Suunto vs Garmin Localization & Heart rate accuracy Test

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A lot of people asked me if I wanted to buy an Suunto or an Garmin, so I put together the results of a previous location and heart rate test, and I think that’s what most people are more concerned about.

This test includes two parts: GPS positioning and optical heart rate. There are three kinds of testing products as follows:

评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试

From left to right are Suunto Spartan Sport WHR (Spartan, Garmin fenix 5 Plus (f5p), Garmin fenix 5X Plus (f5xp). 5p is mainly used to match the traditional chest heart rate band as a benchmark to judge the accuracy of Suunto and Garmin optical heart rate meter.

1. Positioning accuracy.
Test environment:

The most common urban road, but with a slightly higher threshold, chooses the park lane, which is flanked by thicker trees and smaller heights, and is more prone to drift than broad trunk roads. All three watches use the same positioning accuracy and satellite settings.

Search speed:

Cold start, Spartan positioning is the fastest, less than half a minute. F5p and f5xp are slightly slower, less than a minute.

Route accuracy:


评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试

The route plotted by f5xp as a whole is consistent with the actual situation.

评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试

However, in the upper left corner of this area there is a clear shift to the inside of the situation.


评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试

评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试

F5p is slightly better than f5xp, and the upper left corner drift is much smaller.




评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试

Spartan line and the actual situation is basically the same.



评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试

There’s no drift in the upper left.



评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试

But there’s a drift in the middle of the right.

2. Optical heart rate accuracy.
Spartan uses the optical heart rate scheme provided by Valencell, while f5p and f5xp use Garmin’s own Elevate optical heart rate scheme, which is supposed to iterate into the third edition, and the power of the heart rate meter can already be dynamically adjusted.

It should be pointed out that although the heart rate module of f5xp is one more red light LED, than f5p in structure, it only increases the blood oxygen function, and the optical heart rate module is exactly the same as that of f5p.

Test environment:

The Spartan and f5xp use a built-in optical heart rate meter, and the f5p matches the Garmin heart rate band.

Contrast I:

Interval running was used to accelerate the heart rate to more than 180, then jogging to lower the heart rate and generate a steeper curve to test the sensitivity of the optical heart rate meter to the heart rate numerical response.

评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试



From the chart above, we can see that the overall trend of Garmin’s optical heart-rate meter is basically in line with the traditional heart-rate band, but in the phase of heart rate steep rise, there is a significant delay and the same deviation as that of losing data.



评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试

The optical heart-rate meter of Suunto is in good agreement with the traditional heart-rate band. There was only a little delay at the end.

Contrast II:

The same interval running is used, but the acceleration is slightly slower, resulting in a relatively slow slope of the heart rate curve.



评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试

You can see that when the heart rate data climbs a little bit less steeply, Garmin’s optical heart-rate meter, though delayed, is less obvious than the first, and the problem of losing data is much better.



评测 | Suunto vs Garmin 定位&心率准确性测试

This side of the Suunto is almost a perfect match.

In summary:
From the positioning accuracy test, the reference of the three watches are satisfactory, although there is a slight drift in individual parts, but basically does not affect the overall data, in the urban environment for outdoor running no problem.

As far as the accuracy of optical heart rate is concerned, the Valencell heart rate scheme adopted by Suunto performs very well as always, and matches the traditional heart rate band quite well even in the case of extreme changes in heart rate. Garmin’s Elevate heart rate scheme responds slightly slower to rapid changes in heart rate, leading to some overall delays and data loss, but daily training rarely involves the extreme spikes in heart rate spikes that I see in my tests. So most of the scenes will also have a high degree of consistency with the heart rate.

In the past two years, products with optical heart-rate meters have been popping up all over the place, but not many of them are accurate, especially if they can approach the accuracy of the heart rate band in a sports scene. And many of the products on the market that claim to be comparable to the heart rate band with a 9 x% accuracy are likely to be measured at rest. Valencell, a veteran manufacturer of optical heart rate, has a long history of expertise, and Suunto was indeed wise to seek Valencell in the absence of technology in the field. The Garmin, which insists on using its own optical heart-rate meter, has matured after several iterations. So for consumers to choose the old professional watch manufacturers products more secure, after all, in addition to the hardware besides the user big data and the whole ecology is also more perfect.

Turning to the issue of unequal product positioning: because we don’t have the latest version of the Suunto 9 on hand, we compared it with the previous generation of non-flagship models of the Suunto, but the derivative version of Spartan Sport WHR, the Spartan Sport WHR Baro, is also considered a high-end model. So only from the location and heart rate of comparative testing, there is no positioning problem, and for Suunto 9 reference is not without, after all, 9 is using the new version of Valencell optical heart rate scheme. So the heart rate part should perform better, except that the location will be slower because the Sony chip is used instead of the 9, and the location accuracy is not known because it does not support GLONASS, at least it is estimated that the search speed will slow down.

As a final point of choice, Suunto’s data accuracy has always had a good reputation, so if you have a high demand for data accuracy and often use it under special circumstances, you can give priority to Suunto products. Garmin has been working hard in terms of functionality and appearance over the years. The fenix 5X Plus, for example, features blood oxygen, music playback, mobile payments and offline maps. It is suitable for daily use in addition to motion scenes and has a good appearance. So how to choose the specific or personal use of the scene and specific needs to determine.

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