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Polar Vantage M2 In-Depth Review


Polar has launched two new watches today, the second iteration of the mid-range Vantage offering, now called the Vantage M2, while also launching their updated Ignite fitness watch – the Ignite 2. You’ll remember last fall Polar refreshed the higher-end Vantage V, with the Vantage V2. At this point, Polar has essentially refreshed the bulk of their wearables lineup in the last 12 months – inclusive of launching the trail-focused Grit X last spring, which kinda slides in between the Vantage M2 and V2.

For this review though, I’m gonna focus entirely on the M2. And most of the features that we see it gain are largely ones Polar has previously launched on the Vantage V2 or Grit X last year. In fact, there’s only a single ‘unseen’ feature with this launch, the ability to broadcast your Vantage M2 heart rate to apps like Zwift or TrainerRoad using Bluetooth Smart. While Polar has toyed with HR broadcasting in various devices over the years, it was mostly limited to talking to other Polar devices, and even then, it rarely worked properly. This time though, they’ve revamped the tech to follow Bluetooth Smart HR broadcasting standards. Now, that’s only enabled today in the Ignite 2 – but it’s it’ll hit the Vantage M2, Vantage V2, & Grit X later this year.

Ultimately, the Vantage M2 is aimed at folks who want a full-featured multisport watch – but don’t want to pay Garmin prices for it. And frankly, it does a really good job of that. It’s got connectivity to all the sensor types most need (like cycling power meters), while recording your workouts across a slew of sport profiles – all for under $300. Here’s the quick and dirty in a roughly 8-minute long video, highlighting all the key bits:

For this review I’ve been using a media loaner Polar Vantage M2 (as well as an Ignite 2) – and putting it through its paces. Once I’m done with the unit I’ll toss it in a box and get it shipped back to Polar. That’s just the way I roll. If you found this post useful, consider becoming a DCR Supporter which makes the site ad-free, while also getting access to a mostly weekly video series behind the scenes of the DCR Cave. And of course, it makes you awesome.

What’s new:


In many ways, the Vantage M2 will feel pretty familiar to Polar fans, largely because virtually every feature but one has already been rolled out to recent Polar devices like the Vantage V2 and Grit X over the past year. And inversely, the singular new feature not yet on the Vantage V2 will get an update “later in 2021”, and with that, the Grit X will get the newer features too.

Still, here’s what’s new to the Polar Vantage M2, in comparison to the original Vantage M:

– Added Music controls widget/dashboard
– Added weather forecast widget/dashboard
– Added weekly training summary widget/dashboard
– Added FuelWise – hydration & nutrition reminders based on past workouts
– Added Nutrition energy sources – breakdown of carbs/protein/fats
– Added watch face customization – choose which widgets/dashboards to see
– Added power save modes – increases non-GPS continuous workout time to 100 hours
– Adds new HR broadcasting over Bluetooth feature “later this year”
– New watch colors
– New band design
– New bezel design with etching
– Pricing increases slightly from $279/279EUR to $299/299EUR

Somewhat oddly, the Ignite 2 got new heart rate broadcasting features today, but the Vantage M2 doesn’t have it at launch. Instead, down the road, the Vantage M2/V2/Grit X will get an update for that. Additionally, the Grit X will get the Weekly Training Summary dashboard view, the music controls, and the weather forecast bits in a firmware update. There’s no specific timeline for that other than ‘later this year’.

Also, in case you didn’t see all the updates that the original Vantage M got, remember it received these major features updates before its last feature firmware update about a year ago:

– FitSpark: Essentially suggested workouts on a daily basis
– Race Pace: A virtual pacer option for running to hit a target time
– Sleep Plus Stages: Sleep details including sleep cycles and states
– Nightly Recharge: This uses ANSI data to determine how much you recovery each night
– Serene Breathing Exercises: Pretty much as titled
– ZoneLock: This allows you to focus on a specific HR zone during a workout
– Galileo & QZSS Satellite support: This is atop the existing GPS & GPS+GLONASS options
– Fitness Tests: Determines your Vo2Max using a short test

Again, all of those in this last section were added to the Polar Vantage M (original version) during the timeframe after release. There are more minor updates and bug fixes and such, but those are the big-ticket ones.

When it comes to comparing it to the Vantage V2, the main things the Vantage V2 has that the M2 lacks are:

– Barometric altimeter
– Hill splitter (which depends on barometric altimeter)
– Recovery Pro
– Running Performance Test
– Cycling FTP Test
– Leg Recovery Test
– Route navigation (including with Komoot routes)
– Strava Live Segments
– Built-in running power support (depends on barometric altimeter)
– Longer battery life
– Audio alerts (no audio alerts in M-series watches)
– Higher waterproof spec (100m on V2 vs 30m on M2)
– V2 has a touchscreen

Ok, got all that? Good, let’s get it unboxed.

What’s in the box:


Cracking open the top of the Vantage M2 box, you’ll find the watch sitting atop an upper level, concealing the chargers and extra band below it:


Inside each Vantage M2 box is a standard Polar Vantage charging cable (same as Vantage M/V/V2/Grit X), as well as an extra longer strap. In my case, the default strap was more than long enough for my apparently skinnier runner wrists.


Here’s a closer look at the charging cable:


And then we’ve got the quick start guide that was chilling inside that box:


Here’s a closer look at the Vantage M2, which features a new etched bezel design.


In my case I’ve got the white/gold one, though I personally like the look of the darker colors/etching better. Here are all the options:


You can see the new strap design is definitely far better than previous iterations, and is fairly comfortable too – I like it!


Plus, it lies flat, unlike the original one, which forced the strap around the corners.


The weight of the unit comes in at 44g, exactly the same as before:


Ok, with that let’s start using it.

The Basics:


For most people that get a smartwatch, the purpose is a blend of sports-focused usage with everyday wearability and health tracking. And the Vantage M2 is no different in that respect and its functionality. Sure, it doesn’t have the pretty display of an Apple Watch – but it doesn’t try and be one either. An Apple Watch has a battery that lasts a day, or two if you’re lucky. Whereas a sport-specific watch like the Vantage M2 is gonna last a week or two in normal smartwatch mode. Different things for different people.

For this first section, I’m going to dive into all those day to day usage type aspects, and then we’ll hit sports in the next section. While most of this will be old-hat to those familiar with recent Polar releases, there are some new tidbits in here worth nothing – notably around some of the dashboard views.

To begin, the Vantage M2 is a non-touchscreen watch (whereas the Vantage V2 is touchscreen), instead you’ll use one of the five buttons on the side. And honestly, that’s perfectly fine by me. The last thing I want to deal with is a finicky touchscreen trying to get a lap marker on a track workout (hence, why the V2 still has buttons, in case you were wondering).


Now by most modern standards, the Vantage M2’s menu and user interface is a bit slow. I’m not expecting lightning quick here, but I do feel like Polar probably needs to consider some meaningful performance upgrades at some point for the next hardware version. I’d consider this acceptable for the most part, but you can definitely feel the lag. Note that each time you press a bit you get a nice vibration, which is well executed.

The strap on the Vantage M2 is removable, and you can swap it out for any 22mm strap you have. I still continue to find it bizarre that Polar’s higher-end Vantage V2 is a propriety strap design (though at least swappable), while the less expensive M2 is fully industry standard. I’m not complaining in the case of the M2, but just a thought.


On the backside of the Vantage M2 you’ll see the optical HR sensor. This is used to measure your heart rate 24×7, as well as breathing rate and other sleep metrics. During a workout it goes into a higher power mode for more accurate HR measurement there. Notably however, it does not appear to be the same exact sensor set as the Vantage V2 or Grit X. Both of those used a 10 LED arrangement (5 red, 4 orange/yellow, 1 green), whereas both the Vantage M2 and Ignite M2 appear to have gone back to a slightly different arrangement of 9 LED’s (5 green, 4 red, + 1 unused yellow) – previously used on the Vantage M & Vantage V.


I’ve gotta wonder if this is Polar quietly admitting the Vantage V2/Grit X sensor was actually a step back in accuracy. Myself and many other reviewers found it finicky, often showing small spikes in the HR – and in general being less accurate than the generally quite good original Vantage series sensors. In any case, more on accuracy later.

The Vantage M2 adds the newer tweakable dashboard pages found on the V2. These pages are often called widgets by other companies, but basically allow you to get consolidated information in other areas such as sleep, steps, or workout history. And Polar has introduced a few new pages here, as well as the aforementioned ability to select which pages you actually want displayed. Starting in no particular order, here’s the heart rate one. This will show the time/date (and battery too when you raise your wrist) in the main dashboard, as well as your current heart rate. You can then tap it to get more details about your heart rate for the day:


The Polar Vantage M2 constantly records your heart rate to the watch, and then syncs it onwards to Polar Flow via the smartphone app (or desktop app if plugged in). From there you can see it on Polar Flow mobile app, or the website. For example, here’s a look at a day’s worth of heart rate data, including two workouts:


After that, you’ve got sleep tracking. This is essentially subdivided into two pieces: Sleep Plus Stages and Nightly Recharge. The first piece covers things like when you went to sleep and your sleep phases. While the Nightly Recharge bits looks at how well you’ve recovered each night. Nightly recharge takes three days’ worth of data before it starts showing details, and will improve over time the longer you wear it.


