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First look at the Suunto Ambit3 multisport GPS watch


(My Ambit3 Full In-Depth Review is now published!  Swing on over to that post for all the full details and analysis!)

This morning Suunto has announced their latest endurance and multisport watch, the Suunto Ambit3.  The watch incrementally builds on previous generations of the Ambit in what has been a roughly 12-16 month release cycle for the company.  The Ambit3 when it’s available in September 2014 will add mobile phone integration such as workout uploading and smartphone notifications, while also including support for Bluetooth Smart sensors and heart rate while swimming.

I’ve been using a few beta units of the Ambit3 for a fair bit of time now and thus have a good understanding of many of the new areas.  But because the watch and the mobile app experience are still very much beta (almost two months until public availability), please do understand this isn’t a review.  It’s more of a ‘preview of new things’ coming.  As such, things could change.  They could get better, or, they could get worse – that’s the nature of beta.  Historically speaking however Suunto actually is one of the stronger companies when it comes to releasing relatively bug-free software.  Further, they have a nearly perfect record for releasing products and firmware updates on time per the dates they’ve set (unlike most all of their competitors).  Thus, I remain optimistic on their ability to execute here.

With that said, let’s dive into what’s new and notable.  In my final In-Depth Review (which would be in early September), I’ll cover all the regular stuff that’s not new.  But as a general rule of thumb everything from the Ambit2 is available in the Ambit3 (unless noted below).

The Hardware & New HR Strap


At first glance you may be wondering if I mistakenly took photos of an older Ambit and not the Ambit3.  But in reality the external hardware is actually virtually indistinguishable from past units.  It’s the internals that have been tweaked.  Most notably, the addition of a Bluetooth Smart chipset to replace the ANT+ chipset that was in there.  Further, they have roughly doubled the internal storage capacity.


It’s this Bluetooth Smart chipset that enables connectivity to the phone, as well as Bluetooth Smart sensors.  Though, that does come at the cost of lack of connectivity to ANT+ accessories.

Beyond that the unit is identical to past units.  For example, there is no new vibration motor (for vibrating alerts), nor shifts in storage capacity (Update: Suunto has corrected to say it’s roughly a doubling of capacity in the Ambit3) – both common complaints about both first and second generation Ambit units.

In addition to the Ambit3 watch, Suunto is also releasing a new heart rate strap, which is substantially smaller in the pod-department than their previous strap:


This new strap is different in a few ways.  First is that it’s Bluetooth Smart (rather than Suunto ANT like previous straps).  This means it can connect to Bluetooth Smart capable devices (including the Ambit3), such as phone apps or 3rd party devices.


Second, the strap has a totally new connection design between the pod and the strap.  Suunto hopes to make this a bit of an industry standard.  Though, at the moment it appears to be just them (everyone else is using a slightly different standard with wider connection points).


But the real secret to the strap is that it’s able to store data while you’re swimming.  I’ll dive into this capability later in the swimming section, but the unit is able to store heart rate data while swimming and then automatically re-sync that data in a few seconds when it comes back within range of the watch.

The New Features


Now that we’ve covered the hardware side, let’s talk on the software pieces.  As you’ll see – that’s where all the new goodness hangs out.  In order to keep things simple I’m going to provide a bulleted list here, and then I’ll walk through these features in more detailed sections below.

– Heart Rate While Swimming
– Bluetooth Smart Sensor Support (Power/Speed/Cadence/Heart Rate)
– Daily Activity Monitoring (aka activity tracker)
– Smartphone Workout Uploads
– Smart Phone Notifications (i.e. calls/texts/Facebook/etc…)
– Ability to use Ambit3 GPS as source for phone display (i.e. on bike handlebars)

As you can see, lots there – but especially lots on the mobile side.

The singular item that was removed however is ANT+ sensor support.  The unit does not include ANT+ support.  They decided that for the modes they were looking to utilize it would have required two chips being in the unit (a separate one for ANT+ and one for Bluetooth Smart) – which would have required additional architecture/battery considerations.  I’ll cover some of my sensor thoughts in the Bluetooth Smart section below though on this.

While there’s a ton of new features coming, it isn’t however a complete overhaul of the watch.  Areas like the display/screen, look and feel, and core functionality of the watch actually don’t shift dramatically from the Ambit2.  It’s in many ways easiest to think of it as an Ambit2 with Bluetooth Smart and a whole bunch of cool phone-connected features.  Well, except heart rate while swimming – that’s device-centric, new, and cool.

