Polar’s Newest Smartwatch Sounds Perfect for Fitness Wonks

Polar’s Newest Smartwatch Sounds Perfect for Fitness Wonks
Photo: Polar

While some of us are perfectly happy with closing basic activity rings, there are also data nerds among us who love to comb through a mountain of metrics to measure progress. For those folks, there’s Polar’s latest flagship smartwatch, the Vantage V2.

As the name suggests, the Vantage V2 is the successor to Polar’s high-end Vantage V GPS multi-sport watch. The big news with the Vantage V2 is it adds a new performance testing element. Now, runners and cyclists can take tests to gauge how overall performance is progressing with regard to heart rate, speed, and “power zones.” (Polar defines this as the work your muscles do during training). It also introduces a new Leg Recovery test to see how rested your gams are after an intense workout.

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In a briefing, Polar explained that the Running Performance test will gradually increase your pace during a run, and at the end, you should get a VO2 estimate, your maximum aerobic speed, and aerobic power. Meanwhile, the Cycling Performance test is based on the Functional Threshold Power test, and will require a separate power metre. It comes in 20, 30, 40, and 60-minute options and is meant to help you measure whether your training plans are effective over time. Lastly, the Leg Recovery Test doesn’t require any extra equipment. Instead, you’re supposed to jump as high as you can three times with your hands on your hips. Somehow, the results you get ought to tell you whether your legs have recovered enough for another gruelling workout. To organise all this testing data, Polar is also adding free access to a new platform within the Polar Flow web portal called Test Hub.

It’s, uh, an extremely quantified approach to training. I feel the intense urge to nap just writing about it. Then again, this is Polar we’re talking about. Also included with the Vantage V2 are Polar’s other advanced training features, like Training Load Pro, Recovery Pro, FitSpark, and Nightly Recharge — all of which are meant to help you gauge how much strain you’ve put on your body and adjust your program accordingly. It also includes Polar’s FuelWise assistant, which, like the name suggests, helps endurance athletes figure out when they should refuel during a long session. The Vantage V2 also supports Polar’s Hill Splitter, which measures how well you did on uphill and downhill sections of trail runs. Needless to say, this is a smartwatch best suited for the hardcore athletes among us.

Image: PolarImage: Polar

Compared to its predecessor, the Vantage V, the V2 adds some design improvements as well. It’s a bit lighter at 52 grams, compared to the V’s 66g, and adds some snazzy new colorways, including grey-lime and dark green. Also improved is Polar’s Precision Prime heart rate sensor tech. This time around, Polar says it’s modified the sensor’s LED lights to remove excess ambient light and “movement artifacts.” Otherwise, it keeps most of the same sensors and guts, including built-in GPS. Battery life is roughly the same at an estimated 40 hours of continuous GPS training and up to 100 hours in other modes.

The Vantage V2 is also a bit better when it comes to more smartwatch-y features. This time around, Polar is adding the ability to navigate playlists and control music from the wrist, on top of weather and phone notifications. That said, Polar noted in the briefing that you won’t be able to receive phone calls during activities — an intentional omission to make sure nothing distracts you while training.

The Vantage V2 also a premium price tag to match its advanced metrics. Available starting today, the Polar Vantage V2 is a whopping $US500 ($699), or if you also want to pair it with an H10 chest strap, you can fork over an additional $US50 ($70) for a bundle. Polar clarified that you don’t need the H10, because as I mentioned earlier, the Vantage V2 has its own optical heart rate sensor. The bundle is just there for athletes who really, really, really want super accurate heart rate data and therefore, like to wear both a smartwatch and chest strap. And if you’re wondering whether these folks exist, I assure you, a Polar spokesperson told me they do.

Bless all the data nerd triathletes out here getting them gains during a pandemic — y’all are an inspiration.