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Polar M430 In-Depth Review

Polar-M430-All-Colors

It’s been a few months since Polar first announced the M430, which builds upon their previously popular M400 GPS watch aimed primarily at the running crowd.  While the M430 is a modest upgrade to the M400, it does bring with it features that enable it to keep up in the marketplace – notably an optical HR sensor.  But the list didn’t stop there, they’ve also added in vibration capability as well as new lower power GPS modes to get longer battery life, plus a slew of smaller changes that I’ll dive into more deeply.

I’ve been using the M430 since April, both in beta and now final production form.  This includes a wide variety of activities, but predominantly I’ve been focused on running and cycling, since it is targeted at the running crowd.  So at this point I’ve got a pretty good idea of what works well, and what needs some tweaks.

While Polar did send me the M430 as a loaner unit to test, I’ll be returning it like always.  From there I’ll go out and get my own for the DCR stash from normal retail channels.  If you find this review useful, hit up the links at the bottom to help support future reviews!  With that, let’s dive into it!

Unboxing:

First we’ll start off with what’s in the box.  It should be noted there are a few colors to choose from – white, black, and orange.  It’s basically Strava orange.  It also makes it really easy to spot the watch in photos or on people’s wrists 300m away.  In any case, we’ll unbox the white version here.

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Inside the box you’ll find precisely three things: The watch, the charging cable, and some little papers:

Polar-M430-Box-Insides-Plastic Polar-M430-Box-Insides-Wrapped

The charging cable is new on the M430, replacing the micro-USB variant that was on the M400.  That previous micro-USB cable/port, while very much standardized, was a bit of a nightmare for Polar on the M400 when it came to how well it stood up on waterproofing over time, causing tons of support issues.  Actually, maybe nightmare is too strong.  Whatever word you’d use for dropping a gallon container of frozen juice on your balls.  Repeatedly.

The problem with most standardized port designs is that they aren’t great for waterproofing because they tend to attract corrosion into small parts.  Whereas charging port designs that are made with waterproofing in mind usually last much longer.  In any case, it’s new here:

Polar-M430-Charging-Cable

The other side is simply normal USB that you can plug into any USB port you find (except USB-C of course).  The cable does both charging and sync, if you happen to use a computer to sync instead of a phone.

Next, you’ve got the paper junk, which essentially tells you where to wear the watch and how to treat it.  Most notable is this page, which tells you not to place the watch on your wrist bone.  If you take away nothing from this review, take away this singular picture.  It’s the difference between getting crappy optical HR readings versus good ones:

Polar-M430-Wearing-Placement

Finally, the watch itself.  On the back you’ve got that optical heart rate (HR) sensor:

Polar-M430-Back-Of-Unit

While the front you’ve got the screen, surrounded by a black border.  On both sides you’ve got buttons, three on the right, and two on the left.

Polar-M430-Front-Face Polar-M430-Side-Buttons

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s dive into how it all works.

The Basics:

Polar-M430-Basics-Sync-Activity-Tracking

As noted earlier, there are a bunch of changes to the M430 compared to the M400, so it’s worthwhile diving into those first to ensure everyone is on the same page.  In one consolidated list, here we go:

Added optical HR sensor: Polar believes this 6-LED sensor is their most accurate to date
Added vibration capability (alerts): This does however replace audio alerts, which go away
Slightly increased battery: Mostly to maintain battery life with added optical HR sensor
Added new low-power GPS modes: These enable the unit to get up to 30 hours of GPS-on battery time
– High Accuracy Mode: 1-Second Recording Mode: Plots a GPS point every second, HR is every second too
– Medium Accuracy Recording Mode: Plots a GPS point every 30 seconds, HR is every second still
– Low Power Recording Mode: Plots a GPS point every 60 seconds, HR is every second still
Changed the wrist strap design: This was to improve optical HR accuracy by reducing weight and increasing tightness.
Added new watch faces: These can be changed in the menus to float your boat
Enabled Fitness Test with optical HR sensor: This is pretty rare in the industry
Added new sleep algorithms: This will give additional data in the Polar Flow app
Firmware Updates Available via Bluetooth Smart: This unit needs no desktop computer at all.
Added Stopwatch functionality: Pretty straightforward I think.
New connector: This new connector replaces the micro-USB used previously that was a support nightmare
24×7 HR coming this Q3 2017: Currently the unit doesn’t record 24×7 HR, rather, only workout HR. A firmware update later this year will address that.

Got all that? Good.  If I were to highlight the top three features, they’d be:

# 1) Optical HR sensor
# 2) New sleep metrics
#3) Vibration alerts
#3.5) 24×7 HR later this fall (ok, it’s not here yet)

What’s that?  You want a video overview instead? No worries, I put that together too:

With that new features listing out of the way, let’s start with the watch from the beginning – most notably the home screen.  It’s here that you’ve got your watch face to show not just the time, but also your current activity status for the day (towards your step goal).

Polar-M430-Watch-Face

These are changeable, and as noted above, the M430 contains some new watch faces as well:

Polar-M430-Watch-Faces1 Polar-M430-Watch-Faces2

Next, you’ll hit the down button once to access the ‘My Day’ overview, which gives you a circular look at your progress towards your goal.  However, you can then also tap the enter/red button to see any workouts you’ve completed that day.  It’s sorta like a timeline for your day from an activity standpoint.

Polar-M430-My-Day Polar-M430-My-Day-Details

Going down further you’ve got your Diary, which shows you past daily activity and workout stat totals:

Polar-M430-Diary-Day

Polar-M430-Diary-Details

After the Diary there’s the Settings arena, which allows you to change some aspects of the Sport Profiles you’ve configured on the watch (the remaining aspects are configured online), as well as body settings (like height/weight), and then watch-specific settings (like pairing to your phone/sensors, notification options, and unit preferences).

Polar-M430-Settings

Polar-M430-Pair-Sync Polar-M430-TrainingView-Color

Lastly, after that, you’ve got the Fitness Test, Timers, Favorites, and of course workout functionality.  But I’m going to defer all that to the next section on sport usage.

Before we head there though, let’s chat about how activity tracking works on the app  Sure, I already showed the daily step totals within the watch, but let’s look at how they show up on the app. Here’s a look at the main activity tracking page.  It shows you an overview of your day, complete with activity levels throughout the day.  You’ll also see any workouts listed on there in little red dots.  Scrolling down gives you summary information and inactivity stamps.

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Inactivity stamps (which my brain automatically translates to tramp stamps…every…single…time), is when you’re lazy and the unit has to give you a verbal warning.  Actually, now with the M430 it’s a vibratory warning, to get on the move.  It’s similar to what Fitbit, Garmin, and others do to get you moving, though not quite as regularly as those companies do.  With Fitbit and Garmin, it’s super-predictable, but with Polar I seem to rarely get stamped.  Not entirely sure why.

In addition to daily stats, you can also get weekly and monthly stats as well:

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Note that the M430 does not track stairs (i.e. flights of stairs), this is largely because it doesn’t have a barometric altimeter, which is usually required to track stairs.

It does however track sleeping.  You don’t need to do anything except wear it to sleep each night – simple as that.  Afterwards, you’ll see sleep stats on the app.  Note that in my case the stats page may look slightly different than yours.  That’s because I also have the (also) new A370 which contains Polar’s newest sleep metrics platform.  That platform is rolling out to the M430 (via free firmware update), later this year.  Until then it’ll have the regular metrics. If you want to see what these metrics will look like later this year (by the end of Q3, aka September 2017), then check out this section of my A370 review from a couple weeks ago.

In the meantime, here’s what you’ve got.

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Note, the M430 does NOT track your heart rate 24×7.  Meaning, it does NOT have continual heart rate tracking like the Polar A370, or any of Fitbit’s optical HR sensor enabled watches.  It only uses its optical HR sensor for workout usage (which is records), or if you check your HR (but that value isn’t recorded anywhere then). Polar says that’s coming in Q3/2017 (by the end of September).

Looking at bit deeper at the app (available on iOS and Android), you can customize sport profiles from the app.  This includes things like changing the data fields and zone overlays.  It’s actually pretty detailed these days, whereby you can do almost (if not everything) from the mobile app.

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The mobile app also has options to connect to different platforms including Nike+, Strava, TrainingPeaks, MyFitnessPal, and Apple Health.  Some of these can also be configured via the Polar Flow website too.

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This means that after my workouts are complete, the files automatically end up in places like Strava.  It works pretty well and is handy if you utilize those platforms.

Finally, there’s smartphone notifications.  The M430 will display smartphone notifications from any notification center capable app (on either Android or iOS).  Meaning you can get notifications from Twitter or the NY Times, just as easily as text alerts and incoming call notifications.  This is notable when looking at watches from companies like Fitbit, who often restricts notifications arbitrarily to just call/native text/calendar (it’s one of my biggest pet peeves, and I’m going to keep hammering them at every chance I get until they darn well change it).

Ok, with all the non-sport goodness out of the way, let’s get a bit more active.

Sport Usage:

Polar-M430-Sport-Usage

Of course, most people by a sport GPS watch to track their workouts, and the M430 builds upon the M400 quite nicely in this area.  One of the more unique aspects of Polar’s product lineup is the ability to more or less add any number of sport modes you’d like to the watch.  Compare this to Garmin, which often restricts sport modes on lower-mid range watches to just those core bike/run type options (though on some of Garmin’s watches they have other sports Polar doesn’t, like a legit golf mode on the Vivoactive HR).  With Polar, you can start by going onto their site (or using the app), and choose from boatloads of sport profiles:

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Of course, there are plenty of default ones already on your watch that you can use and/or customize too.  All these modes allow customization of different aspects like data fields.  The M430 allows up to 6 customizable data pages, each having up to 4 data fields per page.

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You can also get two additional zone related data pages, and one data page related to Back to Start.

This is also where you’ll customize things like auto lap and heart rate views.

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It’s also worthwhile noting that this is where you’ll see the new options to change the GPS recording rate – which can significantly save battery life for long sessions like hiking (of course, it reduces accuracy too).

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Similarly, on the Polar Flow site you can create structured workouts which then show up on your watch under ‘Favorites’.  These structured workouts allow you to build out specific goals for given portions of the workout.

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They also enable training plans to be downloaded to the watch, set for a specific date:

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With that background of sport configuration out of the way, let’s head back to the watch and start a workout.  To do so, simply whack the middle right-side red button.  That will allow you to scroll up and down and pick from one of your predefined sport modes:

Polar-M430-Select-Sport

If your mode is outdoors and includes GPS, then the watch will go off and search for GPS.  Usually, if you’re in roughly the same place as last time, this will only take a few seconds. At worst you’re looking at 15-30 seconds if it doesn’t have the satellite cache.  At the same time it’ll acquire your wrist-based heart rate using the optical HR sensor.  That’ll show an illuminated heart icon on the screen when it’s locked.

Polar-M430-GPS-HR-Lock

It’s really important that for both of these you wait until they’re done before setting out.  If you don’t you’ll get sucky performance.  For indoor activities (like a treadmill), you won’t utilize GPS, but rather the accelerometer in the unit to measure distance.  Note that despite having a pool mode, it won’t track your swim distance indoors (but will track HR).  That function is reserved for Polar’s higher end watches.

Once ready, you’ll press the start button again and the unit will start tracking/recording your workout.  You’ll press the up/down buttons to change data pages.  Here’s a small gallery of some default ones while standing still to see the data page sizing differences:

These will, of course, reflect your current stats during a workout, like below during one of my runs:

VIRB0041 VIRB0038

If you have auto-lap functionality enabled, it’ll give you lap splits automatically based on your settings (e.g. every mile or kilometer).  Or you can press the red button at any time to take a manual lap.  An area that’s cool on Polar’s units compared to Garmin’s is the ability to have both concurrent automatic and manual laps.  So you basically have two sets of laps.  Kinda neat.  They’ll show-up afterwards on the site as well (two different tabs):

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While the M430 will use the optical HR sensor by default, you can also utilize any Bluetooth Smart heart rate strap instead.  For example the Polar H7/H10 straps, or the Wahoo TICKR straps.  It will NOT work with ANT+ straps, nor will it work with legacy Polar straps that don’t have Bluetooth Smart.

Polar-M430-Paird-Sensor

The M430 also will connect to running stride sensors and the Polar balance scale.  Again, like the HR strap, the running stride sensors must be Bluetooth Smart only.

Once you’ve completed your workout, you’ll press stop to end the recording and then show your summary status.

Polar-M430-Finish-Workout Polar-M430-Finished-Zones

From here this data is then sync’d to the Polar Flow mobile app via your smartphone, and onwards to Polar Flow – Polar’s training log site.  Here’s how it’ll look there:

PolarFlow

I personally find the Polar Flow site a bit thin for individual activity analysis compared to what Suunto and Garmin offers, but it’s not bad.  Plus, as seen above you can separate out automatic laps from manual laps – as noted earlier something Garmin doesn’t do.

Also, you get more graphs for the recovery status piece than you might on other sites as well, for example here’s Recovery Status for the last month:

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Finally, as noted earlier, you can also setup connections from Polar Flow to sites like Strava here as well.  This will ensure your workouts end up on those sites immediately after sync:

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Lastly, let me briefly point out the fitness test component.  This test now uses the optical HR sensor and no longer requires a chest HR strap as was the case with past Polar products.  The fitness test is executed while lying down, and will attempt to determine your VO2Max.  This is a heck of a lot more relaxing than doing a hard interval workout to get that VO2Max number.

Polar-M430-Fitness-Test

The entire test takes a couple minutes and requires you do nothing other than just lying there.  Afterwards it’ll return your VO2Max score and offer to update your VO2Max stored within the device:

Polar-M430-Fitness-Test-Results Polar-m430-UpdateFitnessScore

Fwiw – this score is a bit higher than my previous tested scores of about 61 a few years ago.  Obviously I must have become more awesome as I age.