Swimming Heart Rate


The Ambit3 introduces the ability to track heart rate while swimming.  It does this in conjunction with the new Suunto heart rate strap that enables storage of your heart rate while underwater.  The strap then will burst transmit the stored data to the watch when it can get back in range.


See, neither ANT+ nor Bluetooth Smart can transmit more than a few centimeters (an inch or so) underwater.  The signal simply doesn’t work (unlike older analog signals used in some products).  So by Suunto moving to a store and forward method it can catch-up your heart rate data anytime you come back to the wall of a pool (such as below).


While swimming the data generally won’t be up to date, it’ll just show your last heart rate value on the watch.  I found that sometimes I’d get lucky and if I placed the unit slightly to the left on my chest it’d actually catch-up every few laps (not stopping) and I’d get an updated heart rate value.  But for the most part it only caught up at the end of the set when I stopped and put the two close together (either above or below water).

What’s cool is it then actually draws out your heart rate (if you have the graph view enabled) on the watch – just like an etch-a-sketch.  It takes about 1 second per 1-minute of heart rate data to draw.  Here’s a fun little video I shot last night of it.  Sorry it’s fuzzy, the pool lady was yelling at me to hurry up and get out of the pool at closing time.

This data is then available post-swim on Movescount, where it’ll show up just like heart rate on any other activity:


(Note: You’ll see a few cases of where the data dropped and it flat-lines, that’s where I didn’t realize the HR strap had flipped over due to water pressure as discussed in a moment.)

And all of that it time-sync’d to your actual swim lap metrics as well.  Thus making the Ambit3 the only watch on the market today that can do both swim lap/distance/stroke metrics and heart rate recording.  Down the road the Polar V800 will also do the same as well once they implement swim lap/distance/stroke tracking metrics.


Now, the only catch here remains the actual heart rate strap.  I’ve always had issues with keeping the heart rate strap on my chest while swimming.  In particular when I push off the wall, it often ends up down by my waist.  No matter how hard I tighten it.  I’ve tried putting it on my back, twisting the fabric, all the usual tricks.  In the case of the above swim I was fixing it every few laps and pushing off very gently (not realistic).

For women that’s not a problem because your swimsuit top tends to keep it in place, but for guys it can be tough. And no, I refuse to wear a top at the pool while swimming – there’s enough antics in my usual pool as it is without me adding to it.

Finally, note that the swim support will work just the same in openwater.  Except there you won’t get a HR ‘update’ mid-swim unless you stop to let it sync.  Still, it’ll easily record everything from your outdoor swim (including a map) for later access online.

Bluetooth Smart Sensor Support


The Ambit3 swaps out the ANT+ sensor of the Ambit1/Ambit2 for a Bluetooth chipset, enabling it to connect to Bluetooth Smart sensors that adhere to the Bluetooth Smart standardized device profiles for sensors.  This means that it can connect to the following Bluetooth Smart sensors/accessories:

– Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Straps
– Bluetooth Smart Cadence-Only Cycling Sensors
– Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Only Cycling Sensors
– Bluetooth Smart Power Meters
– Bluetooth Smart Running Footpods

There are a number of companies that make devices in each of these categories, from Wahoo Fitness to Stages to PowerTap to Mio, Scosche and many more.  As part of my in-depth review I’ll include a compatibility chart for what I’ve tested myself as far as 3rd party sensors go.  To date I’ve done testing with the Wahoo cadence sensors and a variety of heart rate straps.  And my updated PowerTap cap with Bluetooth Smart just arrived in, so I’ll be trying that out soon too.

Below for example is a workout showing cadence (upper portion in white) using the Wahoo RPM2 with the Suunto Ambit3, all via Bluetooth Smart.  The workout was a brick, hence why I’ve just selected the first portion that was bike-specific.


Of course, those with ANT+ will be left out in the cold here.  The Ambit3 doesn’t contain ANT+ support for sensors, which means neither your existing ANT+ (3rd party) sensors nor even existing Suunto-ANT sensors will work.  Said differently: No previous Suunto sensors will work with the Ambit3.

Now in my discussions with Suunto I made it clear that this was a pretty big deal – especially for triathletes.  And in theory they have two paths to address this.  The first is to partner with someone like 4iiii’s and ensure that Viiiiva compatibility will solve the problem.  The Viiiiva can act as a bridge between ANT+ devices and Bluetooth Smart watches like this.  It sorta-works for certain combinations today with the Bluetooth Smart-only Polar V800.  But it’s not perfect and there are many holes.  That requires both companies to work together to address at least the most common scenarios.

