Suunto announces today a new model, the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium. Actually, more than a new model is a new finish for the current Suunto 9 Baro.
As you may have noticed by now, the main novelty is that the watch bezel is now titanium. But it's not the only thing, now the bezel design is cleaner and the strap is made of nylon, rather than the silicone that usually accompanies the Suunto 9 (and that is sold as an accessory at a price of 69€).
Both changes reduce the weight of the watch to 66.9 grams, which is not a bad number for a watch the size and volume of the Suunto 9. The weight reduction is about 14 grams, half for the new strap and the other half by using titanium instead of steel.
This new addition to the catalog is accompanied by a firmware update with new features, which will also reach the rest of the current Suunto range. A new battery saving mode (Tour mode) with up to 170 hours of autonomy, turn warning on navigation thanks to Komoot support and management and navigation to POI (points of interest).
I received the watch scarcely a few hours ago, so I had no opportunity but to make some initial impressions, something that remains pending for the near future. Full details and detailed analysis will come a little later, but for the moment I can tell you everything not only about the new Suunto 9 Baro Titanium, also about the new firmware features that also reach the rest of the models in the range.
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- Aesthetically it is difficult to improve
- FusedTrack continues to be unrivaled in the sector
- Good GPS performance at all times
- Within its segment (premium titanium), its price is reasonable
- Rugged and sturdy
- The optical HR sensor is not up to the rest of the watch, with worse results than in the Suunto 9 Baro
- Although many users keep asking for it... no, it does not allow to program interval workouts
- Screen slightly dark and with more difficulty reading than on other models
- Suunto App is slowly catching up, but there is still work to do
Suunto 9 Baro Titanium and differences with the rest of the Suunto 9 range
The new Suunto 9 Baro Titanium is not a brand new watch, but is a new finish within the range. It is something that is becoming common in recent times, probably caused by the pandemic.
Instead of launching an entirely new model, brands are relaunching their current products along with aesthetic changes. It is not something exclusive to Suunto, we can also see it in other brands. Garmin recently unveiled the Enduro (which is a mix of watches within its Fenix 6X range), Polar has done the same with the Vantage M2 and Suunto has relaunched the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium. And I say relaunch because there was already a watch in the range with this designation (but with a different design).
COVID probably has a lot to do with this. Even the slightest lack of stock of the smallest component can make that the entire assembly line stops. Certainly, launching a new model to the market with such uncertainty would not be the best idea, especially if your competition is at the same level and is doing the same.
Returning to the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium is not that it simply has titanium finishes, there are also differences in terms of its aesthetics.
The bezel changes and is now made out of grade 5 titanium. Its design is cleaner, simpler and smaller than that of the Suunto 9, with a less “rugerized” look. The finish is matte, and uses an anti-fingerprint coating.
The textile strap is made of nylon, a durable material that repels water and sweat. It is not entirely new, because in fact it was already sold as an accessory and is compatible with any Suunto 9 or other watch with 24mm of width.
Two sizes of strap are included in the box, one longer and one shorter. It is not simply to fit different wrist sizes, but also to be able to use the watch on top of a jacket in winter, and the strap is long enough to do so.
The use of titanium and nylon strap makes the total weight of the watch down 14 grams, from 81 grams of the original model to 66.9 on the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium. From that weight loss 7gr correspond to the strap and another 7gr to the use of titanium. It may not seem too much to you, but we are talking about almost 20% weight reduction.
There are two different colors: Suunto 9 Baro Granite Blue Titanium and Suunto 9 Baro Charcoal Black Titanium. If you look closely, the dark blue has a yellow line on the bezel, while black has that line in light gray.
In both cases the lens is sapphire, as is the Suunto 9 Baro (the normal Suunto 9 uses a mineral crystal).
The price of this new model is 599€ in any of its two colors. They are €100 more expensive than the current price of the Suunto 9 Baro, and the same price as when the original went on the market. So considering the inclusion of nylon strap (although we could argue about its price) and the use of titanium, it does not seem like a bad deal.