With that overview of the workout piece, let’s talk about whether or not the most important new feature of the M430 is actually accurate: The optical HR sensor.

Heart Rate Sensor Accuracy:

Polar-M430-Optical-HR

When it comes to optical HR sensors, Polar is a bit of a player.  It doesn’t just stick with a single sensor, but plays the field with a small flotilla of different sensors that it’s come up with for different products.  The Polar M430 sensor most closely resembles that of the unit found on the M600, which has six LED’s.  Of course, all the LED’s in the world won’t help you if you’re wearing it wrong or if their algorithms are crap.  It’s give and take, and both sides have to do their part.

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For my tests, I always wore the M430 about 2-3CM from the wrist bone (as in, towards the elbow, not above the wrist bone).  Also, I never wore more than one watch on the same wrist, as that has been shown to impact optical HR sensor accuracy.

However, I would wear in most cases another GPS watch with an optical HR sensor on the other wrist.  In addition, I’d usually wear another sensor or two – such as a heart rate strap or additional optical HR sensor on the upper arm.  Thus virtually all tests have 2-3 other heart rate sensor data points to help me determine which sensor is correct.  Though I’ve been using HR sensors long enough that in most cases I can usually tell you which is correct, even if the majority are incorrect.

In any case, let’s dig right into things.  The first workout we’ve got is a bit of a run on June 8th with some intensity variability in it.  I like variability, as it makes it easy to spot errors.

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Above you can see that the HR strap actually showed some early issues (likely with signal and not being wet enough or something), whereas both the Fenix5 and Polar M430 nailed the initial build.  In fact, they all look great and very similar until about the 24 minute marker. So let’s dig into those variations in intensity there:

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Here we see that the M430 nearly perfectly matches the HR strap.  And the Fenix 5 is pretty close as well, save two odd blips.  A blip like that sometimes indicates a wrist/strap tightening, but I can’t say for certain.  What’s interesting though is you do see how the TICKR HR strap catches the recovery quicker than either optical HR sensor.  That’s fairly normal from what I see across devices.

The rest of the run looks pretty much fine to me:

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Ok, let’s dig into another run, this one in much colder weather.  Colder weather is always tough for optical HR sensors.  This run includes the Fenix 5 paired to the Wahoo TICKR X for the heart rate strap, and then a Suunto Wrist HR worn on the other wrist.  Here’s the overview.

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Now that’s pretty much a crap-show in the beginning.  The TICKR-X strap (which is the Fenix 5 in this case) was clearly having some sort of issue up-front, which I think may have been low-battery issues.  I replaced it afterwards and it was fine following that.  Meanwhile the Suunto Wrist HR optical HR is way off too.  However, the M430 is closest to what I would say is accurate.

At around the 10-minute marker they all got happy.  No logical reason why there.  After that they track pretty closely, including some ups and downs (both in elevation and intensity).  In fact, you can actually see a 360* video I made of this very run, which I started recording around the 12-13 minute marker.

Looking at the portions where there are some intensity changes, we can see the M430 does really good here.  Again, the one labeled ‘Fenix5’ is really the Wahoo TICKR X HR strap data in this set.

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Next, let’s look at cycling.  This is always toughest from an optical HR standpoint, primarily outdoors due to vibrations on the road (indoors tends to be easy).  This ride mixes the streets of Amsterdam with eventually the countryside, complete with some nasty cobbles sections at points.  Here’s the overview of this:

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You may be wondering – what the heck is going on here?

Well, for the first 80 minutes or so I rode normally out to a lighthouse.  It’s there that I was doing a bunch of video/etc shoots. So I was mostly standing around with small spurts on the bike testing this.  Then around the 2:40 marker I got back on my bike and rode the 70 minutes or so back to the hotel.  Thus, for the purposes of analysis, I’m only focusing on the actual riding parts, not the standing around/filming parts.

I want to first dig into some of the steady-state riding once I leave the city, starting around the 40-minute marker:

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Above you see things pretty good – all three units happily agree with each other, save brief differences of a couple of beats in most cases.  Just after that though is when I hit a section of fairly nasty cobbles for quite a long ways.  It’s interesting to see the reaction from each unit:

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You can see the Fenix 5 optical HR sensor really struggled initially there, but then seemed to figure it out.  The Polar M430 had no issues, neither did the Wahoo TICKR chest strap.  This is consistent with my past testing on the Fenix 5 for cycling, it’s not that great for optical HR (but is generally good with running).

In fact, as I start moving again after the break you see the same thing when I hit the cobbles, with the Fenix 5 going a bit wonky, though again figuring it out a short bit later.

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Which isn’t to say the M430 was perfect here either.  You can clearly see above it wobbled a bit compared to the chest strap, and you can also see how before the 2:41 marker on smooth pavement all was well with all three, and then once again on smooth pavement around 2:50ish all is well again with everyone.

So where does that leave us?

Well, overall the M430’s optical HR sensor is definitely very much improved from what I’ve seen in the past, even with the M600 that uses the same optical HR sensor.  This is likely due to improved algorithms over time (which usually other products get via software updates too).

In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that I think at this point Polar may have the best wrist based optical HR sensor out there with the M430 across a multitude of sports for a mainstream GPS watch.  This includes Apple, Fitbit, Garmin, and Suunto.  Units that give it a run for its money would be the optical HR sensor in the Epson GPS units (though I wouldn’t buy that watch for other reasons), as well as the Scosche arm-band optical HR sensor (non-GPS).  So well done Polar, well done.

GPS Accuracy:

Polar-M430-Recording-GPS-Accuracy

The M430 received a bit of a GPS chipset swap from the M400.  Some might call it an upgrade, others just a change.  Previously on the M400 they had a U-Blox GPS chipset in there.  For most folks it worked pretty well, though a handful had issues (which honestly, is true of any GPS chipset you select).  With the M430 they went with the SiRFStar IV GPS chip, which is actually a much older chipset and matches what they used on the (also older) V800.

The problem with any GPS chipset discussion is that it’s silly.  As much as folks want a single thing to focus their accuracy praises or complaints on, the reality is that other aspects like antenna placement, watch firmware, chipset firmware, and power allowances play a far greater role in GPS accuracy than chipsets do.  You can put the same exact chipset in two different watches and get two totally different results.  Again, because other factors are far more important.

That’s why I tend to judge each watch by its merits in actual real-world testing.  A variety of routes in a variety of places in a variety of conditions.  You know, like most athletes do. I also take along other devices on the same run/bike/whatever.  That’s because as conditions change you can realistically compare GPS data from one day to another.  At a high level, sure, but not the detail level that these discussions require.

In any case, let’s dig right into it.  Like up above in the HR section, you can crack open any of the files I’ve uploaded to see how GPS compares in more detail and zoom in till your heart’s content (another important aspect of any review discussing accuracy).

Looking at the first run, it’s from a city run here in Paris.  Any city run is usually challenging, though different cities vary in their challenges.  In places like NYC or Dubai you’ve got massive skyscrapers, while in Paris I’ve got itty-bitty city streets barely the width of a car.  In this test, I was comparing it against a Fenix 5 on the other wrist, and a Fenix 3 being hand-held to gather HR strap data.  Here’s the high-level overview:

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Of course, at that level you’re just looking for something odd to stick out, which it does. So let’s zoom in to some bridges.  Bridges are great for picking out oddities as they show up really easily on satellite view.  Here I cross this bridge on my way back:

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Most notably I’m looking at the corners of the bridges where they hit land, to ensure nobody is walking in the water.  Nobody is.  All are within a meter or so of each other, on the sidewalk.

Next, let’s look at the other side – going under a bridge.  Here I’m looking for any GPS unit to properly lose signal, and then regain it without doing wonky stuff.

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In this case all units did pretty good, though I’d say the Fenix 3 and M430 did slightly better than the Fenix 5 here, which added a few extra meters under this and a few other bridges with that mini-zig-zag.

In fact, if you look throughout the rest of the file, the Fenix 5 struggled a bit going around the Eiffel Tower as well, which is somewhat unusual for it since I often run around that and haven’t seen issues.  The M430 showed no problems.

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Finally, if we look at total recorded distances, they’re all within a 50m span (on 11,380m) – or basically, within .4% – yes, one-half of one percent.  That’s pretty damn good.  Of course, do keep in mind that totals are a misleading thing because you can be over in one area and under in another and still end up good – which is exactly what you see above.

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Ok, let’s look at another one – this one in a bit more of the trees.  This was the one above with the 360° video, so if you want to see the trees I’m talking about, watch this video.

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Of course, we’re going to dig into things a bit more, and in particular, I’m going to zoom into the toughest spot:

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In this case I do have a Fenix 5 with me, but it’s actually sitting on a Spibelt on my waist, capturing HR data from the Wahoo TICKR X.  So I wouldn’t judge the GPS data there because it’s heavily blocked.  But you can see that the Suunto and Polar unit do very much agree with the trails throughout everything.  There’s a very minor disagreement right below the wording that says “Voisey’s Brook’, where the M430 cuts the corners.

I found this funny because while I was running this very section I was looking at instant pace and thought to myself that it seemed I was going quite a bit slower than it was saying.  This explains why.

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On the bright side, I haven’t seen that issue happen elsewhere or on other runs on this very section. So hopefully that was a true one-off.

Lastly, we’ve got a ride from a week or so ago in Amsterdam. Or well, it started in Amsterdam and then I went out to the middle of nowhere and returned.

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Zooming right in nice and tight in the city, you can see all units struggled in certain areas, like to the left of the Heineken factory.  In that case, two were offset incorrectly, and one decided to split the difference.  After that though, they mostly agreed in the city.

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Let’s move out into the countryside a bit.  As one might expect, all three units are quite happy here and match perfectly:

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So where does this leave us on GPS?

Well – overall I’m seeing very good things.  A few quibbles here and there, primarily in the city and one in the trail.  But by and large, it’s really good based on all the data I have.

Product Comparison:

You’ll find I’ve added the Polar M430 within the product comparison tool for GPS watches.  You can mix and match it against various GPS watches in the database.  For the purposes of comparison below, I’ve compared it against the Fitbit Surge, Garmin Vivoactive HR and Polar M400.  It’s an imperfect comparison – since each unit offers slightly different price/feature points.  And if I could fit 5 columns here, I’d also add in the TomTom Spark, since that has music too! But again, you can create your own comparison charts here.

Function/FeaturePolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 19th, 2017 @ 3:46 pmNew Window
Price$229$179$249$249
Product Announcement DateApril 6th, 2017Sept 25th, 2014Oct 27th, 2014Feb 19th, 2016
Actual Availability/Shipping DateJune 2017October 2014Dec 10th, 2014Q2 2016
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB, Bluetooth SmartUSB, BLUETOOTH SMARTBluetooth SmartUSB, BLUETOOTH SMART
WaterproofingYes - 30mYes - 30mATM5 (~50m), but no swimming50 meters
Battery Life (GPS)8hrs regular, Up to 30hrs GPS8 hours10 hours GPS on (5-7 days in time/step mode)13 hours GPS on
Recording Interval1-second/variable1-second1-secondSmart Recording
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesYesNoYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatSo-soYes
AlertsVisual/VibrateSound/VisualYesVibrate/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGoodGood
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoNoYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYesYesYes
Can control phone musicNoNoNoYes
Has music storage and playbackNoNoNoNo
ConnectivityPolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesText and Call notifications onlyYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoNoNoYes
Group trackingNoNoNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNo
CyclingPolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableNoNoN/AWith some Connect IQ apps (but cannot record data)
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableNoNoN/AYes
Strava segments live on deviceNoNoNoNo
Crash detectionNoNoNoNo
RunningPolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Designed for runningYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYesNO, HAS INTERNAL ACCELEROMETERYES (Also has INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationYesSortaNoNo
Race PredictorCan estimate finish time during raceCan estimate finish time during raceNoNo
Recovery AdvisorNoNo (only if you have V800 too)NoNo
Run/Walk ModeNoNoNoYes
SwimmingPolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Designed for swimmingSortaNoNoYes
Openwater swimming modeNoNoN/ANo
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingNoN/AN/AYes
Record HR underwaterYesNoN/ANo
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)NoN/AN/ANo
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AN/AN/AYes
Indoor Drill ModeN/AN/AN/ANo
Indoor auto-pause featureN/AN/AN/ANo
Change pool sizeN/AN/AN/AYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool LengthsN/AN/AN/A17M/18Y TO 150Y/M
Ability to customize data fieldsYesYesN/AYes
Can change yards to metersN/AN/AN/AYes
Captures per length data - indoorsN/AN/AN/AYes
Indoor AlertsN/AN/AN/AYes
TriathlonPolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Designed for triathlonNoNoNoNo
Multisport modeNoNoNoNo
WorkoutsPolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesNoNo
On-unit interval FeatureYesYesNoNo
Training Calendar FunctionalityYEsYesNoNo
FunctionsPolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Auto Start/StopYesYesNoYes
Virtual Partner FeatureVia Race EstimatorVia Race EstimatorNoNo
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYesNoYes
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNoNo
GeocachingNoNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoNoYes
NavigatePolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoNoNoNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoNoYes (to pre-saved spots)
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNo
Back to startYesYesNoYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNoNo
SensorsPolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Altimeter TypeGPSGPSBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeGPSGPSN/AMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesNoYESYes
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesContains optical HR SENSORYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableNoNoNoYes (Can also broadcast ANT+ HR)
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNoYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableNoNoNoYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNoNoYes
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoNoNoYes
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NonONoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNoYES FOR GARMIN VIRB
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)NoNoNoNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoNoNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableYesYesNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNonO
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableYesYesNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoNoNoSorta (Available only in Skiing/SUP)
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNoYes
Compatible with Firstbeat HR tools--NoNo
SoftwarePolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
PC ApplicationPolar FlowSync (PC/Mac)Polar FlowsyncWindows/MacGarmin Express - Windows/Mac
Web ApplicationPolar Flow (Web)Polar FlowYesGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNo
PurchasePolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLink
DCRainmakerPolar M430Polar M400Fitbit SurgeGarmin Vivoactive HR
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Again, remember you can create your own comparison charts here.

