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Suunto 9 Peak | Full review, new features and GPS comparison

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The Suunto 9 Peak is now thinner, smaller and at the same time more resistant. With clean, unobtrusive lines and a very minimalist look.

On the outside everything is new (pulse sensor included), but the software also comes with a couple of new features: Ghost Runner and above all Snap to Route (or Snap to Route as it has been translated into Spanish). However neither of these two functions are exclusive to the 9 Peak, they have also arrived on the Suunto 9 and Suunto 5, which is a very nice gesture by Suunto towards its current customers.

The Suunto 9 Peak has been with me in my workouts since July, more than enough time to check how it works and to use the new features in detail. The 9 Peak that you can see in this review is a test unit that has been temporarily loaned by Suunto. And as you know, once the review is finished, I will send it back.

There is no compensation of any kind for performing the analysis. That is, what I write below is what I think of the watch, without any pressure from the manufacturer. And you know, if you like the work I do in the tests and want to collaborate with the website, you can do so by making your purchases through the links posted. Thank you for your support!

In this review I will detail all the operation, but if you want to see an "unboxing" of the Suunto 9 Peak and know some details in video, just press play below. or go directly to YouTube.

SUUNTO 9 PEAK

Overall operation - 8
Training possibilities - 8
Platform and applications - 8.5
Battery life - 8.5
Finishes and comfort - 9.5
Price/performance ratio - 6.5

8.2

TOTAL

Smaller, lighter, more durable. With all the functions of the Suunto 9 Baro but in a reduced size. With improvements in the software (that have reached the rest of the range) and an application that finally begins to be at the height. In this pod review you will find all the details about the performance of the new Suunto model.

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The good

  • Impressive appearance and high quality
  • Snap to Route works very well if we stick to the route
  • Smaller size, same autonomy
  • Suunto App started out stumbling, but has now improved. 

The bad

  • GPS problems with open water swimming
  • Menu somewhat slow
  • High price

Suunto 9 Peak Features

Buy Suunto 9 Peak

 

Buy Suunto 9 Peak Titanium

Before going directly to the analysis of the watch, the most appropriate thing to do is to look at its business card, seeing what are the specific functions of the Suunto 9 Peak. 

  • Two bezel finishes available, steel and titanium grade 5
  • Size: 43 x 43 x 10.6 mm
  • Weight: 62 grams in steel, 52 grams in titanium
  • Sapphire glass lens
  • Color touch screen, transflective
  • Screen size 1,2″, resolution 240×240 pixels
  • Automatic display lighting with light sensor
  • 22mm silicone strap, standard design and allows replacement
  • Battery life in watch mode: up to 14 days
  • Battery life in smartwatch mode: up to 7 days
  • Battery life with GPS recording 1 second: up to 25 hours
  • Customizable battery modes that allow 50h/120h/170h autonomy
  • Fast charging. 0 to 100 in 1 hour
  • Water resistance 100m
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • New Sony GNSS chipset for better performance
  • Compatible with GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, Beidou
  • New LifeQ optical HR sensor (same manufacturer as the one in Suunto 7 with good results)

As for specific new features that arrive at Suunto 9 Peak we have these:

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  • Ghost Runner function for virtual hare function
  • New function "Snap to Route" in English
  • Estimation of oxygen saturation in blood to check for acclimatization at altitude
  • Automatic updates via the Suunto App, without having to update through your computer

Undoubtedly what stands out most is the reduction in size, something that is not new for the top of the range of Suunto (they are simply recovering the size of the Ambit3 Peak) but seeing the trend that had followed their last models is something that is somewhat surprising.

But under that renewed aesthetic (and it must be said that it is very sexy) are also hidden new functions, the main one being the "Snap to Route" that has also come to Suunto 9. It is not something that you will use during your workouts, or even that makes sense in a sporadic use.

It is something more for specific or key days, such as competition days, but it is still a very interesting function. Don't worry, I have prepared a specific section to tell you about it, but first let's do a general review of everything the watch has to offer.

Basic aspects and operation

At first, what podemos highlight of the Suunto 9 Peak is undoubtedly its size. Compared to what Suunto had us used to, the diameter of the watch has been reduced significantly. Here you can see it compared to the Suunto 9 Baro.

Comparison Suunto 9 Peak Suunto 9 Baro

The circumference of the watch has been reduced by no less than 7mm, going from the 50mm of the previous 50mm. Suunto 9 and Suunto 9 Baro to the 43mm of the Suunto 9 Peak.

