Polar Ignite 2 review TL;DR: the Polar Ignite 2, despite being an adequate fitness watch, offers very little improvements over its predecessor.
I really liked the original Polar Ignite: it was a simple fitness watch with plenty of functionality to help me train for a half-marathon I was getting ready for when I was testing the watch. A lot has changed since then, and this is especially true to the fitness wearable market. Polar itself released quite a few watches since mid-2019 – when the original Ignite was released – including the Polar Vantage V2 and the Polar Vantage M2, both being excellent watches on their own terms.
Enter the Polar Ignite 2. It’s very similar to the OG Ignite: it weighs the same, kind of looks the same and inherits most of its features too. This lack of change that really lets this otherwise decent fitness watch down. What’s the point of releasing an almost identical watch two years later, especially now that there is similarly priced competition with better stats? Why would anyone choose the Polar Ignite 2 over, let’s say, the Fitbit Versa 3?
Before we get to that, how about if we first talk about what the Polar Ignite 2 actually has to offer.
Polar Ignite 2: price and availability
Polar Ignite 2 review: features
Truth to be told, the Polar Ignite 2 offers quite robust training support. A lot of the great recovery features found in more advanced Polar watches can also be found here and better still, the Ignite 2 has built-in GPS too so it can still be considered a decent fitness watch, despite the lack of updates.
As well as offering all the features the Polar Ignite did, the Ignite 2 is now capable of displaying cardio load on the watch (as opposed to only in the Polar Flow app), giving you a breakdown of energy sources (fat or carbs) you used after the workouts and it now has a ‘heart rate sensor mode’ where the Ignite 2 can be used to feed live heart rate data to other Polar products, such as cycling computers, or to compatible gym equipment, apps and other devices via Bluetooth.
And this sums up the changes in terms of training support. Of course, there are other features, such as sleep tracking, FitSpark training guide, Nightly Recharge recovery measurement etc. Again, we saw all of these in other Polar watches and in the Ignite too.
There are some new smartwatch features such as ‘watch face colour themes’ – something that isn’t too exciting in 2021 anymore – as well as music controls – not music storage, mind – and weather information, all displayed on the watch. You also get smart notifications too.
Polar Ignite 2 review: interface
Thankfully, the Polar Ignite 2 uses the same ‘one button plus touch screen’ navigation I liked in the Ignite: it’s straightforward and easy to get used to, even if you aren’t used to Polar watches in general. When you’re given 4-5 buttons on a watch you have never tried before, all with different functionality when you short or leng press them, getting used to the navigation can be quite a daunting task. A touch screen is more accessible for most, especially for those who might consider buying the Ignite 2.
The actual user interface is not mind-blowing and again, very similar to how the Ignite looked back in the day. Much like the Polar Flow app, the Polar UI could use a bit of a refresh. For example, that off-grey dropdown menu with the settings looks pretty miserable.
The touch sensitivity is okay, though, and there is only a bit of a lag after you interact with the screen sometimes, but nothing too terrible. An extremely nitpicky thing but I never really liked how the menu options are displayed in Polar watches: maybe because the labels are below the icons but the design doesn’t feel centred in the middle of the screen. I also admit that this isn’t a deal breaker, even for me.
Polar Ignite 2 review: ergonomics
The watch is not uncomfortable to wear by any means, although the buckle makes it a bit fiddly to put the Polar Ignite 2 on with just one hand. I mean, whoever puts watches on with two hands, really? Anyhow, the silicone strap is nothing to rave about but it serves its purpose just fine.
Polar Ignite 2 review: battery life
You can track outdoor activities significantly longer with the Polar Ignite 2, compared to its predecessor. It will last for ‘up to’ five days in smartwatch mode, with the GPS turned off, and ‘up to’ 20 hours with GPS turned on. Battery life is in between the two but closer to five days when used for tracking activities that don’t require GPS, such as yoga, indoor rowing etc.
In comparison, the Polar Ignite could ‘only’ last for 17 hours in GPS training more on a full battery. The Garmin Venu 2 has a GPS battery life of 22 hours.
Polar Ignite 2 review: verdict
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 I really liked. On the other hand, it fails to offer anything new so I wonder what was the point of re-releasing the same watch, two years later?
Even more strangely, Polar already has a watch for the market the Ignite 2 is clearly aimed at, the Polar Unite, a fitness watch that looks the same, is a bit cheaper and less competent but serves its purpose just fine. For a price you can get an Ignite 2, you can also get a Versa 3 or a Garmin Venu Sq (or Sq Music), both being either more popular or more capable than the Ignite 2.
Would I recommend the Polar Ignite 2? Well, yes and no. I recommended the original Ignite and since the Ignite 2 is very similar, I guess I can recommend the new watch too. The training tools are good, the sensors are not too bad either 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. Only time will tell.
Polar Ignite 2 review: also consider
For its low price, the build quality of the Amazfit GTS 2e is excellent and the specs are admirable too: for a little bit over a $100/£100, you'll get a fitness watch that has an AMOLED display, aluminum body, built-in GPS, an optical heart rate sensor and a number of health and fitness features. The watch is easy to use and the touchscreen is also highly functional with not much lag either.
The aforementioned Garmin Venu Sq has a bunch of premium features such as built-in GPS, blood oxygen/stress monitoring and sleep tracking and measures it all with relative accuracy too. The display is decent enough too, although not as pretty as the one found on the Versa 3.