Platform changes since Suunto 9 came to the market
Maybe it's a good time to remember everything Suunto has been adding to the Suunto 5/9 family since its launch, which seen in perspective have been quite a few things.
In all this time Suunto has had its climbs and descents, all of them starring the disappearance of Movescount (rest in peace, you will be missed) and the replacement with the Suunto App that, little by little, has been gaining potential in functions.
Probably that Suunto App is the one that has made all the headlines, above all other news and updates. It is true that development has been quite slow and I have been talking about this issue for many years, perhaps too many years. But it is also equally true that the pace of updates and improvements has been constant. Therefore, slow but steady.
But the watch has also seen the arrival of other features such as the possibility of using GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou satellites, VO2max estimate, sleep analysis, Firstbeat metrics to show stress level and body resources...
And above all SuuntoPlus, a new “section” within sport profiles where a lot of features have been added, first by third-party metrics ( Strava and TrainingPeaks) and then with new features developed by Suunto (Climb, Loop, Sprint, Safe...). And that among other things, because we've had something else.
This Suunto 9 Baro Premium represents, probably, the end of a long development work on this platform. A job that has been paying off over time, perhaps not at the speed that the user wanted, but that ended up providing features.
New software features
Beyond the inclusion of the new premium finish for the Suunto 9, probably what you want to know more about is the new software features. Not only are they present in the Titanium, they will also arrive today to the Suunto 5, Suunto 9 and even one of them to the Spartans. And you know how updates work in Suunto, it will do it in a staggered way.
The two main features are a new extended battery mode and route navigation with turn notifications, but the update also includes the official navigation to points of interest and a new SuuntoPlus (Red Bull X-Alps) feature, for paragliding activities.
Tour mode with up to 170h battery life
First we have a new battery saving mode. As you may recall, customizable battery profiles were one of the new features that Suunto 9 introduced when it hit the market. Then other brands copied this in one way or another and it is already common in all brands.
Changing the battery mode you turn on or off some functions, thus changing the remaining battery life depending on the battery charge you have. And not only did you have the predefined modes, you could also create your own.
Before starting a workout or competition, you can see on the screen how many hours of remaining battery you have left (beyond seeing if you have 25%). If you think that with what's left you won't have enough, you can switch modes and increase autonomy (losing functions).
Here are the modes we had available so far:
- Performance Mode: Up to 25 hours
- Endurance Mode: Up to 50 hours
- Ultra Mode: Up to 120 hours
Below ultra mode is now added the Tour mode, which offers up to 170 hours of battery life. At least that's according to official data, but according to the watch with 100% battery we would have enough juice for 194 hours.
Said in hours maybe you don't get the idea of the magnitude... but we're talking about more than seven full days recording a route.
As is evident this leads to the loss of other benefits, so the first thing you have to consider is whether you really need to use that mode. If you want to do a 45 minute workout and you have half the battery left, it obviously doesn't make sense to use this mode.
It's there for special occasions. A multi-day expedition or something similar, where you're going to be totally away from any energy source, or if you brought a battery pack maybe you prefer to use it for more important things like charging a satellite phone.
I´ll explain what its operation is, so that you know what you are going to get, and what you have to give in return.
Operation of the Tour mode in Suunto
When we enable Tour mode, everything is turned off and GPS reception goes into a special mode. It will be activated for 1 minute every 60 minutes, and after that minute recording the position, it will turn off again.
It's different from Endurance or Ultra modes, because they enabled GPS every 60 and 120 seconds respectively. And those modes also enjoy Suunto's great FusedTrack feature (which is magical).
Therefore everything that happens in those remaining 59 minutes in which there is no GPS reception will not appear on the activity track. You may travel 10 kilometers or 1 kilometer, depending on the difficulty of the route. The idea is not to have an exact track that you can repeat to navigate, but to have marked the points you've been going through.
What happens if you reach a point that you want to have clearly marked as being of importance? Imagine that you arrive at a bridge, a shelter, a fountain... Obviously you might be interested to have that perfectly reflected in the activity track. Then if you press the back button the watch resets the 60 minute counter and record the position for 1 minute.
