Polar Vantage V3 Review

Polar Vantave V3
I have a V3…more photos inbound

Polar Vantage V3 Review

More: Polar Vantage V3 Review

On paper at least, the brand-new Polar Vantage V3 puts the company’s headline product on the same footing as its main competitors.

Polar adds an awesome 1.39″ AMOLED screen with a scratch-resistant Gorilla 3 lens whilst significantly increasing the battery life compared to its second-gen predecessor. The GPS capabilities are boosted to include accurate dual frequency reception and the optical HR sensor also moves to a new generation whilst adding new sensing abilities for SpO2, ECG and skin temperature

polar vantage v3 overview


Offline maps are added that use the boosted 32Gb of storage

On the software front, we find a smoother, faster interface and hints of further new features including stroke power. Of course, alongside the maps, there is a raft of newly enhanced route features including track back and turn-by-turn directions from Komoot.


Polar Vantage V3 Highlights

In more detail, these are the highlights according to Polar and my thoughts on each. TL;DR – It’s updated hardware plus maps and an AMOLED screen…which is still a pretty big leap.

  • Polar Elixir:
  • Dual-frequency GPS:
    • The Sony GNSS chip can be excellent but can also falter depending on how it’s integrated into the watch (aerial/software).

Polar Vantage V3 – Accuracy Report – Is it accurate?

  • Offline Maps: This will be exciting. This feature is intended for the next generation of Grit X, which is fine. It’s great Polar adds it today to the performance sports watch.
    • Turn-by-turn only works with Komoot routes, so this is a restrictive feature both because of the subscription cost and the fact that you may use another route provider.
    • 32GB of storage: The offline maps have to go somewhere. There’s not enough space here for offline music
    • The maps appear to be merely map images with no intelligence. Meaning that your GPS position or breadcrumb track is simply overlain on the map image. The trackback feature appears to be intelligent but merely reverses your route.
  • Increased CPU speed: The 275MHz processor claims to be 129% faster. Faster is always good but ultimately an underpowered watch reveals its ugly head a year or two down the road. Let’s hope Polar stays pretty.
    • Onboard thinking memory is increased to 37Mb from 0.64Mb
    • Bluetooth 5.1 is used to connect to sensors and there is no ANT+ support

Polar Vantave V3

  • The AMOLED display is 462ppi (454x45xpx) glowing at 1,050 nits which is 35% brighter than the previous model and 3.6x the number of pixels (240x240px)
  • The watch is slightly bigger (I think because of the lugs), deeper (1.5mm) and adds an extra 5g in weight.
  • Bands are now industry standard 22m and no longer require the fiddly and proprietary Polar connectors
  • The new glove-friendly buttons are still fairly flush with the case
  • Long battery life: Up to 53 hours of training time with each charge, or up to 8 full days of display time and up to 140 hours of training time when in power-saving mode.
    • This must be more than enough for almost everyone. Certainly, everyone understands that AMOLED screens and dual-frequency chipsets use more juice. There are alternatives if you want longer battery life.
    • The battery capacity is improved by 41% (488mAh from 346mAh), combined with more efficient components which accounts for the increased battery life.
    • 140 hours of power-save recording and 288hours as a watch
  • USB-C to proprietary charging: No, no more USB-A ports that everyone has. I have millions of every kind of cable and USB-A wall sockets, everything apart from the new standard which seems to be USB-C. I guess I’ll have to go and buy some more cables and adapters. Thank you Apple, Garmin and now thank you Polar.
    • The 2-hour recharging time is OK but a little longer than offered by the competition
    • Also added are Voice Guidance, Walking Test and the Work-Rest guide that we saw in Ignite 3 (which was Polar’s first AMOLED watch)
  • There are several other improvements in swimming that I’m trying to get a definitive list of. These include stroke power for swimming and improvements to the open water GPS algorithm that leverages the barometer to detect when the watch is out of the water.
  • A comprehensive suite of training, recovery, and sleep tracking tools including Performance Tests, Recovery Pro, Nightly Recharge, Sleep Plus Stages, and SleepWise. These are all great but could be packaged more appealingly.
  • Polar Flow: It’s a good ecosystem for your exercise and sleep data. The app now looks a little dated but I still like it. The web interface is very dated but I love it!

