Suunto’s latest GPS Smartwatch is called the 'Vertical' and it comes in a base stainless steel version and a solar version which is made from titanium. This premium version will set you back an additional $250CAN / $190US over the base model and is the version that we tested. The Vertical replaces Suunto’s previous GPS watch, the 9 Peak Pro which had fewer features and no detailed mapping or solar charging capabilities (you can read that review here). Not only is the new Vertical Titanium Solar Watch packed with new features, but its main benefit is the huge bump in battery life which can now easily keep up on extended multi-day adventures. Let's dive into the full review below where I'll go over all these great new features and more.
Solar charging is a convenient way to prop up the battery life of your GPS watch and the Vertical’s Titanium Solar version does an impressive job of it thanks to the large solar ring around the outside of the watch face. While you should not depend on solar charging to keep the watch powered it is a nice feature to add extra juice on the go when you are on multi-day adventures. The built-in battery boasts impressive numbers on its own with an ability to last 60 days while using 24/7 tracking and mobile notifications. In full tracking mode with GPS, you can expect to get 85 hours / 140 hours / 280 hours / 30 days depending upon the setting you specify. In time mode with all sensors and connectivity switched off the Vertical Titanium Solar battery will last an impressive full year.
The Suunto Vertical has a battery power management system that uses intelligent battery technology which ensures the watch does not run out of power when you need it most. When starting an exercise an estimate of how much battery life remains in the current battery mode is displayed. There are four predefined battery modes to choose from: Performance (default), Endurance, Ultra and Tour.
The next big improvement found on the new Vertical watch is maps for navigation and tracking. They can be downloaded via wifi from the Suunto App in different regions so that you don’t use up all 32GB of built-in memory. These offline maps provide topographical information, roads, trails and bodies of water in three map styles: High contrast, Outdoor, and Dark.
Thanks to the Vertical’s larger display these maps are more easily used in the field. The Vertical's display is now 1.4” (an increase of 0.2” over the 9 Peak) and it is brighter with more contrast, making it much more readable. A bigger screen means a bigger case as well, so the Vertical is 6mm wider than the 9 Peak and also thicker by 2.8mm with dimensions of 49 x 49 x 13.6mm / 1.93 x 1.93 x 0.54”.
The Vertical uses a new dual-frequency (Multiband) GPS satellite chipset that can communicate with two satellite frequencies at the same time. This increases not only tracking accuracy but also connection times so you are never left waiting for a satellite.
Other notable improvements and new features on the Vertical are the built-in flashlight function which emits a bright white light on the display for 30 seconds to illuminate your surroundings. The 24/7 heart rate monitoring now samples every second instead of every ten seconds. Strava Live Segments are available on the Vertical and not just on the app as before. There are new weather pages, with forecasts and air quality figures. The Vertical also sports a brand new more rugged design which is less clean and sophisticated than the previous 9 Peak but the new Vertical can be combined with various strap colours to spice things up.
The Vertical is made in Finland with 100% renewable energy and Suunto has calculated 100% of the carbon required to use the watch over its lifespan and compensated for this by planting trees to offset its carbon footprint. Bravo Suunto!
Bezel: Titanium Grade 5
Glass: Sapphire crystal
Case: Glass fibre-reinforced polyamide
Suunto was the market leader in Altimeter / Barometer / Compass (ABC) watches for decades but in the early 2000s, they seemed to have hit a few bumps in the road along the way with regard to innovation. That is until now. This new Suunto Vertical Titanium Solar is a huge leap forward not only in functionality and features but also in ease of use. The buttons are large and solid when pressed, the screen is large and easy to read with great contrast and the menus are logical with a quick overall learning curve. The increased battery life is easily apparent as I used a paltry 15% while tracking an 8-hour adventure on multiple occasions. Suunto says that the Vertical’s battery life is the best in the industry and I believe this—add to this the solar charging capability and different power-saving modes and the Vertical will easily outlast any of your adventures. I tested the Vertical Titanium Solar on the 5-day 170km Sunshine Coast Trail and was worried about running out of battery power so I tracked each day individually instead of as one long 5-day adventure and I quickly realized that the Vertical Titanium Solar would have easily been up to the task. Two days later I went on the 4 day Powell Forest Canoe Route and tracked the entire route as a single track and simply paused the tracking each night. Switching the Vertical into low power mode each night preserved battery life and the solar top-ups each day ensured there was more than enough to last the entire duration of the trip.
It is nice to see Suunto fully embrace maps which are integrated into the watch and on the phone app. They provide the needed guidance on adventures but they are not fully routable maps and they could incorporate labels and other details but this is still a huge step in the right direction and I look forward to seeing how they evolve.
I really like the overall style of the new Vertical Titanium Solar, it is rugged but not overstated and not too large and heavy on my wist. The new band doesn't have your traditional band keeper but instead, a metal clip that fits in the band slots, it's easy to use and is a pretty slick and simple design. The larger display also makes viewing easy even in direct sunshine. In my extensive testing, the tracking was precise and satellite connections were fast. The Vertical did pretty much everything I wanted and well.
I was disappointed, however, to see that there was no wireless charging integrated on the Vertical and that I could not customize the order of the widgets or the individual stats found on each sport tracking screen to show the only stats that I specifically wanted. These are all features that the Garmin Fenix 7 provides and I have grown accustomed to them. Another small update I would like to see is the ability to scroll backwards through widgets with the buttons and not just the touch screen, if you miss the one you have to scroll all the way through in order to see it again. Also, the sub-menus do not scroll all the way around, once you get to the end of a list you have to go back. Not show stoppers but just small OS changes that hopefully are integrated in the next software update as they would make usability that much better.
Overall I would have to say that this is by far and away the best Suunto watch to date which puts Suunto squarely back in the game. The Vertical gives the Gamin Fenix 7 a run for its money and is a great competitor—one that you should consider if you are in the market for a GPS smartwatch.
Price: $1099.95CAN /$839US
Measurements: 49 x 49 x 13.6mm / 1.93 x 1.93 x 0.54"
Weight: 74g / 2.61oz
Water resistance: 100m
Display size: 1.4’’
Display resolution: 280 x 280
Connectivity (between devices): Bluetooth
Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion
GPS Satellite systems: GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOU
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