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Suunto surprised us at the beginning of the year with the presentation of this new model of the range, the Ambit3 Vertical. Totally by surprise and through a press release, without big events or fanfares. In short, in the way that Suunto has got us used to.
We might have been expecting the Ambit4, or much more important new features, but this new model is a further step in the Ambit3 range, with new features that both bring it closer and differentiate it from its main competitor, the Garmin Fenix 3.
Are you not clear about the differences between the different models in the range? Don't worry, because in just five minutes you'll know all about the Suunto Ambit3 Vertical. And just as I did in the Suunto Ambit3 Run test, this is not a complete test, but I'll focus on what's new in the range compared to its range siblings. So if you're totally new to the Suunto range, in the Ambit3 Sport test you will find much more information about everything these watches offer.
This time we have to thank Suunto for giving us the watch for the tests that they have even made possible before the official date of sale to the public, which has allowed us to provide you with all the information as soon as possible, with a final version in both hardware and software. Remember, in each test I reflect my opinion about the product with a normal use as an athlete, exactly as you can do with the device. I have no pressure from manufacturers to reflect a positive opinion (or not to point out the negative aspects).
And this is because this page does not depend on the advertising that manufacturers can do here (I DO NOT ACCEPT ADVERTISING THE PRODUCTS I ANALYSE), which guarantees that absolute independence. So how do you maintain the website? Thanks to all of you, and that is if you buy through the links I provide I will receive a small commission for each purchase, both of the watch and any accessories you add, so it's up to you to continue testing new devices.
I'm done with it. You want to know everything the new Suunto Ambit3 Vertical has to offer. Then get comfortable and start reading, beer and olives are optional.
Before we can talk in detail about Suunto Ambit3 Vertical, we must first get it out of the box. First we must know what is in the box and what each button is for.
If you find this model too flashy, don't worry, you can also buy it in other classic Suunto colors: white, black or blue.
The color is perfectly represented in the box, and also the main novelty of the Vertical model is highlighted, which is the altimetry profile of your route (I call it suffering graph). Later I will talk about it in detail.
On the back you will find all the main details, such as automatic synchronization with Strava and Training Peaks or the contents of the box, including the color of the watch and the pulse sensor ribbon.
This time, unlike the rest of the Ambit3 range, without the GPS antenna bulge in the strap area, as in the recent Suunto Traverse.
In the case of the HR version, this is what you will find in addition to the clock. From left to right you will see the timing and charging cable, the pulse sensor tape, the sensor, a short instruction manual and a Suunto sticker. Oh, there is also a clock!
The button layout is the same as the rest of the range, two on the left side and three on the right.
Knowing how to handle these buttons with mastery is a degree, because as you press the button you can do different things.
- The upper left button allows you to exit the different menus or return to the previous one, as well as to mark laps while you are running, while holding it down anywhere will allow you to exit to the main screen directly.
- The second button on the left side alters the views of the different screens, the bottom line of the data fields, or the different graphs and navigation maps, and by holding it down you can reverse the screen (white text on a black background and vice versa).
- On the right side there are three buttons. The upper one is from which we control the start or pause of the activity, and if you leave it pressed while running the activity will stop automatically. Along with the lower right button it will also serve to move through the menus.
- The central button allows you to change screens and, by holding it down, access the menu. It will also be the one you use to confirm different options.
- Finally, the bottom button, besides allowing you to scroll down in the menu options, will also serve to activate the lighting and, if you leave it pressed, to lock all the buttons.
After this Suunto button master, we can look at the bottom of the watch. At the top you'll see some little dots. That's where the barometric pressure sensor is located, which is what will give you the altitude information. And below that, all the important details of the watch, such as water resistance up to 100 meters, Bluetooth compatibility, or something that Suunto boasts a lot about, being made in Finland.
The chest strap is made of the same material and has the same characteristics as the other models in the range. The difference is that it now shares colour with the watch. So if I already gave you "stick" to put the sensor in the pool, I won't even tell you now that it is yellow/league green...
