Suunto Ambit3 – An independent review of sorts

STRYD: Garmin 920XT, Suunto AMBIT 3 SPORT, Polar V800
STRYD: Garmin 920XT, Suunto AMBIT 3 SPORT, Polar V800

In brief then, an independent review of the AMBIT3.

If instead you are looking for a review of the triathlon functionality of the AMBIT3 Sport then look <here> for quite a bit more info and detail on triathlon-related aspects. Otherwise read on…

Competitors: Polar have the V800 already on the market, TomTom have the Multi-Sport Cardio, Garmin have the Fenix2 (and now 3) and the Garmin Forerunner 920XT.

There were a few similar Ambit3 models released at the same time (Sep 2014) but the Ambit3 Sport should come in a bit shy of £300 (£210 April 2015) complete with the new, slightly reduced in size, Suunto SMART Belt / Sensor / HR Chest strap which is reviewed in boringly minute detail  <here>.

4iiii Viiiva V100 Heart Rate Monitor, Polar H7, Wahoo TICKR-X, Suunto SMART Belt, Garmin HRM-RUN
4iiii Viiiva V100 Heart Rate Monitor, Polar H7, Wahoo TICKR-X, Suunto SMART Belt (the round one!), Garmin HRM-RUN

The other models are all pretty similar. As a triathlete you might err towards the Ambit3 Peak (top-of-the-range: £300 on Amazon March 2015) watch or Suunto Ambit3 Sport HR (triathlon FUNCTIONALITY review of the AMBIT3 Sport HERE).

Edit: June 2015: V2.0 Firmware updates have significantly improved the watch which now incorporates market-leading recovery/readiness and other functionality.

What is it then?

If you are new to Suunto then I would describe it as a multisport, adventure, wrist-based watch that provides connectivity through Bluetooth. It can also be an ACTIVITY/Steps TRACKER and can, of course, link to clever stuff on your smart phone.

If you already have a Suunto then it’s an upgrade to the Ambit2 – evolution not revolution.

When used ONLY with the new and very special Suunto Bluetooth SMART Sensor / HR Strap, it can also record HR underwater. (The special strap stores HR data while you swim and then uploads it to the watch when it can later; cool!). In fact the strap is planned to upload directly to ios/android (planned April 2015…or so I was told but this has not materialized).

If you already know Suunto then you may well already have ANT+ kit and you might be surprised to see a lack of ANT+ sensor support in the Ambit3. Any ANT+ only sensors you have from the Ambit2 will no longer work with the Ambit3 :-(. However you could invest in the 4iiii Viiiiva V100 Heart Rate Monitor which ‘converts’ the ANT+ signal to Bluetooth SMART FROM ANT+ sensors (shown in the image above).


As with many new releases, there will be more features as firmware is updated, the unit to me looks like an incremental features upgrade to the Ambit2. These feature stood out to me as being of interest:

  • Usage: Still it doesn’t have vibration alerts, oh dear, but does have audible alerts. (Garmin & Polar have these)
  • Usage: HR strap is R-R and records data per second (or 10s). Can also show real-time EPOC and VO2 data. (Pre-920XT, Suunto wins here) Training Effect and recovery times being shown after your exercise (as can Fenix2 and V800 and the 910XT – the latter to a degree).
  • Usage: Battery life is claimed as about 4 weeks in ‘time’/’watch’ mode or 16-50 hours in ‘GPS’ mode (Up there with Polar but ahead of the 910XT, probably lags the 920XT).
  • Usage: Cadence, running efficiency (app) and average stride length (app) can also be shown.
  • Usage: Increased memory over the Ambit2
  • Underwater: The watch is good to 50m (that’s all you need). The strap will move when you push off from the pool-side unless you have it covered with a one-piece suit i.e. you are a woman and/or you are in a wetsuit. I have tried this with the strap being super-tight, no joy, they still often slip.
  • Connectivity: No Android App until Mar 2015. The iPhone app can manage setting ‘remotely’ from the watch and will be further updated in 2015.

Gerald gives more video review info:

  • Connectivity: Does not include Live Tracking [ 🙁 sad face for many of you who will want the Fenix2 or 920XT for that]
  • Connectivity: Data will still be transferred to an improved Movescount. You can use your smartphone as a display (3Peak 3Sport) indeed your iphone can display moves that have not yet been sync’d to Movescount.
  • Some of the stuff you already know about like over 200 customisable 3rd party apps (eg pool lengths counter), recovery stats, ability to turn your Move into a movie, get notifications on your watch..basically lots of nice stuff but these are mostly either a bit gimmicky, if you are a serious athlete, OR they should be on the watch anyway (for a triathlete).


