Garmin Watch in Hand

Suunto vs. Garmin: Which GPS Watch is Better for You?

Are you in the market for a new GPS watch? You most likely have come across the Garmin and Suunto GPS watches, and you may be wondering whether one is better than the other. Both product lines are reputable, and your choice will come down to your needs and preferences.

Some key considerations to make when choosing a GPS watch include:

  • Whether you simply want a basic watch for logging your speed, length of walk, and path.
  • Whether you require a watch that can track your activities and body movements around the clock.
  • Any other necessary tools in your preferred GPS watch.

This article will give you a brief overview of both companies and review their range of GPS watches. It will then compare Suunto vs. Garmin in regards to their various tools.

About Suunto

Suunto was incorporated in 1936. It is a Finnish company headquartered in Vantaa, Finland. It manufactures and sells a wide range of products, including diving watches, sports watches, computers, musical instruments and lifestyle watches.

About Garmin

Garmin is an American company based in Olathe, Kansas. It was incorporated in 1989 as Pronav. Garmin Ltd. specializes in GPS technology, including its applications in marine, automobile, and outdoor activities. GPS wearables, such as GPS watches, are one of their most recent item lines.

They started out as a small company with the US army being their only client. The company has grown steadily over the years, developing itself as a known brand in GPS products.

Suunto’s Range of GPS Watches

Suunto has a large selection of GPS watches, ranging from budget to mid-range as well as premium quality watches. Below is a brief overview of the top Suunto GPS watches and their outstanding features.

1. Suunto 9 GPS Baro

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SUUNTO 9 Baro GPS Sports Watch, Black, 50mm
  • Suunto 9 Baro: This durable multisport GPS watch is designed for athletes who demand the best; Featuring over 80 sports modes, a barometer for accurate altitude info, and wrist heart rate monitor. Strap material-Silicone
  • Built To Last: Made for training, racing and extreme adventures, this GPS watch delivers up to 120 hours of continuous exercise tracking; Water resistant to 100 meters; Great for running, hiking, cycling and more
  • Get Connected: Connect to your favorite sports apps and services from the Suunto app to get more from your watch; Share with your sports communities and access specific training analysis and guidance
  • Adventure Starts Here: Combining Scandinavian design with ultra durable materials, our watches track your sports, daily activity, and sleep to help you keep life, training and recovery in balance
  • Authentic Heritage: Founded in 1936, Suunto brings over 80 years of high quality heritage craftsmanship, relentless accuracy, and pioneering innovation to our watches, compasses, and dive products

This is a premium quality Suunto GPS watch. It is a multisport watch with 80 sports modes.  Its quality build makes it suitable for extreme adventure and racing.

It is fitted with a barometer for accurate altitude reading and a wrist heart rate monitor. Its design also incorporates the Suunto’s FusedTrack algorithm, which combines GPS and motion sensor data for accurate tracking.

It has an intelligent battery that can last up to 120 hours. It is water-resistant up to 100 meters deep. It is Bluetooth-smart and compatible with the Suunto app and other online sports apps. It is available in 4 colors.

2. Suunto 9 GPS Watch

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SUUNTO 9 Baro GPS Sports Watch, Black, Titanium
  • Suunto 9 Baro: This durable multisport GPS watch is designed for athletes who demand the best; Featuring over 80 sports modes, a barometer for accurate altitude info, and wrist heart rate monitor
  • Built To Last: Made for training, racing and extreme adventures, this GPS watch delivers up to 120 hours of continuous exercise tracking; Water resistant to 100 meters; Great for running, hiking, cycling and more
  • Get Connected: Connect to your favorite sports apps and services from the Suunto app to get more from your watch; Share with your sports communities and access specific training analysis and guidance
  • Adventure Starts Here: Combining Scandinavian design with ultra durable materials, our watches track your sports, daily activity, and sleep to help you keep life, training and recovery in balance. Measurements-2.03 x 2.03 x 0.67 inches
  • Authentic Heritage: Founded in 1936, Suunto brings over 80 years of high quality heritage craftsmanship, relentless accuracy, and pioneering innovation to our watches, compasses, and dive products

This is another premium quality GPS watch by Suunto. It is similar to the Suunto 9 Baro in many ways. Like the Suunto 9 Baro, it is water-resistant for up to 100m, has an intelligent battery which can last up to 120 hours, incorporates FusedTrack technology, can track 80 or more sports, has Bluetooth connectivity, and can monitor your average heart rate!

