When I reviewed the Polar Ignite 3 a few months ago, it’s fair to say I was left feeling more than a little frustrated with a number of niggles I experienced in testing – which was a shame because there were so many things about the watch I really liked. So, when I heard Polar were giving the watch a makeover in the style and software stakes, I had high hopes.
Of course, the addition of premium materials and new features means the Ignite 3 Titanium also comes with a bigger price tag. Which begs the question: are the upgrades worth splashing out the cash for? And do these improvements add up to a better-performing fitness tracker? Let’s find out.
Polar Ignite 3 Titanium review
Polar Ignite 3 Titanium review: Price and availablity
The Polar Ignite 3 Titanium with black silicon wristband is available to buy now at POLAR UK / POLAR US / POLAR AU for a recommended retail price of £324/ $369.95/ AU$ 549. Another bundle of the Polar Ignite 3 Titanium is available, including the addition of a bronze leather wristband, for a recommended retail price of £349/ $399.95/ AU$599.
Polar Ignite 3 Titanium review: Design and build quality
In my review of the Polar Ignite 3, I suggested that it appeared to be very much geared towards the female market with its sleek, slim, stylish good looks. But if the Ignite 3 is ‘pretty’, then the Ignite 3 Titanium is its more ruggedly handsome – and dare I say it, stronger - counterpart.
The dimensions of the 1.28-inch circular watch face remain the same, and it’s still just as slim at 9.5mm thick. But the extremely tough curved Gorilla Glass 3.0 Lens is now encased with a super strong, lightweight titanium bezel – and it’s an immediate winner in my eyes.
Personally, I think it looks sleeker and less cheap-looking than the textured stainless steel bezel on the Ignite 3. Moreover, while the stainless steel bezel attracts dust, is hard to clean, and catches the hairs on my arms, I don’t have any such issues with the smooth titanium bezel, so it’s generally a lot nicer to wear.
The vibrant AMOLED touchscreen display is stunning and always clear no matter how bright the sun is shining or how dark it is, with easily customisable widgets so you can choose which functions you want instant access to. As with the Ignite 3, the Titanium model is waterproof to 30 meters but, somewhat bafflingly, weighs one gram more at 36g, despite the lighter materials of the bezel (it’s still super lightweight, though).
The other notable design upgrade is the watch strap, and I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever fully appreciated how important a decent watch strap is until I compared the two Ignite 3 models side-by-side.
While both come with a black silicone strap, the strap on the Ignite 3 Titanium feels like a completely different beast. The silicone is softer, more flexible, and infinitely more breathable thanks to the addition of lots of holes on both ends of the watch strap.
As a result, I'm very happy to wear the Titanium model day and night (kind of essential if you want to enjoy the watch's many well-being features), unlike the silicone strap of the Ignite 3, which feels uncomfortable, restrictive, and sweaty.
Polar has also tweaked the clasp on the Ignite 3 Titanium, so it now has a traditional fastening. This makes me happy because the Ignite 3 forced you to poke the end of the strap through a hole to keep it tucked away, and while I initially thought this was cool - because it streamlined the strap and reduced bulk - this 'design feature' also tugged uncomfortably on arm hairs (I'm making it sound like I have really hairy arms, and I don't, but tugging on any hair can be painful)!
Polar Ignite 3 Titanium review: Health and wellness stories
The Polar Ignite 3 Titanium has an impressive range of health, wellness, and fitness features to track your heart rate, activity levels, and sleep (far too many to list here), as well as some cool new ‘guidance features’ designed to help people find the right balance between exercise and recovery.
On top of the existing Nightly Recharge and Sleep Plus Stages features to monitor sleep quality - and the SleepWise feature that forecasts optimal sleep times and alertness levels (now available on the dashboard) - you also get the all-new Nightly Skin Temperature Sensing feature to measure your temperature while you sleep.
This might not sound like much at first, but it’s pretty exciting and very useful in helping to interpret health insights because you get daily updates compared to your average from the previous 28 days.
This data was especially interesting to view during the recent UK heatwave, and I’d say it’s very accurate. While overnight temperature readings might confirm you were hot and bothered during the previous night’s sleep due to excessive heat, they can also indicate you might be coming down with an illness when coupled with heart rate variability or breathing changes.
