Polar Verity Sense Review
Here is a quick summary review of the Polar Verity Sense followed immediately after with all the detailed changes and a take on how & when best to use this market-leading optical armband.
Updated: 7 June 2021
Verdict: Polar Verity Sense
Price - 85%85%
Apparent Accuracy - 95%95%
Build Quality & Design - 85%85%
Features, Including App - 85%85%
Openness & Compatability - 95%95%
Polar Verity Sense Summary Review
Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, Verity Sense is so good that it will likely be the go-to optical heart rate choice for many sports tech reviewers. It’s that good. The goodness comes from its accuracy and its flexibility when in use. If that sounds promising, and it should, then you can take further solace in knowing that you can use Verity Sense without a watch to get access to the great stats on Polar Flow or you might use Verity Sense to boost the accuracy of oHR on your Apple Watch 6 – review – or high-end Garmin Forerunner/Fenix.
Verity Sense will work with, pretty much, every app or sports device from Nike Running Club to Garmin and Zwift.
The strap has been notably improved over the previous version it looks great and does not seem to easily flip. This will be handy when the pools re-open for lane swimming and you will then also be able to enjoy Verity Sense’s certified waterproofing and extra pool swim metrics.
It’s flexible in how it can be used.
You don’t even need an app or sports watch as your HR data can be stored/recorded on the Polar Verity Sense and later retrieved to Polar Flow. And if uploading sports data can be a bit of a chore, then there’s no rush as you can now get 30 hours of battery life and 600 hours of storage.
Other improvements include a stronger signal which should ensure that your coach on the halfway line or your app in the bag at the side of the gym classroom are both able to capture every heartbeat.
Polar Verity Sense is aimed squarely at anyone into sports or fitness at any level. It’s not targeted at ‘steps’ or 24×7-type usage, although can be used to record super-long HR tracks if you want. Your Polar CAN update your stats on Apple Health.
So where’s the catch?
A: It’s a bit fiddly to turn on and to ensure that the correct mode is selected. That’s it.
There are more nuanced improvements that can be added to further improve Polar Verity Sense, and I’ll cover those below. For almost all of you, these nuances will be irrelevant. Just buy it! It’s a good product.
- Works with all sports watches and apps using ANT+/BLE (ie all of them)
- There’s an extra BLE channel for some dual watch+zwift setups, or similar
- An improved overall pool swim competency will delight some of you
- Slightly awkward to turn on when you are already wearing it
- Tricky to be sure you select the right mode in dimly lit areas as the LED is bright (Edit: the LED changes colour at the start to indicate MODE. Thus solid GREEN is record & broadcast mode)
- Using on swim goggles under your swim cap remains a fiddly endeavour but the supreme accuracy might make it worth your while.
Polar Verity Sense What’s Changed? Review & Specification Highlights
Polar Verity Sense is a notably updated version of the Polar OH1+; both the specifications & usability have been enhanced. Here are the headline changes
- A wider, wholly new and very snazzy strap but the same sensor
- Battery life is now
2030 hours with a firmware upgrade in June 2021 (further up from 12 hours of the OH1+)
- New mode and a new procedure to select mode: broadcast HR (blue LED), broadcast+record HR (Green LED) & broadcast+record pool swim metrics (White LED)
- Now properly swim-proof at WR50/50m
- Pool swim mode also records distance and pace
- The band contains a metal strip which boosts the range from 40m probably to a claimed BLE range of 150m, ideal for team sports (I’m not entirely clear that Polar means 150m or 2x75m)
- The band is compatible with OH1/OH1+
- No HRV
- 30% more storage lets you store 600 hours of training data on the Verity Sense
- An extra BLE connection has been added to give you 2xBLE connections plus unlimited, simultaneous ANT+ connections (No 5KHz GymLink)
- The polar BEAT app enables extra ANT+/BLE connections and updates firmware. Plus you also set the pool length here.
- Polar mobile SDK now lets 3rd party app developers read magnetometer, accelerometer and HR data from Verity Sense.
- Slightly improved clip for attaching to swim goggles
- Sensor 5 g, armband and holder 12 g, clip 2 g
- Carry pouch now included
Polar Verity Sense is small and it is fiddly to transfer between the goggles’ clip, charging adapter and armband clip. Its single button and single LED are on the side of the sensor and they do require some concentration when using them. The alternative designs from Scosche, MioPod and others are for a multipurpose button/LED on the top of a LARGER device. You have to weigh up the size vs. ease-of-use conundrum yourself, I’m somewhat ambivalent.
The armband is both comfy and good-looking when worn. The armband mount for the Verity Sense looks like it has 4 teeth but they really do just hold the HRM in place rather than sticking into your skin, so all is good there.
Looking closer at the rear of the unit you see the same optical sensor as with the OH1+, which is fine as that was always super-accurate. However, you also see some new markings and when you turn it on you will also notice a different flashing pattern. The initial pattern briefly indicates which mode you have selected (broadcast/record/swim).
