Blog of Geof

Friday, June 29th

Musings On The New Garmin Fenix 5 Plus and Suunto 9

Garmin and Suunto have both released their new premium multi-sport watches this week: the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus and the Suunto 9.

As an owner of the current Garmin Fenix 5x (non-plus), I wanted to collect a few thoughts I had while researching both watches.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

  • The $150 price increase on every model is brutal.
  • Pulse Oximetry is interesting. I don’t think I have any real use for it though.
  • The UI is starting to feel pretty dated now. It’s interesting that they added some unnecessary animations to it now on the Fenix Plus. I’m not sure this is an improvement.
  • I was hoping that there would be a big performance improvement on the maps and navigation side of things. It doesn't appear that this is the case.
  • Galileo support seems to be the most interesting feature to come to this device. However, it doesn’t seem like Galileo satellites are widespread yet and the feature is coming to the non-plus Fenix soon (I’m not sure if there are additional antenna improvements that the Plus additionally has to improve reception).

Suunto 9

  • The naming is a lot simpler than the Suunto Spartan Ultra Baro HR… although “Suunto” 9 is a lot harder to google for.
  • I am getting more and more intrigued by Suunto’s offerings. The release of the Spartan seemed bug-ridden and unstable at best. However, Suunto has steadily been improving the software and features through consistent updates. I can appreciate that.
  • Suunto seems even more dedicated and focused on ultra marathon type training and other high elevation mountain based efforts. Their portfolio of sponsored athletes really shows this.
  • The battery features of the Suunto 9 seem a lot more interesting to me, personally, than any of the features of the Fenix Plus.
  • $599 is still expensive… but it’s a lot more reasonable than $850.
  • The interface looks light years ahead of the Fenix.
  • I’m still not fully sold on touch screens on a performance watch, but it seems markedly better when it comes to navigating a route. Being able to pinch, pan and tap while navigating would be worlds better than the clunky button interface on the Fenix.
  • The navigation screen looks like it runs at more than the 2 FPS that the Fenix can manage.
  • No ANT+ support (I realize this is a Garmin specification, but it still hurts).

More: DC Rainmaker on Suunto 9, DC Rainmaker on Garmin Fenix 5 Plus