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Suunto Ambit2 R In-Depth Review


Back in late January Suunto announced their Ambit2 R running-focused watch, which comes as a derivative of the Ambit2 line that was introduced last spring.  The 2R aimed to offer a lower price point than the higher end Ambit2 and 2S units, which were focused heavily on triathlon, ultra runners, and hiking/navigation.

But, is the lower price enough to compete with the glut of new GPS running units in the same price category? I’ve been using the unit for the last 6-8 weeks now on my runs, attempting to find the answer to that.

Because I want to be transparent about my reviews – Suunto sent me two final retail units to try out (white and black). Once I’m complete here, I’ll send these back to Finland and then go out and buy my own (to be able to support y’all in the comments section down the road). Simple as that. Sorta like hiking in wilderness trails – leave only footprints. If you find my review useful, you can use any of the Amazon or Clever Training links from this page to help support future reviews.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular triathlete out there. I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background (my day job), and thus I try and be as complete as I can. But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out. Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed.

So – with that intro, let’s get into things.



The Ambit2 R comes in two basic versions: With the heart rate strap, and without the heart rate strap.

Then, within that there are currently two color offers: black and white.  The black bundle as you’ll see in a bit means the band is slightly longer and made of a slightly different material.  Roughly speaking Suunto believes more women will go for the white bundle, and thus, the smaller band.

In any case, as far as unboxing goes – it’s the same contents for both units.


Inside, the box is actually pretty slim on random accessories.  It’s simply the watch, the USB charging cable, and a little packet of papers for the manual.  If you have the heart rate bundle, then it comes with the Suunto ANT strap.


Starting with that, we’ve got the heart rate strap.  This is the Suunto ANT version (not ANT+), which means it only works with Suunto devices.  If you have an ANT+ strap however, that will work just fine with the Suunto Ambit series, as ANT+ support was added to the whole series about 16 months ago.


Next, we’ve got the USB charging cable.  This cable plugs into any USB port on the planet, from your computer to your phone’s USB port.  It’s all the same for the purposes of this unit.


The clip simply attaches to the side of the unit.  It’s not the most secure clip in the world, but once attached on a desk it stays put.


Then we’ve got the quick start guide, offered in 98 languages.  Don’t worry, by the end of this review you’ll have all the concepts down.


With that, we’ve finally got the watches themselves:



The units are waterproofed to 50-meters (150ft in Americana units), which is why it doesn’t use a standard mini-USB port on the side of the watch, but rather uses the connector to the watch and a USB portion on your computer.


You’ll also notice that the unit has two little straps on the bands to ensure the longer strap doesn’t float around.  Personally, I’ve never much liked the dual-holder design, as it’s kinda cumbersome, but for those that do – it’s there for ya. I’ve been kinda tempted to simply just snip one off.  Perhaps someday…

Size and Weight Comparisons:


Above is the jail cell lineup of current generation running watches today on the market, with the ones most competitive to the Ambit2 R on the right hand side.  You’ll see the Ambit2 R sitting just to the right of the seam in the middle.  In this case, to the right of it is the Timex Run Trainer 2.0, then the TomTom Runner, followed by the Garmin FR620 and then FR220.

To the left of the seam is the Garmin Fenix2, then the Polar V800, followed by the Suunto Ambit 2, the Adidas Smart Run GPS, and then the Garmin FR910XT.  Everything to the left of the seam is $400+.  And with the exception of the blue FR620 on the right ($400), everything in that bracket is $200-$250.


Above, you can see that the Ambit2 R is reasonably slim, not quite as slim as the FR220/620, but still just fine.

Next, looking at the weights of the different units.  Since you’re likely fully capable of reading the grams displayed on the scale, I’ve just added the unit names below to the images.



As you can see above, a slight difference between the white and black units due to the strap length and material.

The 2S below weighs in the same as the black 2R, simply because…well…it’s the same physical watch.


Meanwhile, the Ambit2 (standard) weighs in quite a bit more.  And, if you were to look at the Sapphire Ambit2 version, that’s even heavier still.


Next, taking a closer look at the three Ambit2 units from left to right: Ambit2, Ambit 2 S, Ambit 2R


From the front of the units you’ll see the display itself is identical in all of them. The core difference is the bezel.  The 2R & 2S use a plastic bezel, whereas the Ambit2 uses a metal bezel.

Height wise you’ll see the 2S and 2R are identical, with only the Ambit2 being a bit chubbier.  Feature-wise the extra chub comes from the longer battery and the barometric altimeter.


If you look at the two variants of the 2R, they’re identical on the display except color.


Whereas the bands differ between the two.  The white version has a slightly smoother band compared to the black edition.   Additionally, the strap is longer on the black edition.


Finally, while you’ll see my arm and wrists throughout the review, here’s my wife’s arm/wrist with the units on her.  Her wrist size is 14cm (or 5.5 inches).  Here’s the white edition first:



Then the black edition:



Ok, with all that completed – let’s get onto using the thing!

Running (Outdoors):


Now that we’re ready to head outdoors it’s time to start the activity.  To do so, we’ll go ahead and tap Start and then select Exercise followed by selecting Running (or, any of our custom sports, which I’ll cover later).


Once you do this, it’ll go ahead and search for the heart rate strap (if you have it paired), as well as a footpod (again, if you’ve paired them).


Note that the 2R can connect to both Suunto ANT heart rate straps, as well as ANT+ heart rate straps (such as those from an older Garmin device).  As long as it has a little ANT+ logo on it, you’re good to go.  It won’t however connect to any Bluetooth Straps, nor any Polar straps (or Nike straps).

I’ve found on all the Ambit devices that initial pairing with ANT+ straps is often rather finicky (just the first time), and many readers comment on it as well.  Here’s the thing: Just keep retrying.  Stick the watch right up against the strap, and make the two do the romance dance.  And keep pushing retry.  Eventually, it does work.  And once you pair it once, it forever remembers it (sorta like having a baby I suppose).

In any case, heart rate strap behind us, it’s off to the satellite search.  By default the unit will pre-cache satellite data from Movescount when you plug it into your computer.  In doing so it will greatly speed up acquisition of satellites while standing outside.


I’ve been traveling a bunch and have been blown away by how fast it’s been.  Last week I flew to Mexico City, and then I walked outside and pressed to start finding satellites.  It found satellites for the first time in approximately 2 seconds.  It may have been 1.8, perhaps 2.2, I’m not entirely sure. I wasn’t exactly expecting it to take just two seconds.  Fastest satellite acquisition ever after such a long distance away from last turn-on (12hr flight from Europe).

Once you’ve got satellite, you can go ahead and press start to begin your run.  At this point the unit is now recording.  And as such, you’ll see that the timer is now incrementing, along with distance.


I’ll cover all the different fields you can show/configure later on in the review, but here’s a quick sampling of a few different fields while running.  Below, you can see my distance (2.17mi), my current pace (7:15/mile), and even my cadence (89).


In this view, I’ve tapped the ‘View’ button to switch the bottom field to show Average Pace (for the entire run), which is at 6:59/mile.  The remainder of the fields remained the same.


Whereas in this instance, I have heart rate shown along the bottom:


As you’re running you can show pace (or speed, if you want), as well as distance and time.  If you want to create a lap you can simply press the lap button, which then saves the information for later retrieval.

I use this when I’ve got a workout with different segments, which allows me to look at those segment’s lap times and distances easily.  You can see this below later on, within Movescount online:


On the display itself, you can both enable a backlight if needed by pressing the Light/Lock button, which will turn it on for the period you’ve defined.  For example, you can set it to automatically turn off after a specified number of seconds, or you can just have it stay on.  I personally prefer to just configure it to stay on for easy viewing during night runs.


You can also invert the display, so it’s white text on black background.  To do so, simply hold down the ‘View’ button for a few seconds and it’ll flip over.


When it comes time to pause a run, you can do that at any time by pressing the ‘stop’ button.  This is like pausing on your VCR…err…YouTube, and you can always resume the run without losing any data (for example, to stop and eat a crepe).


When you’re done for real, then you can press pause to pause it, and then press the back button once to access a menu asking if you’d like to stop the run and then save it.


Once that’s completed, the unit will then show you a handful of summary pages including totals (i.e distance/time), as well as paces and splits for laps.


You’ll also get your fastest mile and kilometer displayed as well:


Finally, you’ll get recovery time displayed.  This value is shown in hours, and is general guidance on how long you should wait till your next hard run.  I found this value was generally pretty close to what I was getting on Garmin devices that supported a similar metric.  In some cases, this value was slightly higher than theirs, but in the rough ballpark.


This value is also then shown on Movescount as well along with other similar metrics like your measured VO2Max and your Peak Training Effect (PTE)


Note however that some of these metrics depend on having the correct Maximum Heart Rate defined within the Movescount settings.  For example, below, my MHR is set at 178, which is far too low for me – it should be closer to about 188-190bpm, based on what I’ve seen.  As a result, some of my runs were showing a PTE too high (5.0), when they weren’t terribly hard runs.


The same goes for your activity class and resting heart rate, which can drive a number of calorie related metrics.

Running (Indoors):

Next, we’ll take a look at the Ambit2 R’s ability to track pace and distance indoors without the use of a footpod.  This is new to the Ambit2 R lineup, and will be back-ported to the Ambit2/2S units later this spring.  In order to enable this you’ll simply need to run outdoors first to calibrate the sensors.  The more you run at various paces, the more calibrated it is, and thus, the more successful it is.

The term of this feature is FusedSpeed, which actually does two things. First it aims to smooth out the usual GPS jumpiness in pace by matching that with your natural run cadence to determine your pace.  Basically, it blends the two together.  Then, in cases where GPS is sketchy or drops out entirely, it takes over to show pace/distance.  It’ll then resume back to primarily GPS based when GPS is good again (such as a tunnel).  This has worked flawlessly for me in some long tunnels around the city here (upwards of half a mile).

Having been running at all sorts of paces outdoors, I headed indoors to try it out on a treadmill.  I used a simple 10-minute increasing pace ladder to see how things would look.  Ideally, it’d match the paces I was going for.  Here’s the results:


Now, in order to correlate that I recorded the paces of the treadmill at each step (each for 1-minute).  I found that the paces were very close to reality.  It strayed more at the far end though (as I’ve seen elsewhere), but in the middle it did quite well.  And it wasn’t really till the last step that things got out of whack.  You can see however that like other units it struggled in that first minute or so.

And those little ‘dips’ you see at each step?  That’s because I used that particular hand to increase the treadmill speed, which ultimately impacts the pace.  Thus if you’re a treadmill-holder, this won’t capture data accurately (the ‘be honest’ person in me says that if you’re a treadmill holder you need to slow down the treadmill because you’re actually not getting the workout you need).

In the event you’d still like to use a footpod for pace, you can do so.  The unit will automatically calibrate the footpod based on the first 1-2KM of each run using GPS, and then the footpod will take-over as the pace and distance keeper for the remainder of that run.  This is a bit different than Garmin units, which allow you to generally decide whether GPS or footpod is used (or to just use footpod when GPS is unavailable, such as in a tunnel).

In addition to providing pace indoors, the unit also now provides cadence (both indoors and outdoors).  Here’s that same look at things from the cadence perspective.


In order to compare the cadence to something, I wore a footpod using another unit, and have that charted below.  Because Suunto and Garmin differ these days on how they display cadence, the below graph is simply ‘doubled’ over the above graph.  So if Suunto showed 90SPM, then Garmin would show 180SPM.

In comparing various points between the two, they trend quite well, and are within 1-2SPM across the board, minus a few exceptions.  Those exceptions would be cases where I did something with my hands, which impacted cadence (because it’s wrist based on the 2R).  You can see that above with that random 120SPM spike – which is invalid.


Thus, for most applications, the cadence is more than sufficient to not need getting an additional footpod.

Finally, of note is that the unit will use the heart rate strap to determine calories while indoors even if not running.  For example, I rode my bike on a trainer and just used the heart rate strap.  The unit was able to calculate my calorie burn despite the distance showing ‘zero’, and was also able to determine a relatively accurate recovery time for my activity.

The same is true if you’re weight lifting or doing yoga – it all applies as long as your personal body metric settings are set correctly on Movescount.

Altitude and Elevation:


I wanted to very briefly cover this, given it’s somewhat unique to this price range to see elevation/altitude displayed.

The Ambit2 R does allow you to display the current elevation of the device.  In the case of the 2S and 2R, it’s using GPS to do that, and not a barometric altimeter.  Generally speaking, barometric altimeters are more accurate than GPS altimeters, but in my testing I’ve continued to be fairly impressed with how well the Suunto GPS-based altimeter calculations have worked out, usually right on track with barometric altimeters.


You can add the altimeter (elevation) field onto any data page on any profile you want.  You can also show total ascent and total descent as well as vertical speed.

As I noted earlier, none of the other units in the sub-$250 price range show elevation on them, let alone ascent/descent and vertical speed.  So if you’re looking for that data, the 2R is definitely a contender here.

GPS Accuracy:


In line with completing multiple GPS unit reviews at once, I’m always looking at GPS accuracy.  It’s a tricky topic, because everyone on earth believes their current GPS is always the correct one.  Thus, any variation to that must be incorrect.  Further, there’s the incorrect assumption that simply measuring something in Google Maps is the all knowing truth.  When in reality, that rarely accounts for all the tiny variations that add up over the course of a run (see this post to understand more there).

For example, while a race may be measured perfectly as 13.1 miles, in reality, you as a participant will generally run between 13.2 and 13.5 miles, depending on how efficient you are.  If your GPS comes back and says you ran exactly 13.1 miles, then more than likely the course was short (or, your GPS was enabled for a mode that only updates rarely).

With that said, my job was somewhat easy in the case of the Ambit2 R, because it basically always agreed.  At least, agreed within the margin of error that’s common for consumer level GPS devices (up to 2.5%).  Below, are a random smattering of data points I’ve taken over the past 6-8 weeks:

Run A:
Fenix2: 18.36mi
Ambit2 R: 18.40mi

Run B:
Fenix2: 5.63mi
Ambit2 R: 5.79mi

Run C:
Fenix2: 7.50mi
Ambit2 R: 7.53mi

Run D:
Ambit2 R: 8.11mi
Garmin FR620: 8.03mi

Run E:
Fenix2: 17.53mi
Ambit2 R: 17.55mi
Garmin FR620: 17.42mi

Run F:
Ambit2 R: 17.59mi
Garmin FR620: 17.46mi

As you can see, they all vary slightly.  Conditions changed from route to route, with everything from trees and forests to tall buildings and half-mile long tunnels.



While Ambit2 R is specified as a running watch, it actually works just fine in other sports, such as cycling.  Part of that comes from the flexibility of the platform of the watch being able to change metrics.  Because all of the modes are defined online, by you, you can easily create your own cycling mode and then customize the display as you see fit.

For example, typically in cycling you’d use speed as a metric (either MPH or KPH), whereas in running you’d use pace.  So for your data fields you’d want to select speed-specific fields.


But fields such as distance and heart rate are the same across all sports, making them easy to add to your data pages and fields.

When it comes to mounting the unit, you can either place it on your wrist, or use cheap $9-10 bike mounts.  These are readily available on major sites, and Suunto sells one, as does other companies.  These little rubber blocks just wrap around your handlebars and then you wrap the watch around it.

Note that the Ambit2 R doesn’t connect to ANT+ speed or cadence sensors.  It ONLY connects to the ANT+ heart rate strap and ANT+ footpod.  And use of the ANT+ footpod while cycling gives you funky and often non-consistent data, usually about half the average value (if you’re lucky), but it tends to have a slight correlation with speed.  In short, it’s junk data.

But, the heart rate portion works just fine while cycling – so no problems there.

Day to Day Watch:


The Ambit2 R can easily be worn as a day to day watch with GPS off.  In this mode you’ll get approximately 15 days of battery life.

In this mode, you can configure a single alarm that can be setup to audibly beep such as for waking up in the morning.  The unit does not contain any vibration functionality however, so there will be no buzzing along with it.

Like most GPS watches on the market, the unit can automatically set its time via GPS, but it does not set the actual offset of hours.  Which, is kinda wonky.  Said differently, when I flew back this past week from Mexico, the time on the unit was incorrect, because I had to change the hours on the unit to display the current time zone.  So it’ll basically keep the minutes/seconds correct, but not the hours.

Alternatively, if you just plug it into your computer, it’ll match the computer’s time.


With Ambit’s history rooted firmly in the navigation and routing department, it comes as no surprise that’s a major selling feature of the Ambit2 R.  And in fact, I’d go as far as saying that’s the singular reason you’d buy this over competitive units.

So what options does it have?  The two primary options are the ability to navigate a course (route), and then navigate to a given waypoint (POI/Point of Interest).  Let’s start with POI’s.

POI’s are pre-defined points that you navigate directly to, as the crow would fly.  For example, if you saved a POI of your home, or other starting location – and then navigated to it, it would route you directly to that POI as the crow would fly.  It would not take into account roads, buildings, bridges, water, etc…

To navigate to a waypoint on the 2R, you’ll select Exercise > Run a POI.  Then, you’ll select the POI that you have pre-defined on Movescount online.


POI’s on the 2R must be predefined on the computer for this particular menu.  However, later on once in an activity you can both save the current point, as well as define a point based on a set of coordinates.

On Movescount, POI’s are defined using the Navigation area under a watch’s gear settings.  You’ll create POI’s and Waypoints separately, but be aware that waypoints defined within a route do appear to count against your total number of POI’s available.


To create a POI, you’re simply going to use a Google Map in either satellite or mapping mode and zoom/drag your way around until you find the spot you like, and then save it.  You can give it a few different categories (with various icons, like the forest/tree one below), and then a custom name.  Ensure the box is checked to transmit it to this particular watch.


Back on the watch once you’ve selected the POI, it’ll then go ahead and search for any ANT+ sensors you’ve previously setup (just like it would on a run).  Following that, it’ll search for GPS signal.  Once that’s done, you’ll be brought to any screens you’ve configured as part of the sport profile online.  For example, by default, here’s what the ‘Run a POI’ profile looks like:


You can customize these fields to anything you’d like.  So realistically, you could make any sport navigation-capable, or  you could just access the navigation menu and trigger them from any other sport.


In any event, the key field that you’ll be looking at is below, which shows you how far you are from the POI, as well as the direction to travel:


The direction is dictated by the magnetic compass within the unit, which you’ll calibrate by flipping the unit around a bunch (twirling, if you will):


The reason a magnetic compass is important is because it doesn’t require you to be moving.  Whereas a digital compass uses movement and the direction from a GPS to determine which way you’re facing.

Now that I’ve covered POI’s, we’ll step it up to Routes.  Routes are defined on Movescount, and can include multiple waypoints, as well as a general track between the waypoints.  You’ll use a map just like defining POI’s, except this time you can connect the dots.  Note there’s a few options along the bottom, specifically the one that in the below screenshot says “Follow roads walking”.


This option controls how the map will follow various routes, as opposed to just connecting the dots.  In general, I’d recommend it.  Note though that while doing this it chews up ‘points’ in the total allocated points.  You’ve got 10,000 points on the watch to work with (which are different than Waypoints/POI’s).  In this case, I had 5 waypoints added as well.  These are spots I’ve defined.  I can name these spots and give them fancy icons too.

Like the POI option, ensure you check the the ‘Use this route in watch’ option, otherwise, it won’t be transferred to the watch. That transferring, by the way, does require you to connect your watch via USB to the computer.  So definitely don’t forget to do that before you head outside to navigate (been there, done that).


Ok, so fast forwarding to outside, we’re back on the watch ready to do a route.  In this case, you’ll go ahead and select either from the main menu to ‘Run a Route’, or, from the quick settings menu to pull up the waypoints from a given route.

In our case, we’ll just go from the main menu:



With that, you’ll see a map of where we are going.  Now, this is again why it’s important to ensure there are defined waypoints, as otherwise it’ll navigate you directly to the final waypoint along the way (not so ideal).


As you near each point the unit will show the watch counting down, and then it’ll advance to the next waypoint, ultimately culminating in the finish line.


As noted earlier, by holding the ‘Next’ button down at any time during an activity (of any sort), you can then access the Navigate menu.  From this menu, you can: Navigate a Route, Navigate to a POI (waypoint), Save your current location, select ‘Find Back’, or ‘Track Back’

Track Back is the option to re-trace your route back home along the same route you went out.  This is ideal for out and backs, or other complex situations where you can’t just go line of sight back to the starting point.  It’s less ideal however if you’ve made loops or other routes where you might be much closer to the starting point at your current location than reverting back through the entire course.  For that, you’ll want to just use ‘Find Back’, which is a straight shot.

Overall, the POI/waypoint creation functionality on the Movescount site exceeds that of competitor Garmin’s from a usability standpoint.  This is because Garmin doesn’t actually offer such functionality on the site, but rather only via phone and some older desktop software.  On the flip-side, doing it via phone and transferring via Bluetooth Smart is incredibly quick and easy.

