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Suunto 9 Baro Review

This watch stands out for its endurance event-ready battery life and touch screen, but is a bit too expensive for its lack of features and functionality
suunto 9 baro gps watch review
Credit: REI Co-op
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Price:  $500 List | $319.00 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Sleek look, touch screen, extensive battery life and power saving options, onboard maps
Cons:  Lacks many features, bulky, slow interface
Manufacturer:   Suunto
By Matthew Richardson and Amber King  ⋅  Apr 29, 2022
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 13
  • Features - 20% 7.0
  • Battery Life - 20% 7.0
  • Ease of Use - 20% 6.0
  • Accuracy - 20% 8.0
  • Design - 20% 6.0

Our Verdict

The large screen on the Suunto 9 Baro is the highlight of this watch, making reading and glancing at data easy even while under intense activity. However, the menu system leaves a lot to be desired and a better user experience can be found for this price point. If you are comfortable using the Suunto ecosystem this could be a good option given the large screen and longer battery life. Otherwise, we would recommend sticking to Garmin or Coros.

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suunto 9 baro gps watch review
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Suunto 9 Baro
Awards  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $319.00 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Sleek look, touch screen, extensive battery life and power saving options, onboard mapsGood battery life, comfortable, easy to use, great valueReliable, durable, excellent battery life, simple designExcellent quality, accurate, simple design, very easy to use, great feature set, very long battery lifeLow profile design, great battery life, very accurate, low cost
Cons Lacks many features, bulky, slow interfaceLacks some toolset functions, scroll wheel has unintended clicksPlastic body, straps not removable, may be less comfortable for smaller wristsBacklight isn't bright, heart rate monitor accuracy is a little offMinimal activity profiles, no navigation features, plastic construction
Bottom Line This watch stands out for its endurance event-ready battery life and touch screen, but is a bit too expensive for its lack of features and functionalityA fully-featured GPS watch at a great price makes this one of our top recommendations for all user typesA rugged GPS watch with potentially unlimited battery life, this watch has all the features you need and nothing you don'tA well-constructed and accurate watch with a minimalistic design, excellent battery life, and all the right featuresA fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting great battery life at an incredible value
Rating Categories Suunto 9 Baro Coros Apex Pro Garmin Instinct 2 S... Coros Apex Coros Pace 2
Features (20%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Battery Life (20%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Ease of Use (20%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Accuracy (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Design (20%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Suunto 9 Baro Coros Apex Pro Garmin Instinct 2 S... Coros Apex Coros Pace 2
Watch Face Material Sapphire crystal Sapphire glass Power glass Sapphire glass Corning glass
Bezel Stainless steel Titanium Alloy Fiber reinforced polymer Stainless steel bezel Fiber reinforced polymer
Case Glass fibre reinforced polyamide Alumnium Fiber reinforced polymer Alumnium Fiber reinforced polymer
Strap Material Silicone Silicon or nylon Silicone Silicon or nylon Silicon or nylon
Tools Required to Change Band? No No Yes No No
Model Tested N/A Standard Solar Standard N/A
Size Tested One size only 47mm One size only 42mm One size only
Measured Main Body Size (diameter) 50mm 47mm 45mm 42mm 43mm
Measured Thickness 16.5mm 13.4mm 15mm 13mm 11mm
Measured Screen Width 35mm 33mm 23mm 33mm 32mm
Measured Weight 2.8 oz 2.0 oz 1.87 oz 1.7 oz 1.2 oz
Measured Charging Time 150 min 80 min 123 min 70 min 80 min
Battery Type Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion
Measured Battery Life With GPS On 25 hours 36 hours 30 hours 24 hours 29 hours
Manufacturer-Reported Battery Life In time mode: 14 days;
24/7 tracking and mobile notifications: 7 days;
Training mode with GPS: 25h / 50h / 120h / 170h
Smartwatch mode: 30 days;
GPS mode: 40 hours;
UltraMax mode: 100 hours
Smartwatch mode: 28 days and unlimited w/ solar;
GPS: 30/48hrs
Smartwatch mode: 25 days;
Full GPS mode: 25 hours;
UltraMax GPS Mode: 80 hours
Smartwatch mode: 20 days;
GPS: 30 hours;
Ultramax mode: 60 hours
Navigation Built In? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Satellite Networks Used GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOU GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU
Maps? Yes - detailed Yes - basic No Yes - basic No
Back to Start Navigation? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Water Resistance (max depth) 100m 100m 100m 100m 50m
Music Control? Yes No Yes No No
Music Storage? No No No No No
Daily Fitness Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Touchless Payment? Yes No Yes No No
Sleep Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blood Oxygen? No Yes Yes No No
Compass? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Barometric Altimeter? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Temperature Sensor? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Main Software App Suunto Coros App Garmin Connect, widgets for other features Coros App Coros
Can Software Cross Over to Different Software Ecosystems? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Suunto 9 Baro stands out for its large touch screen; however, unless you are a dedicated Suunto fan, you may find this option underwhelming when compared to the competition. It's a reliable model, so if it fits your use case and priorities, we don't think you will be disappointed; we just feel there are better options out there.

