Polar – Big News Day – Lots of Updates & Devices

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Grit X Pro Titan, Grit X Gen 1, V2 SHIFT, V2 RED, V2 and a generic, super cheap strap on the Grit X Pro Titan)

Polar Major Release Day

Today is a big news day for Polar fans with some new watches, software updates and news of more to come this year.

 

Polar – Recent History

2020 saw Polar venture slightly further from its traditional customer base with the Polar Grit X adventure watch and then came one of my favourites, the Polar Vantage V2 triathlon watch. The pace hotted up this year with the market-leading Polar Verity Sense optical armband, the excellent Polar Ignite 2 Fitness Watch and the impressive Polar Vantage M2 Triathlon Watch.

Can we keep on adding superlatives with the new models and other announcements? Let’s see.

Polar Fall 2021 Announcements

On the surface, there is lots of news today

New Model: Polar Grit X PRO (3 colours)

New Variant: Polar Grit X PRO Titan

New Variant: Polar Vantage V2 RED

New Variant: Polar Vantage V2 SHIFT (2 colours)

New Colours: Polar Unite (2 colours)

New Features: for Polar Vantage V2 (October 2021)

New Features: for Polar Unite (October 2021)

Polar Grit X Pro

The Grit X Pro is the closest that we come to a genuinely new watch today.

Grit X Pro is highly durable to MIL-STD-810G standards and further boasts a sapphire lens. With WR100 water resistance and the ability to withstand extreme temperature, the Grit X Pro package covers all that the wilds will throw at you, even the premium FKM band adds extra heat & chemical resistance.

The more expensive Titan variant is differentiated from the 3 other colourways by a $100 premium to the price tag and a 12% lighter, titanium case.

All new Grit X Models boast these new features

  • New Location Dashboard
  • New Sunrise/Sunset Dashboard
  • New Trackback Navigation Options
  • New Elevation Profiles when following Routes
  • New Tests from Vantage V2: Cycling, Leg Recovery, Running, Orthostatic
  • New HR broadcast
  • New Music Controls
  • New Recovery Pro
  • Some other minor changes

More: Polar Grit X v2.0 Firmware

Polar Vantage V2 SHIFT Edition (Silver or Black)

This adds an adapter for the strap lugs so that the watch can take a much wider range of standard bands.

Polar Vantage V2 RED

This is the standard V2 version in yellow. Just kidding.

Polar Vantage V2 Software

All Vantage V2 models receive all the new features from the Grit X Pro

More: Polar Vantage V2 Firmware

For reference: Detailed Polar Grit X Review

Polar Unite Software

The Unite fitness watch is the entry-level model from Polar with no GPS on the watch. It gets some trickledown features from other Polar watches.

  • Fuel-Wise energy sources are now shown in the post-workout summary
  • Weekly Summary widget
  • Heart rate broadcast for gym equipment

Band Sizes + More

Check out this image for more subtleties, including the availability of different strap lengths.

Full Details At Polar.com

 

Polar Grit X Pro vs. Grit X vs. Vantage V2 – What are the differences?

The official specs from polar show these differences based on this comparison at polar.com

Grit X ProGrit XVantage V2
Recovery ProYesNoYes
Running power from wristYes (specs say no)Yes (specs say no)Yes
Tests: Orthostatic, Running Performance, Cycling Performance, Leg RecoveryYesNoYes
Music controlsYesNoYes
Watch face color themesYesNoYes
Weight without wristband47g44g34g
Weight79g64g52g
Sapphire glass lensYesNoNo
Training history export (from polarpersonaltrainer.com to Polar Flow)YesNoNo
StrapsOptions suppliedStandard fitCustom (adapter exists)
CaseMaterials & Design Changes
Backlight Options2No2
Share HRYesNoYes
Back to StartYes, beeline+reverseYesYes, beeline+reverse
Route Elevation Page (in workout)YesNoYes
ABC GPS DashboardYesNoYes
Sunrise/Daylight etc DashboardYesNoYes
Route Selection (breadcrumb nutrition reminders, elevation profile)YesNoYes

 

 

 

Pricing

Availability

Initial availability of the Pro Titan is only from Polar.com: Polar.com USA here, Generic Polar here

Take Out

Polar’s marketing messages today are all about trust, reliability and the benefits of exploration.

