Polar Unite Review – Great Value, Dedicated Fitness Watch

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Polar Unite Review

At $149, the new Polar Unite is a solid choice for a ‘proper’ & dedicated fitness watch which ticks just about all of the boxes that need ticking, so let’s get cracking on this relatively short Polar Unite Review to see where the Polar Unite excels and where it could be improved.

First and foremost, Polar Unite is a FITNESS watch that covers all your guided sports, sleep analysis, meditation and general activity monitoring throughout the day. It’s highly similar to the more expensive Polar Ignite which both my partner and I have used for almost exactly a year. The headline differences are that the UNITE is essentially the same as the IGNITE without onboard GPS and with a new optical heart rate sensor and all at a much lower price point.

Polar Unite Review

Polar Unite Review
  • Price - 90%
    90%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 85%
    85%
  • Build Quality & Design - 80%
    80%
  • Features, Including App - 80%
    80%
  • Openness & Compatability - 80%
    80%
83%

Polar Unite Review

Polar Unite Review I liked the earlier Polar Ignite and this feels like a similar product, so with a significantly lower retail price ($80 less), what’s not to like?

For that much cheaper price, you still get all the great sports features bundled in. There’s not too much added, however, in terms of ‘smarts’ and ‘aesthetic customisations’ but you do still get smartphone notifications and you do get changeable straps and watch faces that have customisable colours.

The standout features that are as good or better as on any other fitness watch are FITSPARK and SLEEP. FITSPARK offers adaptive, guided workouts that look at your recent workout history and suggest what’s best to do next – with alternatives. You are then guided through the workouts by FITSPARK. The sleep offering is good, your night’s sleep is analysed and summarised within seconds on your wrist and the impact of your sleep and previous activities are combined to give you an idea of your recharged state for the day ahead. For those who want a much more detailed sleep analysis…that’s there too on the app.

You get great battery life, even with 24×7 HR in use. Nothing to worry about there.

If you already train and carry a smartphone and if you want a good fitness watch that can seriously help guide your training and monitor your sleep, then the Polar Unite is for you. If you want SMARTS or if you want running pace from GPS without a smartphone then this is not for you.

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Polar Unite Buy

Pros

  • Awesome guided and adaptive training with FitSpark. It’s good.
  • Polar Sleep Stages and Nightly Recharge is good.
  • Meditative, guided breathing
  • LOTS of sport profiles
  • A great app and web platform
  • Access to some good and advanced sports performance and planning features

Cons

  • Cheap strap. It’s interchangeable and you will probably quickly want to replace it.
  • new Heart Rate Monitor doesn’t seem to deliver any greater levels of accuracy to me
  • (smartphone-) Connected GPS. Like Fitbit Versa

What’s Changed?

There are several changes between the older IGNITE and the new UNITE, here they are in detail

 

  • UNITE has connected GPS, which means it optionally takes GPS positioning and speed from your smartphone. The older IGNITE instead has an onboard GPS sensor.
  • UNITE has the next generation PRECISION PRIME heart rate sensor, which will probably deliver more accurate results for most people
  • Battery life has changed. By excluding onboard GPS the UNITE now has an impressive 50-hours of battery life for connected GPS and HR usage.  General 24×7 usage with HR is now 4 days (was 5 days). Although I would recommend you boost this further by only enabling HR overnight and during exercise.
  • The headline price is reduced from $229 to $149
  • (Haptic) vibrations added
  • Autolap removed
  • Altimeter removed
  • Running cadence removed

More minor changes include the following

  • Polar’s digital & analogue watch faces now allow a small amount of customisation – the ability to change its colour
  • The lightness has been reduced further to 32g (was 35g), the screen brightness has been increased from X to X+1
  • New strap design with a stud-like fastening
  • Training Load Pro (cardio Load and perceived Load) is not available in FLOW
  • Standard 20mm straps are compatible with those from the Ignite and now include new mint, pink, blue and blush colours.
  • Several minor interface changes including the connected-GPS icon
  • Some data metrics are removed, namely: auto lap metrics for distance/time/pace (max, average)/HR(max,average); all elevation metrics (altitude, total ascent/descent); cadence metrics (max, current, average); altitude graph; and the countdown timer is removed as a workout screen but can be started separately from the menus
  • Running index (watch) and analysis (Flow) are removed
  • Swimming metrics are removed
  • The new Precision prime sensor is a physically different shape and is now flush to the skin on the underside
  • The new USB charger requires different pin connectors and a different case shape, the latter of which has grooves in each side to hold the charger in place

What’s Still Included

Polar’s offering at this price point is seriously good for a seriously good piece of sports kit. If you want a watch that gives music, contactless payments and lots of apps then this is NOT for you. However, if you want a sports, sleep and activity manager for an active lifestyle then you get lots of great activity features that work properly and include the following:

  • It’s got a bright, sharp and beautifully coloured screen which CAN be set to always-on whilst exercising. You won’t be embarrassed to wear it 24×7.
  • It has Polar FLOW’s SLEEP STAGES sleep tracking which gives a good insight into sleep stages and sleep quality by digging down through the HRV it gathers at night.
  • Polar Nighly Recharge looks at your overnight recovery from previous days’ exertions and lets you know how good-to-go you are today

