Polar Vantage V3 review: The tip of the iceberg

    Polar needed to make the Vantage V3. Fitness rivals have spent latest years including AMOLED shows, new sensors for sleep monitoring, maps, and different “mainstream” smartwatch instruments. Meanwhile, dual-band GPS has turn into a near-necessity for health watches in any respect costs. Polar wanted to convey these options to a flagship watch to maintain its loyal followers happy. Your angle in direction of the Polar Vantage V3 will differ based mostly on whether or not or not you are a long-time Polar person. You could have already got a operating watch with a few of these options, or maybe you have used a GPS-only MIP look ahead to years and need to determine whether or not or not the Vantage V3 gives sufficient so that you can improve. After months on and off with the Polar Vantage V3, I’ll say that it will not change your present perspective on Polar as a model. Polar Flow is unchanged. The on-watch UI is similar. The huge attracts are nonetheless the Fitspark exercise recs and the coaching load algorithm guiding your exercise calendar and restoration. That is likely to be sufficient for Polar followers, however is it sufficient to justify the excessive value and lure followers of Garmin, COROS, or Suunto watches? Let’s dive in.Review disclaimerI initially obtained a Polar Vantage V3 loaner in December 2023. This mannequin would crash throughout lengthy mountaineering or operating actions, displaying an countless flashing Polar image that might solely be solved by a manufacturing facility reboot. I obtained a substitute unit after Polar’s assist crew could not crack the difficulty. After months of use, I have never had a single crash or software program challenge. I, due to this fact, assume that Polar’s preliminary batch of watches could have had {hardware} points however that any new Vantage V3 fashions have had the problems absolutely resolved. That being mentioned, I would not suggest shopping for it used to keep away from potential points like mine. Polar Vantage V3: Price, bands, and equipment(Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)The Polar Vantage V3 launched in October 2023 at $599 / CA$879 / €599 / £519. That places it on the identical pricing scale as different premium multisport watches just like the Garmin Forerunner 965 ($599) and COROS VERTIX 2S ($699), although larger than many AMOLED health watches within the $300–$500 vary (APEX 2 Pro, Suunto Race).The watch ships in three colours: Night Black, Sky Blue, and Sunrise Apricot. It comes with a 22mm silicone band of matching coloration and a proprietary USB-C charging cable with magnetic contact factors. You can purchase spare bands in several colours for $35–40. Thankfully, not like the Vantage V2, you do not want an adapter to connect normal Quick Release bands. Polar allows you to bundle within the standard H10 chest strap for $649 whole; it usually prices $90 or extra. Also, you will get free trials of Komoot or Strava when shopping for the Vantage V3, although you will need to choose into Polar advertising and marketing emails first. Polar Vantage V3: What you will admire(Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)Like the Polar Pacer Pro I reviewed a few years again, the Polar Vantage V3 has a UI much like Tiles on a Galaxy Watch 6. You swipe left & proper or faucet the Up/Down buttons to maneuver between full-display widgets displaying key data like day by day step proportion, weekly mileage, nightly sleep and recharge knowledge, cardio load standing, Fitspark exercise options, and the day by day forecast. I’ve a few nitpicks with Polar’s general knowledge strategy, however I feel this methodology may be very accessible. Most of the watch’s summarized knowledge will be accessed in a number of seconds without having the cellular app.(Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)Polar jumped on the AMOLED bandwagon, and I’m grateful for it. MIP shows (just like the Vantage V2’s) have gotten much less standard regardless of their out of doors readability and decrease energy calls for. As it occurs, the Vantage V3 lasts ten days (4 greater than the V2) because of an additional 142mAh capability, so there’s little trade-off. The pixel-rich Vantage V3 show is as vibrant, colourful, and readable indoors as any AMOLED watch, with a reasonably slender bezel.Polar guarantees 43 hours of dual-band GPS monitoring per cost in its spec sheet. In apply, a traditional smartwatch battery drain will convey that quantity considerably decrease in-between day by day exercises. Despite this, I’m impressed by the battery life the Vantage V3 gives, among the many finest on the market.(Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)At 57g/2oz with the strap, it is on the heavier aspect however on par with most different premium operating watches on this vary, just like the Forerunner 965 (53g) and APEX 2 Pro (66g). The identical applies to its 13.5mm thickness: it is simply skinny sufficient to be comfy in comparison with many rivals within the 14mm+ vary.The in-box silicone strap is comfy sufficient, although a bit extra inflexible than I’m used to; it helps stop any wobbling throughout runs, however feeding the strap via the lugs will be surprisingly tough. I do want Polar allow you to select nylon as an alternative of silicone to mitigate the load a bit, however you should purchase one individually.Polar made a shocking alternative by giving the Vantage V3 an aluminum body. That’s the default to your typical smartwatch, however some health manufacturers default to a sturdy polymer that is mild however ugly. In this case, the Vantage V3 has a nice metallic sheen, accentuated by its lengthy, textured buttons. It nonetheless seems to be like a health watch however with out the standard plastic brick look to which I’ve grown accustomed. Swipe to scroll horizontallyCategoryPolar Vantage V3Display1.39-inch (454×454) AMOLED touchMaterialsAluminum case / bezelProtectionWR50; Gorilla Glass 3Dimensions47.3 x 47.3 x 13.5mmWeight39g / 57g with strapStorage32GBConnectivityBluetooth 5.1 (No ANT+), dual-band GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BeiDouSensorsOptical HR, SpO2, ECG, pores and skin temp, accelerometer, barometer, compassBattery488mAh; 10 days (smartwatch); 43 hours (dual-band GPS)Key optionsOffline topo maps, GPX routes with Komoot, Nightly Recharge, Training Load Pro, Recovery Pro, Music controls, Personalized Running Program, Wrist-based operating energy, VO2 Max / leg stiffness examsAside from the dual-band GPS, the most important change from the Vantage V2 to the V3 is that Polar caught as much as the business for well being knowledge with SpO2, ECG, and pores and skin temperature readings. Of the three, solely pores and skin temp is measured passively at night time, when you should spot-check for blood oxygen and AFib. It’s a step in the correct path, although I do hope Polar gives in a single day SpO2 or altitude acclimation knowledge sooner or later. As somebody who hates sleeping with a smartwatch, the Polar Vantage V3 is decently comfy to put on, and it offers some helpful insights into your sleep zones, restlessness, restoration time, pores and skin temperature variation, and so forth. I’ve had to enter the Polar app to regulate my wake-up time on sure nights. In one case, it marked me as waking up at 5:30 as an alternative of 6:30, however once I adjusted the time, it nonetheless had my sleep zones for that final hour, together with some temporary REM sleep. Polar’s Recovery Pro knowledge, targeted in your sleep high quality, HRV stress knowledge, latest coaching, and different metrics, greater than competes with the “daily readiness” scores of different manufacturers without having a subscription. That may reduce the sting of the Vantage V3’s excessive value.(Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)I’m an enormous fan of Polar’s Tests function, which incorporates an Orthostatic check — beforehand requiring an H10 chest strap — and leg stiffness exams. Essentially, you may take HRV readings to spot-check your Cardio Load Recovery and readiness to work out or leap up and down in place to check your Muscle Load Recovery. This offers some helpful insights I’d usually miss out on by refusing to put on my smartwatches for sleep monitoring like Recovery Pro.Beyond that, the separation between cardio and muscle load is a welcome addition. Polar makes use of your operating energy knowledge to guage your muscle soreness, as a separate calculation from no matter coronary heart fatigue you will expertise from a tough exercise. Polar then makes use of this knowledge to find out your coaching’s short-term pressure in your physique and long-term build-up of your tolerance, to determine whether or not or not you are bettering or overtraining. Combining the 2, Polar offers you lively and passive instruments for guiding your health routine, with an easy-to-understand widget summarizing your coaching progress and physique standing. (Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)Polar’s “Fitspark” algorithm, linked to your Cardio Load knowledge, recommends various kinds of exercises you can full in your present state. For occasion, when I’m absolutely recovered, Polar recommends I full a 30-minute body weight exercise—with an inventory of workouts like Good Mornings and Bench Dips and little stick figures displaying how you can full them—to realize Strength or a 50-minute run in particular zones to enhance Cardio, with suggestions for