Suunto vs Garmin [Which SmartWatch Is Better For You!]

If you’re reading this article, you either want a good sports watch, or want to buy your very first outdoor one. It sounds exciting because there are so many outdoor-friendly features that manufacturers could pack into such small devices. Yet, the abundance of choices makes it overwhelming to choose.

Suunto and Garmin are two of the biggest manufacturers of outdoor and sports watches. They cater to different needs with different features and functions. Of course, their watches have their advantages and disadvantages, which is what we’re going to address today.

So, if you’re interested in knowing what sets each watch apart from the other and which choice is right for you, keep on reading.

Short Answer

The Garmin Instinct outdoor smartwatch proves its superiority to the Suunto one in many categories; it has higher water resistance, built-in GPS, longer battery life, precise tracking, and a wider selection of colors.

Yet, the Suunto 3 fitness tracker still manages to provide cool features, such as sufficient water resistance, durable build, lightweight design, sleek appearance, and numerous pre-installed sports modes.

Specs Comparison

ModelSatellite SystemBattery LifeWater-Resistance
SuuntoConnected GPSUp to 40 hours  in training mode and 10 days in time modeUp to 30 meters
GarminGPS, Glonass, and GalileoUp to 14 days in smartwatch mode and 16 hours in GPS modeUp to 100 meters

Suunto vs Garmin – Full Comparison

Now that you’ve got your short answer, let delve more into the details.

Design

The Suunto 3 and Garmin Instinct watches have a lot in common in terms of design. Both of them have a classic, circular watch faces, which are more familiar to users than their square counterparts.

Besides, both of them skip touch screens altogether and rely on five buttons for navigation, which can be a merit for many people who don’t like smudging their watches’ screens with their fingers.

They still have some differences. For example, the Suunto 3 tracker is very lightweight, weighing only 29 grams, despite being rugged. On the other hand, the Garmin weighs 52 grams, so it’s a tad heavier.

Also, the Suunto 3 watch looks fashionable, so you can wear it in different settings. On the other hand, the Garmin Instinct watch looks very outdoorsy, and it does offer a lot of color choices. However, we wouldn’t call it attractive, per se.

Winner: Suunto 3

Durability

If you’re buying a smartwatch, chances are you’re taking it to a lot of places and exposing it to the elements. So, it’s pretty important to get one that won’t fall apart at the first sign of danger because the whole point of these watches is to be reliable outside.

The Suunto 3 smartwatch wraps its fiber-reinforced polyamide glass screen with a stainless steel bezel. In addition, it has an ABS casing, meaning that it can resist physical impacts and chemical corrosion like a pro.

The Garmin Instinct smartwatch isn’t too bad either. It has a fiber-reinforced polymer casing and raised bezel. Also, its display is scratch-resistant. So, it’s not easy to mess with. However, it’s no Suunto in terms of ruggedness.

Winner: Suunto 3

Navigation and Mapping

When people buy GPS outdoor watches, they tend to have higher expectations for how they navigate and map the tracks.

The Suunto fitness tracker doesn’t have its own GPS but has a connected GPS. So, it relies on the connection to your phone’s GPS to get the job done. While that is sufficient for many users, others may want to leave their phones at home and rely on their watches only.

If you don’t like having your phone on you or want to access the GPS even in places where there’s no cell service, rejoice! The Garmin Instinct watch has its own GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo. With these satellites at your service, you can do anything.

The barometric altimeter is also a nice touch for a more accurate measurement of the altitude you’re in. So, while both devices will help you navigate, the information that the Garmin Instinct provides are more accurate and detailed.

Winner: Garmin Instinct

Battery Life

We can’t stress enough how important battery life is when it comes to smartwatches. A smart device can be packed with features, but if you have to charge it twice or thrice a day, it just loses its practicality.

We found the Suunto 3 fitness tracker to be very impressive in that category. This watch can last up to 40 hours in training mode without GPS, 30 hours in training mode with GPS, 5 days with 24/7 tracking and notifications, and 10 days in time mode. So, it’s pretty cool.

However, the Garmin Instinct watch goes even a step further by lasting up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, 16 hours in GPS mode, and 40 hours in UltraTrac battery saving mode.

Winner: Garmin Instinct

Water Resistance

Water-resistance rating is a pretty important feature to consider if you’ll expose your wrist to water. Whether you just wash your hands with the watch on or scuba dive wearing your fitness tracker, you still want a water-resistant model. 

The Suunto 3 fitness tracker offers water protection for up to 30 meters, which is great news for every swimmer and diver out there that lost a smartwatch to an unfortunate swim. However, it’s still not the best thing that the smartwatch market can offer.

You can easily submerge the Garmin Instinct outdoor watch under 100 meters of water. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. So, while the Suunto 3 fitness tracker is impressive, the Garmin wins this one.

Winner: Garmin Instinct

Health and Fitness Tracking

In general, people looking for a Suunto or a Garmin expect above-average health and fitness tracking. In fact, both watches offer a lot in that category. They track the basics, such as heart rate, steps, stairs, sleep, calories, and so on.

The Suunto 3 watch stands out by tracking 70 pre-installed sports. It can basically track everything that you can think of.

In addition, it provides adaptive training guidance, which is its biggest advantage. It builds 7-day training plans according to your fitness level, recorded training, and general profile. Plus, it adjusts itself if you miss a day and provides you real-time feedback about your level of strain using your heart rate data.

However, it’s not perfect because it doesn’t let you set your own goals. Also, the lack of built-in GPS affects the accuracy of tracking if you don’t borrow GPS from your phone.

Then, you have the Garmin Instinct watch, which tracks 30 different activities. This is more than enough for most people. Also, the accuracy in tracking health and fitness is impressive. It also tracks stress levels and alerts you to stop and take a deep breath when needed.

So, both watches have their advantages in this category, and the right choice depends on what you expect your outdoor watch to do.

Winner: Tie

What We Like and What We Don’t Like About Suunto and Garmin

Suunto 3

Pros:

  • 70 pre-installed sport modes
  • Adaptive training guidance
  • Lightweight
  • Attractive-looking
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Suunto app doesn’t sync well
  • No built-in GPS

Garmin Instinct

Pros:

  • Multiple color options
  • Superior navigation and mapping
  • Excellent battery life
  • Built-in GPS
  • 10 ATM water rating
  • Stress tracking and breathing exercise

Cons:

  • Not fashionable
  • Heavier

Final Verdict

Hopefully, the choice has become much easier to make. By now, you know the pros and cons of each watch.

The Garmin Instinct watch is the ideal choice for accurate navigation, long battery life, and stress management.

However, if you’re looking for a sleek, durable design and extensive fitness tracking, consider the Suunto 3 fitness tracker.

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