Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak

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Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak

If you’re looking for a GPS watch for trail running or ultramarathons, two watches to consider are the Garmin fenix 3 and Suunto Ambit3 Peak.

I have already written a review of both the Garmin fenix 3 and the Suunto Ambit3 Peak Sapphire.  However, I thought a separate post specifically comparing the two watches would be useful.

Since I use the watches for running, this post is primarily oriented toward running.  However, both watches are capable of much more. They are truly multi-sport watches; capable of handling a triathlon and other activities.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to test many of these features (since I don’t swim or ride often) so my comments are primarily geared toward trail and ultra-running.

I’ve been running with the Garmin fenix 3 since this past March 2015.  Overall, it has served me fairly well.  I used it during The North Face Endurance Challenge GORE-TEX 50 Mile race in April 2015 and it performed flawlessly.

However, it has also frustrated me on a few occasions.  For a few weeks in October, it was taking a long time to acquire satellites.  It turned out there was a GPS firmware update that wasn’t being applied.

Then during the JFK 50 Mile race in November, the fenix 3 lost satellite reception for about five miles on the Appalachian Trail. It finally re-acquired a GPS signal once I left the trail and started on the C&O Canal towpath part of the course.

So while the Garmin fenix 3 has worked well overall, those few nagging issues always made me want to try the Suunto Ambit3 Peak and see how it performed.  So when I saw the Ambit3 Peak Sapphire on sale, my curiosity finally got the best of me and I decided to give it a try.

Now that I have used the Ambit3 Peak for about 6 weeks, below are my thoughts on how it and the fenix 3 compare.

GPS Acquisition / Accuracy

GPS acquisition and accuracy are the main reasons why I was curious about the Ambit3 Peak.  If you browse the Garmin fenix 3 forums, you will see many threads about the accuracy issues of the fenix 3.  Inevitably, someone in these threads will bring up the Ambit3 Peak and talk about how it “just works”.

This made me curious.  As I mentioned above, I had experienced some issues with the fenix 3, although not as many as some in these forums.  In general, I would say that mine has performed well overall.  There have been a few issues, but no device is perfect.

However, those comments peaked my curiosity and it was going to be hard to let it go.  Does the Ambit3 Peak have better GPS accuracy?  How do these two watches compare?

First, let me say that my testing was not scientific.  Nor do I have as many runs in the Ambit3 Peak as I do in the fenix 3.

Below are few screen captures of a portion of the Rehoboth Beach Marathon, in which I wore both the fenix 3 and Ambit3 Peak.

The fenix 3 is in orange and the Ambit3 Peak is blue.

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Rehoboth Beach Marathon - Ambit3 Peak (blue) and fenix 3 (orange)

Ambit3 Peak (blue) and fenix 3 (orange)

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Rehoboth Beach Marathon - Ambit3 Peak (blue) and fenix 3 (orange)

Ambit3 Peak (blue) and fenix 3 (orange)

As you can see, the Ambit3 Peak tracks (blue) were consistently inside the fenix 3 tracks (orange).  The Ambit3 Peak tracks were generally on the road or trail whereas the fenix 3 tracks were often off the road or trail completely.  This was consistent for the full marathon.

In this run, it is easy to see that the Ambit3 Peak performed better.

However, here is another run on a trail in my neighborhood.  Again, the fenix 3 is in orange and the Ambit3 Peak is blue.

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Trail run - Ambit3 Peak (blue) and fenix 3 (orange)

Ambit3 Peak (blue) and fenix 3 (orange)

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Trail run - Ambit3 Peak (blue) and fenix 3 (orange)

Ambit3 Peak (blue) and fenix 3 (orange)

In this case, the fenix 3 tracks were inside the Ambit3 tracks.  In this instance, I would say that the fenix 3 performed better.

I could go on with examples.  In some cases, the Ambit3 Peak seemed to have the better tracks.  In other cases, the fenix 3 seemed better.

