The Suunto 9 Experience

Suunto have made some people frustrated recently. Not only have they released a smartwatch that is giving their competitors a run for their money, but it is also probably their best to date. They are frustrated because after testing it they now want one, and this usually means shelling out some good ol’ Ringgits for it.

The test was done recently in collaboration with Suunto’s Malaysian distributor, A.D. Time Sdn Bhd, in which we lent out the new Suunto9 to some triathletes and cyclists who either already own a Suunto smartwatch or wear a smartwatch from a different company.

Taking the opportunity to test them during the recent Kuala Lumpur Duathlon 2018, where participants had to complete a 5km run and 30km cycling challenge. Our testers were given the watch a week before the event so they could get used to its functions and learn how best to use them during the event.

For those who testing the Suunto9 who came from a familiar Suunto background, they seemed to be frustrated that the new smartwatch was that much better than their own Suunto watch. Citing the amazing battery life, this really got them thinking of upgrading. Triathlete Ahmad Feisol Abu Amin, who has been using Suunto smartwatches since the Ambit 3 era probably summed it up best. He had just completed the Ironman competition the week before, and used the KL Duathlon as a recovery event.

“During my Ironman race, my smartwatch ran out of battery halfway through the event. I wish I had the Suunto9 last week. I have been wearing the Suunto9 watch for two days now and yesterday I wore it all day and went swimming in the evening. Today I participated in the race and the battery life still shows that it has 80 per cent to go. I didn’t even put it on “ultra”-long life mode and already it is showing that it’s made to last. I think the Suunto9 would probably outlast any event. Compared to some other data that I have gathered from other people during the KL Duathlon, it also seems that the GPS and readings are accurate. But then again, I always knew that Suunto watches provided reliable data. So for me it was all about the battery life, something that I must have now”.

His sentiments were also confirmed by the other triathletes on the day, with most saying the features are pretty much the same, with the exception of the now extra-long lasting battery life.

Testers new to the Suunto smartwatch were also left frustrated, but for different reasons. Suunto watches have a plethora of features and customisation options available to the wearer. This applies to most Suunto watches including the Suunto9. For those who have never used Suunto smartwatch before it does take some time to get comfortable with how to operate the functions available. Luckily throughout the experience we had Idzam Othman, a triathlete who has been using Suunto smartwatches since 2013, to help guide them.

“It can be a bit daunting at first but once you get to know the functions it’s actually quite easy and very useful,” he says. “In fact, Suunto has some great guides on its website on how to use these functions. All it takes is some time, and you’ll definitely feel at home with it”. After guiding them, the Suunto newbies commented that Idzam was correct - that a little bit of time learning how to use the watch was all they needed.

The Suunto website with its video guide comes in pretty handy, but the watch manual can also help a lot. Although there was no swimming involved, testers managed to utilise the famous Suunto one touch transition function - an easy way to start recording and showing specific data for specific sports. By using feature, the watch will show different sets of data which has been deemed more important in that particular sport. All you have to do is press and hold the top bottom and it will change the sport for you. This is available in the Triathlon sport function and really does help triathletes to concentrate on the task at hand instead of faffing around with the watch. The one touch transition function is also another reason why many triathletes prefer the Suunto watch over others.

It’s a shame that the testers had only a limited time to test out the Suunto9 because it has plenty more features for other activities. Some who go jungle trekking also noticed the breadcrumb feature, which they wished they could have tried it out. With the long battery life, the Suunto9 would also be great for those long hours in the jungle. This is just another example of how ingenious the smartwatch is. Clearly the cleverly designed Suunto9 has more than one trick up its sleeve!