You can tap into that page to see more details on both sections:

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Alternatively, all of this is also found up on Polar Flow too:

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For the most part, I find Polar’s sleep tracking pretty good. I didn’t have any meaningful errors here, with the sleep times within a few mins of when I actually fell asleep or woke up. And recharge bits were relatively close most days to how I felt – though, I have no way of knowing whether or not the sleep phase/stage data is correct.

After that, we’ve got FitSpark. This was introduced back on the original Vantage M watch in a later firmware update, and it essentially gives you daily suggested workouts to maintain your current fitness level. There are different types of workouts such as strength, cardio, and supportive (typically flexibility-focused). And it’s smart enough to generally first offer a cardio or strength workout, and then after you’ve done that, it’ll give you a supportive workout. But more on this later in the Sports section. In this case, I’ve already done a few Cardio workouts for today, so it’s giving me some stretching to do:


And then later on, it tells me I’ve done enough this day:


After that, we’ve got the weather page, and somehow, it’s not raining here in Amsterdam. Don’t worry, just give it a few hours.


You can tap into that, and it’ll ever-so-slowly load expected rain, wind speed, and the forecast for the coming days. It’s some of these detail-heavy pages that you really see the user interface kinda drag a bit.


Next, there’s my weekly training summary, in hours and time per heart rate zone. There’s been a lot of workouts lately.


You can tap this to then get more details on the zones, distances, calories, and activities, allowing you to see each activity that contributed to that weekly total.


Going back to the main dashboard page we’ve got the daily steps. In my case, this is helped by a long meander that afternoon:


And then there’s the training status page. As is often the case when 3-5 products get released on a single day, my Polar (and Garmin) training status will helpfully remind me that my workout load is a poor idea. I helpfully remind them who pays the bills around here. It still taunts me.


You can dive into that to see the exact breakdown and why it’s upset at you.

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Now, whether any of these dashboards are displayed can be customized via the Watch Face Views option. You’ll find that by pressing the lower left button and scroll down a bit. You can then toggle which widgets/dashboards you want to see, and which ones you don’t. I mean, I don’t want to name names here, but the dashboard that keeps showing me as ‘Overreaching’ is pretty close to getting the ax.

DSC_3879 DSC_3880

Off in that semi-settings area you’ll also find the Serene guided breathing exercises. To execute these you’ll sit on a couch and look at bubbles on the watch:


You can configure the overall duration as well as the inhale/exhale lengths, and it’ll walk you through each step until completion.

Next, there’s smartphone notifications. These non-interactive alerts will be sent from your iOS/Android phone whenever apps that you’ve configured on your phone send a notification. They could be Strava, Twitter, Facebook, Tinder….anything. You can’t reply to them though, so it’s just one-way in nature.


New to the Vantage M2 is the music control dashboard. You can either toggle this on as a dashboard, or access it via the menu. This allows you to control music on your phone. You’ll access this by changing your dashboard watch face to the music one, after enabling it. You’ll need to have a music app open on your phone for this to work. The Vantage M2 does *NOT* have any music storage on it. So it’s *ONLY* controlling music already on your phone.


Somewhat neat though is that it does pull the correct icon for the app it’s controlling, so you can see the Spotify icon shown there – a nice touch. I can skip/rewind/pause/play on the main screen, as well as tap the volume icon to increase volume:


There are no other options beyond that, such as selecting songs or such. It’s just iterating through what you have – pretty similar to what buttons on a pair of headphones would do.

Oh, and last but not least, you can slightly change the watch face between digital and analog, as well as change the accent colors and whether or not to display seconds. But ultimately, there are very few watch face options here compared to most other watches on the market. This is another area that Polar could probably aim to spend a bit of time, if not for the Vantage series,  but likely more so for the Ignite/Unite series.

With all the basics covered, let’s dive into the reason you actually bought this watch: The sports functionality.

Sport Features & Usage:


The Vantage M2 follows the Grit X in many ways, and in fact, one could basically consider the Vantage M2 a Grit X without a baro altimeter or course tracking. Both watches get almost identical new features over the existing Vantage M. And if we look at the total new features on the M2, roughly half of them are sports features (versus the other half being day to day type features). Here’s the sports-focused set:

– Added weekly training summary widget/dashboard
– Added FuelWise – hydration & nutrition reminders based on past workouts
– Added Nutrition energy sources – breakdown of carbs/protein/fats
– Added power save modes – increases non-GPS continuous workout time to 100 hours

First up though, let’s dive into sport modes. To start a workout you’ll either long-hold the middle right button, or tap the bottom left button and select ‘Start Training’. Both options take you here though, which is where you choose the sport mode you want:


The Polar Vantage M2 can store locally some 20 sport profiles, with each profile having customized data fields, calorie burn metrics, and a slew of other settings. These sport profiles are controlled on Polar Flow, either via the smartphone app or website. There are gazillions of sport profiles to choose from. While many of them are similar, the main thing is really calorie burn metrics between them.


Once a sport profile is selected, you can change the data fields and pages you want shown, or the frequency of update rates. You can also change zone limits, as well as automatic laps, and more. These can be changed on both Polar Flow online, or via your smartphone app:


For example, it’s in here that you can tweak the data fields shown on your watch:


These changes are synced to your watch anytime you sync your watch, which can be done via Bluetooth Smart to your phone, or cable to your computer. Usually the sync process takes about 20-40 seconds via computer, or about 30-60 seconds via Bluetooth Smart. It does tend to take longer though if you haven’t synced in a while and it needs to sync GPS cache information, firmware updates, etc…

In any case, back on the watch, you’ll see icons for whether it’s locked your heart rate (via the optical sensor), as well as location (via GPS). Also, if you have cycling accessories like a power meter or cadence sensor, it’ll let ya know whether or not those are locked. And if you’ve got an external heart rate sensor, Polar will change the HR icon outline to blue as opposed to green once the sensor is connected.


Now, I’ve seen somewhat slower GPS reception on both the Vantage M2 and Ignite 2. The Ignite 2 has been far worse for me (as in, like up to 10 minutes horrible). But the M2 is still often taking 1-3 minutes to find GPS, which in 2021 is crazy pants long. Most other units of mine lock in a few seconds. I’ve escalated to Polar to let them troubleshoot.

As for sensor types it supports, it’s the same as before, they are:

– Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Straps
– Bluetooth Smart Cycling Power Meters
– Bluetooth Smart Cycling Cadence & Speed Sensors
– Bluetooth Smart Running Footpods
– Bluetooth Smart Running Power Meters

Note that the Vantage M2 doesn’t have built-in running power meter support, as it lacks an altimeter. From a cycling power meter standpoint, I’ve mostly been using it with my Quarq DZero power meter, as it’s been fiddly with my pedal-based power meters. Sadly, there’s no support for ANT+ here at all. As such, pairing it to most smart trainers will be tricky, because you’ll need that single Bluetooth Smart connection to likely pair to Zwift/TrainerRoad/etc (unless using ANT+). Only Wahoo supports multiple concurrent Bluetooth Smart connections on their KICKR 2018/2020/CORE/BIKE models.

To pair sensors, you’ll head to the general settings menu, and then sensors from there. As one interesting Polar aside, they actually automatically save sensors in your account and pre-pair them to your watch. Meaning, if you’ve got a Polar H10, it’ll actually automatically stick the sensor details into the watch when you turn it on. That’s great in 99% of use cases, but if you’ve lent that sensor to a friend/spouse/dog and plan to workout near them while they use that chest strap, be aware it’ll auto-pair to that. Again, the blue pairing icon on the start screen is your indicator that it’s using that instead of the optical sensor.

Also on that pairing page is a settings icon. This is where you can adjust power settings, including the GPS recording rate (which increases GPS battery time). In general though, the data loss going from normal 1-second recording to 1-minute or 2-minute recording is massive. I wouldn’t EVER recommend that unless you *really knew* you were going to be well above normal GPS battery time, and only in cases where you’re moving super slow.

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Oh, in that menu you can also turn off the optical HR sensor to save battery life, as well as turn on a lower screen update rate option to save battery life.

You can also toggle on/off the backlight, as well as select a structured workout from your library. If you don’t have a structured workout saved you can create an interval timer on the watch itself. Like most on-watch interval systems, it’s fairly simple in that you specify either distance or time-based goals, however, there isn’t a way to set a recovery period. So it’s basically just like a repeating timer.


Note that on the Vantage M2 there is no route guidance/course following, unlike the Grit X or Vantage V2 series.

In any event, with all that settled, we’ll hopefully have a lit-up series of sensor/GPS lights, and can get going by tapping the right center button to start the workout. From here you’ll see your data fields as you’ve configured them. Pace, distance, and other sensor metrics update in real-time as expected.