Speaking of sensors, Suunto Smart Sensor is still one of the best. Very small in size (significantly larger than Polar or Garmin, even smaller than the new HRM-Run on tape), it also has a memory for recording heart rate data during swimming.
One thing that has not changed, and which I am very grateful for, is the timing and loading clamp. Despite the fact that the design of the watch case has changed, the anchoring system is the same.
This design is perfect, because in addition to being easy to attach when synchronizing the watch, it also allows you to charge the watch while you're wearing it. For example, during an ultra-marathon where you need more hours of autonomy than the watch is capable of giving you, you can quickly connect it to a portable battery and continue using the watch while you continue with your test.
What's new in Ambit3 Vertical
Being an Ambit3 it is clear what its main characteristics are, but what makes it special is its name, mainly new software features.
But it's not only the software that changes, there are also new developments on the hardware level. And that's why I like to say that the Vertical Ambit3 is more like an Ambit3.5, because it takes a further step in design, which it now shares with the Traverse. Suunto has removed the classic bulge at the bottom of the clock from all Ambits, which is where the antenna is housed.
The antenna is now located on the bezel of the watch itself, offering a cleaner design and making the watch more comfortable on the wrist. Does this affect the excellent quality of GPS reception that Suunto has accustomed us to? We'll see that later, but it should also be noted that it is now compatible with GLONASS satellites, something that the chipset in the rest of the Ambit3 range does not support.
The design of the case is not the only thing you get from the Traverse. It also has vibration alerts, which you can finally find in an Ambit range watch. Something incomprehensible that was not present until now, but better late than never. We could ask for a little more power in the vibration or that in each warning the vibration lasts a little longer, but it is a start.
The Ambit3 Vertical is between the Sport and the Peak, and compared to the Sport it improves in that it has a barometric altimeter, but does not offer the level of autonomy of the Peak.
In short, and to clarify it quickly, these are the main physical differences of the Vertical with respect to the rest of the range:
- New design of the case, eliminating the bulge of the antenna, which is now placed on the bezel.
- Support for GLONASS satellites.
- Vibration alerts.
- Barometric altimeter, same as Ambit3 Peak (Ambit3 Sport does not have one).
- Same range as Ambit3 Sport, which is lower than Ambit3 Peak.
All this with respect to the physical changes. They are not very big, in fact the screen is the same as the rest of the range, as well as general size and button layout. Suunto has simply been taking things from different models to combine them in the Vertical, offering a more current design.
Where you will notice the most difference is at the software level, as Suunto has designed a number of options based on the barometric altimeter.
Firstly, the 3D distance, which is activated by default. The Vertical Ambit3 will take into account the height gain or loss when measuring the distance, giving a greater precision when there are many slopes. In these cases, logically, the 3D distance is greater, since to move from A to B (in the 2D plane) you travel more distance when doing so up and down than if you did it in a straight line. When reading it you will have got a grimace, but when you see it in an image you will understand it perfectly.
Suunto has added a new Ascent History widget, which accumulates the ascent meters during the activity (not during the day) and displays it in the new screen, which is accessed from the clock's standby mode (when displaying the time).
The widget has different options for displaying the information. By default, the history for the last seven days is displayed, but by pressing the "View" button you can see other screens, such as ascent for the last 30 days (from the date at the top), the summary of the entire year broken down month by month, or the total accumulated ascent while using the watch (from the first day), in hours and meters.
Finally, the most important (and useful) change is that while you are making a navigation route (which you have previously synchronized with the clock), you will have an additional screen in that section in which you can see the profile of the route you are facing, accompanied by a line representing the suffering already passed and the ordeal ahead of you. Next to the graph you will see at the top the ascent already accumulated and below it the positive meters ahead.
So to put it back quickly, with its little dots and such, these are the new features in terms of software:
- 3D distance
- Promotion history widget (weekly, monthly, yearly and total)
- Show the elevation during the route, both the one made and the one to come
Everything else in the Ambit3 series
The differences of the Ambit3 Vertical with the rest of the Ambit3 range are as I have pointed out above. The other functions are the same as those you love so much about the other models, for example the Suunto Amibt3 Sport, which proves that I did at one time and that you can find all the details here.
