« The SPARTAN ULTRA Black HR SUUNTO watch is probably the most successful sports watch ever developed. “The sentence is not to me but to a site selling online (with ‘running’ in the name). It is envy, no? Looks like we’ve finally found the Suunto GPS watch that will compete with the Fenix 3 of Garmin. And yet, if you read my review of the Spartan Ultra test, you know that its features are very limited. Promising but limited.
I get around (Facebook , Twitter, in the commentaries to the articles) the same question: is the Spartan Ultra better than the Fenix 3? And the sums of money involved (between 400 and 800), I understand the hesitation.
So I decided (Finally, suggested me) to write a complete article to compare the Spartan Ultra and Fenix 3. Everything will be gone through: hardware, features, and updates to come. So, you know, based on what you are looking for and the horizon for your purchase, how to guide your choice.
I have a Ultra Spartan and a Fenix 3 HR. Technically, the Spartan Ultra with sapphire glass and no sensor optical cardio, his natural rival would be more the Fenix 3 Sapphire. But sometimes I’ll compare it to the Fenix 3 HR. Because if you want the top topdu, then all compare the model the most complete each brand. As the Fenix 3 HR not expensive more than the Spartan Ultra (a criterion that fit into account, obviously, when we’re looking for a GPS Watch).
Hardware: Ultra Spartan 1-0 Fenix 3
Let’s start with the hardware, which will never change: case, screen, bracelet. I will not design, because tastes are personal and these 2 sports watches are beautiful and can quite be laid in the life of every day, even in a suit at a wedding.
The case of Spartan Ultra made 1 mm less than that of the Fenix 3. But the bracelet setting is different. It is wider on the Fenix 3, while the birth of the bracelet is tilted on the Spartan Ultra. Axis to axis, the Spartan Ultra is actually 5mm less wide. Personally, but it certainly depends on the size of the wrist of each, I find the Spartan Ultra more comfortable to wear, she walks less on my wrist.
Side screen, it’s the Ultra Spartan who has the best features. Larger (35mm 31 mm), color (for 2), touch and better resolution (320 × 300 pixels against 218 × 218). Level display, the only advantage of the Fenix 3 is the ability to reverse the display (black numbers on white or white numbers on black background). Some people prefer one or the other because they find it more readable. The best resolution of the Spartan Ultra can be seen on the analog watchfaces, where the hands are well less pixelated. And during activity, it is also an asset for the follow-up of route in navigation screen.
The Spartan Ultra screen is protected by a scratchproof sapphire glass. You won’t have this level of protection on the Fenix 3 of basic, but it is found on the Fenix 3 Sapphire and the Fenix 3 HR. Long awaited evolution of Ambit3 users, the Spartan Ultra has alerts by vibrations, like the Fenix 3.
Regarding the connectivity, the Fenix 3 smartwatch has free WiFi as well as Bluetooth. It can be used to automatically download your data as soon as you get home. Little more comfort.
2 bracelets are similar, silicone covered with a nice coating to the touch… which tends to wear out quite quickly leaving unprotected areas smoother and brighter. However, we always find the same system of 2 bystanders at Suunto, where we slide the end of the bracelet. However, these 2 people tend to move and must regularly put them back. While the side Garmin, passing is more rigid and grit is fixed in a hole of the bracelet. Finally, no possibility to inter-change bracelets at Suunto. We can replace it, if it is broken, but we can’t choose to install another that we’d love more. While Garmin offers for sale of metal bracelets (stainless and titanium), silicone yellow, blue, red, green, blue and black, leather, nylon and fabric. And in addition to all this, it is possible to order NATO bracelets!
On balance, the Spartan Ultra weighs 77g, which puts it between the Fenix 3 (70g) and the Fenix 3 HR (86g).
I will divide this section in several rounds, which take into account the updates announced by Suunto. If you wait for Christmas or your birthday to make you a GPS watch, you will see that my verdict is changing over time. Clearly, at present, at the level of features, the Spartan Ultra is trouncing by the Fenix 3 (and even many other GPS watches). But as Suunto will deploy new features, it will become more and more competitive. So, the decision to buy one or the other really depends on the time that you have before you.
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