Polar M600 review

Polar’s first Android Wear smartwatch doesn’t feel like a smartwatch… and that’s good
Polar M600

Polar is a big deal in the running watch business. It was the first company in the world to offer up wireless heart rate monitoring – way back in 1977 – and has made a name for itself with running watches for 'serious' athletes ever since.

The Polar M600, the first Android Wear device from the Finnish company, takes the initiative of last year's M400, which blurred the lines between activity tracking and a smartwatch, and throws in the design elements and wrist-based heart rate tracking of 2016's A360.

Must read: Best smartwatches of 2016

The inclusion of Android Wear on the new M600 means, in theory at least, that more features are available to wearers: essentially what you'd find on any other Wear watch, except, of course, that the Polar variant comes with its own dedicated fitness app, GPS and GLONASS, is waterproof with IPX8 certification (so is safe for swimming) and has a ruggedised silicon band making it perfect for sporty types.

We've had the Polar M600 strapped on for the last couple of weeks, so here's our all-important verdict.

Polar M600: Design and display

Polar M600 review

Let's start with what some people might consider to be the M600's weakest point – its looks. It'd be easy to look at the M600 and dismiss it as one of the blandest Android Wear smartwatches so far. But while it's not going to compete with the Huawei Watch, Tag Heuer Connected or Nixon's The Mission in terms of dazzling aesthetics or screen clarity, that's not really the point.

We'll say this more than once in this review: the M600 is a sports watch first and an Android Wear smartwatch second. More on that later but it's important to point out that, when discussing the design, it's perfectly fine as a sport watch. It's fairly minimal yes – but it's super comfy, super sturdy and not too bulky at all at 13mm thick.

Sure, it's almost double the weight of the A360 (which is much more of a traditional fitness tracker) but, at 63 grams, it's actually 16g lighter than the Polar V800; the company's flagship multisport GPS watch. With that IPX8 certification, that means you can go swimming with it too – always good news.

The silicone strap is reassuringly tough, while at the same time flexible and lightweight enough for it to be able to be worn for long runs and workout sessions. Like the Moto 360, however, it is prone to attracting fluff and dust, as you can probably tell from our pictures.

The display does the job – let's leave it at that. The 1.3-inch, 240 x 240 (260ppi), panel won't worry the top end of the Android Wear table but the inclusion of transmissive TFT tech is a good choice for a watch where it is important to be regularly readable in sunlight.

Polar M600: Running and sports

Polar M600 review

When you turn on the M600, it looks just like the A360 – complete with the funky activity goal progress widget – and a push of the button under the screen fires up Polar Flow. Flow is very much at the front and centre of the whole experience. In fact, you're instructed to download the Polar Flow app onto your phone (both on iOS and Android) as soon as the M600 is up and running.

If you've already got the Flow app, it will fire up on your smartphone and ask you to sync your M600. While other manufacturers have their own dedicated smartwatch apps to sit in parallel with Google's Android Wear one, none feel as in-sync as do Flow and the M600. It's not a companion app. It is the app. Your M600 syncs directly to it and not only will your smartphone be able to display all your stats, but all that data is synced in the cloud so you can dig deeper using the Polar Flow desktop client or the browser based version. (You can't sync direct with the desktop client using USB, however).

On other GPS-enabled Wear watches such as the Sony SmartWatch 3 and the Moto 360 Sport, you either use Google's own (extremely basic) app for sports tracking or you download something like Endomondo or RunKeeper. On the M600 there's no real reason to stray away from the pre-installed in-house software.

We won't go too deep into what Polar Flow offers in this review – you can read all about using Polar Flow here – but what we will say is it's not a watered down version for the Android Wear model. It's Polar Flow in all of its glory, complete with features like Training Benefit, Running Program, Running Index and Sport Profiles.

Talking of Sport Profiles – you'll find that while Polar promises "sport-specific feedback", that doesn't mean you've got a dedicated multisport watch like Garmin's Vivoactive HR. Don't expect it to double up as a GPS golf watch, for example. You can, of course, use an Android Wear friendly golf app, combined with the M600, but that's a whole different matter. There's no auto-sport detection, as per the Fitbit Charge 2, either. All sessions need to be manually started by the user. Slight bummers but no great disasters.

When running (or doing another tracked sport session) you get an array of screens to swipe through – with loads of detail on offer on pace, distance, time and heart rate zones. Like any other Android Wear smartwatch the display will dim when you don't have it held up to your face, but a nice feature on the M600 is the side button, which fires up the screen brightness – super handy when you're running in the dark and don't want to have to wave your arms around like an idiot.

The GPS tracking, in the seven test runs we did, was spot on. We compared it to both an Adidas miCoach Smart Run and a Polar M400 and the recorded distances – between 5 and 12km – were always within 200 metres.

Polar M600: Heart rate monitoring

Polar M600 review

While we were disappointed with Polar's first attempt at wrist-based tracking with the A360, we found the M600 to be extremely accurate when compared to a chest-strap. We did multiple runs with either a MyZone or Wahoo chest-strap on and the M600 never let us down.