It is also much thinner, as while the 9 and 9 Baro are 16.8mm thick the 9 Peak is only 10.6mm.

Suunto 9 Peak vs. Suunto 9 Baro

Such a reduction in size obviously leads to a reduction in the weight of the whole. Comparing it with the rest of the Suunto 9 range, the Peak is 52 grams for the titanium version (62 grams for the steel one) compared to 66.9 grams for the 9 Baro Titanium with Velcro strap (81 grams for the steel one and silicone strap). 

Here there will be opinions for all tastes. Those who were already used to the large size of the Suunto will miss the 50mm of "hairy", while those who have a small wrist will greatly appreciate the new size.

I was one of those who was not convinced by the new size, but after more than a month of using the Suunto 9 Peak on a daily basis, I am very happy with the change.

With this size reduction the only thing we lose is some screen size. But the new 1.2 inch is not bad, being the most common size among competing models with this diameter of watch.

But best of all, the autonomy remains intact, offering the same as the larger model, even with the improvement of having the fast charging function (which I will talk about later).

Back to the watch, the Suunto 9 Peak stands out for its careful design. Much more minimalist than previous models, it stands out for the clean aesthetics of its steel or titanium bezel.

Suunto 9 Peak - Bezel

It maintains control through its touch screen, along with three control buttons on the right side of the watch. 

Suunto 9 Peak - Buttons

These buttons are also metallic and have a very pleasant feel. You can perfectly appreciate when we have pressed them and they have very good travel.

We can use the watch both through the buttons and using the touch screen. The operation of the same is the same as any other Suunto 9, resulting somewhat slow in scrolling through the menus for what we are used to today. It is not something that makes it impossible to use, but it does feel a little slower than any of its rivals.

Another novelty present in its design is the illumination sensor located at the bottom of the screen. 

Suunto 9 Peak - Illumination Sensor

The visibility of the display is reasonably good. During training I don't have any problems (with my vision ability, which is good), both day and night. It helps that Suunto allows us to choose between light and dark theme for the training displays, with the light one being much more readable in any kind of condition.

Perhaps during the day I find it a little duller than usual, but it does not represent an impediment to its use.

And leaving aside the oxygen saturation of LifeQ's new optical pulse sensor, there really aren't any (the Suunto 9 has been updated with the new features of this Suunto 9 Peak). But just because there are no changes from the Suunto 9 now doesn't mean there aren't any from when the model came out a few years ago.

Although it has been the subject of a lot of criticism, many of them about the Suunto App and the disappearance of Movescount, the truth is that the watch has received many improvements such as the possibility of using satellites, the possibility of using the Suunto App and the disappearance of Movescount. GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou, VO2Max estimation, sleep analysis, Firstbeat metrics to show stress level and bodily resources

But above all it has highlighted SuuntoPlusa new "section" within the sport profiles where a lot of functions have been added, first by third-party metrics (Strava and TrainingPeaks) and then with new functions developed by Suunto (Climb, Loop, Sprint, Safe...).

And to add to these functions, the Suunto 9 Peak has also brought Ghost Runner. This function is a kind of "virtual partner" that adjusts the target pace throughout the activity based on the first kilometer of training, or the manual average of a lap. Optionally you can also use a distance or duration target. 

Suunto 9 Peak - Ghost Runner

SuuntoPlus has been a great addition because it has brought many features that were not present in the watch, in a way that Suunto has found easy and quick to implement. However with respect to some things it gives the feeling of being half-baked.

My main complaint is that only 1TP10We can use one function of SuuntoPlus at a time. And that may be ok for some of the functions, which are more of an "application" (for example the Loop function). But for example the watch lacks data fields like NP (Normalized Power) or IF (Intensity Factor), which podemos can have if we activate the SuuntoPlus option of TrainingPeaks (and that we must remember to activate EACH AND EVERY TRAINING).

But if we activate that TrainingPeaks feature to have NP, or NGP (Normalized Graded Pace), we don't podemos combine it with the Loop or Ghost Runner feature. Here I would want some more integration with the watch itself and some things integrated into the activity itself.

Another historical complaint from Suunto users? The inability to perform complex interval workouts. Only pod can perform basic interval workouts created directly from the watch menu in which you define work and rest interval along with the number of repetitions. But without further complexity or target pace.

Suunto 9 Peak - Intervals

But this is going to change soon. I have "permission" from Suunto to go ahead and tell you that before the end of the year there will be some kind of solution to perform interval training, either directly with the Suunto App or through third-party platforms, such as TrainingPeaks, allowing the download and execution of the workouts that we have prepared there.