However, if I had to make a call between the two, I would say the Ambit3 Peak was probably more consistent overall.

The same is true regarding acquisition time.  The Ambit3 Peak always locked onto a GPS signal within a few seconds.  Rarely have I had it go longer than 5 seconds.  In most cases, the fenix 3 is also similarly fast.  However, in my experience, the fenix 3 has been less consistent.  I’ve experienced the fenix 3 taking 1 minute, 3 minutes, and upwards of 20 minutes to lock onto the GPS signal.  When I’ve run with the two watches together, the Ambit 3 Peak was consistently a few seconds faster.

One additional item of note.  Garmin supports GLONASS, which is the Russian satellite system.  This theoretically might give in better accuracy in some situations.  However, I haven’t noticed much of a difference in my area.

So overall, I would say that the Ambit3 Peak has the slight edge in this category.

Winner: Slight edge for Ambit3 Peak.  However, from my limited testing, it was not as drastic a difference as you might be led to believe by reading the forums.

Battery Life

Another factor that I look for in comparing two watches is the battery life.  When I run an ultramarathon, I want to be sure my watch can last the entire run.

First, what do the specifications claim?

Garmin fenix 3 – The fenix 3 has two GPS modes to adjust battery life:

  • In normal GPS mode (one GPS update per second) – 20 hours.
  • In UltraTrac mode (approximately 15 seconds of GPS on-time per 60 seconds) – 50 hours.

Suunto Ambit 3 Peak – The Ambit3 Peak has three GPS modes to adjust battery life:

  • In the best GPS mode (one GPS update per second) – 20 hours.
  • In one GPS update per 5 second mode – 30 hours.
  • In one GPS update per 60 second mode – 200 hours.

To be clear, there are other settings that will impact battery such as Bluetooth, notifications, connected sensors (i.e., heart rate monitor), etc.

To test the battery, I tried to maximize the battery life by disabling Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (fenix 3 only), sensor support, and anything else I could think of that might reduce battery life.

Then, I simply charged the watches fully and let them lock onto GPS satellites.  I then started a running activity and just let the watches run for as long as they could.  I set the watches in my car, near the back windshield so they could see the GPS satellites all the time.  It wasn’t ideal, but it was the best place I had that had a clear view of the sky and would be secure.

The results are as follows.  In both cases, I synced the respective activities to Garmin Connect and Suunto Movescount to view the resulting times.

The Ambit3 Peak recorded the activity for just over 21:00:28 (21 hours and 28 seconds) before it automatically stopped the activity and went into power save mode.  It had about 3% battery left when I retrieved it.

The fenix 3, on the other hand, lasted for only 16:45:19 (16 hours, 45 minutes, and 19 seconds).  The fenix 3 also appeared to shut down completely with 0 percent battery left.

In summary, the Ambit3 Peak battery lasted for about 4 hours and 15 minutes longer than the fenix 3.

There is one caveat, however.  I have used the fenix 3 for about 8 months while the Ambit3 Peak was fairly new.  So that could account for some of the battery difference.  However, I find that over 4 hours is still a lot of difference.

In addition, as mentioned above, the Ambit3 Peak has more battery configuration options and one option that allows the watch to last approximately 200 hours in activity recording mode.

So, overall, I’m giving this win to the Ambit3 Peak.

Winner: Ambit3 Peak

Comfort

I’ll be honest, this once surprised me a bit.

I fully expected the Garmin fenix 3 to be more comfortable due to how the band is designed.  In the fenix 3, the GPS antenna is in the bezel, so the band is fully flexible where it attaches to the watch face.  See the picture below.

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Garmin fenix 3 Side View

Garmin fenix 3 – Side View

I would expect that this allows the watch to fit a wide variety of wrist sizes.  I used to run in the Garmin Forerunner 610, which didn’t have the flexible band and I didn’t find that as comfortable.