Looking at the routes functionality, both companies are fairly similar and use pretty similar options on the site.  So that’s less of a deciding factor.

Finally, within the navigation aspect, I again repeat that if navigation isn’t of interest to you, I’d really consider other watches.  If however, the navigation piece is of interest, then the 2R’s functionality is equal to that of what many watches offer at the $400+ price point.  And, given it’s the same root functionality as the higher-end Suunto Ambit units – there’s plenty of known stability there.

Suunto Apps Zone:

Suunto was the first major GPS watch company to introduce the idea of installing miniature ‘apps’ onto the watch.  And to date, nobody of of major significance in the industry has followed them.  The apps aren’t quite like you’d expect from an iPhone, but rather much more basic.  These apps are essentially performing a calculation and then displaying that as a data field.  Further, they can store those values to analyze later on Movescount.

Upon the release of the 2R, Suunto introduced a series of apps aimed at the 2R, to go along with the watch.  These apps aren’t loaded by default, but do appear in the suggested apps listing when you add apps to your watch.


Apps range the gamut from ones that count as a display field how many beers you can consume based on calories, to complex interval workouts.  Anyone can design an app, though, it does take some basic math or computer programming knowledge to understand how to do so.  Using them is possible for anyone with no such knowledge.


One of the ones introduced (seen above) is one by Suunto to implement interval functions into the watch.  This works by pre-defining a slew of apps based on different paces for the intervals.  You can then tweak the app to meet various requirements, such as the number of reps that you’d want to do.

In many ways, the sheer quantity of apps makes for tons of solutions to niche problems.  You can as a result make a data field for just about anything on earth, in the event that the fields aren’t natively available on the watch.  This is an area that really sets the Ambit apart from the field.  In the case of other companies, if a data field that you want isn’t there, the general answer is ‘too bad’.  Whereas here, you can either create it yourself, or beg (ask nicely) some other person in the community to do it for you.  That’s pretty awesome.


On the flipside however, it also means that Suunto has kinda gotten away with substituting apps for what really should be features and functionality within the watch itself.  And a perfect example of that is actually the interval option as seen earlier.

In this case, virtually every other watch on the market has a simple to use interval mode on the device itself that I can quickly define and start running.  Here, I have to go online, find the right pace app, save it to my account, then tweak it, then download it to my unit, and then run it.  And if I want to change the pace or warm-up? I’ve got to do that all over again.  It’s something that I’d barely want to do, let alone asking The Girl to do (and she has way more patience than I).

Which don’t get me wrong – I think the App Zone is awesome.  I’ve said that from the beginning.  But I think it should be beyond the base features of the watch.  It should allow developers to do kick-ass things (which they are), but it shouldn’t placate for basic functionality that other units have.

Data Fields, Pages, and Configuration:

The Ambit2 R has considerably more configuration and customization options than any of the other watches in this price range.  To start, we’ll look at the data pages.  Each sport profile you create on the watch can have its own data pages, and each page can have up to three pieces of data on it.  These different profiles can be named whatever you’d like, and categorized as any activity you’d like.


As you can see, you can tweak till your heart’s content on the data page layout.  Layouts also include apps.  So where you see it showing “10K time” above, that’s actually an app called “10K Time”.

Next, if we click on one of those data fields, I’m given a menu to choose the data fields.  They are categorized along the top, and then I can select the button next to the ones I want.


For the bottom fields I can actually choose many different data fields, and then use the ‘view’ button to switch between the same field along the bottom.  That’s why in the image two above this, you see a little (3) next to one of the fields, which indicates I’ve selected multiple data points.  For example, I could select ‘Time’ and ‘Pace’, but keep the same upper set of fields.

Here are the total set of data fields you can select today:

Speed: Speed (current), Average Speed, Pace (current), Lap Avg Speed, Lap Avg Pace
Distance/GPS: Distance (total), Lap Distance
Heart Rate: Heart Rate (current), Average Heart Rate, Peak Training Effect, Calories
Attitude: Altitude (current), Ascent, Descent, Vertical Speed
Time: Chrono, Day Time, Dual Time, Lap Number, Lap Time, Battery Charge
Cadence: Cadence (current)

This is in addition to any apps that you design/add.  So basically, you can generally speaking find a data field for any attribute on the planet from cupcake consumption to oxygen consumption.

Below each activity profile that you’ve created is the option to select the recording interval and the GPS accuracy (among other options).  This is really critical to understand.  The recording interval has virtually no impact on battery life, that’s more for storage.  It’s the GPS accuracy that impacts battery life.   There are three basic options, which align to the following:

– Best: 8hrs battery (1-second update rate)
– Good: 12hrs battery (5-second update rate)
– OK: 25hrs battery life (60-second update rate)

Then of course, there’s GPS off, which lasts a long-ass time.  For general conditions, you’ll want to leave it on the 8hr battery life option.  If however, you plan to go longer than that, switch it up to 12hrs first, and then as a last resort the ‘OK’ mode.  That OK mode isn’t that great because it only checks your GPS position once every minute.  In twisty conditions, a lot can change in a minute, and a lot gets cut-out.


It’s also in the above settings (again, for each custom profile you want to tweak), that you can enable features such as auto lap and auto pause, as well as which ANT+ or Suunto ANT sensors to use (heart rate strap or footpod).

Next, looking at additional settings on the the watch, you can change all sorts of display options through the ‘General Settings’ tab.  From how the buttons react, to how the backlight functions.


As I go down further I can specify how the different units are shown – such as kilometers or miles.  And the same goes for date and time aligned to different people’s preferences.  If I were to click the ‘Advanced’ option next to units, it essentially allows me to split out which way I want to see different metrics for height, weight, distance, and altitude.  For example, I could show distances in miles, but height in meters.


Last but not least on the configuration front I can setup my personal settings, which ultimately drives calorie burn calculations using heart rate data.


Movescount Online:

In order to get data online to Movescount, you’ll need to grab that USB charging cable and plug it into either a PC or Mac.  The unit contains no Bluetooth capability, so there’s no way to transfer it via your phone.  And, since I’ve received a number of questions on it, none of the Ambit lineup will transfer files via ANT+ (such as with the little Movescount Mini USB stick).  Only via USB cable.


Once that’s done, you’ll be using the Moveslink software uploader, which is a little device agent that hangs out and grabs files off your computer and uploads them to the Movescount site.  Every time you plug in your unit it’ll look for new files, upload them, and then look for any settings changes from online to push back down to your watch.


This is also the time when the watch gets it’s satellite pre-caching data downloaded to it, which speeds up initial satellite searches and lets them take only a second or two.

Once all that connectivity jazz is done, your completed activities will be up on Movescount ready for you to analyze.  Do note that if you’ve made any changes to the watch while it was plugged in, those usually won’t sync until you’ve unplugged and plugged it again.  So if you’ve added an app or the like, just unclip and reclip the watch to trigger it to download again.

Movescount continues to come a long way since it was introduced, slowly by surely adding in more and more functionality to the site.  Upon opening up Movescount and heading to the score you’ll be shown a look at your summary for the past 30 days:


Diving down into my most recent run, we’ll start from the top, which has summary information about it, and the ability to export it.  You’ll see all the top-line stats like average pace, total distance, and recovery time.  Note that these can all be shown in either metric (kilometers) or statute (miles) depending on your preferences.


As I scroll down the page, I’m given a map overview. I can zoom in, or change the map to satellite view if I’d like.


One pretty cool feature is that the coloring on the line is tied to the metrics I’ll talk about in the next section.  So above, it was tied to my heart rate.  Whereas below I’ve changed it to tied to elevation (altitude):


Those metrics are shown on a graph that I can enable/disable any of the different recorded items for this run.  In this case, I went ahead and selected heart rate.


But I can easily select other metrics and add them to the overlay, such as below, with pace.


Below that there’s a bar chart and curve of my paces.  Given this was a pretty steady run, there’s very little deviation there.  And further down on the page is my lap summary.  These are based on me having defined it to auto lap every mile.


Going back up to the top, you’re able to export the run in the file formats of XML, GPX, and XLSX.  While .GPX isn’t bad for uploading to some sites, and .XLSX isn’t bad for doing your own Excel-style analysis, it’d be much better if Suunto outputted into .FIT format, which is widely accepted and understood by every sport platform out there.  The challenge with the export formats today is that some sites struggle with the additional data recorded by the Ambit but not exported.  For example, if you export out the .GPX file, it doesn’t contain the lap data, so sites like Training Peaks can’t really do much with more advanced analytics.

Looking briefly at a few other features, the site includes a calendar of your activities that can be accessed from under the ‘My Moves’ section.


You can also add in activities from various training calendars that are community sourced within the site:


However, these plans don’t actually transmit workouts to the unit that can be run, but are rather guidance for you to browse online.  So think of it more like a paper plan, than a digital one to follow.  On the watch itself it’ll tell you what you need to do zone-wise for the day (in terms of time), but it doesn’t give you a specific workout to follow.  For example, from the home screen you’ll see text along the bottom that there’s a training day:


Then, if you tap the ‘Next’ button, it’ll show you what’s on tap for the day (which correlates with the 30-minutes on Tuesday you see in the screenshot just before the photo above).  But you can’t actually execute a workout from there. So it’s kinda more sticky-note than executable workout.


The platform includes many social sharing and following aspects, sorta like Facebook or Twitter.  You can follow users, and thus in turn, follow when they complete activities.  You can also look at other users’ activities (assuming they’ve allowed you to).  And you can make comments on other users’ activities (again, assuming they’ve allowed you to).

Lastly, one lesser known feature is that Suunto has been enabling various partner sites for direct import and upload.  This means that when you upload a workout to Suunto’s site by plugging in your watch, it’ll automatically go to a partner site.  Below, are some of those sites available today:


I went ahead and enabled connectivity to MapMyFitness, simply because that’s a service I use occasionally.  To do so, I just followed the links on this page and then under ‘Improve > Device Connect’ on the MapMyFitness site, I selected Suunto:


In doing so, it brought up a little notification of how it was going to transfer the data over (the last 30 days worth), and that it would then redirect you to the Movescount page for authorization, which it did, as seen below:


Within about 10 seconds, my workouts for the past month showed up:


Very cool stuff.  Hopefully we’ll continue to see the partnerships from Suunto’s side expand, especially as they are one of the first GPS device makers to support automatic upload from the device to 3rd party sites.

Bugs and Miscellaneous:


As I’ve been doing on all reviews over the past year or so, I’ve been including a section on bugs and/or issues that I’ve seen within my timeframe using the unit.  Do remember that  a ‘bug’ is different than ‘by design’.  For example, the lack of a feature is something I highlight within a given section is considered ‘by design’, whereas something not really working right is considered a bug. In the case of the Suunto Ambit 2R, such bugs fall into one of two categories: The device, and the platform (uploader/site).

Within the device itself, it’s been incredibly stable.  I’ve seen some oddities in some of the Suunto designed apps while using them, but it’s hard to understand what the cause of those issues was (aside from errors on the screens).  Thus, it may be a transient app item, or a watch item.  In cases where I wasn’t using apps, I saw zero firmware-level issues with the watch itself.

And to that end, that’s generally true of what I see of Suunto devices (hardware and firmware).  They really tend to hold up quite well.  And I generally think we see fairly equal hardware across the board from the major players (Garmin/Suunto/Polar), sure, you can always find a case of someone breaking something on hardware – but from what I can see, they’re fairly equal.  When I look at the software running the hardware, I think we see less buggy firmware from Suunto than others.  Some would argue however, that by implementing less features, they’re able to increase quality.  Whether or not that’s the appropriate tradeoff either company has to make, it appears to be the case.

On the website side, my day to day usage hasn’t brought me across any showstopper bugs that have prevented me from completing tasks.  I still do have a beef with the lack of proper export file formats for sport-related data from Movescount, but hopefully in time that’ll be resolved (at least, it sounds like that’s on the radar).

Product Comparison Chart:

I’ve added the Ambit2 R to the Product Comparison Tool, which means you can mix and match it against any other watch/unit that I’ve ever reviewed for feature comparisons.  Note that there are some features that are on the Ambit2 R at launch that will be added to the Ambit 2/2S down the road.  So in general, if it says ‘Yes’ within the Ambit2 R table, but no in the Ambit 2/2S, it’ll be there eventually in the 2/2S.  But I didn’t want to set them as ‘yes’ now, because then folks buying the device between now and April/May might think the unit has that functionality.

For now, I just added the Ambit 2/2S/2R into the below chart.  However, you can easily make your own change with any device you want here at this link.

Function/FeatureSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 15th, 2015 @ 11:37 am New Window
Product Announcement DateAPR 29, 2013APR 29, 2013JAN 28, 2014
Actual Availability/Shipping DateMay 2013May 2013MAR 2014
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYes
Data TransferUSBUSBUSB
WaterproofingYes - 100mYes - 50mYes - 50m
Battery Life (GPS)50 hours25 hours25 hours
Recording IntervalVariableVariableVariable
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesYesYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoNoNo
ConnectivitySuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
Bluetooth Smart to Phone UploadingNoNoNo
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoNoNo
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNo
CyclingSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
Designed for cyclingYesYesNo (but can show speed)
Power Meter CapableYesYesN/A
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYesN/A
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFNoNoN/A
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesNo
RunningSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
Designed for runningYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)Yes (internal accelerometer)Yes (internal accelerometer)Yes (internal accelerometer)
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationYesYesYes
Race PredictorNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorYesYesYes
Run/Walk ModeNoNoNo
SwimmingSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
Designed for swimmingYesYesNo
Openwater swimming modeYesYesN/A
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYesN/A
Record HR underwaterNoNoN/A
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesN/A
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesN/A
Indoor Drill ModeYesYesN/A
Indoor auto-pause featureNoNoN/A
Change pool sizeYesYesN/A
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths15m/y to 1,200m/y15m/y to 1,200m/yN/A
Ability to customize data fieldsYesYesN/A
Captures per length data - indoorsYesYesN/A
Indoor AlertsNoNoN/A
TriathlonSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
Designed for triathlonYesYesNo
Multisport modeYesYesN/A
WorkoutsSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
Create/Follow custom workoutsNoNoSorta (via Suunto Apps)
On-unit interval FeatureBarelyBarelyBarely
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoYes
FunctionsSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
Auto Start/StopYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureNoNoSorta (specify intensity)
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoNo
NavigateSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYesYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNo
Back to startYes (added Aug 30, 2013)Yes (added Aug 30, 2013)Yes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNo
SensorsSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
Altimeter TypeBarometric, GPS (FusedAlti)GPSGPS
Compass TypeMagneticMagneticMagnetic
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesYesNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesNoNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNo
SoftwareSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
PC ApplicationMoveslink AgentMoveslink AgentMoveslink Agent
Web ApplicationMovescountMovescountMovescount
Phone AppSuunto MovescountMovescountMovescount (does not connect from watch to phone)
Ability to Export SettingsYes (online)Yes (online)Yes (online)
PurchaseSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
DCRainmakerSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto Ambit2 R
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

Again, remember you can easily make your own change with any device you want here at this link.

Which Watch?


So, you’ve made it this far, but can’t quite decide which watch makes the most sense for you?  Well, here’s a couple of brief thoughts summarizing what I’ve sprinkled throughout the post.

The Suunto2 R is really aimed at people who both run and hike (and want navigation capabilities).  It’s as simple as that.  Well, sorta.  See, the 2R isn’t really the most advanced running watch on the market in terms of connectivity.  It lacks things like Bluetooth Smart support for uploading via your phone, and it doesn’t have the in-box flexibility of many other units when it comes to either intervals or workout direction.  So in that respect, if you’re spending your time mostly on asphalt, it might not be the right choice for you.

On the flip side, if you’re in the hiking and navigating crowd, that does some running, or potentially some other activities like cycling – this is definitely a better choice.  Especially compared to the higher end options costing more than $100 more (like a full Suunto Ambit or Garmin Fenix series watch).  Further, unlike the competitive Garmin FR220, the unit can easily be turned into a cycling watch.  Whereas the FR220 can display in ‘speed’, but doesn’t recognize cycling workouts, which in turn by default hoses up various metrics when uploaded (like PR’s).  And for clarity, I confirmed with Garmin last week that the FR220 will not be getting a cycling mode (as the FR620 is getting).

Is it for the triathlete?  No.  It doesn’t track swims at all (except if you put it in your swim cap), and there’s no multisport mode, which means that you can’t easily switch from sport to sport.  Now that said, you could definitely make it work in a pinch.  You’d create three sports (swim/bike/run), and then simple end the activity and then start a new one.  With a bit of practice you’re only talking a few seconds lost doing it.  Especially since the satellite pickup is often only 1-3 seconds if in the same place.  Plus, the full-on legit waterproofing means the water isn’t a water hazard.

Finally, one item to consider (as pointed out by a reader in the comments), is that for a limited time the Fenix1 is now available for $299, just $50 more than the Ambit 2R.  So that changes the dynamic quite a bit – especially for folks wanting the higher end features previously only found in the $400 watches.  Still, by the same token, it’s easy to play the “just $50 more” game, and before you know it you find yourself with a $400 GPS watch.



The Suunto2 R aims to bring down the cost barrier of entry for Suunto’s line of GPS watches.  And to that end, it definitely succeeds, simply because it’s cheaper.  They kept the two core navigational functions (waypoints/routes) as well as the ability to load apps and the ability to load custom sport profiles.  Two major benefits not seen on other units in this price range, and ones that offer massive customization potential – in many ways far beyond what is even offered at the top-end price range on competitive units.

On the flip side, the lack of Bluetooth connectivity to the phone puts it behind many of the other units in this price range such as the TomTom and Garmin watches.  This means that any configuration and uploading must take place at a desktop computer.  Further, some of the functionality such as intervals and custom workouts should really be in-box at this price point (no, the default interval timer is not sufficient as-is).  Suunto is somewhat in a tough spot here in that leveraging an older hardware platform puts them a bit behind the curve in the one market (mid-range) that’s actually seeing the most new entrants with the most flexibility in features.

On the online front, Suunto has made good strides there, and their ability to implement integration with major partners like MapMyFitness to have instant workload uploading is a huge step forward.  Hopefully we’ll see other major players get connected like Strava or Training Peaks, which would greatly appeal to the more serious athlete.

Ultimately, I’ve covered my recommendations in the ‘Which Watch?’ section directly above on who this device is targeted at.  If you fall into the right target group, it can be a sweet watch at a price below the higher end units but with just the right amount of flexibility and customization.

Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review 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 review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews 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 pickup the Ambit2 R 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.

Suunto Ambit2 R base unit – white or black (simply select color from dropdown)
Suunto Ambit2 R with the heart rate strap (simply select color from dropdown)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the Ambit2 R or accessories (though, no discount). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

As you’ve seen throughout the review there are numerous compatible accessories for the unit. I’ve consolidated them all into the below chart, with additional information (full posts) available on some of the accessories to the far right. Also, everything here is verified by me – so if it’s on the list, you’ll know it’ll work. And as you can see, I mix and match accessories based on compatibility – so if a compatible accessory is available at a lower price below, you can grab that instead.

ProductStreet PriceAmazon
4iiii Viiiiva ANT+ to Bluetooth Smart HR Strap & Bridge
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (with Running Dynamics) - HRM-Run
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)
Garmin Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)
Suunto ANT/ANT+ Running Footpod (good for both ANT types)
Suunto Ambit 1/2/2s Charging Cable
Suunto Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)
Suunto-ANT (not ANT+) Heart Rate Strap - Suunto-Devices Only
Timex ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap)
Timex Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)

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. Hubert

    MOST useful review, thanks Ray!
    So glad to see that brands keep offering cheaper solution for us hiking guys, who do not need much of cycling/swimming.
    However, I am waiting for Garmin or Suunto to have their heart rate monitor imbedded in the watch, like Adidas, Samsung or Mio Alpha. Why? Because a lot of ups and down off road or even off trail means heart rate strap to fall down.
    Do you have any news on this side? Do they plan to have the HRM in the watch soon?

    Thanks again for this post, Ambit 2R is definitely the best option on the market for me right now.

    • Thanks Hubert.

      I don’t expect to see any of the three majors (Garmin/Suunto/Polar) introduce optical heart rate GPS units units year. I do expect to continue to see others do so in the space. There’s a couple of technologies companies can leverage/license, including Mio’s and TI’s (as well as other solutions, as I understand Samsung’s is). Obviously, Mio’s is the most well known for the sport-application side of things.

      The challenge that Garmin/Suunto/Polar face is that today there actually isn’t a good way to get any of the heart rate variability (HRV) values from optical. You can kinda fake (err…estimate) it, but it’s still ultimately faking it. Sometimes that works…sometimes not. That impacts values such as recovery and VO2Max times.

      No doubt, long term, I think it’ll all be optical, but for now, expect the big companies to wade in cautiously.