This is not the only historical problem or complaint. Another has to do with the use of sensors. The Suunto 9 Peak allows the use of all these Bluetooth sensors (ANT+ is not available):

  • Heart rate 
  • Power (running and cycling)
  • Speed and/or cadence
  • Pedometer

That is, it is compatible with virtually any type of external sensor that uses Bluetooth, the vast majority today. The problem is that the way the implementation is made, it only allows one sensor of each type, and if we connect a new one it will discard the previous one. This can be extremely inconvenient.

Here is an example of my case. I have several bikes with specific potentiometer. I take the time trial bike and pair the potentiometer. The next day I get on the gravel bike and do the same, but that eliminates the potentiometer from the goat. So every time I change bikes I'll have to find and pair sensors (and enter crank, wheel, or whatever measurements if necessary).

Honestly, in the year 2021 and with the amount of existing sensors on the market (at much cheaper prices) it seems to me a tremendous mistake.

Finishing with this section of basic aspects of the Suunto 9 Peak, it remains for me to talk about the Suunto App. Demonized many months ago when it became the only alternative after the disappearance of Movescount, the truth is that it has improved a lot over time.

There is still some work ahead, but the amount of information it offers us is nothing like what it offered at the beginning. This is the view of the main screen when opening the application, with a mix of metrics of its own along with others from TrainingPeaks (CTL, ATL, Form).

At the top podemos see a summary of training metrics, daily activity data, sleep, etc..

A very interesting screen is the calendar, because it allows us to see the totals by week, month, year... In it we will see the total summary of activities, sports, hours, distance, etc... And a last image that I love, with access to the map and the routes that we have done during the selected period.

In the same calendar, if you select the day, we have the breakdown of the activities performed, the summary of activity and sleep, the incidence of recovery and resource expenditure, etc.

Another thing that was pending in the Suunto App? The possibility to have more than one watch paired (e.g. for poder use the Suunto 9 Peak and a Suunto 7 as a daily clock). Well, this is another of the things that have already been added in the latest beta of the application and that will soon be available in the version that anyone can download from the corresponding application store.

Suunto App - Various devices

So much for the basics of the watch, it's time to talk about the newest feature of the Suunto 9 Peak, which is Snap to Route as it appears in the watch menu.

Snap to Route function

The Snap to Route feature is probably the most interesting feature of the Suunto 9 Peak. But it is not a function exclusive to the 9 Peak, in fact it has already arrived on the 9 Peak. Suunto 9 and Suunto 5 via software update. So if you have any of those models, everything I indicate below will be equally valid for them.

Snap to Route consists of, based on a navigation route, perfectly adjusting the pace and distance data to the route that is planned, thus avoiding GPS errors caused by poor reception or a complicated route giving us information that is not correct.

Therefore it is necessary that before you start running you load a route in the watch. It's a navigation feature, so this part is a must. So it's not something you're going to poder take advantage of in daily training where you're going to run wherever you feel like it.

This is not something you will use on a regular basis, it is not intended for that. In fact, its use is going to be very sporadic, but when you find yourself in a situation where the "Set to route" function makes sense you will be very grateful to have it.

And what can this situation be? Mainly in both mountain and asphalt races, and also in any other route. But the situation of doing a race is the clearest when it comes to explaining what it is for.

Imagine a marathon in a big city, let's say for example Chicago. When running along avenues with large skyscrapers, you will most likely have constant GPS errors: complicated reception, signal bouncing off buildings, etc. Add to that passing through tunnels, under bridges, etc.

But you don't have to go to big events. As you will see later it is even worse in small towns where there are no large avenues but very narrow streets.

These errors cause the distance recorded by the watch to be incorrect, so you will also have problems with the pace information. If you have run a marathon (or even a half marathon), you will surely have encountered the situation where your watch shows the 20th kilometer when you still have 200m to go to reach the signpost. This is caused, among other reasons, by the errors mentioned above.

To show you how it works I created a route with turns that I knew were going to be extremely complicated for the GPS. I made the route directly with the Suunto App, but you can also import it from any connected service or through a GPX file.

Suunto 9 Peak - Snap to Route

I marked the two points where I wanted to make the test more specific, with constant turns first on narrow streets and then on wider streets but with taller buildings.

In that kind of route I know that any GPS is going to have multiple problems. The turns are constant and in a very short space of time, the satellite coverage is going to be complicated and one error will join the next. It is certainly a pretty tough test for the "Set to route" function.