New customers to Polar will appreciate the alignment of the software feature between Vantage V2 and Grit X PRO.

The technical excitement behind today’s announcement is that of new outdoor capabilities coupled with a premium and more robust design. That was entirely expected but the more surprising nature of today’s announcement is news covering 3 of Polar’s products, normally this would have been eked out over 3 smaller launches. Polar has clearly set out their stall for Christmas.

Polar cannot achieve higher margins from you and me solely from introducing new software features. Whilst Polar does have a great feature set, its sports platform trails Garmin in several key areas, maps being the most obvious. The easiest route to higher margins is for Polar to give us nicely designed watches made with premium materials….a la Suunto. I’m all for that and like what I see in that sense. I’ve always liked the Polar sporty aesthetic and have used their watches since about 2005 (s720i/620). Whilst Polar’s software features are fantastic for fitness and serious athletic types, they more urgently need to step up to the mark set by Garmin for openness, connectivity and for the more unusual sport-focussed features, otherwise Polar will progressively alienate their traditional customer base.

That said, the Polar Grit X Titan is a truly sweet outdoor adventure watch. I like it and Polar’s corporate performance is probably pretty good right now, so you guys like their products too. Review to follow…

 

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35 thoughts on “Polar – Big News Day – Lots of Updates & Devices

    1. I think Vantage M/V will not receive any other firmware updates. It’s been a year since the last one.
      It’s a pity though, I’d be willing to pay for new software features. They didn’t promise anything that wasn’t delivered, but still…

  1. Coros is definitely happy with such Grit X Pro release 🙂 I am also happy, because I don’t have questions which outdoors watch to buy for Christmas. The only question is left for me, will someone acquire Polar or it will go bankrupt. I remembered Nokia 🙂

    1. As much as I like what COROS is doing and own several of their watches, they are far, far from perfect.

      • The screen on Vertix 2 is dimmer than Apex Pro/Vertix and more washed out, noticeably dimmer than Fenix and especially Forerunner, with far less sharpness and contrast, really a let down

      • Still no real 24/7 heart rate tracking: you get a measurement every 10 minutes that makes this feature a joke and wracks your rest HR, which jumps around 10-15 beats from day to day, not good as your training load is based on it! Switch to “real-time HR” and see spikes throughout a day. That would also wrack calories and exercise minutes tracking and destroy the battery life, which promptly drops right into Fenix territory, even for big Vertix 2

      • GPS is very good indeed, especially on Vertix 2, but hardly better then recent Polar or Suunto units for me in most places. It destroys Garmin Fenix yes, but I wouldn’t say it’s better than Forerunner, not at all

      • Maps are there on Vertix 2 only, kind of slowish, no details, not routable. But the absolute worst: you can’t combine maps/navigation with a structured workout! Yep, if you have a run in an unfamiliar city or want to do some trail work, you have a choice between a map/navigation and workout guidance. Also, still no drink/energy reminders or any sort of alerts in training mode

      • Can’t use a structured workout with a treadmill or trail mode either. Still.

      • No automated route sync from anywhere and no ability to design a route within COROS ecosystem like Suunto has. They promised Komoot syncing in September, now we are in October and all I’m hearing are crickets

      • Music on Vertix 2 is MP3 only. The good ol’ MP3, no other newer formats like m4a. No streaming services. Not even a folder structure support there for various artists, or MP3 playlists. You drag-n-drop the very files you intend to play. And, the best, it gets mixed up with a few tunes that are preinstalled on the watch and will still be playing after you copied yours. Can’t remove them.

      I can go on, but a sad pattern that’s emerging with COROS is they seem to have chosen to match Garmin in a feature check list contest, without gaining any real depth for most of their features. So, on the high level things look splendid, but once you start actually using them, it turns out most are woefully incomplete and inadequate.

