Garmin vs Suunto: Who Makes Best GPS Watches?

Garmin vs Suunto

If you plan to buy a GPS smartwatch or upgrade to a GPS watch, the Garmin and Suunto are the top two brands you should consider. Both the smartwatch brands have a range of watches in the sports watch category, from mid-range to high-end.

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In this article, we will compare both watch brands by looking at their features and benefits. We hope that after reading our blog, you will better understand which brand is best for you.

Which is better: Suunto or Garmin GPS Sports Watch?

In comparison, Garmin seems to have an edge in its smartwatch design. However, if you are going for a fitness watch, you can’t go wrong with either of these brands as they both have an equally wide range of GPS watches with excellent GPS tracking capability.

One of the key differences between Garmin and Suunto is that Garmin watches are more user-friendly. It takes only a few minutes to set up most Garmin GPS watches, after which they will be ready for use. On the other hand, setting up a Suunto watch can take some time for initial setup.

History of Garmin Watches

Garmin’s history goes all the way back to 1983 and was founded by Gary Burrell and Min Kao in the United States. The company was formerly known as ProNav and focused mainly on making GPS devices for automobile, aviation, and marine use.

The development in wearable technology led to its expansion into smartwatches and fitness trackers. Garmin watches are known for their long battery life, excellent GPS tracking capabilities, and robust design.

Garmin makes a wide variety of smartwatches under various product lines. The Garmin Vivosmart and Vivomove are entry-level smartwatches. Top-end models such as the Garmin Forerunner Series are aimed at runners and triathletes with excellent GPS tracking capabilities. Another famous lineup, the Garmin Fenix 6 Series, is aimed at outdoors enthusiasts who want to take advantage of GPS features in their outdoor activities, such as hiking, trail running, and outdoor running.

Garmin Tactix is a high-end GPS smartwatch from Garmin. With its military-level durability, it thrives in outdoor activities.

History of Suunto Watches

Suunto is another GPS watch powerhouse that is well-known for its high-quality GPS watches. The company was founded in 1932 by Tuomas Vohlonen in Finland. Now the Suunto sells to over 100 countries around the globe and has more than 300+ staff worldwide. 

Initially, the company was making the compass for the military, and the Suunto M-311 field compass was the first compass made by the company in 1936.

The first Suunto Product, the Suunto M-311, saved a Finnish soldier from a Russian Sniper! The Russian sniper bullet hit the Suunto M-311 compass, which was kept in his pocket! Although the story is a bit old, this shows us that Suunto makes durable products capable of taking all kinds of outdoor abuse.

Now Suunto makes a wide variety of smartwatches under various product lines. The Suunto 9 and 7 Series are high-end smartwatches known for their durable design and long battery life.

Which brand of the smartwatch is right for you?

Choosing a running watch between the Garmin vs. Suunto may be challenging, given that they are equally good at their primary function of tracking workouts.

Let us look at their main features below to help you decide which brand is best for you!

GPS: Suunto vs. Garmin

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Garmin fenix 6 Pro Solar, Multisport GPS Watch with Solar...
  • Multisport GPS watch with solar charging capabilities uses a Power Glass solar...
  • Train with a rugged yet sophisticated watch, featuring an always-on 1.3”...
  • Track surfing sessions with a new dedicated activity profile, and even use...
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SUUNTO 9 Baro & Peak, GPS Sports Watch
  • Over 80 Sport Modes
  • Sapphire glass and stainless steel
  • GPS Navigation
  • Weather Functions

Both Garmin and Suunto are popular GPS sports watches! The Suunto watch has a high GPS accuracy and all sensors to monitor other activities and body metrics. However, the heart rate monitoring in Suunto is not accurate. Plus, most Suunto sports watches do not feature blood oxygen monitoring(SpO2) features. It is a significant disadvantage for Suunto.

The Suunto 9 Peak smartwatch, on the other hand, is a fantastic model. It has a lightweight design and includes an improved heart rate sensor and SpO2 sensor. Unfortunately, it does not have music storage or music streaming features.