You have already seen the route in the image above, here is the result obtained with the Suunto 9 Peak in the first place, compared to the record made by the Suunto 9 Baro without loading any route.

And for comparison, that same point recorded by a Garmin Forerunner 745.

Suunto 9 Peak - Snap to Route

The route (and data recording) made by the Suunto 9 Peak has been perfect, exactly where I have passed because it is what I had marked on the route. The Suunto 9 Baro makes the first turn, but from there it starts to destabilize and in the second block it is totally out of place.

The Garmin for its part knows I've been turning... but has no idea where.

Second turning zone.

Same situation as we have seen in the image above, although in this case the streets are wider and the other clocks can better register the position.

Suunto 9 Peak - Snap to Route

I think that with these images it is already quite clear to you how the Set to Route function works and the benefits it brings. As I say it's not just having a nice graph that poder show after doing a run, it's the fact that, after passing through the second turn zone, the difference in distance between the Suunto 9 Peak and the other two watches was about 400m difference. And I had only covered 3km at that point!

It is something that at the time of making the turns also podía see perfectly in the instantaneous rhythms, marking the Suunto 9 Baro about 1 min / km slower than the actual pace that podía see in the Suunto 9 Peak. The watch knows perfectly well the distance traveled, because it can locate us at the point of the route where we are, regardless of whether we have traveled more or less meters. In other words, if we stick to the planned route, that will be the distance we have traveled. 

The Suunto 9 Peak track is practically perfect. And I say practically because you can't run in such a gridded way, nobody makes the turns with a perfect 90º angle. 

As is natural all this is based on an algorithm, and like any algorithm there may be extreme cases where the behavior is not what 1TP10We can expect. And in the images have been seen perfectly, because it was another of the things I wanted to test when returning on the route.

You see, for the test instead of doing a full route, I simply mapped out about 3 kilometers of route to do the rest of the training at my leisure because I wanted to test several things.

  • What happens when we extend the training beyond the marked route?
  • What happens when we leave the planned route? 
  • What happens if you go parallel to the route or you find a crossing on the route with respect to previous moments on the same route?

Well, I will answer each of these questions. The first thing is to clarify that if we want to run more distance than we had initially planned on the route we have no problem. We simply continue running and when the watch detects that we have left the route it will use the GPS as usual. Here you can see my complete route that day. 

Suunto 9 Peak - Set to Path

What is inside the circle is the route I had prepared. Everything else is the rest of my training.

Next question: What if we deviate from the planned route? The algorithm is set up to "glue" the traveled path with the marked route up to a limit of 100m. That is to say, if we deviate 100m from the planned route, the watch will "release" from the route and will start using the GPS in a normal way.

You can see that perfectly in this image. The indication of the arrow is to where I had prepared the route, and what the clock has recorded.

Suunto 9 Peak - Set to Path

However, I did not take the traffic circle the way it is recorded on the route, but from the south side of the roundabout. Also, instead of continuing straight through the traffic circle I took the lower road. In the Suunto 9 Baro graph (without using Snap to Route) you can see the actual route I followed.

Suunto 9 Peak - Set to Path

That is, while I was within 100 meters of the original route, the watch "glued" my route to the route. When I separated 100m from it, the watch understood that I had taken another route and started to use the GPS in a normal way. All this in a transparent way, with no indications of any kind on the watch (other than telling me that I had left the route).

Next case: What if we go through a part of the route again? Well here it depends on what we have planned. If we are following a completely marked route nothing will happen, because the watch knows the direction you are going to follow based on the distance traveled. 

But my case has been different, because I had only planned the beginning of the route, and the rest I have walked at my own pace. Therefore, when I approach the route again, the clock will have the tendency to overlap again with the marked route.

In the first image I have pointed out with an arrow which was the direction I was going (the real route is the one in the second image, the one recorded with the Suunto 9 Baro).

As you can see, as soon as I reached the area where there was part of the route, the tendency was to continue on that way again. The watch understands that yes, we have left, but perhaps we have re-entered the route that way. And in fact it marks a turn that I have not made, because it is still within the possible error range of 100m.

After 100m, the Suunto 9 Peak understands that it is not interested in following that route and returns to normal GPS use. 

But I stress again that this occurs because it is not a complete route that I am following, but I have simply done a short route and then returned to a section of it. If it were a complete route of the 13 kilometers traveled this would not have happened.

