Picking the best Polar running watch or activity tracker is no easy task. The Finnish sports tracking giant has launched an array of new wrist-based wearables in the last couple of years, looking to track your everyday activities, your workouts and your runs - while at the same time monitoring your heart rate and keeping you up to speed with your smartphone notifications.
There's a huge difference, not just in terms of price, between the top-end Polar GPS running watch and the basic activity tracking models. If you're struggling to get to grips with those differences, we've done the hard work for you to help you out.
Essential reading: Best smartwatches in the world
Read on to find out what Polar device is best for you...
Best Polar running watch for serious runners: Polar V800
The V800 launched back in 2014, but it still remains the go-to watch for hardcore runners, cyclists and triathletes looking to jump aboard the good ship Polar. This rugged multisport GPS watch delivers superb battery life (13 hours of training with GPS on and 50 hours in GPS low power mode), tracks an array of sports and there's a host of smart coaching modes.
Pair it with a H10 or the H7 heart rate monitor and you can also unlock the V800's zonal training smarts, to ensure you're sweating it out enough to achieve the right effect. You can also hook it up to a shoe pod and it'll give you cadence, stride length and other insights to help hone your running form.
It's a bit of an ugly beast, and looks pretty dated now. Its distinct heft will put off most from wanting to wear it all day and night but, for in-depth training, there is no better option from the Polar stable.
The Polar M430 (below), a sequel to the M400, bridges the gap - in terms of design at least - until we see a genuine V800 successor.
Feature check: GPS, recovery status, activity tracking, cadence, route import, race pace, route guidance, cycling, swimming, notifications.
Wareable verdict: Polar V800 review
Best Polar running watch for heart rate training: Polar M430
As mentioned above, the successor to the much-loved M400 is a strong candidate for Team Polar.
Unlike the V800, the M430 it doesn't play nicely with quite as many accessories and cycling cadence sensors are not an option. However, on the plus side, there's heart rate monitoring, directly from the wrist - and accurate heart rate monitoring at that.
Read this: Become a better runner with Polar Flow
In terms of running, the Back to the Start feature is very handy - it guides you home via the most direct route using a GPS marker stored at the start of each run. There's also neat feedback on the overall training benefit from the run you've just done, which helps you determine whether you've been burning fat, improving cardio and what effect this has had on your body.
If you want to run indoors, without a paired-up footpod, you'll have to rely on Polar's improved accelerometer for treadmill tracking, although we found treadmill distance estimating to be pretty accurate during our M430 testing.
Feature check: GPS, heart rate monitor, recovery status, activity tracking, cadence, notifications.
Wareable verdict: Polar M430 review
Best Polar smartwatch: Polar M600
The M600 is very much a Polar running watch first and an Android Wear smartwatch second, so much so that it's almost inaccurate to compare it to the current crop of Google smartwatches.
One push fires up the app on your phone, which is your gateway to tracking runs and workouts. GPS run tracking is on the money and the stats and metrics the excellent Flow app provide post-run make it the top smartwatch for runners.
However, what sets it apart from its Polar brethren is that Android Wear OS, which means an array of extra features and, of course, the opportunity to tap into Google's rich array of third party apps, watch faces and widgets.
Feature check: Android Wear, GPS, activity tracking, third party apps, heart rate, multisport tracking.
Wareable verdict: Polar M600 review
Best Polar running watch on a budget: Polar M200
The M200 is a scaled down, rounder version of the M400, which comes in a bit cheaper than its square-faced brother. Like the M400, it tracks pace, distance and altitude via built-in GPS, has that nifty Back to Start feature, and also has an optical heart rate monitor built in for bpm training.
Read this: Best heart rate monitors and HRM watches
While we found it to be capable running companion, which also works with Polar's training programs, the smart notifications aren't so good. So if that's a big deal for you, you might find yourself swapping it for another watch once you're done running.
Feature check: GPS, activity tracking, heart rate monitoring, notifications.
Wareable verdict: Polar M200 review
Best Polar fitness tracker: Polar A370
Polar recently unveiled the A370, a fitness tracker sequel to the Polar A360 that's big on sleep tracking. Polar's Sleep Plus intelligent sleep system will harnesses accelerometer based tech to detect duration, timing and quality of sleep based on a user's position and wrist movements. It uses polysomnography, a reference measurement, which is the test used to assess sleep in science and medicine.
It packs in all of the same tracking features as the A360, as well 24/7 heart rate monitoring taking resting heart rate readings at five minute intervals. There's smartphone notification support too, giving you a buzz when there's activity on your synced smartphone.
Feature check: Activity tracking, improved sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, notifications.
Wareable verdict: Polar A370 review
More on Polar...
- Polar Flow ultimate guideIf you're using a Polar running watch, don't hit the roads without using this guide
- Polar Team Pro Shirt ditches the chest strapCES 2017: Connected kit delivers heart rate and GPS tracking
- Polar on building a smarter watch futureIndustry veteran Stan Brajer talks Polar, working for Garmin and more
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