Suunto Spartan Ultra

High-end activity watches are the latest tech craze in the world of running and for serious exercise enthusiasts. It seems every few months a new flood of the latest and greatest are coming out and every company is eager to make their entry into this quickly crowding field. And it seems that versatility is the name of the game for these activity trackers. After all, why just monitor your running performance when you can also track your stats in swimming, climbing, and practically every other activity that can be quantified?

With this in mind, the Suunto Spartan Ultra is their entry into the high-end market of activity watches for athletes. The Spartan Ultra has a long-lasting battery and easy-to-read display and is both durable and comfortable to wear. Featuring a full-color touch screen that works in conjunction with external analog buttons on its side, the Spartan Ultra features a highly accessible, easy-to-navigate menu system.

But what makes it such a powerful activity watch is the (very) wide range of various activities it’s built to monitor. With support for over 80 sports, from running to swimming to skiing to biking, martial arts, diving, this is a heavy-duty versatile activity watch. Each sport mode also provides complex data sets on a variety of metrics for the user to then upload to the Movescount app, which then compiles the data and provides the user with a portrait of their overall training performance over time.

Speaking of which - with their Movescount app, the Suunto Spartan Ultra wirelessly syncs via Bluetooth Smart to your smartphone to automatically upload your data to the app to help monitor your progress.  A comfortable fit, an easy-to-use interface, and a versatile activity tracker, the Suunto Spartan Ultra is a high-end luxury sports watch.

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Pros & Cons

Incredible versatility in one package

Movescount app keeps detailed metrics and calculations of all data 

Highly durable watch 

A very comfortable watch

Large and easy-to-read


High-end price may be a factor

The user cannot change Suunto’s predetermined data sets and settings

Key Features
One area the Suunto Spartan Ultra excels in is versatility. This activity tracker offers something for every sports and exercise enthusiast. While it excels at recording running activities, including triathlon and treadmill running, the Spartan Ultra can also be used to record swimming, skiing, hiking, obstacle race, biking, open water swimming, surfing, martial arts, and much much more.
Basic Features
With over 80 different activities built into its basic function, the Suunto Spartan Ultra is a deluxe activity watch that includes a built-in altimeter, compass, barometer, and GPS. For each of the activities, the basic menu allows the user to choose their sport mode to track, with the metrics available including distance, time, pace, and (depending on terrain) elevation gain. Also, calculations based on your latest and previous runs, such as peak training effect, workout recovery time, and post-exercise oxygen consumption. However, one downside is that there is no customization option for any of the data fields in any of the modes - you are limited to the presets Suunto has provided.