Polar Vantage V3 Comparison to Garmin Forerunner 965 and Suunto Race

In many ways, both Suunto and Polar have closed the gap significantly on Garmin, at least that’s true for sports. Garmin remains the choice for committed and serious triathletes, Polar should be considered by runners, and Suunto scores highly for aesthetics and outdoor usage.

Polar V3 vs Suunto RACE vs Garmin 965 – The best ever sports watch comparison


More Thoughts

If I had to be negative, I would wish Vantage 3 had come a year earlier.

I’ve liked the broad visual aesthetics of every iteration of Vantage, so it’s no surprise that I like what I see here. What stands out to me today is the AMOLED display, AMOLED is going to be a deal maker for many high-end watch buyers over the next few years and Polar has made the right move to adopt it. Garmin, Apple and others are already committed to that space whereas Coros has mistakenly decided not to compete, at least for now.

Despite a few quirks of the software side of things (some screen designs), I can’t fault the looks. If I had to be critical I would say that the black ring/bezel still looks a tad too large despite Polar’s claims that V3 has the largest-ever display for the company.

The performance claims are also exciting. If Polar has achieved a sustainable level of 53 hours of GPS recording time I am impressed, that is a good GPS recording time for an AMOLED watch.

MISSING: MIL-STD accreditation is no longer current and water resistance is reduced to WR50 from WR100


Polar Vantage V3 SpO2 accuracy

Whilst Polar’s claims for the capabilities of the Elixir sensor are good, we would expect the company to say no less. Interestingly, its patent application for the same technology is more wide-reaching in biomarkers that can be sensed. Perhaps this is truly a next-gen sensor just throttled back until its algorithms are refined? Or not. Maybe it’s just playing catch-up with similar sensors that have been around for a year or so.

I would consider a top-end Polar watch like this or a top-end Suunto watch as an alternative to Garmin. Were it not for the requirements of running this blog I’d probably use a Polar Vantage as my main training watch alongside a Wahoo bike computer.

Price & Availability

Deliveries start NOW for all three colour variants: Night Black, Sky Blue, and Sunrise Apricot.

Get yours now for €/$ 599.90, GBP591

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21 thoughts on “Polar Vantage V3 Review

      1. I fail to understand what is the Big deal adding LTE, I say this from the perspective of someone that works in the industry. the complexity to add it as of today is 0

      2. technical complexity or commercial complexity or performance implications?
        I’d genuinely be intereested to hear what you think Polar would need to do on a watch like this for it to have LTE globally. Even with my Apple Watch there are only a couple of UK cell companies who’ll give me a Watch data contract (or there was when i last looked)

      3. Of course structural changes and test must be performed over the architecture of the chipsets. Polar doesn’t have to do it as companies provide those services.
        Implementing an LTE router that has low energy consumption is today a task that is outsourced to the manufacturers and they come with a chip design that includes it. Everyone is using the same , even apple, from Qualcomm. So in that terms, tech wise is pretty much solved and the cost is a tiny bit over the total production cost , that’s. why apple loads the charge on the consumer offering GSM or Not at 100$ more or less.

        From the cell companies support, is a marketing stratergy. Any provider with eSim like … ( https://esim.holafly.com/data-plans/esim-apple-watch/ ) would allow you to use LTE plan in any watch no matter the brand (you buy a random no brand lte eSim device) there is anything special on apple aside of they started this with partners to make it possible(apple watch 3) , as of today … any provider can run LTE plans on any esim device if they want.