Performance Comparison


suunto 9 baro gps watch review - the suunto 9 baro features a standout large screen. unfortunately...
The Suunto 9 Baro features a standout large screen. Unfortunately, this model fell a bit short in most of our test metrics.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Features


The features offered on the 9 Baro are everything you'll need for GPS tracking, fitness tracking, basic navigation, and gauging altitude. However, this watch is not nearly as robust as many of the Garmin options. You can't download workouts, pay wirelessly, or download music. These features are available at this price point on other models, so the 9 Baro scored less in this category.

suunto 9 baro gps watch review - limited tool-like features are found on the 9 baro. garmin and coros...
Limited tool-like features are found on the 9 Baro. Garmin and Coros both do a better job of providing tools and displaying the accompanying data.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

The Suunto app is a simple platform that allows you to share activities, track your fitness, and optimize your watch with features. There are mapping capabilities in-app, although we prefer using a more dedicated service like Gaia or CalTopo for our route creation. The app looks nice, and we think it's easier to use than the Garmin platform, which is loaded with features; too many, in our opinion. If you are after basic GPS functions, we don't think the feature set of the 9 Baro will let you down — just know you can get more for your money.

Notable Features:

  • GPS tracking for 30+ preloaded exercise modes with specific settings
  • Fitness tracking (stress recovery, steps, calories spent, analysis for the week, fitness levels)
  • Heart rate tracking
  • Training log
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Sleep tracking
  • Fitness levels
  • Music control (no storage for music)
  • Navigation (points of interest, routes, location, compass, onboard mapping)
  • Smartphone notifications
  • Touchless payment
  • Water-resistant to 10 ATM (100 meters)

For a full list of features, check out the tech specs.

Battery Life


Built with ultra-distances in mind, we are impressed by the amount of GPS battery life the 9 Baro has. You can get away using it during any ultrarace, and if you need extra juice, you can charge it on the go. That said, charging it took 150 minutes from 0% to 100%, which was much longer than the rest of the competition.

Suunto claims this watch will last seven days in smartwatch mode (14 days in just time mode), and it has several training modes that will last anywhere between 25 and 170 hours. We used this watch out of the box with pre-programmed settings and managed to get 4-5 days when actively using it for GPS activities 2-3 times per week.

suunto 9 baro gps watch review - the large screen lacks brightness and is difficult to see. even in...
The large screen lacks brightness and is difficult to see. Even in controlled conditions, the screen is not vibrant enough for our liking and the cost.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Like the feature category, you can get better battery life for equal to less money, so it's hard to recommend the 9 Baro. Still, we experienced no issues with battery life, and it will be plenty sufficient for most people. The battery modes on the Suunto products are a bit confusing, using plain language instead of more descriptive statements about what the various battery life modes mean. Garmin products have useful images to see what changes are made for the various modes, and we wish Suunto implemented this feature.