To take a lap, you’ll press the lap button. I like how Polar has both distance-based laps as well as manual laps, and you can blend those two together after the fact in workout analysis.

I didn’t have any issues seeing the display or buttons, all worked just fine for me –and visibility was just fine too – no issues there for my eyes, though, I can see how some would find the display a bit dark in certain scenarios. The backlight solves that, but ultimately it’s no different than previous Vantage displays.

For cycling specifically, I did see some issues with the most recent Garmin power meter pedals, whereby it would drop the connection exactly every 2 minutes. I did not have this issue with the Quarq DZero. And while one might be tempted to assume that’s a Gamin problem, I don’t think that’s the case. Instead, it appears to be a power meter spec/pedal problem. For example, the Vantage M2 won’t even pair with my PowerTap P1 or P2 pedals. So I suspect there’s some sort of difference of opinion here that needs to be sorted out between the two companies. Hopefully they’ll do that.

In any case, after you’re done suffering, you’ll get a workout summary screen with boatloads of data you can dive into. Here’s a quick gallery of all those screens:

And then you can see the workout on Polar Flow, via your smartphone or web. here’s an example of a track workout I did yesterday:


(Note: I effed up and hit pause as opposed to lap at the end of one of my intervals, hence the cut across the grass to the start of the next interval 200m later. My bad.)

All of the splits/lap data is listed down below too, where you can see those 800’s, though, due to the GPS variance on the track, they were more like 840’s and 850’s according to Polar. I’d say it’s probably time for Polar to consider adding in a track mode like Garmin & COROS.


If you’ve got sites like Strava, TrainingPeaks, and others set up, it’ll automatically get synced to them too, the second the workout uploads to Polar Flow.

Now, we haven’t yet covered FuelWise or Nutrition energy sources, so let’s do that now. First, on that just completed workout, you’ll have seen the Nutrition/Energy sources. This is where you can see the breakdown of carbs, fats, and protein in your workout calories:

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However, the point of this is to then use it within the FuelWise functionality, which gives you smart reminds for carb refueling. To access that you need to choose Fueling from the main menu (lower left button) *BEFORE* you select a sport. Ideally they’d allow you to add it just like you add a structured workout, from the sport mode, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. Once in there, you can choose what type of reminder to add:


Then, you’ll specify the estimated workout duration (time), as well as the size of your nutrition’s carb serving (in other words, how much per gel packet).

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Then once out during the workout it’ll give you reminders dynamically based on your normal fueling requirements from past data. If you go beyond your planned duration (perhaps because the Vantage M2 doesn’t have route navigation and you got horribly lost in the woods for 7 hours), it’ll keep giving you reminders dynamically until you hit stop. Whether or not you have the nutrition on-hand is definitely not Polar’s problem. They assume you can find yourself a 7-11 somewhere.


Shifting to more workout guidance, is FitSpark. This was added back in the original Polar Vantage M/V days, but it’s one of the more important pieces of the Polar puzzle. Basically, the idea behind this is to keep you doing something. First, it’ll skew towards Cardio or Strength workouts, and then after that, it’ll finish up with a Supportive workout (which is core/stretching typically). You’ll see this on your home watch face dashboards:


Each day it’ll give you a suggested cardio workout, and then after you’ve completed that it’ll give you a supportive or strength workout. These aren’t tied to a specific training plan (like building towards a marathon), but rather, aimed at giving you a ‘Workout of the day’ concept. And doing so in a way that doesn’t get you injured.


Depending on the type of workout you choose it’ll give you the specific steps and guidance in the watch itself. There are cardio-focused running workouts with different intensities. And then there are core type workouts too, and for those, it’ll give you the specific moves to do, along with animations and text for each one:


Again, if you’re on a structured training plan towards a specific-season race, this frankly isn’t for you. Instead, it’s for folks who don’t have a specific training plan, but just want to keep active in an endurance-sports focused manner. The watch won’t mess around, it’ll throw-down solid workout suggestions, so don’t think you’re just gonna get a bunch of 30-minute easy-peasy stretching workouts.

Meanwhile, if you’re on a structured training plan, then you’ll probably be using the Cardio Load status portions. But first, you’ve got the Weekly Training dashboard, which shows you your training load each week (it resets at seemingly/oddly noon on Mondays), inclusive of the exact HR zone breakdowns.


However, in concert with that is the actual Cardio Load dashboard. This shows you whether or not your training is productive. On the main dashboard page you’ll see a quick overview:


But once you dig into it, you’ll get the exact details of what it thinks about your workout habits:


Strain is a metric showing the average daily load from the past 7 days. Whereas Tolerance shows your average daily load from the past 28 days. So basically you can look at those two values and see the ratio as part of the number above it, such that it keeps things in check. Go too high, and you’re prone to injury. Too low, and you’re not going to make gains. In the middle, and life is grand.

You can also view this same info on the Polar Flow app:

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And this is where we get to the biggest training difference between the Vantage M2 and the V2 – the lack of Recovery Tracking – called Recovery Pro. Though, that does require a chest strap at least three times a week to get the full Orthostatic test and associated recovery data. Still, you can use the Nightly Recharge data on the Vantage M2 (as discussed earlier in the basics section) as a pretty good proxy for recovery.

GPS & HR Accuracy:


There’s likely no topic that stirs as much discussion and passion as GPS accuracy.  A watch could fall apart and give you dire electrical shocks while doing so, but if it shows you on the wrong side of the road?  Oh hell no, bring on the fury of the internet!

GPS accuracy can be looked at in a number of different ways, but I prefer to look at it using a number of devices in real-world scenarios across a vast number of activities.  I use 2-6 other devices at once, trying to get a clear picture of how a given set of devices handles conditions on a certain day.  Conditions include everything from tree/building cover to weather.

Over the years, I’ve continued to tweak my GPS testing methodology.  For example, I don’t place two units next to each other on my wrists, as that can impact signal. If I do so, I’ll put a thin fabric spacer of about 1”/3cm between them (I didn’t do that on any of my Polar Vantage M2 activities however, all workouts only had a single device per wrist).  But often I’ll simply carry other units by the straps, or attach them to the shoulder straps of my hydration backpack.  Plus, wearing multiple watches on the same wrist is well known to impact optical HR accuracy.

Meanwhile, for HR accuracy testing I’m typically wearing a chest strap (usually the Garmin HRM-PRO, Wahoo TICKR FIT, Polar H10, or Polar H9) as well as another optical HR sensor watch on the bicep (lately the Scosche R2, Mio Pod, Whoop band, and/or Polar Verity Sense). Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over.  Note all this data is analyzed using the DCR Analyzer, details here.

Ok, let’s dive into it. First up, let’s get right into the more challenging HR aspects, along with both an easy and hard run from a GPS standpoint. This is a track interval workout, thus hard for the heart rate sensor. But I ran to/from the track with the recording on – and that route was trivial for most GPS units. The track of course is hard for GPS due to the challenge of nailing a track shape. Here’s the Vantage M2 GPS compared to Garmin FR745 and FR945, notably, these all use basically the same GPS chipset.


At a high level, these look similiar. Ignore the random slash across the track, that’s just stupid me hitting pause when I meant lap at the end of one of the intervals.

However, what concerns me is the running on the straightaway – and honestly, more at the end of the run than the beginning. Look at how far off the Vantage M2 is, wobbling over in the swamp/canal (in green). Now, the FR945 did however undercut this final turn significantly. Though, it’s also the only time it did so.


But its the number of errors the Vantage M2 made that’s less ideal. For example, going under the highways, it wobbles way off course:


Or further along this path, the Vantage M2 is clearly deep in the canal. Yes, the FR745 is a bit off track too for a short period, but a much smaller chunk than the M2:


Same goes for this turn. Nobody is saying the FR745 is great here, but the Vantage M2 is very much not great.


Now, when it comes to the track itself, the Vantage M2 actually did quite well for not having a track mode. Track mode was enabled on the FR745 (in purple), but not on the FR945 (in teal). So you see that the purple is ‘snapped’ to the track, save the two points on the right side when I got too close to the track running past it on the path during the warm-up, and it ‘snaps’ to it. Normally you only enable track mode once you arrive at the track, but in most cases you can get away with it otherwise. As noted, the single slash across the infield is simply hitting pause for 200m of my recovery, instead of lap.


So, for not having track mode, the track consistency isn’t bad. Though, each 800m set was coming up as about 850m (+/- 10m), which is semi-substantial.

Switching gears on this run, what about heart rate? For that I’m comparing the optical HR sensor of the Vantage M2 to a Polar Verity Sense band, the Garmin FR745 optical sensor (other wrist), and the Garmin HRM-PRO chest strap.


You can see above that simply put – the Vantage M2 basically nailed these 800m intervals – virtually perfect. In fact, all of the units were pretty solid on the intervals. The FR745 optical sensor had a rough go of the first 5-6 of the warm-up, but then was fine all the way till the 6th-8th intervals, where it wobbled a bit at the top-end.


