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Review: Polar Vantage V2

Written by

Brandon Law

Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert

This expert review is written by

Brandon Law

Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
Brandon is a South African who lives and trains in Singapore. He is a marathon runner who eats, sleeps and dreams running shoes. While most people wear shoes to run, he runs to wear shoes.
Expert score
8/10

Expert Review: Polar Vantage V2

Quick overview

Brand
Polar
Model
Vantage V2
List price
US$
Battery life
40 hrs
Water proof
Yes + Swim Tracking
Multi sport
Yes + Event tracking
Music support
Yes from Phone
24h tracking
Yes
Heart monitor
Yes
Route
Yes

Pros and cons according to our running expert

Pros and cons according to our running expert

  • Stellar battery life
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Reliable
  • Stylish design
  • Detailed sleep analysis
  • Doesn’t show average pace, cadence, power, or last lap time when a session is paused during a workout
  • Syncing is sporadic
  • No NFC payments

Our verdict

The Polar Vantage V2 is a stylish multisport watch for serious athletes. It has reliable performance with detailed analysis through Polar Flow but it lacks the premium features of other flagship competitors such as NFC payments and onboard music storage.

The Vantage V2 is the sequel to the Vantage V and has been upgraded with a lighter aluminium casing, a better battery and new performance & recovery tests.

Design and Hardware Polar Vantage V2

At first glance, the Vantage V2 could easily be mistaken for a smartwatch with its large, round face and its glass that sits flush against its case. I would without hesitation wear it to a smart dinner or to the office.

The Vantage V2 feels like the premium, top of the range, flagship Polar watch it is and I was impressed with the smooth, polished edges and its lightweight when I took it out of its box.

The Vantage V2 weighs only 52g and its case is made of nano-molded aluminum that shimmers in the light which gives it its really premium, expensive look and feel. It’s even 20% lighter than its predecessor, the Vantage V2.

It comes in two sizes: S, and M/L. The site that I ordered it from only had the M/L size but Polar gave me an extra small strap free of charge and the fit with the small strap was perfect.

To change the strap, all you have to do is pull the pin out and remove the strap. At first, the pin is quite difficult to pull out and slot back in but at least you know that it won’t fall out while you’re exercising. The straps have these microdots which form a pattern on them which makes them feel more like fabric and less like silicone.

The screen of the Vantage V2 is not as crisp or vibrant as a smartwatch screen but it’s the sacrifice you pay for days and days of battery life. The screen is covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 3 so it’s similar in durability to a cell phone screen. So far, I haven’t noted any scratches on my screen.

For a watch with such a large screen, I found it really comfortable to wear even when I was sleeping. I did find that the touch screen wasn’t very responsive when swiping up from the bottom to open notifications so I prefer using the buttons for navigation.

The Vantage V2 has a brand new optical HR sensor on its backside. It now has 10 LEDs compared to 9 on the Vantage V which should make it more accurate and better at handling different skin colors.

Water Resistance
No
Yes + Swim Tracking

Navigating the Interface Polar Vantage V2

The Vantage V2 has a touch screen but I really like the fact that they added 5 buttons on the sides of the case so that you can navigate through the menus without having to touch the screen and get fingerprints all over it. There is a slight vibration every time you press a button.

Upper left”: This button switches on and off the light. When pressed in time view, it displays the battery icon. When pressed and held, it locks the buttons and screen.

Lower left”: This button is used to enter the menu and to go back. When pressed and held, it syncs the watch with Polar Flow. During a training session, when pressed once, it pauses the session. When pressed and held during a training session, it ends the session.

Upper right”: This button is used to change the watch face in time mode or to scroll through lists when not in time mode.

Middle right”: This button confirms a selection. When pressed and held, it brings up the training session start menu. During a workout, it is used to mark a lap and to resume the training session when paused.

Lower right”: This button is used to change the watch face in time mode or to scroll through lists when not in time mode.

The buttons all have decent resistance to them so you won’t press them accidentally. They also have vertical lines on them for extra grip.

On the run Polar Vantage V2

Before the run, you can choose if you want to do a free run or you can create a session where you choose a target distance or length of run.

You also have the ability to create a workout session in Polar Flow with a custom warm up, cool down, rest periods and repeats which the Vantage V2 will guide you through.

