Suunto 9 Baro Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Sleek look, touch screen, extensive battery life and power saving options, onboard maps
Cons: Lacks many features, bulky, slow interface
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Suunto 9 Baro
|Price||$389.99 at REI|
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|Pros||Sleek look, touch screen, extensive battery life and power saving options, onboard maps||Good battery life, comfortable, easy to use, great value||Reliable, durable, excellent battery life, simple design||Low profile design, great battery life, very accurate, low cost||Simple, inexpensive, lightweight|
|Cons||Lacks many features, bulky, slow interface||Lacks some toolset functions, scroll wheel has unintended clicks||Plastic body, straps not removable, may be less comfortable for smaller wrists||Minimal activity profiles, no navigation features, plastic construction||Lacks premium health stats, shorter battery life|
|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 functionality||A fully-featured GPS watch at a great price makes this one of our top recommendations for all user types||A rugged GPS watch with potentially unlimited battery life, this watch has all the features you need and nothing you don't||A fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting great battery life at an incredible value||A basic GPS watch that will be perfect for those looking to track their activities without the advanced features of premium models or extended battery life|
|Rating Categories||Suunto 9 Baro||Coros Apex Pro||Garmin Instinct 2 S...||Coros Pace 2||Garmin Forerunner 55|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Ease of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Suunto 9 Baro||Coros Apex Pro||Garmin Instinct 2 S...||Coros Pace 2||Garmin Forerunner 55|
|Watch Face Material||Sapphire crystal||Sapphire glass||Power glass||Corning glass||Chemically strengthened glass|
|Bezel||Stainless steel||Titanium Alloy||Fiber reinforced polymer||Fiber reinforced polymer||Stainless steel|
|Case||Glass fibre reinforced polyamide||Alumnium||Fiber reinforced polymer||Fiber reinforced polymer||Glass fibre reinforced polyamide|
|Strap Material||Silicone||Silicon or nylon||Silicone||Silicon or nylon||Silicone|
|Tools Required to Change Band?||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Size Tested||One size only||47mm||One size only||One size only||One size only|
|Measured Main Body Size (diameter)||50mm||47mm||45mm||43mm||42mm|
|Measured Screen Width||35mm||33mm||23mm||32mm||26.5mm|
|Measured Weight||2.8 oz||2.0 oz||1.87 oz||1.2 oz||1.31 oz|
|Measured Charging Time||150 min||80 min||123 min||80 min||111 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||29 hours||19 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;
|Smartwatch mode: 20 days;
GPS: 30 hours;
Ultramax mode: 60 hours
|Smartwatch mode: 2 weeks;
GPS: 20 hours
|Navigation Built In?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Satellite Networks Used||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOU||GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO||GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO|
|Maps?||Yes - detailed||Yes - basic||No||No||No|
|Back to Start Navigation?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Water Resistance (max depth)||100m||100m||100m||50m||50m|
|Daily Fitness Tracking?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Main Software App||Suunto||Coros App||Garmin Connect, widgets for other features||Coros||Garmin Connect, widgets for other features|
|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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
— Matthew Richardson and Amber King
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