Summary:

Polar-M430-Sync-Summary

On the face of it, the Polar M430 may not appear that exciting compared to the M400 of a few years ago.  After all, from the front they aren’t really any different.  But it’s what’s inside that counts (or so everyone reasons with themselves), and in this case Polar has really delivered.

They’ve delivered a very solid optical HR sensor, while also delivering very solid GPS results.  Not to mention the minor updates that folks wanted like vibration alerts, longer GPS battery options with extended modes, and sleep tracking.  Of course, not having 24×7 HR out of the box is disappointing, but it’s coming in a few months. And assuming they implement it in the same manner as they did with the A370 last month, it’s pretty solid.  So I’m optimistically hoping that works out.

There aren’t many downsides to the M430, except of course the lack of features that we’ve come to expect on smart watches – like 3rd party apps, 3rd party/customizable watch faces, music control, and just a better display.  Polar would likely argue you can find those on the M600 (which is Android Wear 2.0), though, I’d argue that’s a poor trade-off due to battery life.  I don’t think we’ll see Polar develop a standalone app ecosystem anytime soon though, but maybe we’ll see them split the difference with watch faces.

Still, if you’re looking for a running watch that has an impressive array of depth in its features while still delivering on accuracy – this may well be one of the best choices out there.

Wanna Save 10%? Or found this review useful? Read on!

Hopefully you found this review useful.  At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device.  The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love).  As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take the time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers an exclusive 10% discount across the board on all products (except clearance items).  You can pick up the Polar M430 (or any other Polar accessories) from Clever Training. Then receive 10% off of everything in your cart by adding code DCR10BTF at checkout.  By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get a sweet discount. And, since this item is more than $49, you get free US shipping as well.

Polar M430 (select drop-down for colors)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit (all colors shown after clicking through to the left) or accessories (though, no discount on Amazon).  Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells).  If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.  Though, Clever Training also ships there too and you get the 10% discount.

Thanks for reading!

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267 Comments

  1. curious

    Could you comment further on its swimming chops?

    • It doesn’t track swims (i.e. distance/etc..). though you can utilize the optical HR sensor underwater.

    • The M430 tracks swims (OWS) if you turn the GPS on, perhaps the accuracy could be improved a little in OWS, I found it a little all over the plce. But for running the GPS and oHR are sweet. It’s a great run watch.

      You don’t seem to get cadence/stroke in swim mode but you do get cadence from the watch in run mode.

      You even get elevation in OWS swim mode. Handy ;-)

      I was more intrigued tho with some of Ray’s GPS track images, above. The considerably more expensive Fenix 5 seems to exhibit a degree of GPS-naughtiness in some of those images. Tut tut.

    • Yeah, it doesn’t have any OWS algorithms, so it ends up being just the whole constant loss/gain satellite fiasco. So pretty crappy results.

      The F5 did seem to have some odd struggles on a few of those (both HR & GPS), in one case though I tried to re-iterate that it was on a Spibelt, so that doesn’t much count there. But the others were interesting and hence why I called them out too.

  2. Jan Vanderwegen

    Ray,
    in the comparison chart you mention both vibration and sound alerts for the M430 whereas in the video you stated only vibration… Which one is correct? Thanks again for the ‘usual’ (but unusual for other tech reviewers) quality!
    Jan

    • Typo in the chart, should say Vibrate/Visual. Deleted the wrong word. Fixed!

    • Drew

      I can hear the vibration alerts too as they are in the audible frequency range but not as a pure tone! The strength of vibration is adjustable in the sport programs and is very obvious to me forcing me to keep to HR zones in phased trg.

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hi, the vibration intensity is not adjustable. The vibration is impossible stop from sport profile settings – it is a bug, polar will fix soon I hope. The vibrations during phased exercises are huge battery eating issue. My watch gives me no more than 5 hours of workouts time. With fligh mode On most of the time, only one sync per day. No good, but can’t stop vibration…. at this moment.

    • Drew

      Interesting.

      When you posted this I was confused as I was confident I had seen adjustment for vibration but was unable to see this on the website. I thought I was going mad. When I looked at the mobile app you can adjust the “volume” for sports profiles and had almost subconsciously assumed that on the M430 (c.f. M400) this meant vibration intensity. I even increased the volume from the default and convinced myself if worked. Was I wrong? I will have to play around with these settings and see the effect. I have not tried switching off the vibration alerts and was not aware this did not work.

      I would say that the whole idea of pace or heart rate alerts is to stay within zone so I am unsure as to why your device is vibrating continuously. I generally try to stay within zone and have found battery life to be excellent (much better than my partner’s vivoactive HR).

      If you create your own phased training favourite you can choose to go “free” in which case you do not get out of zone vibration alerts. I have done this for HIIT trg and it works.

      You don’t have to use the default sport profile for a training target, just scroll down and select one you have created yourself with your own zones or free if you wish.

      I think this device is a fantastic training tool – the most comprehensive and coherent (device and software ecosystem) I have had used (I also have a F3 HR and an Ambit3 Peak).

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hi Drew,
      based on my test this SOUND VOLUME controls from the Flow app are for M400. And they don’t have impact of the level of vibration. The vibration could only switched off on WEB site – sport profile – gestures and feedback. But the M30 keeps vibrating and after two syncs they are on again on WEB site, which POLAR support recognizes as a bug.
      I use mainly POLAR running program and struggling to keep the HR inside lower HR zones. So the watch vibrates constantly on part of my workouts. Hope POLAR fix the bug soon and I will completely turn off the vibration .

  3. Dave

    Great review, thanks Ray!

    Do u think/know if there’s any chance/plans of Polar adding music control via a software update in the future?

    It’s like a show stopper for me :/

  4. David Chrisman

    How is the battery life if you are using more as an activity tracker? Days or weeks?

    • Weeks would be my guess. I have a few units floating around, and thus I tended to use one (orange) mostly. Thus the others sat in just time mode and went many weeks. Typically speaking the accelerometer hit is negligible for these wearables. You’d get more of a hit though for smartphone notifications/etc…

  5. Paul

    Polar’s M430 GPS and oHR accuracy + Suunto’s Sport WHR screen + Fenix 5 looks and features = the sports watch I want.

    • I might agree with that if you removed the part-phrase “looks and” ;-)

      But then maybe you describe the replacement to the V800? if, indeed, such a thing exists.

  6. Thierry

    Thanks for the nice review!

    The m430 looks very promising.
    Still doubting about this unit or the older v800 black hr version.

    The 430 is newer and has the wist based hr. The v800 looks nicer, not unimportant for al Day wearing.

    Can you tell me wich is the best choice?

    • Stefan Gutehall

      Thierry, I have just the same thoughts as you. I still have almost decided to go for the M430.
      First of all, for functionality V800 does not have any more functions that i REALLY need, while the optical heart rate in particular makes it very convenient to bring M430 for travels. I also value the (as it seems future) 24/7 HR tracking – under the understanding that it will indeed keep track of resting heart rate just as the A370 does.
      Just as you, the looks of V800 vs M430 is the second large factor. For now, i have solved it by making my M400 ny to-go watch even for daily work situations. Im not 100% happy about it, but while wearing a shirt its usually covered anyway, and its ok, at least its a fully black one. If i need to dress up either for meetings or for evenings I use a nicer watch, but put on my Polar Loop on my left hand instead. Guess im coming of as a bit obsessive here, but using Loop and M400 interchangeable is working to 95% seamlessly.
      M430 will most probably be my next one in a few weeks – just waiting for this review and keeping a n eye out for any child issues.

    • Thierry

      Dear Stefan,

      I am also thinking about trying the 430 but after after an dissapointing expierence with the fr235 i am a bit confused.
      Indeed, the v800 doesnt have much more (interesting options) vs 430.

      Its optical hr vs looks :)

      After this review i have more faith that this optical hr will work better, at least at steady runs.

    • Petter

      I have both, the M430 and the V800. Pros and cons:
      – Both have very good GPS’es (fast and accurate)
      – The convenience of optical HR is enormous for every day use :-)
      – The M430 is a lot lighter than the V800 (makes a significant difference for me)
      – The M430 syncs automatically with phone regularly and when you finish an activity (much more convenient than I thought). On the V800 you have to start the syncing manually.
      – The M430 lacks barometer :-(
      – The M430 doesn’t support multisport sessions (I don’t use that anymore)

      So all in all I have stopped using my V800 on a daily basis. The V800 will probably be used for longer trips like hiking, climbing and skiing in the future. So I would go for the cheaper M430 until the successor of the V800 comes – in 5 years or so…

    • Paul

      Hi Petter, do you have hairy wrists?
      Just asking because im wondering how the M430 works on hairy wrists. As im quite hairy :)

  7. Steve

    Hi Ray,

    Thx for the review. Might have missed it but does this model have a “race pace” feature under favorites in the watch menu (like v800) ?
    I use this a lot and my v800 died last month.

    Greetings from Bruges

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The M430 does not have the Race Pace feature, rather it has a ‘Finish Time Estimator’. As it’s name would suggest, you input the distance you’re going to run and will estimate your finishing time based on your pace. -Mike@PolarUSA

    • Steve

      Hi Mike,

      Thx for chiming in.
      What a pity, I think the way the race pace feature is executed on the v800 is one of its most underestimated features.

    • Paul

      Hey Mike,

      Any indication when we can expect V800 successor?

      Thanks,
      P.

  8. TIm S

    Is it suitable for open water swimming? Your comparison table says it does not have a swimming mode. I am only interested in distance covered, time and the upload to Strava and TP. Thanks.

    • @TimS
      I have used the M430 for both saltwater and freshwater OWS. The distance accuracy was not great in those scenarios. Although I support the many other comments here that general accuracy of the M430 elsewhere IS generally Garmin-beating.

    • It’s important to note that the M430 simply doesn’t have an openwater swim mode. So there’s no OWS algorithms within it to handle loss of GPS signal each time your wrist goes below the water.

      Typically only multisport watches have that, usually higher-end watches.

  9. Janne

    Thanks for the great review, I have really waited for it. Your review confirmed my decision to buy m430, it seem that finally someone has managed to develop ohr that works well enough in most of the situations.

  10. Tom

    Aside slight difference in price, I see no good reason to buy the polar over 1-year old Garmin Vivoactive HR.
    VA HR has several features the Polar lacks — indoor swimming for one, battery life

    • JR

      Vivoactive lacks structured workouts. M430 has more physical buttons and a better optical heart rate sensor. No question the vivoactive has a lot of bells and whistles, but for many people, those are irrelevant. Polar seems to have nailed it with a relatively simple, just-works, sport-first offering. Exactly what a lot of message board posters have been crying for, especially since many manufacturers have neglected core functionality in recent years in favor of glitzy features (M600 debuting without a lap button!).

    • Tom

      structured workouts – I missed that.

      BUT, I do not think you can say m430 is “sport-first” when:
      * no support for swimming (simple feature of accurately counting laps is a must have)
      * no speed/cadence sensor detection for cycling

      I am the typical consumer for the 430-VA-Apple watch range of products — I want a $200-300 device to record my swim-bike-run (and other) activities and am not so serious to get the 500+ triathlon watches. Polar should know this, their competition and have come up with something that really distinguishes it from the year-old competitor.

    • JR

      I suppose I should have said “running first,” which is what the vast majority of consumers want or need. If you’re a real multi sport athlete, it’s a very different proposition. The 430 isn’t supposed to be a multi sport watch. My sense (and obviously people in the business have real data) is that fitness swimming is very niche, and that anyone who has so much as a bike cadence sensor is already in the upper echelon of cyclists (from a market perspective,not from a competitive perspective). So the 430 adequately covers pure runners and runners who cycle a bit but only want to track speed and distance. I suspect that’s a huge swath of all GPS watch buyers.

  11. TK

    The first picture in the review looks like the watch has black strap and no red line around the screen.
    All the other pictures at Polar’s website has a grey strap and a red line around the screen. Is it just the angle of the photo or does Polar have a black version of the watch also ?

  12. Steven

    Not particularly a watch-specific issue: I am using Flow app 3.2.4 currently with M400 and refusing to update the app (if it ain’t broke). In your screen shot, the Connect options doesn’t list Google Fit. What’s up with that? By enabling Google Fit (“Android steps”), I sync my steps with my employer’s wellness program (Virgin Pulse). Separately at the flow.polar.com site, my account syncs with Strava. App 3.2.4 has no Connect options other than Google Fit. Did Polar drop sync with Google Fit from the Flow App?

    • I’d defer to Polar for that.

      As for why my screenshots don’t have it, it’s because I was on an iOS device – so Google Fit wouldn’t show up there (inversely, Apple Health wouldn’t show up on Android).

  13. JR

    The concurrent auto/manual lap data is a fantastic feature that I’d use all the time. On longer runs, you can track splits with auto while dividing up stages of the run. In long interval workouts you could get intermediate splits like quarters while manually recording the full rep time.

    Which set gets sent to Strava?

    • Stefan Gutehall

      I do not use the automatic lap feature in My M400 since Polar flow can do that afterwards and i do not have use for it during my runs.
      I have two separate runs i checked and when i used manual laps, it was exported as manual laps to Strava. When I did not use laps, Strave imported (or added its own) 1km laps.
      Thats all Ican tell form my experience.
      Oh, it also seems that if you use phaced targets for interval training, the markers for the intervals are not exported to strava.
      This is just my observation, so if anyone else want to pith in you are welcome

  14. John

    Hi Ray,

    Did you have bluetooth connections issues, specifically with android phones? Thanks

    • I generally use an iPhone as my day to day phone. I used two iPhones during this. An older iPhone 6 that had some BT issues, but it has BT issues with every device I use (hardware issue), and then a newer iPhone 7. Since switching to that it’s been flawless.