Suunto tends to deliver more stable products than new products from other manufacturers. If you like the Suunto Ambit2 you will want one of these. If you are new to triathlon you might want one of these, as you might also if you are a bit of an off-roady adventure type person. If, like me, you want HR in open water then you might consider this. If you’ve just invested several hundred pounds in ANT+ sensors you won’t buy one of these without buying an additional piece of kit like the 4iiii Viiiiva V100 to ‘convert’ the signal – wouldn’t that ‘extra step’ for the data be an unnecessary risk to add to the list of things that can go wrong or run out of battery?

To dive into the detailed specification for specific features that YOU might need look at the resources below, or perhaps click (here) to look in more detail at the triathlon functionality of the Ambit 3 SPORT model.

Price Comparison and Price Resources

Here are price trends and comparisons, which I personally think are interesting.

For many other suppliers’ watches you will see continual falls over time. The AMBIT3 seems to maintain a £20 price range (April 2015)

You can see the price trend and variation since launch. Click to see the latest price (takes you to an external site)

These comparison prices are for most of the main competing products.

Watches Comparison July 7th 2015AmazonUKAmazon2USA
Adidas MiCoach Smart Run£209.99Link$188.00Link
BRYTON 60H / S430£174.90Link$199.00Link
Epson SF-810£201.08Link$506.06Link
Epson SF-710£151.14Link$297.91Link
Epson SF-510£140.63Link$269.10Link
Epson SF-310£109.99Link$208.11Link
Fitbit Charge HR£105.00Link$149.95Link
Garmin Edge 1000£390.84Link$599.99Link
Garmin Edge 520TBCTBC
Garmin Edge 510£249.36Link$304.95Link
Garmin Edge 810£223.33Link$394.95Link
Garmin Edge 25£139.99Link$169.99Link
Garmin Edge 20£109.99Link$129.99Link
Garmin Epix£344.45Link$549.99Link
Garmin Fenix3 (Sapphire)£385.00Link$589.95Link
Garmin Forerunner 220£158.09Link$236.99Link
Garmin Forerunner 620£248.24Link$388.28Link
Garmin Forerunner 630TBC
Garmin 910 XT£232.49Link$318.11Link
Garmin 920 XT£302.65Link$483.00Link
Garmin VivoActive£199.10Link$244.95Link
Mio Alpha 2£117.71Link$199.00Link
Nike+ SportWatch£179.99Link$149.89Link
Polar M400£119.95Link$229.95Link
Polar V800£266.95Link$308.49Link
Suunto Ambit 3 PEAK£277.51Link$381.10Link
Suunto Ambit 3 Sport£194.95Link$319.95Link
Suunto Ambit 2R£151.64Link$167.16Link
TomTom MultiSport£148.58Link$148.44Link
TomTom MultiSport Cardio£179.99Link$246.99Link
TomTom Runner£89.99Link$99.99Link
TomTom Runner Cardio£161.99Link$199.99Link

– always links to the normal low-priced deals.





1. Official Suunto Ambit 3 Pre-Release Press Release

2. Suunto Ambit3 Web Page

3. More detailed triathlon functionality review of the AMBIT 3.

Gerald’s Youtube Review of the Suunto Ambit3

Here is the underwater HR syncing after a pool session (dc rainmaker). Note this is syncing to the watch and then to the app. Syncing directly to the app is coming in 2015, apparently.

Here is the pretty HD teaser from Suunto. Looks great but does not tell you very much really.

More info from Gerald on syncing on the move

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36 thoughts on “Suunto Ambit3 – An independent review of sorts

  1. I love the look but I’m disappointed there are no vibration alerts! I’m curious about the accuracy of the GPS… overall, do you think it’s worth it?

    1. GPS is as good as the rest. Many have the same chipset! The price of a new product will always be high and go down over time especially if new competitor products at same price point. It will, I think, be releasing at the same time as the Garmin 920XT.

    2. The ambit 3 uses a new GPS chip and pretty much instantly finds your location. I’m amazed everytime I start my exercise…

  2. With my current Ambit 2 using it for Triathlons- analysing the data in Movescount is amazing however if I wanted to then export to Strava- it cannot identify the different activities and simply shows one merged activity.

    Have I missed something or is this a problem with Strava as it doesn’t have a ‘triathlon activity’ / it’s a problem with Suunto as they cannot split the three activities?

    Will this still persist with the Ambit 3?

    Thanks in advance!