when to gasoline or hydrate. I really like Polar’s really helpful indoor workouts, one thing no different model gives; Garmin has one thing comparable with its indoor exercises, however with out the auto-generated routines, its animated train examples are tougher to search out. Polar’s out of doors cardio runs are a bit much less instructive. They give attention to period and coronary heart price zones so that you hit the correct effort stage. You will not get any estimate of how briskly Polar thinks you will have to run to hit these zones, although. I admire that Polar offers you a number of exercise choices per day, however they’re by no means fairly as specialised as those I get from Garmin (aka focusing on low cardio zones or recommending particular intervals).(Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)Polar’s personalised operating program fills in that hole to an extent. You mark down a goal race distance from 5K to marathon, what number of occasions and for a way lengthy you practice per week, and get weeks of really helpful runs, power coaching, and relaxation days. Those auto-generated runs sometimes suggest Zone 2, 3, and 4 runs at particular factors within the week. I discover Polar’s marathon program a bit simplistic and repetitive, with out sufficient selection within the forms of runs, but it surely’s actually an efficient construction and basis to enhance as a runner. I take advantage of them as a information for the hassle stage to match, whereas adjusting them to my most popular mileage and energy stage. (Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)The final important Vantage V3 improve is that it has 32GB for offline maps, along with your area’s “basic” continental knowledge downloaded by default. You’ll need to join your watch to your pc and obtain the detailed maps to your area. You cannot use the storage for the rest (like music), so there’s loads of room.Once you obtain the maps, you get glorious topographical element of your path environment and respectable velocity when zooming out or scrolling round (with the occasional delayed loading).You’ll need to make a Komoot account to create routes with turn-by-turn navigation. I wrestled with whether or not to contemplate this a constructive or unfavorable; Komoot is a good mountaineering app and is often free to your native area, and I suppose I’d somewhat get an amazing third-party possibility than a stripped-down first-party various. But for those who favor one other app for GPX route recordsdata like Strava or Alltrails, be ready to change manufacturers or ceaselessly export to a different app. Polar Vantage V3: GPS and coronary heart price(Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)Anyone with the Vantage V2 may discover the V3 improve tempting for the dual-band GPS monitoring alone. Otherwise, Polar is finest recognized for its coronary heart price chest straps, and also you may assume its smartwatches would have glorious coronary heart price accuracy as properly. So, I put that to the check. First, I examined the Vantage V3 towards the Forerunner 965 and VERTIX 2S for GPS and coronary heart price accuracy. In that check, Polar’s GPS map did not do particularly properly at factors, shoving my path into buildings or the center of the road the place Garmin and COROS have been extra on level. However, for coronary heart price, the Vantage V3 got here fairly near the Polar H10 in accuracy and responsiveness, and it did the perfect of the three for elevation monitoring. Image 1 of 3(Image credit score: Android Central)(Image credit score: Android Central)(Image credit score: Android Central)I made a decision to present the Polar Vantage V3 its truthful shake and do one other GPS run in the identical situations to see if its points have been a fluke or not. This time, it did considerably higher, although nonetheless imperfectly. You can see within the screenshots above how Polar (blue) compares to Garmin (darkish crimson) for dual-band GPS accuracy. Neither stays completely on my path, with the left-wristed Forerunner and right-wristed Polar splaying out like I’m a dozen toes vast. That mentioned, in particular situations, Garmin was extra prone to be on the sidewalk, whereas Polar was extra prone to stray into the road, although preserving the identical line. Ultimately, they have been 0.03 miles aside throughout three miles, in comparison with 0.04 miles final time. (Image credit score: Android Central)My one continued criticism with the Vantage V3’s dual-band GPS is with its accuracy throughout monitor runs. I spent your complete 2.5-mile coaching run within the fourth lane, however my GPS map had me…elsewhere.