Obviously this is in the city, where the streets are where they are and cannot be moved. In the mountains it can be a different experience, because perhaps the route is drawn by a path that appears marked on the plan, but in reality is now hidden by the undergrowth and we have to use an alternative path.

If this occurs and the alternative path is less than 100m away, the watch will continue to follow the initially marked path.

In short, as you can see, it is a function that is not perfect, because there are always ways to fool the algorithm and drive it crazy. But "if you don't mess with it", the record will be perfect with respect to the initial plan. 

It's not something intended for everyday use. Not even that you're going to use every week. It's a sporadic use, but if I'm running a race and I can have this way a reliable distance and pace, I will be eternally grateful. Regardless of the fact that later when I review the track I see things that were not humanly possible, like making 90º turns perfectly.

And comparing with other watches while testing I can confirm that, when there are many complications, the differences in both pace and distance are quite noticeable. That, in an urban race, can disrupt the race plan you have in your head.

Autonomy and fast charging

Despite the reduction in size, the Suunto 9 Peak offers exactly the same battery life as the Suunto 9 and Suunto 9 Baro. Of course, it still has the same battery profile options and, depending on the configuration we choose, we will have more or less autonomy.

These are the available modes and the autonomy for each of them:

  • Performance Mode - up to 25 hours
  • Endurance mode - up to 50 hours
  • Ultra mode - up to 120 hours
  • Tour mode - up to 170 hours
  • Custom - We select which options we want to use and it tells us what the available autonomy will be.

By default the mode that will always be active is Performance, provided you have not created a custom mode, in which case it will be used by default.

Suunto 9 Peak - Battery Mode

During pod training we can switch between the different modes at any time, and we will also have warning messages if we are running low on battery life to remind us that pod should switch to a mode with lower power consumption.

But it is not only the autonomy of a watch that is important. So is the time it takes to charge. That is another of the improvements that Suunto has incorporated in the 9 Peak: fast charging.

According to the Finnish manufacturer it is possible to fully charge the watch battery in 1 hour. The Suunto 9 Baro needed considerably more time. 

Confirming if this is the case is very simple. I simply have to let the watch's battery drain completely and put it on charge by timing it. 

In this first image you can see how it is 10:24 and the clock has been charging for 20 seconds. It still does not have enough power to turn on the display.

Suunto 9 Peak - Quick charge

15 minutes later (10:38) not only has the watch already turned on the display, but we have 43% of battery available. I repeat, 43% available in only 15 minutes!

That's many hours of autonomy with GPS use (and several days as a watch). So if at some point you find the watch without battery just before going out for a run you have nothing to worry about, four or five minutes charging will give you enough energy to go out and train.

Suunto 9 Peak - Quick charge

And a little less than 58 minutes later the clock has already reached 100% on the battery, still being 11:21 in the morning.

Suunto 9 Peak - Quick charge

Therefore, it fully complies with the manufacturer's claims, being able to fully recharge the battery even in less than an hour.

GPS and optical HR sensor performance

Taking advantage of the fact that this month of August I have had two models on test, this allows me to use the work with one for the analysis of the other and, in this way, to make my workflow easier. So the comparisons you will see below are the same as those of the Suunto 9 Peak analysis.

I begin this section by telling you about the optical pulse sensor of the Suunto 9 Peak, because it is totally new for this watch. Suunto has replaced the sensor that previous models have used so far, from Valencell, to use one from the company LifeQ. It is the same supplier they used for the Suunto 7, but not the same sensor. 

Suunto 9 Peak - Optical sensor

This sensor also provides the estimation of blood oxygen saturation, something that has become fashionable lately and that until now no watch in the Suunto range had.

To see the details of oxygen saturation, on the main screen of the watch, we have to scroll down with the down button. In the first screen we will find the instantaneous heart rate, and if we press the main button, we access the graph of the last 12 hours.

Suunto 9 Peak - Heart Rate

If instead of pressing the button we slide on the screen, where we access the new function of oxygen saturation estimation (SpO2).

Suunto 9 Peak - SpO2

That on the watch part, as for the application we have two problems. The first is that although the sensor is always operational and 1TP10We can see the instantaneous heart rate, the application only records intervals of 10 minutes. Everything that happens in that time frame will disappear, so it loses a lot of analysis capacity a posteriori.

The situation with blood oxygen saturation estimation is even worse. Although you can take the measurement at any time, this data is not stored anywhere. You can write it on your arm and make a data table, because neither the app nor the watch will store it.

The primary use of this function is to record acclimatization as we ascend. As you gain altitude it is an interesting metric to observe how you are acclimatizing and, if the blood oxygen concentration drops too low, it will indicate that we should take a break to let the body get used to the altitude.