The second option is that Suunto could do something similar themselves using the heart rate strap they will ship with the Ambit3, which contains the latest chipsets that are capable of running dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart (to be clear, the heart rate strap is capable, not the watch).  Thus they could build that capability into their own strap, which would instantly give them complete control over compatibility and also give them without question the most versatile triathlon watch combination on the market that appeals to the broadest possible audience.  I know what I would do if I was in their shoes…

Smartphone Integration


With the addition of Bluetooth Smart to the unit the Ambit3 gains connectivity straight to your phone.  In doing so they’ve opened up a number of different scenarios for phone integration with the Ambit3.  Some of these areas are ‘common’ to what we’ve seen in other watches (such as uploading workouts), yet others are entirely new takes on ideas, like using the GPS from the device and the phone as the data screen.  In order to cover all the concepts I’ve divided them up into a few sub-sections below.

Note: As of July 2014, Suunto will be making the iOS app available upon release for compatible Bluetooth 4.0 devices (iPhone 4S and higher).  For Android, they are targeting “2015”, but haven’t specified at this point if it’ll be January 2015 or December 2015.

Uploading Completed Workouts/Settings Configuration:


(Preemptive note: All these screenshots are BETA level, and unfinished.  Think of it like a strawman without the clothes.  They haven’t added the layer of ‘pretty’ yet.)

First up is the most common of tasks, which is the automatic uploading of completed workouts via Bluetooth Smart to your phone (and then onwards to Movescount online).  Like numerous other watches on the market the unit will transfer completed workouts via Bluetooth Smart from the watch to the phone.  The length of time it takes for this to complete varies a bit, but usually about 30-60 seconds depending on how many sensors you might have paired and the length of the ride.

20140709_183129000_iOS 20140709_183316000_iOS 20140709_183233000_iOS

A few moments later this information then shows up on Movescount, the online site from Suunto that acts as your training log.


And because Suunto recently added automatic synchronization to Strava, your workouts will near-immediately show up on Strava as well:


Next, you can configure sport profiles and settings from the app.  This allows you to decide which sports show up on the Ambit3, and the settings for those different sports.  Further, you can configure global watch settings like languages as well in here.

20140709_182925000_iOS 20140709_183002000_iOS 20140709_183010000_iOS

Even better is that you can also tweak display field settings directly from the app.  So I can configure and change data pages and what metrics are shown on any of the sport profiles:

20140709_183026000_iOS 20140709_183043000_iOS 20140709_183102000_iOS

Because the app isn’t quite finished yet it’s unclear how deep the settings will go in terms of sports configuration on the app itself (for example things like recording time).  However, what’s cool is that you can actually use the Movescount mobile version of the website to tweak any ‘non-included’ settings – and then that gets immediately pushed back to your Ambit3 as soon as you press sync again (all wirelessly via your phone).  I actually just did that tonight standing poolside at the swimming pool after I remembered I needed to change a setting.  Took all of a few seconds.

Smartphone Notifications


Next the Ambit3 will display smartphone notifications when within range of your phone.  These notifications can include text message notifications, incoming phone call notifications and anything else that uses the notification center.


For example, here’s a notification that an incoming message just arrived:


Now the notifications are just that – notifications – they aren’t actionable other than dismissing them.  Meaning you can’t answer the phone call or do anything from there.

The notifications can be set to ‘On’ or ‘Off’, and will simply chirp (if audio alerts are enabled) when a new notification comes in.


This is similar to how the Fenix2 works, with the only difference being that this doesn’t impact one’s ability to record sensor data.  Note that I don’t yet have a clear idea of the battery life impact here.  I’ll be doing some testing as they get closer to final release.  But it definitely appears far better than the Fenix/Fenix2 in terms of me having left notifications enabled on one unit that’s been sitting off to the side of my desk for days now with notifications enabled and it doesn’t seem upset in the battery department.

Using the phone as a display:


Next we have one of the most ‘unique’ features on the Ambit3, which is the ability to link it to a smart phone and have the phone act as the display.  This is actually the exact opposite of what most companies are doing with smart watches, where the watch displays what the phone wants.  And actually, Suunto is doing both.


So why is this useful?  Well, it allows you a much bigger screen than the Ambit3 is, which can be useful for something like cycling if you put your phone on your handlebars.  In this case your watch will act as the GPS receiver and the phone will be the display.


