Suunto Spartan Ultra: First Run also with Kinematix Tune

Suunto Spartan UltraYep it’s real and shipping soon to an online shop somewhere commercially near to

The Suunto Spartan Ultra is here.

I had my first run today with it, simply a run and not a test, and also used Kinematix’s TUNE which delivers a whole host of new running metrics and analyses to an ANDROID APP (not the Spartan). It’s a sensor-based Bluetooth running insole.

Back to the Suunto Spartan

suuntolink-to-spartan-software-updateSo all I did was update the firmware and sync my existing settings on MOVESCOUNT to the new watch. A fairly straightforward process – using the new SUUNTOLINK software (not MOVESLINK).

Then I quickly checked out the new HEATMAP feature on MOVESCOUNT and found someonelse’s run near to where I was and blasted it down to the Spartan. Paired up a HRM and off I went.


So here are some VERY brief first impressions.

If you want me to look at anything specific in a review then speak now (below) or forever hold your peace!

The Spartan Ultra is a fairly big watch. Pretty much the same as the Ambit3 and Fenix 3. My strap seemed identical to the Ambit3’s rubberized strap. It felt nice and it fitted well. It looks good, classy but sporty. I’d wear it 247 and I don’t often say that.

The screen area is NOT that much of an increase over other comparable watches but you can get up to 7 metrics on the screen. I’ll play with that later to figure out how they do it.

There are several pre-loaded watch faces and they are pretty good. Better than almost all other ones I’ve seen on other watches, in my opinion. BUT IT STILL needs just a tad more on the resolution front to best display a moving watch hand. I chose a digit-based display.

The touchscreen is pretty good most of the time. I’ve been playing with a Garmin Edge 820 over the last 2 weeks. It’s better than the Garmin in terms of its responsiveness BUT neither appear perfect.

I remember REALLY disliking my first Suunto watch MENU experience. I would say that the Spartan seems mostly intuitive to me. I’ve certainly not touched any manual yet. (Good products don’t need manuals IMO).

There’s some REALLY nice screens that come up during and after the sessions. More of that another time. My one bug bear was that it seemed that I could only scroll through in-exercise screens by swiping and that was tricky when running. I’ll play some more to see if that’s true. But in reality once I get the metrics right on the screen, which I hadn’t done (edit, not yet possible in firmware as of 23Oct2016) then I’d never need to swipe screen in-exercise in any case.

I was following a route as I indicated earlier. The route was very clearly shown on a further page and zooming in and out was Ok. I need to investigate the navigation features some more. GPS accuracy looked good, as shown below. Simply following a line is fine for many purposes but a little more (eg TBT instructions) is needed at other times.

Edit: Image added 20Sep2016 from today’s run. For this ‘first run’ and for my first ‘brief impression’ the GPS track looked pretty darn good. Here is an example.


EDIT 29Sep2016: Cross watch comparisons of GPS tracks performed later using up to 5 devices are shown, <here>, <here>, <here> and <here>. Generally, the GPS track rom the SPARTAN IS GOOD in my later experience. Indeed slightly better than the V800 and 920XT. The reader is also cautioned that, I am led to believe, GLONASS is NOT yet enabled in the SPARTANs even at firmware v1.20 (Source: Suunto via Andrew Nugged). So there is scope for greater accuracy/precision in the future but in my experience GLONASS does not increase precision that much, if at all.

When this post was first published, I perhaps inadvisedly used the phrase ‘RAZOR SHARP’ in my attempt at creative writing. I’ll stick with the ‘GOOD’ from the previous paragraph. Providing that a full and proper GPS fix is obtained AND, in UNdemanding conditions, I REALLY HAVE found as good or sometimes better results than my V800. I fully appreciate that (October 2016) Suunto have noted that there are GPS issues experienced by some users and that they are working on some sort of fix. I haven’t been one of them and I can only write about my experiences. I’ve no idea of the nature of the fix Suunto are working on. If that fix is to ensure that full GPS accuracy is obtained using today’s satellite position (Google: ephemeris) then I had already taken that into account in much of my usage. WHEN I write a review there are lots of issues that will be covered.

So what’s missing in the following photo?

A: The Fenix 3 – on loan to a friend.

A: What about the Fenix 4, 930Xt and the Polar V900/V1000 🙂 They’re all coming.

suunto Spartan Ultra - Polar V800 - Garmin 920XT
Polar V800 -Suunto Spartan Ultra – Garmin 920XT

So talk of a ‘Fenix3-killer’ may turn out to be true. We’ll see if the Spartan lives up to that monicker down the line. Our mutual knowledge of mythology will no doubt remind us that the phoenix tends to rise from the ashes.

But other new arrivals may well spoil that particular Suunto-party. Whatever pans out over the new few exciting gadget-filled months will probably underpin a new post-Olympic, gadget reality. Good looking watches that ALL do a good job. Some for tri, some for other multisport, some for outdoorsy stuff and some for navigation.

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21 thoughts on “Suunto Spartan Ultra: First Run also with Kinematix Tune

    1. if you mean could I change the metrics on the sports screens then, no. that seemed a bit strange. I presumed that because I only had internet explorer available that might somehow have stopped me doing it on MOVESCOUNT

  1. Be interested in the altimeter if you get chance to play with it. Is it barometric or GPS? Can you reset it to a known height mid run (without stopping recording)?

    This is the biggest draw back for me with the 910XT.


      1. settings/outdoor allows AUTOADJUST and a REFERENCE ALTITUDE to be set. I couldn’t access that menu option either when a MOVE was paused or ongoing. Firmware is changing regularly. Out of interest why do you need that precise functionality (as opposed to correcting the altitude on the tracks after you have completed the run).

      2. I want to see accurate elevation to help navigation when mountain running. E.g knowing my elevation will help me pinpoint my position on the map. It’s also good to know how much ascent is left on a long climb to a summit.
        Earlier this year I did some long days running in the Scottish mountains. My 910XT was accurate at first but drifted out and was over 50m wrong by the end of the day (against measured heights on the Ordnance Survey map)

      3. are there not any apps that can query your altitude based on GPS from SRTM? (obv would need an internet connection unless a part of the SRTM database could be cached on your smartphone). That would be a different method to how sports watches work (GPS vs baro). you’d need an accurate gps for SRTM to work and the SRTM translation would beed to be accurate for where you are (admittedly in mountains in might not be)

      4. I want to be as self reliant as possible – so map, compass and an accurate altitude reference from my watch are all I need.
        Imagine the scenario: half way up a remote mountain, wind, rain, poor visibility, cold hands – I don’t want to be faffing with a smartphone hoping that the app will work!

        Also, if I’m racing, a quick glance at the watch is much easier than fiddling with the phone.

      5. Its been confirmed by Suunto that this won’t be an option until a larger update happening in September.
        I found it to be a bit odd that you couldn’t a custom setup for any given sport, but I guess that explains it. Still a bit strange that they would release the watch for sale until that was an option, no?

      6. I slept with this Finnish girl… Nah, not really but it said soon There’s a page with I info on the latest released firmware which also talked about future updates. Next in line is customization of sport profiles.

    1. so I have done other tests (posted). They were NOT CHALLENGING environments as I do not have a mountain handy. however my simple UNscientific tests showed they were similar and prob the Spartan slightly better IN MY SCENARIOS.

    1. GPS accuracy in what respect? I ran with v800 and Spartan today, they consistently beeped together at the 1km autolap. lap pace was similar @5 secs/km difference when I looked at the devices

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