    • Hubert

      Thanks for taking time to reply Ray! Does it mean that the Suunto Ambit 2R is today much more accurate with heart rate strap than the same (theorical) model with optical heart rate monitor? Because from my point of view, the unit (optical or not) capture the heart bip and transmit to the watch, that’s it. Nothing more. Then the watch does it all.
      I kind of understand it is not that simple. From your answer, looks like the HRM does a bit of computation. Is it true?
      Do you have any post on this? Wish I understood 🙂

    • Correct. From a straight beats per minute standpoint, both technologies do a fairly good job. Both have pros and cons. Traditional straps can often be victim to static buildup, and other issues with spikes and drops. While optical can be victim to light, and sometimes cadence. Just like any device on the market, the technology behind it is indeed important. That’s why we see such vast athletic differences between the optical sensor used by the Mio devices, and that of the Basis device.

      When it comes to heart rate variability, it’s measuring the space in between the beats. That’s where optical sensors don’t yet have the resolution to do so accurately. Mio today’ ‘estimates’ it. The up and coming Dash earbugs estimate + apply a bit of a ‘known chart’ model to it to determine it. And others yet just add filler data.

      For straight heart rate (BPM), none of this matters. It’s only when doing operations that require more in-depth analysis of heart rate data.

    • David

      Ray it would be interesting to have you use your arsenal of Garmin HR watches to see how lack of HRV in an optical HRM effects bottom line calorie numbers / VO2 Max / recovery calculations vs. a traditional strap. I would assume you could wear identical devices and pair one with a strap and one with a optical band. Thanks for all you do!

    • Yup, it’s something I’m looking at doing later in the spring once there are production versions of both the Mio Link, and the 4iiii’s Pods.

    • Hubert

      Thanks for taking time to reply! Clearer on how it works.
      So if I need a real waterproof watch with optical HRM, I will have to wait (Adidas is just IPX7).
      Hope not for long!

    • John Crosby

      Good review, apart from the frankly bizarre suggestion that the Fenix1 on offer makes a good alternative??? Surely then you’d include Suunto’s own Ambit2 S which is also discounted to within $50 of the 2 R? (One always has the sneaking suspicion that you are really a Garmin man, and review the other brands just for the sake of comparison.)

      I have a whole bunch of Garmin watches and bike computers, and again I find your comments, regarding what the Suunto is lacking, strange. I don’t know anyone who uses the bluetooth tracking facilities of the garmin 510, 810 or 220 or 620. It requires your phone to be with you all the time, which to any sane person is one gadget too many on that ride or run. And to state the required use of a computer as disadvantage of the Suunto, just doesn’t stack up. I doubt there are many users of GPS devices who don’t review their data on a computer. We all use computers to review our data. I pity those who are looking at their runs/rides exclusively on their watch or iPhone apps. It’s a nonsense to suggest required use of a computer is a material disadvantage. Uploading a ride via bluetooth and the garmin connect app often doesn’t even work. You’ll have to charge your device anyway so it’s ridiculous to claim that bluetooth is some amazing feature missing from the Suunto. Since moving to Suunto I haven’t missed bluetooth one tiny bit. My conclusion is therefore all your so called disadvantages, clearly designed to highlight spurious Garmin superiority, are nothing of the kind. I doubt you’ll publish this but if you do, then kudos to you Sir.

    • Whether or not you use the BT functionality is sorta besides the point, because a lot of people do – and a lot of people have commented both in the initial 2R ‘first look’ post, as well as other posts that the lack of BT uploading was a key deciding factor in going towards the FR220 over the 2R.

      You’re welcome to your own opinion, and that’s totally fine. But the point of a review by a human and not by some sort of useless marketing comparison chart is to distill down the differences.

      And surely you realize that for a non-triathlete, the Fenix1 has far more hiking/navigation/ functionality than the 2S (even BT phone connectivity that you so hate). If you’re a triathlete, then sure, but the 2S would make more sense than the Fenix1…but that wasn’t really the point of that section, since I explicitly called out runners.

    • Andreas

      Ray, reg HRV from optical readings not being 100% – it’s motion artefacts that’s causing the problems, right? Otherwise it seems to work (link to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).

    • The challenge there is indeed the noise. With that study, it was basically of people sitting still – the easiest of all things to accomplish. Once you add in movement, cadence, road conditions, etc… it all goes out the window.

    • K

      I don’t use a computer to review running data, so it’s a factor for me. i like the convenience of having all the data on my phone. I’m in the market for a running watch now and I’m trying to decide if I want the suunto watch or not.
      I’m not opposed to using my computer to review data esp since most watches are that way but i like my phone too.

    • Ultimately, if you’re not using a computer to review the data, but rather your phone, then I’d go with the Garmin FR220 or TomTom units instead – since those connect directly to the phone (whereas the Ambit2 R doesn’t).

    • Lanz

      Hi Ray,
      I read from the other forum the ambit’s silicone strap/band tend to broke less in a year even in normal use, is this true??
      Appreciate your kind of feedback as im looking for this kind of watch…
      Thanks in advance…

    • I haven’t heard that from others.

  2. I had an Ambit 2, and I gave it up because of the weight(too heavy) and wearing discomfort(I never liked the antenna part).

  3. Max

    Hi Ray, one of your shots showed the Ambit2R showing pace in :01/mile increments, do you think this will be coming to the Ambit2 in a software update?

    • morey000

      the Average Pace is in 0:01 s/mi increments. the Instantaneous pace is in 0:05s/mi increments. My guess here is that even if Suunto did change that, the increased numerical precision would not add any real accuracy to the instantaneous calculation.

  4. Asaf

    Suunto, please integrate Strava and TP instant uploading via movescount.

    • I’m considering modify my sunnto to nike plus uploader to export a TCX file so that you can use it anywhere that supports TCX.

    • Fabian M.

      That would be really great, I think a lot of people will use this.

    • Asaf

      But there’s still the hassle of converting the file type and then uploading… which is nice to have but far from industry standard (for example, on Strava and others you just plug and play). I think this feature is a MUST have for Suunto, if they wanna play the connectivity game. Given they lag in hardware connectivity… And maybe I’m just lazy:)

    • Jim

      Agreed. I like my Suunto Ambit2 but would probably love it if Suunto would enable you to export .tcx files from Movescount.

    • Jim

      Could you please explain this modification? Also, do you know if the exported .tcx file will still contain power meter data? Thanks.

  5. Seth

    Great review! Thanks for the help and advice.

  6. Nangariel

    The unit seems pretty good, except it has no vibration alert and no bluetooth… Don’t know what Suunto were thinking :/

  7. Gerald Brown

    Ray did you intend **beyond** not **behind**?
    Two major benefits not seen on other units in this price range, and ones that offer massive customization potential – in many ways far **behind** what is even offered at the top-end price range on competitive units.

  8. Bart N.

    Any outlooks on when the new firmware functionalities are coming available for the Ambit 2? In your earlier post you mentioned that, if I am correct.

  9. Harmless Harm

    Key differentiator of Suunto products (compared to Garmin) could be HR metrics. E.g. G620 just throws a TE number to you, but there is no clue when actually EPOC peak happened, or how R-R, VO2 transitions over time (unless Firstbreat license is acquired). To me HR metrics advantages could be articulated.
    Just a detail, it is hard to find holes in your excellent reviews.

  10. Alex C

    Hi Ray, as usual compliments to your reviews. You are the market benchmark: pls keep up the good work.
    Any idea whether the Ambit 2, 2S and 2R are back-compatible with old SUUNTO MEMORY BELT ?

    • Brad Olwin

      The Ambit2 is back compatible with the Memory Belt. Mine will pair and work. I suspect both the 2S and R will work as well since they are Ant compatible. However, the Memory Belt does not sample at 1s intervals so the HR data is not quite as good as with a “normal” belt. I wish Suunto would update the Memory Belt, it would be a great product.

    • Alex C

      thx Brad. I agree on Memory Belt update

    • G-Kiss

      Are you sure with the lower intervals of the memory belt, Brad? I read this “The Memory Belt stores the heart rate during the exercise beat by beat, so every heart beat is recorded to the device. The exercise data is also shown in Movescount beat by beat. answered by
      sanna_from_Suunto”! Only merging the Memory Belt move with an Ambit move is not possible yet, at least not in movescount.

  11. Great review (again and again !)
    I find you a little bit harsh with the interval timer. Ok you need a computer. But it’s doing a very good job if you know that lap values are linked to intervals. What it means it’s s “avg lap speed / pace”, “lap duration”, “lap distance” will be reset every time interval change. Very useful to train far from a track 😉

    On the field, you need two screens : 1st with basics (time, distance, duration) – 2nd with lap datas : instant speed and / or, avg lap speed, lap distance or time, HR

    When you’re ready to go, warm-up done, just activate the interval timer for your 30/30, 10×400… and display the second screen 😉

    • Hubert

      I am more on a sensation basis : only 3 info : HRM (is it too high or too low), km done (to know why my leg hurt that much and do I still need to suffer a lot or a lot lot lot) and time of the day (is the sun going to kill me a lot more).

    • definitivly not “sharp” enough for me and preparing road race with precise chrono objective 😉

    • henri

      i don’t know what you mean with good intervaltimer! mine doesn’t record the intervals as indivual laps, so i do not have any information during the training. i run for example 10 x 200m without seeing any of my laptimes on them. i personal think because of it the suunto is very useless for interval using the intervaltimer.

  12. Budana

    Ray, a 100% coverage of the Ambit2 R. Hats off to you. One noticeable bug is that we can only display “average pace” on the bottom and top parts of the watch’s 3-data-split (not the middle) – unless an “average pace” app is used. One more note, on 4 runs I had, my Garmin 305 or 310xt always reads longer distances (on a run path with no trees and just one level houses – Arizona).

    • Brad Olwin

      You are correct on the Avg pace but if you choose to only display 2 screens, you can have Avg. pace as the large (middle) screen. An oddity I discovered some time ago as my old eyes are not as good at seeing the smaller text.

  13. Christian Messerschmidt

    Great Review, Ray.
    I actually got the Black 2R with HR last week and it hits the spot for me as a runner:
    – Super accurate
    – Different Run modes allow me to do track, road, and trail with appropriate screens and auto-scroll for when I need to focus the attention on rocks and roots rather than pressing buttons.
    – I am an IT guy and so the apps are super cool: I am working on a sleep tracker as well as the rubber band training which is a 15K tempo run that makes you insert a 400m recovery stretch whenever your pace (over the last half KM) drops below a certain threshold- the recovery part does not count to the 15K tempo distance target.
    – The Moveslink computer piece installs w/o admin rights in WIndows (which I do not have on my work PC) and at home I do not run Mac/Microsoft- none of the major other vendors seem to do that.
    – Movescount platform is super intuitive
    – Training plans and recovery time add a nice touch
    – Heart rate belt is comfortable
    – As running is a primal activity, I have no desire of having any more tech integration, real-time sharing from the trail or any other social media exhibitionism (including to burglars who will be able to track my position while I am out)

    In general, I love this watch- as a disclaimer, I have recently used Soleus as well as the first candy-bar shaped Garmin Forerunner (in 2002)- must have been when the US were still scrambling civil GSP…

  14. Michael H

    Is there so iOS app and adapter that would allow Suunto watches to connect with a cable to an iphone or ipad? Since my last laptop died, I just use an ipad and rarely need to borrow my girlfriend’s. Computers, for many people, are uneccissary. Without Bluetooth, I can’t imagine buying this watch.

    • No, it requires a computer. There’s no Bluetooth chipset in the unit.

    • Michael H

      The more I read about the excessive amoutn of time the Fenix takes to load a run via Bluetooth, maybe it’s just not that convenient afterall? I’d still kill for a hard wire connection. Lightning to Suunto to I can just plug the watch into an iOS device.

    • BT Smart is very slow for larger file transfers. However, the Fenix is a bit on the super-slow side for me. For the FR220/FR620, it’s way faster for me (non-issue faster).

      And to be fair, while I’m seeing slow Fenix transfers, a number of others are seeing very quick transfers (one other person also noted a slow transfer).

      I wouldn’t expect a Lightning to any device connector honestly. For two reasons. First, nobody wants to pay the licensing fee (which is significant). And second, nobody in the industry actually wants to deal with Apple approval on the hardware side. Companies in this space are already seeing pushback and difficulties from Apple on approval of device-connected apps.

  15. Do you have any pictures of planned moves “loaded” on to the watch – i.e the part in the review you mention:

    “On the watch itself it’ll tell you what you need to do zone-wise for the day (in terms of time), but it doesn’t give you a specific workout to follow”

    Would be nice to get a picture of what this looks like and where in the menus this feature is (as this is something not available on Ambit2 at the moment).

    • Hi Jonas-

      I just added in two photos that show what the training plan piece looks like on the watch. Simply search the text for “training plan” and you should be able to find them.

  16. Guillaume

    Awesome review, as usual

    3 little comments…

    – For intervals, you can easily code your own intervals with this tool a gentleman created (I take no credit). I’m sure it’ll come handy to a few Ambit users here:

    link to seckle.ch

    – Strava will take the gpx file directly. But because Suunto includes the field (total distance), Strava will use it to truncate moving time and pause time in workout (you might like or not like that feature on Strava, I personally hate it). You can use a file editor to mass remove the total distance field (I use notepad++ where you can generate custom replace functions).

    – Suunto watches do not like cold weather much. Maybe most watches don’t, but my experience is limited. But my Ambit buttons will get stuck down in very cold weather (-10 Celsius or lower). One of them will refuse to pop back up, and annoyingly enough, it’s the “next” button (the most used button).

    • Guillaume, buttons getting stuck is not something that would normally happen to Suunto watches in cold or any other external condition. What you have experienced is most probably a mechanical issue with the button itself. If you need to have it fixed, contact Suunto support via the attached link (or change to your country specific if that’s better). Your Ambit has a 2-year warranty, including jamming buttons.

    • Jim

      gpx files don’t contain power meter, so they are fairly worthless to cyclists using a power meter. Therefore, I have to export power meter data from my Joule GPS, which seems to lose its GPS signal a lot. That is my one big (very big) complaint about my Ambit2.

  17. Monroe

    I think you may want to differentiate the Fenix line of watches in the “Which Watch” section. At this point, I think that the functionality of the Fenix with only a $50 price increase ($300) right now makes it much more bang for the buck. I would agree with the Fenix 2 and other Suunto’s being out of the league of this watch if price is a factor.

    • HI Monroe-

      I’d agree, the price point on the Fenix1, is compelling. I’ve added a small note into that section with my thoughts on it. I generally try and avoid making too many comments on sale pricing within reviews, simply because a review like this will get active visitors for 3-5 years, so I’ve gotta remember to go back and pull out that Fenix1 pricing bit once those sales disappear later this spring as inventory dries up.

  18. Eustace

    Very thorough review, as always.

    One point that doesn’t seem to get mentioned or emphasised as much as I’d like is overall quality of both hardware and software. I’m jumping ship from Garmin after numerous frustrations with an Edge 500 and a Forerunner 405. Issues like:
    segements of workouts missing
    battery life indicator stuck at 100%
    bits falling off
    very slow registration with satellites
    firmware updates that repeatedly introduce new bugs

    I think Suunto deserve more credit for the stability of their devices, innovation (apps) and very rapid registration with satellites. Overall I think as a company Suunto seem to maintain higher quality than Garmin, who can trade more on their name. They’ve lost me as a customer. My only dilemma is whether to get the Ambit2 R, or hold out to see what the Ambit3 offers.

    • I agree that I think Suunto makes solid pieces of hardware, and, I’d agree that their software is among the better ones.

      I added some further thoughts on that vs other competitors to the Bugs section.

      Note though, that comparing something like the 5+ year old devices to a device just on the market for things like satellite pickup is tough, especially given they’re using much newer chipsets these days.

    • Eustace

      Even with the current crop, e.g. FR220/620, satellite pickup sounds significantly quicker for the Suunto: ~2 seconds vs ~10-15 seconds for the Garmin devices? (Taking the numbers from the reviews for those devices.)

    • It varies by day, and has improved. In general, for my FR620 I see it in the 2-5 second range on most days. And the inverse is true as well. I’ve seen the Ambit2 R take randomly longer some days – 30+ seconds.

      When satellite pre-caching does its trick, it’s all pretty negligible honestly.

    • Eustace

      Ah ok, I got the impression that the Ambit2 was always significantly quicker. Thanks for clarifying.

  19. simon

    I’m another who has been generally dissatisifed with the level of what Garmin have been producing (hardware and software) during the last year or two – and I’ve been with them for 15 years. Seems like they aren’t the obvious choice they once were.

    Great to see another good quality alternative in the market – based on the review it’s not quite for me but interesting anyway.

    looking forward to more detailed info on the mio bike computer mentioned in DCRs last blog.

  20. ekutter

    Interesting that both Garmin and Suunto are basically recycling old hardware for this round of new devices in this category. Mostly just changing the software. Any thoughts on when we will see real hardware improvements in the trail running/navigation space? Smaller size while still having features like barometric pressure. Maybe usable maps. Basic fitness band features during the hours you aren’t doing a workout.

    Also, you come down pretty hard on the interval training features. Any idea what percentage of people that buy any of these fitness watches use intervals or custom workouts? Of the well over a hundred people I know that have triathlon or running watches (mostly Garmin 310 & 910), very few would even know how to do it.

    • The biggest hold-up for almost all companies has been the dual-chipsets for ANT+ and BLE. It’s really what set everyone back on product development times, and why you’re seeing a bit of the recycling game going on. Expect that to continue till the summer.

      As for the interval feature, in my opinion it’s actually representative of a larger issue – which is stagnation on the software side of the base unit. Ultimately, every other watch in the market can do true intervals (not juts a repeating timer), and others are adding in complex workout support at this price point.

      Just my two cents…

  21. morey000

    You state: ” The 2R & 2S use a plastic bezel, whereas the Ambit2 uses a metal bezel.”

    Pretty sure my 2S has an aluminum bezel. Isn’t it? sure looks and feels like aluminum to me.

    • When I tap mine, it sounds like plastic (the green one shown in the photos). I can double-check with the Suunto folks.

    • morey000

      I’ve got a black with silver bezel 2S. Tapping the plastic case with a small metal screwdriver, vs tapping the bezel- results in a very different, very metallic sound. I’m pretty confident. Or- I’ve been duped? Or, perhaps the red/green bezels that you have are plastic? they gave the appearance of anodized aluminum to me. ??

      Great review Ray. sorry about just being a nit picker. 😉

  22. Colin

    Thanks for the review Ray, great as always !

    I’m slightly underwhelmed by the non intuitive interval/workout functionality which should indeed (for a runner oriented watch in that price range) come within the vendor web site as a “de facto” function, rather than being 100% managed through apps customization.

    This functionality is paramount for my utilization. Being myself on the market for a below 300 Euros (yes, I’m a french citizen & resident) watch with an intuitive/easy to use interval creation/watch transfer function, I believe I’m down to the FR220 and not much else….. The Polar V800 is attractive but overpriced for me as I “only” run and RS800CX/RCX5 are getting old, and never had integrated GPS to begin with…

  23. Brad Olwin

    I read a review on a different website that showed workout planning can be transferred to the Ambit2 R and that the watch will provide guidance for workouts. It seems you did not try or describe this? It does require that you set up training and notes that you cannot execute the workout from the screen you show but rather from the exercise menu. From what I read the watch will provide pace or HR guidance and tell you when you planned move is 50% and 100% complete. Not sure about intervals. Here is the site. link to zhangschmidt.com

    • Yeah, I might add something in on planned moves, but it’s really kinda half-baked.

      For example, take tonight’s run. My run is 15 minute warm-up, then straight 10-miles at a set pace, then a cooldown. How do I enter that in with Planned Moves? Well, I can’t.

      Let’s pretend it was just 10-miles at pace though (6:40). Even though, if I stick in 10-miles, I’m required to also stick in a time. And, I’m required to stick in a HR zone. Which is silly, because that’s three variables, and any athlete knows that you can’t hard-set those three variables. One of those three has to change. Then, why do I stick in a total time and a total distance? Why not just give me a pace option? If my workout says 12 miles at 6:25/mile, do I know how long that will take? Nope, and I’ve got no desire to do that math in my head or otherwise.

      Back on the watch, with all three filled out, it will negate the audio alerts for HR zone, why ask me to put it in to begin with? Essentially, planned workouts are basically just HR alerts and pace alerts, with a final distance tossed in.

      Ultimately, all this has to be done on the computer when every other watch on the market (even $90 GPS watches) allow you to setup these on the watch themselves. Grrr…

      Ok, just my two cents…

    • Brad Olwin

      Thanks for the update, I am not surprised by this but wondered how it worked since I have an Ambit2 and this feature is coming. It is less important for me as all I do is run trail ultras so my workouts are simple. For the Tri folks I agree with you, the implementation needs to be better. I am toying with changing over to the fenix2 but so far happy with the Ambit2.

  24. cj

    Thanks for the article Ray;

    Just two questions –

    1. What is the “normal” life span of GPS watches? Are people holding on to their watches until it dies on their wrists or are people more inclined to get a new GPS watch as and when they are on the market (sort of like the smartphone “race” – faster, smarter, better, latest)?