      Doesn’t mean Polar and Suunto aren’t going the way of Nokia though. Premium design and materials will only take you so far…

      1. Agree on most points, but COROS is a startup, during last year COROS developed replacement for Firstbeat algorithms, developed mapping functionality, introduced first sports watch in the market with dual frequency GNSS chip. Meanwhile Polar made a promise to add HR broadcasting feature to VV2… Vertix2 has huge potential to improve GPS accuracy, since the chip is completely new and is l1+l5 (they moved away from SONY), waiting for new firmware. Mapping functionality is also new. Give time for COROS to improve it. Still the pace COROS is developing their products is amazing. I give COROS credit of my patience to fix all the issues they have. Last, but not least, Polar is dropping software development as soon as new watches are released, most of VV2 features could be migrated to VV1, but they weren’t, during Vertix2 release COROS promised to add maps to Vertix1 and add new features as long as hardware capabilities will allow.

        1. As a proud Vertix 2 owner, I hate to disappoint. That sweet-sweet dual-frequency all-system GPS will only matter in situations like mountains, deep forests, and extreme urban canyons, i.e. will hardly be applicable most of the time to most people. In regular street and park/light forested areas trail running, I see next to no advantage over Suunto or Garmom. I don’t expect that to change drastically with future firmware updates either.

          As per FB algos replacement, again not quite. COROS doesn’t have all-day stress/body battery and related recovery tracking. Their sleep tracking is a joke. The recovery time is a basic EPOC based timer that doesn’t seem to take your chronic training load into account, nor your faster recoveries like Garmin does via HRV. That leaves us only with TRIM based training load, which everyone does nowadays including Runalyze for free. And two features where COROS actually shines — credit where credit is due — auto-detection of LTR pace/heart rate and race prediction.

          So yeah, plenty of checklist features, no depth… And after seeing bugs I reported to them two years ago and more still unfixed and simple changes like letting you run a structured workout on a treadmill not done after 18 months… I have my doubts. Sure, they are building out the software side way faster than anyone else. But it looks increasingly like a house of cards, something to sell in PowerPoint presentation to prospective investors perhaps…

        2. “… Polar is dropping software development as soon as new watches are released…” really? That’s reason why they bring the Polar Gritx Pro feature form yesterday to the V2 line after 12 months of selling the V2?

          1. this is true however some people do perceive that software updates are quickly stopped.

            Look at the Apple watch 3. It must have been released in about 1963 yet it still supports watchOS 8 from 2021…well. that’s the official line and it’s true. however the old watches just don’t get many of the subtle improvements such as those that require certain bits of hardware but watch 3 owners just don’t really think about that I imagine…they’re happy. Point being: perhaps Polar et al should keep releasing SOME features back to much older watches but not all features

        1. You can, and I said so. Trouble is: it’s really bad, with constant spikes when you do everyday things like making a sandwich in the kitchen 🙂

      2. “Premium design and materials will only take you so far…” yep
        “COROS is they seem to have chosen to match Garmin in a feature check list contest, without gaining any real depth for most of their features.” yep, there is some depth in places.
        i think we’s all like Polar to innovate with features as quickly as Coros. Coros has proved it’s possible.

        Sadly Coros will need to completely redesign their app and build a web platform in the nearish future. by the same token, the Polar watch interface needs a refresh (and that is a huge task).

      1. I feel they are growing mainly on strength of their former glory. Let me guess: Eastern Europe, EMEA, and maybe some Asia? Latin America perhaps. Same as Nokia once did 😉 with Windows Phone 7.8. Big growth that went bust almost overnight.

        Polar should realize they can’t compete with Garmin, COROS, and Suunto outdoors. They are just too far behind.

        They almost can’t compete with Garmin and now COROS indoors either. Though here with a few gym centered features they have a real shot, given hardware lineup and especially offline recording capabilities of OH1/Verity Sense sensors.

        Polar could have made a play for everyday tracking and fitness, training load, and recovery. Kind of what WHOOP does, but with far more accurate sensors and universally accepted TRIMP CTL/ATL and not WHOOP’s own logarithmically scaled black box. Couple that with import of workouts/plans from third parties like Training Peaks, and you have a real dependable training workhorse.