Looking at the final intervals, it’s really interesting. Basically, we’ve got three sets of responsiveness to these 200m sprints. You can see the Garmin HRM-PRO chest strap responds first each time, as expected. Then with about 2-3 seconds lag is both the Polar Vantage M2 and Polar Verity Sense optical HR sensors, followed then by the FR745 optical HR sensor. And by ‘followed’, I mean, sometimes.


You’ll notice how the HRM-PRO ‘drops’ faster after each interval, again, normal that a chest strap would lead there, while the optical HR sensors are a bit laggier. Still, the main work portion is very close – just delayed. Meaning, things like total training load wouldn’t be appreciably different/impacted here. Thus, I’m pretty darn happy with the Vantage M2 on this interval.

Next, let’s look at a road ride. This one is pretty straight forward, but includes some in the woods sections, some sections near bridges, and some nice loops around a cycling track to test repeatability. Here’s that data set, and you can see the exhaustive list of units below. The Vantage M2 on one wrist, Ignite M2 on the other, and the FR745 on the handlebars.


Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with this GPS track- it’s really good across the board. About the only time I could quibble is a single turn where it went a bit wide into the intersection (upper right of the photo below):


But otherwise it’s great. The Ignite 2 was a bit more wobbly in some cases, but not a huge deal. Road ride is generally pretty easy for GPS. So, let’s look at optical HR instead:


Compared to a Whoop strap, Garmin HRM-PRO, Polar Verity Sense, and Polar Ignite 2 – we’ve got plenty of data to look at. Obviously, that yellow line is the Ignite 2. Clearly, this was not its favorite ride. It takes a special kinda luck to do worse than the Whoop strap, but it managed.

However, the Vantage M2 in purple is actually pretty darn good for an optical HR on a road ride. Outdoor cycling tends to be challenging for wrist based optical HR sensors due to the positions of your wrist being tight holding onto the handlebars. And while there are some minor quirks, it’s overall quite good.

Let’s switch over to a mountain bike ride. This is virtually entirely in the forest, and tons of constant turns and twists. Given the Dutch don’t have much in the way of hills, they make up for it with the most drunk-route possible through the forest – as if a blind man is shouting left & right as fast as they can back and forth. Here’s the data, which, at a high level doesn’t look too bad.


Looking at the closer twists and turns, you’ll see it’s actually all pretty similar. The FR945 is a bit offset, but that makes sense as I had mounted it on the top-tub against the stem. It was just there collecting HR data from a strap, and power meter data, not so much for GPS data.


Heart rate data here is kinda rough on the Vantage M2, but that’s kinda to be expected given the tense pressure of holding mountain bike bars with optical HR sensors on the wrist. The Garmin Enduro on the wrist is roughly similar here. One could argue semantics which one was more imperfect, but it’s probably a wash. The Enduro did better on the first half, while Vantage M2 did better on the second half. However, neither was horrific.


So, let’s switch quickly to an indoor set. Here’s a 45-minute TrainerRoad workout. A pile of 5-minute repeats. Frankly, it looks flawless:


Ultimately, the heart rate on the Vantage M2 is largely quite good running, cycling indoors, and even mostly good road cycling. For mountain biking, it’s not ideal (but rarely are wrist-based optical HR sensors), but probably passable for most people that are fine with ‘good enough’ data there.

For GPS, it seems fine for road cycling and mountain biking, but I’m pretty disappointed at my last run before publishing my review. For this timeframe, I was more heavy cycling rather than running. Sometimes it’s the opposite. Ultimately, it’s a multisport watch – so doing different activities makes sense. But it really shouldn’t have struggled on the run as badly as it did. Granted, that’s just one run – but it does seem to align with the struggles other reviewers had with GPS accuracy. Hopefully it’s something they can sort out.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Wrap Up:


Overall this is a good update model from Polar. It’s not drastically different, but does keep things fresh – similar to what they did with the Polar Vantage V2 last year – and, more importantly, incorporates almost all of the features from that watch and the Grit X (at least, those that didn’t depend on a barometric altimeter. While there is that slight price increase from $279 to $299, I think that’s more than fair – especially since Garmin is mostly leaving this price range entirely to Polar and COROS – a mistake that I think will eventually flower as Garmin’s prices seem to continue to rise for multisport watches specifically. COROS has their Pace 2 watch, which is fantastic. However, it doesn’t have anywhere near the level of platform or app polish that Polar has, nor the depth in some of the features like the training load bits. Of course, it’s also $100 cheaper.

Still, while the optical HR sensor accuracy improved on the Vantage M2 for me compared to other recent Polar watches, the GPS wasn’t as strong. Perhaps that’s something they can sort out, but it is a bit of a bummer. Moreover, as one who enjoys an occasional track workout, I think it’s time for Polar to look to add a track running mode, akin to what Garmin & COROS both have – that would also have the side benefit of probably covering up some of the GPS stability issues on the track too.

Nonetheless, despite the minor quirks – it’s overall a very good option, and with the external/bezel/strap design refreshes, it looks less like a cheaper plastic watch and more like a premium sports watch. Add to that the heart rate broadcasting option rolling out to it later this year, and it fills in some of the indoor training gaps that Polar has had as well.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

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 time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Polar Vantage M2 or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with just about any Bluetooth Smart sport sensors, you can use just about anything though.

Wahoo RPM Sensor

This dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart sensor will transmit cadence not only to your bike computer/watch, but also 3rd party apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, and more.

Wahoo SPEED Sensor

Speed sensors are primarily useful for offroad usage. I don't find much of a need for one while road-cycling, but for mountain bike trails they can help alleviate speed/distance issues with poor GPS reception in dense trees.

This is a strap I often use in testing/comparisons. It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, but it also supports the 5kHz analog heart rate transmission for older gym equipment. Also, it has workout storage/recording in it and supports two Bluetooth connections.

This is a great strap, especially if you're going to the gym. It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, but it also supports the 5kHz analog heart rate transmission for older gym equipment. Note that it only accepts a single Bluetooth connection, versus dual-connections for the Polar H10.

I'd argue the Polar OH1 Plus is the best optical HR sensor out there. So while it might seem odd to get this when your watch also has a optical HR sensor, this one is just better most of the time. Plus, it also has workout recording storage. Dual ANT+/Bluetooth.

The Polar Verity Sense is the newer variant of the Polar OH1 Plus. And while it might seem odd to get this when your watch also has a optical HR sensor, this one is just better most of the time. Plus, it also has workout recording storage. Dual ANT+/Bluetooth.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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  1. Romain

    It’s crazy the pace of new models at Polar compared to Suunto… I wonder what they do all day long at Helsinki…

    • Patrick Ricci

      Romain – I agree Suunto is train wreck.. For example, Suunto 9 Baro is coming up on 3 years with no new Model ie 10. On Ray’s review page for Suunto it barely make up 1 window of watches to review.
      I have been a lifelong fan but these people in Helsinki have lost their way at least in the competitive athlete market. I mean Suunto 7 is a great watch for Housewife who wants to counts steps to the kitchen or soccer fields …but a come on Suunto you used to be the king of outdoor sports…. Shame


    • Pierre

      Would you recommend the M2 or FR745? Or what other watch may you recommend?

      I’m not at all an extreme athlete by any means and just looking to track my data to help me get back in shape by doing mostly strength training (I have a basement gym). And when the weather gets nice outside again I’ll go for the casual run outside.

    • Juan Alpizar

      For strength training no watch is reliable, maybe Apple Watch, but still inaccurate in some people. If your goal is strength training over anything else, get either a chest strap or a sensor like the Polar Verity Sense which is not attached to the wrist (as many strength exercises cause tension on the wrist and affect HR accuracy in wrist HRM) and will be more accurate on the readings. With that in mind I’d pick the M2 as it is cheaper, can pair with the verity sense and it’s ok for casual running.

  2. Brandon

    Great write up. Makes me hope that the Grit X will see some love now. Right now the M2 has music controls and the weekly training watch face which I don’t believe the Grit X has either. Or maybe they are just going to leave that product behind now after only a year.

    • I think somewhere in my wall of text I mentioned that that the Grit X will get the Weekly Summary, HR Broadcasting, and Music controls later this year.

      And the V2 will get the HR broadcasting as well later this year.

      It’s also plausible I didn’t write that (yet), but might soon rectify it. Lunch first.

    • AdamCsorba

      Yes, true…here are the details:

      link to support.polar.com

    • Brandon

      I don’t see that part but I might have missed it. I did jump over to Polars site and I see their 2.0 updates for Grit X and V2 as coming this year. So glad to see the Grit X isn’t being forgotten as it was starting to feel that way. Thanks again for all your write ups!

    • Evgeniy

      So all the whining Grit X owners did eventually worked! We’re even getting the power based workouts and what sounds like a proper pause screen from V800 era!!! Music control, ability to skip phases in phased workouts and customisable quick settings menu are icing on the cake features. Now it sounds like Grit X will easily last me till VV3 or maybe even longer.

    • Philip King

      thanks for the link, good news for us GritX users.

      Wonder what music support will mean?

    • Evgeniy

      Should be the same feature as on VV2 – remote control for your phone music app.