This is better because it reduces battery drain on the phone since GPS is off (albeit the screen is on, which burns even more).  Still, I think it’s an interesting twist and I suspect folks might have some cool scenarios here.


Finally, it should be noted that the app can also simply record activities without the Ambit3.  In doing so it’ll allow you to pair with sensors and you’ll get standard metrics like speed/distance/etc…  But, for most people there’s a million other apps that can do that – so the interest is primarily in connectivity to the Ambit3.

Photo Integration, Movies and Data Overlay

Last up in the phone integration feature is the ability to do data overlay photos with data from the watch or phone.  This is sorta like the action cam videos you see, but with data coming directly from the Ambit3 and then using your phone’s camera:

20140710_064837000_iOS 20140710_064919000_iOS 20140710_064946000_iOS

Afterwards the photo has some activity metrics overlaid onto it.

From there it will get associated to a given activity in Movescount, which means that it can then get pulled into a gallery based on your ride.  Now, these photos can then end up in automatically generated ‘movies’ that showcase your ride.  I saw a couple of early alpha-version clips created when I met with Suunto and it as a pretty good start to things.


It would show your route being played back in real-time on Google Earth and then show included photos along the way that you took – all geostamped to the correct location.

At present the beta app build I have isn’t quite building my movie, so I’m left with what might be possibly be the funniest/best error message I’ve ever seen.  Normally I don’t share too many error messages from beta stuff because that’s the nature of beta – but this  is awesome enough that I don’t think (hope) they mind:

20140709_183237000_iOS 20140709_183303000_iOS

In any case, drama aside, I’ll try and see if I can get a movie to share/post of what it looks like.

Daily Activity Tracker


Next up we’ve got an included daily activity tracker.  This is effectively taking a FitBit and stuffing it into the Ambit3.  But more than that though, it takes into account your total activity including exercise.  It’s actually very much like the Polar V800 in this respect.


Though, also like the Polar V800 at this point it (frustratingly) doesn’t display your exact steps or walked distance – but rather just displays a bit of a bar graph and chart.  We had some good discussions about it though, so I’m optimistic they’ll see the light in terms of being the perfect blend of activity tracker and sport tracker (and that said blend is best executed with steps listed).


(Above would show a graph identical to that of the recovery chart two photos above, with the day’s activity, it’s just that I took the photo in the morning.)

These displays are easily accessed by just tapping the ‘Next’ button on the right of the screen, and are one tap away from the regular time screen.  Ideally I’d be able to just press ‘view’ though and see my total steps for the day at all times along the bottom (just like the Garmin FR15 can).

As you can see though – without question the merging of daily activity tracker and full endurance sports watch is most definitely the future (or rather, the present).  I don’t expect we’ll see any more major sport/running devices being made that don’t include both sides of the equation.

Models, Versions & Availability:


The Ambit3 is much like the Ambit2 in that it comes in a few flavors and versions.  The two fundamental versions are:

Ambit3 Sport: Everything the Peak has except the barometric altimeter
Ambit3 Peak: Top of the line unit with a barometric altimeter

So basically, it’s just like Ambit2 and Ambit2 S.  There is no ‘R’ version at this point for the Ambit3 (that was the cheaper running edition).

Price-wise, things remain in the same ballpark as before with the exception that there’s a Sapphire edition offered which just swaps out the glass for a different sapphire mineral glass:

Ambit3 Sport: $400 (+$50 for HR strap)
Ambit3 Sport Sapphire: $500 (+$50 for HR strap)
Ambit3 Peak: $500 (+$50 for HR strap)
Ambit3 Peak Sapphire: $600 (+$50 for HR strap)

As with my thoughts on previous Ambit versions, no, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to buy the Sapphire edition – but that’s just me.  I’ve never heard of anyone actually hosing up the glass on their Ambit1 or Ambit2 because they didn’t have the Sapphire edition.  Just keepin’ it real.

Finally, Suunto is saying September 1st for availability of the editions above.

My Thoughts:


On the whole the Ambit3 is hardware-wise an incremental upgrade over past models, however, software-wise it’s just starting to crack the door open a bit.  Their work on the mobile phone app could end up being really impressive (it’s still a bit early to tell).  I’m loving the fact that I can quickly and easily change data fields from the phone, versus past units requiring me to be at my computer.  On the flip side, competitors’ units allow you to change that directly on the device.