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hello, I am using the M430 since a week, I have Galaxy S7 phone. Sometimes the sync failed at the first attempt but after one or two additional attempts it synced fine. Had a nasty issue two times – it seems like M430 can’t see the phone device any more! Strange but fact! The cure is – delete the phone inside the Pairings menu on M430, delete the M430 inside the Bluetooth menu inside the phone. Restart both devices. Open the Flow App on phone and make a pairing again – voila, it works again.
      DO NOT FORGET to make the pairing INSIDE THE FLOW APP!!! They can’t pair from the phone’s Bluetooth menu.
      This behavior happened twice on the first week. The cure is fast, no big deal.

    • John

      Thanks Ray(also got your reply in the Hands On page). I ended up returning the watch over this issue. Over the last weekend I had it, I did a factory reset. Both Monday and Tuesday I was on the phone with Polar tech support where I did at least one other factory reset. The next day when the problems continued, I had had it. It should not have been that difficult and I do wonder if there is an android issue with this. I also noticed that Google Fit would only sync some but not all data. For example, I played tennis for close to 2 hours and Google Fit showed me taking around 73 steps. I liked the watch, but I am not sure if I am willing to try it again, even at the discounted price.

    • Shane

      Hi I had the horrible syncing/data issues but they sorted themselves out. A firmware upgrade and app upgrade & the sync (data) problems returned. Deleting from the watch and phone & re-pairing through the app didn’t help as did restarting the watch. After John’s post, I changed from S5 to onePlus2 (didn’t update app) & re-paired watch to the plus2. It’s works perfect now. Maybe it’s a Samsung problem (or the updated app).

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Today the sync problem appeared again. Just restarting the phone and putting the watch in Flight mode solved the case, No need to repair. After phone restart and watch Flight mode – off made the sync working again,

    • Tim

      I have been wearing the Polar M430 for about a month and overall really like this watch. I formerly had a Fitbit Charge 2 which was fine and I chose the Polar after going back with the Garmin FR235.

      Syncing with my LG G3 was pretty seamless and I do not recall any issues, but I started using a Google Pixel two weeks ago and have continual issues with getting the M430 and my phone to sync. It works for a few days and then I find myself going through a ritual of unpairing…deleting the Polar Flow app…repairing…and then, typically after some swearing it all seems to work. No idea whether it is the phone or the device, but it is really frustrating.

      On a separate note I am having no luck getting the M430 to sync with my iPad. Is it possible to pair the M430 with two different devices? It shows up in the Bluetooth device list, but that is about it.

    • Jeff

      Hi Tim..think the m430 can only pair with one device at a time….Tried to synch it with my iPad this am..had same problem you did (did not pair)…and then noticed it had paired and synched with my iPhone in the next room

    • Izabela

      Pixel has issue with bluetooth which has been reported a while ago. Apparently you need to do the factory reset and upgrade firmware on Pixel to resolve it. I am yet to do it. However I would hate to find out that Polar is not syncing with or without that firmware update to Pixel. It really puts me off buying Polar (or any electronics which are using bluetooth), until someone confirms this issue has been ironed out.

  15. Andrew

    Is the screen size and resolution the same as M400? The large black border is the one feature I dislike compared to the FR watches.

  16. Devi

    Hi Ray,

    You state that it does track HR during swimming. How is the accuracy of the HR in the water, compared to for example with the HR of the Garmin Swim-HRM?

    Thanx for the review.
    Devi

    • I didn’t do any comparative data plots for that unfortunately. I know that the The5KRunner has been testing it in the water, so perhaps he’ll have some comparative data to share.

    • hi just saw this.
      It’s not great.
      Probably fine for ‘casual’ usage.

      The M600 seemed close with swim HR accuracy. But the M430 seems further away. then again you won’t get it on a Garmin at all…

  17. Joe Drury

    It is interesting that they didn’t put Android Wear on this device. Sounds like what I want is a mash up of this and the m600. And I agree with your final point on the compromise not being great. Any chance Android Wear comes to this device? Alternatively, can we expect to see an m630 soon?

  18. Anders

    Thanks for the review!

    One question, how strong is the vibration? Compared to eg Polar M600? On the M600, they’re as you noted, really weak. Would the M430 be usable as a alarm clock? (For instance, the Fitbit Charge has a more than stron enough vibration to easily wake you up).

    • Robert Black

      it’s more than enough to wake me, still seems weaker than Garmins fr610 during a guided run though, although not missed a transition in pace yet.

    • Peter

      In my opinion the vibrations for M430 are stronger than for M600.
      So far I haven’t missed it which often happened with the M600.

    • it wouldn’t wake me up.

    • Danny

      For me, the vibration of m430 is too weak, you may not notice it during the training, it is rather a problem of the watch, another problem is that, the light is always off when pressing any button, and even no light during alert, it is very inconvenient when running at night time, hope Polar can fix these, it will be better if sound alert is added as a choice, data such as stride if added will be much better.

    • Lee

      I agree about the M430 vibration. It is too weak to notice during training. This is so frustrating, I’m constantly looking down at my watch during interval training. Polar needs to add an audible alert as an option.

  19. John Dalton

    Will the unit transmit HR via BT Smart to other devices during a workout – is this what “HR visible to other devices” setting means? So it could be used as an HR sensor for cycling (accepting the usual wrist based cycling issues).

  20. Thijs Rieken

    Hi Ray, did you do any checks on instant pace accuracy? If that’s anything near not-crap this is certainly the watch I will consider when I need a replacement…

    • Yup. I actually did some filming of it. Let me try and dig that up – shot it about a month ago. It was reasonable for the most part.

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hello,
      The instant pace accuracy is much better than my old Polar RCX5 watch. The old G5 GPS unit is a 6-7 years older technology of course.

  21. Jim

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you for great reviews!

    As for this one, which would you recommend to buy Polar M430 or Garmin Vivoactive HR? In sports gadget recommendations 2016-2017 you said the best is Vivoactive HR, but it was the end of 2016 and M430 wasn’t released yet.

    Jim

    • Tim

      FWIW I went back and forth with the Vivoactive, FR235, and the M430 opting eventually for the Polar. As a daily wear item I thought that the Polar looked best and I preferred the Polar Flow app over Garmin Connect.

    • Jim

      Hi folks,

      If someone interested, I bought Vivoactive HR + Wahoo Tickr X. When running I use tickr x as external HRM for accuracy, for the rest of the day optical HR integrated into watch.
      Moreover Tickr X has all running dynamic features such as GCT, VO, Cadence etc. while the watch only has cadence.

      Jim

  22. Peter Parfitt

    Seems like Polar have hit the sweet spot here, as a long time M400 user I jumped ship at Christmas to a Garmin Vivoactive HR, partly because I thought it looked better (and I had the charging port replaced on the M400 and it doesn’t sync via USB any more so updates to firmware are tricky, still charges OK) might have waited to get this but the all day HR monitoring was a desire.

    May well wait until M430 has 24×7 HRM, by which time the V830 may be here! I still prefer Flow to Connect, although syncing via wifi for Flow would be good as it can be hideously slow via phone.

    My heart is still with Polar, even if my dollars aren’t, but good to see them doing solid products. Especially if the price drops a bit (paid under £100 for my M400) so need to see this at £150 or so

    • Yeah, a V800 successor with 24×7 HR tracking is something I’m definitely looking for.

      I have a solid history with both Polar and Garmin. Polar has an even better history in HR based devices, but missed the optical “ship”.

  23. Ray,
    How would you value the Polar M430 against the Garmin Forerunner 935 (when the 430 has 24×7 HR tracking). I’m still in doubt what platform for an allround watch (scales, etc.) I would choose.

  24. Claudio

    I thought I would share my own HR comparison between the M430 and the Polar H7 (linked either to an M400 or an iPhone 5S) in three interval workouts a bit harder that those Ray did in the review. I hope that’s ok Ray?

    I think the description of the workouts is quite clear. They are shown in chronologial order and the accuracy seems to get better somehow? In the middle workout the HR drops during the 5th interval (something similar to what I experienced consistently with a Garmin FR 235). I tightened the wrist strap one more stop and it then tracked the last one nicely.

    My conclusion from this exercise is that altough the optical HR in the M430 is still not as good as the H7 chestband for hard workouts (due to the slight lags and weird behaviour here and there) it is definently getting very good and appears to be better than the Garmin FR235. I will keep using the H7 paired with the M430 for some workouts, but I am quite happy with the optical HR in the M430 and the watch in general.

    Hope this helps someone.

  25. Tim

    Hi Ray,
    great Review.
    Which running watch would you buy if instant pace is the most important feature for you? Currently searching for a new GPS watch. Thanks!

    • Robert Black

      If instant pace is your thing, as it is mine. If your on a budget I’d suggest a m400 and a calibrated MilestonePod. If budget is not a problem any watch that will work with the stryd power meter will do, the bonus is that doesn’t need calibration. The Stryd works with both the M400/M430 as a footpod, on the V800 it works as a power meter too, although there is a bug issue at the moment, but I’m sure it’ll be fixed soon.
      Sorry I don’t rate instant pace, there are work around suggestions on this site, like setting are shorter autolap etc, should come up on the search page.

    • Robert Black

      Doh should have typed Instant pace provided by gps

    • yep. what RB said

  26. Alberto

    Hi:

    I was wondering. How well is this watch for Hiking?

    I now use a Garmin FR 235 with dwMaps App (or Hiking App).

    I see there is a Hiking activity, but that is not the main use for a “hiking” watch, but the maps.

    Is there any way to add maps to it?

    I know this is not the main focus of the site, but, it would nice to know if you found maps on your use of the watch.

    • Alberto

      PD: I read the table that says “Maps: No”, but the FR 235 doesn’t have maps, but the VivoActive HR says “Maps: No” also and has the dwMaps app.

  27. Eric

    Tangential question – are we entering a time when it will no longer be possible to buy a running watch *without* the optical heart rate sensor? (Excluding old stock of past models, of course.)

    • Robert Black

      Probably for the majority of watches, as that’s where the damand is $$$, if I go down to the gym to do a lactate test it’s heaving. Most times I do a ten mile run I never cross another runner, I digress. I hope it’s not the end, I love m430 but probably won’t wear it for my marathon, I prefer a looser watch. And what about winter layering issues? That’s where the scosche comes into its own

  28. vincent

    Thanks again for the great review. Quick question: have you tested whether the GPS altimeter on the M430 is accurate enough? Thanks!

    • Memphis

      Hi Vincent,
      I’ve tested this feature on two occasion commuting 12 km by bike.
      Known climb is 50 m (barometric cycle computer). M430: shows 15 and 25 respectively.
      My FR235 showed between 45 m and 55 m in the past (corrected elevation on Garmin Connect).

      I also wore the M430 along with by FR235 on a 33 km mountain run with an officially stated total climb of 1200 m.
      M430 registered 1190 m which seems incredibly accurate. Actually it is not: the Polar is just so slow in updating elevation, thus avoiding most peaks that the meandering GPS would otherwise generate on the sloping terrain.
      Smaller, shorter changes are simply ignored. A short climb of 50 m for example is reduced to 20 m.
      The Garmin on the other hand updates elevation constantly, which results in exaggerated totals in the end: 1600 m.
      Depending on what you focus on , the result could be useful – or not.

  29. Ivan

    Can it broadcast heart rate to other devices such as the wahoo Elemnt?

  30. TOm

    So now question is : when will the V800 be updated with this new (and nice) OHR + wifi + follow me + all other “new” functionalities found on 935 / F5 ?

    • V800 replacement will probably will never have all those IMO.

      Polar seem to be focussing on accuracy. Garmin don’t seem to be.

  31. Moe

    You stated that the M430 “also will connect to running stride sensors”. With your use of the plural “sensors”, do you mean any Bluetooth sensor regardless of brand or is Polar still limiting pairing to the their own stride sensor?The PDF manual from their site is vague on this. I have the M400 and although it does track cadence on its own, I’ve always preferred to have a shoe sensor. However, Polar’s is huge when compared to those of other brands so I’ve never considered it. This could be a selling point when I update next year. I would appreciate if you could clarify this.

    • Robert Black

      It’ll works 100% obviously with Polar’s stride sensor, it works with the much cheaper MilestonePod too, once you’ve signed up to their beta firmware program. This is ending soon so will be a standard feature. The only caveat is auto calibration does not work, no problem for me as I have a track close by. But I’m not you. Then you have the option of the super expensive Stryd power meter that just works, but would be overkill as this watch can’t yet use the power data. Beyond that I’d avoid all other Bluetooth sensors. All will pair with various missing features, either cadence, pace or stride length.

    • Robert Black

      Just a note, the MilestonePod will work with you M400, with the same caveat.

  32. D-man

    I’m choosing between the m430 and the fr35. Want a good basic running watch with optical hr that I can use 24/7.

    The m430 is around $70 more where I live. Is the m430 worth the extra $$?

    • TonyBaloney

      Thanks a bunch for this awesome review (and a handful of your other awesome reviews I’ve read)! I’m looking to get my first watch and have been researching what option would be the best for me. I’m a grappler, and do trail running, HIIT, and weight training for conditioning. I’m a data oriented individual, and am looking for something to provide concrete information on whether I’m progressing/plateauing in workouts, as well as insight on when I need more recovery. HR info and sleep tracking were my main original concern , and when research showed how crummy most OHR sensors were,I nixed pretty much all fitbit products from my list of possibilities and started to focus on the Garmin FR 35, 235 and Vivoactive HR. Now I read this review and have another contender :). I’m leaning towards the m430 based on this review, with hopes that the 24/7 HR tracking arrives as scheduled.The “fitness test” of the m430 sounds a bit gimmicky, but would be awesome if it could actually be used to compare my conditioning on a monthly basis. Any thoughts that could help push me further in the corner of the m430, or one of the other watches out there?
      Thanks!

