Once again, a visit to Florence, Italy. Couldn’t do that without a run, with the Suunto 7…

The Travel Experience

Big question with smartwatches like the Suunto 7 is simply how they’ll survive being on the road. Being able to quickly view notifications on one’s wrist is nice. Music on a watch could be good. Maps, I very much like.

It all eats battery, though.

The Suunto 7 did alright.

I went to Italy and back from Italy by night train, meaning that I could but wouldn’t want to charge the watch those nights. And meaning that it’s going to be active quite a bit, jostled around, etc.

It was only necessary to recharge it the one night I spent in a hotel, to be ready for the next morning’s run, second day in the city, and train ride back home…

And if all that sounds like a lot – or nothing – it’s both.

To a sports watch as we’re more used to, that should be nothing. To a WearOS smartwatch like the Suunto 7, it’s a lot.

Taken off the charger at 6 am, out for a run of an hour, then through the city a lot, back by train, the Suunto 7 only needed a recharge when I was back home around 10 am the next day.

For WearOS, that’s pretty good.

Running in Florence

The challenge of running through Firenze, through the old town especially, is that the streets there are very crowded in. Lots of taller old buildings around; tight roads that sometimes would barely fit a car.

The view to the sky is often non-existent. It’s just like some slot canyon.

It’s perfect to mess with GPS.

Not so perfect is that I can never resist taking a whole set of watches out, so mind you: There might have been some interference from that, in addition to the problematic view to the sky.

But well, you’ll get an impression of how it went, which problems were of effect were.

Old Town “Canyon” Running

The first (and last) part of my typical runs here go through the old town and its narrow paths. And gladly, after a slightly wider road at the beginning, through some of the narrowest of roads…

Interestingly, the first kilometer was marked rather similarly on all the watches. Then, though, they started to have issues with the GPS signal and diverged pretty widely.

From all of them, it would be possible to get an idea of where I ran, but it’s far from accurate – which is exactly what is to be expected in such situations.

Sometimes, the Suunto 7 got really off track, sometimes, it gave a good result. Same for the others…

River and Hill Loop

The middle part of the run, along the Arno river, up Piazzale Michelangelo, along the hill to the Fortezza and back down into the old town, offers wide-open views to the sky.

They make it clear that the interference between watches doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. Problems with the GPS signal are much more problematic. Here, as soon as the view to the sky is open, the tracks are all quite good – and so is pacing.

Distances, Laps, Pace

The meandering immediately leads to comments that this is why the Suunto 7 has to have foot pod support.

Well, if you wanted to do pace-based training (intervals?) in a built-up city center with some unexpected traffic like here, sure.

The way the Suunto 7 addresses people who want an all-in-one package for “sports and life, combined” and probably not a whole set of sensors to get ready, maybe not.

It is clear from the pace results that such a city center is not the place to look at one’s pace. The results given by the different watches diverge considerably from each other. In the city center.

Florence Running Pace
Florence Running Pace
Zoom into pace in the city center, as recorded by GPS
Zoom into pace in the city center, as recorded by GPS

In the wide-open areas which would also have better paths (with less disturbance from traffic) for intervals or the like, they all give similar results.

Chart of pace data given in comparison. Trend line shows the average of all watches. Again, the divergence (in the city center) and lack thereof (on open ground) is nicely visible.
Chart of pace data given in comparison. Trend line shows the average of all watches. Again, the divergence (in the city center) and lack thereof (on open ground) is nicely visible.

In total distance, it all came up similarly. It’s impossible to tell which device measured the most exact distance; there is no way of knowing that. The difference is not disconcertingly high, though.

Lapsfenix 6X ProkmCoros VertixkmSuunto 7kmSuunto 9km
106:08106:06106:11106:121
206:37106:16105:37106:471
306:53107:11107:20107:371
409:07108:13107:06109:061
505:37106:02107:03105:301
605:33105:32105:26105:251
705:18105:16105:16105:251
805:35105:33105:21105:061
904:250.74505:040.84605:490.97204:000.621
Total:55:138.74555:138.84655:098.97255:088.621

Total distance recorded was only between 8.621 km per Suunto 9, 8.745 km per fenix 6X Pro, 8.846 km per Coros Vertix and 8.972 km per Suunto 7.

Laps, of course, were marked in pretty different places, as the meandering and the jumps from erroneous GPS signals messed that all up.

My Travel Like of WearOS

Overall, I must say that I liked the WearOS experience – but then, I simply do.

The sports experience with the Suunto 7 is simple, but it gives basic data in a non-obtrusive way. It integrates with other platforms and puts the data into the Suunto database. And it helps in ways that no other Suunto products (and few other sports/outdoor watches) have done, with the Mapbox maps integration. (More on that to come.)

And then, of course, there’s all the smartwatch things – and I just enjoy having maps on my wrist, getting access to features like that quickly without needing to always unpack my phone. A notification, a glance on the watch, informed and done.

During the journey, I could also get an impression of what was nearby, where I was in the world, and all that…