Suunto Ambit3 review

Suunto Ambit3

I have now had the Ambit3 Sport for almost a year now and it has now been my constant running companion for over 700 miles and countless hours of ping pong. Over this time, I have found out what makes this a great sports watch for many people and a few things that could be updated or changed. 

Suunto Ambit3
The Suunto Ambit3 Sport is a GPS watch that can track multiple sports. I have used it primarily for running and ping pong, but I have also swam, hiked and rode my bike with it. But the list is almost endless inside Movescount as to what activities can be tracked. I have had the lucky opportunity to test the Black Ambit3 Sport with heart rate so I have had the chance to review a lot of the different functions.

Whenever you are looking for a GPS watch I think it is important to think what you are planning on using it for. There are several watches on the market, and I believe each one has it strengths but the Ambit3 Sport does stand out for me for a few reasons. First, if you are looking for a watch that can track your swim workouts the Ambit3 Sport is definitely among the top. Secondly, the battery life is outstanding and has never let me down. Lastly, the GPS has been accurate, reliable and finds the signal quickly.

At $450 the Ambit3 Sport is not the cheapest of the GPS watches out there but it is not the most expensive as well. And actually for being a multisport watch it is on the lower end, which can be hard to believe at $450. 

Suunto Ambit3 Face

The Ambit3 has been a great running watch. The face is large and was easy to read while running on both road and trail. This is something that is important for me as I run most of my miles on trails and looking down at a watch needs to be quick and easy. I have read other reviews about the size being too big and bulky but I have not felt that way. I personally wear a watch 24/7 and the Ambit3 has been no different. That is one thing that I have loved about this GPS watch. 

The battery life has been great. Most weeks I have only had to charge the watch once a week or so when using both the GPS function and just wearing it as a watch. I don’t know just how long the battery last without using the GPS but it seems to be a long time. Suunto says that the battery has a 15 hour life when using 5 second GPS intervals and 100 hours when using 1 minute intervals. I have never tried the 100 hours but I did run it for 6.5 hours during one race and I had plenty of battery when I was done. 

One of my favorite things about the Ambit3 is has quickly the watch acquires the GPS signal. The first time that I used it, I was astonished from other watches that I have used. There have been only a few times that it has been slow to pick up the signal, and I always assumed it was because of the surrounding building or trees. 

The Ambit3 Sport is intended for those who regularly participate in more than one type of exercise activity. If you just want to track your runs, then you likely don't need all the features this watch offers, and might just want to look into the Ambit3 Run as it is cheaper and focused on running. But if you are a triathlete or cyclist and runner, then the Ambit3 is the perfect training companion to collect all the data you need on land or in the water. 

Suunto Ambit3 Tracker

Another feature is the built in activity tracker. The Ambit3 Sport uses an internal accelerometer to record your daily activity. Currently this tracking does not track the actual steps or even the distance. It does give you some general data and you get an overall rating (e.g. inactive or intense). This gives you a general idea of how you are doing, but if you want to use this as an activity tracker you might be disappointed. 

Suunto Ambit3 Recovery

Another data point that I have enjoyed is after each workout the watch gives you a recovery time. I have not done a lot of research on this but I assume this is to let you know if you are working out too hard. One shorter workouts, this seems to be pretty good. But as I have done longer runs, I have had less confidence in this number. But overall, I think it is another data point in the overall scheme of things while tracking your fitness. 

One feature that I used a few times that I think could be useful to some is the Run a Route feature. With this option you can map out your run before you go out and then it will provide turn by turn updates as you run. The first time I tried this feature I just randomly plotted a course and started to run. It was easy to follow the direction once I understood how to use the map on the watch. On the trail, it was not quite as nice but it did still work by giving updates along the way. My one caution on trails is that you don’t depend too heavily on this feature or the watch as sometimes trails don’t match up with online maps.

The Suunto Smart Sensor is a heart rate sensor that records data during workouts on land and in the water. I have found that it provides an accurate heart rate while running. One nice thing about the Smart Sensor is that it not only pairs with the watch but you can also pair it with your phone. 

Suunto Ambit3 Heart Rate

Also one of the most unique features with the heart rate sensor is how it works while swimming. Because Bluetooth doesn’t work under water, the sensor stores your heart rate data and then transfers the data to the watch or phone once you are done swimming. This means while you’re swimming you don’t have the data accessible but it does enable you to analyze the data afterwards to see how you performed.

The Movescount app has made syncing activities super convenient and easy. When done with an activity you can simply open the app and sync the watch over Bluetooth. Once synced you can have it automatically uploaded to Strava, MapMyRun or other popular third-party fitness apps if you want to analyze and share your runs that way. Suunto's mobile app, Movescount, is fairly simple to navigate. But if you want more data I would suggest Strava.

One of the cool features that you can do in the Suunto Movescount app is create a shareable movie of your run or workout. It creates a 3D map of your run or workout along with your key metrics/stats and/or pictures that you took with your phone along the way. You can see one movie that I created of one of my runs.

With all that said the app and syncing data is one of the downsides of the watch as well. I have never had the watch not sync over Bluetooth but there have been a few times that it seemed to take forever or I had to retry. I have the Samsung Galaxy S6 which has an Android OS but what I have experienced is consistent with what I have read on other reviews. 

Another feature with the Bluetooth is that when your phone and watch are synced you can get text message alerts. Supposedly with the iPhone I have read that you can get other alerts and call notifications. But I have never seen any of those with mine.

Another downside to the Ambit3 Sport is its ability or lack thereof to pair with sensors via ANT+. This wireless technology is used with a lot of the bike sensors on the market and could limit your data gathering ability. If ANT+ is important to you, you will need to look elsewhere.

Verdict

The Suunto Ambit3 is a great multi-sport GPS and heart-rate monitoring sports watch for those who want to track more than running. The battery life is great and the watch is easy to use. The Smart Sensor HR strap is great for recording your heart rate while swimming as well as other activities. This watch does have some downsides but with that said I have truly loved this watch. I have not said this about many products but I know of at least two individuals that have bought this watch off my recommendation and they are still loving it as well. 

Pros:

  • Accurate GPS and heart rate
  • Smart phone app connectivity and features
  • Battery life
  • Extended feature set through Suunto Apps

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have vibration alerts
  • Does not include Live Tracking
  • Activity tracker is limited to intensity and lack details

 http://www.suunto.com/en-US/Products/Sports-Watches/Suunto-Ambit3-Sport/Suunto-Ambit3-Sport-Black/