It differs in that it does not have compatibility with apps other than the Suunto app. Also, it reports limited aspects of the weather, such as sunrise, sunset, and altitude, unlike the Suunto 9 Baro which also has a storm alarm, temperature and altitude profile, and pressure resolution.

3. Suunto 7 GPS Sports Smart Watch

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SUUNTO 7 GPS Sports Smart Watch
  • Suunto 7: This versatile smart watch combines Suunto's sports expertise with smartwatch technology; Track exercise accurately with access to more than 70 sports modes, GPS, and wrist heart rate sensor
  • Make Life Easier: Compatible with Android and iOS phones, the Suunto 7 is powered by Wear OS by Google so you can see incoming calls and messages, make payments with your watch and download music to your watch to listen offline
  • Battery Life: Suunto 7’s battery will give you a full day of smartwatch use and still have enough juice left for your daily workout; Selecting 'Good' location accuracy extends battery life
  • Get Connected: Connect to your favorite sports apps and services from the Suunto app to get more from your watch; Share with your sports communities and access specific training analysis and guidance
  • Authentic Heritage: Founded in 1936, Suunto brings over 80 years of high quality heritage craftsmanship, relentless accuracy, and pioneering innovation to our watches, compasses, and dive products

The Suunto 7 GPS is a mid-range GPS sports smart watch. It can track over 70 activities. It has smart widgets such as the Wear OS by Google, which allows you to see meetings, create to-do lists, view incoming messages and calls, and make payments via Google Pay.

Its battery can last up to 12 hours in GPS mode and 40 days in battery-saver mode. It is Bluetooth smart but does not have compatibility with the Suunto app and other sports apps.

It only has a GPS without the Fusedtrack technology. It also does not have sleep tracking capabilities and its weather features are only limited to Google Weather. It is water- resistant up to 50 meters.

4. Suunto 5 GPS Watch

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SUUNTO 7 GPS Sports Smart Watch
  • Suunto 7: This versatile smart watch combines Suunto's sports expertise with smartwatch technology; Track exercise accurately with access to more than 70 sports modes, GPS, and wrist heart rate sensor
  • Make Life Easier: Compatible with Android and iOS phones, the Suunto 7 is powered by Wear OS by Google so you can see incoming calls and messages, make payments with your watch and download music to your watch to listen offline
  • Battery Life: Suunto 7’s battery will give you a full day of smartwatch use and still have enough juice left for your daily workout; Selecting 'Good' location accuracy extends battery life
  • Get Connected: Connect to your favorite sports apps and services from the Suunto app to get more from your watch; Share with your sports communities and access specific training analysis and guidance
  • Authentic Heritage: Founded in 1936, Suunto brings over 80 years of high quality heritage craftsmanship, relentless accuracy, and pioneering innovation to our watches, compasses, and dive products

The Suunto 5 is a compact GPS sports watch. It is fitted with a battery that can last up to 12 days in power saver mode and 20 hours in GPS mode. It is Bluetooth-smart and offers GPS navigation.

It offers 80 sports modes and is water resistant up to 50 meters. It monitors heart rate during sleep as well as during activity. Its weather feature is limited to sunset and sunrise only. It is available in 7 color options.

