A Suunto user's Apple Watch Ultra 2 experience
So, bear with me here, I’m a dyed in the wool (as we say in Australia) Suunto user. I love my Baro and Suunto 7, and will never part with them. However after stuffing my broken (spine) discs yet again, I’m out of ultra running and any sort of running for God know’s how long. Hopefully not ever, but it’s depressing to say the least.
So in saying that, having nothing better to do except work, I thought I’d buy my first smartwatch (as you do!). The Ultra was an easy choice cause I’ve become an apple diehard - phones, mac computer, iPad etc. And I wouldn’t have to charge it as often as my Suunto 7 (which after changing phones from Andriod (stupid stupid!) I realised I couldn’t use Google Pay any longer). So enough of the stupidity, on with my thoughts on this “Ultra” watch.
First up, as a smartwatch it’s brilliant. Blown me away. For my work as an IT contractor it performs far better than I’d imagined. I need calendar’s, Ms teams, Outlook, map directions, public transport timetables, Siri etc. Honestly, I love this thing already. One VERY helpful feature is being able to ask Siri to navigate me to wherever around the city without taking my phone out of my bag. It just works effortlessly. So cool. Along with Apple Pay I barely use my iPhone now.
However, it cost a bomb. I could have bought both an Apple watch SE, plus the new Race and still had a couple hundred dollars left over. So there’s definitely buyers remorse to a large extent. And the Ultra looks nowhere near as nice as the new Race (but maybe that’s a Suunto bias thing?). However, that’s a possible purchase sometime down the track, I hope. The new Race is just wow!
Exercise tracking using that “Action button” is quick and simple. The GPS tracks laid down by the watch have been phenomenally good. I’m not sure on the distance calculations yet as both my Suunto’s and Garmin’s record about a 20m difference over a kilometre from the Ultra. Pretty sure they are right and the Ultra under reports. I of course can only walk (very slowly) at present so this observation only speaks to that aspect.
Syncing to some bluetooth headphones and headsets for work is super fast and seamless. Again, far faster than my other watches (Garmin’s and Suunto’s alike). There’s some Suunto Wings for Xmas I feel…
And yet, I’m wearing my Baro on my other wrist as I feel a real loyalty to it. Strange how you get attached to inanimate objects that have seen you through some of the best and worst times on the trails. Obviously a watch doesn’t care whether it’s worn or not, but that feeling is always there. Like I’m cheating on it.
Build quality - the Ultra is no doubt built well. Titanium and sapphire glass were prerequisites for this purchase. I’d smash a normal Apple watch before I got out the store! Clumsy like that. Despite the perceptions from the AW crowd, it does still look like an upmarket piece of jewellery. It looks great, but that bulge on the side still grates on the overall design. But it is a nice piece of functional art on your wrist. Apple people still say it’s huge - have they seen a Baro in the metal? Obs not!
Battery life is the big elephant in the room (we all know this). With a couple workouts per day, notifications, using maps etc it’s lasting on average about 2.5/3 days. Happy with that. It’d probably last a lot longer if I didn’t hammer the battery most of the day.
Once I’m well enough to withstand some decent hiking I’ve planned out an “8 Peak Adventure” to see how the watch will stand up around our drought striken, heat wave burning Scenic Rim mountains. That’ll be very tough and it’ll be interesting to contrast that with my Baro at the same time. Elevation gain, pace, heart rate, battery usage including navigation etc over anywhere from 4-8+hrs.
Suunto is still my go-to watch brand. Nothing beats the solidity of their watches. Tanks look fragile beside the Baro But for now, and until I can (maybe) run again, the Ultra will probably stay on my wrist doing smartwatch duty.
@Jeffrey-Tillack I gave the Ultra 2 a try for one week as I was tempted by the promise of a development in the mapping department (I value such features above most things on GPS watches) but the tracking accuracy was simply disappointing. On the flip side it gave me the opportunity to return to the Suunto family with the Vertical.
The first time I ran with it on my usual track where 1 lap = 125 m and realized I either significantly underperformed (near impossible) or it significantly underreported—but I didn’t keep track of my laps. I then wore it alongside my newly acquired Vertical for a second run; while the Vertical had been spot on and gave 4.25 km for 34 laps, the Ultra 2 reported 3.84 km. So its multi-band GPS is frankly quite bad. Granted, I ran clockwise with the Vertical on my left (outside) wrist and the Ultra 2 on my right (inside), but a difference that big is not justified.
@Jonathan-C to get offline mapping I’m using WorkOutdoors (fantastic really, and ridiculously customizable) and also Athlytic, which gives you HRV, sleep tracking and a host of other wellness stuff. So to get the “Suunto experience” it still requires downloading other software Still, for my current (I hope) use case it works very well. I really wanted the Race, but I’ve further damaged 2 broken discs in my back, and to buy another Suunto seemed like I wouldn’t be doing them justice. Running is just not an option, and I’ll still use my Baro and S7 for those anyway (if my rehab works…).
As a daily driver driver though, the AWU is hard to beat. Puts an iPhone on your wrist. I didn’t however add in the cellular connectivity cause that seemed a waste of $ since I have my iPhone usually on me somewhere.
The Apple app and Fitness app are also pretty bad compared to Suunto app. However if I ignore them and just use WorkOutdoors and Athlytic, then it becomes pretty useful.
I was really irritated with Chase the Summit YT for going on about the lag of the Race too. he’s such a Garmin/Coros fan. Bet he hasn’t used my Forerunner or Instinct - that’s what lag really is!
@Jeffrey-Tillack You could also install RunGap and import your workouts to the Suunto App. But that’s extra 9,99€ a year.
The lag is such a non-issue, in my opinion, both on the Race and previous watches. It looks bad in videos because people are trying to demonstrate it by swiping really fast, but in daily use it’s barely noticeable and certainly not a reason to not buy a Suunto if you like everything else about it.
I completely agree about the lag. There was an issue with my S9PP when trying to select and start an activity but this was fixed with the last firmware update and, anyway, isn’t what the reviews complain about.
I’ve never noticed any meaningful difference in responsiveness between any of my Suunto watches and the Garmin watch I own. Not surprisingly, they don’t respond as quickly as my iPhone (or my daughter’s Apple Watch) but presumably that’s one of the reasons the (very small) batteries can power the watch for so long.
@bobson also agree about the lag. Not sure what people expect or what they think is important. Much ado about nothing. IMO. I’d gladly accept miniscule lag if the battery lasts longer, and that is one of the tradeoffs.