A slight issue is that you can wear the sensor aligned in two ways so it can be confusing when trying to decide which mode you have selected based on the position of a single, lit LED. Is it at the top or at the bottom? To make matters slightly worse if you are trying to make these settings when the band is already on your upper arm and twisted over then it is tricky to see exactly what you are doing and to press the button to make the various selections.
Solution: The only sensible way to start Verity Sense is before putting it onto your arm. That works fine but inevitably adds a minute to the start of the recording.
You’ve already paired it to your app/watch and all is good to go. Pairing to anything works.
That’s it really.
The issue with the band on the earlier OH1 only became apparent to me after a few months of usage. As the strap weakened slightly, the sensor flipped. At the time I said it needed a wider band. Now we have a wider band and so I’m hoping that Polar has tested this out over an extended period as I’ve only used it for a week so far. After a week all is good, there is no flipping but, then again, there’s been no pool swimming either (lockdown).
You can get a generic optical armband for £/$40 or less. The more trusted players are more expensive, typically up to around twice that price and are MioPOD, Wahoo TICKR FIT, Polar OH1+, Polar OH1, Scosche Rhythm+, Scosche Rhythm 24 and Scosche Rhythm+ 2.0. I’ve not used the latter and the others are all cool. Whoop & Biostrap are perhaps a different category but still similar.
- TICKR Fit has the best battery life coming in at close to 30 hours but doesn’t record the workout and that’s why I won’t use it, along with not trusting it to remain waterproof.
- Scosche Rhythm+ has a short, 7-hour battery life, along with not trusting it to remain waterproof. Rhythm 24 had bad reviews and I’m not going to waste time reviewing it. Rhythm+ 2.0 looks promising.
- MioPOD is good and by coincidence, I used it all January. It’s got a good battery life and can record+share the workout plus it has a superior button/LED config.
So really I should use mioPOD but I prefer the Polar because it syncs to a web platform rather than to an iOS app.
Polar claims a range of 150m. I’m not sure about that.
Polar has had the Verity Sense tested to WR50/50m for swimming. This means you can definitely swim with it.
An improved 20 hours of battery life is claimed. Like all batteries that will deteriorate over time. My OH1+ battery was fine after a year, or so, but the original 3-year-old OH1 now struggles to hold a charge if left unused. Indeed Polar’s chest straps also have battery life issues despite some firmware fixes.
Polar Verity Sense – Swimming Review
My only feasible attempt at swimming with the Polar Verity Sense has been to lie on my Vasa Swim Trainer. That presents no difficulties to the Verity Sense as there is no water running over the armband and there are no flips/push-offs to create water pressure to contend with.
The flip at the end of each length is what determines the end of a length for the internal metrics. So I haven’t tested that either.
Well, when I say I haven’t tested it I should have added the word ‘properly’. Here are some chair-simulated pool swim results which show that, unlike the old OH1, Verity Sense/Flow does properly record the workout as a ‘Pool Swim’, furthermore, with some other tests I showed that Stroke Detection and rest detection are also detected and recorded. I’ll add a proper chart here when I get some real data of my own.
The Verity Sense is also compatible with FORM Swim Goggles and they can be used together to beam advanced swim metrics into your FORM goggles. Getting the Verity Sense/OH1 to sit on the straps AND under your swim cap can sometimes be tricky depending on the type of straps. Once you are all set up, the FORM + Polar combination takes pool swimming or open water swimming to the highest level of tech awesomeness to support more advanced training.
Polar Verity Sense – Accuracy Review
Here are a variety of workouts. As far as I can see, the Polar is 99% accurate in all scenarios. That’s what I expected. That’s what I got.
Initially, I was disappointed with Polar Verity Sense. I knew about a new HR product a while ago and hoped that Polar was making a brave step to take on WHOOP with a pro-armband that majored in recovery stats. Instead, we got a big update on the previous version.
That said, my opinion remains that Polar Verity Sense is the market leader for optical sports armbands.
The reality is that Verity Sense is now a highly competent optical sports armband. It has the features it needs to edge ahead of the competition and only has to worry that Garmin or Wahoo might come up with something better. Sure Verity Sense can be improved…more battery (done! updated to 30) and a slightly easier to use button would help. As always, those trivial issues are easily managed and understood after a couple of familiarity workouts.
As I pointed out above. The reliable recording, wear-position, accuracy and ability to control how the Verity Sense pairs to other devices will be why I use it for the next 1-2 years as my main optical HR logger. If you have similar needs, it’s a no-brainer.
Polar Verity Sense – Discount, Price & Availability
This will initially be available only directly from Polar before being rolled out to all Polar retailers (24 Feb). Polar had a slight cull of their chosen outlets in 2021, the red Polar banner below will link to some active ones in your region, including Polar.com/US