5. Suunto 3 GPS Watch

Suunto 3 Fitness Tracker Sports Watch, Black
  • Suunto 3: This fitness tracker sports watch accurately tracks steps, exercise, stress, and recovery; Adaptive training guidance creates custom 7 day plans that help maintain or improve your fitness level
  • A Life In Balance: This fitness watch delivers a holistic view of your daily activity, including steps, calories and sleep; Stylish, ultra soft microfiber strap looks good in the gym or out on the town
  • Get Connected: Connect to your favorite sports apps and services from the Suunto app to get more from your watch; Share with your sports communities and access specific training analysis and guidance
  • Adventure Starts Here: Combining Scandinavian design with ultra durable materials, our watches track your sports, daily activity, and sleep to help you keep life, training and recovery in balance
  • Authentic Heritage: Founded in 1936, Suunto brings over 80 years of high quality heritage craftsmanship, relentless accuracy, and pioneering innovation to our watches, compasses, and dive products

The Suunto 3 is primarily a fitness tracker with GPS connection. Its battery can last up to 40 hours in training mode without GPS and 30 hours in GPS mode. It has Bluetooth compatibility with most smart phones.

It offers 70 sports modes and is water resistant up to 30 meters. In terms of sleep tracking, it only tracks duration and quality. Its weather feature is limited to sunset and sunrise only through the Suunto App. It is available in 7 color options.

6. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR

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Suunto Spartan Sport (Wrist - Hr), Black
  • Battery life up to 12 hours in training mode
  • Steel bezel, mineral Crystal Glass, and an outdoor grade color touch screen
  • Strong and sleek design with100 meter water resistance
  • GPS route navigation
  • Sport specific training modes and support for over 80 sports with racing and interval use

This is a multi-sport GPS watch preferred by experienced endurance athletes. It has a particularly high quality build to withstand harsh conditions outside. It has a 100 meter water resistance.

It is fitted with a practical wrist heart rate monitor. Its battery can last up to 12 hours in training mode. It offers 80 sports modes. Its other impressive features include route navigation with POI, digital compass, and a Breadcrumb view of maps.

It is available in 2 color options. There is also an option for the Suunto Spartan Baro. This has similar features to the Suunto Spartan Sport, except that it can record and report more weather aspects, such as sunrise, sunset and altitude, storms with a storm alarm, temperature and altitude profile, and pressure resolution.

7. Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS Unit

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Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Monitor Running GPS Unit, Black
  • SUUNTO Ambit3 peak delivers stable and accurate altitude and weather information with full navigation in a robust casting
  • Includes built in altimeter, barometer, compass and GPS with 100 meter water resistance
  • One of the most competitive battery hours in the market, 200 hours with 1 minute accuracy. Case material: Polyamide
  • Connect Ambit3 peak to your smartphone for syncing your activities, customizing on the go and seeing calls and notifications on the watch
  • Add Photos in movement and create a SUUNTO Movie with the highlights of your adventure to share with your friends

The Suunto Ambit3 Peak is a multisport GPS watch suitable for sports and adventure. It connects wirelessly to most smartphones. It also has connectivity with the Suunto app for additional features. Its battery lasts for about 30h in GPS mode.

Its other impressive features include bike power support, weather information, route navigation, and customizable on-the-go. You have the option to choose between the Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS Unit with a wrist HR and one without. It is water resistant up to 100 meters.

Garmin Range of GPS Watches

The Garmin range of GPS watches are classified into 5 different series, as follows: Vivoactive, Venu, Forerunner, Instinct, and Fenix. Below is a general overview of the top Garmin GPS watches in each series.

 Garmin Vivoactive GPS Watches

The Vivoactive Garmin series includes the Vivoactive 3, Vivoactive 4, and Vivoactive 4S smart GPS watches.

1. Vivoactive 4

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Garmin Vivoactive 4, GPS Smartwatch, Features Music, Body Energy Monitoring, Animated Workouts, Pulse Ox Sensors and More, Black
  • Keeps track of your energy levels, Pulse Ox (this is not a medical device and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or monitoring of any medical condition), respiration, menstrual cycle, stress, sleep, estimated heart, hydration and more
  • Easily download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon music or Deezer (may require a premium subscription with a third party music provider), and connect with headphones (sold separately) for phone free listening
  • Record all the ways to move with more than 20 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, including yoga, running, swimming and more
  • Get easy to follow, animated workouts right on your watch screen, including cardio, strength, yoga and Pilates
  • Battery life: Up to 8 days in smartwatch mode; Up to 6 hours in GPS and music mode

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 keeps track of your energy levels, respiration, menstrual cycle, stress, sleep, heart rate, and hydration, among other aspects. It also has safety features such as incident detection during select activities, and it can send your exact location to your emergency contact.