    • Kuifje777

      Great to see Polar talking about a feature roadmap for existing devices. I only wish that they would turn around things quicker as end of 2021 is pretty far away still. It would be great, if they were a little more nimble.

      Judging by their past updates, this actually means end of December. The Vantage V2 2.0 update also arrived literally at the end of that year.

  3. ryanovelo

    If this watch has the same insane quirk that, when walking out of Bluetooth range of your phone, upon returning, you have to open the app to get the watch to connect again, I’m out. It’s mind blowing. Missed so many calls and notifications this way thinking I was connected and I wasn’t. This doesn’t happen with any other wearable I have tested. I contacted Polar about this issue on my Vantage M and they stated it was supposed to work that way.

    • Iron Rinn

      If you are on Android, your smartphone’s operating system is likely to terminate the Polar Flow app when it goes to sleep. You should check that the power saving settings for Polar Flow are disabled, as well as make sure that automatic start is on.

    • IOwnOneOfThose

      Mine doesn’t do this, so there might be something up with your phone and/or possibly the watch. (My money would be on the phone not acting as it should …. Potentially app permissions?)

    • Yeah, mine doesn’t do this either on iOS (it reconnects automagically).

  4. Oskars

    This watch face seems like something new that you didn’t mention in the review.
    What’s up with that?

    • That’s just the music controls page, when not touching it using analog mode. I included shots of the music control page when touched, as well as you can see the digital variant of it in the video.

  5. Jacek

    Are there notifications available during training, like phone calls etc

  6. Greg

    “The backlight solves that, but ultimately it’s no different than previous Vantage displays.” Ray, could you please expand on that a bit? I have the Vantage M, and the screen is too dim for my eyes, even with the backlight activated by a wrist gesture (vs pushing the light button). I recently tested the Grit X and the V2, and the backlights of those displays were substantially brighter than the M (again based on a wrist gesture activated backlight), along with deeper blacks and better contrast compared to the M – with the V2 being the brightest with a wrist gesture followed by the Grit X. Is the brightness level on a wrist gesture the same between the M and the M2? Also, does the M2 have the deeper blacks and improved contrast of the V2 and Grit X? Thanks!

    • Sorry, my comment was more about sans-backlight aspects. I just did two side by side photos, and there’s no difference between the Vantage M & M2 in no-backlight or backlight scenarios. Identical to my eyes.

      However, the Vantage V2 is brighter and crispier both no-backlight and the backlight in a dark room – clearly much brighter.

      I’ll get the photos off my phone and added to the review.

    • Jeff K

      I’m interested in this too. I’m looking to upgrade from my Fenix 3, which I can’t see very well. The fenix 3 is a great watch, so the only reason to upgrade for me is to get a more readable screen. I’m leaning towards a Forerunner 745 (I have a power meter, so this is the least expensive garmin option), but I could be drawn to polar if you said the screen was better than garmin.

    • Oliver

      How does the Ignite 2 compare? Is it of the very dull type, or brighter V2 type?

    • Tomáš B.

      Same display, same OHR sensor.. It looks like Polar upgraded software and bezel on older (but really good) original VM hardware.
      Good news for me, if my 3 years old VM will ever die :)

      And original VM black strap is not made from silicon (every other colours were), therefore you find new one much more comfortable.

    • Ok, I’m slacking on getting the display/backlight photos I took yesterday into the review, so I’ll just post them here as comments. First, the comparison of Vantage M1 vs M2, using my phone, just in the room. Nothing fancy, but I tried to get the two watches at exactly the same angle. The room isn’t that dark, but it’s not super bright. That’s frankly, kinda my point. Photo is as-is out of my phone.


    • Next, a backlight photo – showing M1 vs M2 vs V2. You can see the V2 backlight is clearly brighter. Taken in the storage room with the lights off, but door open (so my iPhone could at least focus).

      Again, I tried to get all three watches on the same focal angle, but it’s tricky. In any case, you can see the M1/M2 displays appear identical.

      Note: These pictures are probably best viewed clicking on them to view fullsize. I probably should have cropped them first.

    • Greg

      Thanks, Ray! Appreciate you taking the time to make those comparison shots. Looks like the backlight display on the M2 may be a slight improvement to the original M (slightly less purple/blue backlight) but not the same level of improvement as the V2. Just like you said – but easier to visualize. Thanks again.

    • MumblingE

      I wish you’d included the Vantage V2 in this picture. I’ve just purchased a Vantage M2 and after today’s ride I’m going to return it because the display was too dim thus making it impossible to read. Currently the sun is low on the horizon so the face of the watch isn’t getting much sun even when you’re riding into the sun. When the sun is behind you forget being able to read the watch. If the V2 isn’t a lot better/brighter than the M2 I’m going to be changing brands.

    • Kuifje777

      Readability of the V2 is certainly worse than of my Garmin 945.

      I think that the major factor is actually not the display but the typography (thin lines) and the fact that the display is inverted (black background with light text). I wish that Polar would provide an ‘old people option’ not unlike the accessibility options for the iPhone that would make the background white and text bold.

      What works well for me is to turn on the backlight all the time via the menu that you can invoke when the workout is paused. This solves all readability issues. The battery life is much longer than most people need anyway.

    • MumblingE

      Thanks KuifJe777 I’ll try it today with the backlight on. The only sport I’m doing is riding my road bike so if the backlight doesn’t work for me I’ll be looking for some other product that supports cycling with a Polar H10 chest strap. I’ve only used Polar so I’m open for suggestions regarding another brand that’s for cycling. TIA for any suggestions.

    • MumblingE

      The Vantage M2 Advanced has been returned because the display was only readable when it was in direct sunlight. On these winter days when the sun is low on the horizon and you’re riding away from the sun the shadow from your body makes the watch face unreadable. And when you’re riding into the sun, and you need sunglasses, the watch is again unreadable. The display is more faint than my just over 2 years old M430. I was forced to go to the Vantage M2 because the battery is already failing on my M430 (shame on you Polar). I wonder if Polar’s attempt to make the battery last longer is why the display on the Vantage is so faint. Whatever it is SHAME ON YOU POLAR.

  7. Boris

    Does M2 now support creating running training target with Power? This was rolled out to V2 and will be rolled out to Grit X towards the end of the year but I wonder M2 has that already. I wish this feature will be rolled out to V/M also eventually, but that’ll be highly unlikely, I suppose.

  8. Gustav Henriksson

    Hi Ray,
    Great review once again! Just a point of order: the Polar watches not only offer distance based auto lap in their sports profile, but time and location based auto lapping, as well. The last one I’ve only just noticed. Maybe it’s a new feature.

    Now I’ll just have to decide wether or not to upgrade to V2, or not…the performance tests are rather attractive. Sorry for going OT…

    Best, Gus

  9. Alex

    Interesting review; lots of extra features over the Polar Vantage M, which is nice but I picked that up for a paltry £159 6 months ago (thanks Amazon!) and the extra features, while nice, don’t really justify the extra cost in my case!

    • Igor

      Today I reached the fundamentally same conclusion. I was really unsure whether to get myself the M, or wait for the M2. Luckily for me Amazon.it has the former for 170 incl. shipping to Germany so I finally pulled the trigger.

      The only feature that I will probably be missing is calories distribution. It’s somewhat odd they are introducing it to the Vantage M just with this iteration when my much older M400 already has it.

    • KRAS

      Ive been mulling over the Vantage M vs M2 – I honestly cant see I reason right now. Unless Polar are planning something in the future with the M2? But without a barometer, I think that quite limited.

  10. I read that the watch responds slow and the GPS is not that accurate.
    Compared to the older Polar Vantage 1, to the newer Vantage V2 or in general?

    • It’s slow in general compared to most other wearables. The GPS accuracy is definitely worse compared to existing Vantage series or other watches.

      Sorry, running a bit behind on getting the charts up.

    • Lauri K.

      So worse GPS than the original Vantage M? I’ve got an Ignite now and it tends to lose about 5 % distance on my typical twisty forest route compared to my mobile phone or mapping in Sports Tracker. I’ve been considering upgrading to a Vantage M hoping it would be a bit better. So maybe worth grabbing a deal on an original M now…

    • Yes.

      And sorry, sitting down now to get that section out. Been a crazy (and frankly exhausting), week.

    • flokon

      Worse than the Vantage 1 or 2? My release V1 is the most inaccurate GPS watch I ever used. And iirc, Ray, your experience wasn’t so good either when it comes to GPS accuracy.

    • Arttu Salonen

      According to later reviews (this review here is from march ’21) the GPS is working great, and connects to the satellites fast. So I suppose it was just a software thing and has been later improved.

    • Arttu Salonen

      The GPS works great and fast according to other, later reviews that I have found. So it was likely just a software thing…

  11. Ognjen

    Does it work with Speed and Cadence Sensor 2 now?
    It was a bug on Vantage M.

