Polar Unveils Vantage V3: Cutting-Edge Sports Watch with Innovative Features and Upgrades

Polar Unveils Vantage V3: Cutting-Edge Sports Watch with Innovative Features and Upgrades

There are people who become enthusiastic when they hear the abbreviation V800. This abbreviation referred to a legendary sports watch released by the Finnish traditional company Polar in 2014 and still serving many athletes on their wrists.

Now, Polar has launched a new flagship model, the Vantage V3. Naturally, the manufacturer wouldn’t mind if this wearable achieved a similar cult status.

At least in terms of appearance, feel, and comfort, it might succeed: The Vantage V3 boasts a stylish aluminum case with only the back made of plastic. Additionally, it features notably good bands, ensuring comfortable wear and compatibility even under cuffs.

Beneath the bombarded Gorilla Glass 3 lies an AMOLED display – one of the two major upgrades from the previous model. It’s bright and offers fine resolution, making information easily readable even in sunlight.

Polar does a few things differently regarding illumination and activating the watch face compared to most competitors, not all of which we find favorable. For instance, in everyday mode, we can’t disable gesture activation—even if we’re using Always-on and don’t require the bright mode.

However, the gesture activation works very well. During sports, the display is dimmed by default, but through the menu, we can keep the displays always on, which naturally shortens the battery life.

Touch is disabled during training, and we can also do this by pressing a button. Nevertheless, swiping works well, and overall, we find the operation with the five side buttons well-designed.

The second major innovation is offline maps based on Mapbox/OpenStreetMap. The catch: Only simplified maps, lacking in detail for real navigation as they contain just the main roads, are stored on the watch. This makes it quite challenging to orient oneself.

The solution: Detailed maps can be loaded via the Polar website—free of charge. The file for Germany is 2.4 GB and must be manually copied to the watch via Explorer on a PC or Finder on a Mac. There’s no simple option via a smartphone app. The Vantage V3 does not support Wi-Fi.

GPX routes also need to be imported through the web via either Komoot or a function in Polar’s web application. This can be done via a browser on a smartphone, but it’s a bit cumbersome.

At Polar, you can’t create routes; that has to be done on Komoot or elsewhere. By the way, when manually copying a GPX file to the watch, it doesn’t appear in the navigation menu. Disappointing!

One more thing we find disappointing: When doing a workout without a pre-made route, there’s no colored line tracing the path taken. Admittedly, it might not be necessary, but we appreciate this feature on other sports watches.

With pre-made routes—GPX files—we see a blue line ahead and a red one behind. If we veer off course, the red line suddenly disappears after a few meters. This can really cause orientation issues and hopefully will be corrected via an update.

However, route and position data capture works great: In the most powerful GPS mode with multifrequency and multiband, the wearable almost immediately locates satellites, and tracking has performed excellently during our runs and bike rides.

Heart rate monitoring paints a less favorable picture. Generally, the Vantage V3 provided the same readings as our comparison reference during running and (more challenging) cycling.

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Ronald Peart
As an AI and machine learning aficionado, Ronald Peart unravels the complexities of artificial intelligence, offering comprehensive insights and updates on the tech landscape.