The Suunto 7’s Biggest Problem

It’s always fascinating to see how product planning, customer desires, and market reactions come together.

The Suunto 7 WearOS smartwatch has been a particularly interesting example…

Opinions, Opinions

Reviewers who come from the technology side, especially about smartwatches and wearables, have generally been happy. There are issues, of course, but that’s on-par for any WearOS smartwatch.

Reviewers who come from the sports side have typically had bigger issues; they come with the expectations of sports watch users and little experience of WearOS.

Everybody wants to give an opinion, read the ultimate review that explains everything and leaves no doubt – but that’s not how this works.

The Problem: Perspective

The Suunto 7’s biggest problem, at heart, is not that it is not a good smartwatch – or a bad sports watch.

The big problem is that too many people approach the watch from their own preconceived notions, influenced by their experience with Suunto or other sports watches, rather than look at it as what it is.

1, It’s a Suunto…

First and foremost, the Suunto 7 is a Suunto.

For better and worse, therefore, it is quite a bit of watch with an elegant Nordic design. It is a watch that is meant to be worn and shown, to display one’s style and tech-forwardness.

It is not small, because it is for people who wear a watch as a tool and a statement.

This rubs many people the wrong way, and Suunto isn’t always as good at this (selling themselves as top brand) as they seem to want to be. Still, (these) watches are not only about their functionality.

2, … but It’s not a Suunto, It’s a WearOS Smartwatch

Secondly, the Suunto 7 is a WearOS smartwatch – with Suunto sports expertise, as the brand likes to put it.

I would even say that it just offers an entrance into Suunto sports tracking. Meaning, it is better for those who want a smartwatch and want to do some fitness and sports activities, than for those coming from other Suunto sports watches.

The criticism that really makes this apparent: While some people complain that the watch is too expensive when you could get a WearOS watch for 50 bucks, others complain that they couldn’t use it with a Stryd running power sensor – which is 200+ dollars!

But, if the Suunto 9 can do it, so must the Suunto 7, they clamor. The Suunto 7 is not like another Suunto outdoors sports smartwatch, though. That is also why I think that comparing the Suunto 7 to the fenix 6X makes no sense.

The Suunto 7 isn’t made for those who would use a Stryd, need the exact heart rate tracking provided by a HR belt.

It is made for those who will mainly use the smartwatch functions in their daily life, then head for the gym or hit the road running.

WearOS Means…

The basics of WearOS smartwatch use do not need describing by me, I’d hope. They are standard on the Suunto 7 as on other WearOS devices.

It is worth pointing out, though, that they mean that there is Google Assistant available from one’s wrist. There are all the various apps for WearOS that one can use.

There is media controls from the wrist, notification smart replies, maps – and with those, loads of potential for exploring. More as “in travel” than as “in outdoors adventures and ultramarathons,” however.

Of course, there’s a battery life that’s WearOS smartwatch-typical, too: The watch can last for more than a day, but it is typically best recharged every night – just like your other smart (phone) device.

3, A Tool for a Certain Job

Thirdly, in the combination, the Suunto 7 is a nice tool – for what it is and what it can offer to the right person.

Suunto, not without reason, has not talked about exploration and adventure in the marketing for the Suunto 7.

If you want training guidance, phased workouts, the use of external sensors, and a battery life for 100-milers, then this is definitely not the watch for you.

The Suunto 7 is “Sports and life, combined,” though, as Suunto has been marketing it.

If you have a busy, connected everyday life, maybe even with quite a bit of travel, and then do sports in new places, it works excellently.

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6 Comments

  1. Bulkan

    Hi,

    Good points. I’m the one coming from Suunto watches and had an apple watch.

    The main issues I have are: The lack of integration in Suunto app excepts workouts. I don’t get it. And the lack of support of Stryd running in Suunto wearOS app. (24/7 HR and sleep.. come on.. if the s9 does it)

    I find the battery good, the watch is outstanding, the screen is gorgeous,

    Are this issues important? I could use the watch almost all the week if these issues weren’t there. But if I go for a run, even a short one, I want all the data I’m used to.

    • What shall I say, having just written that I think people who complain about the Suunto 7 not supporting the Stryd sensor have just looked at the wrong watch? And comparing to the S9 as having something, yeah, that’s exactly where the problem lies, in my opinion… which I should maybe even add to the post.

      The Suunto app, yeah, that should get all the info the S7 can collect. I’m starting to be rather happier that Google Fit is increasingly getting more of the data, though.

  2. Cagatay Belgen

    The biggest drawback for me is the new AMOLED display on Suunto 7. When a timeout occurs, the new AMOLED display on Suunto 7 completely shuts down. The matrix display on the Garmin series and Suunto Spartan, Ambit, 5 and 9 series only shuts down backlighting LEDs. So every time you want to see what’s going on with the watch, you have to press a button on Suunto 7. On matrix display watches, daylight is enough to see/read the screen. This is one of the main reasons it need daily charging. Plus, it distracts user when trying to see the information.

    • The matrix displays can’t display all the data (colors), all so nicely… Yeah, it’s the pro and con play of WearOS and all that. The always-on display mode in the Suunto app on this watch improved on this; tilt-to-wake helps (and isn’t good for battery)… and you still remain right. And it’s still also an advantage of this watch (if one doesn’t consider the battery drawback) 😉

      • Cagatay Belgen

        Actually we need watches only to gather data. We all have smartphones, personal computers and those devices are more than capable to compile the data produced on those watches.

        At the end of the day, there isn’t a noticable difference (in terms of data being produced) between a $20 second hand Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 and a $700 rugged watch which makes 35X price difference reasonable.

        • Well… I’m one of the few people having a look at sports/outdoor watches who are close to the “real” watch world… meaning, I’d like to throw in things like Tag-Heuer or Hublot smartwatches, Breitling, the original explorer’s watches that are Rolex. “Reasonable” is something else 😉

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