Sunnto 9 Peak Smartwatch REVIEW
Are you serious about fitness? Have we got a smartwatch for you! PAT PILCHER reviews the very special Sunnto 9.
The Finnish company, Sunnto, has amassed a growing following off the back of their rugged sports smartwatch range. Now they’re back with the newly launched Sunnto 9 Peak. They say that it’s their thinnest, the most accurate and the most durable watch they’ve ever made. So, is it all that and a bag of fitness-friendly potato chips?
Sunnto’s blurb says that the 9 Peak is about 37% thinner and 36% lighter than their previous model, the Baro 9. While I’ve not tested the Baro 9, the 9 Peak felt pleasant to wear. Surprisingly, it was less of a chunky monkey than many other sports-focused smartwatches I’d previously reviewed. Even though it’s aimed at the sporty crowd and is built like a brick you-know-what house, it looks equally at home when worn with a suit as it does in running gear.
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Design-wise, the 9 Peak looks a lot like a typical sports watch. Its rounded face gives it a traditional and aesthetically pleasing look. That said, its energy-efficient trans-reflective LCD display seemed dim compared to the vivid OLED displays used by many other smartwatch brands.
In terms of available finishes, it can be had in both titanium or stainless steel. The titanium model comes in sexy Granite Blue or Birch White, while the stainless-steel version comes in Black or Grey. The watch-face is hewn out of sapphire crystal, which means it has industrial strength scratch resistance. Combine that with water resistance of up to 100 metres, and the 9 Peak is clearly built to survive thermo-nuclear warfare.
Although Sunnto went down the premium route with the Peak 9’s hardware, they bizarrely decided to craft its strap from silicone. Thankfully, it uses a standard strap fitting so the strap can be replaced.
One design feature I particularly liked was its charging puck. Having reviewed numerous smartwatches and fitness trackers, one of my biggest beefs with them is their finicky charging needs. Most use a magnetic charging puck. These usually snap onto the watch’s underside to supply some much-needed juice. The trouble is that the slightest misalignment can mean that no power gets to the battery, so the watch is dead as a doornail after a night on the charger. This annoyance was not lost on Sunnto. They’ve designed the 9 Peak so it has two charging studs on its back and two round charging “rails”. The upshot is that it’s almost impossible to misalign the charging puck, so the 9 Peak always gets juiced up.
Unlike previous Sunnto watches, the 9 Peak can measure SpO2 levels. This is handy for athletes doing altitude training or anyone who suspects they’re COVID positive. The 9 Peak is aimed at athletes instead of pint lifters and champion level potato chip packet openers. Because of this, I roped in Steve, a distance running guru, to put the 9 Peak through its paces. Steve found that the heart rate readings he got from the 9 Peak were similar to the Garmin Fenix he also wore for benchmarking purposes.
Running the first 5km stage of a recent Taupo ultra-marathon saw the 9 Peak over-measure the course by 10 meters. According to Steve, that’s “bugger all”, while the Garmin under-measured the track by 200 metres. Another stage was covered by dense bush, which presents challenges for GPS tracking. The 9 Peak didn’t miss a beat, and its GPS proved reasonably accurate.
A killer feature with the 9 Peak is its “snap to route” capabilities, which makes for significantly more accurate GPS navigation of tracks on pre-planned routes – very handy for cross-country events. Using the snap to route function requires pre-loading the course onto the 9 Peak using the Sunnto app. After choosing the relevant sport mode, select the Navigation option and “snap to route”. This sees your real-time location snapped to the pre-defined route using turn-by-turn directions so you don’t get lost.
The 9 Peak can also control media playback on a paired smartphone and allow Android Phone owners to use pre-set responses to reply to message notifications. There’s a whopping 80-plus sport modes, so there’s plenty for fitness fanatics to like. Using the sports modes is a doddle. Each has specific data fields that you can tweak using the Sunnto app. Last (but by no means least), the 9 Peak also has a built-in barometer. With it, you get a swathe of weather-related data. This ranges from air pressure at sea level and temperature plus altitude. If you like to stay dry when out for a run, there’s even an incoming storm alarm.
While all these features are nice, the real utility of the 9 Peak comes down to its battery life. Sunnto says its runtime between charges has been improved thanks to “Tour Mode”. This sees it running for up to 170 hours of GPS recording. For anyone taking part in multi-day events, this is bound to appeal. Charging also took just an hour to go from zero to full.
With the 9 Peak Sunnto has managed to cram an incredible amount of functionality into an elegantly designed timepiece. That they’ve managed to achieve this while still delivering exceptional battery life is a real bonus. Unlike many other sports-focused smartwatches, Sunnto also has a reputation for providing a steady stream of Software updates. These improve usability and extend functionality, making the 9 Peak a solid investment. If you’re serious about fitness, the 9 Peak is worthy of consideration.