Suunto 7 smartwatch: Big enough to take on Apple?
BIG, bold and beautiful. At 50mm, the Suunto 7 is the big screen TV of fitness smartwatches.
But is it really fully featured enough to take on Apple or Garmin?
When I first laid my eyes on the design - and checked out the feature set - I couldn't wait to give it a whirl.
Super stylish, it offers more features in the fitness department - including offline maps and heat maps to see the road more travelled by others - something that could save your life in the wilderness.
The Finnish product offers 70 different sports modes to test your fitness against, from walking, to various types of running, cycling, swimming, not to mention rollerblading, mountaineering and paragliding.
What's particularly cool is you can download offline maps which you can use while you're away from your phone.
The big display and the fact that you can use the buttons on the watch to zoom in and out easily means you can check you route options and then begin your journey.
The heat maps show you the more popular routes for a particular activity, so you are less likely to get lost when trekking through that national park.
But it's not the easiest watch to get used to when it comes to navigating and using the button controls.
If you buy one, make sure you watch the onscreen tutorial and have a good read through the user guide.
I didn't read the user guide until more recently so found myself stumbling over the basics like how to switch from the Suunto app, map and then find an activity and start it.
Navigating through so many sports modes, particularly when you're in the water, can be a little hard though it will default to showing the ones you use most recently and the button controls work better than scrolling via the screen when it is wet.
Once you get the hang of it, though, it's not that difficult, though the Apple Watch is a lot easier and more intuitive.
I tested the tracking while taking a very slow swim along a Sunshine Coast beach and found it to be pretty accurate against streets and local landmarks.
The Suunto 7 uses Wear OS software so you can do things like Google Pay and access apps from the Google Play store to use.
Suunto has also integrated some battery saving modes to prolong the life of your watch.
It also has things like a theatre mode which means you watch doesn't keep coming on while you're moving in the middle of the night.
When it first came out, the Suunto 7 was priced at $799 which made it pretty expensive.
But this week the price has dropped to $599, making it an attractive proposition.
Suunto has also made a range of recent improvements to its flagship watch, including 24/7 easy access to steps and calories through the Suunto mobile app and Suunto Today tile.
The today tile presents recovery time, as well as daily step and calorie targets that are easily set-up through the Suunto app, and HR data can now be accessed through the Google Fit tile.
New sport mode customisation allows people to create their own sport modes, in addition to the 70 pre-defined modes.
Users can now design sport modes in the Suunto mobile app and choose the information they want to see during exercise. The custom-made sport modes created will appear at the top of the sport mode list in the watch.
The heatmaps are available across 15 activities to show where the hotspots are including for running, cycling, swimming or hiking.
For those wanting to avoid the crowds, or practice some COVID 19 social distancing, the maps can also be used to provide information on 'the path less travelled' and where, on average, there is less people traffic.
Suunto is working hard to develop a sense of community among its users.
It conducted aVirtual Race Across America (VRAAM), in which Australians participated in a virtual cycling course covering a total of 4,542 kilometres.
The initiative included providing 17 Australians with a Suunto - their first ever wearable device - for use over three months.
Throughout the challenge each participants' physical activity, dedication to monitoring and overall feeling of happiness was tracked through both a resting heart rate and average heart rate, along with a rating of 1-5 on a Happiness index.
As you would expect, exercise did equate to a higher lever of mental health and wellbeing.
"When Suunto 7 first launched, we received an overwhelmingly warm reception from both dedicated fitness-lovers and everyday active Australians alike,'' Fraser Jones, Head of Suunto ANZ said.
"Following the launch, we've listened to feedback from consumers around the world and worked hard to make it even better and easier to use, across both its smart functions and sports capabilities.''
WHAT WE LIKED
Big, bright screen
Huge range of sports modes
Comfort of watch - it's light weight
NOT SO GOOD
Screen doesn't come alive with wrist flick as quick as Apple Watch
Controls are not as easy to use
You can't take a phone call on the watch
Range of watch faces limited
SUUNTO 7 SPECS
Bezel: Stainless Steel
Watch Case: Reinforced Polyamid
Strap materials: 24mm Strap (available in assorted silicon, leather and textile)
Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Galileo
Battery Life: Up to 12 hours in GPS tracking mode or up to 48 hours in daily use*
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Operating system: Wear OS by Google
Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform
Phone support: iOS and Android
The Suunto 7 is available at www.suunto.com and select retail partners, including JB Hi Fi, for $599 AUD.