        So Polar / garmin / sunto / coros , simply put , they just don’t want to do it. If I am wrong , please someone that works with them , tell me why then they don’t add LTE

      4. ty, is it that simple tho even for apple??
        take siri as an example, its historically relied on logic on the smartphone to relay to the cloud but with LTE that logic must be directly on the cloud (although moved in part tot he watch recently). surely EVERY web-related service would need to be changed as well. I would assume messaging would need changing and that could be on ios or android

        then the watch interface would need changing on multiple pages including configuration options eg to turn off LTE

        if we’re just talking about the ability to make a call, that sounds easier from what you say

        apple supports 3/4 networks in the uk: https://www.apple.com/uk/watch/cellular/#table-apple-watch. those i beleive are the core physical networks which other providers use but i believe that tesco mobile, giff gazz, and id mobile can NOT leverage access to apple watch over those networks.

        all of that sounds like it would costs tens and tens of thousands of dollars if you add in MANPOWER costs at every stage, almost certainly 6-figures. you need to sell a lot more watches to get that cost back

  1. Oh nice, AMOLED and fake maps! Yay! 😉

    Wonder what a Vantage M3 version will include. If there will be one since there is also the Pacer Pro?

    On some pics floating around the interwebz it looks like the glass is domed with those curved, downward edges like on some smartphones and it looks like it is sticking out a few milimeters from the bezel.

    How scratch resistant is Gorilla glass?!

    Any chance Polar made the watch being recognized as a drive when plugging it into a computer this time around?

    The brushed steel or aluminum casing (the silver-ish one) looks really neat though.

    Anyhow thanks for the heads-up.

    1. amoled and ‘fake’ maps..yep
      M3 – nope
      domed glass – yep
      gorilla glass – iirc there are several degrees of gorilla glass. the last ‘generation’ was DX and DX+
      this watch could be those or it could be victus/victus+ which is the latest generation
      i think sapphire is harder
      but then there is sapphire coating and solid sapphire
      the case is aluminium..which is fine. i think the bezel is hardened AL in some way
      drive mapping via usb – you know the answer 😉 I’d like it too

  2. interesting read, thank you, any more details about these “improved swimming metrics” aka power for swim strokes?

    1. If they can display rest times and split sets automatically like Suunto (does not display rest times) or Wahoo (perfect for lap swimming) it would already be nice 🙂

  3. Do you know if Polar is manufacturing the new V3 in Finland, or are they shifting like the new Suunto Race to be manufactured elsewhere?

    1. Polar has been manufacturing watches in China for some time now – just look at official images of the watch backs of their existing lineup. I would assume it’s no different with the V3, although they don’t explicitly mark it on the case anymore.

  4. Does Polar or Suunto watches have the same estimated finishing time option as Garmin.I use this a lot and its the main thing keeping me with Garmin as i seem to need a new watch every 18months due to things going wrong!

  5. Uh-oh. This is gonna be tough. I have been waiting for V3 having used the V2 since its launch and V before that and V800, RS800cx… But now the Suunto Race looks very compelling. It seems to have the software side and usability improved a lot and the price is just fabulous compared to V2. The graphics look a tad better than with the V3. All in all the device itself seems great from the first look reviews. I’ve never really given any thought to switching from Polar as I have my training history since 2009 in Flow. I view almost all past/daily/training data from the Flow web pages as I sit/stand on my computer every day anyways. In addition to my historical data issue Suunto doesn’t have anything but an app which seems to be available for Mac but not Windows on desktop. Why no browser version? These two facts hold me back from switching to Suunto right now. Garmin has already long been the “Swiss army knife” one, but tbh I have never needed to store music on the watch or pay with it or many of the other gimmicks. I just love to have the daily/nightly tracking features as well as training features on the watch and working well without lags or data losses. Maybe also some fitness/recovery tests. It seems I just need to wait for all the big reviewers to lay out their full in-depth reviews on both and see if there are any notable differences that would give a direction.

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