    2. With Garmin being the de facto industry leader and standard, how do you see Suunto, Polar, the all but gone Timex and the rest competing in this industry?

    • 1) It’s a mix. Some folks buy new every year, some till they die. Most I’d guess every 3ish years. Right now there’s a lot of folks with older/bulkier GPS watches that are looking at many of the new sleek units and going that direction.

      2) Ultimately, the others have to step up their game and commit resources. I think we’re seeing Polar doing that with the V800 and V650 units, but that’s going to be a long cycle. I don’t think it’ll realistically be competitive until the end of the year, perhaps next spring. And that’s only competitive to what’s already been out on the market. What happens if Garmin releases something new? Companies HAVE to focus on fast iterations of software. Put down a flexible hardware platform, and do iterative software releases. I think Suunto underestimates how many people bought into that when they did the quarterly releases with the first Ambit series. Scheduled, known, and drove product sales.

  25. Tommy

    Do the battery lengths listed assume the sensors (HRM and Footpod) are on or off? Or does it even make a huge difference? As an ultrarunner I would love to find a watch that could get 15 hours or so with a good quality GPS track. I don’t use footpods or HRMs so does keeping them turned off stretch the battery life estimates?

    • They assume on, but honestly, there’s no appreciable battery difference with ANT+ enabled for almost any device on the market. GPS is where the device burns battery.

      If you’re looking for that 15hr range at 1s, I’d look at the Ambit 2, the FR910XT, or the Fenix1/2.

  26. Patrick

    Hi Ray,

    thanks for this great review. Just one question (I asked a similar one at your fenix2’s pre-review).

    From one of your picture it appears that the ambit2 R displays the tenths of second. Does the ambit 2R displays the tenths of second after a manual lap (I mean when you press lap)? Is there a difference on that point between the ambit2 R and the ambit 2.

    Thanks again.


    • Just playing with the unit here at my desk, the 2R displays tenths on the lap screen after you manually press lap. For example, showing: 00’58.4 or 06’04.3

    • Patrick

      Many thanks, Ray, for your answer.

      I would greatly appreciate, if you could you confirm (or not!) that the ambit 2 (without ‘S’ nor ‘R’) also displays the tenths on the lap screen (I also need a barometric altimeter…).

      Thanks again.


    • Fabian M.

      I can confirm this, after I tried it just a moment ago. On the lap screen are the lap time with the tenths of a second, the lap number and the total time the tenths of a second. But I don’t know if this holds if the times comes to hours 😉 but in this case the tenths of seconds are not that important.

    • Fabian M.

      I forgot to write that my watch is of course a ambit2 without S or R.

    • Patrick

      Thanks fabian,

      I fully agree with you. I just care about tenths of second for short distance interval training (something like 15×200 meters) for which I always lap manually. My old garmin fr305 gives only the second. For example 36.0 s and 36.9s the FR305 gives me 36s which corresponds to significant speed difference: 0.5 km/h especially when you plan to train at your max aerobic speed.

      Thanks again fabian for your answer and thanks Ray for your really awesome site


  27. Christian

    here is another cool website that will generate different types of interval apps for copy-paste into Movescount:

    link to users.dsic.upv.es

    • tibo

      Unfortunately, this is not even close to what I could do with Garmin Training Center (or Garmin Connect). I contacted Suunto to implement a workout generator with nested repeats and different interval types, but no answer so far. For a running watch, this is really lacking.

    • Christian Messerschmidt

      Hi Tibo,
      ultimately, though, I hate to depend on the watch to tell me what to do.
      I ran a 10K time trial on the track this morning and my 1K splits were within 2 seconds of each other until 8k from where I unleashed and sped up.
      Last week I ran 4 repeats of 2k where on the first one you speed up by 2 seconds per lap, on the second by 4 seconds and on the third and fourth 6 and 8 seconds respectively.
      It really is tempo feel that your body will need to develop on its own and just use the GPS tracking for analysis afterwards.

  28. Rob McMurry

    Thanks for the informative review. As a new Ambit 2R owner I really appreciated all the information additionally included on on Movescount. Looking forward to using the information.

    I did look at other brands, but felt the builds we’re not as solid. In addition, I love the large numbers!

  29. Mike

    Any insight on why they didn’t include vibration alerts? I’ve been fixated on this point for a while. We are seeing it on some cheaper models..i.e. Soleus. It also seems that most of the newer watches throw in the capability.

    Even for their higher end watches, it seems to be the same story.

    • It’s mostly because they used the Ambit 2S hardware, which didn’t have a vibration motor.

    • Mikey

      I kinda figured that out but it seem Suunto as a company seems to have made that decision when other companies are adding that feature. I wonder why they seem to have made that decision on their watches. I’m guessing it didn’t come up in your visit to gone HQ. I know many people who’ve once they had that feature will bypass watches without it.

    • Oh, I completely agree. And, I think based on my conversations then they understand it as well.

  30. Budana

    okay, okay guys, here’s the verdict:

    1. Buy Garmin FR220 for this x-mas, then buy whatever Suunto fits for your needs the next x-mas. Wear both of them on your runs (like I did for the past 8 runs).

    2. This ones serious: I just did exactly 25 laps around lane 1 of the running track here (1 lap = 400 meters), without going off course (stepping or going over the white line). I had the Suunto measure the highest GPS accuracy and paired with a footpod too. The result: Garmin 310XT: 10.79 km, Ambit2 R: 9.79 km . Hurray…! now I know!

    • Just as a note though, in this case the Suunto 2R would have auto-calibrated the footpod off of GPS and then used the footpod for the remainder of the run. Whereas the 310XT would have simply used GPS unless you told it otherwise.

      As you probably know, tracks pose the biggest problem for any GPS unit. And, in general, I would NOT recommend calibrating the footpod using GPS on a track (since one is basically compounding the problem). For footpod calibration using GPS, the longer/straighter the better. If however you’re doing a manual calibration (i.e. on the 310XT), then the track is ideal because it’s a perfectly known distance.

    • Budana

      Thank you Ray, I did not know that the Ambit2 R takes the footpod after being autocalibrated. But, my intention was to “relatively” compare between the two, not in absolute terms. Next, I will do the same routine with footpod off for the Ambit, knowing exactly that the small area of the track pose gps distance measurement compounded errors. But, this relative comparison is still worth the try again and again. It adds to the fun

    • simon

      Go on then Budana – Which one would you choose FR220 or Suunto 2R?
      Thanks, Simon

    • Budana

      It’s not present and gifts time, Simon, nor it’s close to my birthday so I dont have the FR220 yet. But..on my 10 last run I use the Garmin (either 310xt or 305) on my right wrist and the Ambit2R on my left. The distance always shows more on my Garmin. Always. My 10k 25 lap track running is in between these brands’ reading. They differ 7 to 8% of each other. I still do my intervals (hill repeats) guidance from my Garmin. I always use my “recovery heart rate” app from Suunto. If I had to chose: Ambit2 R by a very close margin (i can use lap and timer for my simple intervals). Mind you, my FR305 has had only one reset problem since I got it 2011 January (about 3 runs totaling 20km per week).

    • Bart

      Garmin is struggling with the fact that the 305 is still better than many of their newer offerings. The 305 data is not properly loading to Garmin Connect and it’s been this way for over two months with hardly a word from Garmin on how they are trying to correct it. It’s pretty clear they could care less. Garmin wants the 305 go “go away” because it is and has been, too good. How do you make money on a device that will last 5 years or more when the rest of the field is throwing dozens of new gps watches on the market. I have a Fenix now but can’t get over the fact that the 305 just works and the Fenix has been extremely buggy for alot of people. Mine hasn’t been buggy but it is definitely more difficult to operate than the 305. I will admit the Fenix finds satellites quicker but other than that there are no real advantages over the 305 for running or biking.

    • Budana

      I have no plans to buy another Garmin. 305, 310xt, Ambit2 R, are my ideal running-only watches for at least 3 years from now – where I’d start looking for more because they stopped working with no ways to refurbish them or no more customer support or deteriorating upload site (which will determine my next decision because by the end of the day it is a 33-33-33 teamwork of a good product-customer support-upload site that truly makes this brand image).

  31. Robert

    How is the “real-time” pace stability, and is there a lot of lag time for pace? I have a Garmin 620 which I find to almost useless (for racing) because of the pace lag.

  32. Peter Hart

    The review above was really good, more detailed than any other review I have seen.

    A bit off the topic but I have just picked up your site. I have an Ambit 1 which I have had for a year or so and use constantly for both hiking and running plus everyday use. It is a fabulous watch and the Movescount site is excellent. My question, did you do a review of that watch as I would really like to read it. I have not seen anywhere on the Movescount pages where the data can be transferred to other sites, or is that only applicable to the Ambit 2

    • Brad Olwin

      Go to Connect on Movescount. Scroll down and you will see apps that directly sync with Movescount. It does not matter which device you are using. I use rubiTrack on my Mac to download and locally store all Movescount data. rubiTack makes an iOS version that directly syncs with Movescount as well.

    • As for other reviews, simply check out the top bar under ‘Product Reviews’, and then ‘Suunto’.

  33. Blake Helms

    Hi Ray–great review as always!

    Does the link to the Withings site work in both directions? I.e. does the watch/platform accept weight information from the Withings scale?

    Also, have you ever posted a video of what it’s like to actually follow the Suunto wayfinding prompts as you are running or walking them? I find there is a big perceptual difference between a depiction of the prompt in a pic and actually experiencing it while you’re out walking or running. Another way to ask the question is how easy is it to miss the turn indications when you are following the watch? Thanks!

    • I haven’t tried out the Withings integration yet unfortunately. I’ll have to poke around it.

      I can see about the videos, definitely a good idea. I essentially try to capture the different images of the process (each step), but in this case there’s not too many different images.

  34. Antonio

    There will be a Virtual Racer to run a previous Move with capability to show advantage or delay? Suunto talks about a Ghost Runner!

  35. Tim Grose

    In the main screenshot of the watch, the display is set to enter “Track Running” mode. Does that bring anything interesting? Is there perhaps anything “clever” going on to try and better keep the GPS distance of a lap from lane 1 closer to 400m given most GPS devices I have used tend to measure long in this most challenging of environments.

  36. Dirk

    bluetooth connectivity to phones is not that important as long as it is not generally available on all platforms
    there is more in life then iphones alone 🙂

    • I guess that’s my point. It is generally available on other platforms: Garmin (FR220/FR620/Fenix/Tactix/E510/80), Polar (V800/650), TomTom (Runner/Multisport).

    • Eustace

      I agree. I don’t bother uploading to Garmin Connect- I mainly upload to Strava, so bluetooth/wifi upload is of no major benefit to me.

      Direct upload to multiple platforms would be sweet and would sway me towards a device.

    • Tom Swifty

      Oh, but it can be!
      Upload to garmin connect on iPhone via Bluetooth or wifi on phones hotspot (more stable than Bluetooth). Then use Tapiriik to automatically transfer the data to strava within the next hour. Tapiriik costs $2 a year for this service and works great. Google it, it’s great.

      Using this method, I haven’t had to plug my 620 into a computer since I purchase it in November last year.

    • Eustace

      Did a little research, this does the same thing, and it’s free: http://www.copymysports.com

    • Tom Swifty

      Yeah I did use that service for a while but it’s not as good as Tapiriik.
      Copymysports is very buggy and often doesn’t work. Ray wrote an article a whole ago comparing all the transfer services, and found Tapiriik was the best – so much so that he crashed their site briefly from all the new people signing up.

    • John O

      I don’t know about the 620 but if you don’t plug your 220 into a computer every 12 days or so, you do not get the updates of the table of GPS satellite information transferred to your watch. Therefore your watch will be using a very out of date version of the satellite information. Another thing, how do you get the various firmware and GPS software updates onto your Forerunner without connecting via cable to a computer. Again I can only speak for the 220 but I thought it was the same for the 620 also.

    • Correct on the 220, and the 620 works the same. However, it’ll also download the cache from Bluetooth via your phone, as well as WiFi (for the FR620).

  37. Rob Montgomery

    Just picked up the watch. Actually I REALLY like it so far (after only one run). I’ve been with Garmin since 2010 but could definitely get used to this. I love being able to program specific activities into the watch and pick & choose screens for each activity easily online. I hate biking with the FR220 or FR620 then having it screw up all the PR’s just because the darn watch doesn’t have a cycling mode, then having to go into connect and manually changing activity types. With the Suunto whatever you set out to do can be ready to go before you start the watch. Love that. Simple, but love it.

    • Robert

      Rob, how does the real-time pace look? Does it have much lag or does it respond quickly to changes?

    • Rob Montgomery

      I actually forgot to add that in to my running data fields. I’ve only been on one run with it so I will have to add that on and check for my next run.

    • Brad Olwin

      Real time pace is the same on all Ambit2 models and uses FusedSpeed. The accelerometer smooths the pace info from the GPS. In my experience it works extremely well. It does not jump around as I have seen in prior Garmin units I have owned. Hope this helps, there is a blurb describing fused speed in the manuals and on the Suunto website.

    • Robert

      Thank you, Sir

  38. neil rosson

    great detailed review again Ray. I’m now leaning towards this watch over the fenix, but still waiting for the v800 before i decide. Biggest fail on this watch is intervals. i use garmin fitness plugin on sports tracks for intervals & would hate to lose that level of flexibility & feedback. The app offered on the suunto seems poor & basic although i’m still not clear what is offered. Not sure why Suunto have not made a better app themselves at least but i still fear it would not come close to garmins.
    A few questions if anyone can answer.
    Is the level of zoom in navigation still 0.25 mile at the most detailed?
    Its mentioned it has 10,000 point for a track can you confirm this is correct as the Amit 2 was limited to 1000?
    Ray what do you think are the chances of seeing an Ambit 3 this year?

    • j_winston

      There can be more than 1000 points (5000, 7000, even >10000) in routes that are downloaded to Ambit2 or 2S/2R, however the number of points per route is automatically reduced close to 1000 by using the Douglas–Peucker algorithm.
      The total number of track points in Ambit2 is 10000, so basically ten longer routes (which are reduced to 1000 points for the watch).

    • neil rosson

      Thanks for the reply. I wonder Is that enough though for a 100 mile race? Any one have experience of using it for that kind of distance? seems daft to me that it reduces to 1000 no matter what the length of the route is, its rare i would need to load up more than one route as i would only use route navigation for long distance +20miles & this would be pre planned. This unfortunately is the one thing that puts me off buying this watch. Not that there is any other choice at the moment.

    • Brad Olwin

      I use the Ambit2 for 100 mile races. I only add waypoints for aid stations and 1000 track points is plenty. The watch notifies you for each waypoint. At some point these just become distracting.

  39. paola

    ciao from Italy,
    Thank you for inspiring me to order the SUUNTO R, it has arrived last week and I really really like it. After a few broken Garmin I was looking for a change, and your first review was perfect. now that I am using my SUUNTO I am very satisfied with it. and this review is fantastic. Moreover, I Followed your link and I ordered via Clever training. I got it pretty fast and they customer service was very helpful! grazie mille

  40. Chris

    How can I see lap times after I finish if the unit is only set to auto lap each mile? It only shows 1 lap at the end on auto lap but if I manually hit lap button it shows that number of laps. Ideally I would like to be able to scroll through lap data at the end of an activity. Is this possible?

    • Morey000

      Currently you cannot- but I thought that I saw that specific featured on the list of new capabilities being added to the forthcoming firmware update. (which cannot get here soon enough!) It would sure be nice!

  41. José Marrero

    Anybody knows how to erase a “move” from the logbook? I have erased the moves in movescount, but after that they keep showing on the watch. Thanks in advance!

    • Brad Olwin

      The logbook is is circular and the move will not delete until written over. While that ensures that something is not “accidentally” deleted, it does not allow you to delete individual moves. If you want to you can reset the watch but it will reset all history.

  42. José Marrero

    Thanks Brad. Don´t you think it is something that could be easily arranged by a firmware update? I do find it a little bit annoying, for I cannot choose the moves I want to keep in my watch to check them out, or compare them or whatever. I am forced to see there lots of craps that I do not want to have at all, like wrong saves, mistakes in recording and so on… It would be perfect if I just could erase directly on the watch whatever I want (like I do in a Polar RC3 GPS, for example) or at least to be able to do it through movescount web page.

    Going back to the main question. Don´t you think it could be easily solved by a firmware update?


    • Brad Olwin

      I doubt this will change but the team is responsive to requests. I would email ambit(at)suunto.com with your request.

  43. José Marrero

    And one more thing… other than this, I find Suunto Ambit2R a very solid product, I could even affirm that Suunto Ambit2R is the best of its kind.

  44. Mark

    Hi, thanks for the review. I stumbled on this watch while researching options to replace my Garmin FR10, which I bought about a year ago to figure out what I really want from a gps running watch without breaking the bank. While the FR10 is still a cool watch, there are few things I am not happy about (lack of HRM & altimeter, battery life and – most annoying of all – it takes ages to establish a gps connection). It seems that the Ambit2 R checks all the boxes for me, and as a bonus it certainly wins over Garmin in terms of general aesthetics and design. There is one problem though, my wrists are rather slim, whilst wearing would you consider the Ambit2 R feel considerably bigger than FR10? Thanks for your work.

    • Christian

      Hi Mark,
      you could always get the white ladies’ model, I almost did, I have narrow wrists but it fits ok, still have 4 narrower holes for the band.

  45. J.Griffin

    Not that it matters right now, but not having vibrate is a huge deal breaker for me. Just recently had my first experience when using the Fenix2, and knew I would like it a lot, now it is a GPS watch requirement.

  46. JBT

    First off, thanks a million for your class reviews and blogs. Amazing stuff.

    I’m getting to know my Ambit 2S and have a couple of queries you might be able to help with:
    – Running Cadence: I can’t get a read on this despite setting it as one of my screens under Running. I’ve tried ticking the Cadence Pod under Pods to Search in the watch settings too. Is is that the Ambit 2 R Firmware update with this feature isn’t yet available for the 2S?

    – GPS Co-ords: I need to input (off-trail) Irish grid references into a route but the Google maps on Movescount only gives the waypoints as GPS co-ords. I’ve set the watch to Irish location format but since the route is charted in Google maps under GPS co-ords it’s a bit late to be really useful. Is there a way to change the location format on the mapping?

    I’ve logged the query under Suunto a few days ago but no response yet. I’ll post if I get one.

    Big thanks again!

    • For the Ambit 2S/2, it’ll arrive mid-April for the firmware update. The 2R will also get a firmware update as well then, fine tuning a few things.

      For the GPS coordinate piece, I’m actually not sure there. I’d ask that one on the Suunto 2S post, as lots of folks who do more with the coordinate piece subscribe to comments there.

  47. JBT

    Thanks!! Delighted to hear from DC R himself. You’re a class act. Can’t believe how comprehensive your blog is. Just fantastic.

  48. simon

    Hi Ray,

    Fantastic reviews. I want a watch purely for running.

    Weighing everything up, I cannot afford a Garmin 620. So looking at Garmin 220 or Suunto Ambit 2R. I want to know my pace / hr / and stopwatch at a glance and cadence when reviewing.
    Which would you go for, one of these 2 or something else.
    Please help, im going barmy. Thanks

    • Hi Simon-

      I’d really look at whether or not you value the Bluetooth Connectivity, and whether or not you value any of the custom workout pieces. If not, then either unit will do the trick. If so, then the FR220 is a better better.

      On the flip side, if there are apps that you find interesting, those are only available on the 2R, and not on the FR220.


    • Morey000

      Difference for me would be that the Garmin has a better custom workout creator. The Suunto has Navigation capabilities. Both will make fine running watches. Although- for the Garmin to give you cadence info- you’d need the special HR strap, or a foot pod- right? The Suunto creates it from an internal accelerometer.

    • simon

      Thanks Ray, you’re a star. Keep the good work up.

    • John O

      Hi Simon,
      I am seriously looking at the Suunto Ambit 2R as a replacement for my FR 220. If pace is important to you, then be aware. My experience and I stress my experience is, that the pace shown by the 220 is completely unreliable unless you are running out in very open terrain. Where I run, there are lots of buildings and/or trees and the current pace is abysmal. There are other issues with pace lags with the 220 making interval training next to impossible but as Ray says, a lot of people do not have these issues and are quite happy.
      Good luck!

  49. luke

    I like the fact that the Suunto has that internal accelerometer, cadence is something I currently have to estimate by counting steps against seconds elapsed! It’s great not to have to rely on an external foot-pod, just one less thing to lose/break/forget.

    No-one seems to mention the quality of the Suunto, by all accounts it’s a very solid, reliable piece of kit. Not so Garmins in my experience.

  50. Frederic

    Have you ever compared GPS tracks of all those different GPS watches ? (GPS track of a same given course)
    If not, would consider that as an additional relevant test to compare watches.

