Apple Watch Series 6 is the best smartwatch for iPhone users and usually I'd recommend nothing but it. But the Suunto has some things that the Apple doesn't.
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Wearing the Suunto 7 and the Apple Watch Series 6 are two different experiences.
It’s like comparing Bear Grylls with Kim Kardashian. They’re both great, but they’d appeal to different audiences.
One’s known for its grit, athleticism and resourcefulness, and the other is known for style and stardom.
Style and stardom
The Suunto 7 is a huge watch as compared to the Apple Watch Series 6.
The Apple Watch Series 6 comes in two sizes. The extremely compact 40mm or the larger 44mm (which is still small by smartwatch standards).
The Suunto 7 is more on par with sport smartwatches in size. It’s bigger than the average Polar but up there with the Garmin Fenix line of smartwatches.
But unlike the Garmin Fenix 6, the Suunto 7 is built fully out of plastic. Somehow, the plastic makes the smartwatch look lower in quality, and it runs in a similar price range as the Apple Watch Series 6.
But — that said — if you want to pay a little bit more you can get the watch case in metallic graphite, titanium, sandstone rosegold and white burgundy.
Whereas the Apple Watch Series 6 is much more customizable. You can buy a strap made of textile, metal or silicone as you can buy a watch case made of different metals. Apple also makes some special editions of the Apple Watch Series 6 such as the Product RED versions and the Black Unity Collection (to celebrate Black History Month).
Apple smartwatches have always used the Apple Watch OS.
However, the Suunto 7 uses Google’s Wear OS.
The Wear OS has been getting better and better, and the Suunto 7 builds on this platform with its own software, both on the watch itself and the smartphone.
The Apple Watch Series 6 is at the forefront of many health features, whereas the Suunto 7 isn’t.
Nonetheless, the Suunto 7 is trying to catch up. Suunto promises that they’re implementing sleep tracking, body resources (stress, recovery) and daily heart rate.
But what the Suunto 7 doesn’t have is the most vaunted feature of 2020 — SpO2 tracking.
SpO2 is also known as blood oxygen saturation.
I have experienced multiple smartwatches with this from the Garmin Fenix 6 (which had the feature before the 2020 craze) to the Apple Watch Series 6.
Somehow, that feature seems to be a hyped up feature that I can’t really pinpoint what the feature is used for.
Perhaps it’s a bit like diamonds as an essential part of marriage. Marketing says that everyone is doing it… you NEED to do it. /s
On the other hand, the Apple Watch Series 6 does have some pretty useful features. I really liked the noise tracking feature which consistently tracks if ambient noise will cause damage to your hearing.
There’s also another feature where the smartwatch will detect when you wash your hands and start a 20 second timer. There’s no other smartwatch that I know of that can do this automatically.
I really feel the Suunto 7 sets itself apart from other smartwatches because of its offline maps.
The pandemic has made me a real outdoorsperson and I really just find it so uncomfortable when I am without a smartwatch with an offline map.
Particularly if I am going to a location where I am unfamiliar with, I find having an offline map to be super useful.
You might ask me why would one need this if they have their phone. First of all, this is easy. It’ll always be on your wrist. You don’t have to dig out your smartphone which can be particularly annoying if you have it tucked away in a pannier or dry bag.
The Apple Watch Series 6 does have Apple Maps, but Apple Maps doesn’t work if you don’t have your iPhone nearby (for the Bluetooth version only).
OK, if you’re reading this review then you’re probably an outdoors person. You wouldn’t buy a Suunto 7 if you weren’t.
One of the things I really like about the Apple Watch Series 6 is that it has a real speaker. The Suunto 7 has buzzer that beeps like a pager or the Nokia 3310.
Let me give you a scenario where having a real speaker is important: you are out kayaking. A million-dollar client calls. Your cell phone is tucked in a bag. With the Apple Watch Series 6, you’ll be able take the call and have a quality conversation right there on your wrist.
On the other hand, the Suunto 7 will leave you a bit disappointed. You will be anxiously ransacking your bag to find your phone because you can’t take the call on your Suunto 7.
Email and text
Luckily, both smartwatches handle emails and text quite well.
The Apple Watch Series 6 does it a bit better, though. Particularly with email.
Emails are sometimes designed with banners and images. On the Suunto 7, they won’t display. Everything is plain text.
Whereas on the Apple Watch Series 6, all emails are displayed as you would expect on a mobile device. That’s good because you can make sense of the email just a bit easier as long as the text isn’t too small.
When you receive texts, both smartwatches offer a good experience.
Just note — you won’t be able to reply to texts on the Suunto 7 if you are paired to an iPhone. Only the Apple Watch Series 6 is able to reply to texts. The Apple Watch Series 6 also has the ability to access emails and texts exactly like you would on a smartphone.
The biggest difference that the Suunto 7 offers is the Suunto app. This is the major difference that makes the Suunto 7 a fitness watch rather than just a typical smartwatch.
The data is amazing and the activity selection is definitely better than the Apple Watch Series 6’s sports data.
If you are a person who enjoys less typical sports like motorsports or paddle boarding, then you’ll want the Suunto 7 to track those sports. If not, you’ll be using the “other” mode on the Apple Watch Series 6.
The Suunto 7 is better because its app can give really useful stats like the EPOC, PTE and Recovery Time. EPOC measures the intensity of your workout, PTE analyzes whether your workout is helping you improve and the recovery time is Suunto’s suggestion of how much time you need before your next workout.
The one thing that the Apple Watch Series 6 does better is that it is encouraging people to keep an active lifestyle. The Apple Watch Series 6 does it through its rings. The rings track calories burned, movement time and standing time. If your massage therapist is telling you that you need to move to keep your muscles from going stiff, then you’d benefit from the Apple Watch Series 6.
Do you need offline maps? Do you want a smartwatch that’s meant for sports and enhancing your sporting ability? Then you need the Suunto 7.
However, if you want a polished experience with a smartwatch that’s going to help you in more aspects of your life, then you’d do better with the Apple Watch Series 6.