Polar Vantage V3Our top pick
One of the best health and wellness monitors out there
The Polar Vantage V3 comes packing a whole host of new and improved features, including a massive battery life, crisp AMOLED and a new suite of health sensing technologies. It’s a powerful smartwatch that comes wrapped in a sleek and stylish package.Pros
- Excellent health monitoring suite of tech
- Massive battery life
- Bright new AMOLED
- Only WR50
- Not tested to military standards
- Heavier than before
Polar Vantage V2A tough choice
Tested to military standards, this is one tough cookie
Although overtaken by the Vantage V3 in terms of the suite of health sensing tech it packs, the Vantage V2 remains a solid outdoors smartwatch with built-in toughness. That said, you don't get offline maps, nor is the battery life as strong. But if you detest touchscreens on a watch, this is a solid choice.Pros
- Screen easier to use in the wet
- WR100 rating
- Tested to destruction
- Lacks offline mapping
- Health tracking not as robust
- A clunkier UX
Polar might not be the first name you think of when considering a fitness and outdoors smartwatch, but its Vantage series harnesses many years of experience in heart rate tracking and general health-sensing technology in order to create a high-performance fitness and outdoors device for your wrist.
The Vantage 3 landed earlier this month and Polar claims it is its "most ambitious watch to date," packing a spanking new AMOLED, as opposed to the MIP of its predecessor, as well as a larger useable display area.
There's also a new processor inside Vantage 3, making it a staggering 132 per cent faster than before, plus it has an improved battery life and a whole host of additional workout, well-being and lifestyle features.
Seems like a no-brainer to upgrade then? Perhaps not, because Polar Vantage V2 can be snapped up at a bargain price now. So is it worth the additional outlay? Read on.
Price, availability and specs
The Polar Vantage V3 was announced in early October 2023, with the ability to preorder it for £519/$599.90. Orders are set to ship on October 25, 2023. It comes in a number of colours. Night Black sees everything covered in the inky hue, while Sky Blue and Sunrise Apricot feature silver bezels accented by either blue or white bands.
Aside from the various shades, there are no other options in terms of specifying alternative bands or bezel sizes. What you see is what you get. However, you can opt for a bundle that includes Polar's H10 heart rate monitor for an additional £40/$40.
The Polar Vantage V2, on the other hand, has been heavily reduced, seeing as it is about to be usurped by replacement with heavy-hitting tech specs. Polar's own website listed it at £293.40, although it is out of stock at the time of writing.
In, the USA, we have found it for $499.95 at Walmart, but we'd expect that price to drop as soon as Vantage V3 starts shipping.
Below are some key specs for a quick comparison between the two.
Polar Vantage V3 Polar Vantage V2 Brand Polar Polar Heart Rate Monitor Yes Yes Color Screen AMOLED MIP Health sensors Heart rate, skin temp, ECG, SpO2 Gen 3.5 Optical Heart Rate Onboard GPS Dual-band Yes Customizable Strap Yes, 22mm standard Requires adapters Case Material Aluminium Aluminium Case size 47 x 50.8 x 14.5mm 47 x 47 x 13mm CPU 275MHz 120MHz Storage 32GB 32MB Battery 488mAh Li-Pol 346mAh Li-pol Connectivity Bluetooth 5.1 Bluetooth BLE
Design and build
The Vantage V3 retains the sleek, minimalist design language that Polar has become known for. It features a lightweight, aluminum casing with a high-resolution touchscreen display, while the same general styling and button layout remains. The key thing to notice is said display is now an AMOLED, rather than the MIP unit Polar used before.
The display resolution is now at 454 × 454, as opposed to 240 × 240 of the Vantage V2, while a bunch of new sensors have been built in to Vantage V3 for more accurate health, fitness and 24-hour wellness checking. We will get on to that a bit later.
Aside from the fancy new display, the physical appearance hasn't changed all that much, but the Polar Vantage is now heavier, 57g of Vantage V3 plays 52g of its predecessor. Heavier also equates to a larger watch in general, the V3 measuring 47 x 50.8 x 14.5mm compared to 47 x 47 x 13mm.
However, those lovely new features do come with a robustness penalty, as the Polar Vantage V3 hasn't been tested to military spec standard and is only water-resistant up to 50 metres, meaning it isn't a great dive watch.
