Suunto 7 Sports Watch Review
Product Name: Suunto 7
Product Description: Unlike previous models like Suunto 9 and Suunto 3, that have smartwatch-like features, the Suunto 7 is their first truly smartwatch ever. Suunto thought of using Google’s Wear OS to include additional advanced features that are missing on their sports watches. Through Wear OS, you can gain access to NFC payments, a built-in music player, and download additional apps from Google’s Play Store. If you think about it, why creating a whole new OS with all its challenges and limitations when you can tap into an successful one instead and have the homework done for you already.
The Suunto 7 is a smartwatch that brings some interesting features to the table but unfortunately one feels it is held back by familiar Wear OS shortcomings. Suunto has created a sports watch with smartwatch functionality that costs more than an Apple Watch and most other sporty smartwatches in the market but with a similar overall experience. The one thing it is outstanding though is those great mapping features you get. Overall, it is a really nice watch and if you purchase it you won’t be disappointed.
Google’s Wear OS smart functionality
Complete fitness features
Good mapping with downloadable maps
Large touch screen with smooth performance
Nice watch design with a water-resistant case
Short battery life (1 day)
A dual app which can be confusing (Wear OS and Suunto App)
Inaccurate heart-rate monitoring
Not compatible with external sensors
User Review( votes)
Suunto 7 Review: The First Smartwatch with Wear OS
Known for their high-end sports watches, compasses, and precision instruments, Suunto now dives into the sports lifestyle industry. Suunto 7 is the first smartwatch from the company that uses the Google’s Wear OS platform. With less sporty design than some of Suunto’s GPS fitness watches and trackers, it will surely add appeal to the customers who want accurate metrics but don’t need to go all-in sports mode.
Compared to the leading companies in outdoor fitness and smartwatches such as Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, Garmin, and Google, Suunto didn’t not have much to offer in that area. It was either all-in high-end sports watches or nothing. This is why they come up with Suunto 7, their best solution to rival with other top brands. Did they succeed on their endeavour? Let’s find out.
Suunto 7 Review: Introduction
Unlike previous models like Suunto 9 and Suunto 3, that have smartwatch-like features, the Suunto 7 is their first truly smartwatch ever. Suunto thought of using Google’s Wear OS to include additional advanced features that are missing on their sports watches. Through Wear OS, you can gain access to NFC payments, a built-in music player, and download additional apps from Google’s Play Store. If you think about it, why creating a whole new OS with all its challenges and limitations when you can tap into an successful one instead and have the homework done for you already.
More surprisingly, some of the Suunto’s sports tracking features you get in the Suunto 7, such as fitness tracking and a new mapping are not yet available to other Suunto’s sports watches. These exclusive features are made to dissuade customers from getting the latest Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Active 2 Watch, and Garmin Vivoactive 4. And to make sure that Suunto lives to its promises, we have tested them out. Let’s see how good is this watch.
The design of a smartwatch is as important as the features in it because it is the first thing that will catch the person’s attention. Suunto wanted to make this watch less sporty, more appealing to the general public and most importantly, able to blend in all occasions, aside from its intended fitness purposes. There are five designs of Suunto 7 and all have different color bands that use the same pin mechanism in order to easily exchange the strap, just like other Wear OS Watches.
A gorgeous stainless steel bezel surrounds a big, bright, and colorful AMOLED touchscreen display. It weighs 70g, making it lighter and slimmer than other Suunto’s sports watches. The waterproof rating of Suunto 7 is up to 50 meters depth that works for both pool and open water swimming. Essentially, plenty of features for the average person. Should you need more than 50m depth, well, you are buying the wrong watch as you are the kind of sportsperson for whom the high-end Suunto watches are design for.
Unlike Garmin watches that have five physical buttons, Suunto chose to have four. The top-left button is for power, accessing all apps with Google’s Wear OS, and returning to the watch face. While the top right button is meant to open the Suunto Wear app, middle right button for media controls, and bottom right button to use Stopwatch, etc.
The overall look of the Suunto 7 has a resemblance to the Suunto 9, but it is more stylish and less sporty. It is undeniable that you can use the Suunto 7 all day and night and it won’t stand out as the wrong watch to be wearing in certain environments. With a shadow of a doubt, this is definitely one of the nicest looking watches that Suunto has ever made.
Google’s Wear OS
Including the Wear OS with the Sunnto 7 is the company’s strategic plan to make it their first full smartwatch. Features on Google such as Google Assistant, Google Pay, Google Fit, etc offers great deal of reassurance to a buyer, as it is proven technology that works straight out of the box. That is the reason why watch developers are eyeing to incorporate those features along with their own.
The great thing about Google’s apps is the ease of, for instance, making payments using Google Assistant. Suunto doesn’t have to create their own OS and app store and get people to create accounts in order to use them, competing with giants such as Google. Suunto’s clients can use their (probably) already existing Google account, no fuzz, no hassle. Although for us using Play Store in a watch is always a bit awkward, maybe because we are used to a bigger screen.
In addition to Wear OS, Suunto still incorporates their own native apps in order to gain access to sports tracking, tinker with map options, and daily workouts. Just swipe left from the main screen and you can see analog-style watch faces, including the nicest heat map watch face we have ever seen. It is nice to see that on top of Google apps, Suunto never forgets to leave their very own stamp on each and every sports watch they make. We never felt in our testing that we were using a google smartwatch, but a Suunto watch and that deserves credit to the developers.
