Suunto 5 Peak review: Great fitness tracking, limited smartwatch appeal
Quick verdict: Suunto’s cheaper fitness watch brings plenty of high-quality tracking and fitness information, but it’s best suited to those already on the Suunto platform.
- Good GPS tracking
- Smart encouragement to exercise properly
- Lower price than other Suunto fitness watches
- Plastic build
- No touchscreen
- Only basic smartwatch functions
Suunto sits firmly in the fitness or sports categories of the wider smartwatch space. It focuses strongly on exercise-related activities with a significantly smaller set of smartwatch capabilities, Suunto fitness trackers tend to be beloved of heavy-duty athletes who need long battery life and watches that can take a tumble or two into the dust or moisture. Interestingly, the Suunto 5 Peak is somewhat of a departure for the company, offering an inroad onto its particular platform at a lower asking price, by delivering a slightly less robust smartwatch.
The Suunto 5 Peak is best suited if you've got friends or family already on the Suunto platform and you want to join them, or as a more affordable way back on if you've broken your existing Suunto fitness watch.
Design: A very plastic feel for something at this price
The construction and design of the Suunto 5 Peak is a little unusual. It's less expensive than Suunto's other fitness watches, but at $499.99, nobody's ever going to call it "cheap".
Taking it out of the box, then, I was a little surprised at how much it looked like cheap, generic plastic.
There's a metallic ring around the watch face that gives it a slightly premium style, but beyond that I was strapping a watch to my wrist that really didn't feel like it was 1 cent short of $500.
The Suunto 5 Peak exists in a lot of colour variants, and my own reticence might relate to the fact that the review model I was sent was the Ridge Sand colour. It gave me flashbacks to the bad old days of beige-box desktop PCs, but that might just be a personal quirk.
If you want to step outside the confines of beige, it's also available in Black, Ochre, Dark Heather, Green or Ridge Sand Multicolour. The Ridge Sand models feature that same beige body, while all the others have black watch bodies with coloured silicone straps.
The Suunto 5 Peak's strap uses a simple push-in clasp which does hold very firm. Like many of its type, I struggled for a while to get it to pop neatly into place. But once it was affixed no quantity of motion was likely to unseat it. For longer and hotter runs, I did hit the predictable issue of it leaving a light mark on my wrist, especially around the clasp.
The use of plastic does keep it nicely light, at just 39 grams, and I've had no issues with it feeling bulky or uncomfortable, even when I've sweated on it to a substantial degree after a heavy workout.
The Suunto 5 Peak has a 43mm LCD display with a 218x218 resolution, which isn't pin-sharp to be sure. You certainly don't need 4K on your wrist, but I did notice that the Suunto 5 Peak was rather lacking in peak brightness.
In direct outdoor sunlight this wasn't so much of an issue, but if I was wearing it indoors or exercising on a treadmill, it was substantially harder to quickly make out.
The Suunto 5 Peak relies entirely on buttons on both sides, with no touchscreen capability. That's to ensure that you don't bump it or stop tracking an exercise routine while out in the field, but it does mean that there's a natural learning curve to remembering what each side button typically does.
Suuno 5 Peak performance review: Good sports tracking, fewer smart features
The Suunto 5 Peak follows the lead of other pricier Suunto watches such as the previously reviewed Suunto 9 Peak, in that it's much more of a fitness wearable than a true smartwatch.
The name of the game here is fitness tracking, with a wide array of tracked activities to pick from; everything from cross training to swimming, pilates to roller skiing is covered.
The catch here is that the lack of touchscreen means that you have to scroll through some very slow and unresponsive lists to get to the sports you might want. For most users – and I'd fall into this category – that might not be an issue if all you do is run, walk or hike, but if you're a multi-sport athlete, it could be quite limiting.
The Suunto 5 Peak ties in very closely to Suunto's own app-based approach to health and fitness, also tracking sleep and loose stress tracking.
It's a comprehensive approach that intelligently manages features like telling you to cut back if you're going too intense over too many close days – I fell foul of that more than once – as well as providing handy functions like heat maps so you can track your own exercise and popular routes around you. It's GPS-ready and ideally built for those who want to exercise outdoors.
My own fitness routine mixes up outdoor running with workouts on a treadmill. The Suunto 5 Peak tracked my outdoor runs very nicely and while I didn't need it to guide me with GPS, the feature was there if I decided to stray off my typical running paths.
For indoor treadmill runs it was less accurate, tending to under-measure my runs relative to the distance measured by the treadmill itself. That's far from uncommon for most smartwatches, because working out distance based just on strides without GPS information to cross-correlate with will always involve a degree of guesswork.
One trap I fell into more than once was forgetting to tell the Suunto 5 Peak that I'd stopped exercising at the end of a run, thanks to the lack of a touchscreen. Extra steps aren't a problem, but it did try to get me to slow down on future days based on what it thought were much longer run cycles than I'd actually managed.
The Suunto 5 Peak does a good job of its core sports tracking, and it's not hard to see it appealing to somebody switching from another Suunto device where your data was already in the app, or to join friends who were already using the Suunto platform.
At first it can be a little difficult to discern what all the scores that you get after a workout actually mean, but the point here is more about observing longer-term training trends and intelligently adjusting your workouts to make the most of your efforts.
What you are missing out on – if it's important to you – is any kind of wider array of smartwatch features. The Suunto 5 Peak will handle basic notifications with a beep each time, as well as music playback, but there's no dedicated apps for any other functions or NFC for contactless payments either.
Suunto 5 Peak review: The battery is fair but not the best for a fitness watch
The reason Suunto opted for a lower-intensity display on the Suunto 5 Peak was pretty clearly to lower the cost and keep battery usage at a minimum. It rates the watch as being good for up to 10 days of usage, although that drops to 7 if you have notifications enabled and as low as 20 hours if you require continuous GPS tracking for your endurance runs.
That kind of exertion is well beyond me, but using the Suunto 5 Peak with notifications enabled, I could manage around 5 days or so before needing to recharge the watch, which is a little below Suunto's claims.
For everyday fitness fans that's not likely to be an issue, but if you are into your longer treks, you may want to look at pricier Suunto options with heftier battery capacities.
Should you buy it?
- Buy it if you want a cheaper way into the Suunto ecosystem.
- Don't buy it if you need a brighter display, wider smartwatch apps or a premium looking fitness wearable.
If you're after a reasonably heavy-duty fitness wearable without spending the serious money that one of Suunto (or its rivals) charge, then the Suunto 5 Peak could be ideal for you. It will intelligently track your exercise, especially outdoors over multiple days without any real issues.
However, it's a little cheap looking for the price, is rather clunky, has slow response time and no touchscreen capability. It also only has a limited suite of smartwatch features alongside its fitness tracking capabilities.
If those smartwatch features are important to you, consider devices such as the Apple Watch SE or Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.
Suunto 5 Peak review: Pricing and availability
The Suunto 5 Peak retails in Australia for $499.
How we tested
The Suunto 5 Peak was tested over a 2-week period, using it as my daily smartwatch paired to an iPhone 13 Pro to assess both its smartwatch and fitness capabilities. On the sports side, it was used to track both running and walking features for both indoor treadmill walks and a variety of outdoor locations to assess GPS tracking, fitness advice and usability.
The reviewer has more than 2 decades of tech product reviewing under his belt and is a multi-time Australian IT Journo award winner, including awards for best reviewer and best technical journalist.