(Image credit score: Android Central)For most evaluations, I take advantage of a chest or arm strap because the management group to price the watch’s optical sensor. Unfortunately, this final check had me questioning whether or not my Polar H10 chest strap is all that dependable. You can see within the charts above and under the way it had my coronary heart price spiking or dropping at absurd charges, disproportionate to my effort.Thankfully, for the primary run I additionally had the Forerunner 965 to check towards, and each watches had the identical 142bpm common and near-identical charts all through. Both watches matched the H10 intently earlier than it began to freak out, then continued to responsively change to my various effort with out the straight-lined dips and crests you get with watches that do not pattern precisely or ceaselessly. (Image credit score: Android Central)For the second run, I solely in contrast the 2 Polar gadgets. Once once more, the Polar H10 had me hitting some absurd highs and lows, together with 20 beats above my max coronary heart price. However, as soon as it calmed down midway via, it gave a helpful baseline to check towards the Vantage V3. At that time, the watch intently trailed behind the chest strap, lagging barely each time I switched from sprinting to jogging, however by no means off by a lot. Overall, I’m fairly happy with the Polar Vantage V3’s GPS, coronary heart price, and elevation accuracy in my sensible exams. Even if I do not just like the monitor run’s wild GPS map, it does not appear to have an effect on the tracked distance considerably, so complaining about it feels unfair. Polar Vantage V3: What you will not love(Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)Like another model, Polar has a particular imaginative and prescient of what a “premium” health watch wants and what options it could possibly skip to avoid wasting on prices. While different premium health watches sometimes use sapphire glass or (at minimal) Gorilla Glass DX with good anti-reflective coating, Polar gave the Vantage V3 Gorilla Glass 3. I’m not thrilled with that alternative of a $599 look ahead to visibility or safety. It makes AMOLED a tougher promoting level for anybody used to MIP shows.I do not assume ANT+ equipment are particularly prevalent as of late, however chances are you’ll resent its absence right here. If that is a priority, solely Garmin watches persistently provide ANT+, whereas different manufacturers more and more abandon it. More individuals will discover the absence of music storage irritating, given its 32GB of storage. Even if Polar could not make a cope with music streaming platforms, it would be good to retailer your personal MP3 recordsdata and join exercise earbuds whereas leaving your cellphone behind.I additionally seen the obvious lack of an ambient mild sensor, which implies this watch will blind you at bedtime till you activate DnD mode. Given its 32GB of storage, it would be good to retailer your personal MP3 recordsdata and join exercise earbuds whereas leaving your cellphone behind.To me, the software program expertise all the time issues greater than {hardware}. That’s what athletes are paying for. And on that entrance, I’ve a number of hang-ups.Two years in the past, I’d have liked the simplicity of Polar’s Cardio Load Status widget. You’re both below/overtraining, sustaining, or bettering. You needn’t perceive what coaching load or (an)cardio impact numbers imply; you simply run, observe the Fitspark options, and attempt to enhance. More data-driven customers — the sort which may purchase a $599 watch — will want they might see extra data on the watch itself. There’s a weekly abstract widget, but it surely’s mild on knowledge (whole miles, whole energy, time spent in particular coronary heart price zones) and does not present weekly targets moreover HR zone percentages. If you faucet the Cardio Load widget, it does not present something new, only a textual content abstract explaining why you have to practice kind of. Polar collects the identical knowledge that Garmin Connect or COROS EvoLab gives; each post-run abstract reveals a efficiency Running Index, the kind of Training Benefit (much like Effect), and the cardio/ muscle coaching load. However, the one amalgamation of this knowledge is the Cardio Load Status widget with its 7-day Strain and 28-day Tolerance numbers, together with a graph buried within the Calendar tab of the Polar Flow app with a bit extra element. For me, one of the simplest ways to enhance my VO2 Max is to know how you can enhance my Tolerance (or Chronic Load) with knowledge on whether or not my cardio and anaerobic numbers are optimized. Polar’s knowledge is just tougher to search out, making you depend on Fitspark recs to know what you may deal with. (Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)As I