The Ambit3 Peak, on the other hand, has the GPS antenna where the watch face attaches to the band. In addition, where the band attaches to the watch face is not as flexible.   See the picture below.  The GPS antenna is on the right side.

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Suunto Ambit3 Peak Sapphire Side View

Suunto Ambit3 Peak Sapphire – Side View

Due to these differences and my past experience with the similarly designed Forerunner 610, I expected the fenix 3 to be more comfortable.

However, surprisingly, I found the Ambit3 Peak to be the more comfortable of the two watches. Despite the lack of flexibility where the band connects to the watch, I felt that the Ambit 3 Peak fit me perfectly.  In addition, the underside of the Ambit 3 has smooth and rounded edges.  The fenix 3, on the other hand, has flatter and more rough edges.  In addition, the Sapphire band is very soft and smooth.  So overall, the Ambit 3 Peak had less movement when running and just disappeared on my wrist.

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Suunto Ambit3 Peak Sapphire - Underneath View

Suunto Ambit3 Peak Sapphire – Smooth and curved underside

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Garmin fenix 3 - Underneath View

Garmin fenix 3 – Flat and rough underside

Don’t get me wrong, the fenix 3 is plenty comfortable, but for me, the Ambit3 Peak was just more comfortable overall.

Again, one caveat.  Due to the lack of flexibility in where the band meets the watch, the Ambit3 may not fit all wrist sizes well.  So if you have a extra large or extra small wrists, the fenix 3 may be a better choice due to the extra flexibility.

Winner: Ambit3, but this is a personal preference.

Looks

I won’t spend much time on this one since I think it is subjective.   Both watches look very good.  However, I think the fenix 3 looks better overall.   With the GPS antenna in the bezel, the watch has a more sleek look.  If I had to choose a watch to wear every day based on looks alone, I would choose the fenix 3.

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Suunto Ambit3 Peak Sapphire - Looks

Suunto Ambit3 Peak Sapphire – Looks

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Garmin fenix 3 - Looks

Garmin fenix 3 – Looks

Winner: fenix 3

Display / Screen

This one isn’t subjective.  There is really no contest.  The fenix 3 has the better display / screen.  It has higher resolution which makes it easier to read.  In addition, the blacks are blacker and it has color.  Overall, the display on the fenix 3 is outstanding.   The Ambit3 Peak display is adequate, but looks like an old pixelated calculator.  There were often times in the high sun, that I found the Ambit3 display difficult to read.

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Suunto Ambit3 Peak Sapphire - Display

Suunto Ambit3 Peak Sapphire – Display

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Garmin fenix 3 - Display

Garmin fenix 3 – Display (with four data fields)

Winner: fenix 3 by a wide margin.

Features

Both watches have a multitude of features such as track recording, barometric altimeter, compass, navigation, weather, track back, and other various sports metrics such as cadence, power, etc.

In addition, both watches are multi-sport watches and can support running, swimming, biking, hiking, and a number of other activities.  Both watches have a multi-sport mode to support triathlons, where you can switch from one sport to another within the same GPS recording activity.

Both watches support pairing with external sensors.  The Ambit3 only supports Bluetooth sensors, whereas the fenix 3 supports ANT sensors.  At least for the moment, the fenix 3 support of ANT sensors probably provides the most options in external sensor support.

However, there are a few key differences in features between the two watches.

First and foremost, the fenix 3 supports vibration alerts.  To me, this is one of the biggest features lacking on the Ambit3.  The Ambit3 has tone alerts, but when running with headphones, as I sometimes do on long runs, it is not always easy to hear the tone.  I try not to look at my watch when I run as doing so makes the run seem that much longer.  However, without vibration alerts on the Ambit3, I find that I have to look at the watch more often to make sure I don’t miss my turn around point.

