A few months ago I tried out my first smartwatch in the form of the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium. Just like their athletics Suunto doesnt stop and they recently launched the Suunto 9 Peak – the thinnest, most powerful and uncompromisingly durable watch in the brand’s history.
Suunto claims the Peak is 37% thinner than the 9 Baro. Whilst I don’t have both models on hand to compare, the 9 Peak is definitely much less bulky on my wrist.
My review unit is a Granite Blue Titanium. In terms of materials used, the bezel is made from Titanium Grade 5 which is actually a titanium alloy. In fact it is the “workhorse” of titanium alloys and is the most commonly used – accounting for 50% of total titanium usage globally. The glass is sapphire crystal for scratch resistance, case material is once again Titanium Grade 5 with glass fiber reinforced polyamide. The strap is made from silicone.
The colour reference in the name really refers to the silicone strap, although there is a stainless steel version of the unit itself available. There are variations in the strap design across the range. A nice change to the strap design is the metal fastening pin on the end of it, allowing the end of the strap to be kept much closer to the watch without the flappy dangly bit. Speak of straps, they are easily interchangeable with a little tab to pull to release the connection.
A key change with the Peak is the charging. Whereas the 9 Baro had a directional “bar” magnet attachment, which at the time I noted can have occasional misalignment, the Peak has a complete redesign. There are now two studs on the back of the watch, and 2 “rails” on the charging cable side giving almost 360 degrees freedom in the attachment and less chances of a failed attachment.
The make the most out of your Suunto Peak 9, you will need the Suunto app. I already had an account from my previous review of the 9 Baro Titanium, hop over to that review if you need a reference for the setup instructions. It is essentially the same process where you start input language, gender, birth year, unit system, time format, weight and height. At the end of that it takes you through a getting started guide, and for me four month on from the last Suunto review was a welcome refresher..
The Suunto app treated the Peak as a completely new device, which it is obviously but this also means some drawbacks. For example none of the notification settings I had tuned to my liking in the previous review were not transferred across. This alone made the “upgrade” process more tedious than it should be as I get an insane amount of notifications on my phone. I would have preferred to have my baseline migrated over and I work from there.
As the flagship device, the Suunto 9 Peak has all the features from the 9 Baro Titanium and more. I covered the features in depth in my previous review so I won’t rehash it here. Similarly the navigation and functions remain the same.
The Peak now includes blood oxygen level measurements to help determine acclimation levels at higher altitudes. Noting that the Suunto 9 Peak is not a medical device and is not intended for diagnosing or monitoring medical conditions. Certainly a feature that would benefit an elite athlete or a COVID positive patient. Right now my summit would be the peak of my roof, checking for damage and cleaning the gutters. Summer may usher in the removal of 15km from home limit and a freedom to go bush bashing.
Let’s just be frank here, I have never been an elite athlete. I have been fit playing cardio intensive sports, long distance swimming and the like in my “younger” days. My base workload and family duties means time management is an extreme sport. It also means much of my “maintenance movements” are ad hoc and unplanned. I could be out running around with the kids (or more accurately after them) rather than clocking in a formal session of walking or running. At a minimum the Peak keeps track of my steps and calorie burn, and when I do remember to start and stop an “exercise” session, it gives me an insight to my movements. The automatic backlight intensity adjustment so you can still read the watch face as the lighting conditions change, perfect for whatever time it is that I am out with the kids.
With the built in GPS, the Peak can keep track of your route without having to carry a smartphone on you all the time.
The battery will go the distance, with a rated minimum of 25 hours at the most intensive training mode with GPS on.
In a total travesty for a top of the line smart watch, the best metrics I get from the Peak is my sleeping pattern, which is abysmal. The charts shows a consistent and shocking level of lack of sleep. I could change the baseline metrics to fool the app, but that is hardly going to fool me.
There are a lot of changes made under the hood of the Suunto 9 Peak via software updates. For example the Snap to Route feature which facilitates perfect GPS tracks on pre-planned routes. The latest firmware release in late September 2021 added media controls, as well as canned responses to incoming message on watch (Android only). Much of the new features will flow down to other devices in the Suunto 9.
The addition of a new blood oxygen sensor gives the Peak the ability to track SpO2 readings. There are caveats to everything and what is interesting is that whilst the sensors are on full time, data is only recorded in intervals. For example heart rate is recorded at 10 minute intervals, and the new SpO2 readings are actually spot measurements.
So whilst conditions such as sleep apnea can be tracked via sleep metric and Sp02 readings, the way data is captured by Suunto actually does not facilitate that.
For those who are constantly active, you can get a full charge in an hour.
The new metal fastening pin is a great feature, but it is not perfect. I found that I can accidentally knock the strap loose doing day to day tasks or in my sleep.
The interval between data point collection limits some of the usefulness of the device.
Suunto claims that the Suunto 9 Peak is 36% lighter than the previous flagship. My hands on experience with it is not scientific, but the occasional flare ups of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis (Mothers thumb or Mommy Thumb) I experienced whilst testing the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium never crop up with the Peak. The reduction in weight actually made enough of a difference not to trigger my tenosynovitis at all, and I have been wearing the Peak almost constantly for this review.
The Suunto 9 Peak does not come cheap. The Titanium version (Granite Blue and Birch White) has a RRP of AUD$1,199.99, and the stainless steel (All Black and Moss Grey) comes in at AUD$999.99. You can customise the strap with other silicone colours, microfibre or leather options. Interesting enough, at time of publication, you can for example, customise a Birch White Titanium with a Birch White silicone strap, and the check out price is goes up to $1,219.99. The engraving option will add an extra $20 to the buy price.
Whilst it is interesting and morbid to look at my sleep charts, and everyone thanks for me being significantly better at picking up my calls because the watch is telling me someone is calling, there are some probably some obstacles to the average consumer to jump in with both feet. Personally for me it is an expensive, but very stylish sleep tracker and phone call announcer.
However for people who are on a mission to improve their physique and fitness, it is a different matter entirely. The design decisions around data point collection makes more sense for training, rather than a daily activity tracker. A software update down the track could widen the scope for broader appeal. At the end of the day aesthetics is going to play a big part in many decision making processes, and the Suunto 9 Peak looks pretty damn good.
DRN would like to thank Suunto for their on-going support, we love the T-shirt, windcheater and the protein bars that came with the review unit.
Bezel material: Titanium Grade 5
Glass material: Sapphire crystal
Case material: Titanium Grade 5, Glass fiber reinforced polyamide
Strap material: Silicone
Weight 52 g / 1.83 oz
Strap width: 22 mm
Wrist sizes: 125-175 mm (accessory strap -215 mm)
Water resistance: 100 m
Battery type: Rechargeable lithium-ion
Display resolution: 240 x 240
Operating temperature: -20° C to +55° C / -5° F to +130° F
Storage temperature: -20° C to +55° C / -5° F to +130° F
Recommended charging temperature: 0° C to +35° C / +32° F to +95° F
In time mode: 14 days
With 24/7 tracking and mobile notifications: 7 days
Training mode with GPS: 25h / 50h / 120h / 170h
Intelligent battery modes: Performance, Endurance, Ultra, Tour, Custom
Satellite systems: GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOU
GPS recording rate: Best, Good, OK, Low