Polar Vantage V2: Still worth it?

Are there any advantages to sticking with the V2?

Polar Vantage V2 multi-sports watch

by Steven Shaw |
Published on

Is the Polar Vantage V2 still worth it now that the Vantage V3 is out? Polar fitness watches may not be quite as popular as the best Garmin watches, but the brand still has a solid track record of delivering good quality health and fitness tracking devices. I've used several Polar devices, including fitness trackers, watches and chest-worn heart rate sensors, and found them to be consistently good in their performance. The Polar Vantage V2 is one of Polar’s multi-sports watches, designed to support serious sportspeople hit their training goals.

But as is the way with technology, newer models come around with upgraded technology and new features. And that, in turn, makes older devices redundant. Or does it? Is the Polar Vantage V2 still a watch worthy of wearing?

What is the Polar Vantage V2?

The Polar Vantage V2 was released back in 2020, and at the time, was one of Polar’s most premium multi-sport watches. Designed to track a wide range of sports, this watch was (and is) suitable for supporting running, swimming, cycling, strength training and more. It also comes with many other features designed to help users get the most from their training regimen.

Polar Vantage V2 on stones
©What's The Best/Steven Shaw

For starters, there’s built-in support for GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and QZSS global positioning systems. This means the watch will provide more accurate route tracking when you’re exercising in the great outdoors. This is ably supported by navigational tools such as turn-by-turn guidance, a Track Back function to lead you back the same way you came, and route guidance. It can even automatically detect when you’re going up or down a hill – this is called Hill Splitter, rather than “Grand Old Duke of York” mode (admittedly, a more suitable name).

What's The Best/Steven Shaw
Price: $523.58

Pros

  • Made from high quality materials
  • Accurate tracking
  • A lot more affordable than it used to be

Cons

  • Older model means it is now lacking features compared to newer rivals
  • MIP screen isn't the brightest or clearest
  • Design:
    4.0
  • Features:
    4.0
  • Performance:
    4.0
  • Value:
    4.0
Display:1.2-inch, MIP (memory-in-pixel) display, 240 x 240 pixels
Battery Life:Up to six days
GPS:GPS, Glonass, Galileo, QZSS
Water Resistance:WR100
Compatibility:iOS and Android
Dimensions:47 x 47 x 13 mm
Weight:52 grams

In training and recovery terms, the Vantage V2 can monitor your training load, the type of energy sources your body is using during exercise, your running power, and can even offer personalised training guides that match your fitness level, and recovery status from your last workout.

The Polar Vantage V2 is also waterproof (up to 100 metres) and has battery life of up to 100 hours (about four days). In tracking terms, it offers 24/7 activity tracking, to keep an eye on your steps, and provide estimates of your calorie expenditure. There’s also heart rate and sleep tracking, which allow the watch to estimate your nightly recovery, similar to Garmin's Body Battery tool.

Overall, the Polar Vantage V2 is a comprehensive package of training and recovery tools designed to help you be the fittest you can be. But Polar’s latest version - the Vantage V3 - offers even more.

The Polar Vantage V3

The Polar Vantage V3 takes the already extremely good Vantage V2 and upgrades it in almost every single way. An improved display, more accurate GPS, offline maps that can be used to navigate via your wrist, night-time skin temperature tracking, and blood oxygen monitoring. The upgraded heart rate sensor can take an ECG (electrocardiogram) reading as well as provide constant heart rate data as you go about your day.

Pros

  • Beautiful AMOLED display
  • Dual-band GPS is extremely precise
  • Offline maps for improved navigation

Cons

  • Water resistance has been downgraded from Vantage V2
  • Limited smartwatch capabilities
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Performance:
    4.5
  • Value:
    3.0
Display:1.39-inch AMOLED, 454 x 454 pixels
Battery life:Up to 10 days
GPS:GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BeiDou, QZSS
Water resistance:WR50
Compatibility:iOS and Android
Dimensions:47.3 x 47.3 x 13.5 mm
Weight:57 grams

The screen is a crystal-clear AMOLED display, while the V3 offers additional swimming metrics, running programmes, and guidance on recovery and when to work or rest during a training session. In short, the Polar Vantage V3 has lots to like. But how do the two devices compare, and just how big a difference is there between them?

Polar Vantage V2 vs Polar Vantage V3

As you’d likely expect, the Vantage V2 and the Vantage V3 have a lot in common. But there are a few areas where we can draw some clear distinctions between the two devices.

Design

The Polar Vantage V3 is a slightly larger watch, measuring 47.3 x 47.3 x 13.5 mm compared to the 47 x 47 x 13 mm of the V2. The V3 also weighs five grams more than the V2. But in return, you get a 1.39-inch AMOLED display on the V3, compared to a 1.2-inch memory-in-pixel (MIP) display on the V2. The display is significantly brighter and sharper on the newer watch and is a notable upgrade over its predecessor.

Both watches use premium materials, and clearly have a lot in common in terms of design. They each have aerospace-grade aluminium casing on the front case and bezel of the watch, and plastic on the back case. In the hand, the Vantage V2 certainly doesn't feel like a "cheap" device. It's comfortable to wear, and the metal aluminium finish is lightweight, but feels high-quality.

Interestingly, the Vantage V2 is water resistant to 100 metres, while the V3 variant is only water resistant to a depth of 50 metres. For most recreational swimmers this won’t be an issue, but it is unusual to see a downgrade from an older model to a newer one.