Regardless of those aspects, what will matter most to you will be the reliability of heart rate recording during training. Especially considering that Valencell's old optical sensor was not very accurate.

Keep in mind that a wrist heart rate monitor does not work the same way on all bodies. We're all different, and if we put things in the equation like skin tone, tattoos, body hair... the difference from person to person can be quite big.

In my tests it is not that the spectrum of users is very broad: it is me, myself and I. So what works well for me might not do it for someone else, or it might be better.

But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to follow some guidelines to wear the sensor. It should be tight (but not cut off your circulation), enough to keep the watch from moving freely on your wrist, leaving a separation of approximately one finger from the wrist bone. By following these details you will ensure that you get the best results that your conditions can offer.

It is also important that you understand that while a heart rate sensor on the chest performs effective measurement, the optical sensor estimates our pulsations. In this post I explain all this more broadly.

I'll start with this progressive pacing workout. Easy for any optical (and non-optical) sensor.

For this training session I am wearing the Suunto 9 Peak, the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE and the Garmin FR745 paired with a chest sensor.

Comparison of optical sensor Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak

Except for around minute 18 where the Garmin HRM-Tri sensor I'm wearing paired with the FR745 has a weird drop that only lasts a second, everything else is pretty boring graphs. 

Full coincidence in the records made by the optical sensors of both the Suunto 9 Peak and the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE.

But as I said, it is a simple training for an optical sensor because there are no major changes in intensity.

So now I move on to a more demanding workout with a warm-up, 100m activation series and finally 800m series until my legs said enough in the seventh interval... For this workout, in addition to the previous sensors, I include the optical sensor. Polar Verity Sense recording independently.

Comparison of optical sensor Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 PeakDespite the demands of the training (more for me than for the sensors, as you can see from the graph) there is no problem with the intervals.

Perhaps a little more hesitation in the rest periods, which I do by walking and that is not what the optical sensors are calibrated for.

Except for the second 800m interval break where the Polar Verity Sense has a slight delay, the rest of the intervals both the Garmin FR945 LTE and the Suunto 9 Peak do them to perfection, very good performance by both.

But speaking of demanding workouts... let's go with a 10k test. One of those that hurt and that demand everything...

Basically the training consists of a 3km warm-up (the initial period), followed by five short 200m intervals to prepare the body for the storm, and then the 10km test.

 

Comparison of optical sensor Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak

That strange drop that occurs at the end of the first 200m interval is that I stopped my watches to wait for my hare during the test, resuming the training as soon as we were ready to launch. 

The part I have marked with the arrow is the specific part of the 10k test, which is where there are more differences in the sensors.

The beginning of the test the three optical sensors (both watches were accompanied by the Polar Verity Sense) is good, but around minute 40 the differences begin. I'll expand on that part below.

Comparison of optical sensor Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak

Here the intensity is already high, forcing the machine to the maximum. And this is when some problems appear. Not that there is much difference between the three graphs, but none of the three coincide. Maybe it's because of the cadence, maybe because of being forced and making more abrupt movements, but the truth is that after 10 minutes of testing is when the differences begin to appear.

Which of the three is correct? I can't say a winner, because there is not a single matching graph.

With respect to cycling we have the same situations as always, the optical pulse sensors are too irregular. When we are doing some intensity training the performance is good. 

Comparison of optical sensor Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak

For example this 3 hour workout with series on the climbs. While there is intensity the Suunto 9 Peak and Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE graphs match perfectly with the HRM-Tri sensor paired with the Garmin Edge 830. 

But when it's time to rest or the intensity becomes too variable (descents, riding in traffic, etc.) the problems return.

During most of the training sessions I have had good performance of the optical sensor, at least in the race. When it comes to running, I have had some incidents that I have not had with other sensors, which normally work correctly indoors. But for outdoor use the pulse sensor on the chest is essential, just like with any other watch.

Maybe also in those full intensity workouts, but it's true that I only have a single sample of those, and not too eager to get more samples in similar conditions :-D.

Where I can say that it has a totally wrong performance is during swimming. Something that is not surprising, as the manufacturers themselves already say that the results can be bad, but just to confirm it.

Like the optical sensor tests you have seen above, the GPS comparisons are done in the same way: with the watches accompanying me on my regular workouts. Wearing both the Suunto 9 Peak and other watches and checking where the problems appear.