    I have to say I am a bit disappointed sometimes when I see the track accuracy of my Ambit compared to some other watches.
    Below is a test I made with my friend. We ran together a 4-miler trail course.
    He has a 910XT : link to connect.garmin.com
    I have an Ambit 2S :link to movescount.com

    What do you think ?

    • I do from time to time as part of standalone accuracy tests (I always look the total distance during the activity and afterwards as well). I keep hoping to carve out some time to re-do accuracy testing across a variety of devices like I’ve done a few times previously as full stand-alone posts.

    • Frederic

      Thanks for your answer.

      Yes, I’ve seen that you already compare the distance accuracy but I guess I haven’t found your stand-alone posts about accuracy testing. I will look for that.

      Bonus question : is it legit that I feel like my Ambit 2 has worse track accuracy than my friend’s 910 XT ?

    • Frederic

      I found them actually. They don’t include the Ambit2 but I have a lot to read for the next few days 🙂

      I guess I am eager to see if Suunto could improve that in the next one to come. There are probably more important features for them to develop (some more marketable features), but seeing some reviews about the Fenix2, I felt like Garmin has some problems too.
      Could the Mediatek GPS chip be the problem ? (cf. link to forums.garmin.com)

  51. Tom DB

    Thanks Ray for another great review!
    I’ve been reading your reviews quite a while now because it has been some time since I’ve invested in a serious GPS sports watch. I’m a former triathlete but for the moment I spend my time doing trail runs. So I guess this is the watch I’ve been waiting for. Although I studied Physiotherapy and exercise Physiology and although I am an IT guy, I know I won’t be using those interval sessions and workouts or whatever they are called. I’m a pretty good runner but most of the time I like it … ZEN! I start running and do a training based on how I feel. Most of the time I end up running a Decathlon watch of 10€ just to know what time it is, or even no watch at all. Occasionally I do want to check how well I perform and I end up using my Garmin Edge just to know what pace I’m running at.
    So I guess this Ambit will suit me well. It should give me quite an advance on the Decathlon watch 😉
    One ‘geek’ remark/question though from the IT guy in me (not the ‘ZEN’ one). When running a trail of 50K or longer it would be really cool to have a ‘livetracking’ feature for friends and family. So that would indeed be a drawback for me. The Ambit lacks the Bluetooth capabilities.
    But then I was thinking. Almost everyone has a smartphone these days with GPS capabilities. During most trails the organizers even demand that you carry a cell phone for security reasons. Why bother letting your watch send the GPS coordinates to your smartphone? Let the phone do the job. There must be ‘Apps’ that can do this? And yes, a quick google tells me these ‘Apps’ exist. So no drawback anymore and I’m good to go with the Ambit … or not? Do you have any experience with such smartphone apps?

    • Hi Tom-

      Thanks for the comment, appreciate it!

      The primary reason folks want to ‘offload’ the GPS to the sport device is due to battery (especially for ultra/trail runner). Having the phone GPS burn as on quickly drains a battery. This is most critical for efforts over about 4-5 hours, less so for shorter timeframes. In a situation where the watch GPS device handles the GPS portion and just transmits data, you’re talking dozens of hours.

  52. José Marrero

    I want to delete the logbook and I do not find the way. Brad said that the memory is circular, something I did not know, but still there is the possibility of reseting the device. But i do not find the way to do it. Is there anybody who can help me?

    • SiRoB1

      Hold the 5 buttons to reset the watch. 😉

    • SiRoB1

      Sorry the watch reset doesn’t clear the logbook.
      You will have to force a firmware update by using moveslink2.
      Right click to the systray icon of moveslink2 then a pop-pup will give you this possibility.

  53. Stig

    Hi and thanks for amazing reviews!

    Could you use the Track Back as a breadcrumb track? If you have made thoose loops om your way out, then you could just make short cuts on your way back based on the suggested track back trail?

  54. Hi Ray,

    Thanks for the fantastic review. I took the plunge before the holidays and bought the 2S (in Lime), and absolutely love that watch. I use it to track runs, swims, and downhill ski days, all of which it does really well.

    I wanted to let you know that stopping a run is easier than the Pause / Back keypress you mention in this article. If you hold the pause button down for 3 seconds (or so, I’m panting too hard usually to count) it will automatically stop the work out, save it, and take you to the summary pages. One press is always better than two and a confirmation press, in my opinion.

    I recently bought a foot pod, and I’m still crossing my fingers that they will change the way the pod works. I am a plodder, and my pace changes all the time depending on the run, so if it’s going to only use the GPS tracking for the first 1-2km and then rely on the foot pod… how accurate can that really be? I hope the NEXT update to the Ambits’ firmware will work more like I understand the Garmins do – namely that the GPS is a primary link and the foot pod is secondary/back-up and simply recording cadence (something that I’ve never tracked but would be interested in). I have only used it to run on a treadmill, so I may experiment with it on one of my normal routes, but I’m kind of skeptical.

    Like you I travel timezones. Why this doesn’t reset the time automatically is beyond me. The Phenix does, and it’s one of the most spectacular features you could ask for in a GPS watch. It makes me shake my head.

    Finally, I’ve started wearing this watch as a daily timepiece, something I didn’t intend, and I get more comments on this watch than I would ever have thought. People love it, they love that someone puts in a dash of colour, and I get asked about it often. This watch has far exceeded my expectations, is rugged and drurable, performs well in the cold, and actually I have grown to love being able to run without notification (vibes, etc.) of how far I have gone – a frequent complaint. Set the screen up, have a look when you want, and keep running.

    • Brad Olwin

      I initially thought the footpod should act as the Garmins do like you. I have since changed my mind but, I may be in the minority. I use the footpod when on 60s fix (a long ultra race or mulitday fastpack) and it tells me a reasonably accurate pace and more accurate distance than the 60s fix. I rather like this as I will get a gps track to show my route, albeit not totally accurate, and reasonably accurate run data. Believe me ultras have a wide variety of paces. The footpod averages out pretty well.

      I doubt Suunto will change this as my understanding from others is it functions as intended.

      For cadence, the next update coming soon will allow your accelerometer to record cadence so you won’t need the footpod for that.

      If you are interested, here is the last race I used the 60s GPS fix and footpod. link to movescount.com

    • Gary Arbuthnot

      Hi Ray, thanks so much for the huge amount of work that goes into your reviews, superb. I’m in the market to but an Ambit, like the 2 for the longer battery life and the mountaineering application but I like the non footpod speed and cadence measurement of the 2r. I think you say this will be included in an update to the 2? Any idea if and when this will happen?

    • Yes, it’s planned for “mid-Apri”, so likely in the next 1-2 weeks.

    • Cato Hals

      There is a lithium rechargeable battery in every sporteach nowadays. I have just bought a Suunto Ambit2 (sapphire). I just do some trekking once in a while. And running 3-4 times a week. I bought the Ambit2 anyhow! One of the reasons beeing, larger battery capascity, wich leads to charge the battery once a week rather than twice a week in a typically fior most gps/hr watches.
      You can charge and discharge a battery maybe 300 times. If so, the battery of an Ambit2 will need replacement after 4 years rather than two because you charge it less frequengly. (?). If so, it is more economicly to buy a watch with larger battery capacety, it will pay off if you keep the watch for 4 years.

    • Brad,

      I went out on a regular loop that I do today, and wore the footpod as a curiosity. It is measured by the watch at 5.5k, and with the footpod on, it was measured at 6.25km. That’s pretty drastic inaccuracy over 1km. It’s unfortunate, given that I now have a cadence measurement but don’t have reliable distance data…

    • Fabian M.

      DId you calibrate the footpad before the workout?
      Because after calibration it worked well for me to use the footpod, but it has to be done new for every different situation(Terrain, Shoes, Speeds).

  55. Budana

    Just sharing to this forum (hope Suunto rep reads this) as I dig in deeper to the apps design (that’s what Suunto Ambit series stands out from the rest, and that’s what my US$ 250 was spent for). I made a heart rate recovery app: 60 and 120 seconds, which is activated by the lap button. Here’s the caveat: IF AUTOLAP is turned on, SUUNTO_LAP_NUMBER will not update as the lap button is pressed. So, if we want to activate something from the lap button (like reseting active timers while it is counting at a lap mark), we have to turn AUTOLAP to OFF. So, having said that, Suunto, I wish there is a new variable like : SUUNTO_LAP_TOTAL that integrates lap button presses and auto lap counts regardless of the AUTOLAP ON or OFF (!)

  56. and maybe the important thing is having a way to create laps with the code for post run analysis…
    for ex the interval suunto app is very interresting link to movescount.com

    but you can review the intervals on MC 🙁

  57. Tim

    Hi Ray,
    thanks for your detailed reviews. Im right at the point of deciding between the Forerunner and Ambit2R. The Forerunner I like because of its smaller size and weight and the 2R because right now it seems to ‘work’ without the bugs the Forerunner620 has and which, as at today, by reading all your site’s and Garmin’s sites posts …are still not resolved. Given the Forerunner’s difficulties has your view on it changed?

    • My view hasn’t changed there to be honest.

      At the end of the day, reading online forums on a company site is never a good indicator of success of a device. No matter if it’s Garmin, Suunto, Apple, or Polar. The only reason those forums exist is to troubleshoot issues. That’s it.

      To some degree, it’s become a bit the same here unfortunately, with folks often using it as a troubleshooting grounds versus a Q&A on how things work.

  58. I think what Garmin and Suunto is doing in the current market is time wasting and also very confusing. Especially with the January release of the AMBIT 2 R and the recent release of the EDGE 1000. Also rumours are sneaking around about a July release of Ambit 3 and a future 920XT or 1010XT tri specific watch. Wtf ? What for ?

    Imagine, for instance suunto flooded the market only with the ambit 2 for three to four years, with only heart rate option. No chance of getting it without heart rate. High battery life, all sport functionality, tough case and bombproof functionality. Drop down the price to half and kill the market, sell millions. No other companies would come close as it is a near perfect watch.

    Same for Garmin with the EDGE Seriies. Make one from all the 4 of them, with all the radio frequencies and wifi, bluetooth ant+ and so on, sell only that for like 250€ and absolutely destroy the market and get rich.
    People want products that work and have great functionality for 3-5 years. They don’t care about the price if they know that it works for ages and never gets broken.

    I have tested many GPS products in the last 5 years, including handhelds, bike computers and running watches.
    I got only two products what never ever ever had issues: 310xt and Edge 800.

    Companies have to go smart to really rule the market, like this they do not have to respond fast to a new upcoming product. Like Garmin answered the the Ambit 1 with the fenix and the shops were flooded with returned products due to the crappy battery, interior software issues, water leakage and humidity build up and so on.

    We want cheap and high end perfectly working products.

  59. Matt

    Are you hearing anything on when new ambit models will be coming? I’d hate to purchase at the end of a cycle and have the new ones come out. Any chance the R will get vibrate anytime soon?

  60. José Marrero

    I´ve used an Ambit2 R and I´ve been very happy with it. After that I´ve had a Ambit2 (Black) and I´ve also been very happy with it. The 2 is a little bulkier than the 2R but it´s ok. For a runner, chossing one of them is just a question of design and battery life. So whatever election be made will be good anyway.

    Now, I have a question for Ray or for anyone who might know about it, for it is a topic quite ignored. I feel that the glass of the Ambit2 R is less reflective than the one in the Ambit2 (Black). It might be an effect of the light on the bezel (metal in the 2, plastic in the 2R) or an effect of the grey interior circunference in the 2 and blak in the 2R. But it could also be a question of the quality of the glass, better in the 2R than in the 2. Is it just my impression or am I right? Anybody could write somethng about the differences (if there are any) between the glasses of the Ambit 2R and the Ambit 2 (Black)?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Honestly, it’s mostly a photo thing (at least, my impression). A lot of the devices these days are slightly harder to photograph, and thus it makes it a bit trickier than how your eyes would actually see it.

  61. José Marrero

    When I write “glasses” I mean “lenses”.

  62. kris

    Any idea why my almost brand new (1 month) watch would already be unable to transfer moves from my watch to my computer via the included cable/connector? I’ve run with it for 3 weeks (also having troubles with the graph/map dropping segments of the route and making it look like I didn’t run that, or that I didn’t start/finish at the same point… but suunto is supposedly working on that problem as it’s a bit widespread??)? I really like the watch and the simplicity and etc–but after only 3 wks of use, I cannot for the life of me figure out why it’s not working in some pretty key areas. Did I get a lemon? should I return it/exchange it? thanks!

    • morey000

      this sounds like a Suunto Customer Tech Support question. Widespread problem? I thought I’d read every review and followed every Ambit2 forum and I haven’t read about this. Makes me feel like I haven’t found the right forum where all the real action is. 🙂

  63. José Marrero

    I do not think that Kris´ is a wide spread problem at all. Suunto Ambit2 and Ambit 2R are extremely good products. They perform very well, and as I wrote before, the main differences are the design, the battery life, and the interface (easy to manage in both of them anyway).

    That said, I wonder when the new firmware adding the Ambit2R running functionality to Ambit2 and Ambit2S will be released. An answer on this will be welcome.


  64. Anders

    Thank you Ray for your great review! I just bought the 2 R and think it’s a fantastic device, although, I have never used a HR monitoring watch before.

  65. BAM1

    Moveslink was updated today, release notes:

    Version 1.1.53
    – support for Ambit 2/2S/2R firmware 2.0.7

    Update for Ambit2 users is close now 🙂

  66. José Marrero

    On the glass again. It is not a question of how they look in a picture (the lenses of Ambit2R and Ambit2), it´s a feeling that has happened after using them (I see better the screen of the 2R). I´ve sent this question to Suunto, I´m very curious about it, for I want to know wether my feeling responds to a real fact or not. Thanks.

  67. Oman

    hi. i play basketball and lift weights and recently added running to my routines. was looking for a good running watch when i came across this site. i was really sold on the forerunner 220/620 until i read this particular review. i just like the fact that the device will recognize different activities if i use it other than for running and create data fields other than running specific ones. so, really, while this is a “running watch”, it can be customized to support different sports/activities. is my understanding correct? also, is there a limit to the number of sports mode or apps that can be placed on the 2R?

    thanks DC and to anyone else who may have an answer for me.

  68. Yves

    I’m a bit surprised that nobody is mentionning the fact that there is no soundsignal from the moment you go over your limit (apperently only after 2 minutes (constantly) above your limit). For me that’s the most essential thing (after the heartrate itself) that this watch should give you. There is a visual signal. But that means you have to watch your watch very often, which means the watch and your arm aren’t moving like they normally should while running and that has a negative influence on the fusedspeed. And if you’re running ultra’s like me I guess your arm will start hurting also if you watch your watch to much. In all I think it’s like buying a computer without a mouse, touchpad or touchscreen: you can work with it but it’s very difficult. Anyway I bought it last week and yesterday it went back in the box and tomorrow it’s going back to the shop.

    • Fabian M.

      If you need a soundsignal sooner than the two minutes, you can search for an app or wrote your own that give you the feedback you need. The only downside is that it is not possible to use different sounds.

    • @Fabian M(eyer ?)
      totally agree with yves. “heart rate limits” are useless (not loud enough, not frequent enough) 😉

      @yves, try :
      if (SUUNTO_SPEED_AVG[5] > 2){
      if (SUUNTO_LAP_NUMBER == 2){
      if (

      or easier :

      if (SUUNTO_SPEED_AVG[5] > 2){
      if (

    • Yves

      @ Fabian
      That App seems pretty simple, but as far as I understand you need to go to the App to change your limits. But it’s already a big improvement..

    • Yves

      @ Julien
      It looks simler then I thought the programming of that App. But I don’t understand everything in your proposition. What’s SPEED_AVG and LAP_NUMBER doing in that programmingcode and what do those those numbers mean? Plus HR_AVG wouldn’t that be the average heartrate and not the actual heartrate?

      PS I’m flemish, so my first language is dutch, but my second one is french

    • AVG speed sets a minima to prevent bipping if you stop (ie speed under 2km/h

      Lap fonction is for warm up : no hr zone and bip until you press lap.

      I use hr avg to smooth results.

  69. Yves

    From the Suunto site I understand it’s possible to make Apps that make calculations. But I have my doubts I could program something like you suggest. Or can you point me in the right direction?

    • Fabian M.

      Hi here is a very simple one: HR_ZONE_ALARM
      In the App Zone you can find more if you lock for alarm or audio. It is also possible to build your own app, that fits your exact needs, for this it is maybe helpful to use an existing app and customize it to your needs.

    • Yves

      I think I’ll start from that HR_ZONE_ALARM App, but I’ll replace the upper limit with SUUNTO_USER_MAX_HR. This has 2 advantages: you don’t need to adapt the App when you use another limit and you can change this value on the watch without the use of movescount. But I think the downside will be that movescount will tell you always that you have done a very difficult training and my resttime will also be very high. So Suunto if you please provide the variables hr_max_limit_set and hr_min_limit_set or give it another name. Actually I don’t understand why this is not already provided. Or does anyone know how we can solve this?

    • Fabian M.

      You can use something like:

      than the limit is 90% of your heart rate.

      I agree that it would better if it would possible to set the time to wait in the original Limit function of the ambit would be the best solution, but I don’t think this

    • Yves

      Yes that’s also possible but I would still have to adapt my Max HR or the % to use another upperlimit.

    • Yves

      I’ve made my Apps and they are public. You can find them via my username Ivanhoe007

    • Eustace

      I see in that link that Strava integration is on the cards too- great news. I upload all my runs there and there are a few support tickets on both the Suunto and Strava sites requesting this feature.

  70. h

    Ray, when gps is set to 60 sec interval, would the internal accelerometer continue to update and display current the pace in between gps refresh?

  71. Tony H

    First of all: my sincere apologies towards DC Rainmaker!
    Since a few years I am a frustrated GPS watch customer.
    I don’t mind paying a lot of money for a GPS watch, as long as it functions as it should function…
    There are only three values I realy need from a GPS watch: the right time run, the right heart rate measurement and the right distance run (GPS accuracy).
    It is with this last value that I get so frustrated!
    I have tried many Garmin watches (forerunner 305, 405, 310 xt, 910 xt and 620). I had serious accuracy problems with all of them (same route run, serious differences in distance measured, and also very inaccurate when plotted on a map).
    I always bought the (expensive) watches because on this site the review was very positive.
    I also had the Polar RCX5. This one measured very accurately, but I had problems importing my runs into Rubitrack (I had to manually change the inmported information).
    I finally sold the Forerunner 620 and the Polar RCX5 (I still have the very inaccurate 910 XT, especially when runnig in the forest or when there are clouds) and I bought the Suunto Ambit 2 R (read very positive information of users on amazon.com for the Ambit 2).
    Unfortunately…. I have accuracy problems with this watch as well!
    Specially when I plot the route on a map, I see very inaccurate plotting, even when running in open areas.
    So actually, non of the current GPS watches (except the Polar RCX5) are very accurate.
    Like many others, I am putting my money on the Polar V800…
    I saw the run DC rainmaker made a few days ago (about 23 miles?) where the difference between the V800 and the Forerunner 620 were minimal.
    I really do hope the Polar will have a very good gps accuracy.
    Because all the other measurements stand or fall with the gps accuracy of the watch.

    Is there a way to find out which gps chipsets are used in certain watches and which are the most accurate?

    Maybe I should stop trying to find the ‘perfect’ GPS watch cause… it doesn’t exist.

    • Any chance you’re unit is on 60s recording (which might explain some of the oddities)? Have you had a chance to contact Suunto support?

      As for which units are the most accurate – honestly, it’s pretty much a wash these days. There are always going to be oddities where a given watch on a given day will show something random, but that’s usually few and far between. And it doesn’t seem to be common in my testing. Looking at almost always running 2-3 watches these days, I’m rarely seeing anyone ever more than 1% away from the rest. If folks are seeing cases where a given watch is substantially outside of that, in general, that particular unit is a lemon and should probably be swapped out.

    • Tony H

      Hi Ray,

      thanks for even still wanting to respond to my comment.
      I promise I will behave myself…
      My Ambit 2R unit is on ‘1 second’ and ‘best’ recording.
      Actually, on a 8 km (4,97 miles) run in half wooded area I get a max difference of about 100 meters (109 yards) (I ran the same route 6 times).
      Which is probably not too bad.
      When running in an open field the difference is less.
      But when I import my run into Rubitrack (Mac) I sometimes get ‘frustrated’ when I see that the plotted track is sometimes off limits.
      Anyway, I ran the same route wearing the Suunto 2R together with the Forerunner 910 XT and the Forerunner really had a few very bad days… Enought to put it to rest for a long time 🙂
      When I ran with the Polar RCX5 90 procent of my runs where within 20 yards!
      But wouldn’t it be ‘stupid’ to buy a 2 or 3 years old watch and pay about the same money as a brand new one…

      What I also noted is that wearing the watch on the left or right wrist sometimes gives noticeable differences when the route gets plotted on the map afterwards.
      When passing buildings you should actually change the watch from one wrist to the other.
      Maybe the should create a GPS watch with a separate GPS unit (like Polar RCX5) which you can attach to your running shirt on the back of the shirt in your neck (hope I say it right). Think that GPS accuracy would improve a lot. Never tried it.

