Unless you’re hardcore into outdoor fitness, you probably haven’t heard of Suunto. The Finnish company is mostly known for its compasses and GPS sports watches, but at CES 2020, the company is launching its first Wear OS watch, the Suunto 7.
At a glance, the Suunto 7 is reminiscent of other beefy fitness watches, like those from the Garmin Fenix 6 series or Polar. But the main difference is that both of those companies make watches that run off proprietary software. Garmin’s watches are smart because they connect via the Garmin Connect app and Polar via the Polar Flow app. It is limiting for fitness enthusiasts who might want more of a smartwatch experience. Garmins and Polars might integrate well with third-party apps, but it’s not as if you can go to a dedicated app store from the wrist as you might with say, the Apple Watch, Samsung’s Galaxy Watches, or any Wear OS watches. Likewise, some Garmin watches feature NFC payments, but they have to go through the Garmin Pay system – which may not support every bank.
That’s why it’s interesting to see Suunto go in on Wear OS. The Suunto 7 will feature 70+ sports modes – which is more than the average fitness watch – as well as offline outdoor maps for 15 activities. It’ll also have staple features like music control, the ability to connect with Bluetooth headphones for phone-free activities, as well as built-in GPS and heart rate monitoring. It also includes sensors like barometric altimeters to detect elevation, as well as include data on sleep and recovery. But adding Wear OS means the Suunto 7 will be able to include some features that Garmins and Polars simply can’t. For starters, it’ll have automatic Google Assistant integration, access to the Google Play Store, and Google Pay. (Technically it also has Google Fit, but that’s a garbage fitness platform and you’re probably better off sticking with Suunto’s app.)
Adding Wear OS is an easy way to incorporate NFC payments.
All-in-all, it does give a slight advantage to Wear OS compared to its competitors. The Apple Watch has built-in GPS, but you’ll have to find a third-party app if you want offline maps. The same goes for Samsung’s watches, which has a more limited app store too. Aside from the Suunto 7, Wear OS also has the Casio Pro Trek.
There are some trade-offs, however. Namely, in terms of battery life. No matter which way you slice it, fancier smartwatch features tend to guzzle up battery. The Suunto 7 will have up to 12 hours of GPS tracking or an estimated 48 hours of regular use. Not bad compared to the daily charging necessitated by the Apple Watch, and it’s on par with the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2. How, it’s less than the 3-5 days (or sometimes, even weeks!) of battery life you’d get from ‘less-smart’ GPS watches.
The Suunto 7 will be available starting January 31 for $500 (around £380, UK pricing TBA).
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