But for a quick review and refreshing of all the functions without the need to read it all over again, I will give you a quick summary of all the functions.
The Ambit3 Vertical is situated between the Sport and Peak models. Like those two, it is a multisport watch that you can use for running, swimming or cycling; either separately or in multisport activities (i.e. participating in events such as duathlon, triathlon and recording combined training in one activity).
The watch can be paired with Bluetooth sensors of all kinds: pedometers, cycling speed and cadence sensors, both cycling and running power meters (Stryd), etc.
In swimming you can also track your pulse during your training, not during the activity itself, but when synchronizing your training, because the Suunto pulse sensor has a memory where it stores the heart rate data that will later be synchronized with the watch to add it to the activity before saving it permanently.
Of course it has the same route navigation that you can find in the other models (Ambit3 Run includedThe only thing that is improved here is the specific performance of the vertical version, with the elevation during the route or the ascent widget.
Ambit3 Vertical news, on trial
In order to know well what the new features of the Ambit3 Vertical bring, the most appropriate is to try it in its sauce. And where is it better? Climbing slopes. Therefore, although I have made many trainings with the Ambit3 Vertical the ones I want to highlight are precisely those where I have been climbing slopes. Because to train in flat terrain you don't need this watch, its barometric altimeter and its remaining slope screen.
And what better test bench than a trail running competition. And so it was, I found a nearby test of this modality and I signed up for it.
The first thing you have to take into account in order to have your altimetry graph is that you have to create a navigation route. And not only create it, but also import it. Usually all trail race organizers make available the GPX files of the race so you can look at altimetries and load them in your GPS device and not get lost on the trail. In that sense Suunto makes it easy, because through the web Movescount not only can you create your route from the maps, but you can also import the route.
Once imported it will appear on the map and you can name it and select which clock you want to sync it to, as always on Suunto devices. Nothing changes here. What is important, at least for creating the route, is to select the Mapbox maps. Because at least for creating the routes there is an important detail, as you will see in these images.
In the second case, the map appears in the altimetry profile below, but in the case of Google Suunto it does not offer this information.
Although I have read problems of some users in which when making the route from the Google map then the profile did not appear correctly on the clock, I have never suffered it. I suppose that depends on the area of the map to use. But it is not superfluous to know the altitude data while you are generating the route. I have tried to record the same route with the Google map and the Mapbox map and in both cases the altimetry graph appeared correctly.
Once the file has been imported or the path created, it would look like this.
So when it comes to competing, all you have to do is start the navigation route, even if you don't need to navigate because the route you have to follow is quite clear. The reason for this is that the screen with the altitude profile is one of the three navigation screens, i.e. you will first see the navigation screen like this
If you press the "View" button once you will have the route enlarged, and if you press it a second time you will see the most interesting screen, which is none other than the altimetry profile. This screen is divided into three different fields. In the upper part you will see the number of meters you have already climbed (251m vertical in this case), while in the lower part the meters that are still to be climbed in the remaining part of the route (only 36m). The graph represents where you are on the route, since as you progress along the route it is completed in black. And as you can see, you will not only use it for running, it also makes a lot of sense when using the bike.
I can say that in the more than two hours of the race I did not need to change screen at any time, because in the altimetry profile I had everything I needed. I did not even look at the other watches I was wearing (for checking GPS data you will see later). Really, with that screen I had more than enough to have all the necessary references. Not only because I could easily see what I had suffered (meters already climbed) and what I still had to suffer (vertical meters remaining), but because thanks to the altimetry profile you can see perfectly if what is left of the route goes up, down and in what degree of ascent or descent.
As you have already seen, as the competition advances your reference point in the altimetry profile advances, and the data of meters ascended and meters remaining are updated.
Of course, at any time you can access any of the data pages that you have set up in your race or mountain race profile. To do this, simply press the "Next" button to switch between the different screens, here it behaves exactly like the Ambit3 Sport.