  12. Franco

    Hello, compared to the Ignite 2 that has a touch screen, which one do you prefer? Is it worth losing battery and buying the Ignite 2 touchscreen? Or better more battery and buttons? What interests me the most is the Trainig Load and Nightly Recharge function

    • I’d go Vantage M2 over Ignite 2 from a usability standpoint. I find the Ignite 2 screen a pain in the butt, it rarely responds properly to wrist raises, and it almost always takes two comments to get the screen to do what you want.

      I made my wife wear it (Ignite 2) for a few days. Her exact quote, in text, to me was “this is miserable”.

    • SS

      So the biggest issue with the original Ignite (the very poor wake up response and touch screen sensitivity) is STILL that way for the Ignite 2???
      If so, huge miss.
      It’s a great watch otherwise but as you say above, the real world usability is frustrating and borderline miserable.

  13. Iron Rinn

    I have owned a Polar Ignite for almost 2 years and I am very happy with it, good technical performance (although occasionally the HM sensor goes haywire at the beginning of the training sessions and measures 30-40 bpm above normal), good functionalities that offers.
    But in my opinion, Polar’s real selling point is the Flow platform. With almost any sport watch, from Ignite upwards, fantastic results can be achieved even with self-training. I am not a competitive runner, but I run about 200 km per month, and with the half marathon program I have improved the Running Index by 10 points in 5 months.
    The Polar technological ecosystem has made me very loyal, and I would hardly switch to a sports watch from another brand, although it can offer better technical qualities.

    • Franco

      Hello, if the Polar Flow platform read wonders and you have Training Load, your follow-up a month of everything. I am more interested in seeing my progress and overload, since I am overly demanding in many cases and I do not realize it. The only detail that does not convince me about the Ignite is that I read that the battery does not last long and the screen turns off very quickly. The rest I like, My intention is to use it for Gym, Bicycle and then for combat sports.

  14. ChrisTexan

    I have Polar’s “Track Mode” already — simply by using a Polar v800, paired with Stryd running pod (yeah, old-man gripe here, LOL):

    As can be seen below, these 2 running recording on tracks (the only 2 I’ve done this year so far, don’t like track running) are very well-matched to the physical track.

    First track: (Jan 24, 2021)
    link to flow.polar.com
    Deviations (actual real-world ones, indicated by the GPS track also):
    – Bottom left – I’d paused my watch to assist with with her Garmin (not saying anymore)… and forgot to un-pause, thus the “cut-across”)
    – Top – (first deviation) – got too hot running, ran off-track over to the “hurling cage” (whatever it is, where discus, hammer, etc get done) to hang my jacket on one of the net-hooks, then back to the track (you can pretty much see on full-screen zoom, the exact pole I hung it on).
    – Top – (2nd deviation) after run, went back to get my jacket (actually met my wife, before going to get it, so stopped the watch just before turning around to get it off the hook).
    – Bottom right – swung wide around another runner (socially distanced (SD) several lanes swingout)

    Second track: (Jan 29,2021)

    link to flow.polar.com

    Deviations (actual real-world ones, indicated by the GPS track also):
    – South side left end, had to run “around” another runner, thus the “kick out” on the bottom left (SD)
    – east side, again, had to move a couple of lanes over due to a pair occupying some lanes, so the one significant off-track deviation there. (SD)
    – North “inside” track deviation – ran to the edge of the field to pick up my cell phone off the edge, due to playing kids moving into that area

    Focusing a bit more on this run,
    Total distance recorded (based on Stryd) was 4.96 miles.

    I broke the “laps” into auto-mode at 0.5mi laps in Flow, and noted where the lap-markers landed. They walk backwards in a consistent fashion except for 2 “jumps” of a couple of meters, likely where I had more distance to hang my jacket, and the lap I passed the other runner several lanes wider on the turn, respectively.

    Based on math, 4.96 miles = 7982 meters. Or 18 meters less than an even 8000. The last lap marker on 0.5mile divisions, (prior to finishing the run which was not completely back to the markers), is likely roughly 15-20 meters back from the first one… thus, nearly exactly what would be expected if measured precisely.

    So, all told, although of course it’s not a true “track-mode”… it is (was) extremely accurate as a product goes. The Sony chipset simply can’t do this, period. I don’t need “track mode” on my v800, it’s basically good enough right out of the GPS chipset. In fact, it’s better than “track mode” because it’s capturing those real-world deviations around runners, to hang my jacket, grab my phone, etc. Obviously those few meters don’t make a huge difference, but they ultimately get lost in “track-mode” snapping to a pattern.

    Anyhow, just sharing some thoughts, “track mode” is cool, but it’s a crutch to shore up the limitations of the core problem, the GPS chipsets/implementations just aren’t good now (constantly improving, but not “back to as good” as a near-mil-spec GPS chipset such as the SirfStar’s native capabilities)… I know, power-hungry, but for those who don’t need more than 20 hours of GPS life it was nice knowing you’d be great on your track almost every run.

  15. Is it me or isn’t that screen tiny compared to the size of the watch? If it was a solar bezel I would get it but like this you loses a lot of screen for no advantage.

  16. Luis

    Hi ray one question. I thought Ignite was not able to track distance on OWS, but the specs on polar.com say it can also track distance and strokes on open waters. Is distance tracked from GPS or accelerometer?

  17. Jan Dvořák

    Hey Ray, sorry for being a bit off topx, but I am not sure how else I could reach you.
    I have previous gen Wahoo Tickr and I need a replacement strap for it. I have easy and cheap access to Sigma Comfortex+ strap and Polar strap, other ones would be harder to get for me. My question is, are those compatible or do you have any experience using HR sensor from one brand and a strap from other one or could you just quickly test if some combination works? Thank you very much!
    Btw why is Wahoo not offering replacement straps anymore?

  18. Andrew

    Are the rolling pin comparison images not cool/trendy/funky anymore? #bringbackthepin

    • Jakob

      YES! Bring it back!

    • I shall!

      (Rolling pins always are kinda a time-suck for me, as I usually try and get all the watches charged up, synced with correct time, etc… – so when I’m running horribly behind like this week with so many things dropping in a single hour, it’s usually the thing that gets cut at the last second.)

    • Andrew

      The size/height comparison is the bit that matters for the smaller wrist folk so the screen off would make no difference? Regardless your reviews are much appreciated.

  19. Martijn Lohmeijer

    Polar Vantage M owner here.

    Question: will the M2 also get the woven wristbands that the M1 had? Somehow I get an allergic reaction to Polar’s plastic bands when wearing the watch 24×7 (for sleep tracking). With the woven band I don’t have that problem.

  20. Pab

    I read with attention all yours reviews Ray, what a job.
    I guess -dream?- one day, a brand will lauch a 300€ watch with alti Baro, navigation, accurate GPS and heartrate , and kill the game.
    (Coros is so close to that with Pace 2)

  21. Catalin Puscas

    Cool, cool…. How is the Forerunner 955, though? :))

  22. Eli

    I thought it wasn’t a touch screen? For music control you say:
    You’ll access this by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

  23. Luke

    Original M owner. Acquiring GPS has been getting worse for a while now.

  24. Watch geek from 🇫🇮

    They never advertise this, but with Android phones you can interact with the notifications to the extent they have action button. So it is possible to archive email, like an IG DM, shut off phone alarms, skip to next track on spotify even before the new music functionality etc. Might take partial credit for the music widget and making them realize it shouldn’t be that difficult.

  25. Arne Bruening

    Polar always chooses their feature set wisely. Though probably not many will need every feature of the Vantage V2, there are always 1 or 2 features of the V series, why I will spend the extra money ;-)

  26. Martin Mortensen


    This watch is not in the Product comparison database.

    I know that it might be a ton of work, but will you consider adding watch size to the product comparison database (weight, depth, and diameter of watch face)?


    • Good call, added into database (the M2).

      As for watch sizes, it’s something I might consider. I’m looking at a bit of a refresh of the product database in terms of fields (retiring some fields that are sorta assumed/baseline these days, and adding in others that are handling newer features better).

    • Christine D

      I bought the Grit X by way of your recommendations here, and am very pleased with it. Although the watch itself is quite huge for my slight wrist. Now considering giving this one to my husband and getting the M2. It seems that battery lifetime will be the biggest issue with the M2?
      Hopefully its a bit smaller on the wrist..?

  27. David

    Hi, I’m a parcially sighted athlete. Does the M2 have signal tones like the V2? The previous M only has vibration

  28. Ray

    Here in Canada, on the Polar website, the price for the Vantage M2 jump to 449.99$, from 389.99$ for the Vantage M… a 60$ increase… instead of the 20$ increase in the USA that is indicating here in this in depht review.

    So comparing it to 299US$ for the Vantage M2 in the USA… it would take a 50% exchange of the money to arrive to the same price…

    • Yeah, It’s hard to track every different currency variation. For example, staying the EU prices are mostly useless, because there’s no pricing restrictions. So give it a month or two, and it’s usually 20-30% lower for most brands.

      The US pricing generally speaking is a good comparative barometer for things, albeit never perfect.

  29. Hk

    How would you compare this M2 to the current gritx in terms of HR accuracy and gps? (which one would you buy, other features aside)

    • I think it’s got better HR accuracy than the Grit X, as the Grit X appears to use the same newer sensor as the V2, which I see small spikes in.

