Suunto Fitness 3
LIGHTWEIGHT TRAINING COMPANION.
SUUNTO’S SLIM SPORTSWATCH is doing something very bold. It’s not only ditched the onboard GPS, offloading the hard work of physical tracking to your smartphone (thus bucking the trend of nearly all sportswatches currently available), it’s also giving you permission to not feel bad about a missed workout. If you blow off that run you swore you would do, the Fitness 3 adapts your upcoming plans to compensate.
For Suunto’s adaptable regimen to properly work, though, you’ll need to have the watch on your wrist nearly 24/7. The Fitness 3 measures your heart rate and (after granting it permission) your sleep patterns, building a profile of who you are. As you run, swim, cycle, paddleboard (or do one of the other dozens and dozens of other sports on the menu), the Fitness 3 creates a recommended plan that covers the length and intensity of your workout — smart stuff. Thankfully, it’s comfortable to wear. Suunto has made this lightweight, slim and far more restrained than their previous watches, largely because it omits the bulk of the GPS. Our all-black test unit got a lot of admiring glances, as the display is understated, and the overall design well rounded. A white and gold option is also attractive, though the variants with the pink and green straps betray that aesthetic.
Battery life is good, depending on your schedule. If you like to push yourself every other day in your chosen sport, and do a spot of walking, you should get about four days of use between charges. That’s helped by your smartphone taking the duties of the GPS, so if you don’t have the two paired, you’ll be left without a map of your adventure. That’s disappointing at first, but when we took this on a long (21km) run without a phone, the Suunto measured the pace and distance compared to our control device to within about 3%, all thanks to its inbuilt step counter. That is a remarkable feat. While the Fitness 3 has somewhere in the region of 70 activities to choose from, it’s not a ‘true’ multisport watch that can stitch together multiple sports, like a triathlon — you’ll need the Spartan for that sort of day, or be prepared to rapidly switch between activities.
The optical heart rate (OHR) sensor and is a boon here, furthering making the watch an attractive option for the price. The OHR sensor made a good contact point to read this tester’s pulse, and the soft strap coupled with the diminutive bezel makes it’s unobtrusive for on-land sports — you won’t get it snagged on a jersey or jumper. Get that contact point under the OHR too wet and those results will suffer. For better accuracy, Suunto offers an optional heart rate strap and bicycle sensor for more detailed metrics, but if you’re happy to have your phone with you, then you’re already reasonably equipped to check your pace, splits and other vital info. With your phone paired, you also have the option to receive notifications, but this isn’t a smartwatch.
Suunto has created a fantastic watch for anyone who wants something that will do more than simply track steps. It offers tangible, easy-to-read results and on-the-go metrics on a clear screen, guidance on how hard to push yourself and when. If you’re just starting to get into something beyond a walk around the block, the Fitness 3 is a brilliant companion.
WHEN WE TOOK THIS ON A LONG (21KM) RUN WITHOUT A PHONE, THE SUUNTO MEASURED THE PACE AND DISTANCE COMPARED TO OUR CONTROL DEVICE TO WITHIN ABOUT 3%, ALL THANKS TO ITS INBUILT STEP COUNTER.