Maybe 15 minutes later you're in a similar situation You can repeat everything again. And from that moment on, if you start walking on a plain for 3 hours, it will turn on the GPS again every 60 minutes.
There are things we need to keep in mind. For example, when you pause the activity, the watch will activate the GPS for 1 minute. Imagine that you get to the point where you're going to spend the night, obviously you'll be interested in stopping the activity. The watch will perfectly record that position, and when we restart the activity again, it will record a minute again. So the place of camping or rest and departure will be perfectly marked on the track.
So one important thing to keep in mind is that if you pause the activity because after 10 days spinning you have reached your destination, you must pause the activity and wait that minute for the watch to record the position, and once that time has passed you can save it without problem. But if you pause the activity and select to save immediately, that point won't be recorded because you haven't left the watch enough time to triangulate the position.
How long does it take for the watch to recover triangulation after activating the GPS? It will depend on the coverage of the area and how far we have moved from the last point. The faster we have moved, the more seconds you need to be able to triangulate position.
Finally, although we don't have the FusedTrack feature, FusedAlti does work in the case of Suunto 9 Baro (because it is the only one with barometric altimeter). But it will do so exclusively at the beginning of the activity to perform the altitude calibration correctly.
So in the case of Suunto 9 Baro the GPS will be activated during the first 10 or 15 minutes of activity normally, and once FusedAlti has already been correctly calibrated, the rest of the altitude recorded during the activity will depend exclusively on the barometric altimeter. Therefore, if there are significant changes in atmospheric pressure, the graph may end up a little rare (here you can learn how the barometric altimeter works).
Turn by turn navigation with Komoot
Komoot is a navigation service of an Austrian company, designed specifically for adventurous users. This is not the first time that a manufacturer relies on this platform for its navigation management. Komoot is supported by Suunto to be able to have turn alerts. It therefore benefits from the development of third parties without having to allocate its resources to do the same.
I don't consider it something to criticize, except for the fact that Komoot is a premium platform and we find that, after paying a significant amount of money for the watch, if we want to make use of this feature we will have to pay again. Although for that Suunto includes two regions for free in the Value Pack included with the purchase.
The truth is that it is a very complete and easy to use platform, in which in addition to being able to create your routes you will also be able to see and navigate the routes that other users load on the platform. Let's say it's a social network of adventurers.
Now Suunto has also begun to make use of this integration. This implementation is something similar to what Polar did with the presentation of its Grit X, to give the watch a turn notification before reaching the point where we should change our way. By using Komoot the manufacturer saves the development of the entire feature and puts it in the hands of a third party, a “win-win” for everyone.
Communication will be bidirectional. That is, from Suunto App, all your activities will be synced to Komoot, and in turn the Suunto App will be able to download the navigation routes we create or find in the Komoot community.
This synchronization is automatic, so we won't have to do anything on our part. We do the management in Komoot and then in the Suunto App we will find the route created, you will simply have to select it to send it to the watch.
Routes created with Komoot have turn notifications. The implementation is done as a waypoint with a name. That is, in the turns Komoot adds a point of interest with the necessary name at each moment, so that the watch can notify us of the location of that turning point. Not only will it do it with left or right, also with other names such as fork, etc.
As it is an alert screen that appears on the watch, we don't need to be viewing the route at all times. We may be seeing our data screen or the altimetry profile of the route, and when we are approaching the turn the screen will appear in the foreground.
The alert occurs twice. First 100 meters before the turning point to be prevented from coming a change in the path. And secondly when we are in the turn (well, a few meters before), so that we do not get lost at any time.
There is no map or drawing that appears on the screen, because as I said the way it is implemented through waypoints it is not possible, although you can always go to the navigation screen and check the route with the help of the compass.
Turn notifications will appear only if we have used Komoot to create the route, used someone else's route on the platform, or uploaded a GPX file to Komoot from another location.
If we do the route directly from Suunto App, no such turn notifications are added, is Komoot who adds the necessary waypoints. But there is an alternative way to do it.
Create routes with Suunto App and have turn notification
Do you want to continue using the Suunto App to design your routes because you're used to it and it's more comfortable for you? No problem: Create the route, download the GPX file and upload it to Komoot.
