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If you’ve looked at buying a new dive computer, you’ve probably come across the Suunto D5.
In fact, given its sleek design, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a smart or sports watch instead of a dive computer.
Dive equipment giants Suunto released the D5 in early 2019 and since then it has become a popular choice for both recreational and pro divers, thanks to its smart watch capabilities and reasonable price point.
The D5 seems to be Suunto’s more affordable answer to the Garmin Descent MK1 and the Shearwater Teric which were released in the preceding years and which began the smartwatch-cum-dive-computer trend.
Here, we’ll look at the specifications and functions of the Suunto D5 to see if it’s worth the hype and whether it’s right for you.
Let’s dive in.
With the D5, Suunto leaps into the emerging generation of smart, stylish dive computers. It is Suunto’s first user rechargeable dive computer and its surprisingly accessible price tag will make it popular amongst recreational divers of all levels.
Our first impression of the Suunto D5 was the sleek design. Bearing more of a resemblance to modern smartwatches than to the clunky dive computers of old, it is undeniably Suunto’s most stylish dive computer to date. The vibrant screen and changeable straps mean that this model looks equally at home in the office as on the dive boat. In fact, it even won an iF Design Award in 2020.
This style of dive computer that combines smarter technology and bigger functionality with style definitely appears to be the future of the market. With a host of shiny new features, excellent customer service and a fully functional app, it appears that one of the most established names in the industry has released yet another excellent dive computer.
Why Get Your Own Dive Computer?
Once you’ve been diving for a while, you might start to wonder about what equipment you should buy for yourself. Generally, a good place to start is finding the best diving mask for you, though a dive computer comes a close second.
Dive computers are an important bit of kit, though they can end up being the most expensive piece of equipment in your diving arsenal. If cost is an issue, the Suunto Zoop is a great starter watch at a low price.
Though picking your first dive computer can seem overwhelming, there is a good reason for doing so. Back in the, possibly hazy, days of your open water qualification, you may recall using dive tables to calculate your no-decompression limits.
The tables are based off the same complex algorithms found within your computer.
Your computer can provide a minute-by-minute account of your dive which is much more accurate and based on real-time data. This means that you can safely as much bottom time out of your dive as possible.
Additionally, a dive computer introduces a whole host of extra safety features into your dive such as alarms and buzzers when you ascend too quickly, a measure much more sensitive than the simplistic and confusing “follow your smallest bubble”, which many are taught.
Most computers have an inbuilt memory system so you can access the data from your dives long after the boat has docked. Though some begin to erase dives after 100 or so, it gives you the time to scribble down your stats at your own pace or even upload the data to your laptop to observe your profile and dive stats in more detail.
Many liken diving without a dive computer to driving with no mirrors – once you dive with one, it’s hard to go back!
Suunto D5 Features
With over 30 years of dive computer technology behind them, it is no surprise that the Suunto D5 meets expectations. Let’s dive into the features and functions.
The Suunto D5’s exterior is sleek and beautifully designed. Weighing in at only 90g with a 53mm watch face, it is surprising how sturdy she actually is. Formed of reinforced composite with a mineral crystal display and stainless steel bezel, she is well-suited to a life battling the elements.
The backlit, LED screen is bright and easy to see, with vibrant colours even under the water. You can configure four personalised, customized screens for each dive mode.
Easy toggling between the screens means that you can access the information you need, without having to analyse a crowded screen. The screen is controlled simply and intuitively by 3 large buttons.
It comes in a variety of bright silicone straps so you can easily match it with the rest of your dive gear. With the easily operated quick release system, you can easily change up the look of the Suunto D5.
There is an extra-long strap available, for diving with bulky dry or wetsuits. For the dry days, there are a variety of lifestyle straps which include leather, to match your signature style wherever you are.
Like all Suunto dive computers, the functionality of the D5 is pretty comprehensive. It has all of the standard specifications here, including stopwatches, alarms, timers and temperature gauges.
The compass (one of Suunto’s specialities) is digital and globally balanced, as well as featuring tilt compensation. The only downside is that it needs recalibrating after recharging the battery which gets old pretty quickly.