      GPS accuracy is a bit more mixed. The Grit X is mostly pretty good for me, whereas the M2 has been more wobbly on runs.

    • hk

      Thanks! Your reviews are so helpful.

    • Thanks for the reply Ray. I also had the accuracy question of M2 versus Grit-X.

      Reading again through both Grit-X and Vantage M2 reviews, I see that Polar did a solid job with the original Vantage M hardware. :-)

      Curious how much the internal differences in hardware are.

  30. I’ve purchased the Polar Vantage M back in 2019 for a five-day hiking trip of the Stubaier Hohenweg in Austria. I still love it and good to see a new model M2 is introduced. When I look at the improvements compared to the original M the only ones that I would like to have are:

    – Added FuelWise – hydration & nutrition reminders based on past workouts
    – Added Nutrition energy sources – breakdown of carbs/protein/fats

    In terms of design, but that’s personal, I don’t like the etching on the bezel.

    If I currently would go for a new multisport watch it would be a Polar, simply because the sleep metrics are helpful to keep an eye on your recovery and regeneration. ;-) In terms of design I would probably opt for the Grit-X … so hopefully Ray can compare the Grit-X and M2 in terms of GPS and HR accuracy.

    I also hope that at some point Polar and TrainingPeaks will work on their integration/API’s to get the advanced sleep metrics into TrainingPeaks as well.

    Thanks for the excellent review Ray.

  31. Pierre-olivier Tavernier

    I am confused. i asked Polar support and got mixed answers. Can the M2 connect to all kind of smart trainers or only the ones that are listed on the 3rd party cycling meters ? I have a 4iiii flight trainer that is BT and Ant+ compatible.

    • In theory, it connects to all Bluetooth Smart power sources. In practice, it’s a crapshoot.

      Something like the 4iiii Flight you’ve probably got a pretty darn good chance to be honest. First off, it’s not a ‘complicated’ power meter (like pedal based ones that require more complex pairing). Second, it’s made by 4iiii, which is in turn founded by the guy who started ANT+. That matters to Bluetooth, because historically speaking 4iiii has done a really good job of following specs, including Bluetooth specs. And historically, Polar has done a good job of following Bluetooth specs (arguably, too closely sometimes – too strictly).

      I wish I had better answers there. But if I were betting, I’d bet that specific combo would work.

    • Henning Svane

      I have 4iiii dual side and Polar Vantage V it have worked with dual side, but after I upgraded to version 3.2 Polar cannot see it anymore. I have not tried yet to re-pair 4iiii.
      I have also Fenix 6 and it work stil with version 3.2. So it is something with bluetooth after 4iiii enabled Chipolo

    • Pierre-Olivier Tavernier

      Version 3.2 of the trainer ? I think I have 3.9 if I recall.

    • Pierre-Olivier Tavernier

      Sorry. Just read that you have dual side not the trainer.

    • Henning Svane

      The newest version i have on 4iiii PRECISION PRO Dual is 3.2 (I use Android phone)

  32. EB

    I love your reviews, they are always very thorough. I wonder what you thought of the recovery features. Did you manage to use the Nightly Recharge recommendations and were they good at all?

  33. Tm1303

    Assuming price parity, which is better value, which would you choose, the V1 or the M2? Do the old premium features still triumph over the updated mid priced features? Thanks x

    • It simply depends on your own requirements and needs.

      It will be interesting to learn if Polar will differentiate in terms of features it brings to the various watch versions (models) in the Vantage series. With some differences in hardware it looks like Polar is developing from a solid “platform” codebase. So it will be interesting to see if the various watch software features will grow together …

  34. Andrea

    Hi, I wonder if in the V2 Polar decided to fix one of the most stupid and annoying quirks of the V1: if you pause a training you cannot see any of the metric: elapsed time, distance, calories, avg speed, etc. Only time and heartbeats. The good old M400 did show all statistics. I wonder what’s the point in this, I lost any hope they would fix this in V1 but I hope that for V2 they took this into consideration.

  35. Q

    Hello Everyone,

    Iam looking to buy a first sport watch and I am hesitating between the vantage M2 and the V2. While not convinced by all the fitness tests in the V2, I do like the route navigation, the better gps and the extra battery compared to the M2.

    Price is quite different between the M2 and the V2 but iam ready to put the extra money for the V2: the only thing I am afraid of is to buy the V2 and end up disappointed by its performances/price ratio afterward.

    Questions are then:
    – the HR on the V2 was experiencing peaks which apparently is due to the new optic sensor (?). Does polar plan to address this issue in the feature by some software update ? I mean it’s silly to end up with a lower quality hr on the premium V2 than on the medium M2, right ? Polar should address that I feel.
    – will route navigation be a feature that could appear on the M2 later on. Can the lags experienced while browsing the different menus on the M2 be addressed by some software update ?

    Iam quite new to this world so iam lacking a bit the knowledge on how software updates are done in practice.
    Thanks in advance for your feedback!

  36. Maarten


    Whit which satellite stellation dit you test the satelliet navigation?

  37. Johann Erasmus

    So what would be better the garmin vivoactive 4 or the polar vantage m2? I use it mainly for gym and some running though I am not too concerned about gps accuracy. The music functionality of the garmin would be nice to have but it is not something I really need.

    So purely based on heart rate tracking accuracy what would you suggest?

  38. SteveD

    Any news on the broadcasting feature coming ‘later this year’?

    Also, am I correct in thinking the H10, (while swimming) although having caching, doesn’t sync up with your recorded activity like the HRM-Tri?

  39. Avi Nahir

    Got this watch today. Shocked at how dim and eye-tiring the screen is, compared to my old M430 :(

    • Avi

      I want to correct my comment. The screen is actually quite readable – outside, in the sunlight, even with dark sunglasses. And I really love the fact that the zone is in color – seeing my pulse rate in red today caused me to notice. Still not visible enough under dim light room conditions.

    • SS

      The Vantage M2 display is indeed barely acceptable on such a pricey watch. I agree, the M430 display is much better! A Polar rep told me “The Vantage M2 and screen is intended for outdoor use; for indoor use, athletes should choose the Ignite 2 model, because it has a different display optimized for indoor conditions”. But they are not going to put that in their marketing materials! They should have used the Ignite Display on the Vantage and allowed users to dial in screen brightness and on/off/dimming prefs so users could make their own choice about screen display vs. battery life.

  40. John Friedemann

    Good review (I like your content and style) But I think you should add another topic to the test. Indoor activities. I have a distance runner spouse who due to an injury is going to have to spend 8 weeks limited to an elliptical machine. She finds her M2 to be very limited for this function and has decided to use the tradmill option. She would however really like to add custom stridelength so she gets a somewhat corrected distance and speed estimate. This is easy on my Garmin 645 but seems to be complicated on her M2. The cross trainer option is even less popular. She tried it once and concluded that cross trainer was even worse than treadmill.

    So given that I’m sure many people have at some time needed to use indoor facilities it should be an occasional review subject (if not a part of the device review)

  41. Juan Alpizar

    Hello, is the vibration reliable enough to make you aware of events while performing an activity such as fuel wise reminders or heart rate zone locks? I do have a bike computer for navigation and I’d like a watch to complement the rest of the data, fuel wise would be specially a thing I’d like to use on long Sunday rides on my MTB.

  42. Flo S

    Hi Ray and all,

    I’m deeply into the Polar ecosystem since the times of the Protrainer XT and have been using variable devices. At the moment it is a V650 on my mtb and road bike with a speed and cadence sensor on each of the bikes and an A370 as a 24h HRM and sleep tracking device. Now I got an old Power2Max spider for my S-Works crankset for frtee with the caveat being it’s an Ant+ only device. I found the 4iiii Viiiiva HRM as an Ant+ to BL smart bridge device and thought it would enable me to read my power meter metrics while staying in the Polar app and website world whichi I quite like. But nope, the V650 isn’t seeing any data. I’ve tried various apps to check if the bridge itself works which it actually does.

    My question now is if anybody successfully paired the Vantage M2 with and was able to get power meter readings from the Viiiiva? This would allow me to stay in the Polar system albeit with the loss of a big head unit screen and barometric height readings. Any other suggestions?

  43. cshake

    I have been using the M2 for a few weeks now, after getting it based on reviews here (Thanks Ray, and sorry I got it directly from Polar’s website which doesn’t have an affiliate link). I’ve been noticing some strange heart rate behavior immediately after tracking workouts though, and wondered if anyone else had noticed.

    I have been using the Verity Sense arm band for longer than I’ve had the watch, and have only good things to say about it. I sync it with Zwift and the M2 both over bluetooth, and I can tell the watch is using the remote sensor due to the heart rate oval in the “start training” screen being blue. The number on the watch and on Zwift track perfectly, as expected. However, when I end the workout on the watch, clicking through the post-workout screen quickly because I look at it later on my phone, once the M2 gets back to the live HR screen it reads really low (10+ BPM below my resting) and steadily rises back to what the armband is still showing on the Zwift screen over a minute or so.

