What is Wendy McAlpine’s take on the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR?

Text by Wendy McAlpine | Images by Witsup.com


Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR is a feature-packed multisport GPS watch. Along with featuring Suunto’s first wrist-based heart rate measurement, the Spartan Sport Wrist HR also boasts a colour touch screen, 100m water resistance and up to 12h of battery life in training mode. The watch features a whopping 80 pre-set sports specific activity modes and Bluetooth smart connectivity to pair additional training sensors. Released on 30th March 2017, the Spartan Sport Wrist HR sits in the middle of the Spartan watch line up; with the Sport Ultra above, and the Sport (non-wrist HR version) below.


We tested the Spartan Sport Wrist HR  for three weeks to see how the watch performs as both a training and everyday watch. Overall, our impressions are generally positive. What we noticed first was how simple the watch is to use. There are eight core menus that you can either swipe or press the buttons to navigate between. Below is a brief run down of each of the core menu items and the further menus within them:

  • Watch face – which can be customised via the settings menu
  • Exercise – where you can select your sport and start your workout
  • Navigation – can be used to load routes
  • Logbook – contains the history of activities recorded on the watch
  • Settings – connectivity, sensors, user profile and other device settings can be adjusted here
  • Training – displays your recent training volume
  • Recovery – shows current recovery time remaining
  • Activity – you can see daily count of steps and calories and recent HR trend


One of the best features of this watch is its inbuilt wrist heart rate sensor. What this means is there’s no longer a need to wear a chest strap! For many women wearing a chest strap is a problem with chaffing often the main issue. During Exercise mode we were impressed with how closely the wrist heart rate sensor of the Spartan tracked when compared with our chest strap (well, for most of the activity at least!). If you like wearing a chest strap, then the Spartan can accommodate that too and it will work with any Bluetooth Smart enabled chest strap.


Activity data from the watch is synced with the Movescount app (available for iPhone and Android smartphones) – although fairly basic, it allows you to review your training history (activities) or ‘moves’ as Suunto calls them. The watch does display recent HR trends outside of activities, however this information isn’t uploaded – so there’s no ability to view or analyse 24×7 HR data on the app or web platform of Movescount. Whilst lacking HR trend and resting HR values, Movescout does upload  calories and daily step totals.


The Movescount web platform provides a nice overview of your training load, moves, and overall health in an intuitive display. The heatmaps functionality is a nice touch, and it allows you to see popular training locations of other Suunto users with the ability to download routes others users have created.   Those looking to further customise sports and/or data fields within sports are also able to do so via the web platform.


The Spartan Sport Wrist HR will appeal to a broad range of the people, particularly those who are looking for a watch that does more than track swim/bike/run activities straight out of the box. Its biggest let down at this point in time is that it doesn’t save daily HR. Pretty much all multisport watches at the same price point of the Spartan  Sport Wrist HR do and it’s a fairly significant feature that this watch lacks. However, the Spartan Sport Wrist HR is a quality watch that is both well made and durable. We really liked the wide range of pre-set sport modes and practicality of a wrist HR sensor. We think the  Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR is a worthy contender in anyone’s shortlist for a multi sport watch.


Below are some of the features of the Spartan Sport Wrist HR we liked and some we didn’t like as much:


The things we liked:

  • Solid, quality build (all Suunto Spartan Sport watches are hand made in Finland)
  • Colour touch screen works reasonably well
  • Bright, clear display featuring an LED backlight is easy to read well in a variety of light conditions
  • 80 sports-specific modes with customizable field displays
  • Post activity summary pages on the watch are really useful; they’re detailed, yet easy to interpret
  • Great GPS tracking accuracy (we found it outperform our other GPS tracker) particularly when on trails with lots of twists and turns
  • Wrist heart rate was generally reliable and tracked on par with chest strap (tested while running ONLY), although we found it took around five minutes into an activity to start tracking on par with the chest strap heart rate.
  • Suunto’s Movescout web platform has a great user interface for displaying ‘moves’ (activities) and the heatmaps are a nice touch.


The things we didn’t like so much:

  • Despite the ability to track daily steps and heart rate – this data is never uploaded from the watch. Therefore, you cannot track daily steps or heart rate trends.
  • Can only connect to Bluetooth smart sensors, ANT+ sensors are not compatible
  • Running cadence values recorded by the Spartan Sport Wrist HR were well off the mark
  • Functionality of the Movescount app is limiting. Eg. sports data fields must be customised on the web platform
  • Battery life – it really does depend on how you use your watch and its settings but we’ve been needing to put it back on the charger every three/four or so days.
  • Not that user friendly if looking to mount on a bike – a simple adaptor is available, but without quick release functionality
  • Syncing with the app is often slow and we occasionally had to re-pair the watch with our phone to get the syncing to work again.


Price RRP – $699.99 AUD

Where to buy – go to www.suunto.com for all the info.

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