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Hands on: Suunto 7 review

Part running watch, part smartwatch

What is a hands on review?
Suunto 7
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Suunto 7 is pretty bulky as a smartwatch, but the combination of Suunto's specific fitness features with the trappings of Wear OS could make for a great device for a wide variety of users.

For

  • Loads of fitness features
  • Runs Wear OS

Against

  • Rubbery strap material
  • Big body

The Suunto 7 is the latest wearable from the Finnish fitness company Suunto, but it's also a pretty big departure from its predecessors – that's because while the brand's devices are typically dedicated running watches, the Suunto 7 is the first to run on Google's Wear OS.

Wear OS is a popular operating system that many smartwatches use, and it brings plenty of useful lifestyle features; typically Suunto's wearables are fitness-heavy, but the Suunto 7 promises to be great for when you're not working out.

By combining Suunto's fitness features with Google's software, Suunto may have made a device that appeals to more than the company's usual audience of fitness fans, while still being great for that audience too.

We got hands-on with the Suunto 7 before its CES 2020 announcement, to see just how good it is. It's worth pointing out that we didn't actually do any exercise with it, and the software it ran was just a demo, but we'll be working on an in-depth review in the near future too.

Suunto 7 release date and price

Suunto 7

(Image credit: Future)

You'll be able to pick up the Suunto 7 from January 31st, when it's set to launch. You can pre-order the smartwatch from the Suunto website.

If you're looking to pick it up, its release price is $499 / £429 / AU$799. That's pretty pricey for a wearable, as Suunto devices typically are, but it's a touch cheaper than the Suunto 9, which costs £499 / $599 / AU$899.

Design and display

The Suunto 7 is a fairly big smartwatch – we don't know the exact screen size, but we'd estimate it to be around 45mm across, making it marginally bigger than any model of the Apple Watch 5 for example. It's also fairly thick, although it's not too heavy, so the watch didn't feel overly cumbersome to wear.

Suunto 7

(Image credit: Future)

The body of the Suunto 7 has a whopping four crowns, with three on the right and one on the left. These are so you can access various fitness commands, like pausing a workout, without having to use a touchscreen, which can sometimes be a little fiddly while you're exercising, especially if your hands are sweaty.

These don't stick out too much, so they're not a nuisance, and this is a borrowed feature from other Suunto products, as running watches need multiple crowns. Because of this, the Suunto 7 is still easily identifiable as a Suunto device, despite its various changes.

According to Suunto the device is waterproof to 50 meters, so you can use it for swim tracking, and it's also protected from all the splashes and dips it could get when you're off adventuring outdoors.

The Suunto 7 comes with removable straps, as nearly all wearables do. These feel pretty rubbery on the wrist, and we found them a little uncomfortable, but your experience may vary. There are plenty of different holes for the buckle, so this watch should fit people with big as well as small wrists, but because of the size of the body we wouldn't recommend it to people with the tiniest wrists.

Suunto 7 strap

(Image credit: Future)

In terms of display, we don't know the Suunto 7's screen quality, but that doesn't often matter as much with smartwatches as it does with other kinds of device. Colors were displayed fine, and the max brightness seemed decently high. There's also an always-on display, so when you're not using the screen you can still tell the time.

The bezel around the screen did look fairly big, with a pretty thick black bar between the body and the screen, so if you want an all-screen front you should stay away from the Suunto 7. Many people, however, might not mind this design feature.

The Suunto 7 will be available in five different color options including white and gold, pictured, black and bronze, also pictured, and a few other versions. The versions we got hands-on with looked quite sleek, so you're not getting an ugly watch here.

Fitness and features

If you're considering the Suunto 7, it's probably because you're looking at the dedicated running and workout features it brings. Suunto says there are 70 different sports modes on board, and with a built-in heart rate sensor, GPS, altimeter and more functions, you should get pretty detailed feedback on your workout.

Suunto 7

(Image credit: Future)

One useful feature here is exercise maps, so you can track a run while you're on it, and see where you are all the time. There are also heat maps to see which routes are popular or quiet, so you can follow popular trails, or go off the beaten path if you prefer. There are heat maps for 15 of the most popular of the sports modes, which is a fair amount of variety.

Suunto also told us that when you're charging your watch, it will automatically download the local area map so you can use it offline. This won't be useful to everyone, but there are certainly a few people who'll appreciate this new feature.

As previously mentioned, we didn't get to work out with the Suunto 7 so can't attest to the quality of its fitness feedback, but we've previously been pleased with the results in other Suunto devices, and wouldn't expect it to be too different here.

Suunto 7

(Image credit: Future)

The smartwatch really shines in its Wear OS functionality, as the operating system is smooth to use, and it has got some useful crossovers with the fitness features. For example, you can access a color-coded calendar to see how frequently, and how intensively, you've exercised. It's an easy and useful way to track your workout history.

You've also got the whole suite of other Wear OS features here like notifications, music handling, breathing exercises and the Play Store for more apps.

We don't know the battery size of the Suunto 7, but it does run on Qualcomm's Wear 3100 chipset, one of the main selling points of which was its algorithms that improve battery life on smartwatches.

Suunto told us the battery life would be around 2-3 times that of most other Wear OS watches, which should mean you'll get at least a few days between charges. That could be a big selling point of the Suunto 7 for those after a long-lasting smartwatch, though won't necessarily see it lasting longer than dedicated fitness watches.

Early verdict

Suunto 7

(Image credit: Future)

We're not sure about some of the design elements of the Suunto 7, but with the presence of Wear OS, and the large roster of fitness modes and features, this could make for a great smartwatch. The proposed battery life is also very promising - at least by Wear OS standards - fixing one of our biggest complaints of Wear OS devices.

It's hard to analyze a fitness-centric smartwatch with such a brief testing session, so make sure to check back to TechRadar for our full review, but based on what we saw, and what Suunto told us, it seems like the Suunto 7 could be a pretty decent piece of tech.

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What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.