The watch has a music sync feature that allows you to download songs to your playlist from different apps, including Spotify, Amazon music, and Deezer. Its battery can last up to 8 days in smartwatch mode and 6 hours in GPS mode. It is available in different colors and sizes.

2. Garmin Vivoactive 3

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Garmin 010-01769-11 Vívoactive 3, GPS Smartwatch Contactless Payments Built-In Sports Apps, Black/Slate
  • Garmin Pay contact less payment solution lets you pay for purchases with your watch (available for supported cards from participating banks)
  • Personalize your watch with thousands of free watch faces, apps and widgets from our Connect IQ store.; Memory/History: 7 timed activities, 14 days of activity tracking data
  • More than 15 pre-loaded GPS and indoor sports apps, including yoga, running, swimming and more; Lens material: Chemically strengthened glass, bezel material: Stainless steel, case material: Fiber reinforced polymer with stainless steel rear cover
  • Monitor your fitness level with VO2 max and fitness made estimates, plus keep an eye on how you handle stress; Fits wrists with a circumference of 127 to 204 millimeter
  • Get connected features such as smart notifications, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, Live Track and more when paired with a compatible smartphone

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 can be personalized with thousands of apps and widgets, as it is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Its design incorporates the Garmin Pay contactless payment solution which works for supported cards.

It comes preloaded with over 15 indoor sports apps, including swimming, running and yoga among others. Its battery life lasts for 7 days in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode. It also monitors your oxygen volume.

3. Garmin Vivoactive 4S

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Garmin 010-02172-11 Vivoactive 4S, Smaller-Sized GPS Smartwatch, Features Music, Body Energy Monitoring, Animated Workouts, Pulse Ox Sensors And More, Black
  • Keeps track of your energy levels, Pulse Ox (this is not a medical device and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or monitoring of any medical condition), respiration, menstrual cycle, stress, sleep, estimated heart, hydration and more
  • Easily download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon music or Deezer (may require a premium subscription with a third-party music provider), and connect with headphones (sold separately) for phone-free listening
  • Record all the ways to move with more than 20 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, including yoga, running, swimming and more
  • Get easy-to-follow, animated workouts right on your watch screen, including strength, cardio, yoga and Pilates
  • Battery life: Up to 7 days in smartwatch mode; Up to 5 hours in GPS and music mode

The Garmin Vivoactive 4S is similar to the Vivoactive 4 in many ways. For instance, it also has Pulse Ox that tracks different physical aspects. You can download songs from music apps, it can be personalized with thousands of free apps and widgets, and it includes the Garmin Pay contactless payment solution.

It is different from the Garmin Vivoactive 4 in that it is a smaller size and has a shorter battery life. Its battery lasts up to 7 days in smartwatch mode and 5 hours in GPS mode. Also, it has over 20 preloaded indoor sports apps.

 Garmin Venu Series

1. Garmin Venu

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Garmin 010-02173-11 Venu, GPS Smartwatch with Bright Touchscreen Display, Features Music, Body Energy Monitoring, Animated Workouts, Pulse Ox Sensor and More, Black
  • Beautiful, bright amoled display and up to five-day battery life in smartwatch mode; Up to six hours in GPS and music mode
  • The broadest range of all-day health monitoring features keeps track of your energy levels, respiration, menstrual cycle, stress, sleep, estimated heart rate and more
  • Easily download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon music or Deezer (may require a premium subscription With a third-party music provider), and connect with headphones (sold separately) for phone-free listening
  • Record all the ways to move with more than 20 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, including yoga, running, pool swimming and more
  • Get easy-to-follow, animated cardio, strength, yoga and Pilates workouts right on your watch screen. Smartphone compatibility-iPhone, Android

The Garmin Venu is similar in every way to the Garmin Vivo 4S, except for its size, exterior and battery life. It has a bright AMOLED display. Its battery life is up to 5 days in smartwatch mode and 6 hours in GPS and music mode.