Once you’re in the pre-training mode, there are two small circles: one showing your heart rate and one showing that your location is being tracked.

When the location circle is orange, it means that the minimum number of satellites needed for tracking have found your position. You can start your run but for better accuracy, you need to wait for the circle to turn green.

Once the location circle turns green, enough satellites have found your location for good accuracy and you can begin your run. On average, it took 45 seconds to a minute to find my location and for the circle to turn green.

I found it a little frustrating when I wanted to start running immediately but had to wait for the GPS to find my location. When I was standing close to a building or under some trees, it couldn’t find my location, so I had to walk away from them to an open area.

During the run, you can scroll through the different screen views to view the metrics which you want to see. If there are none that appeal to you, you can create your own views on Polar Flow on your phone or computer. You can only choose 4 different metrics on any one screen.

For example, I wanted a screen view with run duration, distance, average pace and last km time so I created one. Unfortunately, the metric customisation can only be done on the phone app or through a web browser.

When you have paused your session, you can’t see some pace-related metrics like average pace, the pace of last km run, etc which I really missed being able to see.

The Vantage V2 has route guidance but only for routes that you have previously saved as a favourite in the Polar Flow web service. Once on the route, the watch will guide you and keep you on track.

Fuelwise is a smart fuelling assistant that reminds you when to refuel to maintain your energy levels. It will tell you how much carbs to bring on your run and will tell you how many times you’ll be reminded. You can also set drink reminders at set intervals so that you stay hydrated.

Another feature of the Vantage V2 is Strava Live Segments where it shows you real-time performance data while performing a Strava segment. The Strava segments have to be starred in Strava and then imported via Polar Flow before the run. This feature is only available to use if you have a Strava Analysis Summit Pack subscription.

Hill Splitter is a feature that allows you to track uphill and downhill sections of your session. I didn’t pay much attention to this data because Singapore is mostly flat but it’s still a nice feature to have and provides valuable data such as speed, heart rate, distance, ascent and descent for every hill detected on your route.

After the run: software and connectivity Polar Vantage V2

The Vantage V2 connects with Strava, Komoot, Nike Run Club, TrainingPeaks, MyFitnessPal and many more.

To sync the watch, you have to press and hold the lower left button. It tells you to bring the Polar Vantage V2 close to your phone and open up the Polar Flow app.

About 25% of the time, the Vantage V2 had a problem connecting to my iPhone when I tried to sync it. I had to close the app on my phone, open it again and then hold the lower left button on the watch again.

When it does connect, it takes about 1 minute to sync the Vantage V2 and upload your session or sleep data.

The Polar Flow app shows you a wealth of data about your run. It displays and stores the normal metrics like duration, HR average, pace average, altitude, Cadence, and power. It also displays more advanced metrics like cardio load, muscle load, perceived load, training zones and energy used.

My favourite section of the Polar Flow app is the Sleep section where it shows you how well you slept. It includes metrics like long interruptions, actual sleep, REM sleep and deep sleep. In the Nightly Recharge section, it tells you how well you slept compared to previous nights and then it recommends if you should train or not.

Other activities Polar Vantage V2

There are 130 different sports that the Vantage V2 is able to track including horse riding, windsurfing, disc golf and cricket.

One of the activities I tested was swimming. I had to set the pool length before my swim and it measured my heart rate, distance, and strokes per minute. It was also able to determine that I did breaststroke which I found really impressive.

I also tested it in the gym while doing weight training. It couldn’t count the reps and sets of my activities but it measured my heart rate, duration of exercise and energy used.

The Serene section helps to calm you down by guiding you through breathing exercises. You can choose the duration of the exercise and the watch tells you on the screen when to breathe in and out while it gently taps your wrist so that you know when to breathe in and out while your eyes are closed.

There are 3 brand new performance tests you can do on the Vantage V3 that you can’t do on any other Polar watch: Running Performance Test, Cycling Performance Test and Leg Recovery Test.

Running Performance Test: this test mimics lab-based performance tests and determines your V02 Max by making you run gradually faster at certain speeds for about 3km.

