Garmin Fenix 3 vs. Suunto Ambit3 Review

Whether you’re a runner, a biker, or an avid adventurer, a sports watch can be a great companion for you. Today, we have two of the most promising sports watches you can find on the market: the Garmin Fenix 3 and the Suunto Ambit3.

If you tried comparing the two, you’ve probably noticed that they share many similarities, which makes choosing between them harder.

In this comparison, we’ve put the Garmin Fenix 3 and the Suunto Ambit3 head to head so you can decide which one to buy.

Garmin Fenix 3


  • Long standby time
  • Garmin Connect app shows detailed stats in an intuitive way
  • Incident detection and assistance
  • Vibrating alerts
  • Has a silent alarm
  • Supports Wi-Fi


  • The display is a bit dim
  • Unimpressive battery life in GPS mode

Suunto Ambit3


  • Excellent GPS battery life
  • Great compass with tilt compensation
  • Brighter display
  • Intuitive barometric and altimeter data display


  • Standby time could be better
  • The strap can’t be replaced
  • No safety features

Compare Garmin Fenix 3 and Suunto Ambit3


Garmin Fenix 3

Suunto Ambit3

Replaceable Strap



Display Resolution



Vibrating Alerts



Emergency Assistance



Battery Life

3 months or 16 hours in GPS mode

1 month or 22 hours in GPS mode

Design and Comfort

The Garmin Fenix 3 and Suunto Ambit3 share the same design language. Both have a rounded display and use rubber straps. The most noticeable difference is that the bezel on the Garmin Fenix 3 has a different color than the rest of the watch. 

The rubber strap on the Fenix 3 is pretty strong and will hold up pretty well even in the toughest conditions. It’s also quite comfortable. Of course, you can just opt for third-party straps for more material and color options. 

The Ambit3 also has a rubber strap that’s just as comfortable as the one on the Fenix 3. However, you may not be able to get a suitable fit if you have a small wrist; you’ll notice that when running as the strap will keep bouncing off your wrist. What makes things worse is that you can’t replace it.

However, both the Fenix 3 and the Ambit3 are dust and water-resistant down to a depth of 100 meters, so you can shower or go swimming wearing them and not fear the ugly effects of water on electronics.

Winner: Garmin Fenix 3


The Garmin Fenix 3 boasts a 1.2-inch 218 pixel-diameter backlit display that integrates Garmin’s proprietary color system called Chroma. This makes sunlight readability great, but not in power-saving mode, though. 

The Suunto Ambit3 is equipped with a similar display that’s very easy to see even in direct sunlight, but the resolution is a bit less, sitting at 128p. It has a slight edge over the display used in the Fenix 3 when it comes to brightness, though. 

Additionally, you can adjust the backlight by setting the night or normal mode for better viewability. You can also switch between “white font on a dark background” and “black font on a white background” modes.

Winner: Suunto Ambit3


Both the Garmin Fenix 3 and Suunto Ambit3 support GPS and Bluetooth. However, the Fenix 3 supports Wi-Fi, while the Ambit3 doesn’t.

Winner: Garmin Fenix 3

Health and Fitness Features

The Garmin Fenix 3 and Suunto Ambit3 can track your distance, steps, sleep, and calories. There are many sports profiles that you can pick from too.

However, in addition to the basics, the Garmin Fenix 3 has a Connect app that’s available for iOS and Android. By connecting your watch via Bluetooth, you can use it to download watch faces and cache your course routes and times. 

Moreover, the Fenix 3 lets you take a quick look at your recent activities and view statistics like the number of calories burned, distance covered, or height climbed on the app.

In addition, it automatically adjusts some data types, like your daily step count goal, based on your performance. Oh, and if you sit idle for more than you should, the watch will buzz to motivate you to exercise.

The Suunto Ambit3 has a similar Movescount app, but it’s nowhere as detailed as Garmin’s Connect app. However, instead of relying on Bluetooth, you can connect your Ambit3 to Suunto’s web app using USB. It’s a nice feature to have if you have trouble connecting it using Bluetooth, especially that some users complain that the phone syncs with the app pretty slowly.

You can use the Movescount app to view or upload your activity, as well as save preset GPS routes that you can follow when going for a run. 

The Suunto Ambit3 has an optical heart rate monitor too, and while the regular Garmin Fenix 3 doesn’t have a heart rate monitor, the HR version is equipped with one. 

Winner: Garmin Fenix 3


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Both the Garmin Fenix 3 and the Suunto Ambit3 display essential weather information, such as temperature, sea level pressure, and tide information. Oh, and if a storm is expected to happen, the watches will alert you using the Storm Alert feature. 

