Many consider the best Polar watches to be on par with similar wearables from Garmin and Suunto. And while some recreational exercisers might opt for Fitbits, Polar offers a range of health and fitness watches to cater for a wide variety of uses, from the beginner-friendly Unite to the all-in-one multisport watch Vantage V2. We collected, tested, reviewed and ranked all Polar watches worth considering these days.
You'll find more than one Polar wearable in T3's best running watch and best triathlon watch guides. Polars are keenly priced and boast excellent build quality, precise sensors, and fine-tuned algorithms, among other health and wellness features. Although the best Garmins and best Fitbits are generally more prevalent than Polar watches, that doesn't take away from the fact that there are a lot of fans of the Finnish manufacturer. Speaking of Garmin, we compared the two brands here: Garmin vs Polar. You can also read about the best Suunto watches.
Best Polar watches to buy right now
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The Polar Pacer Pro is one of the best Polar watches – this is a fact. If you aren't super keen on touchscreen operation, we think it's a better option than the flagship Vantage V2 and definitely better value for money. The new screen is brighter and easier to read in broad daylight.
The Pacer Pro can sometimes feel dated, especially its user interface, which hasn't changed for a long time. Not to mention, there are other running watches that A) are cheaper or B) offer more features for the same money as the Pacer Pro. On the bright side, the Pacer Pro is a decent mid-range multisport watch, so if you're on the market for one of those, by all means, get this watch.
Read our full Polar Pacer Pro review
The Polar Vantage V2 is a watch of many qualities. Its built quality is excellent, and a step up from the original Vantage V. It has loads of useful tests and data for serious runners, cyclists and triathletes to better their form and get ready for races more efficiently. Better still, most of the tests and data provided by the Vantage V2 can't be found elsewhere, making the watch all the more appealing for information-thirsty athletes.
It would have been great to see some improvements to the user interface, especially the navigation, since the Vantage V, but what can we do? Touch controls are still a bit laggy, although the screen feels a bit more responsive than the one found on the Vantage V. We would certainly recommend the Polar Vantage V2 to anyone who would like to take their athletic performance to the next level: there aren't many wrist-wearables that provide as much data as this one.
Read our full Polar Vantage V2 review
How does Garmin's top dog outdoor watch compare to Polar's most expensive wearable? Find out here: Polar Vantage V2 vs Garmin Fenix 6 Pro.
Packed full of features, this watch still only weighs 64g. It’s easy to navigate with touchscreen options. Having an hour-by-hour weather forecast is just one click away, with weather icons on the screen showing you what to expect. This means the need to take your phone when training is reduced even more. All this watch needs is a camera so you can snap your shots, and then the days of running with a phone will be gone.
You get so much more than training stats with sleep insights, recovery suggestions, workouts (tiny figures animate how to do each exercise) and well-being. You even get WeatherWatch, so essential for trails, hills and mountains where micro-climates are constantly changing.
Read our full Polar Grit X review
We compared the Polar Vantage V2 with the Grit X here: Polar Grit X vs Vantage V2.
The Polar Vantage M2 strikes a good balance between style and substance: it has an ample amount of features, both sport and casual, and despite all the premium features it has to offer, it doesn't cost the earth either. Although fitness wearables are never an investment, I reckon the Vantage M2 will serve its users well for at least a good few years.
Is there a reason why you shouldn't get the Polar Vantage M2? Admittedly, if you need a hardcore running watch, you might find the Vantage M2 a tad too fashion-watch-like. To clarify, it isn't one, but Polar is undoubtedly trying to make the Vantage M2 more appealing to smartwatch users by offering specific colour variants (looking at you, Champagne/Gold Vantage M2). However, you'll find a clever multisport watch under the hood that can effectively help you get better in whatever sport you practice.
Read our full Polar Vantage M2 review
How does the Vantage M2 compare against the Vantage V2? We compared the two here: Polar Vantage M2 vs Vantage V2.
The Polar Ignite can be considered the little sibling of the Vantage family; it has the nine-LED sensor setup and all the new features, like Serene and Nightly Recharge. In fact, the aforementioned features were first introduced in the Ignite and then rolled out later to the Vantage models.
Although the screen is a decent enough size, many features that the Vantage models have displayed on the watch itself have been delegated to the Polar Flow app, like the Training Load Pro and Training Benefit. You still get all these extra features, but you will need to sync the Polar Ignite with your phone first to access them.
