The Suunto 9 Baro Titanium GPS watch is Suunto's 2021 king of the hill, the flagship watch to beat in an extensive range. It takes over from the ‘Spartan’ series, and includes a variety of functions and design choices from that range. With that in mind, expect premium pricing, RRPs are UK £629, US$599, AUS $799.99, but many retailers are undercutting that, so check the widgets in this article for the cheapest prices. Is it worth it? How does this model compare to the rest of the best outdoor watches around? Read on for our full Suunto 9 Baro Titanium GPS watch review.
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Suunto Baro 9 Titanium GPS watch review: design and build
There’s much of the Suunto Baro 9 Titanium GPS watch that will be familiar, not least the magnetic charging connector, lifted directly from the Suunto Spartan. That’s not a bad thing, as it’s a good system, and the same goes for much of the rest on offer here.
We’re talking top of the line premium here, so it’ll be unsurprising that there’s top quality Sapphire crystal on top of that 320 x 300 resolution touchscreen face, surrounded by a titanium bezel, which is the main factor in knocking 14.1 grams off the standard 9 Baro weight. The bezel does also lose the very evident north/south detents of the standard model, making it a much more minimalist and clean-lined option from a pure design point of view.
The back of the glass fibre reinforced polyamide case houses the now-mundane witchcraft of wrist-based HR, which also allows the watch to calculate a host of valuable training stats, including Vo2 Max, Peak training effect and recovery time. You can also use it for heart rate zone training, which is a boon for runners (and indeed anyone else) seeking to vary their peak cardio/endurance training routines.
A final build point is the much-needed inclusion of standard 24mm width straps, with quick-release pins. This lets you choose from thousands of 3rd party strap designs at your whim, rather than being stuck with stock. That said, the stock band on the Suunto Baro 9 Titanium is a pleasant enough textile number, perfectly up to the job at hand.
The only downsides come in the form of omissions, which is unusual in a flagship watch. There’s no media player or partnership with Spotify or Deezer to allow music control, and there’s no NFC either, so mobile payments are off too. We’re a bit on the fence about both of these - they’re both brilliant tools when doing training runs around town, but out in the countryside they’re fairly redundant and potentially eat into your battery life. You’re unlikely to need many of the Suunto Baro 9 Titanium’s navigational and altitude tools around town either, so a single-minded approach might well be best.
Suunto Baro 9 Titanium GPS watch review: performance and accuracy
As you’d expect from a watch at this level, the Suunto Baro 9 Titanium GPS watch delivers solid accuracy from a GPS point of view, getting a location quickly in town and countryside alike. Tree cover and buildings aren’t enough to throw it off either, which is also good. The prominent navigation options include POIs (which can be uploaded from desktop), pre-saved routes (ditto), compass, your location and bearing navigator. The latter two are pretty handy in a pinch, but the main navigation is more of a breadcrumb affair than a full colour mapping experience, which is a shame.
There are 80 sport modes pre-installed, and Suunto has come a long way since the bad old days where you had to scroll through all of them to find the right one. The tree style of menu works well here, letting you drill down into the deeper settings quickly but effectively.
Battery life is impressive, Suunto claims this watch will last 7 days in smartwatch mode, and between 25 hours and 170 hours in training mode with GPS firing away. We found that using the Suunto Baro 9 Titanium GPS watch a couple of times a week got 5 days-odd before needing a charge on stock settings, which is about right. Suunto’s new-ish FusedTrack algorithm combines GPS and motion sensor data to track your outdoor activity, which means you can lean off the GPS sampling rate without losing as much accuracy as before, so your mileage may vary.
There are niggles in use though - the screen really isn’t bright enough for summer conditions, a combination of reflective screen and low-backlight making it often hard to read on the move. This isn’t helped by a screen that picks up finger marks very easily indeed, adding another dimension of viewing difficulty. The central button does double duty as a ‘back’ button with a long press, and this is regularly annoying as it is also the select button. Although this isn’t a big issue when stationary, it is quite hard to juggle on the move, although arguably most folk won’t change settings mid-route.
Suunto Baro 9 Titanium GPS watch review: specs
- Measurements 50 x 50 x 16.5 mm / 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.65 "
- Weight 66.9 g / 2.36 oz
- Bezel material: Titanium Grade 5
- Glass material: Sapphire crystal
- Case material: Glass fibre reinforced polyamide
- Satellite systems: GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOU
- Strap material: Nylon textile
- Battery: Training mode with GPS 25h / 50h / 120h / 170h
Suunto Baro 9 Titanium GPS watch review: alternatives to consider
It’s a tough market out there, the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium is surrounded by very strong competition indeed. The cheaper Suunto 7 range offers much of the same functionality, in many cases more actual functions, and the competition from Garmin with the Garmin Fenix 6X solar and Garmin 6 Pro is redoubtable. On top of that, Suunto’s imminent launch of the Suunto 9 Peak is set to change the market again, being physically smaller than the Baro 9, but offering similar headline battery life and many of the same functions.
Suunto Baro 9 Titanium GPS watch review: verdict
Overall, the Suunto Baro 9 Titanium in itself is a great watch that will serve you well as a training and outdoor adventure companion, as well as a usable backup/emergency GPS unit. However, the premium pricing and streamlined functions mean that competition is white-hot, with a host of cheaper options available and other flagships leaning in too.
Interestingly, the Suunto Baro 9 Titanium GPS watch has reached the point where discounting is beginning to kick in, which changes the situation somewhat. With new models in the pipeline, the time to snap up a Suunto Baro 9 Titanium for a very reasonable price is here, and cost is one of the issues that previously dogged this flagship.
While you’ll be missing some of the bells and whistles of other models - such as mobile payments and music for example - there is certainly an argument that these add complexity and distraction to the inevitably limited watch interface, and ‘simple’ training tools and navigation are more than enough. Whichever side of that argument you sit on, the Suunto Baro 9 Titanium is a competent outdoor watch with great training tools attached.