In terms of general, 'normal', running we found the M600 to always be within 2-3 beats of the chest-strap readings and, during interval training it also stayed within this buffer. That said, it didn't react to big changes and variations in bpm readings quite as quickly as the chest strap did.

A major plus for anyone wanting super accurate heart rate monitoring is that you can pair the M600 with a third-party chest strap. Of course Polar wants you to use its H7 strap, but we had no issues getting a Wahoo Tickr X's bpm reading displayed within Polar Flow when engaged in a run.

A final nice touch is that, when locking on to GPS (which is very quick, by the way) and a heart rate before a run, the green icon for the bpm reading will turn blue if a chest strap's reading is being used instead of the optical one's.

Polar M600: Activity tracking

Polar M600 review

Activity tracking on the M600 includes steps, distance, active time, burnt calories and automatic sleep tracking – essentially, what you get with the A360.

On the watch itself, all that info is presented in brief under the My Day part of Flow (just for that current day) but inside the smartphone app, it's much more detailed. One of the best parts of My Day is you can see what activity you need to perform to make your daily goal; whether that be running, walking or just standing up.

This being Android Wear, all activity tracking metrics are piped directly into Google Fit as well. To keep you motivated, there's also an inactivity alert that vibrates after 55 minutes of inactivity.

Polar M600: Android Wear on board

Polar M600 review

This section is going to be pretty brief. Yes, it's an Android Wear watch and yes, that means a golden ticket to Google's smartwatch goodies, but Android Wear is not the reason you should buy this smartwatch.

That's not knocking Android Wear at all, but of all the Google smartwatches we've tested (all of them, obviously), never has the smartwatch OS been so unnoticeable. That's a good thing on the M600. It's great when it's there for when you want it but the fact is that you could fire the M600 up, pair it up with your phone, and never touch Google Play ever again.

Of course, it does have all the Wear features on board. There's voice interaction with Google Voice, as well as messages, calls, alerts and contextual notifications popping up onscreen and activity tracking via Google Fit. Plus the thousands of Android Wear apps too.

What we're saying is that it's all present and correct but you might not ever need it.

Polar M600: Battery life and hardware

Polar M600 review

The battery on the M600 is a whopping 500mAh one. That's huge for Android Wear and it doesn't disappoint. You'll easily get a couple of days of regular use, with an hour or so running each day – with GPS turned on and music playing through your Bluetooth headphones, of course.

Endurance runners will also be happy to know that you'll get around 6-7 hours of solid GPS tracking, with music playing, before the M600 needs a charge. That puts it on a par with the TomTom Spark 3.

It's also the first Android Wear watch to pack MediaTek's MT2601 processor, which is more than capable of everything Android Wear and Polar Flow has to throw at it.

Polar M600
By Polar
It’s easy to forget that you’re using an Android Wear smartwatch when you’ve got the Polar M600 strapped on. When a WhatsApp notification does pop up, or you are offered Sonos music controls, it’s almost surprising. It’s an outright running watch (with decent activity tracking on board too) as far as we’re concerned, with Android Wear simply there in the background in case you need it. It’s a mix that works very well. While you wouldn’t pair the M600 with your best shirt for a night out, it’s a perfectly useful smartwatch if you do find yourself wearing it in the office or in the pub after work. The most important features – the GPS run tracking, the heart rate monitoring and the Polar Flow syncing – are all on the money. It’s a touch basic on the activity tracking front and the design is very middle of the road but, overall, this is a solid start for Polar in its Android Wear ambitions.

  • Great Polar Flow integration
  • Battery life is great
  • Android Wear fitness apps
  • Design is bland
  • Quite pricey (for a Polar)
  • No auto activity detection

Polar M600
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  • femkehillema says:

    Functional very interesting. But the looks are terrible. Not gonna buy

    • DTBC600 says:


  • TheByteSmasher says:

    I've just recently found your sight and I love it so far... Keep up the good work.  As for the Polar M600...  It's nearly exactly what I want!  I say nearly, because if Google comes out with a Nexus AW smartwatch with all of the non-polar specific features, I'd have to go with that (Long story.. bottom line: Google Updates Nexus... Other OEMs don't care about the user.. only initial sales).   This is basically like the Garmin Vivoactive HR with AW... Which is awesome.. We'll see what the September releases look like.  Great comprehensive article! My only request would be a succinct specs list.  It would be appreciated for comparisons to other devices.

    • l.prasuethsut says:

      Thanks! At the time the article was written, the full specs weren't released quite yet. I'm about to update it but here's the official list from Polar if it helps: http://www.polar.com/us-en/products/sport/M600#features

      • TheByteSmasher says:

        Thanks Lilly! I frequently check both wareable and AP for smartwatch news since I'm ready to upgrade my Charge HR... I just can't resist notifications and cool stuffs on my wrist! Please keep yer eyes peeled for Nexus Smartwatch info!!! OH! For the poster below (From Lilly's link):


        Polar M600 is waterproof (suitable for swimming, 10 meters, IPX8).