 

 

  • You get Serene guided breathing…for when it’s nice to have those meditative moments
  • Fitspark adaptive and guided training. The watch tells you what workout to do each day with daily alternative choices. Importantly, it adapts to the kinds of exercise you have previously completed and to your readiness. It’s your own personal coach on your wrist and this is a good ‘pro’ type feature that athletes & exercisers of all levels can benefit from.
Polar Unite Review
USB charger and 2 straps included, new charging connector, grooves in the side of the case shown
  • Polar Flow app – it’s one of the best.
  • Sports profiles – there are a very large number of sports profiles to choose from – many more than simply swimming and pilates
  • Sports performance features – vibrate alerts, season planner, workout planner, training log, advanced training analysis, designed for swimming
  • Activity features – social feed, STRAVA links,
  • Tech features – hr broadcasting to some gym equipment, phone notifications, WR30 water resistance

 

Polar Unite Review & Comparison to Similar Products

  • Suunto 3 – A comparable product but Polar’s app & web platform are better
  • Fitbit Versa 2 –  A similar offering to Polar but significantly veering away from sport/activity. Fitbit has more non-sports tech with a good social platform and more onboard smarts like CONTACTLESS PAYMENT, APPS and MUSIC. Fitbit’s financial situation is well-publicised.
  • Band format fitness products
  • At a similar price point, you will find something with GPS from Huami, Huawei, TicWatch and the like.
  • At higher price points, I’d say a Garmin Vivoactive 3/4 or Apple Watch 3 fairly reflect a higher number of features.

Polar Unite Review

Buy Polar Unite Review – Opinion

I’m somewhat biased here as I think the earlier Polar Ignite is a seriously good piece of sports-focused kit that’s overlooked by many. However, I’d be the first to admit that many people might compare the earlier Polar Ignite to the Apple Watch 3 ($199) and go for the latter.

So Polar’s new, significantly lower price point for the Unite of $149 made me sit up and take note as it becomes a much easier buy decision. Sure you can buy some competing junk-tech for that same price yet with the Polar Unite you get the real deal: watch, app and all. But, and its a big but, Unite hasn’t got onboard GPS and it is 2020.

I personally prefer the Unite to the Fitbit Versa yet I think the Unite really needed music playback to be a clear winner to the target demographic even at this low price – if you already workout with your smartphone then I guess you already have your music needs covered. My confusion here is that both the Ignite and Unite are essentially targetting the exact same customers with two similar products but at two notably different price points. Hey, simple…buy the cheaper one…this one!

Polar Unite is available to buy today at www.polar.com/unite for €149.90 / $149.95 in black, white, pink, and blue, with size small and M/L wristbands included in each package. Mint and blush silicone accessory bands are available now for €22.90 / $22.95

Buy Direct from POLAR.COM

Polar Unite Buy

Polar Unite Review
  • Price - 90%
    90%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 85%
    85%
  • Build Quality & Design - 80%
    80%
  • Features, Including App - 80%
    80%
  • Openness & Compatability - 80%
    80%
83%

Polar Unite Review

Polar Unite Review I liked the earlier Polar Ignite and this feels like a similar product, so with a significantly lower retail price ($80 less), what’s not to like?

For that much cheaper price, you still get all the great sports features bundled in. There’s not too much added, however, in terms of ‘smarts’ and ‘aesthetic customisations’ but you do still get smartphone notifications and you do get changeable straps and watch faces that have customisable colours.

The standout features that are as good or better as on any other fitness watch are FITSPARK and SLEEP. FITSPARK offers adaptive, guided workouts that look at your recent workout history and suggest what’s best to do next – with alternatives. You are then guided through the workouts by FITSPARK. The sleep offering is good, your night’s sleep is analysed and summarised within seconds on your wrist and the impact of your sleep and previous activities are combined to give you an idea of your recharged state for the day ahead. For those who want a much more detailed sleep analysis…that’s there too on the app.

You get great battery life, even with 24×7 HR in use. Nothing to worry about there.

If you already train and carry a smartphone and if you want a good fitness watch that can seriously help guide your training and monitor your sleep, then the Polar Unite is for you. If you want SMARTS or if you want running pace from GPS without a smartphone then this is not for you.

Buy Direct from POLAR.COM

Polar Unite Buy

Pros

  • Awesome guided and adaptive training with FitSpark. It’s good.
  • Polar Sleep Stages and Nightly Recharge is good.
  • Meditative, guided breathing
  • LOTS of sport profiles
  • A great app and web platform
  • Access to some good and advanced sports performance and planning features

Cons

  • Cheap strap. It’s interchangeable and you will probably quickly want to replace it.
  • new Heart Rate Monitor doesn’t seem to deliver any greater levels of accuracy to me
  • (smartphone-) Connected GPS. Like Fitbit Versa
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Bongo

What does “screen brightness has been increased from X to X+1” mean?

inSyt

Polar seriously needs to rid itself of not having ‘non-sport tech’ by adding music controls and support for custom watch faces. Compared to music playback and app stores, this should be easy to implement and can be achieved without any hardware upgrades.