In a market where Garmin has a clear foothold, the multi-sport GPS watch market would definitely benefit from increased options, especially more affordable devices.
Suunto as a brand has been causing ripples in the triathlon market for a number of years and their flagship Suunto 9 watch should always be a consideration for those with deep pockets.
However, Suunto has recently released their mid-range offering in the Suunto 5. Can this very reasonably priced watch win over athletes to give up their Garmin?
On the face of it, it’s a YES from us at Life of Tri. The Suunto 5 is just over half the price (circa £300) of its bigger brother, the Suunto 9, but they have still managed to pack in a huge amount of functionality. It can support all 3 triathlon disciplines and switching between sports is so straight forward. The Suunto 5 is a normal-sized watch with a 45mm watch face. Thankfully, gone are the days of the brick on your wrist.
The interface and menus on the Suunto 5 are very user-friendly, with logical layouts and button functionality. Although it won’t have all the features you find on a Garmin, it will have everything you need as an amateur triathlete. The battery life will see you training or racing for 20hours in GPS mode, but if you aren’t fussed on using HR, then you can turn off the optical sensor which will extend the battery life up to 30 hours. As a normal watch, the Suunto 5 will last up to 14 days in a charge which is longer than the similarly priced Coros Apex or Garmin 245.
There is no touch screen but a number of manufacturers have moved away from this option recently, so personally, we don’t think it’s a huge loss. Ever tried using a touchscreen when you are shivering from cold or exhaustion? It’s not easy!
We were super impressed with how quickly it picked up the satellite signal, between 10 and 20 seconds, which is more in keeping with the higher-end devices.
Mapping options are limited compared to other Suunto and Garmin mid to high range models, plus there is no mapping intelligence on the watch. However, it will serve 90% of the target audience. Another ‘con’ to consider is that the app isn’t as slick as other manufacturers, but this has definitely seen improvements in the last 12 months or so.
Verdict: It’s a thumbs up from us, the Suunto 5 provides additional choice at a price that won’t require a re-mortgage
Purchase the Suunto 5 at Amazon
Bezel material : Stainless steel
Case material : Glass fibre reinforced polycarbonate
Strap material : Silicone
Weight : 66 g / 2.33 oz
Strap width : 22 mm
Wrist sizes : 130-210 mm
Water resistance : 50 m (according to ISO 6425)
Display resolution : 218 x 218
Backlight : LED
Connectivity : Bluetooth Smart
More information on specification can be found on the Suunto website