In addition, the fenix 3 allows you to change all settings on the watch, outside setting up the WiFi network connection.  The Ambit 3 requires the use of the website or phone to change certain settings and to set up the activity sport screens.  See my review of the Ambit3 Peak for more discussion of this.  This can be a big deal if you are without internet or data connection to the Movescount website.  If the website goes down or if you are without data connection, you are simply unable to change any of these settings.

Also, the fenix 3 supports four data fields per screen and the Ambit3 Peak only supports 3 data fields per screen.

Furthermore, besides connecting via USB to a computer, the fenix 3 supports both WiFi and Bluetooth (via phone) synchronization.  The Ambit3 only supports USB and Bluetooth.

Lastly, the fenix 3 supports a GLONASS satellite mode, but I haven’t noticed much difference with this enabled.  However, I imagine future Suunto Ambit watches will support GLONASS since it is supported on the new Suunto Traverse.

So overall, I think the Garmin fenix 3 has more features that I care about than the Suunto Ambit3 Peak.

Winner: fenix 3

How well it works

The last comparison is a catch-all category for how well the watch works.

While many people complain about the GPS accuracy on the fenix 3, I find that it is adequate.  I do get frustrated at the long GPS acquisition times on random occasion.  However, it does eventually acquire the GPS signal.  I find that if I sync the Garmin via USB more often instead of over WiFi or Bluetooth, then the acquisition time improves.  This may have something to do with caching the GPS satellite positions.  I believe the satellite cache is supposed to be updated via WiFI as well, but perhaps this is not the case.

However, I have observed that running cadence is one feature on the Ambit3 Peak which simply does not work well at all.

Both watches have an internal accelerometer to measure running cadence based on wrist movements.  However, refer to the screen captures below of the running cadence measurements from the Rehoboth Beach Marathon.   Notice how the Ambit3 Peak is much more flakey and has frequent drop-outs.  I’ve noticed this in almost all of my runs with the Ambit3.  The running cadence measurement just isn’t reliable and often drops-outs when you increase the pace.

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Suunto Ambit3 Peak - Cadence Issue

Suunto Ambit3 Peak – Cadence Issue (Rehoboth Beach Marathon)

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Garmin fenix 3 - Cadence

Garmin fenix 3 – Cadence (Rehoboth Beach Marathon)

I contacted Suunto and they said that the accelerometer on the watch is defective and I should send it in for repair.  So you might think that my watch is just a rare case of a defective hardware component.

However, when I look at other peoples runs in Strava that use the Ambit3, I notice the same thing.  There seem to be cadence issues on a majority of the activities I see.  So it appears that my watch is not just an isolated case.  Perhaps others don’t mind the flakiness of this feature, but it annoys me nonetheless.   Due to the apparent prevalence of this issue, I don’t have confidence that if I send the watch back to Suunto or if I purchased another Ambit3 Peak, the issue won’t still be there.

Others may have a different experience or may have other issues with the fenix 3.  But in my experience, the fenix 3 doesn’t have a feature that is as flakey as this.

Maybe I am being a little unfair to the Ambit3.  If you don’t care about running cadence, then the Ambit3 Peak functions perfectly.  In addition, running cadence isn’t a key feature of the watch.  It has great GPS acquisition and accuracy, perhaps slightly better than the fenix 3.  However, with the frequency I have seen the running cadence issue in the activities of others, it makes me think that Suunto has an outstanding hardware or software issue they need to address.  And with that, I have to give this category to the fenix 3.

Winner: fenix 3

Summary

While there are many areas in which I could compare the two watches, I tried to capture the major areas that I would consider when deciding between the two watches.  Others may have different opinions or other areas of importance. If so, let me know in the comments below and I’ll respond with my thoughts.

Overall, if GPS quality and battery life are your most important factors (and they are arguably the two most important factors for an ultramarathoner), the Ambit3 Peak is the winner.

However, the fenix 3 excels at other features such as vibration alerts, display quality, and quality of other non-GPS related features such as cadence and external sensor support.