        Better still, they should have gone back to M600 and released a Grit X Pro based on Wear OS, with offline maps and music and apps, just like Suunto 7, but with external sensors support and fully baked into Polar’s ecosystem.

          1. But that “every day lifestyle” watch would be up against the likes of Apple. I am still on the first Vantage V (and a V650 boxy bike computer) and don’t feel compelled to upgrade to even the grit x pro… A new bike computer would be nice, but no idea how they would go up against Garmin feature-wise…

          2. yes the everyday lifestyle/fitness/tech would never beat apple watch
            yes i like the VV and V650 and they probably do most for what most people need. IF i didn’t run this blog i would probably be perfectly happy with either /both of them!
            a new Polar bike comp would be an unusual move (there ARE rumours of one but not concrete). a bike comp benefits EVEN MORE from being open and connectable, i just cant see polar achieving that (I hope they can). there are too many awesome bike comps to compete with wahoo/garmin/hammerhead. perhaps the only real point of buying a polar bike comp would be to ensure that both your devices play nicely with polar flow ie keeping it all in one ecosystem

  2. Honestly, I’m at a loss of what Polar is trying to accomplish here. They looked at Suunto 9 Peak, with no new tricks other than snap-to-route lifehack and a slimmed down body, at $699 and decided: hey, Nordic design sells? Maybe if we include a leather strap and a sunrise/sunset calendar, people won’t notice we have nothing of substance to offer?

    I’d say you can’t be serious in outdoor wearables space going into 2022 without some offline maps. You can’t pretend workout from Training Peaks and FinalSurge don’t exist on something you label “pro”. I don’t need to test for maximum HR often, since it hardly changes month-to-month, but I would prefer to have a solid LTR auto-detection and/or test. And why not use your own Training/Recovery Pro data to specify day’s workout intensity target like WHOOP does? Smart alarm anyone, like Withings or WHOOP 4.0 do? Periodic HRV test to provide daily stress similar to Garmin, no?

    Sigh… It’s a Nokia moment indeed. Another Finnish staple bites the dust.

    1. i agree with your sentiment but not the conclusion. this WILL make money for Polar in the short term.
      all this garmin body battery and other vendor hrv stuff is nonsense. it’s ALL smoke and mirrors. the ONLY sources for HRV readings worth having for most of us for recovery are a waking reading or an appropriate nightly average…that’s it. whoop already does that and whoop’s strain is broadly accurate enough for many people. from a data tech perspective that is why whoop could be dangerous moving forward especially with their acquisition of PUSH. #Marketing #Nimble

  3. It’s funny how people can’t see the general picture and think only about themselves. “I will never buy Polar because…”. Great, but there are as many people who will not buy Garmin, Suunto or Coros for one reason or another. Not everyone lives in the wilderness (and those who do, probably don’t need maps), not everybody runs triathlons, etc. I do sports, but I also sleep and so I need sleep tracking analytics. Coros, Suunto are awful at this and not sure about new Garmin with Firstbeat sleep analytics, but until then even Garmin was bad at this. So until recently if you wanted sports watch and good sleep analytics it was only Fitbit and Polar and Fitbit is not really a sports watch. These new upgrades from Polar? A joke. But a good one. Many people will buy them just because they are the newest releases so… must be good, will be supported for longer, etc. From a marketing point of view/ PR it’s a good thing to have some news, remind of yourself to the public. Yes, those who wake up to read reviews from DC, Desfit, 5k they are right to be disappointed with these “new” releases, but you’re just a small percentage of buyers.

    1. Yes there are some truths there for sure.
      We are just a small percentage of buyers. That said many readers of these kinds of sites are peer group influencers themselves, the ones who are more interested in the details of tech, the ones who people will ask for advice when in the pool or at the track or at the start of a parkrun. That’s why we get the devices before anyone else and that’s why other mainstream review sites copy the opinions of people like DCR (perhaps why Garmin historically fared well incidentally!)
      ” I need sleep tracking analytics” sadly ALL sleep tracking analytics are wrong in all wrist tech! Much of that wrong data is presented very well by many vendors though 😉 sometimes it even ‘feels’ like it’s the right data