    My guess is that the M2 firmware reads HR by just accumulating beats over a rolling minute and showing that result, but when I end the workout and disconnect the remote sensor it thinks there were no internally recorded beats for the last time period, until eventually it gets back to steady state. While this doesn’t affect my training or worry me about my heart (since I verified with the armband live reading that the watch is in error here), it screws up the daily lows for long-term tracking on any day I biked indoors. Is this normal and expected? Should I be submitting a ticket with Polar (if that’s possible)?

  44. Eva Vanbrabant

    Any updates on the slower GPS reception for the M2? I wanted to send a complaint/use my garanty for this, but now reading multiple reviews that GPS reception/finding GPS signal is not the fastest…

    • Juan Alpizar

      Just out of curiosity, what times are you getting? Obviously compared with a phone is pretty slow but compared to other GPS devices I’ve had is not that bad either, I usually get strong locked GPS signal (the green arrow) in around 20 seconds, the worst case scenario has been twice that.

    • Eva Vanbrabant

      For me it’s definitely way longer or slower, on average it takes like 3-5minutes for my watch to find gps signal (green arrow). Quite frustrating as that’s one of the reasons I bought a new polar…

    • Yeah, if you’re seeing 3-5 minutes, something is wrong/broken.

    • Eva Vanbrabant

      Thanks for the reply! I will reach out to polar about this, still have my warranty so let’s see what they say.

  45. Robbie

    Hello Ray, do you have any news from Polar regarding the HR broadcasting over Bluetooth feature for the Vantage M2?
    Your review of the watch came in March and you were told by Polar “later this year”.
    I thought by new it would be available since we are in December.
    Well, I just bought the watch, and so far relatively happy with it, but I would love to boradcast the HR to Zwift and that functionality is STILL non available.
    Just heads up since you might not be aware of that. Thanks!

    • Juan Alpizar

      Did you update the watch firmware to the latest available? I haven’t tried it, but as far as I know it is available already, although quite rare to activate to be honest. Once you have paired the phone you have to open Polar Flow app, open the sport profiles, edit the one you’re interested into and there you will find an option after the custom HR zones which says something like “Heart Rate visible in another device”, once you activate it and sync the phone with Polar Flow by holding the back button, you should be able to see HR data with compatible devices whenever you start that sport profile.

    • Robbie

      I checked the firmware, yes, see attached picture. It shows it currently running firmware version: 1.1.3 and that there is no firmware update available.
      Separately, I followed your steps and yes, I could find the field “HR visible to other devices” in the specific sport profile that I need (which is indoor cycling, as mentioned I am trying to broadcast the HR to Zwift) and that is already clicked on (gree color) so that’s not the problem in this case.
      Thanks for trying to help me out, I appreciate it.

    • Juan Alpizar

      Hello again Robbie 😀 and sorry I could not help you last time, I thought the feature was already implemented, but certainly was not. Good thing is, now it is and I am 100% sure this time 😂 I even got it working by broadcasting my Vantage M2 HR to my Garmin Edge 830 and worked perfectly in the short 1 hour ride I did to test, no dropouts, dealys or anything crazy I did notice.

      First, you need to update the firmware of your watch to the version 2.0.12 (I am not sure how long the update has been available, I connected my watch today morning and the firmware update did popup after syncing the watch) then you head to the sport profile you wanna record your session, press the sport settings and you will see a new option called “Broadcast HR” or something similar (I am attaching a picture as a reference on how it looks like as my watch is not in English, sorry) From there you need to select on add a new device, you will see a “syncing” message in your watch and then you open the device or app you want to pair with and scan for heart rate monitors, and hopefully, you will see your Polar Vantage M2

    • Juan Alpizar

      Once you do that and the pairing process ends you will see a message in the watch like “Broadcast HR with” and the name of the app or device which is currently paired, and you will see your HRM paired in the app or device of your choosing.

      After doing that I did a quick 1 hour ride today, and the function worked perfectly, there was no delay in the HR measurements compared to the watch and did not experience any dropouts.

      The only downside is the pairing is not “saved” in your watch, next time you enter the sport profile and select broadcast HR you will not see your previously paired devices. The good news is, in my case the Garmin unit did save the watch ID, so after selecting “add a new device” on the watch again and manually connect the Vantage M2 ID in the sensor page of my Garmin, it did pair again, faster than first time, there was n need to scan for the watch, but it surely need to connect manually on my bike computer end.

      Hopefully it will help you this time, it surely did for me as it is much easier to look at HR when cycling or mountain biking in the head unit rather than flickering my wrist to see the HR data 😁

      Let me know if it works for you, fingers crossed.

  46. Andrés

    Does anyone know if while you are swimming in the pool you can choose a function for technique exercises/drills? With Garmin devices it is possible.


  47. Wayne


    Can you track walks with this watch as well?

  48. Eduardo Amaro

    After all these years since this watch was released… please tell me there’s a way to change the background from black to white (like you can on Garmin). The contrast on this is terrible.

    • SS

      Agreed and I think the answer is NO.
      I’m surprised there a has not been a firmware update for display options. I’d gladly give up half of my battery life to have a readable display all the time.

      Another way that my old M430 outperforms this watch.

      When I inquired, polar told me that this watch was meant to be used outdoors, and the display is sharper in natural light. For indoor use, they recommend the Ignite, which is a much different experience and with different capabilities.

    • SS. agreed. I press the top left button before accessing widgets as once in the higher brightness mode is stays there while you scroll around. It would be so easy in firmware to make the brighter backlight configurable so users can make the decision to trade-off of visibility vs. battery life. There must be a backlight zeolot in the design team!

    • Juan Alpizar

      Hello, I just got a firmware update today and received HR broadcasting and an option in the settings to change the backlight intensity with the wrist gesture, you should check it out.

  49. I recently got an M2 and so far the GPS performance has been really good. Is this something they have now fixed? (There isn’t a track mode so I am happy with this. The weird tracks are me crossing on the grass for 200s)

    • Juan Alpizar

      I have been using the M2 for around half a year now and GPS performance has always been good. Depending on the GPS antennas it catches it sometimes is a little shaky line when running, but the accuracy is always good.

      As many GPS devices, tall buildings, dense trees around you or high rock walls can affect GPS reception and hence the accuracy itself. I use to have GPS + Glonass always on, it reduces battery life a bit but improves accuracy as well.

  50. Benjamin. p

    I’ve been looking for a GPS watch to track my iron man training that has a all the sport modes i need (Run, Bike, pool swim and open water swim.) As far i can tell the 2 best options that dont break the bank are the polar vantage m2 or the apple watch series 4 or higher. Im only concerned with tracking my training accurately not any other features as my Garmin forerunner 55 counts my pool laps incorrectly and dosent have open water swim at all. Which watch in the current market would be my best bet?

    • Pierre-Olivier Tavernier

      I would go with the pacer pro instead of the M2. The apple watch battery will not last a day.

  51. William Cavros

    Does the Vantage M2 support the automatic triathlon profile/mode that was available on the original Vantage V, but was disabled on the Vantage M? This mode allowed you to track an event without having to manually switch profiles during a triathlon/ironman race.

  52. james

    Hey would you happen to know in regards to heart rate accuracy if it would be the same to HiTT or other exercises ?

    • Juan Alpizar

      In optimal conditions (correctly placed in the wrist, tight enough to avoid moving, less wrist flection) the HRM is quite accurate, although it has a delay proper from most wrist-based HRM. I have a polar H10, a Polar Verity Sense and a Polar Vantage M2, I wear the H10 less often as it is the one I notice the most when I’m working out, but the accuracy should work as follows:

      H10: instant feedback, the best you can get when it comes to HRM readings:
      Verity Sense: small delay (maybe 1 second or two) over the H10 to update the HR reading
      Vantage M2: longer delay compared to the verity sense, can turn into several seconds if the wrist is flexed.

      If you’re doing an exercise that will take you in each HR zone for a while like endurance sports, the wrist based HRM works well enough, if you’re doing explosive sports like HiTT where your HR spikes suddenly and drops fast and assuming all sensors are working in optimal conditions (you can always misplace the H10, bend the Verity Sense, etc) the H10 will always detect the peaks, the verity sense will have a high chance to detect it (but may miss it should it be short enough), and the Vantage M2 may miss it quite often.

  53. Avi

    When swimming in the pool, which should I use: the M2’s optical heart rate measurement, the H10 strap solo with Polar Beat, or the H10 strap transmitting to the M2 watch? I know H10 connects to the M2 using Bluetooth, and Polar recommends using Gymlink in the pool cause Bluetooth doesn’t work well in the water. Does the M2 support Gymlink? Will it know to use it during swimming?

    • Juan Alpizar

      Hello Avi,

      As far as I understand, H9 and H10 are able to send their signal using GymLink (5 kHz) frequency, but the receiving end is limited to old Polar watches (like the V800) and gym equipment, all the other watches and applications at hand use either BT or BLE to perform the connection.

      I might be wrong though, if you want to be 100% sure, the best thing is to contact Polar support.