The implementation of smart notifications and mobile uploads brings it inline with functionality found on Garmin’s Fenix2 multisport watch, and the reverse usage of having the phone use the unit to capture metrics is definitely a unique Suunto feature.  And lastly, the heart rate while still having swim metrics makes them the only one in that camp – at least for a short while.

It’ll be interesting to see how the activity monitoring piece plays out, both from Suunto and Polar.  I think they’re both half-way there with what people want (or at least, what 348 people seem to ask for in the comments every day on the Fenix2 review), but the inclusion of steps and related metrics is the end-goal there – both on the device but also on Movescount (online and app).

There are however some areas that I think Suunto overlooked in the Ambit3, that I suspect may hurt them medium and long term.  First is the lack of vibration alerts – which has been commonly requested.  Second is that the app as of today doesn’t have live tracking, nor is that in the immediate plans.  It remains to be seen whether areas like course/navigational transfer via phone will make the app cut.  Lastly, the on-unit capabilities in custom workout creation and virtual partner remain sorely behind both Garmin and Polar (among others) these days.  I had really hoped to see some improvement in those areas.

Given that the unit won’t be available until September, that’s probably a better time to see what the final competitive picture looks like for triathlon watches for the year ahead (since this season will basically be over by then).  I suspect by the end of the year Garmin will have announced/released their FR910XT successor, and Polar will have made progress against their planned firmware updates.  Thus my guidance largely remains the same as it was just 2-3 weeks ago in my 2014 Summer Recommendations: See how the landscape evolves over the next few months.

With that – thanks for reading and feel free to drop any questions below.

Found this first look useful? Or just wanna save 10%? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this first look useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my thoughts are written from the standpoint of how I use the device. The posts generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased. You can read more about the benefits of this partnership here. You can order the Ambit3 or accessories through Clever Training using the link below. By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.  Note of course since it’s a pre-order, the timelines might change depending on when Suunto releases.

Ambit3 Sport (Heart rate bundle variant just select drop-down)
Ambit3 Sport Sapphire (Heart rate bundle variant just select drop-down)
Ambit3 Peak (Heart rate bundle variant just select drop-down)
Ambit3 Peak Sapphire (Heart rate bundle variant just select drop-down)

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.

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  1. Michele

    Great article great product!
    Only a question, I have not understand how to use the HR belt in a swimming pool.
    I have to wear the sensor? and when I download the data?
    An italian fan

    • Correct, you have to wear the heart rate strap in the pool. Upon completion (but before you press save, above water), it’ll download the data from the strap to the watch.

  2. Rob Robinson

    Quick question- will the Ambit3 work the Polar H7 heart rate sensor?

    • Jamie

      Yup, I briefly had one and it works like a charm with the Ambit 3. I decided to return it and get the Suunto HR monitor and strap though, since it has memory and is smaller, but cost the same($79).

    • Rob

      Thanks Jamie. I’ve had issues with Suunto straps in the past. None of them have lasted more than a few months for me. I currently use a Polar strap with a Garmin Ant+ sensor with my Ambit2. The Polar strap is by far head and shoulders above the Suunto or Garmin strap in regards to more consistent HR readings and lasting longer. Maybe Suunto have improved their strap. I’m unsure. Bummer I cant just snap the new Suunto transmitter on to a Polar strap but since they went to a smaller design- I’m sure it won’t fit.
      So- you’re saying the Suunto transmitter has memory and the Polar H7 does not? – but when you download your data of your workout to Movescount or wherever- won’t you have all the data you need saved anyway? I guess I’m unclear what the “memory” function of the Suunto HR monitor actually does. Thanks again :)

    • Jamie

      Memory to record your HR when not within range of your watch(like swimming, in Ray’s post). Then you’ll upload it or let your watch capture it once you are back within watch/device range. The H7 is just instant reading, so your HR at that moment, not what it was 5 secs ago or 5 mins ago or whatever. I guess for me, being the same price as each other, why not get the Suunto one? Not that the H7 was bad or anything, it actually recorded my trail marathon last weekend just fine, steady readings, no chafe or issues with fit. My mind just wants best bang for the buck, for me, that seems to be the Suunto one.

    • Rob

      Ok- great. Thanks for the info. Cheers!

  3. Chintan

    Smart sensor connects to watch but cannot connect to iPhone app – any idea ?

    • Nigel

      Are you wearing the sensor when you try to connect? I have found it only connects if you are wearing it and the sensor is detecting your heart

    • Also, ensure the watch isn’t concurrently connected to the sensor (Bluetooth Smart sensors can only support one connection at once).

