I’ve had the Suunto Ambit2 S for over two years now. I purchased it after my last Ironman race when I was looking for a change the Garmin 910 XT. At the time Garmin had not refreshed the 910 and I was looking for something on the next level. After two years with the Suunto, I can say that it definitely is not in the same league as Garmin. To be fair, it does support all the basic GPS sport watch basics. However, it just doesn’t excel at anything compared to the Garmin. In fact, I actually found that I had trouble getting it to find GPS satellites in places like New York.
As far as the watch features, it offers most of what you would expect to find in a multi-sport GPS watch. Such as run, bike, and swim modes. It also supports multi-sport modes like triathlon, along with walking and snow sports. Navigation is relatively simple and easy to pick up, however, configuring the watch is a bit of a pain because some of the configuration is done on the Suunto Moves Count website and then sent back to the watch.
Syncing works by using the bundled USB charge/sync cable. And you have to install a desktop client that connects to watch with the website. On the website you can download more apps that enhance the functionality of the watch such as race time predictors and work out modes. I found the apps interesting but none of them really grab me and navigating in discovering them needs a bit more work on the website.
The battery life on the watch is so-so. It often drained after workouts where I had additional connections in addition to GPS. For example, when running and using my heart rate monitor or when cycling and using my heart rate monitor plus bike sensors. I did the same with Garmin watches and saw that the drain on the battery was far less with them. Workouts of 2 to 4 hours almost certainly consume a third or more of the battery life. It makes me wonder if the watch could really last for an entire IronMan triathlon. The watch does not come bundled with a heart rate monitor strap. However, it was compatible with my Wahoo TICKR X heart monitor. It was also compatible with my ANT+ sensors on my bike. Missing in the Suunto, were features such as Wi-Fi sync, Bluetooth sync, and phone notification and integration.
Suunto has since updated this watch with a couple of updates which add some of the missing features I mentioned above. However, my general impression of the Suunto brand after using it for two years is that it’s just an also ran compared to Garmin. Maybe an unfair comparison seeing how Garmin has had a many years advantage and lead over all other competitors. But if you’re going to enter the competition you got to bring a lot more to beat the Garmin offerings. Aesthetically, the watch felt “OK” on my wrist. However, Suunto watches generally run larger then the comparative Garmin watch and take up a lot more wrist space.
A major pain point, is that the watch data itself often syncs incorrectly or was unavailable from the website for downloading after my workouts. When I would try and sync available run, swim or bike data to other sites often the times pace and GPS were wrong. Below is an example of what you can expect to see in terms of data when the sync works. The watch also did not come with an option to change the band or utilize a bike mount like some of the Garmin multi sport watches offer. Ultimately, using the Santo was an interesting experiment and departure from using Garmin watches. Nonetheless, I can say definitively, I won’t be using anymore Suunto devices for the foreseeable future and cannot recommend them to anyone very serious about recording their GPS-based workouts.