To be honest, at first, knowing that it is their first full smartwatch sports watch and that they have to mix two operating systems, we thought it might just be too much handle and get right. We had our reservations, to be frank. But we were wrong, they keep Suunto in charge of sports tracking and hand over smartwatch features to Google. Just press the top right button and you can directly launch basic features. It is a simple yet smart decision that simplifies things and in the end, the one that benefits most is the user.
When it comes to sports tracking, Suunto 7 is well prepared to cover core sports such as running, cycling, and even swimming. It has a separate section which includes subcategories for maximum experience. Like for example cycling, which offers different modes depending on your preferences such as indoor training, mountain biking, and cycling commute.
For fitness tracking, you have to switch to Google Fit, because basic modes do not cover features such as step counting. The same applies to sleep monitoring, you need a third-party app in order to be able to use this feature. And even if Suunto 7 provides readings and metrics for outdoor activities such as orienteering and kettlebell workouts, you can’t expect complete metrics aside from time, duration, and heart rate. Advanced metrics would require a sports watch, like the Suunto 9 or the spartan range.
Sports tracking appears to be the strength of this watch, which is not limited to outdoor activities with inadequate indoor activities metrics, as with some watches in the past. Checking your data while running on a treadmill or doing lapses in the pool is much easier because you will get the full summary on your watch at the end of your workout. It has some nice graphics to easily understand metrics such as pace and heart-rate. Overall, the experience is a very nice one.
Picking up a GPS signal is not a problem, however, it gives slightly inaccurate metrics for the distance, pace, and speed. You should use those as guide and not a super accurate readings. This also happens in swimming workouts, data tends to add more lengths into the total score. We are sure (we hope) that these issues will be taken care of in future software updates in order to avoid more problems in the future. Again, the watch is not intended to be a sports watch for athletes so in all fairness, for what it is intended, yes it would be nice to have more accurate readings, but we can live with it. Should this happen on their more expensive sports watches and it would be a different story.
The Optical heart-rate monitor on the Suunto 7 can be a bit frustrating. Unlike other Suunto sports watches, this one does not have the availability to be paired with an external heart-rate monitor chest strap. You will purely base everything on the result given by the optical sensor, which tends to give inaccurate data. This is not unique of Suunto but an issue with all manufacturers, Apple, Garmin, etc. The technology just isn’t there yet.
Frustratingly, it does not provide real-time metrics for your workouts which is very effective way in determining your progress and recovery. If you want more features such as calorie count, you need to download third-party apps or go to Google Fit. Suunto could have provided this feature natively and a little better implemented since this is often used during workouts to monitor the performance and accuracy. I guess they had to compromise somewhere. You are stuck with Google fit or simply download an app and off you go.
We run some test to see how accurate the data it measures for the heart-rate is during some easy activities like indoor running and cycling. For these basic workouts, it gave us very similar average heart-rate results. But for other high-intensity exercises the optical wrist monitor gave us sudden rises and drops in our heart-rate. As we anticipated, we could only take the results as a guide if we wanted more accurate readings it is clear Suunto wats you to upgrade into their top-end range of sports watches.
The mapping feature of Suunto 7 is impressively good, from the colorful display which lets you see breadcrumb trails in real-time to the offline maps feature. They have certainly gone all out with this feature and they live up to their legacy of providing great mapping features. The Suunto 7 offers a big and wide range of map styles covering even swimming and golfing maps.
That’s not all, the Suunto 7 has the ability to download maps and use them offline. There is also a heat map feature wherein you can find the most popular routes for fifteen types of sports. Will that be enough for you? We think so. It is such a big help for people who love going outdoors and have a watch that can help them find the right routes without hassle.
Let’s get straight to the point. when it comes to battery life, the Suunto 7 is not dissimilar than most other smartwatches running on Google’s Wear OS. It will last days and not weeks, whatever the manufacturer claims. Unlike the Suunto 9 that could last up to a week, this one will run out of juice way sooner than you think. Here are some examples of what you can expect from this watch comparing what Suunto advertises versus the reality.
Upon tracking several workouts with GPS on, it shows that the maximum battery life is just 4 hours compared to its 18 hours advertised commitment (in line with other smartwatches such as the apple watch). Suunto claims you get eight hours if you control music playing on your phone but they don’t provide any details for streaming music from the watch. Using the maps features reduces the battery life down to 7 hours but if you use the watch on just the basic mode, the battery can stay for a whopping 40 days. Holy smokes!!
In reality, the Suunto 7 lasts for only a day and a few hours in the morning with auto screen brightness and full alerts on. Let’s be real here, this should be more than enough if your workouts last around an hour a day as we are all used to recharge our devices overnight. We found that when we used it on a 30-minute running workout, the battery decrease by 10%. In order to reach 100% recharge levels took 1 hour and 40 minutes of charging time, which we would say it is quite quick.
It’s no question that Suunto 7 can compete with other leading brands such as Apple, Samsung, and Garmin when it comes to its stylish design. It’s safe to say that they succeed to become a legit sports watch with smartwatch features but that does not take away the fact that some apps fail to hit the right mark. But once they fix all the issues, Suunto can line-up to big names in the smartwatch industry and keep their heads high.