      Concerning Suunto support: they do react!
      But next to the actual question…
      Eg. when you run with automatic lap on (each kilometer) and you stop your run after eg 8 km, I stop the run at the moment I get the message of the last finished automatic lap. The watch distance reading goes from 7,99 km to the 8 km automatic lap poppup screen. Since there is a second or two between passing the 8 km and the automatic lap message popping up (the moment I actually stop the run) a new lap of about 10 meters and two seconds gets created and is visible in Movescount and Rubitrack. Very annoying …
      Fortunately, in Rubitrack, you can see track data and cut the last lap.
      As an answer to this question, Suunto explained me how to create a manual lap…

      Anyway, I think I expect too much from GPS watches.
      It is also a fact that the less possibilities a watch has the lesser the chance for frustration…
      (which I had a lot with the Forerunner 620).

      Anyway, in the Polar V800 we will trust… 🙂

      In buddhism they say that something that is at first sight very good and positive and promising, will sooner or later always become a cause of frustration… Maybe I should put my attention more towards buddhism 🙂



  72. Yves

    When I do the first part of my run and the finish (both are the same) the distance corresponds with what I think I should be (max 10-20m difference for 3km150m) and my speed is more or less the same (a difference of a few seconds is possible). When I calculate the speed of my lap in the forrest based upon the distance I think it is (5km120m), my speed is also more or less the same. But my speed according to my watch is about 20 sec/km higher then the start and finish. The distance is 4km940 according to my watch.

  73. Kar

    Thanks for your reviews, I’ve gone through many of them. A few questions

    Does the ambit2 r have the breadcrumb feature?

    I’m torn between the Tactix and Ambit2 – Which is better in these categories from your testing?

    2.Accuracy (specifically GPS)
    4. Value
    5. Warranty/support
    6. Features
    7. Battery life in real time (they both”claim” 50 hours)
    8. Bugginess

  74. ririe

    Thanks for your reviews and articles, I bought myself an Ambit! yeay to me. ill continue making this page as my regular, many thanks to the commentators too!

  75. Todd Sumwalt

    I read all your reviews before buying a new running watch! Very helpful! I bought a garmin forerunner 220 and it worked great for a month. Then stopped tracking my pace and distance. Plugged it in to my mac and started working again. Then happened again a month later. I’m trying to figure out if it’s just my watch or if this happens on all gps watches. I like the suunto watches but didn’t want to pay for a 2 or 2s. I guess I’m asking about the durability of the watches and whether there are glitches like showing gps is connected but not tracking on all watches. This watch fits what i do which is run 2-4 days a week. I need pace and distance from gps reliably and would rather wear the suunto daily than my red watch from garmin. I wear a g shock daily as I bump things a lot but want a watch that is stable and no brainier when I head out at 5-6am to run. What do you think? Thinking about returning my garmin and getting this one. I would miss the vibration alarm but that’s new to me so could get used to not having it again


    • It’s definitely not common. I’d look at saving/backing up all your runs, and then doing a full reset of the watch – and also ensuring that it’s up to date on firmware (especially if you’re not plugging it in very often).

  76. Todd Sumwalt

    thanks for the quick reply. I will try resetting it again, I have done this twice now. I may return my garmin and try the suunto, I really like the look of them and they seem to have really good support, would love to get a sapphire but can’t justify the cost for what I do.


  77. Hans

    I am a trail runner who likes running in new places. So what I am looking for is a watch that will beep and buzz at me just before I need to make a turn on the trail.

    Here is how I would like it to work:
    1. At home on my PC I create a route and download to the watch.
    2. I drive to the start of the route.
    3. select the route on my watch and push the start button and I go run
    4. the watch will record my route, speed and all that stuff
    5. then whenever I get close to a turn off it should beep and buzz at me. Buzzing because sometimes due to clothes and mittens the beep might be hard to hear.
    6. when it alarms me I look at my watch and it tells me when to turn and in what direction.

    Does the Suunto Ambit 2R fit my needs? (except for the buzzing). Or should I look at the Garmin Fenix 2?

    • morey000

      The Ambit series will beep- but not buzz. You need to upload the route/course- which is very easy to do. Well integrated from the Movescount website- or, you canexport/ upload a course from any route mapping web site, such as GPSies or mapmyrun. Once loaded into the watch, you just select the route, and it will give you a line (breadcrumb) trail to follow.

      If you want it to beep at you for every turn, you need to assign waypoints to those turn locations. You can name the location with directions. i.e. “Turn right on Fire Road 92” and it will warn you shortly before you get there.

      as you already know- the Ambit series doesn’t have a vibration alert capability- so you won’t get that. I’ve used the route navigation feature many times, and it does an excellent job at guiding. If you don’t hear the beep, you will still get to the intersection, look down at the watch, and the line will tell you which way to go.

    • Adam

      If you dont mind the looks (I fully agree it’s “hate it” or “just dont like it” dilema) of 310xt, this is the watch for You. It’s cheap (60% of Ambit2R and 40% of Fenix2), it has vibration alerts, it has awesome battery life (20hrs vs 8hrs of Ambit2R and 16hrs of Fenix2), it has the biggest display of all, it has ANT+ wireless uploads and simply navigation of Garmin is better IMHO. Why? because it will alarm You every time You leave a route! You dont need waypoints for that – simplier and faster route drawing.


  78. Hans

    Thanks for the info. How much in advance does it beep before a way point? Is that customizable?

    • Morey000

      1. About 50-75 meters or so. Not sure exactly.

      2. No. Cannot change that distance. Not that I know of. It beeps again when you are AT the waypoint, and displays the name of the next waypoint.

      I think it’s the only running watch with nav for $250.

      (Excluding the 310xt)

  79. Alon

    Great review, 10X
    I try to find out how to built a running program and not just simple intervals for example
    5Km WU, 2#3Km @ 4:30Min/Km with 4min rest, 3* 400m @ 1:30Min with 2Min rest, 3Km CD
    How can I install it into my suunto?
    Please advise

  80. emac

    Hi —

    1 – I love your reviews. Please keep them up.

    2 — I have had a 2S (the white one) for six months now and it does fit better around my (smaller) wrist than the larger black models (this was an issue with my old Garmin as well).

    3 — I’m not thrilled about Movescount; it seems to be a bit kludgy as a website. I have noticed improvement and upgrades to it though and I have hopes for it in the long run — espcially now that they link to Strava.

    4 — Your capmarison table above said that Suunto doesn’t work with fitness machines. The Suunto ANT belt DOES work with Concept II rowers that have that option added (you just have to pair the strap with the control panel). Not all C2s have the option, but it has worked on the ones that do have it. Haven’t found anyhting else that uses it though.

    5 — Best thing about the Ambit: THE SUUNTO HR STRAP WORKS! Every time. Really. I have 6 old Garmin ones (some of which I paid for, some of which Garmin sent to me after I raised a fuss) and all of them failed after a few weeks.

    But not this one.

    It has been bulletproof. It does not try to dictate what kind of shirt I should be wearing or whether I should wear it upside down or with EKG gel or with peanut butter or on my back(!) :). It works just fine whether under just a running bra or buried under five layers of ski clothing. It works in the rain. It works in the wind. It works indoors or out, on a Spin bike or a real bike, or in the pool. I can even toss it in the washer occasionally. It seems a silly thing, but I know you have written about the issues with the Garmin straps before, and so I just wanted to give a shout out for this little feature.

    It’s so nice to have something as basic as an HR strap actually work 🙂


  81. POLO

    Great review,again..good job.

    I have one question…Does watch (ambit 2r) show grids(UTM..or other) in device directly or you can get them just in Movescount…


  82. Hans

    Can I have the following alerts AT THE SAME TIME?

    – beep every hour
    – beep every mile
    – beep when heart rate higher than X
    – beep when heart rate lower than Y

    Or can I only have one alert at a time?

  83. Rob McMurry

    Have been having trouble with the connector to my Suunto Ambit 2R. Due to a faulty pin has been very difficult to sync. Suunto has agreed to replace under warranty, but it will take 4 weeks to receive the part USA. Surprised ANC disappointed parts are not more readily available. Kinda regretting not getting the Garmin 220.

  84. Peter Hart

    4 weeks, you should be so lucky. Try living in Australia where it can take months to get stuff like replacement parts even from the US. ANd don’t even start me out on postage costs

    • Rob McMurry

      Wow, months? Please don’t tell me you also have had issues with Suunto? I really like the watch and the features, the connector though not so much. Received e-mail from Suunto saying I should receive the part by the end of next week.

  85. Peter Hart

    Sorry, should have been more specific. I was not referring to Suunto but to replacement parts in general. Have had my Ambit for 18 months and it has behaved very well. Couple of software issues which resets have fixed and have found the Suunto help desk very good.Have recommended Suunto to a number of friends and will continue to do so. My only wish is for some sort of recharger because I tend to go trekking for a week or so at times and the Ambit runs out of steam, if anyone can recommend a decent charging pack I would be grateful

    • Morey000

      Any portable USB charger will work with it. There are plenty available on Amazon for $10-$30, depending on brand and mAh rating. The Ambit 2, I think, will hold about 800mAh. So, you’ll be able to get 3+ full charges out of the 3000mAh portable usb chargers. You can record a move while the watch is plugged into a charger as well. I ran a cable down my arm in my last Ultra. Even worked and charged it in the pouring rain.

    • Peter Hart

      Thanks for the advice so now have a 3000mAh stick. Just so that I get it right and set up properly did you plug the charger in at the time you started so that it was constantly charging or did you wait until the watch ran down some. Must say if the former works I can put it in my backpack and forget it. Or I could go out myself and try it out!! just looking for helpful advice

    • morey000

      It doesn’t matter. you can leave it plugged into the stick forever, or run it down and then plug it in during your move. It doesn’t really care. Some buttons are locked when you plug it in tho’.

  86. murraystraining

    Thanks for the review Ray.

    Is there a way to get the raw data files off the Ambit 2R without having a web connection to upload them to MovesCount? Not everyone is online 24/7!

    • I believe Sport Tracks can sideload the offloaded files from the computer, but I think you still have to be connected for Movescount to initiate the transfer from the watch to the computer. I could be incorrect there though. So yes, same pickle.

    • Adam R

      I am pretty sure the Moveslink program will download from the watch without a web connection, but needs it to upload to Movescount (obviously).

      Even if the upload fails, Rubitrack can then grab the file from the download cache. I assume Sport Tracks does it the same way.

  87. Shigehira

    This is from Kyoto, Japan.
    Thank you very much for your great in detail review about Ambit 2R, which is probably most reliable review in the world.

    Although 2R seems to be very nice choice, price here in Japan is almost over 350 dollar for watch alone. Therefore, we could not see any reasonable difference between 2, 2S and 2R from price point of view.

    I currently using Quest with GPS pod, and weight Ambit 3 will be coming.

    I hope to see your late braking review for Ambit 3 in very near future.

  88. Mike

    Can the Ambit2 black date diaplay show date like:
    12 July 2014
    rather than 12.07.14
    The Month Date display is the important thing to me – so far as it is annoying when I cant figure it. So often the displays show date and month and I have no idea if it is month date, or date month. Seems america is different to Oz and I would like to set it dd/mmm/yy. Can this? I havent found anything to enlighten me…

    • You can display it either: 12.07.14 (dd/mm/yyyy) or 07/12/14 (mm/dd/yyyy)

      This can be configured online in Movescount under Unit Settings. I don’t see a way to actually have the month spelled out.

  89. Mike

    yyyy or yy ?

    2014 or just 14?

    • Sorry, actually neither on the year. The example from the unit is really only 12.07 or 07/12.

      If you open up Movescount and select Gear, then your watch, then Unit Settings you can see the options.

  90. Mike

    I was afraid it was that. When I see 07/08/14 or 08/07/14 is not what I want – I need it to be clear. Oh well. I wonder if Garmin Tactix or Aquatix have that, I will head there and see. Thanks. The watches are similar in all respects for me, except this bugs me, and I want it right.

    • Adam

      american way has slashes “/”, european has dots “.” This is how You can distinguish. Pretty simple.


  91. Budana

    Dissapointed. For now. Here’s my email to Suunto support

    Dear support, I am an Ambit2 R user and just did my 10 km run just after the recent upgrade of Movescount and the Ambit2 R software.

    Things that I note after these upgrades (my login name is Jakarta):

    My app that I spent one week working for the success of its execution suddenly did not work. It did not beep and light up when the countdown timer reaches zero. And it did not calculate properly the RESULT = Recovery after the timer ends. Here’s the code (named 60S ONE SHOT HR RECOVERY):

    RESULT = Recovery;

    if (flag == 1) {
    if (timer > 0) {
    timer = timer – 1;
    Recovery = timer;
    prefix = ” “;
    postfix = “sec”;
    else {
    Recovery = InstantHR – SUUNTO_HR_MIN[5];
    prefix = “Rec”;
    postfix = “bpm”;
    flag = 0;

    if (SUUNTO_LAP_NUMBER > 0 && flag ==0 && timer > 0) {
    timer = 60;
    flag = 1;
    InstantHR = SUUNTO_HR_PREV;

    if (SUUNTO_LAP_NUMBER == 0) {
    Recovery = (((((SUUNTO_HR – SUUNTO_USER_REST_HR)/(SUUNTO_USER_MAX_HR – SUUNTO_USER_REST_HR))*100) – 50) / 10) + 1;
    prefix = “Zne”;
    postfix = ” “;

    2. I cannot upload (synchronize) my Ambit2 R to the Movescount.com site. this is the worse of the current problems. It stopped (and had a “failed” status) at the 2nd step : “Synchronizing settings” . I tried multiple times and it always stopped at that step.

    I always use 2 GPS watches in my routine runs (one a Suunto, the other a Garmin 310XT or 305) except on races – where I use the Suunto only. Why? Because of Suunto’s strength in customizing apps. But now? I am dissapointed of what has been working fine (and I am proud of) in my Ambit2 R suddenly stopped functioning after upgrades were done – dejavu – it’s not just Garmin who struggles in the updates/upgrades.
    Hoping the Suunto team can fix these issues quickly – or the more time it takes to fix, the lesser faith one will have in the product -.

    Thanks much


    • Budana

      After tweeking around with app, I believe I know what’s going on. After the update, Suunto starts the lap number at “1”, before the update, my app was working fine with starting lap number as “0” . This is why I think it is important that all enhancement, bug fixes are listed in every updates so that users know what to expect. I fixed my own app.

  92. Fernando C.

    Hi! Hope you are doing fine. I’m planning to buy my first GPS watch, but I wanted to know between the Suunto Ambit 2R and the Garmin 310xt, which one do you consider the best between those two? I practice kayaking so what matter the most for me is the GPS functionality, HR monitor, long lasting battery life and for it to be waterproof. I read both of you reviews and at first I was planning to buy the Garmin, until I saw your post about the Sale on the Suunto. Now I don’t now what to do. Thank you in advanced!

  93. Hi97


    Are the ambit 2 and 2s definitely getting the ability to create workouts on and off the unit. Like the 2r has? (Can the 2r create it on the unit???)

  94. Hi97

    On the comparison table on your first look at Suunto’s Ambit R, you say that it has an on unit interval feature. Does it really and if it does, are/have the ambit 2 and 2s getting this?

    • I’ve tweaked that back to the ‘barely’ status per the other Ambit units, per my comment above. All Suunto units at this point have the additional 2R capabilities. There is nothing that the 2R does that the 2/2S don’t.

  95. Senda

    You say the watch located satellites after two seconds after a long flight. Can the ambit 2 do this or have they change the chip?

    • The Ambit2R is really the same watch as the Ambit2S. It’s simply just different firmware, but physically it weighs the same and shares the same outer shell and internal guts.

  96. Frank

    Good report again, but i think you made a mistake on the comparison chart.

    The Ambit2 S is more expensive and is water proof down to 100m and has 50 hours of battery life.
    Not the Ambit2.

    Am i right?

    • No, you’ve got them mixed up – the chart is correct. The order (from cheapest to most expensive) is:

      Ambit2 R
      Ambit2 S
      Ambit2 Sapphire

      Note that Ambit2 S is different than Ambit2 Sapphire. The “S” does not stand for the Sapphire edition (which may be causing your confusion).

    • Frank

      You are right, I mixed it up.

      I’ve bought the Sapphire and was a little bit confused.


  97. daniel

    hi, i am considering buying the ambit 2r. i mainly run, i follow a schedule (furman first program) for a halfmarathon. right now i have a forerunner 405, and i have done the schedule as advanced workouts.
    the 405 is beginning to do strange things, and i think it deserves to go to retirement.
    i think that with the apps i could manage to create this kind of program (1200m reps, tempo, long run….)
    do you think it will be posible?

    another question. i plan to go to a swimming pool after summer once a week. I’d like to have the laps counting thing. but this is only present on the 2S. i am reluctant to pay the difference because I dont need all the extra features.
    i wonder if it exists, or if it be posible to develope an app for the 2R, which would do the counting thing (not the recognition, or the distance, … , just how many laps i swam during the workout). AFAIK, this function relays on the 3d accelerometer. and both units have them.

    do you think this would be posible?

    • You could create that in an app on the Ambit. It’d be a bit of work (actually, a lot of work if you did it for every session), but you can do it.

      I’m not aware of the 2R opening up the interfaces on the swim side to make that happen. As you note, it’s largely a software limitation though.

    • Daniel

      Hi, thanks a lot for the reply. In spent some time yesterday and i saw it was actually possible. It is actually lot of work. But so it is with the FR405. And i have the feeling that you can do copy/paste from a previous session. It might be even faster than creating the plan in the garmin. It really took me long.
      I also found yesterday the suunto developer guide 🙂 you are also right here. It does not look like that interface is open. A pity. But not terrible for me. It is not a must in my case.
      Thanks again!

  98. Navnit

    Hi Rai,

    Great review, the best one!!!

    I am preparing for my first half marathon and following Runkeeper for practice.
    I bought Ambit2 R last week and have to move my training clendar from Runkeper as Ambit2 R doesnt support Runkeeper and I can’t switch to new one in middle.
    So end up manually creating my training plan adding moves.

    I am struggling to set metric unit to miles (default -km). I tried bit but I only see km every time so I have to do mathematics to solve this.

    Any suggestion on this?

  99. Navnit

    lucky me.. Got it after posting here. you are the saviour !!

  100. Rodrigo

    I’m having a problem with AMBIT2 with the GSC-10 GARMIN sensor.
    The AMBIT2 shows only speed informed by the GSC-10 speed sensor. I can not get to appear on the screen the speed using the GPS.
    Do you know if is possible to show the speed by GPS? Or do I have to remove the GSC-10 for GPS speed?
    thank you

  101. Damien

    Hey, Rainmaker – one of the most thoughtful and thorough product reviews I’ve read – superb! So, a question – you mention that the main reason you would buy this over others is navigation. I like the idea of it, though reality is most of the time I know where I’m running (mix of road, grass, trail) – I would like bluetooth / smartphone upload, water resist at least 20m, HRM option (though to be honest I don’t use it much on my well-worn Garmin 405cx) – What’s the pick of the products on the market in your view?

    • morey000

      Yeah- the killer difference in running watches that the Suunto Ambit2R offers is Nav. The other nice thing about the Ambit is that it’s really stable, and very flexible (i.e. apps!)

      If Nav isn’t important then the Garmin’s (220/620) are nicely packaged and fully featured. The killer feature that I like with the Garmin’s is how easy it is to develop complex custom workouts and how well the watch takes you through those. -which, your 405cx will do as well (the new garmin running watches will NOT). Oh, and your 405cx will also do basic nav… sort of. If vibration alert is important to you, you may want to look in this direction as well.

      for cheap- the TomTom Runner (bluetooth comm to phone, waterproof) is a nice, thin, basic running watch… and Ray noted it was on sale this week using his Clever Training discount for $134. wow!

      The coolest new running watch product just may be the new tomtom Cardio- with built-in HR (the monitor is right in the watch, you don’t need a chest strap!).

      there is no ‘best’ option. It’s really about what features are important to you.

      Oh- almost forgot the newly announced Garmin FR15. that may be just what you want- a basic running watch, HR capable, bluetooth, waterproof and it also doubles as a daily activity monitor. $169

    • Damien

      hey, thanks so much for taking to time to reply – really appreciate your insights; your website is my go-to for gear review!

  102. Martin

    I wonder if you can tell me … my Ambit 2 R when in Navigation mode doesn’t show two arrows (go left or right)
    Instead I have to vertical line on the top (where 12 is) and small triangle moving 360 around. How can I get two arrows ?
    Thanks a lot

  103. Dara

    Can anyone comment on how this watch does in high humidity, hot conditions? I run in central Georgia. I had one of the original Garmin’s, loving called the brick, which worked great for me. Unfortunately, Garmin products have not worked well for me recently so I want to try another brand. I plan to train for another marathon and need the motivation of a watch to track distant. The navigation feature seems like an added bonus for motivation. I also need something reliable. Would love anyone’s thoughts on reliability in hot, humid, high sweat conditions. Thanks!