If you’re a Suunto fan and want music, the Suunto 7 is the watch for you. It has Spotify offline streaming capabilities as well as smartphone music control.

On the other hand, the GPS and barometer sensors are highly accurate in Garmin sports GPS watches. In addition, in Garmin watches, health monitoring features such as heart rate monitoring and blood oxygen level monitoring are tightly precise.

Moreover, the Garmin watches also feature music storage and streaming features in addition to advanced sport tracking features. Fenix 6, Forerunner, and Vivoactive series can store and stream songs without a smartphone nearby.

Top-end Garmin devices also have an on-abord map for navigation and tracking.

Display

When we compare the display of both Garmin and Suunto watches, the Garmin devices have a good quality display compared to the Suunto. The Garmin models use the transflective display, making the screen easier to read in bright sunlight.

Suunto offers better display on higher-end models only. If you have the budget, go for the Suunto 9 Peak. But if you are looking for an affordable watch, choose the Suunto Core, Suunto 5, or Suunto 3.

Garmin vs Suunto – Apps and User Interface

Smartwatch and companion app interface are the keys to a great user experience. Both Garmin and Suunto have apps to track activities and analyze your progress.

Garmin has an easy-to-use interface with all the data you need for activity tracking, such as heart rate, pace, time, etc. It also offers multisport tracking features to switch sports modes easily.

The user interface of Garmin watches also excellent and customizable. You can choose from various widgets and screens on your Garmin watch.

Suunto is also a good brand with top-notch apps and excellent sports tracking features. The Suunto app works on both iOS and Android devices. Additionally, its companion app offers lots of training data such as velocity, distance, elevation, etc. However, the user interface is not as user-friendly as Garmin. It might take a while to get used to Suunto devices.

Further, in older Suunto watches, you need to change the time zone manually. Whereas the Garmin watches automatically adjust the time zone when you travel to a new place.

In a nutshell, both Suunto and Garmin watches have excellent hardware. However, when it comes to the UI(user interface), the Garmin wearables are way ahead of the Suunto watches. This is the same for the companion app as well; the Garmin Connect and Suunto App.

Battery life

When you buy a sports watch, battery life is something to consider. The Suunto watches have an average battery life of 5-7 days on normal usage. The flagship model, the Suunto 9 Peak’s battery, lasts for 14 days.

The Garmin Solar-powered smartwatches have excellent battery life. If you are concerned about the battery life and willing to spend more, go for a Garmin Solar Powered Smartwatch. The Garmin Enduro is a solar-powered smartwatch, and its battery lasts for more than 70 days with solar. Also, the Fenix 6 Series and Enduro product lines have solar models.

The battery life of your watch depends on various factors such as the settings, features, backlight, etc. The use of GPS and music also consumes more battery.

In the battery department, Garmin is the clear winner because of its solar-powered models.

Fit and Comfort

Suunto timepieces are larger and heavier, making it hard to wear them for a full day. The newest Suunto 9 Peak, on the other hand, has a lightweight and sleek design. It is 20% lighter than the Suunto 9 Baro, and it is the lightest smartwatch ever built by the Suunto.

In contrast, the Garmin watches are lightweight and comfortable, especially the Garmin Forerunner and Fenix 6 Series.

When it comes to the strap, both watches come with adjustable straps. You can adjust the watch’s strap according to your wrist size. The Suunto 9 Peak’s strap is made of silicone, making it more durable.

Silicone, leather, titanium, and nylon are among the materials used to make the Garmin straps. They are incredibly comfortable to wear and durable.

Suunto vs Garmin Running Watches

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE, Premium GPS Running/Triathlon...
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If you search for the best running watch, both the Garmin and Suunto watches are good choices. Both the watches have sensors to track your speed, distance, cadence, recovery time, etc.

The Garmin and Suunto watches have GPS, barometric altimeter, and heart rate sensors to track your fitness activities. The data is recorded and analyzed in the companion apps of both brands. Also, they offer similar training features such as intervals and race predictors.

As discussed, the Garmin wearables have a higher GPS accuracy than the Suunto, making it a better choice if you are looking for a running watch.

