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Discussion: Suunto Ambit 3 issues

in: Orienteering; Gear & Toys

Dec 3, 2019 7:24 PM # 
I've been seeing a lot of ads recently from Suunto for 60% discounts on the Ambit 3 Peak. Might seem worth the money at this point.

I purchased one this past summer to replace my broken Garmin 325xt.

Was relatively happy until I switched from Android to iOS.

The watch itself seems pretty solid, but it definitely takes some time to configure all of the modes and displays. My only significant complaint is that it's easy to accidentally push the stop button.

The HR strap was defective on arrival. Suunto sent a new one after analyzing the data in my MC account. 4 months later, the new strap (or pod) is acting up. Spikes HR to 190 for the first 5 - 10 minutes of every run, no matter what I do to prep it.

The apps for interfacing with the watch are a different story. I always thought Garmin Connect was bad, but Suunto has taken 'bad' to a new level. They have TWO apps. Neither works especially well.

The old app, Movescount (MC) is clunky, but it does work.
The new app, Suunto (S), is clunky too. Currently, data syncing only works on Android.
The two apps are incompatible. Suunto says you should not have both on the phone at the same time.

The Ambit watches have been labeled as a "legacy platform" by Suunto. As a "legacy platform" they are not fully supported in the new app (and won't be). Additionally, the MC app has been officially discontinued. At some point this month (December) the MC app will be removed from the App stores.

MC has functionality to configure and interact with the watch. S does not. This isn't a huge problem once you get the watch set up, but without MC it's a pain to make changes.

AP *is* able to automatically pull workouts directly from the Suunto app which is nice. MC requires manual transfer, afaik.


A few weeks ago, I switched from Samsung to an iPhone 11. While I can pair the watch to the iPhone, the Suunto app won't sync any data. Suunto support have acknowledged that it's a known problem, but so far no fix.
Dec 3, 2019 8:36 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
It seems you have the same problem as my son: He just switched jobs, and his new employer is forcing him to switch from Android to iPhone. :-(

This is making everything quite a bit harder and/or more expensive. :-(
Dec 3, 2019 11:46 PM # 
In case it helps, you can also setup MC to push to S, which will then push to AP.
Dec 4, 2019 12:07 AM # 
There is a way to lock out the buttons to prevent accidental pushes. I haven't done it recently but it involves pressing and holding one of the buttons, I think maybe the middle one.
Dec 4, 2019 2:00 AM # 
Bottom right button
Dec 5, 2019 1:51 PM # 
Re HR spikes: This is probably a long shot, but are you sure it's a measurement error? I occasionally see this, too, and when I stop and feel my pulse, it's really that high.
Someone somewhere (TM) claimed this is a result of insufficient warm-up, where muscle capillaries are still narrow so muscles are in the anaerobic regime even during relatively light workouts, and as a result the body goes into stress and raises the heart rate. Once muscles are warmed up, HR drops to "normal" values rather abruptly.
Dec 5, 2019 2:01 PM # 
Ambit's strap is known to do such spikes especially during first 10 mins, especially if it isn't soaking wet. Common resolution is replacing it with Polar's strap (just the strap part, not the hr pod).
Dec 5, 2019 8:27 PM # 
My old Garmin strap did the same. New(er) one does not. The fix on the older one was a tiny dot of electrode gel on each of the contact points.
Dec 7, 2019 2:23 PM # 
The lock button works but it also locks the light button. Not a big issue. I could also put the watch on my right wrist then it would be the lap button, but old habits die hard.

HR strap -
I didn’t know that about warmup. I normally expect and do see a modest spike when I start running, maybe +10 bpm. But I think this specific prob is the strap or pod. Manual hr measure doesn’t corroborate and if I stop moving hr spike drops instantly. Similar prob with Garmin. Getting strap wet fixed for me most of time. Soaking Suunto strap hasn’t helped. Haven’t tried gel.
I mistakenly bought a polar strap several years ago trying to fix garmin strap issues and couldnt use it. Have to see if it’s in a drawer somewhere.
Dec 7, 2019 11:26 PM # 
Off topic...
I could be mistaken, but my sense is that people tend to stick with the OS of the first smartphone they get. I chose Android simply because, at the time (2011), the non-iPhone had more megapixels than the iPhone. No regrets though.

@Terje: Couldn't you keep your Android phone for personal use?

@bill_l: Why did you switch?
Dec 8, 2019 2:36 AM # 
The lock button works but it also locks the light button.

Hmm, not on either of my Ambit3 watches.
Dec 8, 2019 4:37 AM # 
That's interesting. It does lock out the light button on mine.
Dec 8, 2019 4:57 AM # 
Huh! I've used that feature a lot in overnight trail runs where I lock the watch right after I start to make sure I don't accidentally turn it off. These Ambit3s both came directly from Suunto about 18 months apart; the newer one is a year old. Not sure if that provides any clues.