So in the end, both are excellent watches.  When making a decision between the two, you just need to decide which features are more important to you.  For now, I’ll be returning the Ambit3 Peak due to the internal accelerometer and cadence issue.  However, I may still give it another try if I see a good deal in the future.

As always, comments are appreciated.  Let me know of any thoughts or questions below. I hope you found this post useful. Thanks for reading.

Disclosure: All thoughts and opinions are my own. I do participate in the Amazon Affiliate program and this page includes affiliate links to Amazon.  For further details, refer to my disclosure and privacy policy.


 

Phil the Runner (PtR) | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak | Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak (with dog)

28 thoughts on “Garmin fenix 3 vs Suunto Ambit3 Peak

  1. Pingback: Suunto Ambit3 Peak Sapphire Review - Phil the Runner (PtR)

  2. Pingback: Garmin fenix 3 Review - Phil the Runner (PtR)

  3. Terrawatt

    This is probably the best comparios of these two watches I’ve read. You probably nailed it. Great work.

    I had the Suunto A3P but lost it. So I ordered Garmin Fenix 3 just to try something new, but no I’ve found The Suunto and will sell it.
    Anyway, here is my + and I of the Suunto

    + Robust
    + It just workes
    +Quick connected to GPS and HR
    + Build own apps and app store
    – Hard to build apps from movescount
    – Connection problem with movescount app Android
    – Movescount webpage is really messy – no vibration
    – cant read all the text you revieved on your phone
    – No intuitiv menu navigation on watch – Hard to press buttons (for example new lap ) while running (Maybe its because its waterresistant
    – To less SmartWatch as Garmin Fenix 3

    Reply
  4. Russ

    Thanks Phil, We agree with the previous comment that this is probably the most succinct and useful review we’ve read. Trust me we’ve read a few. I bought the Fenix 3 for my partner and we were having second thoughts about it till we read your review!

    Reply
    1. Phil Post author

      Thanks for the comment Russ! I am happy with the fenix 3. I just used it during the MMT100 and it performed flawlessly. Thanks again!

      Reply
  5. yanis

    Merci Phil, oui sans doute le meilleur avis testé que j’ai pu constater sur les divers blug !
    En effet, je viens de vendre mon ambit 3 sport bleue , et j’étais partis pour reprendre “la même” mais peak bleue car j’aime son “look”.To test ma bluffé et la j’envisage plutôt de me dirigé sur la GARMIN .
    merci

    Reply
  6. Ram Rai

    Thanks for such an unbiased and succinct review. It helped me a lot in deciding what to buy. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  7. Nick

    Thanks a lot! Even better than Youtube reviews! I think Suunto is more likely my cup of tea, as I’m going to Nepal mountains, and GPS accuracy and battery are more important for me there.

    Reply
    1. Ram Rai

      Nick, if you are planning to trek off grid for a while, please make sure you carry a good solar charger (foldable types with large panels) and a good power bank (20k mA or above) as well. The electricity is quite unreliable even in the cities, the remote parts are way behind.

      Reply
  8. Brandon Jansma

    I run but also backpack. I like the longer battery feature when I am out for a week or more. I like to see the stats and I wasn’t sure the fenix would keep up. I haven’t been disappointed yet with the suunto. It seems that the fenix may cut out too early. I haven’t used it so I can’t say.

    I agree with the vibration and not seeing full text comments. Kind of annoying.

    I really like the movie function with suunto especially for week long trips. I can show my family my trip every day of the trip. Additionally, I think the black suunto with the black background looks pretty good. But it seems that the fenix still has higher resolution and looks cool as well. Just personal preference here.

    I found the gps connection much faster on the suunto and that is probably the biggest thing for me. I don’t want to wait…

    Overall I have been happy with the suunto but haven’t used the fenix. I do miss a lot of my running buddies who are on garmin connect. I really don’t have anyone on suunto moves count and that kind of sux.

    I would get the suunto ambit 3 peak again tho over the fenix And I have had 3 garmins prior to this watch.