    • Christian Köhler

      I don’t think the vo2max values calculated by the Polar watches mean that much.
      For example, RCX5 and M400 both give me a vo2max of 68, someimes even 70 and put me into the “elite” category.
      I am 39yo, my PBs are 44:37 (10k), 1:39 (HM), 3:40 (Marathon). IMHO these are decent results for a hobbyist, but certainly not what I’d call “elite”.

    • TonyBaloney

      Yeah, it seems like it would be a tough metric to compare people. Do you think the vo2max values would have value to compare your own results over time? I.e. using monthly test results an indicator of progression?

    • I don’t put a ton of stock in them. Plus, in theory your VO2Max shouldn’t actually change much over time once you get a baseline level of fitness. It’s more of a gauge of your capacity than your current fitness.

    • elite in age group i presume, btw. excellent numbers.

  33. Alec

    Thanks for the review, excellent as always, but was just wondering what kind of battery life were you getting when just using the watch casually without GPS activities?

  34. Helena Bradley

    Do you have a favorite activity watch one that you think is worth the money ??? I am thinking about getting m430 I currently have the fitbit blaze which I love but I want to use my HR chest strap from my older polar watch while I exercise for more precise numbers. I also love everything the 430 does and has to offer for tracking I can go a few months without 24/7 hr tracking for now. I am also wondering if you can change out the straps these type of straps tend to crack.

  35. John

    You can’t change the straps. I spoke to Polar. You would have to send Polar the watch for them to replace it.

    • Robert Black

      You could change the straps if you had a link pin removal kit, problem is they are not on the open market. So yeah, as John said, it’ll need to be returned to Polar, when they replaced my M400 strap it only took 3 days

  36. Very nice review! My only gripe with the M430 is its lack of proper swimming metrics.

    Do you think it would be possible for Polar to implement a software update which enables us to manually input pool lap length in the swimming sport profile? Why? If we could put in the pool lap length, we could manually tap the red button during swimming every time we complete a lap. This way at the end of our swimming session we would have recorded: 1) average heartrate, 2) duration, and 3) distance swum.

    Right now we only have average heartrate and duration. That’s rather incomplete without actual distance swum.

    How do you tackle this?

    • Godunow

      Would it be possible now to use red lap button to count laps and then update distance manually on Polar Flow/Strava basing on number of laps?

      I know it is far from perfect but maybe good enough for occasional swimmer (like me).

    • Technically possible, yes, but also very unlikely.

      It’s essentially a runners watch. So Polar would like you to spend more money to get a tri/swimmers/etc watch.

    • Hi Godunow. I consider myself to be an occasional swimmer too. Your suggestion is exactly what I am doing right now, but alas Strava doesn’t allow to manually edit distance after the training has been synced. So my swimming sessions, recorded by the M430, are once completed instantly synced to Strava without first being able to quickly edit in the distance via the Flow app. So Strava is populated with only duration and average heartrate. A pity.

      I did however contact Strava tech support on Twitter and allegedly being able to manually edit distance in sport sessions is a frequently requested enhancement and apparently it’s on their (neverending most likely) todo list. No time estimate was given of course. :-/

    • Hi DC Rainmaker, thanks for replying.

      At first I used a simple Polar Loop 2 with H10 strap combined with the Polar Beat app to log all my workouts. Then I decided I wanted something easier. Something better and faster without a strap. I really liked the V800 because it seems to offer so much, but alas it needs a heart rate strap and for me personally even more important it lacks the advanced sleep analysis which recently got added to the M430 (albeit a bit wonky right now).

      Contradictory to your article (correct me if I’m wrong) I do get advanced sleep metrics with my M430, but sometimes it just doesn’t show data for some days in the weekly overview, even though the data is available if you look at it in diary view. See my screenshot for an example of what I’m experiencing.

      You might have an idea about this bug?

      Also: the M430 would be a really perfect fit for me if only they improved the swimming metrics, but I understand from their business side that they need to make other products attractable too, but so far the V800 can’t win from the M430. Maybe its successor can.

    • Hmm, definitely seems like some sort of bug – though honestly not sure where the origination of the bug is. Maybe the Polar folks can validate (they follow here).

    • I’m in contact with Polar tech support via mail / twitter. Their explanation (mail vs twitter replies) is not aligned unfortunately and contradictory to their own product description. I was told by one employee the M430 does not even support the Polar Sleep Plus metrics, even though it’s clearly written on the Polar Sleep Plus product page: link to polar.com (the M430 is listed as supported device, right next to the A370). Also the employee could see my screenshot too where there are some days with detailed metrics and other days without metrics. If it wasn’t supported there would be 0 days filled in. So it does work, just not every day.

      That kind of tech support kinda gets on my nerves and that’s why I thought you might have some additional insights as you’ve tested the M430 yourself extensively.

      Any feedback is really appreciated in getting the sleep analysis consistently tracked daily so my weekly overview is populated 100% with data. Last week now looks incomplete like in this attached screenshot.

    • Yeah, I’ll poke someone.

      The sleep details/functionality was slightly different/more on the A370, which is why I’m under the impression it’s not fully there yet on the M430.

    • Thank you. I appreciate this.

      I did notice you mentioning the A370 and making refeence to your review of that device to see some info about its sleep metrics. I did look at the review (just double checked again right now) and I don’t see anything I did not yet see with my M430? Maybe I’m not looking well enough?

    • It was more the on-device pieces. For example on the A370 it would ask me each morning how my sleep was, whereas I was never asked on the M430.

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hello Frederik Claes
      I am using the M430 since 22.06.2017. The second night of use ended like you show here – no sleep data. I remember when I open My Day first in the morning watch asked “Press OK to see the sleep data” (as it asks every morning), So I pressed OK – nothing happened, pressed a few more times – nothing. Pressed BACK and try to open My Day again – the message was not there any more. And no sleep date recorded for that night.
      I remember that night – went on bed on time but in the middle of the night went to kitchen for a glass of water, watched a TV for 20-30 minutes and went to bed again. May be such a behaviour interrupts the M430 sleep tracking algorithm somehow.
      9 days later no such problem any more.

    • @DC Rainmaker

      Aha my watch never asked this indeed. The Polar Flow app on my iPhone however does ask this, but again not all the time.

      Maybe their Flow back end service is buggy. Well I hope someone from Polar can give some conclusive advice on the matter. Maybe an official acknowledgement of sorts.

    • Hi Zhlvko

      Thanks for chiming in. Glad I’m not the only one with missing data. How many consecutive days of correct sleep analysis do you currently have?

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hello again Frederik,
      I have 10 consecutive days of correct sleep analysis already. I had some issues with LOOP2 sleep analysis in the past – missed some nights with no logical reasons. Just a few times for a year of usage.
      Do you see Sleep time and Actual sleep data on the M430 screen for these days that are missing in the WEB service?

    • Hi Zhivko

      As a matter of fact I didn’t check that yet on the watch itself. I just did, but let me first tell last night’s sleep again has not been recorded in the weekly overview.

      In 1) and 2) I’m referencing the Polar Flow web desktop browser view.

      1) Sleep from sunday -> monday:
      – M430 device: My Day shows sleep time and actual sleep time
      – Polar Flow: Diary -> Activity: fell asleep and woke up symbols are visible/logged however
      – Polar Flow: Diary -> Sleep: weekly overview: all metrics are visible

      2) Sleep from monday -> tuesday:
      – M430 device: My Day does NOT show sleep time and actual sleep time
      – Polar Flow: Diary -> Activity: fell asleep and woke up symbols are visible/logged however
      – Polar Flow: Diary -> Sleep: weekly overview: NO metrics are visible

      Attached screenshot shows the Polar Flow iOS app where I remark Tuesday 4th of July does not have the little bed icon depicted in the daily activity ring. It seems like Flow doesn’t recognize that time window as actual sleep like it did the night before. It’s odd because in the Polar Flow web version you can see the sleep/woke up timeframes marked, see: link to imgur.com

      Confusing!

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hi Frederik,
      It is the same with my M430, for that ‘strangely not recorded night’ – just like you describe here. I suppose you did the last weeks M430 firmware update – the actual version of the watch firmware is 1.0.28.
      Seems like the watch is not recording or detecting sleep properly. May be a HARD RESET could help (I don’t know if POLAR provide such an option) . There is a RESET button, hidden in the options inside PolarFlowSync software for Windows – you can see it when the watch is connected to USB sync cable. Could try it, it will make the watch ‘out of the box state’ – tried this with my LOOP2 band once. After the first sync the watch will take all your profile settings from the service so no need to reconfigure anything. Hope this helps.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. I will try a restart first, if that doesn’t help I will do a factory reset. Both procedures are detailed here: link to support.polar.com

      Not really sure it will help, but I can at least try and report afterwards. Some Polar representative could benefit from the test results.

  37. Alberto

    To solve that problem I either upload to Endomondo and from there I sync with Strava using Taapirik or upload to my PC and edit in Golden Cheetath and export a tcx file that I upload to Strava.

  38. Daniel

    Thanks for the review Ray!
    Do you have any idea how well the smartphone notifications handle Unicode, whether just different alphabets like Cyrillic, or even right-to-left languages?

  39. jeff

    really great review…appreciate the details…fyi, I have an RS 400 with a s1 pod and h1 heart rate sensor (plus a USB infrared adapter to download watch data to polar protrainer) so as you can see pretty ancient stuff…and now need to move on.,,can’t crazy glue the watch band together anymore

    so you answered nearly all of my questions…and the m430 seems a good replacement…but missed the part regarding accuracy of the pace/distance/speed without a foot sensor and on a treadmill …..obviously gps won’t work…but does polar use some other approach when no foot sensor is present…and is it accurate….would love to hear your POV…thanks again cheers

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hi Jeff, you could buy Milestone Pod – half the size and the PRICE of the Polar’s pod. Real time metrics: cadence, stride length, pace, distance and duration and tons of other metrics after syncing. Small review here: link to geekontrack.com

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The M430 utilizes the internal accelerometer to provide speed/distance when running indoors.

      Regarding the data your M400 has recorded with the ProTrainer software, you’ll be able to export that data to Flow should you chose to make the jump. – Mike@PolarUSA

  40. The HR data from the optical sensor looks fine to me

  41. trailrun the woods

    Hi Ray,
    thanks for another great in-depth report.

    This being (one of) the best wrist HR watch, how are you feeling about the scosche rhythm?
    Still using the scosche or did it become redundant with the HR of the Polar M430 being solid ?

    On the same topic, personally I would very much appreciate a “Sports Gadget Recommendations” twice a year :)
    When will you publish the next one ?

    Regards from the Netherlands

    • I think the Scosche still has a very important place in life, especially for cycling but also all the other devices out there that don’t have a good (or any) optical HR sensor.

      As for a new gadgets recommendations guide, yeah, I agree, I probably need to do it more frequently. :(

  42. Alberto

    I think a section called “indoor run accuracy” would be good on future “in dephs”

  43. B

    I bought my M430 from cleaver training.

    HR sensor does not work correctly.

    The device says heart rate not found and will not read HR when worn on top of wrist. I get some readings when worn on the bottom of my wrist (palm side up.)

    Polar says they are working in a firmware update to fix the issue. (See comments on amazon)

  44. Michael

    Does it come with some tennis mode? If yes – how does it work?

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      There is a tennis sport profile that can be created for the M430 allowing you to track heart rate, calories, time, training load….there is no tennis specific metrics however that it will record. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Michael

      What does training load show? Can that created profile count also steps?

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The tennis sport profile would not be able to capture the number steps taken during a match. The accelerometer within the watch that is running in the background however is and those steps taken (while not broken out for the activity itself) will be added to the total that it records during the day.

      Training Load is an estimation of the cumulative physiological effect an exercise session has upon someone. With Training Load is a recovery estimation which helps prevent overtraining. – Mike@PolarUSA

  45. mw

    Hi. Thanks for the great review. I’m moving from a rcx5 with gps tracker to the M430. However, I live in a cold country, which means jackets most of the year. How will the gps on the M430 fair with clothes on?
    Anyone know?

  46. Jamil Madati

    Was really convinced by your write up of this product but after getting it the wrist HR monitoring does not pick up my HR. Turns out if you have dark skin (I’m a dark skinned Tanzanian) the watch has trouble picking up your HR. Also was told that while swimming the wrist Monitor doesn’t display continuous HR data! Is that true? Either way, I sent it back. Any recommendations on which wrist HR monitors work on dark skinned people AND still provide continuous HR monitoring while swimming? Seems like I will have to splash a lot of cash for a triathlon specific watch. Appreciate your thorough reviews always.

    • B

      Jamil is absolutely right, this product does not work for people with dark skin. If your completion is similar to Denzel Washington or darker, stay away from this product until Polar can prove that they have fixed the issue.

    • Drew

      I guess it boils down to battery life. You would need brighter LEDs to compensate for darker skin which would shorten battery life. It is a good point though. Manufacturers should give some indication as to the darkest skin tone with which the wrist HR works. The alternative would be to have potentially brighter LEDs but have a high frequency adjustable duty cycle (this is how you get different light levels on single bright LED head lamps) adjustable in software. This would add to cost.

    • SreeG

      I contacted Polar support with the same issue and they were able to confirm that the wrist-based HRM on both – the M430 and the A370 will not work on “darker skin types”.

  47. Claudio Santos

    I find that the instant pace tracking with the M430 is really poor! As an example, I did a 10k race this weekend in a park, 4 laps with very open turns, very easy for the GPS to track – and indeed the GPS tracked it perfectly.

    I kept a mostly constant pace (3:38 – 3:47 min/km was the range for each of the kms) throughout, but my instant pace floated between 3:15 and 4:25 even in a 1km straight!