The Suunto D5 is the first dive computer from Suunto to feature a lithium-ion battery that can be recharged by the user, via a USB cable. Though the charging capabilities are simple and intuitive, the battery life leaves a little to be desired. Featuring a 6-12 hour battery life in dive mode and up to 6 days in time mode, there is definitely room for improvement.
If you’re diving all day with no access to power, you might find yourself in the unenviable position of having a battery outage just before your dive. If you’re using the gas integration, this is essentially a cancelled dive as you have no way to check your air consumption.
The D5 is water-resistant up to 100m depth and operates in temperatures between 0°C – 40°C – more than enough for the majority of recreational divers! In addition to the standard dive mode, it also has nitrox, freediving and gauge modes.
The Suunto D5 is fully nitrox capable and can handle up to 3 gases. You can also use 3 separate Suunto Tank Pods so you can see the data of all 3 tanks on the screen. You can see the gas pressure, estimated time left in the tank as well as air consumption.
For the D5, they have switched up Suunto’s notoriously conservative algorithm. Not only have they released a more accurate and flexible edition, the RGBM 2, but they have user adaptable settings. Now, you can adjust it to make it more or less conservative to suit your needs. Of course, if you’ve got no idea what we’re talking about – please leave the settings alone!
We have noticed one small downside with the algorithm. If you break a decompression ceiling for more than 3 minutes, then the algorithm will lock and no decompression information will be shown on the screen.
Whilst for recreational divers, this probably will never occur and will never be an issue, it could be a problem for technical divers. If the dive plan differs from the Suunto algorithm, a locked dive computer isn’t very helpful. This is a good reason why technical divers usually carry at least two dive computers.
There is also a planning mode available. This planner has been criticized for being quite simplistic but it is sufficient for almost all recreational diving needs.
The Suunto D5 has a host of alarms and notifications. Safety measures such as no-fly times, safety stops and deep stops are built-in.
Some of the sound and haptic notifications can be configured to personal preference or situation, such as altitude adjustments and turning off the automatic deep stop when you go below 20m.
Safety alarms include:
- High PO₂ – will alarm when the partial pressure of oxygen is more than 1.6 and you are in danger of oxygen toxicity
- Ascending too quickly
- Decompression ceiling violation or deep stop violation
- Switch gas – it will let you know if there is a better gas mix available you could be using
One of our favourite safety notifications is the haptic (vibrating) signal when you’re getting close to the end of your no-deco time. When you’re distracted at a great dive site, it can be easy to lose track of the time and get uncomfortably close to your no-deco limit. This alarm will mean that you’re never caught unawares again!
The logbook has up to 200h (or 400 dives – whichever comes first) of memory. You can also bookmark certain dives if you wish. The logbook functionality on the app is awesome, especially if you’re also using the Tank Pods. With the location settings, you can even see all your dives on a world map which is a really nice touch.
The connectivity capabilities of the Suunto D5 are second to none.
With the release of Suunto’s new app in 2017, it rocketed the dive computer and log industry into the 21st century. Not only can you easily transfer your dive log, profile and other information to your phone via Bluetooth, but you can share them with your friends in a social media style format.
The Bluetooth connectivity also means that when you’re not diving, you can treat your Suunto D5 like any other smartwatch by receiving various notifications. The technology is compatible with most modern smartphones and the firmware, including that for your watch, is updated regularly for free so you will always be operating optimally.
You can also connect your D5 to your computer too, and analyse all your data in Suunto’s desktop app.
The Suunto D5 connects with the Suunto Tank Pods by super simple inductive technology. You just screw it into the tank and pressurize the system, hold the watch close to it and it’ll pair up!
What Comes With It
When you get the bright, shiny box and finally get to rip it open, here’s what you’ll find inside:
- Suunto D5 computer with the silicone strap which you chose
- USB charging cable
- Quick guide to your new dive computer
- Safety and international warranty leaflet
- Display scratch sticker
- Suunto sticker
- “I own a really cool dive computer” certificate
- (We might be kidding about that last one)
Background on Suunto
Suunto was established over 80 years ago by the Finnish adventurer, Tuomas Vohlonen. He was unsatisfied with the unreliable navigation equipment of the time, so he created his own liquid-filled compass with a more stable needle. His work made him a revolutionary in the field and Suunto has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Suunto is well-known for their high-functioning, reliable equipment. This is immortalised in the famous story of a Finnish WWII soldier who was saved from a Russian sniper attack when the bullet hit the Suunto M-311 field compass in his pocket.