2. Garmin Venu Sq Music

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Garmin Venu Sq Music, GPS Smartwatch with Bright Touchscreen Display, Features Music and Up to 6 Days of Battery Life, Rose Gold with Tan Band
  • Fits wrists with a circumference of 125-190 mm | STRAP MATERIAL: Silicone
  • See everything clearly on a bright color display that includes an always-on mode, perfect for quick glances
  • Health is important to you, so monitor everything from your Body Battery energy levels, respiration, hydration and stress to sleep, your menstrual cycle, etimated heart rate and more
  • Easily download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer accounts (requires app on a compatible smartphone), and connect with wireless headphones (sold separately) for phone-free listening
  • Find new ways to keep moving with more than 20 preloaded sports apps, including walking, running, cycling, mindful breathing, swimming, golf and many more

The Garmin Venu Sq Music is similar to the Garmin Venu, except that its display is rectangular and its battery lasts longer in smartwatch mode (6 days). The screen is brightly colored and is always in “on” mode, so you can take a quick glance at the time.

Garmin Forerunner Series

The Forerunner series includes Forerunner 45, 745, and 945 in the premium range, and 245 and 935 in the mid-range category.

1. Forerunner 945

Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945, Premium GPS Running/Triathlon Smartwatch with Music, Black
  • Premium GPS running/triathlon smartwatch with music
  • Download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer (may require premium subscription with a third party music provider)
  • Performance monitoring features include Vo2 Max and training status with adjustments for heat, altitude Acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects
  • Garmin Pay contactless payment solution (available for supported cards from participating banks) lets you make convenient payments with your watch so you can leave your cash and cards at home
  • Full color, onboard maps guide you on your run so you never get lost during your workout

The Forerunner 945 is designed as a premium triathlon and running smart watch. It has a high music capacity, and you can download songs or create playlists on various music apps.

Its most unique features are its performance monitoring functionalities, such as Vo2 Max, and its training status with adjustments for altitude acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects. It also has full-color onboard maps and safety features.

Its battery can last up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS mode, or 60 hours in Ultratrac mode.

2. Forerunner 45

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Garmin Forerunner 45, 42mm Easy-to-use GPS Running Watch with Coach Free Training Plan Support, Black
  • Gps running watch with Garmin Coach training plan support
  • Easy to use running watch estimates heart rate at the wrist and features GPS to track your pace, distance, intervals and more
  • Works with free Garmin coach adaptive training plans that bring expert, personalized coaching right to your wrist
  • Connected features include smart notifications for incoming texts and calls, automatic uploads to our Garmin connect online community, live tracking and controls for the music playing on your paired compatible smartphone
  • Safety and tracking Features include incident detection (during select activities) which sends your real time location to emergency contacts through your paired compatible smartphone

This is an easy-to-use running watch with free training and support. It is fitted with a wrist heart rate monitor, and the built-in GPS tracks your distance, pace, intervals, and routes. It also has safety features and a decent battery life: seven days in smartwatch mode and fourteen hours in GPS mode.

Garmin Fenix Series

1. Garmin Fenix 2

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Garmin 010-02064-00 Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS, Features Glonass and Galileo, Heart Rate Monitoring and 3-Axis Compass, Graphite
  • Rugged GPS watch built to withstand the toughest environments
  • Constructed to U.S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock and water resistance (rated to 100 meters)
  • Built in 3 axis compass and barometric altimeter, plus multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, Glonass and Galileo) support helps track in more challenging environments than GPS alone
  • Monitor your estimated heart rate, activity and stress; Train with preloaded activity profiles. Strap material: Silicone
  • Stay connected with smart notifications (with a compatible smartphone) and automatic data uploads to the Garmin connect online fitness community

The Garmin Fenix 2 is available in 7 styles and 24 color options. It has a rugged exterior design to withstand the toughest environments. It is constructed to US military standards for thermal, water, and shock resistance. This GPS watch has 3 built-in axis compasses, a barometric altimeter, and additional global navigation satellite systems.