You need to tell the watch which speed you want to start the test at: I chose 6.30 per kilometre. During the test, it shows you your current pace in white and the pace you have to run in blue at the top. It asked me to run at 6.30 per kilometre down to about 3.40 per kilometre right at the end.

When doing the test, I found that my current pace wasn’t very accurate so it was difficult to stick to the target pace. My current pace would suddenly jump all the way from 4.00 to 6.00 within a couple seconds and the watch would start beeping to tell me that I need to run faster.

I’m not sure how accurate the test is because I’ve never done a lab performance test but my result at the end was 76 which I thought to be quite high, considering the highest ever recorded V02 Max scores range from 80-97.5.

Cycling Performance Test: this test tells you your personal threshold power but you have to have a power cycling sensor to perform the test.

Leg Recovery Test: this test determines if your legs are ready for high-intensity training but it has to be done 3 times within a 28 day period to give you any results.

How it works is that it determines your baseline average jump height and then each time you do the test, it compares your jumps to your baseline average.

While a nice feature to have, I didn’t find it all that useful because it was easy to manipulate the results just by jumping high.

Every time I performed the test, the watch told me that my legs were recovered and that I was ready to train, even after intense back squatting and lunge sessions in the gym.

Accuracy and battery life Polar Vantage V2

Battery life on the Vantage V2 is amazing and is the main reason that I’d choose a multisport watch over a smartwatch. Polar says that you can get 40 hours of continuous training on a single charge with 100 hours battery life when on power saving mode.

I only managed to get 30 hours of battery life while running with GPS and heart rate tracking which falls short of Polar’s claim by 25% however it’s still much better than a smartwatch so I can’t complain too much.

It takes about an hour for the watch to charge from 0 to 100%. I wore the Vantage V2 every night to get sleep analysis, so on average I wore it for 10 hours every day and I only needed to charge it once a week.

I found GPS tracking to be very accurate after checking my route after every run- even the sections of my run that were under cover.

During runs, I found my current pace to be very jumpy and inaccurate so I didn’t ever have my current pace showing as a metric during my training.

Alternatives Polar Vantage V2

The Vantage V2’s biggest competitors in the multisport watch universe are the uber popular Garmin Forerunner watches and the Coros Apex Pro

The Garmin Forerunner 945 costs $100 more than the Vantage V2 but it has a transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) screen with better visibility in sunlight, weighs 2g less, has a pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen levels as well as onboard music storage of up to 1000 songs and contactless payment which I really missed not having on the Vantage V2.

The Vantage V2 has the more stylish design with its premium aluminium casing, it is thinner than the Forerunner 945 by 0.7mm, has a touchscreen, and has a water rating of 100m compared to 50m of the Forerunner 945.

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is newer than the 945 and it is the same price as the Vantage V2. It has most of the features that the 945 has but in a lighter (weighs 47g), more compact form. Like the Vantage V2, the Forerunner 745 also doesn’t have offline maps but it does have onboard music storage and contactless payment.

Another watch in the same price range as the Vantage V2 is the Coros Apex Pro. The Apex Pro also has a touch screen but its use is limited to certain functions. It weighs 7g more than the Vantage V2 and is 0.4mm thicker. Both watches have a water depth rating of 100m.

Conclusion Polar Vantage V2

In my 3 weeks of testing the Vantage V2, it never once glitched or malfunctioned. I found it to be a super reliable, polished product.

The first couple days and first runs using it were a little frustrating while I was learning to use it but by the end of the 3 weeks, I grew to love it and I started to appreciate all its features.

My favourite features are the detailed sleep analysis, the long-lasting battery and the option to use the touchscreen or side buttons for navigation.

The Vantage V2 is for serious training but I like the fact that it includes some smartwatch features like music controls when you’re listening to music on your phone, phone message notifications and weather updates on certain watch faces.

I think the Vantage V2 can be improved by fixing the inaccurate current pace measurement and by adding NFC payments because I had to take my debit card with me on long runs to pay for drinks which was a slight annoyance. I’d also like the syncing with Polar Flow to be more seamless and faster.

If you’re looking for a stylish multisport watch that is comfortable to wear, reliable, and packed full of features, the Vantage V2 is an excellent choice and definitely worth its price.

Price comparison:
Polar Vantage V2

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