If there’s one gripe we have with GPS-enabled fitness watches, it’s with their short battery lives. One of the great things about watches, generally speaking, is that they’re reliably low-maintenance. Sure, once you add satellite communication, heart rate sensitivity, smartphone connectivity and a touchscreen to a timepiece, it’s expected that something will have to take a hit, but it’s unfortunate (though understandable) that it has to be battery longevity.
Suunto, the maker of some of the most popular GPS watches available, is taking the issue head-on with its new Suunto 9. The 9 features many of the core features of an adventure/fitness watch, including waterproofing, a compass, barometer, multi-sport activity and sleep tracking as well as the features mentioned above, but its core function is battery maintenance.
The Suunto 9 allows users to choose from three different modes that provide varied balances between GPS connectivity and battery drain. Those modes are called Performance, Endurance and Ultra. Performance offers a claimed 25 hours of battery life and operates with the most communication to GPS while at the other end of the spectrum, Ultra will make the watch last for 120 hours but with less-frequent pings to satellites (Endurance mode lasts for 50 hours). The watch also has a function where it will warn you if you’re approaching low battery while tracking an activity and nudge you to switch to a different mode.
This type of battery usage customization is optimized for athletes who want to keep track of data during extra-long excursions, but it’s also a boon to those of us who are a little bit lazy and don’t like to have to plug in another device before bed every night.