    Do others experience the same, or is it just me? For reference, I raced in the same place in June with my M400 and in the straight the pace range was 20 sec at most!

    Given that the GPS tracks perfectly (certainly better than the M400), could it be that the M430 calculates the instant pace for a shorter time period – which could be easily fixed by a firmware update?

    (I know I could get a Milestone Pod, but that’s not the point as I try not to rely on the instant pace information to pace myself during a race or workout.)

  48. peter

    Hi just bought a m430 ….does feel like a worthwhile step up from m400 which i had for 2 years but quick question.

    I do a fair bit of treadmill running and used to get a ‘Running Index score’ as I have a polar stride sensor with my m400 but i don’t with the m430 – any ideas?

    Great site Ray! and is the v800 update really coming Q2 NEXT year????

    thanks

    Peter

    • I don’t expect any near-term V800 replacement.

    • TOm

      That’s probably the worst comment I’ve read for months :-( I might therefore switch to Garmin (935)

    • Peter

      Yep that is pretty much were I was …. upgrade my M400 and a NEW ‘v800’ would have been ideal but …..word is not coming until Q2 18 which means volume in Q3…that’s a bit of a wait – considered a Garmin but until new 235 comes out it would have to be a 935..

      but using the m430 for a week am really impressed ….did a 32min run yesterday and Optical on M430 and H10 paired with M400 on other wrist exactly same average HR and never more that a few BPM out with each other.

      …But no running index on treadmill – anyone else have this?

    • Anders

      Curious of where the rumour about a new V800 in 2018 Q2 come from? Any source?

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hello Peter, did you calibrate the food pod automatic or manual before this run?

    • Peter

      Hi good point….not calibrated with the m430 ….but have done it automatic with the m400 ..never done manual.

      but stride sensor appeared automatically on list of ‘paired’ devices …i presume my m400 settings were just copied across.

      its not a big deal but its nice to compare the treadmill runs during the week i run different runs at weekend so never directly comparable

    • Jeff

      Hi Peter..I’ve been using the m430 and get a running index both on the watch (have to move thru several “results screens” to get to it)…also see it in the polar flow (both app and website) in the results for the runs….FYI the running index #s I’m getting now are similar to the results I was getting with my old polar (rs 400)

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hi Peter. In Stride sensor menu you should change the option – Speed from stride sensor not from GPS. Do you see the small stride sensor icon in pre-training screen? If not – the watch can’t see it. Pair it again with M430. I had an issue once – pair, pair second time – successfully but no small icon on exercise start. Need to restart the watch – this fixed the problem.

    • Peter

      hmm…yes get stride sensor symbol and cadence data which looks good (similar to m400 with footpod and much better than wrist based) but no running index on treadmill on watch or flow – will delete foot pod and pair again to see if this works over weekend.

      new V800 in 2018 Q2 – source – 5k runner – his source – Polar USA podcast – clearly indicates Q2 next year

    • Peter

      Hi ..how do you get stride sensor menu – is that by using light button?

      thanks

      Peter

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hi Peter, yes in pre training mode or during a training session you can press light button for 2 seconds and scroll down – there should be Stride sensor menu. If you can’t see it – delete paired sensor from watch and pair it again with M430.

    • Sascha

      Can the M430 get the distance (in GPS mode) from Stryd as well or pace and power only?

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hi Sascha – I think M430 could get speed, distance, cadence an stride length data from any Bluetooth smart pod, who could provide such data. The power data is for the top POLAR’s model only – V800.

  49. Magnus

    Was a long time m400 user. Switched to Ambit3 Peak for 30+ hrs battery life and route navigation. Surprised I unable to read the small data fields on top/bottom of the display and the contrast was very low on the LCD-screen in cold weather. And it was bulky/heavy.

    Now back with the m430 and it’s just great. Crisp display; I can have four data fields readable during hard runs. Solid optical HR which never drops. Vibration alerts! Very good GPS-tracking with 8 hrs standard battery life, and options for 10 hrs medium accuracy a 30 hrs ultra-mode. And they’ve added the stopwatch! 50grams

    I’ve compared the ‘medium’ GPS accuracy mode to ‘standard’ mode on the same loop (a trail with lots of twists and turns) and ‘medium’ run came in at 14.6K, ‘standard’ at 14.7K.

    No apps, gadgets, color screen or other ‘oh-ah check this out, bro’ features. Just a reliable workhorse for runners. Sync with a Nexus 6 Android works fine. Highly recommended.

  50. Zhivko Nikolov

    Hello nice people,
    I received MilestonePOD two weeks ago, made a few calibration runs, the recorded distance from the POD and GPS from M430 after calibration are quite similar (a 100 meters offset for 6.5 to 7 km distance is OK for me). So yesterday I’ve decided to go M430 Settings > Sport profiles > Running> Stride sensor > Choose sensor for speed, and choose Stride sensor instead of GPS.
    Made an interval run and noticed, that M430 takes not only current speed but calculates THE DISTANCE from the stride sensor too. So my session according to M430 and FLOW site is 6.38 km, but the exported GPX track shows 7.8 km – and the GPS track distance is accurate because I ran a well known track.
    I think it is normal that the exact pod calibration will be difficult to achieve, especially when I calibrate it on steady sate run and do an interval next time.
    It is somehow the watch setting that confusing me, thought the watch will use internal GPS to show and record correct DISTANCE and only pick up current speed from the POD? Or maybe the watch is working this way only with POLAR food pod, not third party pods like MilestonePOD?
    Do you have any experience for M430 with a different food pods?

  51. Jeff

    Just used a new h7 chest sensor with the m430..worked pretty well on the run…but all my subsequent workouts today (elliptical, weight training…) the heart rate was “blinking in and out”…Eg..recording fine, then lost, then recording fine…I attached a snap shot of the chart….never had that happen with my polars before (and have had a bunch of watches)…sometimes I would get “spikes” or a now and then a drop (like that you could always error correct in the old polar trainer website)…but nothing like this

    Anyone experience this or have any thoughts re cause/solution…thanks

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hello Jeff.
      I had an issues with H7 a few times. The sensor has a bug and every few months starts to show erratic readings. A quick reset helps. Remove the battery for 2-3 minutes. While battery is out – touch and short the metal strap connectors with a metal object for a few seconds. See the picture attached.

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hi again Jeff.
      It is good advice to check the battery level. You could easily do this inside Polar Beat app. See the picture. Do not rely on this info only. My best method is to measure the battery with a multimeter. The voltage should be close to 3V when the battery is out of the sensor . But you should put a small load to battery to measure the voltage under load. I use a 100ohm resistor to short the battery poles and measure the voltage simultaneously. If the voltage under load is less than 2V – time to change the battery.

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hello Jeff,
      I am sorry but the RESET procedure for H7 is a little bit different than I told you.
      You can see it HERE: link to youtube.com
      Sorry for my previous post.

  52. Drew

    Recently bought one. ( I also own an Ambit 3 Peak and a Fenix 3 HR. )
    Really love this watch.
    The best thing, as seems to be the case with Finnish products, is the software ecosystem (cloud and app) in which the product sits. Fantastic personalised training program for races which customises to the event date and adjusts to your fitness level. Not just heart rate zone based running training but core work too with instruction videos. The sports science links are very evident here.
    Very light – you don’t really know it is there.
    Accurate GPS and wrist based HR which also works in the pool! (though no swim metrics as on M600 – hope this comes soon).
    The vibration is strong and also adjustable within sport modes.
    Good battery life.
    Rapid BT synchronisation through app.
    The display is a high contrast monochrome one and easily visible during an activity in a wide range of conditions.
    I now have the perfect combination. I use the M430 for running training, the Ambit 3 for hillwalking (great navigational features and software ecosystem, accuracy, battery life) and the M430 and Fenix for swimming (at least I have found a use for the latter to count pool lengths).

  53. David Harrison

    Does the M430 or any other gps HR watch change the size of the display field depending on how many fields you choose to display on a “page”? I am trying to find a watch that I can display 2 fields on my main activity page, (pace and average pace), but have those fields as large and easily readable as possible. I have even considered running with a cycle computer in order to be able to see the data without having to run with glasses on.

    • Andrew

      You can have between 2 and 4 data fields per screen. 2 data fields will be larger than 4. Most example images of the M430 show 3 data fields with the larger HR field at the top. So 2 data fields per screen will be the same size as the example larger HR data field.

    • Andrew

      M430 is the same as M400 with 2 fields per screen.

  54. Thomas

    Can polar pick up workouts automatically or do I have to manually select the type of workout and start/stop it?

  55. Pieter

    Any opinion of battery life with oHR switched off, but using the H7 HRM strap instead?
    Thanks

    • NordS

      Any opinion …
      Obviously, the operating time will be longer as the energy for the laser sensor is not used. The clock works only as a signal receiver from an external sensor. Is it reasonable?

  56. Fabienne

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you for all the in depth reviews!
    I’m currently looking into replacing my Fitbit Alta HR for either a Garmin or Polar watch combined with either the Scosche Rhythm+ or a chest strap.
    I was just wondering, if your watch has oHRs and is paired to another HR sensor, how does it it handle this info from the other device?

    Will the watch’s app show 2 HR data sets? 🤔

    • It’ll connect to the paired sensor instead and that data is used instead of optical data.

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      And the greatest thing is – when you are using M430 with external Bluetooth HR sensor the watch shows HR from the sensor. In case of faulty sensor or strap issues – just remove the sensor from the strap and 10-20 sec later M430 shows HR from built in optical sensor. And you could do this during the workout without hit the pause or stop button!!! You will have a portion of the exercise without HR data but 20- 30 seconds is not a big deal.

  57. Hi there

    Thanks for an awesome review! Just started using my M430 this morning! Just a question on activity tracking. Where can one set the target for every day. “My day” says I am currently on 140%… a 140% of what target would that be?

    Thanks

  58. NordS

    A big disappointment … m430 can not broadcast the signal to other devices. In addition to devices Polar. It’s so not obvious that until you come across and do not know. This means that my bike computers and smartphones can not be connected at the same time!

    Farther.

    It’s the 4th year. And the devices Polar still continue to count the steps in parallel training on a bicycle! Fourth year, Carl! I wrote in Polar when I just bought my V800 almost 3 years ago.
    Guys from Polar, Hey! Where are you? Are you out there smoking?

    Farther.

    I still can see in PolarFlow 2 simultaneously recorded schedules on different devices! This is not logical! It is necessary to consult what kind of training I should save for accounting in statistics.

    The ridiculous restrictions on bluetooth, the lack of metrics in the pool, extremely poor vibration. The inability to set the number and the strength of the vibrations for notifications. They are very likely to be missed!
    Notifications do not come during the pulse measurement. Only calls to the phone. Why?

    By the way, the optical sensor is not as good as here in the review is painted. Today he several times hung for several minutes during training showing a value of 80 to 90 at real 140. Then he suddenly began to work as it should. The conditions did not change.
    I was still waiting for the guys from Polar to release a new flagship. I bought a m430 to use an optical sensor … probably I made a mistake.

    At the moment, very disappointed and already ready for the 5 Fenix. But where to put Polar’s bag?
    Can you convince me? Maybe I’m doing something wrong …

    • Martin

      Here the same, I have a M430 and a V650. Going for a bike I can’t see my HR on the V650 from the M430. I have to wear an extra HR strap wich I refuse. It can’t be that hard for Polar to fix that?

  59. Tim

    After a little over two months with the M430 I am just about to the point where I am ready to take the financial hit and buy something new, probably a Garmin FR235. While the M430 works well the continual sync issues I have with Polar Flow are making this feature essentially unusable. Polar “support” offers little more guidance than to reinstall the app and pair the watch and my phone, but I find myself going through this every other day or two when I cannot get the watch to successfully sync. Reading the reviews on the Google Play Store I am not alone.

    FWIW I am using a Google Pixel phone running Android 7.1. If someone from Polar wants to offer a workable solution I am open to ideas. While YMMV I would be very reluctant to recommend this watch to anyone who wants to use the Polar Flow app on an Android phone.

    • NordS

      Yes, my friend, that’s it.
      My watch constantly hangs on the synchronization via the button or is not synchronized. You have to reset the 4 buttons. Enrages.
      The optical sensor accelerates to normal values ​​in only 10 minutes. Prior to that, hangs around 80 beats per minute.
      It’s so hard for me to leave Polar. A lot of statistics have accumulated. But, more and more I will look towards Garmin. There, too, there are problems. but…
      When they came out 800 Polar they were almost empty for functionality. They finished it for a couple of years. Unfortunately time goes by. And I can not wait anymore …
      I looked at the m600 – not that, the time of work (1.5 days !!!), the lack of metrics on the water, there are no sensors on the bike – horror.
      All sort of unfinished, semi-finished products …

  60. Maya

    You mentioned that 24/7 heart rate tracking was coming this fall. Will that be in an updated version of the M430 or an entirely new watch?

  61. Ste

    Looking for a recommendation for a fitness tracker, features to include:
    HRM Chest strap
    HR zone indicator
    Hiit timer
    Multi daily alarm (nutrition intake)
    Thank you in advance

  62. Alan

    Sorry for reposting but I couldn’t find an answer. Does the optical HR work while swimming? Is it any good in a pool?
    thanks
    Alan

    • Drew

      It works. It seems to be a reasonable reflection of what I would expect my heart rate to be though It may not be as accurate. Water creates a lot of drag and erratic watch movement will add noise to the reflected light signal making accurate heart rate estimation difficult. It will probably be affected by wrist strap tightness, type and speed of stroke, technique etc…

  63. jkreuzig

    I’ve had an M430 for almost 3 months now. I’ve used it for running, treadmill running, functional training, hiking, weightlifting, walking, and other activities. Here are my observations:

    1) Optical heart rate – This has been a pleasant surprise. I’ve tested it against my M400/H78 combo, and the 2 seem to be fairly well aligned (just like Ray’s experience). I’ve even tested it against the “hand grip” monitors on treadmills at the gym, and against good old fashioned palpation. I’m pleased with the results so far. Five out of five stars.