The instructions say it's supposed to work but I see there are some different Modes you can set. FWIW both of my watches have Mode = Normal.
Dec 8, 2019 12:11 PM # 
There is also General - Tones/display - Button lock - Time mode which you can set to "Actions only". Then the light is not locked. I think the same can be set for sport mode as well.
Dec 8, 2019 1:13 PM # 
Ah, that sounds like the one!
Dec 9, 2019 1:15 PM # 
@Jagge: I have observed such spikes in the past, and they turned out to be real; so since then, I have just assumed that they're all real. Prompted by this thread, I've re-checked again today (HR around 170 when ~130 would be expected), and counted 20 beats in 10s. The measured value would drop rapidly whenever I stopped, but not that rapidly, so I guess I'll start looking for a Polar strap.
Dec 11, 2019 2:54 AM # 
@igor_: nailed it! Mine was set to "All Buttons". Thanks!!

@GuyO: I agonized over the switch for several weeks. have had android since the samsung galaxy first came out. Most recent choice was between the note10+ and apple. Was forced to decide because several apps needed for work were not supported on my old Note 4. Price was equiv. I was tired of the Samsung + AT&T crapware and the AT&T os update schedule - or lack thereof!. Both my kids, and most people I work with have iPhones, being on the same ecosystem has its benefits. It's taken a little getting used to. In the end, I like it but I'm not blown away by it.
Dec 15, 2019 1:29 PM # 
Jagge, which Polar strap are you recommending? Polar Soft Strap? Polar Pro Soft Strap? Looking at Amazon reviews I'm finding both happy users of each as well as people complaining of spikes like here. Some saying that quality has decreased over time because their older Polar strap never did this, or didn't wear out as quickly, etc.

Hugh, is your Garmin strap compatible with Suunto transmitter? (contacts 45 mm / 1.75" separation)

I'm a big fan of the Scosche optical arm strap, but it's inconvenient in the winter with multiple layers of clothing so I usually go back to the chest strap then.
Jan 6, 2020 8:50 PM # 
Are there Polar strapssensors with different contact separations? I've somewhat cursorily looked for iformation on this, and finding none, assumed they must be all equal. However, the one I got for christmas doesn't fit my Suunto sensor.
Oct 19, 2020 9:44 PM # 
In case other Ambit users plan to act on the warnings popping up in Movescount advising us to switch to the Suunto app by the end of October... DON'T DO IT! Especially not if you use an iPhone. I wasted hours on this.

It sounded like there was no choice so after procrastinating as long as I possibly could, I installed the Suunto app on my iPhone and downloaded Suuntolink to my laptop. I successfully paired the Suunto app on the phone with my Ambit3.

In testing the new software, I could sync exercises by plugging my watch into my laptop but there was no interface to see them there. My workouts only appeared in the Suunto app on my iPhone. Weirdly, I couldn't sync exercises directly to the app; I had to sync to the laptop. It seemed impossible that a company would cut off support for their old software when the new software didn't work so I assumed the problem was mine. I went through reams of troubleshooting ideas and Google advice before phoning Suunto Support. A support rep confirmed there is a known bug in the app for iPhone/Ambit users so I would have to keep doing things that way for now.

In my Googling, I noticed a lot of frustration from people who - like me - want access to their watch data on their laptop. The support rep said that Suunto plans to provide a desktop interface some day but he provided no timeline.

After that call, I wanted to shop for a Garmin but since I have 3 Ambits of different vintages, I searched Attackpoint and discovered that - of course!! - Ken built an interface to the Suunto app last year. It worked for me instantly - of course!! - so at least I would be able to get my future training data over to AP.

Then I noticed that Suunto had updated their transition page: "We have decided, in order to ensure the best possible consumer experience for all our community, that we will postpone the planned changes to Movescount App, SuuntoLink, and Moveslink2 until 2021." Um, the support rep should have mentioned that.

The Suunto app doesn't work properly if the Movescount App is on the same phone so you're supposed to delete Movescount. It's no longer in the App Store so if you change your mind after switching to the Suunto app, it's a bit tricky to move back. I was able to do it but when I phoned Suunto Support about an issue I was having while backing out the changes, they refused to help.

The support rep said that if I had a newer Suunto watch like the Suunto 9, the Suunto app would have worked properly. I still wouldn't be able to access training data from a laptop but that isn't an issue for everyone.