        • TheByteSmasher says:

          ACK!!! Faux Pas!!!!  Find & Replace all the "Lilly" to Lily. :) 

  • yogibimbi says:

    How deep does the IPX8 go? According to spec it means waterproof to > 1 m where the limits are to be established by the manufacturer. Depending on how deep that goes, Nixon might finally have some competition for its Mission. And I like rectangular screens.

    • stellar-jay says:

      IPX8 states water resistance to up to 10m, the Nixon is ATM10 or 100m (10x higher rating), so no competition at least in the AW market. Nixon's The Mission is the one top of my list atm.

  • heri says:

    It doesn't have the fitness test, orthostatic test (heart rate variability), recovery status, training load or running program like the V800. Even the cheaper M400 ($250) has those. 

    So I'm not sure really sure why I would get this vs a Samsung Fit or a Microsoft band

  • ObsidianPhoenix says:

    You missed what is (in my opinion) a very important feature: It's compatible with the H7 Chest HR Monitor. That means you can use the Optical HR monitoring normally, but when you want precision, etc, you can switch over the the chest strap.

    • Byorn says:

      Very true! Chest Straps are still the way to go if you want to track short heartrate bursts in strength training or interval training. Love it, that the M600 supports the H7. What do you think about the missing resting heartrate reading?

  • Goterps76 says:

    Interesting to see how this compares with the Samsung Gear 3 when it is released.

  • Molly says:

    Could someone please explain the m600's built-in LED heart rate sensor capabilities in detail? I'm a loyal polar customer, and when I saw that the m600 had both a built-in LED heart rate sensor & was capability of connecting to the H7 strap (which I already own) I was over the moon excited. Because I'm a serious athlete who has a medical condition that causes abnormally high heart rates a 24/7 record of my HR is extremely important to me, however because of comfort & battery longevity it is unrealistic to constantly wear the strap. Does anyone know if the LED sensor is on 24/7 unless the strap is active or does it only turn on for a few seconds  when you manually check your watch? Thanks! I'd really appreciate any help I could get!

    • fitness60 says:

      "Note that Polar still hasn’t enabled any 24×7 HR tracking however. So heart rate is only recorded on a per-activity basis, and not 24×7 like with numerous other competitors. Polar says that they’re looking at continuous HR and know there is interest in it."

      Above is from review from DC Rainmaker.


      • fitness60 says:

        I have to correct myself. A friend how already has Polar M600 told me that you can use 3rd party apps that give you 24/7 HR! Heart Rate OS for instance can be configured to monitor your HR 24/7. You can get notification when your heart rate is below minimum or above maximum level.

        With Android Wear there’s tons of cases where apps can fill gaps that would otherwise be ‘no’ with Polar Flow.

  • idlehans says:

    I have one but not aloud to open it until my birthday on the 13th. All the research I have done has led me to believe that it DOES NOT monitor heart rate 24/7 like my Fitbit does. The full PDF manual is available online at polar.

  • jbuzzo79 says:

    Are there any devices available yet that can track heart rate using a chest strap during a workout and then switch to wrist measurement? Right now I have a Fitbit charge HR which I wear all day and a polar watch with chest strap that I use while exercising and I would like to find one device that can do both

    • Sriram says:

      Garmin 35, 235, 735, Fenix 3 (IIRR) all have wrist monitors and also work with their respective chest straps. HTH

  • yogibimbi says:

    Actually, the price is great when compared to both the Apple Watch Series 2 and the Mission.

  • markyoung04 says:

    Have only had this for a few days but having tried the Vivoactive hr , the tomtom Spark 3, and this I have to say this is by far the winner .  For me,  being  able to run sans phone is a huge deal.  Spark 3 enables you to do so but after having interacted with the Garmin interface and the Garmin mobile app the TomTom felt like I had stepped back a decade.  The pairing was horrible and to be honest the watch face popping out to charge was not my cup of tea.   With the M600 being able to create a Playlist on Google Play Music and syncing it to my watch then heading out and using Polar flow was an amazing experience .  I also have all the features that I loved with Vivoactive HR.  If Garmin puts music on their next release that would trump the 600if only for battery life.  In the meantime I love this watch and the Android Wear environment is icing on the cake

    • kimc88 says:

      How does it work with music on Google Play Music when you have your mobile with We are a Bluetooth headset? tried on a Motorola 365 Sport and gets stuck every time I wanted to play a song. so consider buying such a clock instead of

      • fitness60 says:

        It works great with Google Play Music! U dont need your phone with you as you can download music to Google Play Music. Easy to pair with a Bluetooth headset. You can also have a "premium" account at Play Music they same way as for instance Spotify Premium.

        • kimc88 says:

          thanks for reply

  • Stuza says:

    Hi All,

    I have a v800 but i'm eager to get back in to Android Wear and this seems PERFECT for my needs but, only if the strap works with the watch whilst swimming or at least records the HR and then syncs to the watch after.

    I'm struggling to confirm if this will work with the Chest Strap whilst actually swimming in the same manner that the v800 does?

    If not, any idea if/when a v800 Android Wear version will come out that WILL work in water?  

    I don't want to move away from the Polar eco system as i've other accessories of theirs.


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