This is the procedure from an iPhone, but on Android it will be very similar. First you need to create the route with Suunto App, as you have always done.
Next you have to share the route with the specific button (photo on the left). We copy the URL of the file we are sharing and paste it into the web browser, so we can download the GPX file.
Once you have downloaded the GPX file, open it by selecting Komoot to do so. The Komoot app will open and ask you which of the two you want to select (because in the GPX there is the full path and a simple path). Select the first and import it as a planned route.
You'll have to select the type of sport and it will probably ask you if you want Komoot to correct the route. I prefer let Komoot do it, because in Suunto App we draw “by finger”, and probably what Komoot does is using the maps themselves. But this is already a matter of each and test-error method.
When we already have the open route in Komoot (at the bottom we can see all the details), we simply save the route and give it a name.
And since Suunto App and Komoot are linked both ways, automatically as soon as you return to the Suunto App you will find the route you just saved in Komoot.
Explained it seems more complicated than it is, but basically it is: draw route in Suunto App, share and open GPX with Komoot, save route, find it in Suunto App.
Komoot works by unlocking regions. As soon as you subscribe to the platform, you can unlock the region of your next route. That first region is free and allows you to create unlimited routes in that area.
But if you want to use more regions, you'll have to unlock them. You can choose to unlock a province for €9, or unlock all regions with a single payment of €20.
That would be all you need to enjoy that navigation with turn-by-turn alerts, you don't need to be subscribed to the Komoot Premium option but simply unlock the region or regions you're going to use.
But the value pack included with the purchase of a Suunto watch will include the ability to unlock two additional regions. Of course, it's for new buyers, not for existing ones.
GPS performance of the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium
One of the advantages of testing two watches simultaneously is that I can take advantage of the work for both reviews and make my workflow easier, so most of the comparisons you'll see below will be the same as you find in the Polar Vantage M2 review.
Like the optical heart rate sensor tests we'll see later, GPS comparisons are done in the same way: with the watches accompanying me in my usual workouts. Wearing both the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium and other watches and checking where the problems appear.
I don't have a defined path to establish a score for the simple reason that there are other external factors that we should never forget. Things like clouds, leaves on the trees or simply the position of the satellite can alter the GPS results from one day to the next.
I'll start first with the test I did the day I received the watch. I was wearing the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium on my left wrist. Accompanying the Wahoo ELEMNT Rival on the right wrist and the Garmin Forerunner 935 on the left hand, paired with the Garmin HRM-Tri sensor.
At a quick glance it seems that everything is correct, and in fact analyzing in a more detailed way it has been, although widening the turns you can see some errors on the part of some of the members of this comparison.
For example at the point of this turn. The Wahoo is going pretty long on the left turn. The Garmin cuts the turn a little, but the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium has drawn it perfectly. In fact, reaching that point and at the exit of the curve the track has been perfect.
I continue to climb the hill, and the Suunto 9 continues to behave in a great way. At that point I have pointed out the Wahoo has gone long again in the turn, while both the Garmin and Suunto perform the curve perfectly.
At this point, after a 90º turn, a strange situation occurs both in the Wahoo and Garmin. Both get lost slightly and give some slashes while I'm running in a completely straight line, exactly as the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium has recorded.
Very good performance on the part of Suunto 9 Baro Titanium in this workout, both in urban areas or in more complicated reception places
We move on to another different training, also running but this time mixing straight roads with trails where reception is much more complicated. And I add the Polar Vantage M2 instead of the Garmin FR935.
Without zooming in the image everything promises to be quite positive.
And in general it is. Here you can see both the start and end of the workouts. I want to highlight the beginning, in which triangulation is usually somewhat complicated, the three wathces are shown completely coinciding (except for some slight deviation from the Wahoo ELMNT Rival).
Of course “problems” arise. In this left turn the Polar Vantage M2 separates a bit from the graph of the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium and Wahoo, but we must also keep in mind that I was wearing the Polar on the right wrist while the other two go on my left arm, it comes within normal that in the turns the Polar will go somewhat longer, because in fact that separation exists.