    2) New connector – Another pleasant surprise. I had issues with M400 connection, but nothing that I couldn’t take care of with a good cleaning. So far, absolutely no issues with the connection. The only downside is that I would have wished that the connection was a bit firmer. It tends to fall out and/or disconnect if bumped when charging. Because of this, I’d give it four out of five stars.

    3)Low power GPS mode(s) – A severe disappointment. I’ve tried using the medium and low power modes on long hikes and walks (on multiple occasions) that have ZERO obstructions. Nothing but blue sky above. Every time, I lose signal and the accuracy gets thrown off. Not just a minor error, but miles off. I’ve seen it register 2 miles in less than 30 seconds. I’ve tried this multiple times, and it’s useless. Even if it doesn’t throw off the accuracy, the GPS still loses lock and I have to stop and restart the session. A real pain. I’ve gone back to using high accuracy (even on long hikes), and recharging the watch during lunch breaks on hikes. A ZERO out of five stars.

    Even with the lack of useful low power mode, I’d buy this watch again. The optical HR function has made it completely worthwhile.

  64. László Király

    Hi. I enjoy your tests for a couple of years, but now I’m missing an answer of a very important question about the Polar M430: Is this watch works under water without the H10 strap? Would be nice to knoe about it ….

    • No, it won’t receive the data in realtime, as the watch only supports Bluetooth Smart signals.

    • Alan

      I think the question was whether it will monitor heart rate WITHOUT a chest strap. Drew answered above and he seemed to think it worked as an optical wrist based HRM while in the water.
      I’ll probably stick to the T31coded and my Polar A300. Or hope the next Apple watch will do the job.

    • Drew

      It locks on and gives me a number in the pool. This number goes up and down with training effort. I did several 100m reps with HR recovery in between and the graph of HR looks remarkably consistent / castellated / monotonous. I have not compared it to my ambit 3 peak with chest strap but that thing is a pain and tends to ride down in the water. Optical HRMs must work in a pool if you are stationary and the HRM bump is in contact with the skin – there is no physical reason why not. The problem will be with arm movements and speed creating turbulence and therefore movement of the device (and therefore noise in the reflected light signal). It has a small size, low drag and I swim slowly.

  65. Alan

    Plainly ridiculous that the use of the only water capable 5 kHz signal for real time heart rate while swimming Is NOT supported. So I am still going to use the A300.
    What’s up Polar?

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      And why you insist to continue using those bulky chest straps when the M430 pics your heart rate from the wrist and works fine?

  66. Judy

    Hi,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but I am still having problems deciding on a tracker. I be lost 58 lbs this last year. I had 2 Fitbit Charge 2 trackers but the wristband broke in the same place on both. The thing that makes it difficult is I want it to track swimming. I have a lot of joint issues so cardio includes swimming, rowing, elliptical, and battle ropes. I also do Tabata and weight lifting. I am most concerned with calories burned, heart rate and for swimming lap count. I ordered the Polar V800 but thought it was too big. I have considered getting a dedicated swim tracker and something else for all the other activities. I’ve considered the Polar M430, but it doesn’t look like it tracks laps for swimming. I don’t really want to spend $500+ for something like Fenix 3 or 5. Do you have any suggestions

  67. Judy

    Hi,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but I am still having problems deciding on a tracker. I have lost 58 lbs this last year. I had 2 Fitbit Charge 2 trackers but the wristband broke in the same place on both. The thing that makes it difficult is I want it to track swimming. I have a lot of joint issues so cardio includes swimming, rowing, elliptical, and battle ropes. I also do Tabata and weight lifting. I am most concerned with calories burned, heart rate and for swimming lap count. I ordered the Polar V800 but thought it was too big. I have considered getting a dedicated swim tracker and something else for all the other activities. I’ve considered the Polar M430, but it doesn’t look like it tracks laps for swimming. I don’t really want to spend $500+ for something like Fenix 3 or 5. Do you have any suggestions

    • Drew

      I really love my M430 but I do find it really odd that although it tracks HR in the pool (I think it is the only wrist based HR that does this properly) it does not give swim metrics. I have just ordered a Suunto Trainer which will do my navigation (much better than a Garmin) and swimming, M430 for running (particularly because of the comprehensive yet highly customizable heart rate based training programs on Polar Flow). I think the Suunto trainer might suit your needs and save you $200 bucks. If you wait out there are some metal bezel ones coming out which look kinda nice.

  68. Tom Barkas

    On mine, it is impossible to use Medium Accuracy GPS – High accuracy and Powersaver work, but, if you set the settings in Profiles as Medium Accuray, it gives a “Powersave GPS in use” message when you start the recording. Polar say this is a “generalised software problem” – why they are still selling them with this known fault is beyond me

  69. v2lek

    Got mine a few days back.

    There seems to be a logical problem in flow/m430 when wearing m430 and doing some sports with another tracker.

    Went for a short bike ride – tracked it with my m450.

    Later after syncing both devices – everything seemed ok and bike ride was also synced to m430 trough flow and counted in for a ‘daily activity goal’
    Great.
    However – I did that bike ride in the morning when I barely had few hundred steps in. And after the ride I had along the lines of 4000 steps counted. During bike ride. This is just supid.
    While it is not a show stopper, it still bugs me.
    Has anyone else experienced this?
    To be clear, m430 was not in training mode, m450 was.

  70. Josh

    Hi there,

    Great review, really informative.
    At the moment I’m about to purchase a new smartwatch, I’ve narrowed it down to the this Polar M430 and the Garmin Vivoactive HR and this is where I’m stuck.

    Price wise, they aren’t hugely different, the Vivoactive H

  71. Josh

    Great review, really informative!

    At the moment I’m about to purchase a new smartwatch, I’ve narrowed it down to the this Polar M430 and the Garmin Vivoactive HR and this is where I’m stuck.

    Price wise, they aren’t hugely different, the Vivoactive HR is 20% off on Amazon so I can pick that up slightly cheaper.

    I would primarily be using either watch for both running and also rowing, (both indoor and outdoor). I’d rather not have to sync the watch to either my phone or laptop after every workout and would be content to just view my average heart rate, calories burned and distance traveled. So obviously im wondering if either watch can easily provide me with all of this information on screen after my workouts?

    Any advice or personal opinions between the two would be greatly appreciated! As I’ll be buying one quite soon. Thanks!

    • John

      I don’t know if this matters, but they will be coming out with a VAHR replacement sometime in the next few months. The current VAHR does what you want, although I’m not sure about outdoor rowing.

  72. Hugh Burton

    used my M 430 stopwatch feature but can’t get it to zero or clear. Support is no help. Any tips on how this feature works?

  73. Rikho

    Thanks for the review, great as usual! I still cannot decide, whether I buy Polar M430 or Suunto Spartan Trainer instead. Any thoughts?

  74. Dirk

    Hi, thanks for that great review.

    One question: the V800 has a countdown timer, the M400 hasn’t. What’s about the M430?

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hello Dirk,
      Yes M430 has countdown timer – a two phase Interval timer actually. You could use it as single phase timer too. Just set the time and start a workout. The watch countdowns to zero then vibrates and restarts timer again and again until you stop the workout.
      You could set this interval timer on specific distance, not just time.

      You can’t use countdown timer without doing an exercise.
      Hope this helps.

    • Dirk

      Yes, that helps, thank you very much!

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hi Dirk, forgot to attach a picture of the interval timer page, attaching it now.

  75. LeV

    Good news: the latest firmware was just released with continuous heart rate tracking and also more sleep plus functions! Whoop whoop :-)

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Yes, and another POWER EATING MONSTER – the backlight is ON on EVERY BUTTON PRESS!!! All day long!!! And can’t find how to turn this off. Really disappointing, POLAR.
      And the bug I reported over a month ago – can’t turn off vibration notifications in sport profiles and this eating a lot of power too – is not fixed yet!!!
      I get barely 5 to 6 hours of workouts with one battery charge. M430 in Flight mode all day long, no notifications and just one max two synks per day
      .
      I don’t think this device’s battery will last till the end of the warranty…..

    • Nicola

      Something is wrong with your unit. I charge mine every about 5 days and I run about an hour every day, 6 days a week.

  76. Zhivko Nikolov

    Hi Nicola,
    So you ran 5 hours in 5 days and recharge. You get 5 hours of workouts with one battery. Same here, sometimes I get 6 hours but part of my workouts are indoor without GPS.

    • Nicola

      Dear Zhivko,

      the key difference is that my M430 is fully on the whole week, tracking my movements and syncing with the Flow app on my phone. The only thing I have not enabled are the notifications. Maybe those are your battery hog?
      Yesterday I have updated to firmware 1.1.4 and I have used continuous HR tracking for few hours, the battery is still 90% after one day.

  77. Todd Stewart

    Great review. Bought the M430 and love it. Thanks for the clever training discount too. Saved $30 over amazon. Thanks again for doing all the research this over thinker needs!

  78. Zhivko Nikolov

    Hi everyone.
    Any thoughts about Continuous HR and battery life?
    My stats: (M430 is in flight mode all day, one or two phone syncs pe day)

    Without ContHR enabled – last time before firmware update – 7 days of usage, total 05:08:23 of workouts, 1:07:39 of these workouts were indoors (no GPS) and 04:00:44 outdoors (GPS high accuracy mode)

    With ContHR enabled – 4 and a half days of usage, only 3 running workouts (GPS high accuracy mode) with a total time of 02:45:23

    • Nicola

      Dear Zhivko,

      it makes sense, I see something similar.
      Charging the unit every three days or so is acceptable when continuous HR tracking is required. There are many smart watches that barely get to the evening…

    • v2lek

      Yeah, the continuous HR pretty much kills the battery.

      I have all the bells and whistles on. Smart notifications, continuous hr.
      It lasts about 3..4 days. Charged full on sunday, did one 1,5h traing session, and on wendsday another 1hour session. Before session ended watch warned me that about 1 hour of battery remaining.

      Probably will have to disable the continuous HR feature. It’s nice but it is pretty much useless, unlessy ou have some medical condition you want to monitor.

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Yes, we can disable ContHR but can’t stop this “BACKLIGHT on every button press” feature.
      Not very clever move, POLAR!!!
      Forcing all the users to waste battery all day long.
      This should be AN OPTION and everyone could decide to use it or ignore it.

    • What GPS watches don’t turn on the backlight when you press a button? Or have an option to disable it.

      As for continuous HR, the benefit there is measuring resting HR – which if tracked properly can usually allow you to spot excessive fatigue or pending illness.

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hi Ray,
      This is the answer from POLAR Customer care about this new “BACKLIGHT on EVERY BUTTON PRESS” behavior.

      “Mikko (Polar Care)
      Sep 1, 12:55 EEST
      Hi Zhivko,
      This is a new feature and can’t be turned off.
      We’ll forward your feedback to the development!”

      And then I just replied to a customer service employee and reminded him – how clever was a Backlight function implemented in their RCX5 watch….

  79. Mary

    Hi! I really love your reviews. I’ve been researching a lot and keep coming back to the polar m430. I’m looking for an activity tracker that is accurate with oHR, want to wear it every day, but I also want to use it for running, so GPS would be really nice.
    Since the announcement of Garmin’s vivoactive 3, I don’t know what to decide. The price is way higher, but it also looks nicer. What does the garmin va3 have that the polar m430 doesn’t have, and is garmin equal in accuracy as polar? It seems that polar flow will be able to design training programs, does garmin connect have the same feature?

  80. Nicola

    Is Polar going to introduce native Power support for Stryd with firmware update in the near future?

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hi Nicola,
      I don’t think POLAR will add power support to M430 – this is a POLAR V800 territory. You want power – you should go to high price category….
      The today market works this way…

  81. Nigel Deutrom

    Hi

    Looking to replace my m400 with either a m430 or suunto Spartan trainer wrist

    What are your thoughts as to best features. This is the first wrist hr watch so want to make sure I get the best put of the two. Both are around £200 mark in UK

    Cheers
    Nigel

  82. Cory Schwartz

    Thanks. Very informative
    I do not hint fitbit surge has run/walk mode

  83. Dirk

    Hi, I have a question to all users of 24/7 hr measurement: Is there any view in Polar Flow which shows the development of my average resting heart rate (similar to Garmin connect)?

  84. wihsm

    Hi Ray, with the 24×7 heartbeat firmware update, I hope you would be kind enough to update your review with this bit of feature. I am wondering how this works and whether it works well, battery, usability etc. Many thanks!

    • Izabela

      I got my Polar last Friday and as I was setting it up it run firmware update.
      I have been using it just since Friday evening but can’t complain about battery life. I wore it overnight, and the whole day admittedly on GPS only for 60 min or so and it didn’t need recharging for that 24 hours.
      Even my Pixel XL is working with it so I am very happy.
      I haven’t done full set up yet so can’t confirm if all is working well but from battery life perspective looks good so far.
      In UK they are sold in Decathlon with 2 years warranty.

  85. Bought yesterday. 24hours later battery still on 100% with CHRM set to ON.

    Impressive.

  86. Shane

    Hi all. My miscommunication/synch problems have finally finished with the new update (after so many restarts, Bluetooth on/off, re-pairing, hard resets). Looks like some of my data & all my fitness tests disappeared off the app & polarflow.web. The app is really going forward as is the watch. So much detailed analysis. Love the cont. HR & HR during sleep (almost as good as my old Peak). Watch now gives improved calorie count from low cardio activities throughout the day (consistent HR about every 2-10min but not constant) without starting the sport profile. Of course if I/u start the profile then HR is constant during the activity (before update I created a profile that ran all day – had HR on and low GPS to give more accurate calorie count). Just wish my watch band didn’t lose 40% of its black colour in the first 2 weeks. Have to colour it with Bic permanent black every 3 weeks

    • Max CC

      Hi DCR!

