Smart watches have evolved from basic fitness trackers to high-tech devices that can nearly replace a smartphone. Case in point, is the Suunto Vertical which is their top-of-the-line smart watch that combines a color touch screen with impressive training aids. The watch is made in Finland with 100% renewable energy and Suunto even boasts 100% carbon compensation to cover the lifetime of the watch. Not surprisingly, the Vertical carries a premium price tag of $629 for the standard steel version and $839 for the titanium solar version shown in this review. The Suunto Vertical offers a wide range of impressive features such as dual-band GPS and offline maps to tackle nearly any adventure. Battery life can extend up to 60 days while solar charging allows the Vertical to go up to 1 year without charging.
The Suunto Vertical GPS smart watch combines built-in solar charging with accurate GPS tracking and offline maps.
|Rating||8.7 / 10|
|Retail Price||$629 – $839 (Titanium Solar – shown here)|
|Measured Weight (in g)||73|
|Likes||+ Free high-fidelity offline maps|
+ Track fitness across multiple disciplines with a single device
+ Long battery life with solar recharging
|Dislikes||– Premium price|
– Slight lag when swiping between main widgets
– Only connects to a single external sensor
|Where to Buy (US)||Suunto|
The Suunto Vertical comes in a sleek cardboard box with a sliding sleeve design and glossy graphics on the exterior. Once you slide the outer cover off you’ll find the watch wrapped around a circular inner cardboard holder. Inside the box you’ll find:
- Vertical watch
- Magnetic charging cable
- Quick start guide
Suunto has done an excellent job with the packaging and presentation as everything is cleverly organized and displayed.
FIT & FINISH
The Suunto Vertical uses standard 22 mm straps which means you can mix and match them to match any occasion. From the factory the watch comes with the athletic silicone strap which has a highly durable finish and simple pin closure. The perforated design is perfect for high intensity sports and provides airflow through it while keeping it securely in place. We are fans of the orange color band as it adds a splash of color to the otherwise gray watch and helps it stand out. For more formal occasions you can easily swap the band out for a leather style band for a premium appearance.
Using the watch requires a combination of the touch screen and the three physical buttons on the side. The touch interactions primarily function as a shortcut to switch between screens or interact with the map. You can’t use touch alone though as many screens require using the physical buttons. The user interface is fairly straightforward with well labeled button actions. You can swipe left to right to display the different home widgets or activity pages and use the up/down actions to access settings for each screen. Doing a long hold on the center button acts as a return function that takes you back to the home page or exits sub-menus. Up and down from the home page let you access the activity options or other features like the maps or settings.
Some pages like the media control and map view can be confusing though as you have some nearly hidden pages such as a full page volume control. The touch screen doesn’t seem to support swiping on the volume bar and seems to require a pressing or holding to adjust it. We also think an extra button could have improved the experience and avoided ambiguity on some screens. We found ourselves getting stuck on the same pages such as the map view as the long hold to return button has a different action in that view. While the interface itself is quite responsive there is some noticeable lag when swiping through the main widgets as the next widget is loaded.
The Suunto Vertical also features a sleep tracking feature that tracks your movement and heart rate throughout the night to estimate your sleep quality. Curiously, the heart rate tracking feature is disabled from the factory so you’ll need to re-enable it to see your heart rate data. For the sleep tracking to work you need to input the sleep time range as sleeping outside this range will not be tracked. As you wake up in the morning, the watch displays a “good morning” with some basic stats such as total time slept, time spent awake, time to fall asleep and a quality score out of 100%.
We were a bit disappointed with the sleep tracking feature as the scores didn’t seem to reflect how we felt. On nights we slept well we’d score lower while sleepless nights would be a 100% rating. However, If you wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and then go back to sleep, the watch does a good job of ignoring that short time and combining the metrics. The watch displays a bar graph showing your average sleep time and can potentially help you maintain a consistent sleeping routine. We suspect that proper sleep tracking requires more than a heart rate and the motion of your hand so we’d use the generated metrics with a grain of salt.
Suunto boasts that there are 95+ sport modes with the Vertical that covers everything from running to cheerleading. Before you get too excited, most of the sport modes are nearly identical with radial heart rate views and multi-row data fields. Suunto shows the most commonly used activities first on the list which makes it easy to quickly find and start a recording. Within each activity you can also add two SuuntoPlus Guides which can be anything from structured workouts to reminders to drink water. For the best experience, you’ll want to use the Suunto app to create custom activities with different data layouts or SuuntoPlus Guides enabled.
Suunto also has a companion app that lets you export activity data and view detailed analysis of your training. The app is well designed with a simple four tab setup and attractive user interface and color palette. Within the app you can view a full history of your recorded activities and even view animated maps with overlays of your GPS data. It’s a well designed interface that lets you interrogate graph views and overlay multiple metrics onto the same chart. Each of the sport modes have a category which lets you filter and monitor your progress across different sport disciplines. The app is also used to download offline maps which lets you select regions off a map and then download them onto the watch. It’s a fairly slow process though, so we’d recommend downloading the maps before you need them to avoid frustration.
Suunto has also incorporated quite a few algorithms including the Suunto Coach to help process your workout data and give you feedback. This includes metrics such as training load and provides some guidance on your progress and recommended recovery. It’s a cool feature that lets you make the most of your workouts and help guide your training efforts. One of the main reasons to use the Suunto app is to set up custom workouts and the SuuntoPlus Guides which let you add intervals or other useful overlays on top of the workout page views. We found this particularly useful for regular workouts such as weight training as you can name the activities with specific names and then simply activate them from the watch without having to modify settings.
Overall, we found the Suunto Vertical GPS to be a full featured and well designed smart watch. Whether your choose the standard steel version or the titanium solar option, the Vertical has an accurate dual-band GPS and offline maps to help you find your way. Suunto has incorporated a number of helpful features such as sleep tracking, fitness goals and over 95+ activity modes. Even though most of the modes are nearly identical, the heart rate and data displays are helpful for optimizing your performance and tracking your fitness. We found the Suunto Vertical to be a perfect multi-discipline fitness tracker as it lets you track your training whether your on the water, trails or a bike. The main downsides of the watch is the premium price, the fact that there is a slight lag when changing between the main widgets and the fact that you can only connect to a single external sensor. That said, if you’re looking for a smart GPS watch with extensive features and long runtimes then the Suunto Vertical is a great option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Suunto. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.