Suunto 9 Baro Sports Watch Review
Product Name: Suunto 9 Baro
Product Description: This watch is geared for the serious athlete and sports fans. Yes, it is big but the sheer range of features that you get justify not only its size but also its price tag. We hope that they will be able to fix some of the issues we experienced with their apps, menu, and control which we are sure they will in a software update, not in the distant future.
The Suunto 9 is a solid, rugged and long-lasting sports watch for those whose motto in life is pushing endurance to the max. If you need a sports watch that will last a week’s hard hiking, the Suunto is perfect for you. However, the syncing issues, mediocre app(s), and the baffling interface mean that day-to-day, we’d recommend a Garmin to most people. We are sure they will put this right in an upcoming software upgrade and then it will be an outstanding watch.
Long battery life that can last up to 120 hours with battery modes
Power training features
Strong and hard casing
High-resolution touchscreen display
Inaccurate heart-rate tracking at the highest intensity
Confusing software apps and needs improvement
The screen is not readable
Limited control over alerts and notification
Not that comfortable to wear
User Review( votes)
Suunto 9 Baro Review
“The Big Guy” Sports Watch
When you see a big guy, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Powerful? Strong? Tough? The same thing happens with the Suunto 9 BARO sports watch, t commands respect, not just in looks but also with the sheer amount of fantastic features. Starting with its 120 hours battery life with all bells and whistles on, which fixes pretty much any issues of draining fast in the middle of the workout. It has 80 sports modes on its sports tracking system, full GPS navigation, heart-rate monitoring with activity tracking, along with other smartwatch features that already exist in all Suunto’s watches.
The Suunto 9 Baro is the new flagship product from Suunto and it provides a huge improvement in features from any previous model. Its design is purely focused on one purpose and one purpose only, to make it withstand long workouts ensuring accurate results at all times. Period. Simple really, but not so when you take into consideration the amount of work that goes behind providing such a watch, that you can rely on at any time, whatever the environment, weather or situation. This is a beast of a sports watch that works, consistently and reliably. It may not have a lot of smartwatch features but then again, this is not why you invest in a watch like this, maybe you should consider the Suunto 7 instead. This is for hard-core athletes and fitness enthusiasts who value accurate data and metrics and If you are looking for a watch with excellent battery life then the Suunto 9 Baro is a perfect watch for you.
Key Product Specifications
- Sapphire glass screen, titanium bezel, and glass-filled plastic case
- Replaceable silicone strap
- 320 x 300 pixels touch screen color display with LED backlight
- FusedTrack ( A feature that uses motion sensors to log your movement between the different GPS readings, which will provide better tracking of your exercise.
- Optical heart rate monitor
- Battery Life of 120 hours
- Built-in barometer
- Bluetooth connectivity
The Suunto 9 Baro measures 50 x 50 x 16.8 mm making this big guy one of the biggest sports watches in the market. Compared to Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, this is much thicker and heavier. The plastic edges are quite sharp which results in a feeling that is not naturally comfortable wearing.
The matrix touch screen is 320 x 300px, which is not that bright, and the graphics resolution is not high as well. This makes the visibility of the screen too hard to read. It also has locks to avoid pressing the buttons unintentionally so you need to push a button before swiping the screen.
The interface does take some times to get used to. You basically feel you are always discovering new features and things this watch can do weeks after you got it. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Some people will find it fascinating, others might wish the functionality is a little more strict so they can quickly find their way around it and stick to it. A personal taste we would say.
The Suunto 9 BARO also rises above the rest in terms of its key features. There are a wealth of features to look forward to such as the whopping 80 sports modes, water-resistant at 100 meters (more than enough for the average mortal), optical wrist heart-rate monitoring, built-in barometer, and battery life of 120 hours with GPS on in the “lightweight” power mode. It goes without saying that the data and information about the training or workout are very comprehensive. The only downside we found is that the screen’s brightness makes it hard to read and we wish they had provided a higher resolution screen display with such a premium model.
There are lots of sports for tracking that the Suunto 9 BARO offers, either outdoor and indoor such as running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, weight lifting and circuit training to list some. Even if it does quite reach to the Fenix 5 Plus’s offerings, we would say this will cater for most people out there. I mean, 80 sports modes! Surely that is enough, right?
You will need to go through various screens to see all the data metrics that the watch provides but on the plus side, the menu and menu functionality is well thought out and design so it is easy to navigate. You definitely get access to a lot more real-time data than your average Garmin’s sports watch.
Other brands boast about their multiple battery modes for a battery to last longer and the Suunto 9 BARO steps up to the challenge. Before you start your workouts, you need to choose a mode and it will give an estimation of how long the battery will last (based on how much battery life is there to start with) on that particular mode. This is a very transparent approach and makes things easy to understand and no room for confusion.
There are three different modes, first is Performance mode, with all features on and the battery stays up to 25 hours. Second is the Endurance mode with 60 seconds on GPS and 20% of screen brightness, battery last for 40 hours. And the third is the Ultra mode with 120 seconds on GPS with 10% of screen brightness, battery endures up to 120 hours.