    • Hi Ray,
      concerning your previous comment regarding BT 4.1 and multiple devices allowed. Will the smart sensor eventually implement BT 4.1 or do we have to wait for new BT 4.1 products from Suunto?

    • It’s hard to say. I believe the specific chipset they’re using in their (Nordic) does support it at the hardware level. We’ve seen Polar attempt some of this, but they’re having a heck of a time and the BLE engineering team they have their is a bit bigger and more advanced than what Suunto has (one of their employees was recently the lead of the BT SIG for sports). Thus, I’d expect to see Suunto sit things out and let Polar figure it out first.

    • Chintan

      What is the difference in connecting the sensor to the watch versus app if you get same result I won’t worry much still I would like to atleast connect to my app

    • Nigel

      When you connect to the app it checks for firmware updates and lets you know how much battery power you have remaining.

      Other than that not much point at all.

    • Chintan

      This is what I got back from Suunto

      Chintan. Just to inform you that, you can’t directly connect the smart sensor to the Movescount App. The connection should be from smart sensor to watch, watch to Movescount App.

      Is this correct ?

    • It should work with the HR strap to at least show HR in a basic mode on the app.

      However, it doesn’t yet support downloading from the HR strap to the app directly, of saved data.

    • Chintan

      I see another person reported same issue, Ray if u talk with suunto please bring this up

  4. Chris

    Maybe I missed it in the review, does anyone know how long of a recording the heart rate monitor support before needing to sync with the watch?

    Does it just stop recording if it gets full?

    • Brad

      I asked Suunto this and they answered on their website (you can check for some useful other answers there as well). In short it depends on the HR. At 120 bpm I was told 3h of recording time I believe, it could’ve been 2h. It is a reasonable amount of storage. When I am absent from the watch for 1h it syncs the HR info in about 10s, before I get the watch out of my locker to turn off—very nice.

  5. Christian

    How does the Ambit3 register the length of the swim I have done in a indoor pool? Is it when my hand hit the edge or when i puss off the wall?

    It seems like sometimes it does not register my laps.

    • Nigel

      I’m pretty sure it’s the push off.

      Most watches have difficulty accurately counting laps, but I’ve found the Suunto to be fairly good. Over 56 lengths of a 25m pool the worst reading I got was 54 lengths. Most of the time it has been spot on or under by one length.

      Compare this to my TomTom Multipart which appeared to just make up random numbers (always under), anything from 17 to 44 – never really anywhere close to the actual length swam.

      So, because I swim a fair bit and wanted something I could rely on (as I hate counting laps and the manual counters are a pain) I’m happy with the Ambit.

    • Bo O

      The A3 does an okay job at counting swimming laps; for me, it seems more like a proxy than exact distance. I am a decent but learning swimmer and notice some variation on each lap as my stroke rate isn’t consistent sometimes. It seems like it consistently overestimates my distance even after retraining the watch after a warmup. I think if you have a lot of experience and swim with a steady flow it works well. Lastly, the HRM is worthless in the pool unless you wear a top to keep it in place.

  6. Marios

    Hey Ray,
    I was just wondering how close you are to your final review of the Ambit3? In your preview you mention early September :-) Hope you have time to do it.

  7. Paul

    any suggestion for a BT speed and cadence sensor that is going to work with the Ambit 3?

  8. Brad Olwin

    The Wahoo BT speed/cadence sensor works great with the Ambit3

  9. Clas Lau


    With the Armbit 3 – can I run one heart rate strap that sends both data to my Edge 510 and the armbit simultaniosly? Cannot go witheout the edge for my bike portion of the brick, and still I’d like to keep the armbit running for the intire duration of the triathlon?


  10. Bo O

    I have owned this watch since it was released. It’s been great but nothing seems to work with this. Wahoo RPM cadence and/or stages power meters. No android support either. Suunto support is lacking and no communication to users. I can’t be the only one experiencing this. After dropping 450 in this watch I expect more.

  11. r4d4r

    Hi guys, I am having problems with the HR monitor. It pairs with the watch just fine, but I cant connect it to the movescount phone app. Any ideas?

  12. Simon Richardson

    Hi. I’m thinking of getting the Ambit3 but I want to get an optical HR strap that is Bluetooth and ANT+ to connect to my Edge 810. Is the Ambit working with the Scosche RHYTHM+ now??

