Suunto 9 Vs. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus: In-depth Comparison

(Last Updated On: October 27, 2019)

Suunto and Garmin are the leading companies in sports and outdoors wrist watches. Today we are comparing head to head their best devices for multi-sports and outdoors activities, Suunto 9 vs Garmin Fenix 5 Plus.

In the watch industry, Garmin still stands as a leader when it comes to GPS technology. They well developed Fenix 5 Plus as a watch perfect for athletes, sportspeople, pros alike or anyone on the move. Suunto is a trusted brand name when it comes to designing and manufacturing sports or dive watches. Their products are known to combine style and performance for unmatched quality and longevity. Suunto 9 is their evidence.

 

Currently, GPS watches have been seen to hold all the rage with the features, performances, and incredible values that they add to our daily life. Equipped with GPS/GLONASS sensors, these watches are perfect for tracking performances and heart rate monitoring of the wearers.

As two leading watch brands, it becomes a difficult decision to conclude on which is better. Although anyone of the Suunto 9 or Garmin Fenix 5 Plus would be a fine choice, truth is that it comes down to your use and preference.

Benefits / Drawbacks – Suunto 9 VS Fenix 5 Plus

Suunto 9 or Fenix 5 Plus are both the best watches for outdoor activity tracking. But they come with different features, and even similar ones have slight differences. We put the pair head to head to see how the two watches compare to each other.

Design

 

Suunto 9 and Fenix 5 plus similarly feature round rugged designs. This is perfect since they have to look as good as they perform. Sunnto 9 has a more streamlined look and fewer buttons, while Fenix 5 Plus looks slightly bigger and bolder. Garmin have the bezel above the watch face to protect the display. The bezel also holds the button function.

Suunto 9 sizes at 50mm and weighs 70g, but the Fenix 5 Plus is favored to come in 3 different sizes – 42, 47, and 51mm. With this you have a choice of size preference. They both come in a variety of case colors and straps. Also, there is an opportunity to customize your case and strap to what fits you.

Unlike the rectangular apple faces, these embrace the circular appearance. But both watches are thick which is understandable given all the electronics and battery required to power them. At the back of the devices is the charging port, as well as some sensors embedded in it.

The materials used in building the watch parts are top-notch. Ranging from the scratch-resistant display to the durable bands and stainless steel casing; everything is of stand-up quality. Needless to say, when it comes to the design of the Suunto 9 vs Garmin Fenix 5 Plus – it’s a tie.

Comfort

Even if both watches are delightful to wear, of the two, Suunto 9 seems to be more comfortable. It has a much smoother design at the back cover compared to the bump design on the Fenix 5 Plus. The lugs on the Suunto 9 are more curved which provides a better grip on the wrist. It also depends on your wrist – Suunto feels better on smaller wrists, while Fenix 5 Plus suits larger ones. As with the sizes, the buttons on Suunto 9 are smaller than the ones on the Fenix 5 Plus, which keeps them from digging into your wrists or snagging on your sleeves.

Still on comfort, if you want a simple-to-use gadget, Suunto remains your choice. It uses a touchscreen where you can browse through different menus and options. Fenix does not use touchscreen and requires a bit of time to learning how to navigate through the menus. But it gives you more choices with customizing options.

Battery life

The flagship feature on the Suunto 9 is their state-of-art battery saving technology. Suunto created an intelligent battery mode to enable the watch monitor not only your exercises but also your battery life. Even while you are working out, this technology allows the Sunnto 9 to predict and report the amount of battery life you have left to carry out your activities. The watch also gives reminders so you can charge before or mid-workouts and avoid running out of juice.

Suunto 9 uses a unique function – Fusedtrack to achieve improved tracking by combining GPS and motion sensors. At the same time, save on battery. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus does not monitor power levels or give reminders like Suunto 9, but it has different battery profiles. Also, it introduces a Power Save Timeout Setting for when you need a break in between the activities.

Battery longevity is another feature where the Sunnto 9 proves superiority over the Fenix 5 Plus. They come with three modes to choose from – Ultra, Endurance, and Performance. Comparing the battery life of 120 hours of tracking in Ultra mode on the Suunto 9 vs Garmin Fenix 5 Plus delivering only 70 hours of Ultratrac mode. Suunto 9 is unmatched.

