Suunto Ambit3 GPS Watch Review

Suunto Ambit3

With the release of the Ambit3 last summer, Suunto built on the Ambit2 platform and improved upon some of the features. While much of the functionality remains the same, below I highlight some of the main differences between the two GPS watches.

Probably the biggest change with the new Ambit2 is the sensor connectivity–Suunto replaced ANT+ with Bluetooth Smart. This means you can only pair your Suunto Ambit3 with Bluetooth Smart compatible bike, foot, and power PODs in order to record additional data during your workouts. You can still pair up to five PODs at a time.

The inclusion of Bluetooth Smart now means you can connect your Ambit3 to your phone. Pair your GPS watch with the Movescount mobile app to get all types of phone notifications on your watch (Note: you need to have the Movescount app running in the background in order to get the notifications), change settings, and customize sport modes on the go. You can now use your phone as a second display, take pictures that feature a data overlay from your workout, and even create 3-D movies of your adventure within the app.

When connected, your Ambit3 syncs automatically with the Suunto Movescount app to upload workouts without having to connect the GPS watch to your computer via USB every time you get home.

Suunto Movescount

Although I appreciate the phone connectivity, I would love to see Suunto use both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart. I use ANT+ sensors on my road and cross bikes, with Bluetooth Smart on my mountain bike–I don’t want to do a complete sensor overhaul just to use the GPS watch on all my bikes.

For all you triathletes, probably the biggest improvement over the Ambit2 is the ability to record heart rate while swimming when used together with the Suunto Smart Sensor. Stored in the sensor, your heart rate data is automatically uploaded to your Ambit3 once you get out of the water.

With the Ambit3, Suunto added an activity tracker function. Even if you aren’t recording a workout for the day, the GPS watch tracks how much you walk and factors this in to the recommended recovery time. The activity tracker is pretty basic (for example you can’t actually see how many steps you have taken, just the estimated calorie burn for the day and week) but gives you a good indication of your movement that day, given you are wearing the watch at all times of course.

activity tracker

Like the Ambit2, the Ambit3 includes GPS navigation, allowing you to navigate to a point of interest, set waypoints, follow a pre-defined route, and with Track Back, retrace your steps at any point during your workout.

Already available in the Ambit2 but a feature I find extremely useful for climbing and backpacking is the weather trend indicator and storm alarm (available in the Peak model). The weather trend indicator is displayed as a view option in the time display, providing you a quick way to check weather changes. A significant drop in barometric pressure typically means a storm is coming and when the storm alarm is active, the Ambit3 sounds an alarm and flashes a storm symbol when the pressure drops 4 hPa (0.12 inHg) or more during a 3-hour period.

Bottom Line: Triathletes will most definitely appreciate the improvements with the Ambit3/Suunto Smart Sensor combo. The new Bluetooth Smart phone connectivity definitely makes it easier to operate your GPS watch, but if you are a heavy ANT+ sensor user, keep in mind you may need a sensor overhaul before taking full advantage of the Ambit3.

The Suunto Ambit3 retails for $400-$600, depending on model, and is available now.

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