Many runners love this watch for its excellent battery charger adaptor. The adaptor is an excellent choice for longer races (like 200-mile distances) where a GPS watch might need a recharge while still tracking with an external battery pack. It's got a strong magnetic connector that won't jiggle loose and will stay in place.

Ease of Use


Our testers felt like this watch was more difficult to understand, and we constantly found ourselves hitting the wrong button. The Suunto ecosystem moves more horizontally, while the Garmin/Coros ecosystems move more vertically. We prefer the Coros/Garmin system and don't like that the Suunto system isn't a loop design. Once you get to the bottom of a menu, you have to scroll all the way to the top. Frustrating.

The touch screen is very large and easy to see, with touch functions working in cold and wet weather and with compatible gloves. We appreciate the combination of both a touch screen and dedicated buttons, though the screen does noticeably lag a bit. Many of our testers also thought the buttons were harder to press than others (not as reactive), especially when exercising. Overall, this is a nice watch, but other options are a bit higher quality, don't lag, and offer a much more natural user experience.

suunto 9 baro gps watch review - the buttons are large and easy to press, but you can accidentally...
The buttons are large and easy to press, but you can accidentally turn activities on and off when wearing the 9 Baro on the left wrist.
Credit: Amber King

The integrated mobile app is pretty simple to use. When you open it, you immediately see the latest activities and stats for that month. You can go to the next icon and see a bigger overview of activities, and the next is your location and an associated map. You can also access a leaderboard where you add friends and ranks. There are several app options under "partner services," including coaching apps, mapping apps, and more. The interface is clear and easy to use.

Accuracy


Accuracy is middle of the road for heart rate and excellent for GPS. During our tests, we took this watch on several backcountry adventures, including downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and trail running. During all of the GPS activities, tracks were never further than 10 feet off our course, including around corners, with distances reported being 99.5% correct.

The heart rate monitor isn't as accurate as other models. This, we think, is primarily due to fit. On several bike rides, we noted breaks in heart rate (we wore two watches at one time, and other watches picked up these breaks). During our resting tests, the heart rate didn't deviate by much — only 3 - 5 bpm. When exercising, we felt like the readings were accurate as well. Overall, accuracy is good but not great as the fit of the watch is large and has a harder time picking up data.

suunto 9 baro gps watch review - the heart rate accuracy was more variable than in other models we...
The heart rate accuracy was more variable than in other models we tested. This could be due to the fixed straps which are less conforming to our smaller wrist.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Design


This watch is large, and unless you have a large wrist, you probably can find a better model. Still, the design is classic Suunto, and it's clearly made of premium materials. We do wish the screen was brighter in sunny conditions because readability suffered at times. We appreciate the dedicated buttons, although they felt a bit soft at times. This is not the thinnest model we tested, but it's far from thick.

Design is a very personal topic, so consider your style and preferences. Personally, we prefer hinge-style watch bands and thinner cases. It's hard to argue that the screen size doesn't look cool, though.

suunto 9 baro gps watch review - the design is easy to see in high light but tends to get stuck on...
The design is easy to see in high light but tends to get stuck on tighter fitting layers.
Credit: Amber King

Value


At this price, we cannot recommend this watch. The interface is lacking, the screen brightness is not up to par with the competition, and the battery life is not as good as Garmin or Coros. The design is heavier and arguably less premium. If you are a die-hard Suunto fan, don't let us deter you, but we think most of our readers will find better value elsewhere.

Conclusion


The Suunto 9 Baro has a large screen and a rugged beefy style. If you love Suunto products or this particular design, then we think you will have no problems with it. If you are in the market to spend every dollar as specifically as possible, we would suggest the Coros Apex Pro at this price point. We are fans of Suunto's past models, but this one falls short for us, and we hope we can test a more well-rounded model in the future.

suunto 9 baro gps watch review - we found the 9 baro was able to receive satellite even in deep...
We found the 9 Baro was able to receive satellite even in deep canyons and tracked our mileage well throughout the winding channels.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Matthew Richardson and Amber King
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