Moreover, temperature insights are a useful tool in helping women better understand the different phases of their menstrual cycle. Altogether, these new insights (available to all Polar Ignite 3 watch owners via the 2.0 software update available from the launch of the Titanium model) remind me of the recovery readings I get from my Whoop 4.0 - without having to pay for the monthly subscription fee.
There’s also a new Work-Rest Guide Training Analysis feature, which analyses your heart rate during work and rest phases of your HIIT or strength training sessions. This helps you utilise real-time data from your workouts to understand how long you should rest between sets for optimal training and restfulness.
Again, while this might not sound like much initially, it’s an invaluable training tool because waiting an extra 20 or 30 seconds so you feel fully fit before you begin your next set – rather than sticking to the rules of a training plan – can help you train at your optimum and generate better results.
In conclusion, these new features – in addition to the 150 sports training modes, the accurate steps and activity tracking, the personalised FitSpark on-demand workouts, and the in-training voice guidance for real-time feedback during workouts - add up to a fitness and wellbeing watch that many will find more than invaluable.
Polar Ignite 3 Titanium review: Tracking performance
My biggest complaint about the Polar Ignite 3 was that it was sluggish and laggy, which made scrolling through the menu and notifications frustrating. Happily, these software issues have now been sorted, so you get a much smoother, faster user experience and way more enjoyment and ease out of using the Ignite 3 Titanium’s many features.
Don’t get me wrong, the ‘raise to wake’ function still isn’t perfect, but I’m pretty used to just pressing the watch’s single side button now to get to where I want to go on the watch, rather than trying to tap the screen out of habit or raise my wrist.
Equally, while the watch still lacks the smart features it truly needs to call itself a smartwatch – such as contactless payments and the ability to download music – Polar have, to be fair, always said that the Ignite 3 is a ‘fitness and wellness watch’ rather than a smartwatch. And it does fitness and wellness very well.
I’ve never had any issues with the Ignite 3’s accuracy in terms of tracking my heart rate, steps, sleep, or location, and that remains the case with the Ignite 3 Titanium. The long-life battery still delivers up to 120 hours (or five days) worth of use in Basic Mode, which is fine by me, although that does reduce to 30 hours in the Training Mode with single-frequency GPS or 21 hours using the enhanced dual-frequency GPS, which I still find very reliable in built-up areas.
In short, this watch is great for urban runners, gym bunnies, and casual fitness enthusiasts alike, but the battery life won’t serve more adventurous types exploring the great outdoors for a few days at a time (you’ll want one of Polar’s more technical outdoor watches, such as the Polar Grit X or the Polar Pacer Pro for that).
Similarly, it won’t make your life easier by allowing you to answer calls or reply to texts. But it is a fantastic fitness and wellness tracker in the guise of an attractive watch, offering plenty of fascinating insights to help you make positive lifestyle changes.
Polar Ignite 3 Titanium review: Verdict
The Polar Ignite 3 Titanium is the watch the original Ignite 3 always should have been. It’s infinitely more wearable and useable thanks to updates in the software and style departments while retaining all the accuracy and amazing insight from the original – with the addition of some really cool fitness and wellbeing features. If you’re looking for a smartwatch or elite-level sports watch, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a reliable and highly accurate fitness and wellbeing tracker in a very stylish package - that you’ll be happy to wear for all occasions 24/7 – this is the watch for you.
Polar Ignite 3 Titanium review: Also consider
If you need something a bit cheaper and don't care too much about looks, try the Kiprun GPS 500. This dirt-cheap running watch was created in collaboration with Coros and is tailor-made for runners on a tight budget. It might be a bit clunkier than that, but for the price, it's hard to criticise it. Read Matt K's full Kiprun GPS 500 review.
Also mainly aimed at runners, the Coros Pace 3 is a budget smartwatch for athletes with upgraded sensors and features. It's not the sexiest wearable, and the touchscreen operation isn't the smoothest, but if you need a reliable training partner to monitor progress and recovery, you can't go wrong with the Coros Pace 3. Read the Coros Pace 3 review, also by Matt K.