Suunto 5 in-depth review

Not long ago, the Finnish Suunto came to the market with its top watch model, Suunto 9. Now it comes with the Suunto 5 model. It is primarily aimed at users who want to get the functionality of the current top models at a relatively low price.

Since I am the proud owner of the Suunto 9 model, I wanted to compare it with what the 5 model can do. Before I go into detail about the watch, I will provide some statistics about my experience with the watch.

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I tested them for 3 weeks, and during that time, we ran 109 miles together in varied terrain. In addition, I walked 18 miles with them, and we did stretching and other smaller activities together several times. Together we took 313,561 steps and burned 18,805 calories.

Appearance, construction, durability

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Let’s start with looks and some numbers first. The watch weighs 66 g. Compared to my 81 g Suunto 9 Baro, it feels a little heavier on the hand, but otherwise, as a sports watch, it has friendly dimensions (46 x 14.6 mm), which even runners with narrower wrists will appreciate. At first glance, this is a watch that is quite thin, which is certainly a rather unusual trend for Suunto watches.

The watch’s silicone strap surrounds the hand comfortably. It does not hurt anywhere, and generally fits nicely. In addition, we find a classic steel buckle on the strap with the Suunto logo and two safety straps. Unfortunately, the Suunto 5 model did not receive quick-release replacement straps; it’s a shame because, for example, the Suunto Spartan model also did not have a quick-release strap, and owners sometimes had the strap break off. However, I believe that Suunto has already solved it, and this model will have no issues.

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At first glance, you will be attracted by the robust steel bezel under which the GPS module is hidden. The display is smaller than the Suunto 9, but the necessary data for sports activities can fit nicely on the screen. As with the Suunto 9, there is a Suunto logo at the bottom, and the high-contrast display is, in this case, made of mineral glass (the Suunto 9 model has a sapphire display) and has a resolution of 218 x 218 pixels.

On the left side of the watch, we find two buttons… one is intended for scrolling between displays, and the other button returns to the original display. On the right side, we find three buttons (confirm, move up, and down). It took me a while to get used to the full button controls, as the Suunto 9’s have a touch screen combined with buttons, with the touch screen being deactivated when an activity is started.

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The charging time of the watch is very surprising. The watch is charged to 100% in approximately 90 minutes; with the Suunto 9 model, this time is longer. In watch mode, while using all-day heart rate measurement, mobile phone notifications, and five activities per week, it lasts around 10 days.

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Basic functions

As with other Suunto models, changing the watch face with predefined skins that offer useful parameters is possible. In addition to the date and time, we can find out the current heart rate and its development during the day when browsing. You will find out the number of steps and burned active and passive calories, total training time, estimated recovery time, or sleep mode. I even slept with the watch on, so the data is also available during sleep. The watch will show you how many hours you slept, your average heart rate, or how many hours of the total sleep time was a deep sleep.

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Compared to the Suunto 9, there is no data on altitude, barometric pressure, or temperature. The Suunto 5 does not have either of these sensors. Instead, two great features were added. The first is the so-called stress score, i.e., an estimate showing you whether you are rested and can engage in a new sporting activity. Another functionality is the display of the VO2 max value directly on the watch display and the estimation of physical age. I got younger with the new Suunto 5, as my age was estimated to be 20 years during the entire testing period J.

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The watch still has a stopwatch and an activity recorder, where you can preview your activities and detailed data about them.

This model also includes a small navigation system that will lead you to the place you defined without any problems.

Battery life and sports modes

Suunto needs to be praised again because even in the lower range of watches, they put a battery with two modes: Performance and Endurance. Performance – classic mode with high recording accuracy after 1 second and Endurance mode, which records data every 60s. In Performance mode, we get up to 20 hours of recording, and in Endurance mode, up to 40 hours. Well, it’s still not enough for Suunto 9; they can last up to 120 hours for one activity.

Within the sports modes, you can choose from up to 80 sports activities (running, extreme obstacle races, cycling, swimming in the pool and open water, stretching, in-line skating, mountain hiking, aerobics, yoga, skiing, triathlon, rowing, riding kayaking, rock climbing, snowboarding, football, hockey, basketball, volleyball, boxing, golf, SUP, CrossFit, motorsports, bowling, and many others).

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Sports modes are constantly being expanded according to the needs of athletes… in a recent software update, they added, e.g., mountain bike – enduro or downhill – and triathlon with strength measurement. Of course, it goes without saying that Suunto is capable of Multisport mode, so you can switch between individual sports as part of your activities.

Suunto 5 in the field

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I tested the watch in terrain with a gradient and on asphalt cycle paths. I was interested in how they would behave in places where the reception of the GPS signal is worse because the Suunto 5 does not have an altimeter but measures the meters climbed according to GPS.

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I also tested the watch with an attached HR band and used the optical heart rate sensor built into the watch.