      1. I’m pretty sure you don’t have data to back up “ALL sleep tracking analytics are wrong in all wrist tech”? Do you have data that HRV tracking throughout the night is all wrong (might be the most important data for sleep analytics except for the total sleep time :D)? Resting heart rate all wrong? Breathing rate all wrong? From what I’ve seen even deep sleep/rem is quite ok in fitbit, polar. Some time ago I looked at the reviews on The Quantified Scientist youtube page and he has to types of data for sleep analytics: 1) how much deep/rem/light/awake times were predicted by watch vs EEG device and 2) how much deep/rem/light/awake times that were predicted as deep/rem/light/awake times were actually deep/rem/light/awake times 🙂 So Polar was wrong about 11 or 16% through all the stages. That’s quite an amazing guess (I say guess, because when compared with EEG device you see that lots of guesses were at the wrong time, but… If analytics are made by guessed data, then it’s 84%-89% accurate which is way higher than HR guesses during workouts for many watches :D).

        1. how do you know deep sleep is “quite ok in fitbit”
          tell me how you identify sleep stages, or how would a scientist?
          a reading of XX for HRV has different interpretations depending on the sleep stage. you have to get the sleep stage correct…and you can’t as a consumer!
          google: polysomnography

  4. Disappointing, but I hope Polar sells these watches nevertheless so they have more money for development of new features. Better Screen-Body-Ratio, Maps and dual-frequency GNSS would be nice.

  5. I still think Nightly Recharge is better than everyone else’s feedback on sleep.

    I also like Polar’s load tracking, it seems to match up better to how I’m actually feeling. Garmin I find is a little optimistic in what it thinks I’m capable of. Not a huge deal, I listen to how I feel.

    As a smartwatch, I feel Polar is behind everyone else. At least on my VV1, notifications were pretty bad. Weak vibration, spotty ‘raise to view’ those notifications. I don’t need much, just want to see what the notification was and if it’s important I’ll pull out my phone. Also no setting to enable notifications during workouts is something they need to change.

    All that said, I like Polar. I was excited for this announcement. The Titan version as a watch looks good. But I think sticking to the 1.2″ screen killed it for me. I could have overlooked the same oHR and GPS, and talked myself into maybe the notifications being better. After using larger screens though it is hard to go back.

    My guess is going to a larger screen would have required development resources to scale all the screens or UI of the watch and Polar didn’t have the resources to do that.

    1. I guess I’m in minority here, but the only smart functions I really need from my watch (Ignite 2) is phone/message notifications and maybe alarm. I bought identical watch for my friend and she asked to turn phone notifications off completely. As not professional athlete I was looking for a sports watch with training analytics that would look nice and feel comfortable 24/7. Ignite has the smallest form factor for this type of watch and my only complain is screen responsiveness. Thanks God I have to use that screen quite rarely, but would definitely upgrade if screen is improved.

  6. So is the Grit X Pro the new flagship device or is the V2 top of the line? This seems a bit confusing. What is the difference between V2 and Grit X Pro?

  7. What is that “some super cheap strap”? I am looking for some elastic strap recommendations and they are surprisingly difficult to find (or I am a bad surfer). I don’t understand, why sports watches are delivered with silicon straps instead of elastic ones like OH1/Verity bands: thos would be perfect for watches IMHO.

    In the olden days when I was content with Polar I made one strap myself from some scraps. But I lost it…

  8. Polar probably learned that no point to call the new device Grit X 2 because it is not really a new device except different glass material. So calling it Pro is okay if they keep selling the original Grit X as non pro version with some software updates.

    Vantage M2 is same as M but new strap and upgraded software version. Vantage V2 has slight external differences to original V but other than adaptive brightness, nothing new. Vantage V2 is what V should have been.

    But at least in Finland Vantage M (1) has sold quite a lot. It’s sold in almost every supermarket and “normal” people use it quite a lot. With more durable glass display instead of scratchy plastic display it would have probably more customer satisfaction.

    One thing I’ve noticed: Looks like Polar is hiring nowadays more software engineers than couple years ago. It may be a good sign that new watches since Vantage series has been sold quite okay. Company were not in good shape before that even if they had superior device (V800).

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