When you have completed the training or race you will see the same graph in the activity summary, with the total number of meters ascended and descended.
And speaking of data obtained after training, the Ambit3 Vertical has an internal thermometer, something that does not appear in the data sheet. On the clock display you will not have any temperature data, but it is written in the activity file and can be consulted after synchronization.
The temperature data obtained may or may not be valid. When you run with the watch on your wrist, the temperature measurement will be affected by your own body heat. But if you do not wear the watch on your wrist (e.g. mounted on the handlebars of a bicycle), then you can have correct temperature information.
I also have the average and maximum power data from the training session or race, as the pulse sensor I was using was the Stryd.
Suunto was the first (and so far the only) manufacturer to incorporate Stryd's power measurement function natively into the watch, and they themselves highlighted it in the Ambit3 Vertical press release.
Not only is it possible to select power fields while running (snapshot, as well as averages for the last 3 seconds, 10 seconds, etc.), they will also be synchronized with Movescount when the activity is over, and you can examine your performance not only in the Stryd panel (with which there is automatic synchronization from Movescount), but also on the Suunto website.
This means that not only has Suunto taken care to make the sensor pairing super easy (simply add it as a pulse sensor, without worrying about the power measurement part), but it also offers full integration into your platform. An example of behavior for which Suunto is to be congratulated.
And yes, I still owe you Stryd's full analysis...
When analyzing the new Ambit3 Vertical, one crucial point is to see how it performs in terms of GPS sensitivity. Suunto has changed its classic design with the antenna underneath the watch case and integrated it into the bezel itself, as other manufacturers have done in recent years. With Suunto I have almost always obtained very high quality GPS tracks (obviously not perfect), always ahead of its rivals.
With that premise the comparison was clear: perform the same activities with Suunto Ambit3 Sport, with its classic antenna in the belt area. In general I have seen good results in the tracks, especially in areas with good coverage. And seen in a global way the result is quite good.
Similarly in terms of total distance, all three watches end up in very similar numbers (ignore the distances shown in the screenshot above). For example on that route the distance measured by all three was the following:
- Suunto Ambit3 Vertical: 15.61 km
- Suunto Ambit3 Sport: 15.38 km
- Garmin Fenix 3: 15.55 km
In wooded and difficult areas is when the differences start to be noticed. At this turn it is the Ambit3 Sport that behaves the best. The Vertical cuts the turn a lot, while the Fenix 3 deviates before doing it and then goes a little long. However, once you reach the open sky the three clocks are aligned again perfectly on the same path.
A little further on, after passing under the motorway bridge, it is again the Sport that is best placed. Both the Fenix 3 and the Ambit3 Vertical go off the track for a few metres.
Here we crown the peak by a very wooded and steep area, being necessary to climb with ropes. Therefore, very slow movement. The top of the track is that most difficult area.
As you can see, the track of the Ambit3 Vertical is a little worse than the one offered by the Ambit3 Sport, but infinitely more accurate than the one recorded by the Fenix 3.
It is in complicated areas in the only place where you can say something negative about the signal received by the Ambit3 Vertical. In other situations there is not much to highlight. Even in this example it is the best recorded route of the three devices used at that time. It is clear from the layout of the roundabout (and reaching it), how the Vertical goes perfectly by the point of the road while both the Edge 520 and the Fenix 3 go a couple of meters off the layout.
What you should be clear about is that there is no one model that is clearly superior to another in terms of GPS track recording. This image is a clear example of this. Points where all three clocks track along with other places where one of the three deviates from the route, but there is no clear winner.
In short, there are two questions that can be answered quickly and easily.
Does the Ambit3 Vertical match the accuracy of the rest of the Ambit range?
There is still room for improvement, because although Ambit3 Vertical is compatible with GLONASS satellites, this functionality has not yet been activated. Suunto Traverse was launched in the same way and after updating and activating this function, the location accuracy has improved slightly.
Is it a problem when training or competing?