    Is there a view on which is best the Scosche RHYTHM+ or the MIO link?

    • Bernd

      Simon the Mio works great

    • Craig

      Am using a Scosche RHYTHM+ with no problems, works great.

    • Actually, there is a catch.

      If your Scosche unit was made after August, it’ll work with the Ambit3, but if before then, it won’t. Scosche will swap it out. The issue appears to be that Suunto is doing a validation check for RR/HRV, and if a unit doesn’t transmit that it won’t pass the check. This is technically not per BLE spec.

      In the case of Scosche, they went ahead back in August and added a HRV/RR value just for the heck of it – hence why it works for units after then. Again, the BLE spec doesn’t require it and typically optical vendors don’t include it because the data isn’t super-accurate at this point.

    • Brian

      Do you know if Suunto is planning to drop that validation check in a future firmware? I’m guessing my RHYTM+ was made pre-august, hence why I can’t get it to work. Any suggestions about getting a replacement – I loathe calling tech support. (Let’s just say Suunto’s response to me on this issue thus far has been less that a complete waste of time)

    • I talked with Scosche about it today, you can simply e-mail they’re support and they’ll take care of you (get you a new unit).

    • Dom

      Is there any way to tell from the Scosche unit packaging if it has that firmware version, Ray?
      I have one on order already (chest straps give me weals after 10 miles or so) and am considering picking up an Ambit 3 at some point.

  13. Bernd

    I just got back from Europe, did not take my iPhone. My one and only move there just does not sync. I since have tested one move with the iPhone close by and it works correctly. Does any ones of the knowledge gods know how to force sync a move? I would be sad if it would be lost.

    Thanks for your help

  14. Jamie

    Hey Ray,
    For getting a third party BT smart sensor, like cadence on the bike or HR monitor, have you ever had it happen that a sensor works currently but in an update, no longer does with a device(especially Sunnto Ambit series)? Or is it that once it pairs, it always does. I am concerned about buying something that works with my Sport and then months later, no longer does. But Sunnto does not make all sensors out there.
    And please tell us your review is coming soon! I’d like to see some charts from you.

    • Sure. Here’s a preview from my Ambit3 review of the sensor compatibility tables as of today, Sept 25th, 2014: link to dcrainmaker.com

      I’m showing it here since I just finished presenting it as part of a session around standards issues.

      My review should be out Monday, I had planned for it to publish today, but unfortunately the Polar M400 had a last minute date-change from next week to today, which killed the time I had allocated to finalize the writing of the Ambit3 review.

      That said, don’t let the chart scare you too much without additional context. It’s really the only core issue I have with the Ambit3 (sensor compatibility).

    • Jamie

      Wow! That totally helps! Thanks!

    • Hannes

      Hi, just another sensor for your table:

      POLAR cadence Bluetooth Smart (link to polar.com)
      Same issue as Wahoo RPM –> Cadence yes, but overrides GPS speed with 0-values.

      Thank you so much for your very detailed tests!

  15. Josh Roberts

    Anybody else having issues with Suunto customer support having no clue how the Ambit 3 works? I emailed a question about the inaccuracy of the activity tracker and got a response that “the device does not record calories normally burned during a day by casual activity”.

    • Brian

      I’m not terribly impressed either. I sent them a ticket about my scosche hr strap, and the trouble shooting steps they sent me were about how to reset pair the Suunto strap. So yeah, they leave a bit to be desired.

    • Jamie

      I have called them twice about questions I had, one computer related to Movescount not working on my hubs computer(I still can’t get my watch to talk to the computer via USB, it only says “program not responding, contact vendor”) and they have zero clue on how to trouble shoot it, other than reinstalling it a gazillion times. Not that I expect them to be whizzes for every computer out there but come on, just uninstall & reinstall on Windows??? That’s it?!?!
      The other one, it was cal & monitor related and I just figured that one out myself eventually, just by checking a box, test running it, nope…didn’t work….check another box, test run….yay, it worked. Trial and error type stuff. Stuff they should be able to answer, especially if it is even buried in their own owners manual.
      Now that being said, I have had less issues WITH my watch than I ever did both my Garmins usage wise, it always gets GPS fast, is accurate, doesn’t freeze up, etc. So product wise, I am impressed. But support wise….oy vey!

    • Josh Roberts

      Completely agree Jamie! Product wise, way better than Garmin. On the support side, it’s like they have had no training on the new product whatsoever. They tried to tell me at one point that none of their watches record calories burned without a heart rate monitor. I’ve been able to get a lot more info from this thread than from them.

