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Suunto 7 review: Hands on with the smartwatch designed for the great outdoors

Expert Reviews logo Expert Reviews 03/01/2020 Jonathan Bray
a close up of a coffee cup on a counter: Suunto 7 review: Hands on with the smartwatch designed for the great outdoors © Expert Reviews Suunto 7 review: Hands on with the smartwatch designed for the great outdoors
Smartwatches

Finnish firm Suunto is perhaps best known for its iconic series of diving watches but it has long been a pioneer of more generic wearable tech. CES 2020, however, sees the first time the company has ditched its own, in-house software in favour of Google’s Android Wear wearable OS.

The Suunto 7 is no run of the mill no-effort identikit Android Wear watch, however. With the assistance of Qualcomm, the Finnish firm has produced the very first Google-based wearable to take advantage of the Qualcomm Wear 3100 chip’s co-processor to extend battery life past the usual two or three days.

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Suunto 7 review: Specifications, price and release date

1.39in OLED touchscreen Qualcomm Wear 3100 SoC Android Wear OS GPS/Glonass/Galileo, heart rate monitor, accelerometer, barometer, NFC 8GB storage Price: €479 / $479 Release date: Pre-order on 6 January at www.suunto.com

Suunto 7 review: Key features and first impressions

Inside, the Suunto 7 has all the tracking tech you’d expect of a modern smartwatch. It has an optical heart-rate monitor, GPS, accelerometer and barometer. The difference between this and other proper smartwatches is that the Suunto 7 can deliver up to “12 hours with continuous GPS tracking”. That’s pretty impressive and, if true, should enable you to track your activities all day with plenty of battery life left to use the device as a regular smartwatch in the evening.

That’s much better than most smartwatches, including the Apple Watch Series 5, which for context delivers continuous tracking via GPS for half as long as the Suunto 7. I’d be impressed, however, if it managed to get even close to the battery life I’ve seen from Garmin’s flagship sports watches in general use, especially as it’s using a regular 1.39in OLED screen. It doesn’t utilise a dual-layer display to save power and improve readability in bright sunlight, either.

It’s certainly an attractive-looking thing, though. Very much like the Casio WSD-F30 we reviewed early last year, the Suunto 7 is a smartwatch built with outdoor activities in mind. As such, it’s styled to appeal to adventuresome types with a chunky, rugged case and a couple of big buttons on the right side, designed to be operable while wearing gloves.

The strap is made from a soft, stretchy silicone-rubber that, unlike the Casio, feels pretty comfortable on the wrist. The watch is water-resistant to 50 meters, so it should be able to overcome most outdoor challenges. It’s available in five different colourways: black and yellow, white and rose with gold trim, all black, black with rose gold trim, and white with silver trim.

Just like the Casio, the Suunto also comes with offline topographic mapping, courtesy of mapping specialists, MapBox. It downloads these to its 8GB storage automatically while charging, ensuring you never have to fiddle around downloading stuff manually.

What’s most interesting about the mapping facility, aside from the ability to navigate without your smartphone, is Suunto’s heatmap overlay. Enable this and a map appears on screen consisting of the GPS traces of other Suunto users over time; this allows you to spot popular spots for running, cycling or whatever else takes your fancy at a glance.

Add to that over 70 preset tracking modes that run the full gamut of outdoors activities, from mountain biking to running, skiing and open-water swimming, plus the ability to connect to Strava via the accompanying Suunto app and you have a smartwatch that looks ready to take on the great outdoors.

Suunto 7 review: Early Verdict

The Suunto 7 looks promising but, as ever with Android Wear smartwatches, whether it will challenge Garmin’s seemingly unassailable position at the top of the high-end sports tracking wearables tree remains to be seen.

The fact that Suunto is making full use of Qualcomm’s latest wearable chip for the first time is a positive start, though, so be sure to check back soon when we’ll be ready with a full review and all our findings.

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