Basic menu options include Exercise (where you start your workout and choose your sport mode), Navigation (which offers pre-configured routes), Logbook (your workout history in chosen sport activity type), Settings (to adjust on-device settings), Training (which shows recent training volume by sport activity type), Recovery (your current recovery stats for HR-based activities), and Activity (that shows you the calories burned and steps taken against a preset goal for the day). At the end of your run, the Spartan Ultra also asks for your “feeling,” which is recorded and then later used for tracking purposes on the Movescount app.
Advanced Features
The built-in GPS unit on the Suunto Spartan Ultra is utilized in a number of ways, particularly in mapping out and providing paths for a run and also mapping out your own unique paths. In other words, it’s a routing system that shows you where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re headed. Just create a route on the Movescount app by connecting the dots on a map, importing a route from a past activity, or importing a GPS file. This also allows you to view and use other shared routes from other Movescount users, and by utilizing “heat maps,” popular routes that have been shared, you may even discover new and better routes to take for your run.
The Suunto Spartan Ultra records such key metrics like distance, time with relative accuracy, with reviews noting only a block or two drops between actual distance and recorded distance. Likewise, its GPS may slightly veer off of tracked routes, but these are only minor. There are three settings for the GPS to function: OK, Good, and Best. However, the more accurate (or better) the GPS setting, the more power it drains from the battery.
The Spartan Ultra uses Bluetooth Smart technology to connect to your smartphone to upload information instantly to the Movescount app, along with other compatible third-party sites, usually taking only 30 seconds for an hour’s worth of data to transfer. Similarly, the Movescount app can also enable the Spartan Ultra to receive notifications from your social media, as well as email, phone calls, and texts; however, you cannot respond to these directly from the Ultra.
The main app for the Spartan Ultra is the Movescount app. This is what you use to sync your workouts from the watch to your smartphone to upload your data to the web. While a standard activity tracker app, some parameters, such as body information and configuring which sports profiles are synced from the watch to the app, can be changed. However, some other data fields, such as the sport mode settings, cannot be adjusted, and the user cannot view information such as recovery time or daily step totals in the Movescount all.
Although the Suunto Spartan Ultra is a relatively large smartwatch, it’s a comfortable fit on the wrist. Its adjustable silicone strap doesn’t cause irritation and keeps the watch firm even during strenuous physical activity. Besides this, the Ultra’s flat face and circular design keep its main unit pressed closely to the skin so it won’t snag clothing or get in the way.
With its noticeably larger watch face and full-color display, the Suunto Spartan Ultra looks like a serious sports watch. Its silicon and sleek all-black design boldly stands out when wearing during any activity. With three large analog buttons for quick access to its features, its chunky aesthetic may seem too bulky for a sports watch, but its thin unit makes sure the Spartan Ultra is never obtrusive. With an impressive, full-color interface, the Ultra certainly stands out in both use and style.
With a solid main unit that features outdoor resistant glass, the Spartan Ultra is water resistant up to 100 meters and can withstand and operate in temperatures from -5 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it may be larger than many other sports watches, this also provides it with a lasting durability. Good thing, too - it’s built for such a wide variety of sports, this has to be is an activity tracker that can take a licking and keep on ticking.
One of the more noticeable aspects of the Spartan Ultra is its rather large face. It’s a touch screen smart watch, after all, so it needs to have a large enough face to accommodate this activity. Covered in outdoor resistant glass, its 320 x 300-pixel display is larger than other comparable activity watches.
The band of the Spartan Ultra is fully adjustable and made of silicon, which gives it a lightweight feel that still keeps the watch firmly fastened to your wrist, no matter if on a run, surfing a wave, or skiing the slopes. Providing a secure fit without irritating your skin, the Ultra’s band is durable and retains its shape and fastening ability even after becoming well-worn.
While it may be slightly chunkier (but only ever-so-slightly) than other activity watches, the Suunto Spartan Ultra weighs in at just 77 grams. Considering its larger than average face and touchscreen capability, its overall size is actually impressive. Its adjustable watch band makes it a one-size-fits-all activity tracker.
Ease of Use
With a combination between touchscreen and analog buttons, the Spartan Ultra may have an extra step or two in its navigation but this is to enhance its security. The analog buttons act like basic navigation buttons: pressing the middle button will initiate and open the main menu, while within the menus it functions as a back button to back out of the menu screen you’re in. The top and bottom buttons will scroll through menu options and can be used in lieu of using the touchscreen, perhaps for those who may find that their fingers are slightly too large to easily navigate using the touchscreen. In addition, during an activity, pressing the top button pauses the function while the bottom button will start a new lap.
The core menu consists of the standard watch face, Exercise, Navigation, Logbook, Stopwatch, Settings, Training, Recovery, and Activity. By swiping with your finger or pressing the buttons, you move through these options.
Power Sources
Coming with its own stand-alone charger, the Spartan Ultra has a battery life of 15 days on a stand-by mode and 26 hours with the GPS continuously on. Its battery life varies depending on the type of GPS setting is activated; “Best” tends to run the battery out quicker.
Where price is concerned, the Suunto Spartan Ultra may lose some potential customers. It’s a high-end fitness tracker that has a high-end price - one that may result in sticker shock for those shopping around for one. But for incredibly active users who will find its versatility and number of sports modes attractive, it’s an investment in a dynamic piece of hardware.
The HR strap that works in conjunction with the Spartan Ultra comes separately and connects to the Ultra via Bluetooth Smart. A belt strap and sensor belt are also available to measure further metrics the accelerometer in the watch cannot measure.
Key Features
- A highly versatile fitness tracker that has over 80 different sports modes
- Very durable watch that can withstand up to 100m in depth in water and extreme temperatures
- Full-color touchscreen that’s easy to read even in full light
- Highly detailed metrics measured during each run or exercise
- Movescount app offers complex data analysis and recommended heatmaps of well-rated trails
Bottom Line
There’s luxury and then there’s high-end, and the Suunto Spartan Ultra is a high-end activity tracker. With its full-color touchscreen display, incredibly durable construction, and incredible versatility, the Spartan Ultra is for the serious athletic enthusiast that may aim to run a triathlon but also takes in a mountain climb and some free swimming in between, and wants to measure and track their performance in all of these pursuits. Although it comes with a high price, and its data fields are inflexible and preset, for the serious sports enthusiast that wants to invest in a heavy-duty piece of tech that will deliver on more than just measuring their pace and distance, the Suunto Spartan Ultra is a mighty piece of equipment to this end.
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By Mike Gray
Last updated:
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Best offer on: Aug. 04. 2021

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