    Hope this helps!

    Reply
  9. Tele16

    Hi, thanks for your comparison, Which watch is better for measuring cadence? Spartan ultra or garmin fenix? I read in some reviews that to measure cadence accurately we need foot pod. I know that gamin can use foot pod , but wat about ambit 3 and spartan ultra watches? Can we use foot pod with them? And how accurate is cadence if we use gps instead of foot pod?

    Reply
    1. Phil Post author

      Hey, thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried the Spartan Ultra. However, I’ve found that the cadence measured by the fenix 3, without a footpod, has very accurate. You can test this by simply counting each time your right (or left) foot hits the ground in a minute and then doubling that number. Every time I’ve checked the cadence measured by Garmin fenix 3 has been within one or two. If you’re running trails where your cadence varies a lot more, than the instantaneous cadence may not be exact as your cadence over the last minute. But I don’t think a foot pod would really do much better. There is an issue measuring cadence on the Ambit 3 as I’ve described above. If you search, you will find that other have had this problem as well, so I don’t think it was a problem just with my unit. Hopefully Suunto has solved this problem in the Spartan watches. Hope this helps. Keep on running!

      Reply
  10. Mike Pollack

    any thoughts about comparing the models with heart rate monitors? I believe the Garmin measures on the wrist while the Suunto needs the chest strap.

    Reply
    1. Phil Post author

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried the fenix 3 with the built in heart rate monitor. I have used the chest strap with the fenix 3 and Suunto Ambit 3 Peak and they both work great as expected. I have tested the Garmin Forerunner 235 with the built in heart rate monitor, however. It works okay, but seems to be much more erratic than the chest strap. Right now, I think technology on the built in heart rate monitors is still improving, but I don’t think they are as accurate or reliable as the chest straps yet. I hope this helps.

      Reply
    2. Alistair Adams

      No one yet makes a wrist based heart rate monitor that can compete with a chest band on accuracy when exercising but if you want 24×7 monitoring that is the way to go. A review of the new Apple watch suggested it is the best so far for wrist based measurement but still not up to a chest band.

      Reply
  11. JFC

    What happened with the “defective accelerometer” on the Ambit3? Did you return it to Suunto for repair? If so, did they repair or replace? How long did it take?

    Reply
    1. Phil Post author

      Hi JFC. Thanks for your comment! When I contacted Suunto about the Ambit3, they said to send it back to them. However, I wasn’t confident that it could be fixed or replaced and I didn’t want a refurbished unit since I just had just purchased it brand new. From my research online, it appears that this is a problem with many of the Ambit3s. I would look at people’s cadence on Strava that used the Ambit3 Peak and see the same issue. There would be constant drop-outs of the cadence, especially at high paces. So in the end, I just decided to return it to the store I purchased it from (Amazon) as a defective unit since I was still within the return window. So I don’t know how long Suunto would have taken or if they would have been able to repair it at all. I hope this helps. Thanks again for your comment.

      Reply
      1. JFC

        I appreciate the reply, Phil. I’ve got a case open with Suunto about the dropped cadence (not just the typical “look at your wrist” or “hold on the treadmill rail” variety) and it’s been escalated to headquarters. Looking forward to see what they’ll say but I think you’re right … at best they’ll offer a refurb that may not address the issue and simply give me four quarters for a dollar, so to speak.

        Reply
  12. Totte

    Nice comparison! Even though you nailed some really important areas, I think that comparing the web interface/community for the different watches are something to consider as well. Ease of use, functions, layout etc.

    Overall a very nice read and as a Fenix 3 user I now don’t have the same urge to try the Suunto.