      Not sure if this is the best place to ask but:

      I have a Polar RC3GPS. Generally I like it and it has proved reliable once an issue with cracking buttons was sorted out under warranty a while ago (and shame about synching to Strava which is a bit of a faff). Compared to my sons’ Garmins though I noticed that the Polar:

      – Doesn’t synchronise its watch time from satellites like the Garmins do.
      – Does timestamp GPS files with actual time, just incremented time*
      – Can’t give you GPS co-ordinates (ok not vital as an everyday feature but if I did happen to be stranded in the Kalahari, might be useful…).

      *what this means is that if you pause the watch, the GPS track elapsed time just stops – so that later if a plot a run against a Garmin where we have both paused at a street junction, the Polar will appear to show me finishing first, even if we finish at the same time (hope that makes sense).

      So my question is: how does the Polar M430 handle these three aspects? Might be time for a new watch… :)

      Thanks!

      PS as well as running I do orienteering as a sport, so use the GPS a lot, although only for post-race analysis of where I went….

  87. Markus

    Hello,

    is it possible to use the heart rate from the watch for apps on a phone like runtastic or sports tracker?

    Thank you!

    Regards, Markus

    • I don‘t think so. Theoretically it should work, because you can set the watch to »make heart rate visible for other devices«. Practically it does not even work with a M460 (Polar’s bike computer). It’s a very bad and annoying issue, beause it limits also the use of BLE heart rate straps.

    • Markus

      Hi Dirk,

      thank you for this information :-(

      Regards, Markus

  88. PAUL

    Hi, does the oHR on this polar work well on hairy wrists?
    Thanks

    • Nicola

      It does.
      My wrist is quite hairy, and my hair is dark brown and the skin is tanned, I am Italian.

    • Drew

      I initially thought the optical HR pretty good. I have however had a few frustrating interval sessions in which during some interval the HR inexplicably dropped dramatically despite me working just as hard as in other intervals. This is unpleasant as you work extra hard to try to increase HR without effect, burn glycogen and fatigue. I have gone back to using a chest HRM and it seems much more reliable for interval training. The optical HR has been absolutely fine on steady state or less extreme temp runs.

    • Paul

      Thanks for your replies.
      Nicola, Im sure im somewhat hairier than you haha.
      Thanks Drew, ive heard that interval training is less accurate. Do yo have the polar m430 thou?

    • Nicola

      I had something similar, but on both on interval sessions and in steady state runs.
      However this happens rarely and typically disappears when I tighten the watch better to my wrist (one more hole).
      All in all I happy with it, as the inconvenience of the chest strap does not justify carrying that extra item around, cleaning it, etc.

    • Drew

      Yes. The OHR trace above is from the M430, the lower from a V800 with chest strap. The chest strap seems to give a much more stable result. I am pale skinned and have shaved the small area under the optical sensor. The conditions at the time were: cold, windy, raining and dark with me wearing a head torch. Difficult conditions but I live in S.Wales, UK so pretty routine!

    • Claudio Santos

      Drew, I second the comment about tightening the watch one more hole to solve this interval problem – see my post in this thread from the 30th June.

    • Drew

      Hi Claudio. It was the first thing I thought of and adjusted it on the fly but it made things worse. I then paused the session, stopped running, loosened the strap and waited for my HR to catch up (it actually increased during this pause), then carried on and it was OK. It was windy, raining and dark. I suspect this was because of peripheral vasoconstriction in my arm and tightening the strap actually made things worse. I think the bottom line is this tech works well most of the time – but sometimes that is not good enough. ECG based HR is rock solid. I have now acquired a V800.

    • Claudio Santos

      Hi Drew,

      I have not yet tried the oHR for intense intervals in cold conditions. It’s been pretty mild so far in London and I am training for a marathon, so no VO2 max etc for now.

      But I have considered this issue, so kept the H7 heart band that came with the M400 to pair with the M430 when the workout / conditions require it. For me having the oHR for easy/recovery/long runs (i.e. most days) and the ECG for tempo/interval work in cold temperatures is ideal.

    • Lee

      Claudio, thanks for the comment. I have tightened the wrist band as much as I can without effecting circulation and still no joy. I cannot detect the vibration while interval running. What’s really frustrating is that I can feel the vibrations for automatic laps and for out-of-zone alarms (which I ignore), but not at the start of the next running phase (which is what I care about).

    • Zhivko Nikolov

      Hello Lee.
      If you have vibrating out if zone alarm in the same time as your interval starts or ends – it is impossible to detect the interval change. Same for me. I try to keep my HR inside the recommended zone and to avoid constant vibration. The vibration alert is a big battery eating monster!

    • Claudio Santos

      Vibration alerts are not great, very easy to miss if you are not paying attention, ie looking at the watch to see how long it’s missing. The sound alerts in the M400 were much better if you were running in a quiet place. If you ignore the out of zone alarms try not using them – I never do!

  89. Jeff h

    Hi,,has anyone had trouble synching the M430 with their Apple device since the new iOS update….my watch is refusing to synch with my iPad…can force it to see the device, but does not see the app…and then just fails…fortunately the watch still seems to “like” my iPhone (also updated with latest iOS)….so can still get it the data into the polar flow…
    And FYI..have restarted the watch, turned off/on the iPad and logged off the app…and still am having issues…just curious if others are noticing this…thanks

  90. Luka

    I need some help, My wife’s birthday is coming up and I would like to get her a new watch shes training for her first full marathon and her Garmin FR10 just doesn’t cut it any more, I am a polar fanboy I love my M200, if it was for me id buy this in a heart beat. but I am torn on getting my wife the Garmin 235 or this watch. any feedback would be appreciated I have read countless reviews but can not find any reasons for one over the other at this point each has its strengths !

    • Claudio Santos

      Hi Luka! I have an M430 and used to have a 235. I will repost here my view on how the two compare. I did my first marathon last Sunday wearing (and training with) the M430. Any questions, just ask.

      My first “proper” GPS watch was the Polar M400 with the H7 chest band. Earlier this year I got an FR235, attracted by the idea of having a wrist HR watch. The FR235 is a very nice watch, and comfortable to wear – better than the Polar. Having the ConnectIQ platform is also a plus, as I really liked some of the data fields/apps that I tried.

      However, I was disappointed with the Garmin Connect website, which gives out much less running/performance information and data than Polar Flow. I also missed the detailed lap information given by the Polar M400 (either for automatic or manual laps). From reading Ray’s reviews, I think higher end Garmin watches may give more lap info than the FR235.

      Although it was nice not depending on the chest band, I realised that the wrist HR is still not good enough for short or long intervals. In the short ones, the HR lags (both ramping up and down) and on the long ones the HR would frequently either come down mid-interval or go up to match my cadence. (It goes without saying that I do know how to wear a wrist HR watch, i.e. above the wrist bone and tight.)

      So I realized that what I needed was to have a wrist-HR watch for the easy/long run days, that I could then couple with a chest band for the interval workouts. Because of the platform/lap info issues I noted earlier, I decided that I would rather go back to Polar and I got the M430 a week or so ago, and have used it in 3 or 4 runs. I wore the Polar M400 + H7 in two interval workouts to compare. I sold the FR235 a while ago, so I can’t compare them directly. However, I will try to sum up my views on FR235 vs M430 to directly address your question.

      – The FR235 is more comfortable to wear than the M430. Probably better looking as well.

      – As noted earlier, the M430 gives more lap info (same as M400) and I prefer the Polar Flow platform.

      – The wrist HR accuracy seems to be similar in the M430 and FR235, although I didn’t compare directly. But at easy paces they both tracked perfectly with the H7 chest band, and then lag behind when abruptly speeding up or slowing down. Interestingly, when doing mile repeats yesterday the M430 HR “dropped out” on the 5th repeat from the correct 170-ish to 140-ish. This is exactly what I used to experience with the FR235, although I should note that I tighten it one more stop and it then tracked perfectly on the last repeat. So far I did not experience the M430 locking on my cadence. So I would say that with regards to wrist HR the M430 is at least as good as the FR235.

      – The FR235 GPS was much better than the Polar M400, but I have the feeling that the M430 is better than the M400 too. Yesterday (after a software update that was supposed to improve A-GPS) it was better around my usual park loop and did better on the track as well. Earlier this week it did ok around narrow streets in Florence, and when running in the open in a big park it really excelled. As I said, I don’t have the FR235 anymore to compare directly, but I think they must be close. I am actually looking forward to Ray’s in-depth review to see what he made of it.

      So in summary, I cannot say that the M430 is significantly better than the FR235 on key aspects like GPS and HR, despite being more recent. But it probably is at least as good, and I prefer it because of the lap info and software platform. Hope this helps and if you have any more questions just ask.

    • Manfred

      Hi Luka,

      I have the FR235 and the M430:
      both watches are equally useful with regards to 24h HR, sleep monitoring, proposed rest times, estimated race times.
      GPS is better on the Polar but regarding the oHR there is no comparison between them.
      The M430 is like 95% correct 95% of the time whereas the FR235 seems to nail it about 70 % of the time and be completely off for the rest.

    • Luka

      Wow thank you for the well thought out reply , I decided to go with the Garmin she is used to the brand and i think it will be an easy switch for her. I have unboxed it while she was out of the house and charged it up, I must say I am impressed.
      I wanted to set it up so she could use it instead up waiting the half day to get it up and “running”.
      I might make the switch myself down the road to Garmin,out of the box it was easy with the web support for a quick set up and put it back in the box for her to use.

  91. mark s

    greetings Ray,
    you have the best reviews around. im looking to buy an m430 for its running metrics and accuracy, but also looking at the suunto trainer for its swim metrics. my regular week is 40% running 40% calisthenics and 20% swim. which one of these two do you recommend?

    my second question is im looking to buy my mom a fitbit ionic for its rumored potential to detect heart arrhythmia with its other sensors in a future update. have you heard if this is a definite update in the near future for the ionic? thanks and have a good day. cheers!

    • Mark s

      Sorry i meant to say i prefer the m430 for its accuracy and zone alerts and training programs which the trainer doesnt have. Cheers

  92. Jerry Hawkins

    can you use the polar 430 with a pace maker also can you use a chest strap with a pacemaker

  93. kostas odysseas

    hi thanks for the very in-depth review, i purchased my m430 in April and have been very happy with it with one exception…. Compatibility with cardio kit, especially my Keiser M3i bike. I dont want to wear a chest strap thats one of the great benefits of the m430 but most cardio kit is not bluetooth compatible, any ideas is there a bluetooth to 5 kHz convertor? my M3i is bluetooth compatible but only for output to tablets etc. Cheers Kostas

  94. Max CC

    Hi!

    Can anyone tell me if the Polar M430:

    1) synchronises its watch time from satellites like the Garmins do.
    2) timestamps GPS files with actual time as opposed to incremented run time time
    3) can give you GPS co-ordinates

    Reason I ask is that my current Polar RC3 GPS doesn’t do any of these. Not doing 1) was daft since it connects to satellites anyway (unless it is a patented thing by Garmin). 2) was an oddity that wasn’t immediately obvious but if I ran with my son and his Garmin and we both paused at a road crossing, his timestamp GPS data would show the pause, whereas mine wouldn’t – even if we finished the run together it looked like I finished before him when looking at the timestamps (even though the run stats were the same). 3) admittedly isn’t vital unless I happened to be stranded in the Kalahari, needing to radio my position (which could actually be a possibility for me next year!…..)

    Thanks!

    Max

    • Nicola Di Nisio

      1. Cannot be patented by Garmin, as it is an intrinsic feature of the GPS navigation messages. Mine is always spot on with the clock, so precise that I doubt it is not synchronising somehow, either via the GPS navigation messages, or when synching data with Polar Flow. In either case the clock is precise, and it also performs the daylight time adjustment automatically.

      2. The timestamp is full and UTC, here is an example from a workout of mine

      2017-11-07T11:36:22.000Z128.02017-11-07T11:36:23.000Z128.02017-11-07T11:36:24.000Z128.0

      3. I am not sure.

    • Max CC

      Thanks Nicola. I’m fairly sure that point 2 will be correct in the latest Polar watches but whilst the timestamps given by the RC3 GPS were in the correct format, if you paused it it gave correctly formated, but incorrect timestamps in that they weren’t actual time. This is what the gpx file had from the RC3:

      2017-10-15T11:48:43Z

      exercise

      2017-10-15T11:48:43Z
      2d
      10

      2017-10-15T11:48:44Z
      2d
      10
      If you paused it for a minute the next time stamp would *not* increase by a minute!! which is pausing in a fashion… but the ability to ‘freeze’ time itself wasn’t a feature I was expecting!

    • Andrew

      A3. Quick menu in training view has current GPS location co-ordinates. Pages 31/32 of manual.

    • Max CC

      Thanks Andrew, that’s excellent! Now, I just need a radio…

    • Nicola

      I have just checked what happens in your question #2 today.
      I stopped at a traffic light for almost a minute and in the TCX file I can see that between my stop and start actions there is a jump in time.
      I stopped recording at 2017-11-11T08:53:46.036Z and the next sample when I restarted running was already at 2017-11-11T08:54:37.681Z.
      Interestingly enough the GPX exported from Polar Flow come will all the missing samples, so the export procedure fills in the gap with some interpolation, it is not raw data.
      Also the CSV file exported from Polar Flow is the result of some post-processing, the time gap is not present either.
      So if you are after the time gaps, the only reliable file is the native TCX.

    • Nicola

      By the way, if you are after Search and Rescue, also consider a 406 MHz Radio Beacon

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Those work globally, sending your position via satellites (Galileo SAR is already operational) and you get a distress message.

    • Max CC

      Thanks Nicola! That confirms that the 430 does what I hoped and would have expected it to (nb the old RC3 GPS didn’t have a native TCX file option).