The watch can monitor your heart rate and stress. It also comes with preloaded activity profiles. Finally, you can stay connected to the global fitness community via automatic data upload which is synced to your phone.

It has a battery life of up to 14 days in smartphone mode, 16 hours in GPS mode, and 40 hours in Ultrac battery-saver mode.

2. Garmin Fenix 5X Plus

The Garmin Fenix FX plus is the ultimate, premium multi-sport GPS smartwatch. It is available in various options: watch only, watch + heart rate monitor, watch + band, and watch + HRM-tri heart rate monitor. It is also available in 12 color options.

Some of its outstanding features include the Pulse OX acclimation sensor, its rugged scratch-resistant design, a large storage capacity (up to 500 songs), and the Garmin Pay contactless payment solution. Its battery can last up to 20 days in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode with music.

Suunto vs. Garmin Features-Based Comparison

Smartwatch on Man Hand

Screen and Log

These noted GPS watches display trackable data in real time. You can customize the type of data you would like displayed. Options include speed, clock, distance, calories and pulse, among others.

One aspect that distinguishes the Garmin from Suunto is that some Garmin GPS watches, such as the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus, allow you to customize data directly on the screen. All Suunto watches, on the other hand, require you to customize your data via the app.

Battery Life

Garmin and Suunto watches also have different lengths of battery life. However, mid-range and premium Suunto GPS watches have an intelligent battery feature that indicates the battery time left when in a specific mode. If the battery is running low, the watch suggests that you change to a power-saving mode.

On the other hand, Garmin GPS watches do not have an intelligent or smart battery. Premium-range Garmin GPS watches, such as Garmin Fenix 5 and the Forerunner 935, have different battery operational modes. Some Garmin GPS watches have the UltraTrac mode. This mode will turn off the GPS every once in a while and make use of fast-processing to track time, which saves power.

In terms of battery life, Garmin GPS watches have a battery life that ranges from 24 to 60 hours max, while Suunto GPS watch battery life ranges from 25 and 120 hours max. Generally, Suunto watches have a longer battery life than Garmin watches. Out of all Garmin and Suunto GPS watches, the Suunto 9 has the longest battery life.

Mapping and Navigation

Some Garmin GPS watches such as the Garmin Fenix series have luminous cartography ability in full color. Suunto devices do not have this capability, but you can download a GPX and display it on your watch. The downside for both brands of GPS watches is that their screen sizes are too small for you to take a good look at the maps.

Suunto is preferred for outdoor activities such as running, mountaineering, and skiing because its premium range watches have tools related to altimeter as well. These features can help guide you even if you go off the main route.

Watching Your Pulse

Different Suunto and Garmin GPS watches incorporate different heart rate monitoring features. While some have a wrist sensor, others have an optical heart rate monitor. Also, some do not have a heart rate checker at all.

The more sophisticated watch models offer 24/7 heart rate monitoring. They then use the tracked data to check on your adrenaline/cortisol and your sleeping patterns.

 Information Organization and Use of Apps

Up to the last few months of 2020, Suunto watches used the Movescount App. They have since transitioned to an app put out by Suunto which is compatible with most Suunto GPS watches. Meanwhile, Garmin uses the Connect app.

Both the Suunto and Connect apps allow users to process the data they track, upload photos and videos, add notes and descriptions to their workout data, share the data on social media apps and sync to other sport apps and services. The connect app has additional features, such as being able to customize workouts and challenge friends to competitions.

Music Sync

Most Suunto and Garmin GPS watches allow you to play music remotely. Some watches, such as the Suunto 7 and 9 and the Garmin Forerunner, have the capability to download music onto a playlist. Others can store up to 1,000 downloaded songs. Others are compatible with music apps such as Spotify.

To be able to play music via your GPS watch, you need a pair of Bluetooth-compatible earphones or headphones.

The Final Verdict

Both Suunto and Garmin GPS watches are great options. For each brand, there is a wide range of choice, with different price and functionality options. Identify what features are most crucial for you and narrow down those watches that have those features. Then, narrow down further as per your preference and reviews of the particular GPS watches.

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