As a self-confessed watch fiend and something of a magpie when it comes to cool technology, I was keen to test out the Suunto 7 recently.
It was my first time testing out a smart watch, replacing my faithful Garmin Vivofit for a couple of weeks, to see what all the fuss was about.
As I write this, I’m controlling Spotify from my arm – every time I tap on it I feel like Buzz Lightyear trying to make contact with base… The watch has just buzzed on my arm alerting me to a new WhatsApp message, which I can respond to via phone or the watch, by either typing (tricky on a screen that size) or through the microphone (also tricky given that Google doesn’t understand the Irish accent – awkward given that its European HQ is in Dublin…)
But I’m jumping the gun a bit…
Setting up the Suunto 7 is a relatively painless experience and, after charging the unit up, I had my phone connected up to it in a short space of time. It works off Google’s ecosystem so you need to download Wear OS and I also set up Google Pay because I wanted to test out the contactless payment – it works better than my phone.
The watch itself looks good, the copper rim on the face and buttons gives it a stylish finish even if the main unit and strap colour is fairly reserved. The screen is clear and uncluttered, with some cool watch face selections.
At 44mm, however, the watch is too big on my skinny wrists, it also sits very high off my arm and, after a while and particularly when manoeuvring around a keyboard, I simply had to take it off.
That’s fine, it’s not going to tell me much sitting at a desk unless my heart rate spikes at a certain call or email!
Where the Sunnto 7 comes into its own is in its tracking features. At its simplest steps and distance tracking, it’s easy to find and very clearly displayed. Cycling through that section gets you to options like Fit heartbeat and Fit breath – a handy little, bite-size mindfulness exercise that’s easy and accessible in an office environment.
I used it on evening walks to track distance, heartbeat, elevation, whether the hills around my local neighbourhood were going to kill me, etc… For me, and I suspect for many who buy these products, a large percentage of the satisfaction is swiping the bar on a finished exercise and getting that optimistic buzz on your arm.
I’ve played a couple of hockey games in the time that I had the watch but, playing in the goal, made the decision not to wear it – a horror story from home about a girl who ended up with an Apple Watch smashed in smithereens but, on the upside, a perfectly intact wrist, deterred me from tempting fate…
Where I found it most effective was in swimming. I’ve made a return to lap swimming in the hope of losing some lockdown weight, and toning up through low-impact workouts. It tracks distance, length of time and intervals, and gives you a pretty in-depth report at the end of your workout including heart rate, calories burned etc.
I must admit, I was a bit skeptical the first day as I’ve never worn any watch while swimming before, even the ones that have said I could! But my fear of a blank, empty screen did not come to pass. Phew!
Coming back to the functional stuff, outside of the fitness apps, the Suunto 7 basically works as an extension of your phone. It’s particularly useful with Maps, buzzing on your arm when you’re coming up to a turn, etc. It’s also useful for timers, torchlight, and keeping you on track with daily schedules if you’ve got appointments saved on your Google Calendar.
All in all, the Suunto 7 is a solid (in every sense of the word) piece of kit that offers simple setup for maximum functionality. As I said, my only deterrent is the size, but that’s only because my wrists are basically the size of three straws taped together.