Suunto 5 – orange, heart rate belt – blue,

suunto 1

Suunto 5 – orange, heart rate belt – blue,

suunto 2

Suunto 5 – orange, heart rate belt – blue,

suunto 3

Suunto 5 – orange, heart rate belt – blue,

suunto 4

Suunto 5 – orange, heart rate belt – blue,

suunto 5

Suunto 5 – orange, heart rate belt – blue,

suunto 6

Suunto 5 – orange, heart rate belt – blue,

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After the classic Suunto beep that announces the start of the activity, the average speed, heart rate, miles traveled, and the total time will be shown on display. However, suppose we scroll through the currently ongoing activities in the menu. In that case, the watch still shows you data about the last mile (time and average pace), and detailed navigation is also available.

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The route traveled was plotted accurately on an asphalt cycle path with sufficient GPS signal reception. However, it was a little worse in the field, as the GPS altimeter recorded the climbed meters in a certain time interval. I was surprised by how the GPS altimeter works, so I put the Suunto 9 on during the next run to better compare this parameter. Suunto 5 beeped approximately 130 meters earlier than Suunto 9, and the resulting difference in meters climbed was clear. On the route, which had an elevation of approximately 130 meters, Suunto 5 measurement was 35 meters less than Suunto 9, which has an altimeter.

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After running out of time, the watch will flood you with an excessive amount of data. These include: final time, distance, average pace, cadence, steps during activity, average heart rate with graph, in which heart rate zones you spent the most time, number of calories burned, PTE (Peak Training Effect), EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), ascended and descended meters with a plotted graph, regeneration time estimate, VO2 max. The next display will show individual miles (time and average heart rate).

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As for heart rate measurement, during the first run, the measurement data seemed inaccurate to me. However, when I compared both models – Suunto 5 and Suunto 9 – with an HR belt, I found out that the optical sensor of the Suunto 5 had slight deviations. Still, they were not that different from the data from the Suunto 9 with the HR band. I was surprised in this respect, as I am not so fond of optics.

Suunto App

I’ve complained once about the new Suunto App. If you read my previous Suunto 9 Baro review, you’ll notice that I complained about their new Suunto App. Now, my opinion is gradually changing. The application begins to take on a very nice and user-friendly design and will show you the data you need for your training analyses.

You can view temperature maps for individual sports directly in the application or plan a route and save it directly to the watch. In addition, the application also becomes a social platform for Suunto watch users.

I was also pleased that an individual sports profile can be created directly in the application, so you can set the output data as you want to see it on the watch display.

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Connecting to other sports services such as Strava and Training Peaks is also possible. In addition, they are gradually adding other services that can be paired with Suunto watches.

I believe that Suunto will continue to develop the application to the satisfaction of users, or they have to, as they started the transition from their old Movescount app last year.

What else can Suunto 5 do?

By buying Suunto 5, you are not only buying a multi-sport watch, but it will also become your friend in everyday life. An intelligent training plan is built into the watch, which can keep you in shape. So, the watch itself plans when you should go train and takes into account your current state (stress level or whether you have sufficiently rested and slept). Thus, they support maintaining, improving, and increasing your fitness based on linked algorithms.

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Technical parameters of Suunto 5

  • Weight 66g
  • Relatively small and well-fitting for a sports watch: size 46 x 14.6 mm
  • Body made of composite polycarbonate – reinforced with glass fibers
  • Glass mineral glass, better resistant to scratches and cracks
  • Silicone wrist strap length 130-210 mm
  • High-contrast color display 218×218 pixels
  • Language versions of watch controls, including czech
  • Button control (no touch screen)
  • Duration of a charged battery in time mode: 14 days
  • Bluetooth smart connection with a mobile phone 
  • Duration of a charged battery with 24/7 monitoring and triggered notifications from a mobile phone: 7 days
  • Duration of a charged battery in training mode with gps: 20 or 40 hours, depending on the chosen accuracy
  • Smart battery modes
  • Compatible with the Suunto app (new mobile app)

Functional parameters of Suunto 5

  • 24/7 activity tracking (steps, calories, heart rate, goals)
  • Sleep monitoring (quality, wake, and sleep time)
  • Gps navigation type: gps, glonass, galileo, qzss
  • Points of interest, visual navigation, real-time granular navigation, automatic zoom
  • Planned routes with heatmaps (favorite routes)
  • Estimated time of arrival
  • Gps altimeter, route planning with elevation profile, terrain maps on the web using mapbox, google maps & android
  • During exercise, total ascent and descent, vertical dryness
  • Sunrise and sunset time
  • Interval training – advice during exercise, settings on the watch
  • Vo2max development in the Suunto mobile app.

The overall impression

The watch made a great impression on me. It was comfortable to wear and was just the right size. It is great in terms of design, but the main thing was what they hid inside. I would say that in the price/performance ratio, the user gets a really sophisticated assistant for training and high-quality workmanship of the watch, as is expected from Suunto.


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