  104. Semi Ennafaa


    I would like to ask if you have any idea if Suunto will release Ambit 3 this year?

  105. martin

    Hi, great reviews on the Suunto watches, thanks. Im hoping to do my first full IM later this year, and I see the battery life on the Ambit2 S is 8/12/25hrs, depending on GPS activity (1,5,60 sec updates). . . Which would mean Im on a 5 sec update at best. .

    What is the data like on a 5 sec update, particularly the run – Id imagine you’d loose quite a bit for your average pace / speed etc ?

    £90 between the Ambit 2 Sapphire, Ambit2 Silver & A2 S. . . tough call.


    • For the run on an Ironman, 5s is probably sufficient unless you’re a pro (in which case things won’t really matter). I say that because if you’re like me, you’ll be moving a bit slower, thus 5s vs 1s isn’t really too big a deal.

    • martin

      thanks for the quick reply. good points about the run pace and id prob be doing more ½ IM’s than full ones, so 8 hours is ample on a higher update. . .

  106. Seth

    Any word if Suunto will ever get on board with the Bluetooth ability in the near future? Trying to decide between the FR220 and the Ambit2 R. If it’s coming I’ll wait it out…


  107. martin

    1 more question on the ambit, is there a function to record transition times, or does it go straight from swim – bike – run ?


  108. Is its battery life also good? With all the features and functions the armbit has, I wonder how long the batt lasts when you’re using it like every day.

  109. Sander


    I was wondering if or ever the ambit 2R will be able to read the running dynamics from say a wahoo tickr run. it would make a killer addition to the 2R if it could and it would be an instant buy for me.

    • No, pretty unlikely. For two reasons – one is that the Running Dynamics isn’t transmitted over ANT+, but only over Bluetooth Smart (which the Ambit2R lacks), and then second is that Suunto would have to update their unit to read that data from the Wahoo strap (even if Wahoo did start sending it over ANT+). Which, would be unlikely since Suunto would want you to buy their accessories instead.

  110. Yaniv

    I’ve just get a brand new Ambit 2 r, use to have ambit 1.
    I can not find how to use the compass, need to get to “Activate” but i do not have it.
    My “next” button is empty.
    Any help?


  111. Klaus N

    Thank you very much for great reviews. Does the Ambit 2 R has any advantages over the 2S? The price is now the same here in Scandinavia. Should I head for 2S then or do I miss functionality or is eveything updated in the 2S? Thank you very much.

  112. Tim

    Ray, I always enjoy your thorough reviews. Heck if your athletic how could you not enjoy? I’ve sold my Garmin 620 which worked great. But after reading the Fenix2 reports I wanted to give it a try. Man there is a LOT to try and it seems to work well. However, with Garmin switching from GarminConnect their new online site has problems. So, I gave the Ambit2S a shot. I like the weight and the overall watch. BIG issue is the on screen print size. Example; If your running you heart rate can be shown in large print. Unlike the 620 where you can easily see heart rate, distance, and, average lap time you must keep switching the screen. Have you noticed this in your research. Both the 610, 620, and, mostly the Fenix2 are much to read the screen when exercising. Can the Ambit2S be adjusted to a similar size such as the 620 (letters, numbers)? I’ve gone through the manual and I just could not find anything to address this. Thank You

    • No method to change screen text size display (other than reducing data fields), though with the Ambit you can invert the screen (black/white). Most folks find the Ambit easier to read than the Fenix2 however.

  113. paola

    last week end I run on the Dolomites the Cortina Trail, a 50km, on the Lavaredo Ultra Trail paths. my suunto didn’t do too well, the battery last 7 hrs. I mean, only 7 hrs. it was fully recharged, and to be on the safe side of the house, I set the GPS to last at least 12 hrs. Yes, I was pretty disappointed. sent a note to Suunto customer service with the run, so they can analyze it and their answer was fully recharg the battery and try again. very disappointed now.

  114. paola

    I knew the run could have last more than 8 hrs, so I set the GPS accuracy to good, 12 hrs battery life.

    • Adam

      there is one more possibility here.
      If You have already connected the watch via usb to Your PC, and then changed settings for Your activity to “GOOD” GPS accuracy, then they are NOT synced to the watch. This is because settings sync is done at connecting of the watch (just after downloading moves from device).
      You would have to disconnect / connect watch again to apply these new settings on the watch. Do You remember exactly the order of Your actions?


  115. John

    Does anyone have trouble with the Movescount website? I’m running the latest Chrome, and it continually either reverts back to the homepage or asks me to log in again (once I’ve already logged in), meaning that I can’t always access what I need to. I *tried* to put in a support request, but in both Chrome and Firefox, the site never gave me confirmation that my message was sent, so Suunto will either have zero or about fifteen support requests from me. I am less than impressed with this website!

    Also, is there a way to rearrange the order of your Exercises, either through the watch or the website?


  116. paola

    thanks Adam for the smart remark, at least I would have expected the Suunto customer service asking that too. anyway, I am pretty positive that after changing the GPS accuracy and uploading the track (I used run a route) I unplugged the Ambit and plug it back to let it receive the updates. 2 months ago I bought 2 suunto R and the guy who has the other one run the race with me. well, his Ambit died 20 minutes after mine.so both were very disappointed.

    • Adam

      sure thing you have full right to be disappointed! Knowing my temper I might have end up throwning the watch from the hill that it died on 😛
      battery life is in general tricky thing and when I read manual/vendors info like “x hrs depending on conditions” I tend to subtrack at least 20% (in Your case is close to half so it would help anyway!!). This was main issue I decided to go for Ambit2, as with GOOD accuracy and stated 24hrs I am pretty sure that whatever happens, I will get 15hrs for sure.
      In general I dont like the trend in new devices where battery life is not being improved at all! I mean FR305 from 2006 had battery life of 10hrs! I know it’s bulky, but it was 8y ago! And during these 8y they should have come up with some improvements. Moreover the number of people running ultras has risen 10x in last 5y, so there is market for long lasting units.

      Anyway, no turning back time. Sorry for Your experience. I hope You had fantastic race otherwise…
      I checked results. Were You the “8hrs Paola” or “9hrs Paola”?

      cheers, Adam

    • JBT

      Paola, had the same experience – I bought the watch for a 10 hr mountain hike and it lasted about the 7 hours too. Tested it afterwards by leaving it on my windowsill and got the same deal more or less. I had definitely synced the settings repeatedly for Good (12 hours). Long story short: it was sent back to Suunto by Wiggle the retailer under warranty. A month or so later Wiggle kindly sent me a new watch from their stock (complete with HR monitor this time for free) as Sunnto take ages getting back on warranties. Nicely played Wiggle. Not so nice Suunto. I still like the watch though…

  117. Csaba

    Hello guys,

    I’ve bought the Ambit 2R mainly based on this review. The selling points for me were the apps, the auto-pause and ascent / descent data as I do a lot of hiking. Unfortunately I seem to have issues with all of those… I’ve sent the following questions to Suunto support, but their answer was next to useless [I’ve added further clarifications in the brackets]. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. The Ascent data seems to be way off sometimes. How can it be +252m for this move: link to movescount.com when the difference between the lowest and highest point is almost +800m? I’ve let the device find GPS signal for almost 30 minutes before starting the hike and there was a clear sky with no clouds or fog for most of the time. [interval is set to 1s]

    2. Are there plans to include the option to auto-correct altitude data for moves, based on known altitude for GPS coordinates (feature similar to those that Garmin Connect or Runtastic has)?

    3. Is there a way to fine-tune the speed threshold for auto-pause? The watch likes to keep auto-pausing then auto-unpausing on steep ascents when continually moving (happened even when trail-running actually).

    4. Why is the Ascent (SUUNTO_ASCENT) variable in the App Designer unavailable for Ambit 2R, when the watch can display this data? Is there a different variable name or workaround that should be used to gather this data when designing an app? [I can use successfully the Current Incline App, which uses a non-documented LAP_INCLINE variable, but this variable cannot be added to new apps]

  118. René

    Hi there

    First, thanks to DC for this great site, I really love the reviews 🙂

    Second, do any of you fine folks know if there are any ways of importing an activity from my ambit 2 into garmin connect?

    My problem is that i started with a Garmin 610 for running, then got a 810 for biking. Then i decided to train for an ironman and found out that i needed a watch for swimming and tri workouts. I got tiered of waiting for a new version of the 910 and decided to buy a ambit 2.

    Now I’m a bit stuck as i can’t figure out how to import my move scout activities to garmin connect. I have tried strava, but that do not go well with swimming 🙁

    How do you guys collect all your data?

    Best regards

    • You can export the .FIT file from Movescount and then manually upload it to Garmin Connect.

    • René

      Hi DC

      Thanks for your quick reply, it is much appreciated 🙂

      I just gave it a go, but sadly no luck..
      Exportet a pool swim fit file, and tried to upload it manual to garmin connect. But every time I get an error saying that an error occurred please try again 🙁

      Can anyone confirm that they have done an import this way?

  119. Mike

    Hi – I’ve just bought the Ambit and uploaded my first run. I cannot see how I can give my run a name (as you can in Garmin Connect or Strava). Do you know if this is possible? Many thanks….. Mike.

  120. Andrew

    Hi Ray

    I have a quick question about the difference between the 2s and the 2r. I was sold on the 2r but then I read something you said about the 2r having cut down navigation features compared to the 2s. I don’t need multi sport, I like the black of the 2r compared to the 2s but I am a bit worried that I’d be missing something useful from the 2s navigation if I went for the 2r. Can you enlighten me a bit more about the navigation differences or tell me where I can find out about the exact differences, after taking into account the firmware upgrades.

    Thanks in advance

    • The majority of the changes has to do with the baromtric altimeter. Additionally, you have less flexibility into when you can navigate, in terms of whether you’ve started an activity or not. But ultimately, you can get to the same place with either watch.

      From a navigation features, they have a little comparison chart on their site – which shows all the differences and you’ll see that core-feature wise it’s all there: link to suunto.com – It’s just a case of how you access those functions.

    • Andrew

      Thanks for the reply Ray. As a result of continually coming back to the comparison tables on here I noticed how cheap the ambit 2 is at CT and am going to order that (hurrah for having relatives in Washington who are visiting next month – forgot about that when looking for the Scosche hrm at CT). I’ve decided that the better battery life on the 2 is actually well worth the premium as I’m always getting lost when I decide to explore while running or cross country skiing. Thanks again, Andrew

    • Nice, enjoy! And thanks for the support via Clever!

    • Andrew

      Ha, one more question ! More of an after thought on my part, but does the ambit 2 have everything that the 2r has now the firmware has been updated ? I mean like the running functions, cadence from the watch etc?

  121. cj


    Does the Suunto Movestick Mini stick work with the Ambit series – in this particular case – the Ambit2 R?

  122. Michal Lapsansky

    Hallo, I want to ask about Openwater Swimming, have you tried them as they work? thank you

  123. James Thompson

    Thanks for your review of the Ambit 2R. I have an old Garmin 405 and am considering the 220 or the Ambit 2R. What I like about the 405 (and assume is part of the 220) is the ability to mix up my workouts with running and walking intervals. For instance I might create a workout at Garmin Connect where I run for a while and then walk for a while and repeat this for about three or four interval using different time and distance metrics for each. I would then download this “workout” to the watch and go run/walk. Dose the Ambit 2R have this capability? Thanks in advance for your response.

  124. Helge

    Thank you very much for that review. It helped me make my decision for the Ambit2 R Black (HR).

    Currently its available very cheap (190€) from outnorth.com (with 10 % voucher for the newsletter registration)

  125. Jarmo

    I am currently considering between FR220 and Ambit 2R. In this review you said about the Movescount that

    “You can add the altimeter (elevation) field onto any data page on any profile you want. You can also show total ascent and total descent as well as vertical speed.”

    How is Garmin Connect using the altimeter data in reports? The FR220 does store the GPS altimeter data from the practice session, doesn’t it?

    • The FR220 stores the elevation info (from GPS), which then is overriden on Garmin Connect with radar imaged elevation data.

      That all said, in the most recent firmware update – Garmin added the elevation data field to the FR220. So they’re kinda equal in that respect now.

    • Jarmo

      I realized later of what you said about GC overwriting the elevation data. Is the the norm both in Movescount and GC? My watch is so old (Suunto t3 w/ GPS Pod)so I haven’t got a chance to try this.
      This really matters here in Finland where the GPS elevation data is not very reliable. The map data is usually better, especially if using local map services.

    • Yes, pretty much the norm for most sites these days.

  126. Jarmo

    Thanks for the info. It’s quite close call for me between these two then. I suppose both have a good hardware and not much bugs.

    The vibration alarm may turn the FR220 to be the winner. The Suunto apps sound great but I really cannot find much use for them for now. Maybe later.

    The Movescount is a good service (I have an old Suunto T3 now), but Garmin Connect looks about as good for a training logbook use.

  127. Alan16

    I’d just like to thank you Ray for the brilliant reviews of the Forerunner 220 and the Ambit2 R – very detailled and a lot of work has gone into them. It was a hard choice and I finally decided on the Suunto (had it for a week now). I like the ability to customise my own “sport” modes – I have an “Indoor Rowing” that I use for heart rate and cadence on the ergo and it works great. I also like the apps, including Ghost Runner that is a good virtual partner. So far, Movescount seems to be amazing – I got the hang of it really fast. I cannot believe how fast the satellite aquisition is on the Suunto. Mine gets satellite lock within 2 seconds, even indoors! Unfortunately I could just not get past the cheap “childs toy watch” look of the FR220, and the plastic face (vs mineral crystal on the Suunto) was a big decider. Why would Garmin use an easily scratched or broken plastic face on a watch like this?? However, I think for most runners who own an iPhone, the FR220 is certainly the better choice and more advanced watch. For me though, the Ambit2 R looks to be built much better and more robust and has better customisation options, including the ability to load routes and apps. So far I am pleased with it. Well done Ray and thank you for the fantastic reviews.

  128. Just ordered on Ambit2 R after reading your review. Thank you. Great combination of running and mountain functionalities in my opinion.

  129. Matthew

    is there any way to restore the ambit 2r to factory defaults?

  130. Art

    Now that the 2S is on sale and thus considerably less expensive than the 2R, is their any reason why a runner would still buy the 2R?

  131. Art

    Will do. Thanks.
    With the FR210, I found instantaneous pace worthless. I was told that Garmin is working on a smoothing algorithm. In your experience, does Suunto do a better job?
    Also, where I often run, has a 300 foot long tunnel at the end of mile 3 (of 5) Will the 2S,revert at that point to Foot pod data for the whole run?

    • morey000

      Instantaneous pace is pretty stable on the Suunto- as it fuses data from its internal accelerometer with gps data. That said- it’s a bit slow to respond. It might be 10+ seconds after i pick up the pace, that the watch is fully showing me how fast I’m running. I guess that’s to be expected tho’. Seems pretty accurate and stable when I’m doing a track workout, where I can really judge a steady pace vs time.

      I once ran with two garmin 405’s on the same wrist… each showing instantaneous pace. i was amazed at how different they were. each +/- a minute or more per mile.

      Given that the internal accelerometer of the Ambit2 already gives you cadence, there’s minimal reason to use a footpod. Ok- treadmill perhaps…. or if you run through 300ft tunnels. 🙂 It’s seamless when running under bridges and small tunnels. Not sure exactly how it would do in a 300footer. That would be an interesting test.

  132. Art

    Thanks Morey. You find the internal accelerometer accurate?

    • morey000

      The capturing of cadence by the internal accelerometer is outstanding. It even works when you are wiping the sweat from your brow, or looking at your watch. Must have a very good algorithm, as it’s not just measuring arm swing.

      as for how accurate it is at measuring pace- I have no idea; but I think the idea there is to use the accelerometer to supplement GPS data. There’s only so accurate a wrist mounted accel can be. right?

  133. Seth

    Ray did the 2S ever back port the ability to eliminate the need for foot pod use during indoor running?

  134. emac

    So there is no reason now to have a footpod with the 2S?

  135. Art

    On Amazon, a few customers said that when you use the foot pod, the Ambit 2S ignores GPS Data totally and provides inaccurate pace data. Has anyone found this to be the case?

    • All Suunto Ambit units when used with a footpod will override the GPS data. If said footpod isn’t correctly calibrated, it would indeed be out of whack. Unfortunately there isn’t a method to change the speed source.

    • Stefano

      Hi Ray and thanks for the great job you’re doing.
      Just a clarification about the foot pod / gps thing.
      Can I use the foot pod to track speed and distance and still gather GPS data?
      I’m asking since someone said (in another web) that using a foot pod the GPS turns off.


    • Yup, it’ll still show the GPS track with a footpod.

  136. Art

    Thanks for the clarification, Ray. So I second emacs question: do you need a foot pod with the Ambit?

    • No, you don’t. By default the Ambit2/2S/2R/3 will gather cadence from the internal accelerometer and said cadence seems quite good to me.

      For pace on a treadmill, I’d give the rating about a B+ or so (see the section within this review on that). It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad either.

  137. Keith

    Hi, quick question…how to do I set an audible distance alert for running/cycling/swimming? Say I want a beep at every 1km? Do I need a 3rd party app?

    • Yup, that’s called ‘Auto Lap’, which is built in: link to dcrainmaker.com (see a bit into that section about auto lap).

      If you don’t want laps but just want beeps you’d need an app for that (Alerts), but I’m sure there are many that cover that since it’s pretty basic.

  138. Frank B.

    A few questions about the compass. I’ve also asked this at the Suunto site but got no responses in a month.

    1. Is there a way to use the magnetic compass without the GPS on? On multi-day hikes where the battery is an issue, I would like conserve the battery while still using the compass.

    2. Is there an alternative compass display besides digital? The constantly flickering numbers are annoying – I would rather see an arrow as with the Fenix (or a traditional compass).


  139. Michelle H

    Thanks for this incredibly thorough review. I’m looking into buying a Sunnto for an upcoming backpacking trip in Yosemite AND future triathlon training. I’ve been going back and forth about which AMBIT to purchase, reading tons of reviews, and checking out the watches in-person… but I was still confused. Your review helped me decide exactly what I want… (AMBIT2 S – you’re right about the great deals to be had!!) I’m ordering today and I’m SO excited.

    Thanks for your help!

  140. andy

    Bought the Ambit2 in mid-May and was pleased with its functions, particularly that it is well suited not only to running and cycling but also to mountaineering (well, as long as you don’t plan to measure throughout the trip, unless of course you’re Ueli Steck). Movescount was a little awkward at first but OK, though I don’t try to take full advantage of its potential functions, in which case it may well fall short of Garmin’s and others as others have complained.

    Two quality problems have emerged, one small, the other big. First, the case and glass aren’t terribly robust–a small brush with a rock (as happens in the mountains) leaves a pretty nice scratch. Probably best to keep it inside the pack. Not sure if the sapphire version would fare better.

    Second, the alligator-clamp style charging/USB connection has always been a bit finicky, and today, after it failed to synch (happens often), the watch just went completely blank, as though the battery had somehow been completely drained (it was at 85% charge before I plugged it into the computer). No (reasonable) amount of fiddling or waiting has restored it. Now an expensive doorstop, it’s going back to Return Every Item tomorrow.

    Only problem is what to get to replace it.

  141. Thomas J

    Hi rainmaker
    I thinking of buying the Suunto Ambit2 Sapphire HR.
    I have a Concept2 D, PM4 indoor rowing.
    Does anyone know if suunto Ambit2 works with the concept2?

  142. emac

    The Suunto does display heart rate on a Concept2 — but only if the C2 has a PM4 display on it…

    link to concept2.com

  143. Frans

    Can you compare the suunto Ambit 2R with the Gamin Forerunner 220.
    In Holland there the same in price.
    I think, based upon your review that the Suunto is a better device.
    What is you opinion??

    Thx Frans

    • It depends on what you’re doing. In short, if you’re a normal non-trail-running runner, the FR220 is probably a better product in most cases. If however, you do a lot of trail running or hiking and want navigation, then the 2R is a better product.

  144. Thomas Eklund

    Any rumors on a new firmware on Suunto 2 now when Suunto 3 has arrived?

  145. Khadija

    I’m very unhappy with Suunto customer service. My ambit 2r hr does not work and it’s brand new out of the box. The distance doesn’t display. Customer service has been useless. In so upset. I should have gone with a garmin.

  146. oscar

    Hi Ray, I have been reading your reviews for a few days. I’m getting back into running and cycling after abandoned for the last two years. I am using for tracking my sessions and Ipod with nikeplus that I have since few years ago, but I want to go for a next step since now I have time to train again.