When British sports divers in 1965 discovered that Suunto compasses worked underwater, it marked a turning point in the Suunto business. Not long after, they released the first diving compass – the SK-4.
With their revolutionary spirit still strong, they also released the world’s first dive computer – the SME-ML – in 1987. This made the sport much safer and helped to bring it into the modern age. Suunto continues to be a world leader in dive computer technology with their latest offering – the Suunto D5 dive computer in 2019.
Suunto prides themselves on durable equipment that reaches their high, Finnish standards. As they are fond of pointing out, if their products can survive the cold, dark extremes of Finland – they can survive anywhere!
These days, there are countless dive computers on the market, ranging from the budget, beginner-friendly options like the Suunto Zoop Novo, to highly capable technical diving computers like the Shearwater Perdix.
The Suunto D5 represents an area of the market which really only has a few competitors – namely the Shearwater Teric and the Garmin Descent MK1. All three are highly functioning, recreational dive computers which mark the beginning of a new era of style-and-substance computers.
Let’s take a closer look.
The main USP of the Garmin Descent MK1 is that it combines two uses – and does both really, really well.
It is the first and, to our knowledge, only dive computer on the market to function as a dive computer, fitness tracker/heart rate monitor and smartwatch. The combination of functions means that it is truly a one-stop-shop.
In our eyes, the diving functionalities of these two computers are very closely matched. The key thing that sets the Garmin Descent MK1 above the Suunto D5 is the inclusion of extra features.
As we stated in our comprehensive Descent MK1 review, we believe that it is the future of dive computers and we’re sure that it’s only a matter of time before Suunto catches up.
One mark against the Garmin Descent MK1 is the fact that it is Garmin’s first foray into the dive computer market. Whilst it is undoubtedly an excellent computer that is fast gaining an excellent reputation, divers may wish to go for a more established scuba diving brand like Suunto.
Another downside to customers could be the price, which is nearly double that of the D5.
The Garmin Descent Mk2i is the updated version of the Mk1 and was released in November 2020. It has all of the functionality of the Mk1, with several notable improvements, like a bigger screen and more responsive buttons.
The two most impressive improvements are the creation of Garmin Pay – a contactless payment system that allows you to pay for things with your dive computer. The other is the inclusion of air integration – a big hole in the success of the Mk1.
Garmin created brand new, sonar-based air integration technology which allows for up to five devices to connect to one computer and increases the range to around 10m – instead of the standard 1m offered by VHF radio frequency air integration. This potentially opens up a whole new way of diving.
As with the Mk1, the major downside is the price. At $1,499, many divers will consider the Mk2i simply too expensive – though it could be argued that it replaces up to three devices: a dive computer, a top-of-the-range fitness tracker, and a smartwatch.
The Shearwater Teric carries the name and reputation of technical diving giants Shearwater.
Using much of the same technology found in their hallmark Perdix computer, the Shearwater Teric is their first dive computer aimed solely at the recreational diving market.
The Teric could be seen to have the edge on the Suunto D5 and Garmin Descent MK1 for technical divers. Certain aspects of the functionality, including rebreather and trimix capabilities and water resistance to 200m, open up more options for technical divers.
The downside of these additional capabilities is that the price is almost double the D5, clocking in at around $1000.
Again, like the Descent MK1 and the D5, the Teric is stylishly designed to move effortlessly between diving and other activities. The design is a little more rugged than the D5 or Descent MK1, but it still very sleek.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it good for beginners?
The Suunto D5 is definitely suitable for beginner divers and more experienced ones. Though a novice diver who only dives 5 times a year will probably not use the computers full capabilities!
The cost is also fairly high, which is often a factor for beginner divers. A robust, simple option is the Suunto Zoop Novo or the Mares Puck Pro, both of which are considerably cheaper and are great first computers.