However, this is no longer so normal. Polar continues too shifted to the right. The track is perfectly parallel to the other two watches, but I want to highlight it.
It is not something that worries me, because that does not lead to errors in pace or distance, simply the track is slightly shifted (about two meters). That I'd like to see it closer to the other two? Yeah, but it would be worse if there were spikes going on all over the place.
The Suunto 9 Baro Titanium, meanwhile, remains perfectly anchored to the correct route, except for the first of the marked arrows (the rightmost) where it slightly cuts the turn.
But let's go to the tricky area. Here the reception is more difficult as I'm running inside a small canyon by the river, and at the top I do it under a fairly leafy forest.
You can appreciate the difficulty of the area in the erratic behavior on the part of the three devices, but within the error there is nothing blatant. None of the three members of the comparison is noticeably lost and all three, despite not receiving good signal, recover very quickly.
Let's get back to the promenade area, but this time with some modification in the layout to make the watches through a somewhat more complicated test.
But before we get to that tougher test there are some points that must also be highlighted. In the marks I've made, from left to right, you can see how I marked with an arrow (to the left of the image) a point at which Suunto 9 slightly deviates from the path, something that also happened to it when crossing the bridge in the middle of the image.
However you can see one of my favorite turns to check performance, in which all three watches have made the quick course changes without any incident. Polar Vantage M2 and Suunto 9 Baro Titanium behaved perfectly in that spot.
At this point we have erratic behavior on the part of the Polar Vantage M2 and the Garmin FR935. The Suunto 9 is the one with the best behaviour, the correct route being the one it has made at all times. However the Polar Vantage M2 has had a small punctual neglect, although it has quickly been resolved.
This is the most complicated part, because on the return route I enter the inner street of Puerto Banús. Narrow, with tall buildings on both sides and frankly complicated reception. I didn't expect great things from any of the three watches, however within the difficulty it is the Suunto 9 that has best approached the correct layout, with the Polar Vantage M2 and the Garmin FR935 showing the same difficulties.
At that spot I must highlight those who do it well, and not those who do it wrong, because the reception, I insist, is really complicated.
With cycling, as usual, there are no great things to highlight.
Of course and I insist again, it does not mean that everything is going to be perfect, we can always find some turn or some point where the layout is not the right one. Do not forget that a GPS watch is not a precision instrument.
But as a whole, cycling is something that is perfectly dominated by all manufacturers, especially because speed is usually higher than running, which makes it easier to obtain beautiful and aesthetic graphics.
But I can't close the GPS performance section of the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium without showing the operation of one of its flagship features: FusedTrack. It is not new, in fact it is present in the Suunto 9 since the beginning of this model, but every time I use it I am amazed at how it works.
Remember that FusedTrack consists of, when we select the Endurance or Ultra battery saving modes, the GPS will only work sporadically (every 1 minute and every 2 minutes, respectively).
What does the watch do the rest of the time? It provides pace, distance and GPS track through internal sensors: magnetic compass, accelerometer and gyroscope. This is so in the run and trail run modes.
Therefore, the track obtained does not come from the GPS but from the algorithms that Suunto has created to solve that situation. The watch rests on those sporadic points to draw a mostly correct track. Any other watch in a power saving mode would simply link those dots with straight lines.
Well, check the Suunto 9 track.
Yes, of course there are errors, among which are the ones we see here where the Suunto seems to have made a little mess.
But during the rest of the track it may even seem that there is no battery saving mode selected and that the GPS is working normally.
I insist, there are punctual errors, but it is absolutely impressive that by registering a GPS point every minute Suunto can show these clean tracks.
All in all, the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium features really good GPS performance. It is very reliable at all times, and rarely has errors that do not cease to be punctual. Without a doubt it is one of the most cared for aspects by Suunto and is noted every time we review a workout.
Optical heart rate sensor
If the GPS performance has been very good, I can't say the same about the optical heart rate sensor. Overall the performance has been poor in each and every one of the workouts I have done. It's something that caught my attention, because it didn't happen to me with the original Suunto 9 Baro.