After some random tests, we found that using the Performance mode, battery decreases about 1% per 10 minutes of workouts when compared to the Garmin Fenix 5X. In Endurance mode last surprisingly more than we thought at will last around 40 hours. In Ultra mode, We don’t have the stamina to do a workout lasting for that long but running for 2 hours only depletes 3% of the battery, which is pretty amazing.
Frustratingly, the Suunto 9 promises to get an hour of usage for a 2% battery which turns out to be untrue because upon trying to run with a 2% battery, it died on us instantly. Also, there is this intelligent feature of the watch, by which it will send alerts when the battery is on its last 10% or 20% as a reminder to put it on charge as soon as you can. When you push the watch to its limit, the watch will switch to Chrono mode which will reduce all track down to just the timer in order to “stay alive”.
Although we did not get any reminders, we found that the Suunto 9 is still one of the best watches in the market in terms of battery longevity. In actual fact, only professional athletes or extreme multisport users will ever get to really appreciate its battery life and different modes. But for the most part, it is nice to get an approximate time for each sports activity or mode that you set the watch up for.
The Suunto 9 BARO use FusedTrack, a feature that works out the speed if GPS data ever becomes unreliable or it simply loses the uplink in a remote area. The system helps to give stable and accurate tracking while running on an Ultra power-saving mode. Even in difficult trails and locations, unlike Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (that struggles in forests where there are a lot of trees), the Suunto 9 can deliver a realistic live pace whatever the situation or environment.
If you take an activity such as running, you get a huge wealth of metrics with defaults for time, distance, pace, cadence, and burned calories. And using a heart rate monitor, you will get your average and maximum heart rate along with Peak Training Effect or PTE, EPOC, and recovery. The only problem is that it lacks an explanation about the data but we would imagine someone who invests in a watch like this will know what those mean. It is worth mention that you can set up a wealth of metrics for each sport mode so you are not limited to the default data fields.
Swim tracking for both swimming pool and open water is well taken care of by the Suunto 9. When it comes to the accuracy of your pace, distance, and heart-rate (using Suunto’s Smart Sensor chest-strap), we believe that it does a great job, even if there is no SWOLF scoring. Getting swim data during your workout is very easy with the only problem being the watch can feel a bit too heavy on the wrist, especially over long distances. On the plus side, the large screen does help in displaying and reading the metrics.
We were pleasantly surprised about the accuracy of the metrics it provided as you would expect from a follow up to the spartan range. We run it side by side against the workhorse Garmin Forerunner 935 and we got almost identical readings for pace and distance which confirmed our feelings that this watch performs outstandingly in the water.
Heart Rate Tracking
Suunto 9 BARO carries on the trend of what has become a standard feature of all new smartwatch and sports watches, that is, an optical heart rate monitor sensor. The Valencell optical HR monitor sensor it comes with can monitor a person’s heart rate 24/7 which at this price range it is something we would expect. During workouts in Performance and Endurance mode at low-medium intensity, the readings are brilliant and accurately. However, when put to test in a hard intensity workout, the performance and accuracy dropped drastically giving us unreliable data. Reading in between the lines, do not get rid of your chest strap just yet, you will need it.
Getting accurate and reliable metrics of one’s heart rate from an optical sensor is the biggest problem faced by pretty much all sports watches. For demanding gym sessions, HIT or similar intense workouts, you must consider using a chest strap and should not just rely on the optical HR sensor, unless you are ok with metrics that are not a true representation of where you are.
Suunto’s very own app is quite basic for the person who will buy this kind of sports watch. It shows your workouts history along with data based on your heart rate, paces, and terrain. You can see your progress on a weekly calendar workout goal which is measured in hours and using the Diary tab you can see little details about your daily workouts. It is an attempt to a Strava-like app which we feel it is nowhere near as functional and feature-rich as Strava itself.
The frustrating thing is that you still need to pair the watch to Strava through Suunto’s movescount app. A complex and we think unnecessary process. In movescount, you also get a Map tab for running (very similar to Strava’s), cycling, and walking heat maps. Personally, if we have to choose between Strava and movescount, there is no competition there. It is Strava all the way.
With its rugged and solid design, powerful battery life, and tough sports tracking features, the Suunto 9 BARO is a real bad-boy watch. Unlike other brands that need to switch off alerts, notification, and GPS to extend its battery life, this watch can stay on for long without sacrificing on the essential features. You basically can run all features at full tilt and there will still be plenty of juice left in the tank by the end of the day.
This watch is geared for the serious athlete and sports fans. Yes, it is big but the sheer range of features that you get justify not only its size but also its price tag. We hope that they will be able to fix some of the issues we experienced with their apps, menu, and control which we are sure they will in a software update, not in the distant future.
But even taking those into account, it still is fair to say that Suunto has done it right and released a fabulous sports watch that can go shoulder to shoulder against any high-end sports watch in the market. Few watches can match its 5-day battery life and the exceptional sports tracking features.