The Polar Vantage V2, on the other, was tested against military standards and is water-resistant to a WR100 rating, making it a much more proficient smartwatch if you plan to dive to the depths of the ocean.
That said, it can only withstand temperatures as low as -10°C, rather than the -20°C touted by the latest Polar Vantage V3. Hats off to you if you are regularly working out in those kinds of conditions, but we imagine this will only make a difference to a very small handful of hardcore Arctic explorers out there.
The key difference between the two watches lies underneath the skin, and the amount of new hardware Polar has added to the Vantage 3 is impressive.
It all revolves around Elixir, which is the company's name for its refreshed suite of bio-sensing technology. This is made up of a pulse oximeter, skin temperature detection, ECG testing capabilities and the fourth generation of optical heart rate monitoring, which is said to provide 25 per cent more accuracy in many of the most popular sports, including running and cycling.
Compared to the previous generation, this package of technology is all-new, with only the accelerometer, compass and barometer the shared components. Even the heart rate sensors are completely updated. Bluetooth connectivity has been updated to 5.1 in the Vantage V3, while the proprietary charging system packs a USB-C on its end, bringing it right up to date.
What's more, owners of the Vantage V3 will find the user interface to be a hell of a lot slicker thanks to a new CPU, clocked at 275MHz and packing 37MB of memory. This helps the AMOLED touchscreen to be fast and responsive to commands.
Polar has equipped the Vantage V3 with upgraded performance and features. It offers enhanced GPS accuracy thanks to dual-frequency GPS, making it an excellent choice for outdoor activities. Offline maps are also now part and parcel of the package, with the option of uploading detailed maps to the watch. You can now leave your phone behind and still have precise location information.
Additionally, it includes more advanced training and recovery features, making it a valuable tool for athletes seeking to optimise their performance. This includes things like an Orthostatic Test and Recovery Pro features (without needing a heart rate chest strap), which can determine how well recovered you are and how ready your body is for the next workout or event.
Additional wellness features in Vantage V3 include nightly skin temperature tracking, for improved sleep analysis, while voice guidance during a workout now comes straight from the wrist, offering insights into pace and performance.
There's also the addition of a flashlight with Polar Vantage V3, as well as compatibility with standard 22mm wristbands without needing extra adapters, making it much easier to personalise.
The only feature Vantage V3 lacks is the additional robustness that we mentioned before. It's not as water-resistant, nor has it been tested to the rigours of military standards, leaving some question marks over its ability to handle really harsh environments.
Again, this has been vastly improved on its predecessor, with the Polar Vantage V3 packing a next-generation Li-Pol, 488mAh for improved battery life. This is particularly important for those athletes and explorers looking to partake in ultimate endurance events, where running out of juice could prove dangerous.
According to Polar, battery runtime is now up to 61 hours with all the bio-sensing and GPS tech running at full chat. This is an improvement on the 40 hours touted by Vantage V2.
In addition to this, it will run for 288 hours in standard watch mode and up to 140 hours in power save mode, which relies less heavily on GPS and bio-sensing readings. Watch mode is up almost 100 hours on its predecessor, while power save mode offers an extra 40 hours over Polar Vantage V2.
All-in-all, the Polar Vantage V3 is the superior watch for battery life, despite boasting a much brighter, faster and more responsive AMOLED.
Polar Vantage V3 vs Vantage V2: Which should I choose?
Seeing as the Polar Vantage V2 is often out of stock, or it hasn't been heavily discounted yet, it's tricky to recommend it if you are thinking of dipping a toe in Vantage waters for the first time.
The Vantage V3 has a far superior screen, the battery life is much better and the sheer weight of fitness and wellness metrics it now tracks blows its predecessor out of the water. For that reason, we'd even suggest upgrading from your Vantage 2 in order to make the most of these new features.
Polar Vantage V3
The only question mark still hanging over the latest generation of Polar Vantage is its robustness, and whether it can handle the very extreme ends of the environment spectrum. The reduction in waterproofing rating may also concern those regularly taking their smartwatch into the drink. In our experience, AMOLED touchscreens can often prove cumbersome when operating with gloved hands, and they sometimes come unstuck when they get wet. With that in mind, grabbing a bargain Vantage V2 could prove popular with those who want a tough, reliable outdoors smartwatch without all the health and fitness bells and whistles.