  16. crackers

    I am trying to decide between the ambit3 sports and peak.

    From reading the posts here seems like the difference between the two is peak’s longer battery life and barometer, but according to suunto’s website the peak also has weather features which the sports doesnt have? Weather feature seems to be pretty significant for a watch like this. I dont mind getting the peak but like others, the colors are just limited and boring.

    Please if anyone can clarify if I am reading the website specs wrong? Thanks for any feedback!!

    • the weather features are tied to the barometer readings. If you go with the Sport, you loose the weather features (because there is no barometer) and also altitude readings (again, tied to the barometric pressure). You can still have GPS-based altitude but it’s often less precise. It depends on your needs.

    • crackers

      Thanks Dimitri for the clarifications.

      I guess for me weather is important and maybe not for others, guess i have no choice but to go with the peak and dull colors dang 😐

  17. Asaf

    Hi Ray
    Do you think Ambit2 will get the activity tracker feature (as in Ambit3) in a future firmware? Is it possible technically or are there any memory limitations?

  18. James

    Hey Ray,
    I realize you are busy do you have an eta for the ambit 3 detailed review? I am waiting to read before making any purchase deicision.
    Thank you for all of your hard work and expertise.

    • Monday. It got deferred due to a last minute change in date on the Polar M400 announcement, that zapped my time.

    • Why are you all waiting for the final review? What new and extraordinary information do you expect?
      I think already everything is said here (I have already bought the Ambit 3 Peak Saphire). You just have to read what as written and stop asking the same things again and again (It is really annoying to get the same questions over and over again).
      Nobody can tell you if you should buy the Ambit 3 or which model of them, it is your decision. And to make a good decision it is only necessary to read the information and compare it with your needs.

    • James


  19. I have bought the Ambit and the Adidas Speed Cell Footpod in the beginning of September. I have used the Speed Cell now for 7 runs of 12km / about an hour.
    Today my Ambit was not able to connect to it, I suspect the battery is empty. I’m also not able to connect with my mobile anymore.
    Has someone found a similar battery drain?
    I was used to change the battery in my old footpod once a year.

    • Marcel

      You might give your watch a ‘power off’ via the Servicemenu on the watch and than turn it back on. I had a similar issue with my HR Belt and the mobile App, not connecting via bluetooth anymore.
      Have had it 3 times since purchasing the watch, and registered a service ticket with Suunto.

  20. Flo Loferer

    Hello Ray,

    after using the Suunto Ambit 3 for almost a week now I am asking myself some questions, alse because I have tested the Polar V800 for a month before:

    1) I would like all the activity data to be shown in movescount. Perhaps in a separate section which would show steps, other activities, sleep duration and recovery time during a day. This would be valuable data.

    Do you know if there are any plans to implement this to Movescount (maybe similar to Polar Flow)?

    2) when i navigate along a preplanned route is there a possibility to get warned when i leave the route?

    Overall I like the Polarv V800 a little bit more, but at the moment there are too many functions still missing. But most of these functions will follow with future updates… so I am not sure which watch I should buy.

    Thanks for your answers

  21. Alex

    I am planning to purchase the Ambit 3 as my daily watch. Can the ones using it as a daily watch provide some thoughts on weight/size? What about overall comfort? Would you recommend it as a daily watch?

    Thanks a lot,

    • Brian

      I wear mine as a daily watch – no complaints about size weight. I’m somewhat used to a slightly larger watch (Forerunner 910, Fenix, Ambit 2s). The A3 is a tad heavier than the 2s (mainly because I bought the peak version, not the sport), but not a huge difference. I find it comfortable enough to wear all day, doesn’t really get in the way. I do have extremely small wrists too (I wear it on the 3 smallest hole). I’m a bit of a weather geek too, so I find the barometer stuff kind of fun. And I like that I can use it to receive notifications, and it doesn’t ravage the battery (unlike the Fenix…).

    • mih

      Hi Alex,

      I had the same dilemma when I was thinking about buying Ambit watch. I have small wrists, but I have to admit that Amibt3 (Peak) is more comfortable to wear than my old Suunto Quest and I do not notice that it is larger.

  22. Hi All!

    Just a heads up that my full In-Depth Review of the Ambit3 is now published. It’s available here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    As usual, I’ll be closing comments on this post to keep things clean, but feel free to take comments/discussion over to the in-depth review.

    Thanks for waiting for the review!