The watch is super light and weighs only 35 grams with the wristband. The polymer case is a bit – in need of a better word here – flimsy and cheapish looking. That said, the touchscreen and one-button navigation work well, and the screen is not all that bad to look at, either.
Read our full Polar Ignite review
It’s hard to summarise what's not quite right with the Polar Ignite 2. To some degree, it’s still a perfectly adequate fitness wearable and very similar to the Polar Ignite, a watch we really liked. On the other hand, it fails to offer anything new, so we wonder what the point of re-releasing the same watch two years later was.
Even more strangely, Polar already has a similar watch on the market: the Polar Unite, a fitness watch that looks the same, is a bit cheaper and less competent but serves its purpose just fine. For the Ignite 2's price, you can also get a Fitbit Versa 3 or a Garmin Venu Sq (or Sq Music), both being either more popular or more capable than the Ignite 2.
Would we recommend the Polar Ignite 2? Well, yes and no. We recommended the original Ignite, and since the Ignite 2 is very similar, we guess we can also recommend the new watch. The training tools are good, the sensors are not too bad, and the smart features are also okay. But the lack of updates since the Ignite is a bit disappointing, not to mention the increased competition, which makes me wonder how many people will actually choose the Polar Ignite 2 over its competitors.
Read our full Polar Ignite 2 review
The Polar M430 is geared towards serious runners. Because if you aren't a serious runner, you can get a Fitbit Versa for cheaper than the Polar M430, and the former looks less like an oversized fitness tracker, whilst still tracking all the basic fitness metrics.
But in case you are an avid runner and would like to own a running watch that clearly communicates to others around you that run often, you should definitely choose the Polar M430. It does most of the tricks the more expensive models can do, like the Polar Fitness Test, which estimates your VO2 max levels, and even tells you your Running Index, which is a measurement of how well you run.
The Polar M430 is heavier than the Polar Ignite but not too heavy with its 51 grams. The screen is a good size, too, although the resolution is fairly low so the display is a bit blocky. You won't get silky smooth animation here and you will miss out on non-running features as well, like the Serene breathing exercise or the Nightly Recharge metric.
But all the negative stuff doesn't matter to you, since you probably wouldn't use all that casual stuff anyway. What you need the M430 for is running, and for that – especially considering the friendly price point – it's more than adequate. You'll get built-in GPS and wrist-based heart rate, which is really all you need to track running.
How to choose the best Polar watch for you
Polar – unlike Garmin – has a straightforward lineup of watches. The company's current offering consists of 5 main smartwatches, and they all have significantly different capabilities from one another.
The cream of the crop model, the Polar Vantage V2, offers a feature not many other watches on the market can do (apart from the Coros Pace 2): it measures running power on the wrist. Granted, running power will only be a gimmick for non-hardcore runners, but for them, it's a real bonus that's worth the premium price.
The Pacer Pro currently sits in the Goldilocks zone, offering plenty of functionality for runners, cyclists and swimmers for not a lot of money. It has new tests, a faster CPU and a slightly updated user interface – not a bad package for athletes on a tight-ish budget.
One step down is the Polar Vantage M2, which is almost identical to the Vantage V when it comes to looks and functionality, and only misses out on features such as some of the tests and the running power. The Vantage M2 can be bought for a little over half the price of the Vantage V2.
Go for the Polar Ignite if you will use your new Polar watch mainly for tracking fitness activities like HIIT sessions or even yoga classes. It has the updated Polar Precision Prime sensor and all the new Vantage features in a lightweight body.
If you just want a no-frills running watch, you can choose either the Polar M430 or M200. The latter really is the basic model, but for the money, you'll still get built-in GPS and wrist heart rate, which is pretty good.
What's the Polar Flow app?
The main appeal of the Polar Flow app is the summary screens, let it be the account of all your daily or individual fitness activities. Polar watches don't automatically synchronise with the phone; you need to long press the button on the watch to start the process.
Once the sync is done, though, you can get a glance view of the activities very easily. The Polar Flow is user-friendly, and the learning curve is not steep at all. The only – let's say – peculiar thing is the chart on the top of the Activity page. It either shows you a line chart or a 24-hour clock with your activities but in a way that's not necessarily understandable straight away.
You can, however, get to the Training page from the main Activity page by tapping on the activity's icon on the main timeline. This is quite handy, and once you're on the individual activity's page, you can see all the key metrics at a glance. In general, the Polar Flow might not be as motivating as Garmin Connect's badge system, but it does the job nicely.