Apple may be synonymous with smartwatches just as Garmin and Fitbit are with sports and fitness tracking. But what about a wrist piece that offers the best of both, with irresistible styling to boot?
This is where Finnish fitness company Suunto’s latest offering – the Suunto 7 – is worth special attention. Especially if you've got an eye for details and looking for a do-it-all smartwatch that’ll keep you stay connected with what matters in your professional and social circles, yet rugged enough to match your sporting aspirations outside of it.
Straight out of the box, our Graphite Copper Suunto 7 review unit was a real looker with a sleek brushed stainless steel copper bezel framing its 50mm fiberglass reinforced polyamide case.
Size-wise, this a big watch, yet all you’ll really focus on is that rich vibrant touchscreen Gorilla glass AMOLED display that’s not just pretty to look at, but offers great legibility midway through an activity. Strapped on this writer’s narrow wrist, the silicon strap sits the Suunto 7 comfortably with its 70g weight hardly noticeable.
Now, it would be wise to get familiar with the instruction manual and how the watch works because the mixed push-button / touch control combination takes some getting used to. Think of it as first using a smartphone without that central home button.
The Suunto 7 is also Suunto’s first use of Google’s dummy-proof Wear OS system. Regardless of your comfort with technology, Wear OS will guide you through every aspect of getting the watch set up, paired up with you smartphone and getting started. If you’re familiar with Google Home, this works exactly the same, with a clean in-app interface that lets you set everything from watch faces to WiFi connections and even specific notification settings.
Up to this point, the Suunto 7 is all kitted out for living the connected life – albeit through the Google ecosystem – with music (Google Play), payments (Google Pay), information (Google Assistant) and, obviously, health tracking (Google Fit) keeping you abreast of fitness goals such as daily activity and heart-rate monitoring. The combination of push-button controls and touch screen activations becomes intuitive with familiarity and allows the various functions to be toggled discreetly when you need to catch up on texts while grinding through all-day Zoom calls in the name of work.
As this is, after all, a sports watch from one of the most storied fitness companies around, you can expect some pretty neat sporting capability. Unfortunately, you’ll have to download the Suunto mobile app to get the best of it. Once you overlook the hassle of toggling two apps to get the best out of the Suunto 7, you’ll be able to take your pick of monitoring your performance for up to 70 different sports and activities, even view heatmaps of your activity and receive a whole series of stats post-workout that show you just how hard you’ve worked out that session. Depending on your sporting flavour, the downloadable maps will help you accurately track activity without having to rely on connectivity through your phone – perfect for when you’re looking to head out and sweat it out with some me-time.
Put through its paces on a mix routine of road runs, yoga and pilates workouts, the Suunto 7 didn’t disappoint. The heartrate monitoring was accurate, while the GPS tracking worked well as long as a signal before commencing the activity.
Those who desire more detailed controls and data may find the Suunto 7 a little too basic, but if, like me, you’re more focused on keeping tabs on how well you’re doing, and looking to consciously live a more active lifestyle while staying connected with what matters, the Suunto 7 has everything you’d would want in a lifestyle sports smartwatch.
The only notable bother, is that battery life struggles under the demands of GPS tracking, that rich display, and the Wear OS system. You could opt to toggle between power saving modes, but without putting in that effort to tinker, the watch still managed slightly under 1.5 days of wear before requiring a charge, which happens very quickly. Suunto has recently released a new update that should improve battery life, particularly necessary on longer outdoor hikes and while (eventually) travelling.
With that sorted, the Suunto 7 will boast even greater appeal to the lifestyle set looking for a premium smart watch that’s all dressed up for business and all action when called upon.