Sensors and Connectivity

Fenix 5 Plus gets the better of Sunnto 9 in the sensors and connectivity sector. Both watches use standard options of sensors and connectivity to obtain and report heart rate measurements of the wearer. You can connect them to your pods and other peripherals via Bluetooth, but Garmin offers more with an edge. Fenix uses ANT+ devices, supports Glonass, Galileo satellite tracking, WiFi and Suunto 9 does not without an adapter.

Most people buy fitness watches for the sake of tracking exercises and performance measurements. Features such as the compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer, and thermometer sit well with Mountain runners and alpinists.

Another feature to consider on the Fenix is the pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen saturation, and acclimation to high altitudes. But a little requirement is that you have to be still for the sensor to take the reading. This can be quite difficult during a race or a strenuous activity.

Smartwatch Features

In the smartwatch category, Fenix 5 Plus beats Suunto again. Through the Bluetooth of both devices, you can connect it to your phone and receive incoming alerts on the watch. With Suunto 9, you can see the incoming signals, but you cannot have full control or interact with them from the watch. Dismissing the notification from the watch only reflects on it without leaving the phone.

This is not common with Fenix 5 Plus, here once you delete the alert or message from the watch, it removes from the phone. You can accept or decline calls from your gadget without breaking a stride.

Also, Fenix 5 Plus comes with tons of options, built-in music player, app store and credit card payments. The music player shows its benefits when you don’t want to take your phone along for a workout session. You can store up to 1,000 songs on the Fenix 5 Plus or just stream from your smartphone. Obviously, playing music will also have a toll on battery life.

Navigation

Both the Suunto 9 and Fenix 5 Plus have built-in navigation and are two of the best triathlon watch models. They both offer the necessities like showing you’ve been or where you need to go on a route. The difference is the features and their performance. Suunto 9 allows you to save up to 250 points of interest like your home address, your parking spot, or certain running trails you prefer, but it’s a little slower at finding locations.

But Suunto 9 cannot stand the color topo maps and navigation features of the Fenix 5 Plus. Some of them include the trendline popularity routing to locate the most popular local trails, and ClimbPro for a better glance of the hill for a run. While the watch has all this, it may not be as easy to use as the big screen on your smartphone, but it’s there when you need it.

Software

 

The usability of the Garmin Connect is way better than the workout analysis software of Suunto. It has more advanced features that are displayed clearly. They both have a beautifully done interface showing tons of information on steps, sleep, calories burned, workout duration, and distance. If you want, you can comment, share, or add photos and record your detailed pace, average pace, max heart rate, average heart rate, heart rate zones. Fenix 5 plus adds performance conditions, training effects, and temperature change.

Suunto moving to the mobile app and web-based Sports Tracker app can encourage improvement on their side. The Heatmaps app shows popular trials from other people’s runs, which is beneficial when you want to try out new routes. But they lack third-party support, which is a bit of a deal-breaker. However, Suunto still connects with MoveCount service to give result of your performances, but it overlooks other health metrics like sleep, steps, and more.

Price and Value

 

Averagely, Suunto 9 undercuts Fenix 5 Plus with their price. The cost is understandable since Garmin watches have more features than the Suunto. But with prices and values of items, it comes down to a personal choice. Many people can consider the Suunto 9 to have enough features to track and analyze their performance. Others may want a bit more and won’t mind paying extra for it. But if you are on a budget get the Suunto 9.

Bottom Line

Suunto 9 and Fenix 5 Plus are outstanding and two of the best GPS smartwatches for hikers. Both come with the ability to track and provide performance metrics of the wearer. They both share some core features and excel differently in most sectors.

Both watches have great designs, but for anyone desiring a beautiful, comfortable watch with a long-lasting battery that is less expensive choose the Suunto 9. If your priorities are detailed navigations, smart features like music players, and built-in payment system, then go for Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. Nevertheless, no matter the choice you make any of these watches will undoubtedly make you happy.

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