I have not found any problem in these weeks of use. It is a perfectly valid watch for running both in areas of good coverage and more complicated terrain, where the accuracy is more affected than in the case of the rest of the Ambit3 range, but it still maintains a very high level. It is true that it does not reach the accuracy of the Ambit3 Sport, but I have no problem in that sense.
Suunto promises the same length as Ambit3 SportIn the test I did at the time I got 9:44, which after a software update went to 10:45, an outstanding result.
But it's one thing what the data sheet says and quite another what the reality is, which is why I always like to do a complete test, to be able to validate the data provided by each brand.
The procedure is simple. Charge the battery to 100% and take it outside to record an activity, until it stops due to lack of battery. Which in the case of Suunto is not when the clock is turned off, but remains in a "stand by" mode where it continues to display the time. A detail from Suunto.
In this case the Ambit3 Vertical did not meet expectations, staying a little under 9 hours total duration until the clock ends the activity automatically (and saving it, so in case of low battery you would not lose the training). Although it should also be noted that the test was performed at night and although the temperature was not too low, it does mean a decrease in duration.
In fact the rest of the Ambit3 range improved with updates, so it would not be surprising if in the case of the Ambit3 Vertical it could also be improved through updates. For the time being count on this figure and don't think about what Suunto can (or can't) do in the future, and if the weather conditions are more positive it will probably be around 9.5 hours or closer to the promised 10 hours.
That's the maximum achieved with 1-second recording, but for longer trail tests you can set the recording every 5 seconds, thus achieving up to 15 hours of autonomy with a fairly acceptable recording rate, especially if the terrain is complicated and the movements slow.
The new Suunto Ambit3 Vertical does not represent a major jump in the range, but it does take small steps in the right direction. The new design slightly impairs GPS reception, which remains very satisfactory, but its behavior remains to be seen once GPS satellites are activated. And we finally have vibration in a Suunto watch, something for which it has been quite criticized - at least so far.
The new possibilities offered by its software will be very well received by many users, especially trail runners. In my opinion, in this type of race, the new screen with the altimetry profile is all you can need in a test of this type. At a glance you have total reference of how much effort you have ahead, both in relative distance and in route profile. And it is no use knowing that you have 5 kilometers ahead, because unlike a race on the road, those 5 kilometers can take you 15 minutes or more than an hour.
I think that today, the Ambit3 Vertical is everything a trail runner can look for. It contains everything you need and all the new features included are designed for that use. It doesn't have an activity monitor, but the new cumulative ascent meter widget is a great motivator for the type of user you are targeting, far beyond knowing the number of steps taken in a day.
As for the rest of the clock, it is the same as the one we already knew, with all its positive points: reliability at all times, simplicity of use, good online platform and a fantastic quality of materials and construction.
But you must bear in mind that those failures that afflicted the rest of the Ambit3 range continue with the Vertical. Mainly a very improvable application in Android, a notification system that does not end up convincing or the obligation to prepare training sessions exclusively from the mobile. However, all of them affect secondary functions of the watch, not its main functionality.
Did you like the test?
I hope that this review is to your liking. There are many hours needed to do each of them. If you like the work I do remember that your support is essential. If you are encouraged by the purchase of the device, you can do this through these links at the bottom of the articleThis way you save and I get back a small commission that will help in the purchase of new devices for the following tests.
Don't forget to share the test in your social networks and with friends, so that they can also be informed. And don't hesitate to comment and subscribe to the comments, many times you will find answers to questions that have not been dealt with in the text of the test. You can use the test comments as a forum and share not only your doubts, but also your opinions of the watch with the rest of the readers.
Buy Suunto Ambit3 Vertical
The Ambit3 Vertical is available in four different colors: white, black, blue and lime. And you can choose to buy just the watch or to buy it together with the Suunto Smart Sensor. Below I provide you with links to very good offers. Buying through them will help you maintain the website and part of my work.
These are the prices you can find at Amazon in all its European network, for the versions without pulse sensor.
And then those that include the Suunto Smart Sensor