    I came to your website finding information about the 620 first, and the 220 and tomtom cardio multisport later, because i thought the extra price of the 620 didn’t bring anything to me. When i was trying to decide between the Tomtom and the 220, I came along with the Suunto 2R, and i thought that this was perfect for me. It is within my price range and with waypoint direction. It is not as good for just running as the 220, but I could use it with my mountain bike on routes.

    My problem now is the Suunto 2R or the Fenix1. I found a website were you still can buy the Fenix 1 and is 50€ cheaper than the Suunto. I like the looks of Suunto more and I don’t like that Fenix1 is a 2012 product, but it is a top of the range. Which one do you think is better?

  147. oscar

    Hi, I found your update about the price of the Suunto Ambit2 S and i think there is not discussion, is better than the fenix1 for that price.

    About something else, I was trying to find reviews on running websites. I didn’t find anything in your website, but, for what I read on your reviews, I see that you use Strava, TrainingPeaks and MyFitnessPal. I would like to know if you got any premium subscription of any of them, or which one is the main website you use for tracking your activities


  148. Check out link to ambitintervals.com – a site/app I’ve created to design structured workouts & interval sets for Suunto Ambit watches.

    The site generates two Ambit Apps – one to track your duration for each workout step (time, distance, bpm, kcal), and one to track your target (pace, speed, watt, bpm, cadence). The apps are meant to be used together, configured on the same screen.

    Still not as easy/good as workouts on Garmin watches – but a better option than having to hand-code each interval session as a custom app.

  149. seabronco

    I am trying to decide between the Ambit 2S and the FR220. BTW, the price of the 2S w/HRM ($239) is about $60 cheaper than both the 2R and FR220 ($299) now. I have just gotten focused on fitness over the last 3 months or so and I still do the majority of my training on the treadmill though I want to get out and do more outdoor running as I get more fit. I also do weight training.

    At any rate, for me in my current situation the most important factor is the accuracy of the internal accelerometer for pace/distance while on a treadmill. So my main question is which watch, the 2S or the FR220 has the more accurate accelerometer for pace/distance on a treadmill. I saw earlier that you said none of the watches were very good in this area but then you said you’d give the 2S a B+ in this area. In the FR220 review you indicated the pace/distance for treadmill was very inaccurate. So that would seem to indicate the Ambit 2S is more accurate. Would you agree or did I misread something? Note that my pace right now is very slow so I don’t know if that is a factor or not in how accurate the watch is.

    Other factors for me are as follows: I like the idea of customizing my screens like the Ambit does and don’t mind doing that on the PC and uploading to the watch. I can already envision setting up an activity for weight training. On the other hand the Bluetooth connectivity, live tracking and the custom workout capability of the FR220 are also very attractive. What’s your recommendation based on all of the above.

    One thing I left out. While the GPS functionality is important to me, the reason I started looking at watches to begin with was to monitor my heart rate to ensure it doesn’t exceed my recommended Max HR and also to optimize my training to HR Zones. I was initially looking at Polar watches that seem to specialize in this but read many negative reviews about their web site and also the basic quality and reliability of their watches. So probably the second most important feature for me is how much heart rate analysis capability exists both in the watch and the web site.

  150. Marcus

    Hi –
    Does anyone know if there is a way to load a gpx file onto the watch as a route instead of having to manually click through the waypoints on movescount? I’m doing an 80k self-navigated race in a couple weeks and was hoping the Ambit2 R could help me in this regard.


  151. umberto

    thank For Your reports.
    I have a Suunto Ambit 2r. Exporting route in xlsx I can see something strange on recorded date.
    I set repcording 1sec. And gps accuracy at max (8 hours autonomy).
    So in the file there is a row For each Second but in column ‘distance’ i can see Values up only every 3/4 rows.
    I have some older runs where distance up every Second For the first time and then after 20/30min start with gps distance every 2 sec, then 3sec , 4.
    It is normal? GPS accuracy it is really 1sec?

    • rickNP

      I don’t know if you ever got an answer, Umberto, but I too, see this. I set everything to 1 sec and “Best” within MovesCount, but when I import my track into mygpsfiles it tells me I only have 616 track points in a 45 minute run. I wonder if maybe I need to reboot or something. I’ll keep testing.

  152. Zed

    Hi Ray, great review (as always I would say). As I am in the market right now to upgrade from my Suunto M5 to most likely Ambit 2 R, I was wondering if I’m good to go with my current heart rate strap of M5 (Suunto dual), as you are mentioning above heart rate straps ANT or ANT + ?

    • Yes, Suunto ANT is fine with the 2R.

      That said, just a word to the wise – the 2R is actually more expensive than the 2S right now (which is $219US). And, the 2S has everything the 2R does, and a crapton more. 😉

  153. Cormac

    Thanks for the great review Ray.
    Have my 2R since last Friday from my local store. Love it so far, the ability to configure multiple sports such as circuits, cycling, various running types (road, track, trail, indoor) is great.
    I’m not a triathlete so don’t need a multisport device, though it is useful to have the flexibility of other sports if doing some cross training.
    One quick question – I noticed when charging it for the first time that the watch enters a power save mode after 10 minutes static, which obviously is the case when charging at a desk from a power socket. This interrupted the charging so I had to keep moving it to stop it going to sleep.
    It didn’t seem to be the case when plugged in later to the laptop at home.
    This could have been fixed in a firmware release but I haven’t seen any mention of it here or elsewhere.
    I’m only just under 50% so won’t get to test it out again for a few days.

    Saying that, the battery % display on the normal watch screen is a great idea. It gives a good indication of how much power you have left & you get to know roughly how much power you need for a given activity.
    Build quality seems really sturdy compared to other watches I’ve seen and handled and it doesn’t look out of place in the office like a lot of others would.

  154. Tyler

    Thanks for the review! I decided to buy the Ambit2 R and I was hoping you could answer a few questions I have. I have always run with a Garmin and like the audible alert feature when you hit each mile. Can this watch do that?
    Also, does autolap need to be selected to get data for each mile (if it is set to a mile)? I would like to run a race and be able to go online and see my data for each mile. When I selected autolap it seemed to start the time and everything all over again during the run. I don’t want it to do that.
    Finally, when I retrieve the run data on Moveslink it still has it in Km even though I set it to imperial. On the “moves” screen it tells me my total distance in km. How can I change that?


    • 1) Yes, it has auto lap functionality. Yes, you’ll need to enable it ahead of time, or, just manually press the lap button each mile.

      2) On Movescount, you’ll want to also change your display settings to imperial as well.

  155. Thang

    I own an unknown cheap Schwinn gps watch ( probably a rebadge or soleus because I can use the same software) and it take quite a long time to get the signal. So I jumped on the Ambit2 R with a special deal and I am very impressed with the build quality, the flexibility of configuring the screen and the ability to lock gps signal within a few seconds. Today, I ran 4 miles with both watches and I think the Schwinn does better job than the Ambit2 R. First, the Armbit2 R reported 0.05 mile shorter (4.05miles vs 4.10 miles). Strava shows the same distance from both watches: 4.10miles. I ran on the same narrow path/trail on the way back and the plotted lines are much more closer with data from the Schwinn watch than the ones from the Suunto. I wouldn’t care and wouldn’t know how bad is the Armbit2R. I am casual runner who just run to stay fit so it doesn’t matter much but knowing my old cheap GPS watch outperforms my newer one really ruins my excitement.

    • Thang

      After going back and forth between the two data, I would say the Armbit2 R did not record good data during the first 4 minutes where there are many tall trees and building. I will run on open trail and compare again them again.
      Any suggestion?

    • Honestly, a difference of only .05mi on 4.05 miles is roughly 1%, which is within range of GPS units that typically get within 2%.

      Given it’s only one run, I’d look to do additional runs. Do ensure you have good satellite coverage before starting. I’ll often wait another 10-15 seconds after it finds coverage just to get a nice solid lock.

  156. Grey Darrah

    I’m having the hardest time trying to create a custom cycling mode. I guess the screens have changed on Movescount from the ones you show here. All I’m wanting is a watch screen that displays current speed, distance and average speed. MPH would be preferred, but I think you can only use KPH. It seems like that would be an app that someone has already created, but I can’t seem to find it or figure out how to create it. Any help you might offer would be appreciated.

    • No need for an app, you can do that via the standard display customization using the Movescount site. Just add a new data page and then click left/right to three rows. Then for each row choose one of the three data fields you noted above.


    • Grey Darrah

      Thanks so much for the reply, and I’m sorry for being such an idiot, but I cannot figure out how to add a new data page on the movescount site. Is there any way you could you tell me more specifically where I create this? I’m a “Garmin guy” and I’m trying to set this up for my wife…we’re new to Suunto.

    • Jaimy

      It should be rather easy like Ray described but let me be a bit more specific
      (you can always check any of the Suunto videos (YouTube channel) or Suunto Ambit2 R manual if Ray’s review or my description do not seem to work for you).
      This is generally how you create your own dataset on a display:
      On the movescount website go to: Gear -> Suunto Ambit2 R
      Under the Customization tab you should see a number of pre set sport modes.
      Select your sport mode (in your case you probably have a Cycling mode) and click on the red Edit button. You should be able to see different kinds of (pre set) displays.
      You have a maximum of 8 displays per sportmode to configure.
      Just select an empty watch (with no data shown) and click on ”add display”.
      From there on you can use the black right/left arrows to switch display types and
      use the blue arrows to choose what to show in this row.
      In your case:
      current speed = Speed -> Speed
      distance = Distance/GPS -> Distance
      average speed = Speed -> Average speed

      You can clear other displays by clicking the red closing button/x.

      My pace shows min/km and my speed shows km/h. I’m not sure if this is customizable through any of the settings.

      Good luck

    • Grey Darrah

      Thanks a million! That was so easy (I love step by step instructions) and worked perfectly.

  157. Peter

    Great. Movescount website has been down since at least December 21st. Did a run on the 22nd: unable to sync. Promised it would be up 24th (today). So did a run today, website still down, unable to sync. Now they are promising it will be up by the 26th. I think this is unacceptable, especially given the facts that most settings on the watch need to be changed from the website and not on the watch.

    It is about time Suunto gave us the same as Tomtom: ability to upload directly to Strava, Endomondo and the lot (there is Strava connectivity, but you are required to upload to Movescount first after which it will sync to Strava, so that is not working now either)

  158. Tobias

    Hi, great review!
    what do you think is best, polar m400 or ambit2 R, from a runner perspective?

  159. Thang

    Well, my Suunto ambit2R failed after 10 runs. The watch stopped recording in the middle of the run and now I could not sync with the computer. I went to the exercise menu and it seems like the memory was corrupted. I tried to update the firmware to refresh the watch and now it is bricked. :(. I will go back to my old watch then. Hopefully Suunto will fix it.

  160. Dave Kirkpatrick

    Hi Ray,
    Do you know if there are any issues with the Wahoo Tickr Run pairing with an Ambit2 R? I spent about 35 minutes the other day trying to get the two together, but to no avail. The Ambit will pair with the HR strap it came with, but not with either the Wahoo or an older (much older) Timex HR strap. Thanks for providing such a comprehensive review site.

  161. Fred


    I am a beginner runner. I do mostly trail running and some hiking. So far, I have been using Runkeeper on my phone to track my runs. Here in Canada at the moment, I can have the Suunto Ambit2 R with the HR strap for 224.99 and Garmin Forerunner 910xt without the HR strap for 249.99. I am torn between the two. Since I mostly run in the mountains, I want a reliable altimeter. The 910xt as a real altimeter and the A2 R uses the GPS. I would prefer the A2 R since the 910xt is so old, but the 910xt for 249.99 is so cheap…

    Any thoughts ?

  162. Omar Umanzor

    Hi, this is quite honestly the best review for the Suunto Ambit 2R in the WWW.
    I purchased mine in December after taking up running more seriously.

    Every running book says you have to cross train. It’s pretty much forced upon. Just recently I joined a gym and started doing laps in their pool. Can I use my Ambit 2R just to keep track of lap and times while swimming indoors? As of now I just look at my watch and keep track of the seconds after every lap. I just want an option that can do this automatically and save the data.

    Thank you

    • Unfortunately not – only the 2S or 2 (full edition), or the Ambit 3 non-R variants.

      That said, you can certainly hit the lap button to just keep track of time – but it won’t give distance/etc…

  163. James

    Hello Ray,
    This is an amazing website, especially for a new runner like me who has no idea how to compare sports watches, so thank you! I am a male who has particularly small wrists; they’re only 1cm bigger than your wife’s, so your pictures of the watches on her wrists and comments about how bulky they feel are very useful for me. Seeing that the white version of the 2R has a smaller strap, I’m more drawn to it than the black one. However, on Suunto’s website, it describes the white 2R as being designed especially for women. Similarly, Garmin categorise their FR10/15 watches as being either for men and women. I was wondering if there is anything other than the styling that makes a watch gender specific?
    Best wishes,

  164. emac

    No, there is nothing gender specific about the Ambit 2R. I am a woman; I have had one for 19 months now, I love it.

    In the personal info where it figures out your metabolism, though, even on this one it asks you to say male or female. It uses the same displays and has the same software as the other ones. The white strap IS smaller; the white strap is also softer and way more comfortable than the others. But it does not say “for women” anywhere o the watch and that strap is the only difference…

  165. Lanz

    Hi Ray,
    I read from the other forum the ambit’s silicone strap/band tend to broke less in a year even in normal use, is this true??
    Appreciate your kind of feedback as im looking for this kind of watch…
    Thanks in advance…

    • I haven’t heard of other complaints of that. It may be a handful of people, but nothing that I’ve seen folks complain about here.

    • Lanz

      Thanks for your fdback ray
      Fyi i’m from malaysia & i got this -ve fdback regardg ambit silicone strap from suunto official website (review/fdback) & from their sales/marketing team too, i wonder why…hmmmm
      Btw thanks again ray, really appreciated your view…

    • Sqf1

      I’ve had the Ambit since new. I’ve replaced the band every year because it breaks every winter. I tried both versions with similar results. I’ve paid more for straps $70 each than I did for the watch. I love the watch other than that.

    • Sqf1

      I’ve had the Ambit since new. I’ve replaced the band every year because it breaks every winter. I tried both versions with similar results. I’ve paid more for straps than I did for the watch. I love the watch other than that.

    • Sqf1

      I’ve had the Ambit since new. I’ve replaced the band every year because it breaks every winter. I tried both versions with similar results.

    • Thang Tra

      How do you take off the watch? Don’t pull and bend the straps. Just push the bucket as you want to tighten the straps and turn your arm so that the tongue just drops out.

  166. Peter Hart

    Was going to post this on Ambit 1 but it seems to have fallen into disuse and I guess there is the same issue with Ambit2 and 3 etc.
    Had the Ambit for a couple of years and really like and use it all the time. Lately the watch started to fail to hold charge eg dropped about 50% in 12 hours just in timekeeping mode, looks like it needs a replacement battry for which there is a replacement kit ( a normal CR 2032 battery). But the watch has to be returned to a service depot for the replacement and as there are none in Australia, the watch has to go to Hong Kong!! Just to replace a common battery. Apart from the time factor, I wonder how much this is going to cost me? Surely it cannot be that difficult to disassemble the watch to put in a new battery but have searched everywhere on line without success.

    Has anyone ever tried to do this, or does anyone know if there are any instructions,videos etc

  167. Hossein Rezaeehagh

    my wife is gonna but a Suunto Ambit 3 sport online
    but she has got some doubt about the size
    isn’t it a little big for a female wrist?
    maybe it’s fine for a male but for a female i think it’s huge like every one will notice in a bad way?
    what do you say?



  168. Lyes

    Hi Ray
    Thank you soo much for this extremely detailed review, I just bought one and I love it 🙂
    just one thing you may want to add in the elevation / altitude section :
    the watch always records altitude (through GPS), but it only calculates ascent / descent when you use GPS accuracy at BEST (1 s). It does NOT calculate the ascent / descent in the other modes (5s and 60s).
    But still, you can use an app to display this data anyway 🙂
    So for the hikers and ski-touring guys who don’t use the GPS with the max accuracy (so the battery lasts long enough), be careful :p

    thanks again for you amazing work 🙂

  169. Rob

    I am a triathlete and am trying to decide between the Ambit2 and Ambit 2 R….. (I am not interested in stroke counts). For the difference in price is there a recommendation on one over the other? Another other Suunto’s I should consider? (my price point is ~ $300; preferably less)

    • CMV

      Hi Rob,
      as a triathlete you should be looking at the Ambit 2S, as it includes openwater swimming and a multisport mode.
      If you don’t care about using your training watch as a daily watch, you should also consider the Garmin 910XT… it’s just $250 at Clevertraining right now, and it remains one of the best triathlon watches on the market. And if you don’t care about pool swim metrics, you could even save another 90 bucks and go with the 310XT.

    • I’d agree with CMW – I’d go with the 2S over the 2R anyday. And, unless you’re looking to do a ton of hiking in the mountains where precise altitude while hiking is of concern, i’d skip on the Ambit2 (non-S).

      Finally, as CMW noted, through the end of the week there’s also that FR910XT deal, which if you’re paying $30 more for, is probably worth it. (Details here: link to dcrainmaker.com)


  170. May I charge this watch (and any other that has a USB charger) with a wall charger? E.g. the one that came with my smartphone.

  171. Peter Hart

    Can you explain how the compass works. You say it is magnetic and therefore I presume North is Magnetic North rather than True North. How is this accomplished in a digital watch and how does the watch take account of different magnetic variations across the world. I would really like to have this confirmed to use the watch for orienteering etc

  172. ponost

    I am a relatively new runner (aiming for a full-marathon at year’s end) and have been looking for a watch to wear everyday as well as to help with training. Recently I purchased (without much research) an Ambit2R at a local store on sale for $180, primarily because it has Dual Time, a feature I need for work. Somewhat overwhelmed and still figuring out which of the features will help with training, I came across your impressive article/review. Based on all the info provided, this watch may indeed be more than what I actually need. I am wondering should I keep it or do you or does anyone have a recommendation for another watch in this price range or less (Tom Tom Runner/Cardio, Garmin FR15, PolarM400 etc were mentioned) which has a multi time zone/watch feature? Thank you!

  173. rob

    Hi! Love the site and wished I had read it in more detail prior to making my purchase. I recently bought the Ambit 2R and am considering returning it. Overall, I’m not really impressed with the user features compared to my old Garmin 205.

    Just a quick question and hoping someone can help:

    1. I did my first run the other day and the overall pace differed from what loaded to strava- it varied by 4 seconds. I posted this question on the suunto support board and all I received was that they use different algorithms. So which pace is correct? I did use the manual pause a couple times if that matters. Does Suunto base the overall pace on paused time too? I never had this variance when uploading data from my old Garmin.

    • rob

      Nevermind this question, I just noticed that there was a variance on the distance that caused the paces to be off.

  174. Ferenc Zsigri

    I have an ambit2 and created a multisport mode for triathlon. Outdoor swimming/running(depo1)/cycling/running(depo2)/running. It works fine but when I check movescount.com it doesn’t give an option to view the pace, only speed. Have you experienced he same issue? thanks

  175. Dominick


    I noticed when comparing gps watches that according to the table the Ambit 2R doesn’t have a virtual racing partner, but it actually does; its called Ghost Runner and it’s available as an App. You have to select the pace of the ghost runner and install the ghost runner at a specific pace as a screen to your watch.

  176. Sergej

    Hi DC,

    could you test please if you Ambit2R working well with Scosche RHTYTHM+.

    Cheers. Sergej

  177. There’s so many comments, so I apologize if this is a duplicate.
    I have the 2R – done deal. But I mountain bike. I’ve already figured out how to add it as an activity, and I’ve added apps that are purposed in MTB-related data tracking (speed, slope, total uphill distance, etc) …. But what’s the best way to utilize the 2R for navigation purposes? Can I record a route by riding it, and then replay it next time, so my GPS takes me on the same route? If so, how would I do that? I feel as though using a map to define the route is good for roads, but not trails which wouldn’t be defined on the map.

    These Ambit reviews are great, by the way. It’s like the owner’s manual I never got!

  178. Kelsey

    Awesome review! Quick question — I know you commented on the display features. Are you able to display Total Distance, Time, and Mile Pace @ the same time? Trying to decide between this watch and the Garmin Forerunner 610. Thank you!

  179. mario d

    i just got a gpulse heart rate belt hrm-ble-300 and i tried to connect my suunto ambit 2 with it. i didn´t succeed. so is there someone who could help me with my problem?

    • morey

      you’ve gotta hold the watch right next to the HR monitor. so that the watch case is actually touching the HR strap. then keep trying. you may have to do it 15 times, but once it’s paired, it will be good.

    • One minor itty-bitty problem:

      You’ve got a Bluetooth Smart strap, which isn’t compatible with the Suunto Ambit 2/2S/2-Anything. The Ambit2 uses ANT+, whereas the Ambit3 uses Bluetooth Smart.


  180. Kam