The Suunto M5 is a heart rate monitor that also doubles as a smartwatch.
Design and dimensions
The Suunto M5 Black and Gold measures 1.72 inches in diameter and is around half an inch thick. It may be slightly bigger than the regular watch, but it weighs only 40 grams.
It has a plastic build with composite bezel and case material, acrylic glass, and elastomer strap.
The Suunto M5 has three buttons that you can use to operate the watch. These buttons help you:
- Play or stop button: Choose your exercise, ask for an exercise suggestion, see your history, start tracking an exercise, and move up.
- Next button: Switch menus, accept or go to the next step, and go to settings.
- Light/Lock button: Turn on the backlight, move down, lock the play/stop button.
The Suunto M5 gives you time and date functions, monitors your heart rate, and counts the calories that you have burned. It also features a fitness test and a recovery time.
The real-time intensity guide is a good way to make sure that you do not overexert yourself, while also getting the most out of your exercise.
It works with Movescount.com, where you can upload and store exercise data as well as get training programs.
You can also use it as a stopwatch and an alarm clock, and you can even get dual time functions.
The Suunto M5 uses a replaceable CR2032 battery that can last for up to a year without being replaced. It also has an electroluminescent backlight and is water resistant at 30m.
Not only is your Suunto M5 safe from rain and splashes, it can also withstand extreme temperatures – from -10 °C to +50 °C.
A strip of all the marketing jargon, the Suunto M5 is a very simple device that can monitor your heart rate as well as calculate the calories you burned. After working out, it will show you your performance level and your heart rate zones, and then store all that data for future reference.
When you wear the heart rate belt, you can get information on the following:
- Heart rate in beats per minute
- Calories burned
- Post-training recovery time
Your heart rate is recorded every 10 seconds.
What comes with your Suunto M5
Every package of the Suunto M5 includes:
- Suunto M5 watch
- Suunto dual comfort heart rate belt
- Suunto Movestick Mini
- Quick Guide
Alternatives to the Suunto M5
The Suunto M5 first came out in 2010. At the time of its launch, there were only a few fitness trackers that had heart rate monitors and could guide you while exercising. Back then, the Suunto M5 was a good buy. You can have a Fitbit for all other fitness data but you buy a Suuntu M5 for monitoring your heart rate.
Right now, however, there are a lot of step-counting, GPS fitness trackers that feature heart rate monitoring without having to wear a strap or a belt.
There’s the Fitbit Charge 2, which does everything rather well and costs around $150. Not only does it have a heart rate monitor that does not need a separate strap, but it also counts your steps, monitors sleep quality, and even tracks your workouts. It looks good and you will definitely love the OLED screen when you exercise outdoors. The heart rate monitor is always on, but it does not take too much juice from the battery. The fitness band can also notify you if you get calls and text messages on your phone.
You can also check out the Garmin VivoSmart HR+. This activity tracker can track different forms of exercise, from biking and running to snowboarding and other more extreme sports. The VivoSmart HR+ is waterproof, which allows you to swim with it. But the biggest draw to this GPS-enabled activity tracker is its price: just around $100 (Check out the latest price here!).
If you want something more geared towards running and training for a marathon, consider getting a Polar M430. This tracker can keep track of your distance, speed, cadence and pace, along with a bevy of other fitness data. It is also up for a swim. But Polar M430, quite frankly, looks ugly and it costs much more than the Garmin VivoSmart HR+.
These are just the activity trackers that offer heart rate monitoring. There is also a list of notable smartwatches.
Apple Watch 3 looks good and works even better as a smartwatch and sportswatch. You would love the improved exercise tracking, the option to be always on with LTE, and the range of sensors that help it do its job: GPS, altimeter, heart rate monitor, and others.
If you are looking for a more cost-effective alternative, you might want to check out the Mobvoi Ticwatch, which does an amazing job at monitoring your heart rate but might need to improve its battery life. Other options include the Huawei Watch 2 and the Samsung Gear S3.
What you would like about the Suunto M5
While there are currently a lot of fitness trackers that offer optical heart rate measurements and are more convenient because you do not have to wear belts and straps, there is something to be said about how accurate Suunto M5 is.
Optical heart rate sensors are pretty inaccurate because the wrist moves a lot during intense exercise. The more the wrist moves, the less accurate the heart rate monitor becomes.
Suunto M5 is geared towards people who want to be guided when they exercise in order to know how intense their workouts are and when they need to rest. As such, having a more reliable heart rate monitor is essential.
The beauty of the Suunto M5 is how easy and simple it is. You take a personal fitness test, choose your fitness level, and then choose your goal. You can aim to lose weight, be more fit, or keep your goals open.
Once you have configured it out, it will guide you through your exercises with custom workouts and schedules. It adapts and adjusts to you and your activity. It will tell you what exercises to do and how to move up to the next level towards your goal.
Even if it does come with the heart rate belt, you do not have to wear it every time you exercise.
The Suunto M5 also uses sounds to tell you if you are working too hard or if you need to step up with your workout. It keeps track of your progress automatically as well.
Another plus for the Suunto M5 is that it is very wearable. It is comfortable, it is light, and it fits your wrist to a T. The band is also breathable.
What could be better
While the Suunto M5 does a good job at monitoring your heart rate, it does not measure speed and distance on its own. You can, however, purchase the Suunto PODs for that. That means you have to spend anywhere from $60 to $100 more to get speed and distance information, something that other fitness trackers and smartwatches can do out of the box.
Also, the plastic case may show signs of wear over time. For a smartwatch that’s meant to be worn when you exercise and under rugged conditions, it is easily scratched.
Furthermore, you might find that you need to be mindful in order to accurately track your workouts. The Suunto M5 will not automatically detect a workout and in fact, you need to press quite a few buttons to start tracking.
To compare the Suunto M5 to fitness trackers with an embedded optical heart rate monitor is unfair. It serves a different purpose and acts primarily as a heart rate monitor, and is a whole lot more accurate.
The Suunto M5 helps you reach your exercise targets by suggesting daily workouts, which it can adjust according to your progress. For instance, if you miss a session, or if you progress quickly, the Suunto M5 will know it and adjust your training programs to make it either more challenging or easier, depending on what you need.
The customized training programs allow you to stay or get in shape safely because these are just right for your fitness level. There are accessories that you can add for a more complete picture of your fitness.
It really functions more like a digital coach or fitness trainer than something that keeps track of the number of steps you make. It will give you advice before, during, and after your workout. It will tell you to rest a bit, too. As such, it helps you exercise more efficiently.
It may be an eight-year-old technology, but the Suunto M5 is still a great exercise coach. Too bad the manufacturer has stopped producing it, though. You might want to consider getting the Suunto Traverse, which has the same functionality and which also requires an HR belt for heart rate monitoring. The Suunto Traverse is also perfect for outdoor adventures. You may also consider the Suunto Spartan Sport, which costs $300 on Amazon (Check out the latest prices here!).