A year from the release of the Suunto 9 Peak, the Finnish company has released the newest iteration: the 9 Peak Pro. Suunto is emerging from the previous world of big, bulky sport watches with the Peak lineup bringing slim and powerful devices that are competitive in their price range.
From a distance, the physical difference between these two Peak models is almost imperceptible. Both models are sleek and slim and weigh within 4 grams of each other (the new Peak Pro being the heavier model). For both the 9 Peak and the 9 Peak Pro, we were given the opportunity to test their lighter model which is made with brushed titanium. As with the previous model, we noticed minimal wear and tear after 12 weeks of daily use. As they are so similar physically that for this review, we will focus on the changes between the two.
Under the hood, we are quite impressed with the improvements from the previous model to the 9 Pro. Most notable are the changes that have been made in battery life, user interface, GPS tracking, onboard storage and sport modes.
One issue we had with the Peak 9 (read our review here) was the delay in processing time when using certain features of the watch. We noticed this mostly while scrolling through sport modes and doing manual lapped intervals. With the Peak 9 Pro, this issue is pleasantly resolved through the installation of a new chipset that not only increases speed but makes the user interface smooth and easier to navigate. Along the same vein, Suunto has redesigned their physical user interface with new fonts and contrasting colors that make the menus and data easier to read.
Perhaps the biggest change and the most prevalent to the ultrarunning customer base is the improvement in battery life. The Peak 9 Pro boasts an impressive 30 days in time mode and 21 days if mobile notifications and Bluetooth are enabled. That’s three times the battery life from the Peak 9 which had only seven days of battery life. The biggest upgrade we think is the GPS battery usage which now stands at 40 hours in full out-of-the-box mode, quite the upgrade from the Peak 9’s 25 hours. Suunto has long had multiple battery saving options that are available when selecting the users desired sport mode and the Peak 9 Pro is no different. Although a custom mode can be created, the standard options are Performance, Endurance and Tour.
As noted, Performance mode lasts 40 hours and has the best GPS reliability and normal screen brightness. For Endurance mode, the GPS reliability is reduced slightly, and the screen display is set to low, resulting in 70 hours of battery life. Tour is the final setting which has the least GPS reliability, has no Bluetooth or HR monitoring, but lasts 400 hours. This puts the Peak 9 Pro in a whole different class of endurance watch and while the battery is not as impressive as the Coros Apex 2 or the Garmin Enduro, it’s certainly a big step in the right direction. A small but important feature that we liked and used frequently was the ability to pause an activity and change battery modes mid-workout. There is also a display screen before starting each activity that gives the user the amount of hours remaining in each mode.
Also new to the Peak 9 Pro is the number of satellites the watch can connect to. The Peak 9 maxed out when connecting to 12, while the Pro is capable of connecting to 32. The new Pro also has the capability to be connected to four simultaneous satellite systems which aids in coverage in remote areas as well as dense cityscapes.
For onboard storage, the Peak 9 Pro comes with 95 preloaded sport modes to choose from. The list is dizzying and has quite the variety of options like paragliding, American football and five different types of skiing. Most intriguing are the new mermaid and snorkeling modes which allow the user to record activities up to 10 meters underwater. As our tester lives approximately a thousand miles from the nearest ocean, this feature was not tested.
No review of a watch is complete without mentioning the respective app to review and upload data. The Suunto app is relatively unchanged from our last review, not a bad thing as we liked the interface and the robust capabilities. One change we wanted to note was the usage of SuuntoPlus. We used the SuuntoPlus Guides feature extensively during our testing to create custom workouts of varying times and distances that do not fit in the traditional interval mode. For example, the interval screen on the watch is excellent for setting up a workout like four repeats of 5 minutes with 2 minutes of rest in between. With the SuuntoPlus Guide, a more complicated and detailed workout can be programmed such as: 3 mile warm up, 1/2/3/4/5 minutes fast with 2 minutes of rest and 3 mile cool down. Heart rate, pace, speed and distance can all be used as targets which then populate on a separate watch screen which can be viewed or dismissed while completing the workout. For those who are type A, all of these workouts can be programmed for specific days and saved onto the watch which takes the guesswork out of which workout to do on a specific day. Simply select the sport mode the workout was created under and before the activity is started, a prompt will ask you if you would like to complete that day’s custom workout.
Something that is often not discussed when discussing and purchasing new electronics is the potential impact they have on the long term health of our planet. Lithium batteries, titanium and plastic cases and silicone straps all have to be manufactured somewhere and at some environmental cost. Suunto has been vocal about this process and is even more open about it with the launch of the Peak 9 Pro. As of 2021, the Finland factory and headquarters use 100% renewable energy and emit zero emissions. To be in line with their sustainability model, Suunto has conducted a life cycle assessment for the Peak 9 Pro and calculated the amount of carbon emissions that is produced during the lifespan of the product, most likely a combination of shipping the product to the consumer and the total charging energy used until the product is retired. This number is equivalent to driving a gas vehicle a little over 27 miles. Suunto partnered with Tree Nation to provide verified carbon units via a reforestation project in Southeast Africa for each Peak 9 Pro purchased.
The Suunto Peak 9 Pro provides an upgrade to the previous model in battery life, revamped user interface and GPS availability. We put this watch to the test with long weeks of running, skiing, hiking and climbing in and around the Wasatch mountain range in Salt Lake City.
The Suunto Peak 9 Pro (titanium slate $699, nontitanium $549) can be purchased at suunto.com.