In a nutshell, both Garmin and Suunto watches are excellent in tracking various running metrics. But Suunto wearables lag when it comes to other smart features such as music streaming, LTE, etc.

If you need the best GPS watch for running, go for Garmin Forerunner Series or Garmin Fenix 6 Series.

Mapping and navigation

Garmin Wearable offers free maps. You can easily download Garmin trail maps, topographic maps, or street maps from the Garmin website. Then you can easily transfer the map files to your watch using Garmin Express or Basecamp app.

On the other hand, each Suunto device has its own proprietary maps preloaded on the watch. You cannot download custom map data onto your watch.

Heart Rate Monitor

The Garmin and Suunto Watches come with wrist-based optical heart rate sensors. They track your heart rate 24/7, and some higher-end models even alert you with abnormally high or low heart rates.

The Suunto watches have some issues with heart rate accuracy, making it the least reliable device. Most of us need to wear the optional heart rate belt tight enough to get accurate readings.

In contrast, the Garmin sports watches have excellent heart rate sensors that provide accurate readings every time you wear them. You can expect high heart rate accuracy even in most basic GPS watches from Garmin.

Third-party Apps Support

Applications make your watch more versatile by giving you an option to choose which apps work best with your specific needs. Both Garmin and Suunto watch third-party support apps, but the Garmin watches support more apps, making them better than Suunto.

Price

The price is another major factor while deciding between Garmin and Suunto. Suunto Watches are retailed at mid-range and high-end price levels. You can get a basic Suunto 3 watch starting at about $170. The most expensive model is the Suunto 9, with a price tag of about $600.

On the other hand, Garmin offers a wide variety of smartwatches at different price levels. The basic Garmin Venu watch can be purchased for about $200. The Garmin Forerunner 945, Garmin Fenix 6 Series, and Garmin Enduro models are costly.

The Garmin Dive watches, such as Descent Mk2 watches, cost you about $1500.

The best part is that you do not need to go for the most expensive models if your budget is low. Just make sure to get a watch with all the features you need. If you want a basic watch with heart rate sensors and GPS accuracy, go for an entry-level model like Venu 2 or Suunto 3.

How to decide between Suunto and Garmin?

When it comes to fitness and running watches, both brands have great stuff. So we recommend that you look for the features you need on a watch and decide between Garmin and Suunto.

For instance, if you are looking for a non-bulky running watch, go for the Suunto 9 Peak. But remember, it does not have music capabilities.

If music is an essential feature for you, then go with the Garmin Forerunner Series or Garmin Fenix 6. The high-end Forerunner Series and Garmin Fenix 6 Series are a complete package for athletes.

Which Suunto is the best?

Suunto 9 Peak is the best Suunto sports watch. It has all of the essential features of the Suunto 9 Baro. It’s also lighter and smaller than any other sports watch created by Suunto before it.

Are Garmin watches more accurate?

Garmin watches are more accurate than Suunto watches. Garmin has the best GPS technology because they have been in the business for years now. Wherever you go, you can expect your watch’s tracking capabilities to be top-notch.

Does Suunto foot pod work with Garmin?

No. the Suunto foot pod does not work with Garmin GPS. If you are looking for a foot pod compatible with Garmin, go for a Garmin Foot pod compatible with most of the Forerunner and Fenix Series.

Which Garmin is the best?

The best Garmin Sports watch is the Garmin Forerunner 945. This sports watch has all the advanced features of a real smartwatch. It also has an LTE model with 4G connectivity, allowing you to make calls without carrying your phone.

Conclusion

In the end, it is difficult to say which sports watch is better than the other. As a pointer in GPS technology, the Garmin devices have better accuracy and longer battery life. 

But it does not mean that the Suunto Watches are bad. Suunto is just as good as Garmin, even though their devices are not waterproof. But the Suunto models lack smart features like music and app compatibility. We recommend that you choose between Garmin and Suunto according to your needs.

If the budget is not a problem, go for a Garmin sports watch because they are more reliable.

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