Suunto is a brand with almost a hundred years of experience in making activity watches that are used by hikers, runners, cyclists, and swimmers. The Ambit3 Peak is the culmination of their craftsmanship and it offers everything you might need during a workout. In this review, I will go over the features of the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak and show you where it really shines and where it struggles to catch up with its competitors.
My verdict: If you are looking for a tracker that can do it all but also won’t cost you an arm and a leg, then the Ambit3 Peak is definitely something worth considering. It is perfect for any type of sport but is still slightly more optimized for cycling thanks to the variety of additional sensors and features you can get that will take your cycling workouts to the next level. The chest strap can sometimes fluctuate a lot in its readings and the interface will need some getting used to, but as a whole, this will be a good budget addition to your training gear.
Overview & Features
Before I dive deeper into this model, I wanted to let you know that I will be reviewing the standard black version with the heart rate strap included. There is also a version not including the chest strap and a sapphire version which I will briefly mention further down…
The tracking on the Ambit3 is quite precise thanks to its array of sensors and easy calibration. It has a compass which allows route navigation and the track-back feature. It also has the patented FusedAltiTM altimeter that gives you an accurate data on your altitude and altitude changes throughout your workout. For cycling, it will measure your speed, pace, distance traveled and heart rate metrics with or without the chest strap. Still, the chest-strap offers a more accurate approach to measuring your heart rate and also does a good job at tracking oscillations when you’re running or strokes when swimming. In fact, you can use this watch easily fo triathlon training thanks to its complex log which can integrate more than just one sport in the data you’re getting on the display. It also has a barometer and weather monitor functions that track the sea level pressure and can also give you incoming storm alerts, which are vital if you are out cycling on the country roads.
The GPS tracking has a few unique features which allow it to work over an extended period of time. In fact, this is the watch with the longest run-time with GPS turned on thanks to the 1-minute signal detection. I will touch on that when we talk about battery life. The GPS also gives you an altitude graph and your ascent and descent speeds (based on air pressure changes).
To measure the heart rate you will need either the chest strap or the wrist heart rate monitor. The chest strap is fairly accurate, although some people had trouble with its fluctuations, especially during high-intensity training. With it, though, you can measure almost any aspect of your cardiovascular’s system current status, such as:
- RR intervals
- HR (in % of your HR max)
- EPOC & VO2 Max
- Calories burned
The sensor can also display an HR graph if you want to track and analyze your heart’s performance over the course of the workout.
Design & Build Quality
In terms of its design and build quality, the Ambit3 Peak is certainly one of the best fitness trackers for cycling. It is robust and everything from its display menus to the buttons is laid out perfectly.
The materials are decent all-around. The bezel is made out of steel and the glass is made of mineral crystal which is hard to scratch and less prone to breaking compared to normal glass used for screens. The casing is made out of polyamide in order to cut weight, even though the watch is still on the heavy side weighing 3.14oz (89g). The strap is made of elastomer which has a nice feel to it, although I personally prefer silicone straps.
Swimming with this watch is also a no-issues activity since it is waterproof up to 100m. It can withstand temperature ranges from -20 to +60 degrees Celcius (-22 to +140 Fahrenheit).
If this level of durability and quality doesn’t satisfy you, there is a Saphire version that offers a sapphire display glass which is far more durable and scratch-resistant. It also comes with a chamfered aluminum bezel which adds to the rigidity of the watch’s body.
The display is a matrix-type one which means that it operates on two different levels – a colorful LED one and a monochrome one which saves a ton of battery in the long run. That feature is called inverted display and more and more brands are opting for it. What it does basically is show you just the essentials at all times with the monochrome option, while saving the good stuff for when you really need it. It has a resolution of 128×128 which is quite sharp for its size. One thing I dislike is the display not being touchscreen but that is acceptable at this price point and is also not really needed when cycling but it still adds to the everyday usability when present.
The comfort and the fit here are quite typical and average. The main body of the watch is quite bulky but it does have a good and solid watch feel to it.
If you want a tracker that takes comfort a notch further, check out my Garmin Forerunner 735XT review. It is a more expensive watch but also comes with two chest Garmin chest straps and a ton of more features. Now, let’s talk about the Ambit’s battery life, as it has one very special feature to it…
The battery life on this tracker is nothing short of spectacular. It can hold up to 30 days on regular usage and where things get even more spectacular is when you turn on the GPS.
With this watch, you will have the option to calibrate the GPS signal every 1, 5 or 60 seconds. With the 1-second intervals, it can last 20 hours, 30 hours with the 5-second intervals, and the whopping 200 hours on the 1-minute intervals. Granted, it won’t be as accurate when it tracks every 1 minute and that isn’t really ideal for fast-pacing cyclists but it is there and you can use it any time you want to save some battery.
Software & Connectivity
The watch connects to your mobile device via wireless although it can also connect via USB to your laptop or computer. Between your bike devices, it can connect via Bluetooth. It is compatible with Android phones and phones using iOS. While it doesn’t use Android’s Wear OS, it still has a ton of customization options to it including different watch faces.
The watch is compatible with a lot of online sports apps and communities such as Strava, MapMyFitness, TrainingPeaks, as well as Suunto’s own Movescount.
While it doesn’t have too many features that I haven’t mentioned already, there is a special sapphire version of this watch which has a stronger glass and bezel which adds a ton of durability to its construction. Still, that is quite more expensive and not necessarily worth the purchase.
While this particular model doesn’t come with it, there is a Suunto bike mount that you can get for the watch, as well as a Suunto Bike sensor that, when attached to your pedals, can measure your cadence and transfer the data to the watch via Bluetooth. That sensor is also compatible with other bike computers if they use Bluetooth (and not ANT+). There is also a power sensor that I will discuss now in the cycling section…
Cycling With The Suunto Ambit3
Cycling with this watch is really different compared to other regular trackers. Apart from the general tracking, the Ambit3 does like cycling speed, avg speed (in real-time), and others, it also measures hill incline in real-time, bike power, laps, aerodynamic drag, and cadence. Granted, for the last few metrics you will need their power sensor or bike sensor but it is all easily integrated via their POD support, especially if you are using a bike computer.
Now, let’s see which are the main pros and cons of this model.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Great battery life
- Easy to read display
- A full array of sensors
- Accurate GPS signal
- Durable construction
- Comes with a chest strap
- Provides detailed cardiovascular data
- It can sometimes struggle with the GPS signal on the 5 and 60-second programs
- The sapphire version is more durable but also far more expensive
- The construction can feel quite bulky
- To get more detailed metrics of your ride, you will need additional sensors that aren’t cheap
Click here if you want to learn how to get the most out of your fitness tracker!
Conclusion and Rating
The Suunto Ambit3 Peak is really in a race of its own when it comes to multi-sport smartwatches. It is cheaper than the usual competitors from Garmin and offers a ton of different features that cover all grounds, almost literally. The battery life is impeccable, the display has excellent visibility, and the construction is durable enough for most people’s needs. When you add some of the other bike sensors that Suunto offers, you can equip yourself with the gear necessary to get the most out of your cycling sessions. I gave it a score of four and a half out of five stars.