    Reply
  13. Ted

    ambit 3 in now practically 2 years old (or more). Even F3 is about a year. Rumors abound about a new F4 being annouced in January. People have been waiting for ambit4 for a long time. And from some news I read on the ultra, Suuntu swung and missed on that device. Views on this? I have an F3. Use it as everyday watch like it. It good enough for training. But my frustration is in three different ultras two 50m and 100k, it looked up. IN the recent 50m I was not able to recover. hard power down/up usually gets it back to life after awhile, this time it took about 4 hours. Totally wasted GPS track. I’m not tied that much, but its a major bummer to have epic runs like that, then no gps track to show for it. I have option for a 40% ambit3. But thinking I’d trade the f3 in for f4 if rumors are true. Views on any of this?

    Reply
    1. Phil Post author

      Hi Ted, I haven’t used the Suunto Ultra, but have read some reviews. It looks like it has the potential to be a great watch, but it does sound like it needs a little improvement. I think the Ambit3 and the fenix 3 are still good watches and will be for a while. My fenix 3 has never locked up, so you may have a defective unit. You might want to contact Garmin to see what they say if you haven’t already. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a fenix 4 sometime next year but I also would’t be surprised if they waited another year. It is still a very capable watch. Anyway, good luck at your next race and keep on running!

      Reply
  14. Dimitris

    Great comparison (although a bit late for me)
    Generally, you are spot-on, on all comments, except the screens. While Fenix 3 has color screen with greater resolution, it is nowhere readable as the ambit. I have both (Fenix 3 HR and Ambit 2 R), and on Fenix 3, unless you have direct sunlight on the watch, you have to try to read something. Indoors, the issue remains and have to rely on the joke called backlight for readings. The contrast is simply non existent, while with the Ambit, the screen was easily readible after sunset. And for night runs, the backlight is a joke. Comparing the backlight with the Ambit’s, is like comparing a firefly with a 5Mw flashlight (exagerating, but i used Ambit’s backlight as a flashlight)
    And Indeed, on gps acquisition, with Ambit, i need 2-3 seconds for lock, while with the F3 at least 15″. And this lock is easily disrupted, as i see my pace varying heavily.
    Finally, i had a system reboot with the Fenix 3, mid-run. Shocking!
    In general, i have second thoughts on my Fenix 3 purchase, and kind-a miss my reliable Ambit (now sold).

    Reply
  15. Seval

    Thank you for the the review.

    I just wonder as the review is oriented mostly for running (runners), which one of the two watches would be best for hiking/backpacking?

    Thank you,
    Seval

    Reply
    1. Phil Post author

      Hi Seval,

      Thanks for your comment. I think both watches would work well for hiking/backpacking. Both of navigation, track back, compass, altimeter, etc. The Ambit3 Peak has a longer battery life, but both watches can be charged on the go with a portable USB charger. It is easier to change settings on the fenix3 without a phone or computer. So I think you just need to weigh those trade-offs and see what meets your needs best. Good luck!

      Thanks,
      Phil

      Reply
      1. Seval

        Thank you for your answer.

        I was in a shop today where I got to try both on hand (just the feel though, both were turned off) and I must admit that the Garmin felt pretty bulky and uncomfortable whereas the Suunto was just perfect! The watch to have for an everyday use as well.

        My last question would be, when I set up the Suunto on a hiking more for example would I be able to switch between the given gps mode and the normal watch mode (turn off gps for a longer battery life) or do I have to do it again through the app?

        Best Regards,
        Seval

        Reply
        1. Alistair Adams

          I have an Ambit 2, not 3, but it works the same way. You set up the recording interval for a particular activity, in this example a hike. Once you’ve started recording the activity you can’t change the recording interval or stop the GPS without ending the session. You also cannot change the recording interval for a particular activity from the watch, only via the website or app.

          I’ve used my Ambit 2 Peak for multiday backpacking. I start when we start for the day and stop it when I make camp and recharge from a solar charger. I’ve never had to worry about battery life. I was disappointed by the trail accuracy on lower recording intervals but on the other hand when at its highest recording resolution it is the best GPS device I’ve tested, for example it eliminate all the jumping around of the GPS position when you are stopped.

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