Suunto’s New Race Wearable Delights with AMOLED Display and Improved Performance

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Suunto's New Race Wearable Delights with AMOLED Display and Improved Performance
(Image: Peter Steinlechner/Golem.de)

In the summer of 2023, the Finnish heritage company Suunto released its sports watch “Vertical” (as reviewed on Golem.de). Now, they’ve unveiled a new wearable called “Race,” which, at first glance, appears quite similar.

However, the Race comes with a brilliantly bright AMOLED display, boasting up to 1,000 Nits of brightness, in contrast to the rather dim MIP screen of the Vertical. Additionally, a physical button has been replaced with a rotating bezel.

These may not seem like substantial changes, but during our testing, the Race provided a much more enjoyable experience compared to the Vertical. The rotating bezel makes navigating through menus much more comfortable. This improvement can be attributed, in part, to the fact that the Race apparently features a more powerful processor, resulting in smoother operation with only occasional, non-disruptive hiccups.

Although the AMOLED display may not offer the most intricate watch faces and is limited to straightforward black-and-white always-on options, it still presents a more visually appealing appearance than the MIP display on the Vertical. The rotating bezel is easy to grip and has a satisfying tactile feedback, as do the two buttons above and below it.

Surprisingly, the Race delivers impressive battery life for an AMOLED watch of its kind. You can find manufacturer-provided details in the table, but in practice, we achieved a runtime of around seven to eight days, even with frequent sports activities (nearly an hour with GPS almost every other day) and the always-on display. This surpasses Suunto’s initial estimates.

A notable feature for us is the inclusion of offline maps, just like what was available on the Vertical. This allows us to overlay our planned routes directly on the watch face while running or hiking, without the need for a smartphone or paper map.

On the Race, this feature works even better than on the Vertical. The ability to zoom in using the rotating bezel is excellent, and thanks to the AMOLED display, the maps are more legible overall, even in bright sunlight. We found the offline maps to be highly functional and have used them to navigate through unfamiliar terrains without any issues.

The map management process is similar to the Vertical, relying on a smartphone, and it works well, including heatmaps. However, downloading specific regions can be a bit inconvenient. You can’t download entire countries or continents; it’s limited to individual areas, and this process must be done over Wi-Fi. Some hotels may pose challenges with login pages and the like.

While it’s possible to gradually transfer regions, such as Germany’s roughly 7 GB, to the Race’s 32 GB storage, it can be a bit cumbersome. So, for those who travel extensively or engage in sports in various locations, planning ahead is advisable.

Regarding heart rate monitoring, the Race delivered nearly identical results to a chest strap reference during running sessions – which is as good as it gets. However, when cycling, the displayed heart rate sometimes lagged during uphill climbs and fast segments, often showing a pulse of 120 instead of the accurate 140.

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Michael Lynch
With a passion for cybersecurity, Michael Lynch covers data protection and online privacy, providing expert guidance and updates on digital security matters.