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Sports watch company Suunto has long been a player in the wearables industry, offering a variety of fitness trackers, dive watches and compasses. Although many of its products offer basic activity tracking and wristwatch functionality, no product in Suunto’s catalog carried the official smartwatch title until the launch of the Suunto 7.
The Suunto 7 is a feature-rich multisport wearable with Wear OS functionality that includes access to Google Play, Google Fit, Google Pay and Google Assistant. Equipped with the power and capability of Google’s smartwatch interface, plus email, text and phone notifications, the 7 lives up to its “smart” title.
But true to Suunto style, it also aims to perform as one of the best fitness trackers. With tracking compatibility for over 70 sports, a built-in heart rate monitor and GPS, plus offline map support and 50-meter water resistance, it’s built for activity.
Aside from a few minor annoyances, my time with the Suunto 7 has been largely positive. It’s a cheaper alternative to the Garmin fenix and a sturdier substitute for the Apple Watch Series 8 or Fitbit Sense 2.
A familiar design with a bigger screen
After unboxing the watch, it’s clear Suunto’s designers have one go-to style: a round watch face flanked by a distinct bezel with navigation buttons and a silicone watch band. Although the 7 wears the same Suunto-issued uniform, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Suunto’s watch design always leans towards an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.
Although the design and overall look is similar to older Suunto watches, the 7 has a larger dial than the Suunto 3 or Suunto 5. I didn’t have a problem with it, but it is noticeably larger and might be too much for anyone with smaller wrists.
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Despite that larger size, it never felt heavier than any other fitness tracker I’ve worn, even during runs or during workouts. The product page lists the watch at just under 2.5 ounces and it’s likely that a lot of that weight is in the watch face as the silicone strap makes it look like it doesn’t weigh almost nothing.
Easy setup and navigation
Setting up the Suunto 7 is like setting up almost any other kind of Wear OS fitness tracker or smartwatch. Just pair it to your smartphone and download the Suunto and Wear OS companion apps. From there, the watch walks you through the setup process and shows you how to navigate the interface, where to access workouts, how to adjust settings, and more.
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The watch relies on both swipe navigation and button controls, which I found was the quickest way to access key features. For example, the button in the upper left corner of the watch serves as a home screen or back button, but also brings up the settings menu. The top right button of the watch takes you to the activities page while the bottom right button opens the stopwatch.
Suunto allows for some customization in terms of the apps and types of notifications you can receive on the watch, and you can choose from a variety of different watch faces.
A sporty and robust smartwatch
Where the Suunto 7 really shines is with its sports and activity tracking. Beyond the basics like running, biking, or swimming, the 7 also tracks mountain biking, roller skating, weight training, snowboarding, boxing, and bowling, among many others. It’s a strong contender if you’re looking for the best GPS watch for running, but if it’s an activity that requires even minimal movement, the watch can keep up with it.
However, it’s worth pointing out that tracking some of them is purely a timer for how long you’ve been active and a heart rate reading. In other words, it does not track the number of digs you record while playing volleyball or the number of wickets you hit while playing cricket.
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However, this type of tracking is still important and shines a light on your overall level of fitness. If you’ve had a particularly grueling run followed by a long bike ride, the watch recognizes your high activity level and recommends that you rest before getting back into running. While many fitness trackers focus on activity, it’s nice to see a wearable that encourages rest.
While some activities only record time and heart rate, many offer advanced tracking and feedback. Running tracking gives information such as pace, distance, calories burned, cadence and heart rate zones while recording your route via GPS. Likewise, the ski and snowboard feature tracks how fast you descend the mountain, automatically resetting each lap as you get on a chairlift while also tracking GPS.
Battery life could be better
Be ready to charge this watch every night. If I didn’t track much throughout the day, I would sometimes have enough battery power to make it to the next morning or the next afternoon, but it wouldn’t be enough to do anything other than tell the time.
When using the tracking features and built-in GPS, I had to make sure to plug it in every night before bed. It didn’t end up being too complicated and it’s something Apple Watch users are already familiar with.
Heavy app experience and spotty connections
The Suunto 7 does not come without a few fine details. First, the app experience is split between the Wear OS app and the Suunto app, which can be frustrating. It takes some getting used to and makes the learning curve a bit steeper, but it’s not a total deal breaker.
The watch also often lost its connection with my phone when I closed apps. As a routine app close, I swipe my iPhone several times an hour to clear anything that doesn’t need to be opened, which often meant I accidentally close Suunto and Wear OS apps. This sometimes unpaired the watch from my phone and I could no longer receive notifications.
Should I buy it?
The market for rugged activity tracker slash smartwatches like the Suunto 7 is robust, so it ultimately comes down to whether you like the Suunto ecosystem or not. I found it easy to use, albeit with a few details. I liked the wide range of trackable activities, easy-to-navigate interface, and unique rest and recovery information.
It’s clear that Suunto has years of fitness wearables under its belt and yet the smartwatch functionality of the 7 bears little resemblance to a brand taking its first steps into tech. This first entry into the smartwatch category is a worthy start for Suunto and aside from a few connectivity issues, my experience with the 7 has been quite pleasant.
Since the release of the 7, the company has continued to make strong inroads into the smartwatch space with its Suunto 9 family of devices and discontinued sales of the Suunto 7. However, the Suunto 7 remains a quality and capable option. for all the reasons listed above. If you have the option of getting it from a third-party provider, don’t rule it out.
Fitness Technology Editor, Insider Reviews
Rick Stella is the Fitness Technology Editor for the Insider Reviews team. It reviews and reports on all forms of wearables such as activity trackers and smartwatches, as well as a variety of other fitness-related wearables. Rick has over eight years of experience in the health and fitness, outdoor and consumer technology verticals. When he’s not putting a digital pen to digital paper, Rick enjoys watching live music, playing football, catching up on Netflix shows and riding his bike. An Oregonian for much of his life, Rick now resides in Brooklyn. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @RickStella. Learn more about how our team of experts test and review products at Insider here. Learn more about how we test health, fitness and outdoor products. Read more Read less