I don't have any defined route to establish a score for the simple reason that there are other external factors that we should never forget. Things like clouds, tree leaves or simply the position of the satellite can alter the GPS results from one day to the next. It is for this reason that I prefer to do this type of comparison instead of having a predefined route and evaluate it based on this. 

I start with a route somewhat different from my usual route. For the test, in addition to the Suunto 9 Peak and the Garmin FR945 LTE, I am accompanied by the Suunto FR945 LTE. Garmin Forerunner 745 (which is one of my last references for the good performance of the GPS).

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

From a distance it looks like totally matching tracks, and the truth is that in general during the test there are not too many problems, but let's see with a little more zoom.

At this point, about 500m after starting the training (transition after 3 hours of cycling) the 945 LTE gets a little lost going over the buildings. It is true that it is a somewhat complicated area as I run close to the building itself, but it is something that neither the 745 nor the 9 Peak has been affected.

It recovers quickly and returns to the joint track quickly.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

In fact later on, as the turns appear, all the tracks match almost perfectly.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

At this point of descent and ascent there is a new slight slip on the part of the 945 LTE. But we are talking about a displacement of little more than one or two meters with respect to the original track, nothing important. But I emphasize what I said above, neither the 745 nor the 9 Peak have suffered it.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Let's move on to more difficult things. At this point I "sneak" into an urbanization. Those turns were going to help me with the GPS analysis, but... August... 1 o'clock in the middle of the day... south of Spain... I confess that I was looking for water like a little dog :-).

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

The performance of all GPS? Good with minimal errors. Of course, I didn't find any water. But well, let's put aside my hydration problems that made me finish the workout 10 minutes early.

Let's go with another different training, in this case of intervals repeating them in the same straight line in a constant way. Same members in the comparison as in the previous case. 

To explain a little of the route, I warm up by doing the big lap and then proceed to do the intervals on the main straight, in the shade of a pine forest. The "tails" that you can see at the bottom of the course are the breaks, done on foot, between the different intervals.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Here you can see the part of the "tails" that I indicated before. At the bottom there are different layouts depending on where I was going to make the break, but I want you to notice that section on the left. 

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

That part still corresponds to the warm-up, and I purposely go into the pine forest area to check how each one behaves when conditions are more difficult due to the vegetation.

My intention was to enter and leave the pine forest as straight as possible. Of course, there is no marked path, so one thing is the intention and another what I actually did. 

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Each watch makes a layout as it sees fit, and none of them match. Which one does it best? Well, I have no idea, but it is obvious that it is something of enormous difficulty. 

In the heating part there is another point where there are slight differences, in this case on the part of the Suunto 9 Peak. I have marked it with the arrows, being the most important difference the one on the left point because it makes a strange turn. 

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

The rest of the layout, done on a narrow path, can justify the difference in that the two Garmin watches go on the left arm while the Suunto goes on the right wrist.

But back to the part of the intervals where I run the straight over and over again, there's not much to say.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Only in one of the intervals does the Suunto 9 Peak deviate a little bit from the track marked by the rest of the watches, but it does so very slightly.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Let's go with one last example, this time on my most common layout, so I know exactly where to look for the tickle of each watch...

It is the same route both on the outward and return, so when there are complicated areas we will poder see 6 different tracks.

Suunto 9 Peak | Full review, new features and GPS 10 comparison

Overall performance has been good for both Suunto 9 Peak and Garmin FR945 LTE over the vast majority of the course. Here for example pod We can see two small deviations by the 945 LTE, but they are very brief glitches and it immediately returns to the right place.

Suunto 9 Peak | Full review, new features and GPS 11 comparison

On the other hand, it is here the Suunto 9 Peak that suffers a little in a left turn, in an area with a lot of tree cover. Here it takes a little longer to recover the correct line, something that does not happen with any of the other two Garmin, but it is not something excessively serious.

Suunto 9 Peak : Full review, new features and GPS 12 comparison

This area is usually very difficult, crossing Puerto Banus on its main avenue. There are buildings on both sides and you run under a row of trees, so the signal reception and bounce problems are quite noticeable.

Just look at the graphs, here all three clocks have problems both on the outward and return journeys, even though I am driving at exactly the same point on the road.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

But as soon as I go out into the open air, the problems are over, the three tracks overlap perfectly, making the turn without any major incident.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Cycling? Nothing to show, both Suunto 9 Peak and Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE perform flawlessly.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Even on climbs at a slower pace, there is nothing to alter the track of either watch.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS ComparisonLike, you want open water swimming too? Ask and it will be granted. In open water I did have some problems with the Suunto 9 Peak. In fact on the first attempt made, despite starting the activity with GPS coverage, it recorded absolutely nothing but time. 

