and coupled with the sluggish performance and the imbalance of when touchscreen controls and physical controls are in use creates a very unintuitive experience overall.

GPS and accuracy

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The level of sports tracking you get on the Suunto 9 Peak Pro is the same as what Suunto gave us on the 9 Peak. 

There are now 95 sports modes as opposed to 80, and the core ones remain swimming, running, and cycling along with multisports and freediving modes also supported. Fancy tracking some mermaiding? Suunto has got you covered as well. 

We’ve managed to use running (indoors and outdoors), open-water swimming, and indoor rowing modes, and all have offered activity-specific metrics.

On the outdoor tracking front, you can connect to any of the five supported satellite systems and up to 32 satellites simultaneously, but it lacks the new dual-band and multi-band modes we’ve seen on rival watches from Garmin, Polar, Coros, and even the Apple Watch Ultra. It does have a new all-systems GNSS chipset matching what Coros added to its cheaper Apex 2 watch.

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The GPS performance can be good when you’re not left painfully long to pick up a signal, which is something we experienced in a lot of our early testing time.

Suunto still offers your pick of Best, OK or low GPS recording rates and we used it in that Best mode up against the Garmin Epix set to its best and very reliable multi-band tracking mode. 

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When it did lock on, the outdoor run stats like distance tracking and average pace while not identical, were relatively close. Looking a bit closer to the GPS tracks and at times having us running through houses or putting us at odd starting points away from our actual starting point.

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On an open water swim, it didn’t fare very well up against the Epix again. It struggled to capture any of the data from our 36-minute swim or deliver any sort of GPS track in the water either.

While GPS performance, in general, was okay, the fact its rivals are making bigger strides with GPS technology means Suunto is playing catch up once again.

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Things don't get dramatically better on the heart rate tracking front either where Suunto has included an upgraded version of its optical heart rate sensor.

Above is a sample workout against the Garmin HRM-Pro Plus heart rate monitor chest strap which was quite well off maximum and average heart rate readings. 

It fared better for steady workouts and thankfully you can pair it up with external sensors you'll want to do that if you're going to use it for heart rate-based training.

Training metrics and data

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If you want to use the Suunto 9 Peak Pro as a way to help you explore, then it does an okay enough job of that.

You can upload and import routes to the watch and there’s simple breadcrumb navigation as opposed to the ability to follow full-color maps. A lot of the best navigation features are still tied to using the companion app. and that's frustrating.

You can use Suunto’s heatmaps to plan routes based on popular routes to add another dimension to that navigation support and there’s still an emphasis on offering that stronger navigation support through the Suunto companion app.

You can create routes from the map section of the phone app, but the busy nature of the app in general makes it quite a fussy process to do.

The turn-by-turn navigation works well for following simple trails, but similar or slightly more money will get you a level of mapping that makes the navigation experience much more complete – and give you a better sense of the terrain around you and what’s coming up ahead.

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Suunto also needs to do some work on the training and analysis front. Compared to Garmin, Coros, and Polar, it's lacking with the execution of those features. 

On the watch, you can see data on fitness level, and the Suunto companion app offers insights into training recovery and training load insights and scores for PTE – that tells you what impact a workout has had on your overall aerobic fitness. There’s also TSS, which stands for Training Stress Score. 

The presentation of this data needs improving. A lot of the information doesn’t feel very actionable or is put into any sort of context, which means making good use of those stats and insights is a challenging thing to do.

Battery life gains

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Something that did stand out for us on a more positive note was the Suunto 9 Peak Pro's battery life performance. 

Whether that’s day-to-day or in most workout tracking scenarios, it delivers a battery performance that is capable of going for a few weeks depending on usage.

It’s up to 30 days from 14 days on the Peak if you’re just using it to check in on the time. It’s up from 7 days to 21 days as well when using 24/7 activity tracking and enabling smartphone notifications.

When GPS is in use, depending on the recording rate, you can get 40 hours in the best GPS mode, which is up from 25 hours and it can max out at 300 hours in its most power-friendly tracking mode.

We’d say those numbers do seem to add up based on most of our testing. Using the best GPS battery mode for an hour of running saw a battery drop by just 3%, which was roughly the same battery drop we saw from the Garmin Epix in its multiband mode.

We did have one similar length run in much colder weather where the battery dropped by over 20%, but we saw something similar on the Epix, which we had on our other wrist.

Day-to-day performance in between that tracking saw small battery drops, even with notifications and all-day tracking included. If you enable sleep tracking (which you do need to manually set up) and enable blood oxygen monitoring, then the battery takes more of a hit, but this is absolutely a watch that can hold up for a solid week of training and go longer if you’re more selective with the features you’re using.

TAGGED Sport

How we test



Michael Sawh

By

Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.


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