Polar Vantage V2 review

Sleek and full of features for athletes keen to track performance and recovery

Polar Vantage V2 review
(Image credit: Emma Silversides)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Polar Vantage V2 is packed with features that will satisfy anyone wanting to track their progress and improve performances. But while it is easy to navigate and offers a wealth of generalised – and customised – advice, it does lack some features other watches boast at this price point. The lack of onboard music and comprehensive mapping are most notable for their absence. Whilst it will likely be a hit with long-standing Polar fans, it simply doesn't out-perform the competition.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Sleek looking

  • +

    Testing and recovery features

  • +

    Ample sport profiles

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Syncing not always reliable

  • -

    Limited advanced features for price

  • -

    Optical HR sensor not as refined as some competitors'

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The Polar Vantage V2 is a great smartwatch (opens in new tab) for any athlete taking training and competition seriously. With comprehensive testing for runners and cyclists, recovery and nutrition monitoring, and a broad range of widgets to rival most smart watches, there is a whole lot going on underneath the hood.

That said, in comparison to some similarly priced alternatives, you could be left feeling short changed in certain areas. Music, mapping and some minor issues with syncing work are all niggles that don't help its case.

What's in the box

The watch body is made from an aerospace aluminium alloy combined with a glass-fibre reinforced polymer. Its 47mm diameter face features a laminated Gorilla glass lens with an anti-fingerprint coating and while the proprietary silicone strap isn’t as flexible as some silicone straps, but is comfortable enough and is certainly robust.

There are two size options for the strap: small, to fit wrist circumference of 120-190mm and medium to wrist circumference of 145-215mm. The red version that I've been testing is among the bolder colours, but there are other options, including a black body with a black strap, a black body with a military green strap, or a grey body with a grey-lime strap.

The V2 comes with a custom, 800mm long, USB cable for charging and data synchronisation.

As I've been testing the basic package, I haven't been able to explore quite all the features on offer. A bundle with a H10 heart rate strap costs an extra £40 – money well-spent in my opinion for any keen cyclist or runner. There is also a bike mount available for the watch, but this is an extra accessory and not available in a bundle. 

Charging and battery life

The V2 goes from flat to full in 100 minutes. This is pretty decent, though not as good as some; Garmin’s Forerunner 945 would consistently go from flat to full in 75 minutes. Like all comparable watches, run time depends on what you ask of it. I had the Forerunner 945 and Vantage V2 running simultaneously for a few weeks to enable direct comparisons. 

With an identical regime of at least one activity per day and continual use otherwise, plus general interaction for notifications etc, the V2 ran for 126 hours before flashing up a 10% warning. At this battery capacity, the watch will not record an activity and it died 7 hours later. 

By comparison, the Garmin continued to function on every level until its bitter end and lasted 66 hours more than the Vantage V2. However, the V2 does have power saving modes to extend its battery life further and I have been finding these effective.

The battery capacity is clearly displayed on the screen as a percentage and if it is in need of charging, the app will remind you when you sync it by way of an orange battery warning appearing at the end of the sync.

Basics

In addition to the V2’s touch screen, there are five buttons to navigate the faces and menus, each triggering a short vibration when pressed. I like this feature; in the heat of a training session, a vibration to confirm a pause or stop is helpful. The touch screen isn’t the most refined; there's a very slight lag, but nothing that would personally put me off buying the watch. I’ve frequently noted that the screen has changed, or I’ve entered data field without intentionally touching it. Thankfully, it’s automatically disabled during an activity; you rely on the buttons for navigating then.

A variety of (digital and analogue) watch faces can be customized to tell you much more than just the time and date. Metrics that can be added include: daily activity, cardio load status, continuous HR tracking, latest training sessions, last night's sleep, FitSpark training guide, weath