Here's the updated Suunto transition page. Movescount is still prompting me to make the switch ASAP. Nope.
Oct 20, 2020 5:57 AM # 
I could sync exercises by plugging my watch into my laptop but there was no interface to see them there. My workouts only appeared in the Suunto app on my iPhone.

my workout appear also in the, that's part of suunto family these days and I think it is the backend of suunto app. But I havent tried ambit yet, only suunto 7 so far. I thought that's the backed and web UI for suunto app, but maybe I have paired/ agreed to sync acconts at some point. Never really bothered to figure out how that all goes and how workouts are supposed to be viewed (because AP).
Oct 20, 2020 12:42 PM # 
Thanks, Jagge. According to Suunto Support, they are still building a web interface for the Suunto app. Sports Tracker, which is also developed by Amer Sports Digital, currently has its own separate app as well as a web interface but it seems logical to bring the two products together over time.

You are right that our training data is in there; I believe that’s where AP pulls our data from and I did go through a screen to sync with it. I hadn’t logged in directly to see Sports Tracker until today, as it’s clearly a different training log product and I already juggle AP, Movescount and Strava. It currently looks like a watered down version of Movescount. It’s interesting that Suunto Support didn’t mention it as an option when they told me there would be no way to export a GPX from the Suunto app. You can do this from Sports Tracker (and from AP, of course).

Regardless, Ambit owners who haven’t switched to the Suunto app should stick with Movescount for now. Suunto is getting skewered in online forums. They announced their decision to keep the Movescount app until 2021 *after* the deadline for Ambit users to stop using the app so many users have been inconvenienced. Movescount is not in the App Store and it’s not supported but they’ve clearly hit a lot of issues in switching people to the Suunto app. Suunto is offering “loyalty” discounts to get people to buy newer watches, and some feel that they’re hoping to let the Ambits fade away. Given that Suunto still sells new Ambit3 Peaks on their website, it’s understandable that users are demanding more.
Oct 20, 2020 12:47 PM # 
@fossil wrote: Hugh, is your Garmin strap compatible with Suunto transmitter? (contacts 45 mm / 1.75" separation)

Sorry for missing that, fossil. I don't believe so. It's a Garmin HRM-Run strap, and the transmitter isn't removable like my old Garmin one was, it's a single unit.
Oct 20, 2020 8:56 PM # 
When I contacted customer support, first thing they told me was the changes had been postponed, but they didn't mention work on a laptop interface — it may never happen. Main use I make of uploaded data is viewing route against satellite imagery and gpx track for use in QR, for example. Both are performed best on laptop, dammit.
Oct 20, 2020 9:09 PM # 
Nice they told you the changes had been postponed! The support rep didn't mention it to me yesterday even though I was clearly unhappy with the Suunto app functionality. I found out afterward by chance when I refreshed a tab in my browser and the text changed.

At least we'll be able to view our tracks in AP on different types of maps. Agreed - definitely better on a laptop.
Oct 20, 2020 11:45 PM # 
my ambit 3 syncs via the app and drops it in strava.
Oct 21, 2020 12:39 AM # 
Mine works (though I'm on Android)-- I can either sync via bluetooth to the Suunto App or go via cable with Suuntolink (which then sends it via the web to the app). But I vastly prefer a desktop interface, so *thank you* for letting us know that the changes have been postponed. That is awesome!! I vastly prefer using Movescount on my computer.
Oct 21, 2020 12:55 AM # 
Joe, the Ambit3 should sync via the app unless you use an iPhone - although from the questions the support rep asked, I got the impression that the app worked with an older version of iOS.
Oct 22, 2020 8:06 PM # 
The Ambit 3 Peak is like the new Garmin Forerunner 305. By which I mean its the old watch that keeps working for all the things you want it for, but eventually the company decides its more profitable for them to sell you a new, less functional, watch. Mine is working fine to upload using either Suunto app or SuuntoLink on laptop. If you read the instructions, you can still change the settings on the watch but only on the laptop, using the movescount website (not app). I don't need to change any settings so I haven't tried it.
Oct 23, 2020 4:11 AM # 
Great comparison with the 305 - although at least Garmin has the decency not to sell new 305s on its website!

Sounds like your device is not an iPhone/iPad updated to a recent version of iOS so it works to upload from your Ambit via the Suunto app.

Yes, Ambit watch settings will continue to be updated via Movescount on the laptop. That's actually the one piece of Movescount functionality that I wouldn't have minded being limited to the new app only. It's the training analysis graphs, GPS tracks and maps that benefit from a bigger laptop screen - not that all the training analysis has been transferred to the Suunto app anyway.
Feb 5, 2021 10:05 PM # 
Looks like this week's squeeze play is happening on the Movescount app. My watch is still syncing to the app but the data is no longer showing up in the Movescount website or in Strava. It does show up in the phone app but that's as far as it gets. I guess it's finally time to live dangerously and switch.
Feb 7, 2021 3:49 AM # 
Thanks for the reminder about the deadline! My Ambit 3 is still uploading to the Movescount website but as of yesterday afternoon, it no longer knows what the altitude is, so it looks like I need to switch to the Suunto app. It was exciting to do a ski with 2500 m elevation gain today - approximately 20 times more than the real gain.

This discussion thread is closed.