Winner: Tie

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The Garmin Fenix 3 features a 3-axis compass that you can set to calibrate automatically. Additionally, you can play around with the compass settings to make some manual adjustments. It’s also worth mentioning that the compass appearance and data change based on the activity you’re doing.

On the other hand, the Suunto Ambit 3 features a tilt-compensated compass that can detect whether your arm is leveled or not. Unlike its counterpart, it must be calibrated every once in a while. You also need to set the declination to get accurate directions. What’s more, you can use the compass simultaneously with GPS to find your way to a specific location. 

Using the Movescount app, the watch lets you navigate to a location you’ve saved earlier. And to avoid getting lost, you can use the FindBack feature that guides you to your previous location.

Overall, we think that the compass on the Suunto Ambit3 is much more polished and offers more features than the one on the Garmin Fenix 3.

Winner: Suunto Ambit3

Altimeter and Barometer

Both the Fenix 3 and the Ambit3 have altimeters and barometers. The Ambit3 has adjustable profiles, though, allowing you to switch between barometric, automatic, or altimeter profiles. The automatic profile will simply switch between barometric and altimeter views based on your movement. 

For example, if you’re hiking, the watch will display the altimeter view. On the other hand, it’ll show you the barometric view if you’re running on flat ground.

Although the graphs on the Fenix 3 are color-coded and much easier to read and understand, we prefer the extra functions that the Suunto Ambit3 offers when providing barometric and altimeter data.

Winner: Suunto Ambit3

Battery Life

In GPS mode, the Garmin Fenix 3 will keep running for up to 16 hours, which is quite decent and should last you the whole day. 

You can extend the battery life to 50 hours by enabling the Ultratrac mode that updates the GPS location every minute instead of every second. However, if you rarely use any of the advanced features on the Fenix 3, you can go for months without recharging it. 

On the flip side, the Suunto Ambit3 has a battery life rating of 22 hours with GPS enabled, which is quite longer than the Fenix 3’s endurance rating. If you disable GPS, you can use the watch for over a month without connecting it to the charger.

In short, we can say that the Ambit3 has better battery life on GPS, but the Fenix 3 triumphs when it comes to standby time.

Winner: Tie

User Interface

The Fenix 3’s interface is quite user-friendly. You should have no problem navigating the menus and finding what you need with just a few clicks.

On the other hand, the Suunto Ambit3’s user interface is a bit tricky to navigate. The basic functions are pretty easy to access, but it’ll probably take you a while until you figure everything out.

Winner: Garmin Fenix 3


Both the Garmin Fenix 3 and Suunto Ambit3 will send you notifications like texts, emails, or calls. Still, the Garmin Fenix 3 takes it up a notch by integrating vibration alerts that can be convenient when working out. It has a silent alarm too.

Winner: Garmin Fenix 3


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Color Options

The Garmin Fenix 3 is available in 3 configurations, which include gray with scratch-resistant crystal and black strap, silver with red strap, and a premium model that integrates a sapphire lens and a stainless steel strap.

On the flip side, the Suunto Ambit3 is available in blue, sapphire, white, and black, so we can conclude that both models cover lots of customers’ preferences.

Winner: Tie


The Garmin Fenix 3 has an Incident Detection and Assistance feature that allows you to call or message your emergency contacts if an incident happens. However, your watch must be connected to your phone using the Garmin Connect app for the feature to work. 

Also, keep in mind that the watch won’t contact emergency services for you, so you must do this manually. In addition, the Fenix 3 can locate your phone in case you lost it.

Per contra, the Suunto Ambit3 doesn’t have any pre-installed safety features.

Winner: Garmin Fenix 3


Price-wise, the Suunto Ambit3 is slightly more expensive than the Garmin Fenix 3. The price difference isn’t that significant, hovering around $30-$40. Nevertheless, you might want to opt for the Garmin Fenix 3 if you want to save a few bucks.

Winner: Garmin Fenix 3

Garmin Fenix 3 vs. Suunto Ambit3: The Final Verdict

To recap, choosing between the Garmin Fenix 3 and the Suunto Ambit3 is all about your needs, especially that the difference in price isn’t that big. Ask yourself what features would you really use and those that you can do without. 

For example, if battery life on GPS is important for you, the Suunto Ambit3 would be an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you have a small wrist, you can go for the Garmin Fenix 3 for a better fit. 

Are you into detailed fitness stats? The Garmin Fenix 3 will give you just that, but you’ll have to give up the Ambit3’s heart rate monitor unless you opt for the Fenix 3’s HR edition.

As you can tell, the choice isn’t as easy as picking the prettier-looking watch, but of course, you can take that into consideration if you care about looks. After all, a smartwatch is still an accessory that complements your outfits.

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