The optical heart rate sensor remains the same (and it certainly needs an upgrade), the only thing that has changed is the titanium bezel and nylon strap. Certainly the bezel will not worsen the record, it even should improve it by the lower weight of the set, so the next possible culprit is the strap.
Not because it is of poor quality (personally I like it much more than silicone), but because it is less elastic it does not allow the watch to be fully fixed on the wrist so that, due to the high weight of the watch, it ends up moving on the wrist while running.
But let's compare with other heart rate sensors where you're going to be able to see perfectly what I mean. Starting with this workout at a smooth and steady pace, something that should not present any issues for any sensor.
You can see how the light blue graph corresponding to the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium shows light peaks constantly.
I then expand the final part of the workout, where more separation exists between the graph of the Suunto and that of the other two watches.
If the recording in an easy workout has been defective, obviously when there are complications the thing gets even worse.
Here you can see a pure interval workout.
The start is somewhat irregular on the three sensors compared, but around minute 7 the readings stabilizes. But the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium continues to make slightly elevated readings at all times. But as soon as the intervals arrive, the bigger spikes are triggered.
That was short intervals. But with longer ones there are no big differences either, the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium continues to have a frankly irregular behavior.
It is clear that one of the enemies of optical HR sensors on the wrist is weight. The higher the weight, the greater vibrations occur and the harder it is for the sensor to be able to make a correct reading.
It is especially noteworthy in the case of the Suunto 9, because it is a fairly “head heavy” watch. It is heavy and bulky on the top, so it accuses more wrist movements than a lighter and lower profile watch.
The slimming suffered by the Suunto 9 for the titanium version has not been enough to improve the performance of the optical pulse sensor. In fact it is a Valencell sensor that has been on the market for many years, which also does not help when comparing it with other models that are also smaller and lighter.
As I said at the beginning, I think that in this case you can blame the nylon strap and its lack of elasticity. In this case if you want to keep this strap, the use of an external heart rate sensor is almost essential.
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Suunto 9 Baro Titanium opinion
We must be clear that the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium is not a new watch, but a new finish within the existing range.
Aesthetically it seems somewhat more careful, with a less rugerized appearance, less rough than normal Suunto 9 may seem. The bezel, with the inclusion of the colored line, gives the feeling of being smaller than before (although it is the same size) and the nylon strap seems quite successful to me. It perfectly combines casual use in everyday life with being able to use it also in all our activities.
On the wrist those 14 grams are also felt. It doesn't stop being a big watch, but it doesn't feel like something SO big anymore.
In short, a small update focused on lightness and the use of more noble materials, as well as continuing to include more software features.
It seems that it is the “latest fashion” by all manufacturers, a product solution that we have seen throughout this 2021. What I am unclear is whether it is because the market has reached a certain maturity and there is little room for innovations, or it is a “non-aggression” pact between manufacturers to be able to pass this time of COVID without being too affected.
Garmin introduced the Enduro, which although it received another name it's nothing more than a Fenix 6X Pro Solar dressed in different clothes. Polar last week announced the Vantage M2 with a change in aesthetics and some small features added already seen in the rest of the range, and today Suunto presents this 9 Baro Titanium. We don't have to pay too much attention to see what trend they are all following.
This Suunto 9 Baro Titanium comes to fight the king's throne of battery life against the COROS VERTIX (up to 150 hours in UltraMax mode) and the Garmin Enduro (up to 300 hours with energy saving and solar charge).
The Suunto 9 Baro Titanium has its strengths, just like the others. Mainly in terms of route navigation, which I consider that Suunto is the best option compared to that of the other two models. It also has a better application than the COROS (the Suunto App is already taking shape), and it is also the cheapest of the three. Although the record of the optical heart rate sensor I've obtained has been pretty bad and goes against it.
Although in the Suunto App I still see a bad bug, as it cannot be paired with more than one watch at a time. And that's a problem, because it's a barrier for all those who want to have a Suunto 7 as a daily watch and for certain workouts (including their ability to navigate with maps), and on the other hand to have a Suunto 9 as a more adventurous option. I can't understand that more than a year after the presentation of Suunto 7, this has not been resolved.
And with that... thanks for reading!