TomTom Spark 3 Review

TomTom Spark 3 Review

From its name, it is easy to guess that this watch is a third generation smartwatch from TomTom, a maps, and Satnav specialist. The watch provides tracking features for swimming, cycling and running in addition to sleep monitoring and daily activity monitoring. The watch comes with a built in heart rate monitor which makes it the envy of many smartwatches on the market. moreover, the watch has been created and designed in a way that it can store music in its hardware and play it through Bluetooth headphones which come inclusive in the packaging – how cool is that? With all these features, the product you purchase is one that does not need to be used with chest straps or needs to be complemented with a smartphone.

TomTom saw it necessary to add a compass to this model which means that the watch has the ability to provide route tracking as well as guide you to different points you select on the routes that have been uploaded. If you are an adventurous athlete, you will train through new lands without the fear of getting lost even when you do not have your smartphone with you.

The watch comes in 4 main variations. These include the standard model, the music and headphones model, the cardio and music model and the TomTom Spark 3 Cardio model. Below is a TomTom Spark 3 Review for more details on what the unit has to offer.

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Setup and Design

There is a saying that goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. TomTom must have adopted this way of thinking when designing the Spark 3. Why? Well, in the looks and design sector, the watch hasn’t deviated much from the past models. That said, the watch is slim, comfortable and sleek. In addition to its great looks, it comes with a 4-way control pad that works really good. The screen on the watch is monochrome and clear. It works great in both well-lit and dim environments. Viewing the data on this unit becomes easier even when you are on the move. If you need the backlight to be activated, all you need to do is cover the screen with your hand to dupe it into thinking you are in low lighting.

The straps on this watch are removable and as such can be swapped for different colors. The changing process is easy especially with the clipping mechanism the straps are designed with. The straps are elastic and are comfortable enough even when the watch is strapped tightly on the wrist for heart tracking purposes. As a matter of fact, when testing the watch, there are times when we forgot that the watch was on. Even better is the fact that the watch fits in most shift sleeves and did not cause any discomfort at night when sleeping unlike other watches in its category.

Now, there are some individuals who might argue that the design of this TomTom watch has gone stale and that it has nothing new to offer especially given that it is not the best looking watch on the market. well, it might not be positioned to win the sleekest smartwatch award this year, but what it lacks in looks it more than compensates in its functional use which works well with technical training gadgets.

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Activity Tracking

TomTom, simply put, is a veteran in GPS tracking. The Spark 3 is the perfect example of what TomTom is capable of doing. It is accurate, no, scratch that, super accurate and even better, is consistent in tracking the routes with its GPS technology. The one time the GPS tracking functionality failed me was when I was in a different continent and the signal took ages – 10 minutes to register my location. But in all fairness, this was partly my fault since I did not have the QuickGPSfix on my phone complementing the GPS tracking on the watch.

The compass is new to the Spark 3. It allows the watch to provide route tracking. With this feature, you can get lost and still navigate your way back to your starting point by following the online trail. You can think of this feature like a digital breadcrumb that leads you back home. The watch also allows you to zoom in and out of the starting point. In addition to this, the fact that it leads you back to the starting point does not mean that you should strictly follow the map that it has laid out for you. it is flexible enough allowing you to use other routes as it readjusts itself to the paths you take back to the starting point.

The GPS and compass feature not only help you find your way back to your starting point. They also enable you to upload trails. You can do this by saving the trails you have used in the past or even downloading some .GPX files online and storing them on your watch. What this means is that you can plan your routes online or even make use of those that have been shared by others by using third party software such as Strava and Wikiloc.

The watch’s heart rate tracking is in-built in the watch using an optical HR monitor. There are many examples, makes and models of this hardware but the piece on this watch is by far the best we have used. When you compare the unit to the chest strap, a hardware that is considered to be one of the best, the Spark 3 will hold its own perfectly. The readings are accurate though there is some lag. The lag was experienced when going up a hill for instance and the heart rate went through the roof but the HR monitor had a hard time displaying the change in heart rates immediately. But given that most people tend to train in zones and do not necessarily pay attention to the tiny details of the data recorded, this lag in recording should not be a problem.

The HR monitor does not work when you are swimming. When you are swimming you are limited to indoor tracking where you get to set the length of the pool. While the results displayed by the unit are for the most part accurate, it will do squat for the open water swimmers. If you are an open water swimmer and would love to have the HR monitor working you are better off choosing the Garmin Fenix 3. Be warned though that it is slightly more expensive than the TomTom Spark 3.

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Smartphone App

The TomTom app works just fine though it could use some work. The application can be connected to a smartphone for faster sharing of data and analysis while in training. This connection can, however, prove to be tricky. The data on the phone can be transferred to the connected PC and the routes uploaded or saved. Music can also be shared across the platform.

All in all, the application proves to be easy to use and works well for tracking sporting activities for which it was designed for.

It is quite disappointing that there are some sports you cannot add to your triathlon training though there are certain workouts that you can activate to work on goals. These include running a 26-minute 5K pace or even a 3 mile run in just 25 minutes. These will have you competing with a virtual partner and on the screen, you will see whether you are ahead or behind and by how far you are trailing or leading. This motivates you to keep the pace or increase it depending on your position.

When you compare the unit to its competitors, the likes of Polar and Garmin, the watch lacks in training programs. That said, the simplicity of the Spark 3 is what wins the hearts of many. Thank god the TomTom Spark 3 smartwatch plays nice with third party software and platforms. This is to mean that the watch can share information with platforms such as MapMyrun, Runkeeper, Strava, Endomondo, MtFitnessPal and more.

Even while the watch is providing daily tracking activity, it proves to be easy to use and read while in training. The watch does not in the least interfere with the smartphone notifications.

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Battery Life

TomTom claims that the watch should provide you with a whopping 5 hours of GPS, music, and HR while training. However, using GPS only will have the watch last for 11 hours on a single charge.

The figures we got while testing the unit are pretty accurate and close to the figures provided by the manufacturer. What was even impressive was the length of time the music player run for while I was running.

The watch is rechargeable using a USB cable. You can charge it with a laptop through a wall socket or any other outlet with a USB port.

The Bluetooth headphones that come with the watch can last for 4 hours while playing music back-to-back.

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Should you buy the TomTom Spark 3?

The Spark 3 is perfect for individuals who are looking to start cycling, running or even swimming. While it is lacking in some major metrics that its competitors feature, the clean layout and price make the Spark 3 attractive to most.

The watch is comfortable and best of all comes with GPS tracking coupled with a compass and an optical heart rate monitor.

Review Verdict

The watch is a great GPS sports watch which means that you do not have to tag your smartphone along every time you head out to train.


8.5 Total Score

  • Intuitive and simple interface
  • Accurate heart rate monitoring
  • Bluetooth Music
  • The design has nothing new
  • Doesn’t have smartphone notifications
  • The MySports app needs some work
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