Suunto has taken a very interesting step: Not to come out with the next new model, but to push the current devices to new usability.
While even the most recent watches are available at discounted prices, leading to all the usual speculation that new devices must be coming, that is not what they did.
Even while I have people tell me that Suunto surely must come out with a new device or lose out, they are not putting a little new tech into an old (or new) case and calling it something new.
There is no Suunto 9 Gen 2 yet, adding, let’s say solar charging and calling it a completely new step, for example.
Instead, in a nod to sustainability and/or 2020 disruptions, Suunto is updating the current devices we already have (and are available at a discount) with new updates.
It is a reason, finally, to look at “old” devices again, and it makes it obvious that the ever-more early reviews that never get updated anymore are more of a problem than a help, the more time passes (and updates come out).
Let’s jump into it.
New Outdoor Watchface
The first, most noticeable, part of this September 2020 “Outdoor” firmware update is the new watchface it brings.
Suunto 9, 5, and 3 (not 3 Fitness) get this outdoor-focused watchface, inspired by Suunto’s heritage in marine compasses.
Depending on watch hardware (baro or non-baro: watches without barometer replace the pressure indications with the steps count, since they wouldn’t be able to show barometric pressure and trend) somewhat different data are shown.
The data displayed can be changed by tapping on the watch screen or pushing the upper left button; the watchface also changes some of the data shown depending on whether it’s daylight or night time.
For a full walkthrough, head on over here.
New Suunto Plus “Apps”
More interesting regarding the uses of Suunto watches, of course, are updates to their sports tracking data capabilities. This update brings a lot of new things to the Suunto Plus “apps”, making them a lot more interesting.
This Suunto Plus is (now) a collection of small apps which add an additional screen, providing specific functions and data, to a sports mode.
They are mainly built for running and cycling, and to be activated in the start screen of a sport mode (in all the options, such as battery modes, being offered there).
So far, at least, there is a limit of one Suunto Plus “app” in use, and it is only possible to activate the one Plus one wants to use in the start screen, not during an activity recording; Suunto may well be working on changing this to allow more than one Suunto Plus to run and/or for the user to switch between and (de-/) activate Suunto Plus features while an activity recording is running.
Suunto Plus, So Far: Strava and Training Peaks
So far, Suunto Plus was only used for showing additional metrics some users might have liked to see, which are otherwise shown and used by Strava and Training Peaks.
Suunto Plus Strava
Suunto Plus Strava calculates the relative effort (as shown on one’s Strava dashboard, otherwise).
Suunto Plus Training Peaks
Suunto Plus Training Peaks has three different versions:
TrainingPeaks with running pace shows the Running Training Stress Score® (rTSS) and Normalized Graded Pace® (NGP)
TrainingPeaks with power shows Training Stress Score® (TSS) and Normalized Power® (NP)
TrainingPeaks with heart rate shows Training Stress Score® (hrTSS)
New Suunto Plus
Suunto is still the brand for people who know what they do, don’t want/have to be told by a watch.
This new crop of Suunto Plus apps still adds, first of all, quite a few possibilities for tracking more specific types of training, namely hills, loops/laps, and sprints.
Suunto Plus Climb
Suunto Plus Climb, for hill training, provides an automatic counter of ascents (hill repeats), automatic lap markings for ascents/descents, and relevant data (meters of ascent/descent, grade, NGP – normalized grade pace, …).
In the Suunto app, Climb shows the climbs as laps, the normalized graded pace, and the number of climbs (ascents).
It is available on Suunto 9 Baro, Suunto 9, and Suunto 5.
Suunto Plus Loop
Suunto Plus Loop recognizes the start point again and counts any pass past that as a lap. For workouts such as track practice, this makes it easier to count laps and see the performance in every round without a need for hitting the lap button…
Also, Loop is available in versions showing either speed or pace or power (if using a Stryd sensor).
In the Suunto app, it shows the loops as laps, the number of loops, the best (fastest) time, the average time in the loops, and the distance.
It is available on Suunto 9 Baro, Suunto, 9, and Suunto 5, again.
Suunto Plus Sprint
Suunto Plus Sprint automatically recognizes when one picks up the pace (compared to a baseline established before) and lets up again. Thus, intervals/fartlek parts are automatically recognized and counted.
Sprint has two versions, one for running pace and one for cycling power.
In the app, it shows the sprints as laps, the number of sprints, the average time in sprints, and the average max pace (in the running pace version) or the same, except for replacing average max pace with average max power, of course (in the cycling power version).
Again, it is available on Suunto 9 Baro, Suunto, 9, and Suunto 5.
It is all still not an outright phased training guided by one’s watch, but that has never been a Suunto thing. So, as much as people complain that they miss that, I find it quite alright for Suunto to focus on adventure rather than training guidance.
Speaking of adventure, there are several new Suunto Plus ‘apps’ that are for that:
Suunto Plus Safe
Suunto Plus Safe adds a screen that gives essential location data for informing rescue services or to navigate back to one’s start point. (S9B, S9, S5)
Suunto Plus Weather
Suunto Plus Weather, only available on the Suunto 9 Baro, gives insights into environmental/weather data and changes.
Suunto Plus Bearing Navigation
For adventures outdoors, the Suunto 9 Baro and Suunto 9 also get a Suunto Plus Bearing Navigation, which adds functionality for, well, navigating to a target point using the bearing (and distance) there.
Suunto Plus Wings for Life
For a different kind of adventure, if you want some playfulness on your runs, there is also a Suunto Plus Wings for Life (added to Suunto 9, Suunto 9 Baro, and Suunto 5), which lets you simulate the experience of having the chaser car come to catch you.
It even writes the estimated distance and duration you did or would get into the Suunto app data for a workout done with this Suunto Plus ‘app’ running.
We’ll look at those updates in detail in the next few days/posts.
Route Navigation with Custom Waypoints
Suunto watches recently got waypoints back into navigation along routes.
Now, with this update, custom waypoint names are back, as well.
Compass during Activity Recording
For completeness sake: With this update, the compass is available during an activity recording (from navigation options)