mentioned above, I just like the Fitspark recs, particularly the power coaching choices. But it appears to place extra inventory in my coaching standing than my physique’s fatigue. Case in level: I did a three-mile jog adopted by 2.5 miles of 100-meter sprints and arduous 400-meter laps interspersed with jogging. After an evening’s sleep, my Garmin watch recommends 60 hours of restoration, whereas Fitspark’s two cardio suggestions are 56 minutes of zone 2/3 operating or 90 minutes of strolling/jogging. That appears ill-advised, and it is as a result of I’m nonetheless “Detraining” in response to Polar’s algorithm.Thankfully, Polar’s Orthostatic and leg stiffness exams signaled that relaxation is preferable right this moment. But it is as much as the person to verify that for themselves. Anyone trusting Polar’s algorithm to get fitter may get pushed to work out extra rigorously than they need to.Ultimately, I feel Polar has lots to supply athletes, but it surely may make extra data out there on the watch and make the Polar Flow app rather more accessible. Right now, it may be very tough to search out what you want. Polar Vantage V3: CompetitorsThe Garmin Forerunner 965 (left), COROS VERTIX 2S (heart), and Polar Vantage V3 (proper). (Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)The Garmin Forerunner 965 is the Vantage V3’s closest rival in value and options. You get a 1.43-inch AMOLED show with higher GG DX coating, a design that is 0.3mm thinner and 3g lighter, and an additional 13 days of battery life — although about half the dual-band GPS hours. The Forerunner 965 beat the Vantage V3 in GPS accuracy in a number of exams, whereas they have been comparable in coronary heart price accuracy. Garmin has music storage and all-day SpO2 knowledge however no ECGs or pores and skin temperature.I favor the Forerunner 965 for its extra accessible knowledge on coaching load and standing; it is all the time clear how my VO2 Max, latest breakdown of exercise sorts, and my general workload examine to earlier weeks, whereas Polar makes you seek for that knowledge. Both watches offer you exercise and restoration options, however Garmin’s recs do not embrace power coaching. The COROS APEX 2 Pro is an alternative choice to contemplate if you need epic battery life, offline maps, and dual-frequency GPS. You’ll have to just accept the MIP show and lack of non-HR sensors, but it surely’s extra inexpensive and has the upside of EvoLab coaching load knowledge. You may need to have a look at the Suunto Race, an AMOLED operating watch with comparable perks to the Vantage V3 (dual-frequency GPS, teaching, and HRV restoration knowledge). Since I’ve solely simply obtained my evaluation unit, I am unable to give a extra definitive advice. Polar Vantage V3: Should you purchase?(Image credit score: Michael Hicks / Android Central)You should purchase the Polar Vantage V3 if…You’re a long-time Polar Flow person.You want coaching steerage and knowledge to enhance as an athlete.You’re prepared to spend so much in trade for a high-end show and sensors.You should not purchase the Polar Vantage V3 if…You want smarts like actionable notifications, apps, or music storage.You’re on a price range and might settle for a less expensive Polar just like the Pacer Pro.For me, crucial facet of a health watch is that it offers exercise options which are each aspirational and sensible. You want one thing to maintain you motivated but additionally grounded so you do not run your self into the bottom (figuratively or actually).The Polar Vantage V3 is actually aspirational. It has operating applications and Fitspark recs that offer you powerful exercises that will help you enhance but additionally maintain you grounded with restoration estimates, exams of your coronary heart and muscle load, and coronary heart price knowledge that have been fairly correct in my exams. At the identical time, I’ve discovered moments the place it recommends exercises which are above and past what I’m able to, so the Vantage V3 is finest suited to athletes who know their very own limits. Otherwise, the Polar Vantage V3 is what it appears like on paper. It’s an enormous however comparatively comfy watch with a pleasant AMOLED show, strong battery life, a pleasant smattering of well being sensors, and Komoot maps for hikers. If that every one sounds interesting to you, you then’ll actually just like the Vantage V3. 

    AdvertVantage Polar
    Polar added the options it wanted so as to add to maintain the Vantage V3 on par with the competitors, from three new well being stats to dual-band GPS, offline maps to an AMOLED show to view them on. It’s a strong possibility on par with rivals like Garmin Forerunner and COROS APEX. 

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