Does the Suunto D5 Support Multiple Gases?
Yep! The Suunto D5 can support up to 3 gas mixes, with an oxygen percentage of up to 99%. You can also use 3 of the tank pod attachments so you can see exactly how much gas you have left in each tank and your air consumption!
There are also various alarms and safety measures in place, such as telling you when you are too deep for a certain gas mix to be used due to the oxygen toxicity level. There is also a notification which will tell you if there is a better mix available to you that you could be using!
Can I Use the Suunto D5 every day?
Yes, you can! The Suunto D5 is a really versatile dive computer that looks at home in the office, gym or 30m below. There are also a variety of straps so you can easily switch up the look of the dive computer.
It basically just looks like a high-end smartwatch, so wear away! In fact, like a smartwatch, you can even get notifications pushed from your phone on the go.
How deep can my Suunto D5 go?
The Suunto D5 has guaranteed water resistance to 100m. For most recreational divers, this is definitely deep enough!
Can I connect it with my phone to see my dives?
Yep. Suunto have developed an app where you can log and analyse your dives, and even like and share with your friends in a social media style design.
It is a great way to analyse the profiles of your dives, make notes, map the locations and analyse how your air consumption skills develop over time! It connects automatically (once initially paired) via Bluetooth.
It also has access to notifications from your phone, so you can check them on your computer with just a glance.
Is there a Suunto D6?
There is a Suunto D6… but it might not be what you think. Slightly nonsensically, the Suunto D6i was first released back in 2011 and bears a striking resemblance to the Suunto D4i Novo.
There have been a variety of models of the D6i including the Suunto D6i Novo Stealth and Suunto D6i Novo Zulu, amongst others.
But what you’re probably asking is…
Does the Suunto D5 have a successor?
Not yet! The Suunto D5 is the most recent dive computer from Suunto and it is likely that the next model will be some variation on this model.
However, Suunto has recently released the Suunto 7 which is a beautifully designed smartwatch and fitness tracker, a la the Garmin Fenix. However, though it is waterproof, it is not designed for scuba diving!
How to use the Suunto D5 with a phone or computer
To use the Suunto D5 with your phone or computer, you will need to download the app from your app store or the software from Suunto’s website onto your computer.
Here is the video on how to pair your Suunto D5 with your iOS device. Please go to Suunto’s Support Page for more info on pairing with Android and other devices.
How do I update my software?
The app on your phone will update automatically, as most apps do. To update your watch software for free, go to the software update page on Suunto’s website.
Are there any issues with the Suunto D5 I should know about?
All in all, the Suunto D5 seems like a very reliable and capable dive computer.
The only issues we have encountered are related to the battery life which could be limiting if you plan on spending long days on the water away from a power source! There are a number of recommendations to extend your battery life, which include reducing screen brightness and alerts.
How Do I Maintain My Suunto D5?
We advise caring for your D5 like any other bit of scuba diving kit – ensure a good rinse in fresh water after each dive and dry it with a soft cloth. It’s also best to ensure that you always use the silicone diving strap in seawater – leather and salt don’t mix very well!
Suunto also recommends that you send it in for a service every two years or 500 dives, whichever comes first, to keep it operating optimally.
What Algorithm Does The Suunto D5 Use?
The Suunto D5 uses the RGBM depression algorithm which has been used and carefully refined in many of Suunto’s dive computers. They are actually one of the only dive computer manufacturers to be at the forefront of decompression modelling research.
The most recent iteration, the Suunto Fused RGBM 2 algorithm has combined cutting edge research and customer feedback to make it the most realistic model yet. You can read more about Suunto’s algorithms here.
In conclusion, the Suunto D5 dive computer is one of the best offerings to the market in recent years. It combines Suuntos’s classic high-level functionality and reliability with the sleek style of a smartwatch.
It’s easy to use functionality and an accessible price tag makes it suitable for experienced divers and newbies alike.
If you’re looking for a modern, high-quality dive computer that will take you from the dive boat to the office and back again, then look no further than the Suunto D5.