  3. Ambit3 functionality is only getting better. Blue tooth connectivity gives tech and social heads a little more feature rich functions.

  4. No vibration alerts means no buy for me. That’s too bad too, because I have been seriously disappointed with Garmin’s latest efforts and am ready for a change.

    1. Check out the Polar V800. It’s build quality is as good if not better than the Ambit’s, it has vibration alerts, workout support, and the website is much more useful than Suunto’s.

    1. thank you for the link…will be useful to some readers no doubt. I just hope you are polite in your thoughts in the link !! 🙂

      1. do anyone here has try it or has any feedback from someone that did try it? i have also garmin 910t that communicates with powertap via ant+ but i want to sell it so i have one device for all of my activities!

      2. if you have ant stuff the ambit is not a good choice. even if the velo works how reliable will it be? you will have ANOTHER piece of kit to worry about the battery being charged for. stick with one manufacturer standard ant or btle

      3. It doesn’t work for me and irritating to troubleshoot. If any one has an luck getting Suunto Ambit 3 Sport to link with Mio VELO then please let me know.

      4. sy I haven’t got those two devices with me to replicate your problem. I would imagine the issue is most likely with mio so try their support line first. good luck

    1. The 4iiii might work but I think the conversion may well only be to their proprietary app rather than the suunto. You need to check compatibility very carefully before buying any of this stuff.

      1. Anyway i am thinking of selling the garmin 910xt and buying a cycling computer like edge series. All these thoughts are because i am getting suunto ambit 3 peak as a sponsorship so i have to train and race with this! Except cycling of course

  5. Hello I am looking for a watch that will tell me temperature and speed of my sprints will armbit3 do it? Thanks and where exactly can I get this info.

  6. Hi, thanks for the review. I’m a bit new to this, I want a device to track distance/calories burnt in the pool as well as calories burnt in pilates. Does this work fine for this? Would it be money well spent? Thanks!

    1. yes. and yes. to your questions! to get a good estimate of calories you need to look at hr. as you have probably found not many products can do hr in water. however I would urge you to look wider than calories in your exercise regime – IMHO you should be doing weight devlopeing activity EVERY week and strenuous exercise EVERY week in addition to longer/easier swimming/running. This is especially true advice for women (yes the weights!!)

  7. Hi i’m also new to this. My day to day tag watch has just run out and before I spend out on another i’m considering a sports watch that looks great for day to day but also is great for running and cycling activities. I’d like gps, some activity features like steps, automatic sync, heart rate and of course gps. I have a forunner 110 but am also considering the other garmin watches. Some of them personally look huge. Any advice? I’m happy to pay out for the right watch.

    1. Hi Amanda. I’m assuming you are looking for a small format high-end running/sports/tri watch. You’ve found that many are big – so the polar v800, garmin fenix3 and suunto ambit3 are all good looking but they are a bit big….to get more screen ‘real estate’ The apple watch springs to mind, although it lacks in some aspects of sports performance. Tell me more about what you intend to do and how hard you train (HR levels). in general you best way forwards might be to look at sporty activity trackers – basis peak, fitbit surge hr.

  8. Many thanks for this fantastic review. I have a question about the activity monitor. I realize that the calories burned is only an estimate based on body metrics and formulas. However, I do really like that it gives me a rough idea of how active I was throughout the day during daily life.

    My question is, is there a place on the movescount app where I can see the days total calories burned and activity level (inactive, vigorous, etc)? The calories re-set at midnight each night, and I often am too busy to remember to check the calories I burned during the day and what my activity level was before midnight hits. So is there a way to find out how many calories you burned in previous days. I realize the watch keeps a week activity bar graph, but it doesn’t show units and is too small to be helpful.

    One last question. I’ve seen people say there are apps that can work with the activity monitor accelerometer that might even count steps. Are these any good or worth it?

    Thanks for the help!

    1. hi there. calories are a rough and ready way to measure activity. They do not properly reflect the more positive impact of more vigorous exercise (you’d need a measure like TRIMP for that). So IMO you should not get too obsessed with the detail behind calories (because it will be wrong), just use them as a rough and ready way to track daily total activity.
      I’m not sure which apps you are talking about – you should already have steps on the AMBIT3 peak for example???? use that.
      IMO if you are doing ‘proper’ exercise then you don’t want to waste your time with step counting, the amount of energy burnt and physiological benefit (over and above your exercise program) will be trivial. Having said that it can be a bit of fun to look at daily steps. On the basis that steps are irrelevant then you should buy the step counter that you most like the look of eg polar a360 or ms band or even the bemoaned Samsung gear fit.

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