Suunto 9 Peak - Open Water Error

Later tests were somewhat better, but not without problems. For example this workout, where there is an area of considerable distance where the Suunto 9 Peak has no GPS fix record.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

That mistake starts right at the point where I stop for a moment before starting the return, and leave the watch submerged in the water for a few seconds.

The Forerunner 945 LTE has no problem recovering the signal, but the Suunto does. And by the way, regarding the reference track, it is the one on the 745 that goes above the water under the swim cap at all times.

This is a bug that I have been encountering with the Suunto 9 Peak repeatedly. The watch takes a long time to register the signal after removing the hand from the water, leading to it registering very few points during the entire swim. Here's another example on a different day, with the Polar Vantage V2 as a reference under the cap.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

For this test I did it on purpose, stopping briefly at the pivot point to keep my arms underwater for a little longer. 

The result is that during the return trip the Suunto 9 Peak did not record a single GPS fix, and it wasn't until I got out to the beach and waited a while for it to add the distance to the activity total that it wrote another fix to the file.

The 945 LTE does almost everything right, until the end of the training where something similar to the Suunto 9 Peak happens. You can see a straight line in the direction of the beach that has nothing to do with the real route (the one marked by the Vantage V2).

For most of the workouts I've had pretty good performance from the Suunto 9 Peak. No, it's not perfect (no GPS is), but I've mainly compared it to two other watches I've always had good results with (745 and 945 LTE) and they are on par. 

Where I have not had good experiences is with regard to open water swimming. In all training of this type I have had problems. Now, I don't know if this is a case specific to my unit or not, because I have read from other users that they don't have these problems that I have encountered.

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Suunto 9 Peak opinion

The Suunto 9 Peak is new in almost every aspect, but it doesn't seem to have evolved much from the rest of the Suunto family. Smaller, new sensor, new features... but the regular Suunto user may be left with the impression that it is exactly the same as their Suunto 9 from a few years ago.

In a way it is. The Suunto 9 Peak came not only with a smaller size, but also with new features: Set to Route, GhostRunner... but that has also come to the previous models via an update.

But that's good, precisely because Suunto continues to update previous models with new functions. Would it be more impressive if the new model had specific functions? Undoubtedly, but precisely one of the things that manufacturers are criticized for is not including functions in watches for which they are perfectly prepared. 

As for its size, I had mixed feelings at first. I thought I was going to miss the larger screen, even the larger size. But the truth is that after using it daily for weeks I can say that I prefer this smaller size, instead of the Suunto 9 Baro, which today is even too big.

Snap to Route is the most prominent new feature. It's not something you're going to use every day in your workouts. You might use it once or twice a year. But just if you find yourself in a situation where you can use it, you'll be extremely grateful to have it. There's nothing more annoying than running a marathon and feeling like you're putting in extra miles.

Where Suunto may be challenged is with respect to price and competition. It is in the upper price range, where it is easy to find the family. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro in their different sizes. And from there down there are many proposals from other brands. It is a difficult challenge. But in the same way I can tell you that currently the stock is very limited and it is selling well, so the price strategy chosen by Suunto seems to be the right one.

All in all, the Suunto 9 Peak is a good watch (the best Suunto has made to date) and they can finally boast of having a good app. There are still aspects to be polished, such as support for interval training that will arrive before the end of the year and, please... improve support for external sensors. And besides being a good watch, it must also be said... it is very, very pretty.

And with that... thanks for reading!

 

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9 Comments

  1. Totally agree about not being able to pair multiple sensors. That's what bothers me the most about my S9 Baro.
    Not only that, but I also don't know which of my pulse sensors or potentiometers is currently paired.

  2. Hello, a very complete analysis!
    A doubt, in a 10k in a city with a circuit of 2 identical laps, how should the route be drawn, drawing one lap or both?
    Thank you very much!

  3. Hello, how are you?
    I have long wanted to try the Suunto (I have always been Garmin) because I understand that in terms of autonomy and gps (speed to synchronize with all satellites, etc.) are better than the Garmin, but I have always pulled me back not poder programs fractional workouts type 5x(100+200+300) or pyramids. This can already be done with the new Suunto application? I understand that not yet from the watch.

    Greetings and thank you!

    1. No, at the moment it is not possible to do so. However Suunto has promised that more comprehensive interval training will be available before the end of the year, probably through third party platforms.

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