Features

When it comes to features, the Vantage V3 offers several new features that are missing from the V2 model. We’ve highlighted a few of them already, but the main additions are as follows:

  • Skin temperature readings

  • ECG function

  • Blood oxygen monitoring

  • Improved optical heart rate sensor

  • Walking test

  • Voice guidance

  • Work-Rest Guide during workouts

  • Maps

  • Dual-frequency GPS

More health tracking features, and improved accuracy in GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring, as well as more training tools, mean that the Vantage V3 does offer several new features that make it an upgrade over its predecessor.

For some, those added metrics will come under the “nice to have” rather than “must have” category. While for others, features such as maps, or an ECG function might be considered essential, in which case, the V3 is the model to go for.

Polar Vantage V2 on grass
©What's The Best/Steven Shaw

Value

The Polar Vantage V2 has an RRP of £439, while the Vantage V3 comes in at £519, meaning the newer model is, on paper, £90 more expensive. And given the new features and the improved screen, £90 is a reasonable price difference. This is especially true when you consider that the Vantage V2 is a four-year-old model.

But the RRP of the Vantage V2 is not necessarily the price you’ll need to pay. We’ve seen it available for under £300, which makes it considerably cheaper than the Vantage V3. For many, paying over £200 more for the newer device is much harder to justify.

Alternative options

Of course, Polar isn’t the only brand that delivers high-quality multi-sport watches, and the best smartwatches for tracking your health will often provide many of the same fitness tracking tools as the Polar Vantage series. There are also some great budget smartwatches that can offer all the essentials, at a lower price. Here are just a handful of alternatives to consider:

If you own an iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 9 is a great device that offers seamless integration with other Apple products, as well as a host of health, fitness and smartwatch features. Highlights include heart rate and ECG monitoring, blood oxygen, sleep and activity tracking. There are 12 dedicated workout modes including yoga and cycling, while built-in GPS keeps outdoor activity tracking as accurate as possible. 

Then there’s also all the smart features that the Polar Vantage 2 lacks – sending messages, taking calls, music playback, and a wealth of other apps to choose from. And with an RRP from £399, it’s comparable in price. The big downside is the battery life, where you’ll struggle to go a full day between charges. And remember, Apple Watches don’t work with Android; so, if you don’t use an iPhone, this isn’t the device for you. 

Apple Watches are typically among the most polished smartwatches on the market, and the Series 9 is no exception.

Pros

  • App store has thousands of apps to choose from
  • Integrates seamlessly with iPhones
  • Lots of health and fitness tracking features

Cons

  • Typical battery life is still less than a day
  • Not compatible with Android phones
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Performance:
    4.0
  • Value:
    4.0
Display:OLED Retina, 352 x 430 pixels (41mm), OLED Retina, 396 x 484 pixels (45mm)
Battery Life:Up to 18 hours
GPS:GPS, GNSS, Galileo and BeiDou
Water Resistance:WR50
Compatibility:iOS
Dimensions:41 x 35 x 10.7 mm (41mm) 45 x 38 x 10.7 mm (45mm)
Weight:32.1 grams (41mm), 38.7 grams (45mm)

The Garmin Venu 3 is our pick as the best Garmin Watch currently available, and with good reason. It offers all the health and fitness metrics you’d expect from Garmin (and probably a few more besides), plus some smartwatch features that tend to be missing from more sports focused devices.  

Tools such as Body Battery and Morning Report, plus recovery tracking features, make this incredibly similar to the Polar Vantage 2 in terms of training and recovery tools. There are also VO2 Max and Fitness Age estimates, plus the usual heart rate, blood oxygen and activity tracking metrics.  

Unlike the Polar Vantage 2, you can also make and receive calls through the watch (via a connected smartphone) and download and play music. Built-in GPS means you can leave your phone behind when you’re out for a run, walk or bike ride. The RRP of £449 is slightly higher than the Vantage 2, but we have seen this watch on offer for under £400, making it a little more competitive.

Pros

  • Brilliant AMOLED display
  • Built-in mic and speaker for taking calls
  • Impressive battery life

Cons

  • Limited app store means this isn't a "true" smartwatch
  • Big price jump from the Venu 2
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Features:
    5.0
  • Performance:
    4.5
  • Value:
    4.0
Display:1.4-inch AMOLED, 454 x 454 pixels
Battery Life:Up to 14 days
GPS:GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO
Water Resistance:5 ATM
Compatibility:iOS and Android
Dimensions:45 x 45 x 12 mm
Weight:46 grams

What's The Best

For Android phone users, the Google Pixel Watch 2 is a beautiful option for tracking your health and fitness. The AMOLED display is beautiful and bright, while it also offers heart rate, sleep, blood oxygen, skin temperature and stress monitoring. You can even record an ECG, which you can’t do on the Polar Vantage 2. Pace Training and Heart Zone Training allow you to focus your exercise for specific goals, while the usual step counting, calorie burn estimates and activity tracking are also available.   

Like the Apple Watch, this is a true smartwatch, so you can use it for making calls, sending texts, and using other apps such as Google Pay. Google Assistant helps round off the smartwatch experience. The RRP is £349, making this one of the cheaper alternatives we’ve highlighted. You can read our full Google Pixel Watch 2 review here.

Pros

  • Plenty of health tracking features
  • Improved charging speed
  • Beautiful design

Cons

  • Still needs to be charged daily
  • Incompatible with iPhone
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Features:
    4.0
  • Performance:
    4.0
  • Value:
    4.0
Display:1.2-inch AMOLED, 450 x 450 pixels
Battery Life:Up to 24 hours
GPS:GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo, QSZZ
Water Resistance:5 ATM
Compatibility:Android
Dimensions:41 x 12.3 mm
Weight:31 grams

What's The Best/Steven Shaw

Like the Vantage 2, the Garmin Forerunner 255 is an older model, having itself been replaced by the Garmin Forerunner 265. And, like the Vantage 2, it misses a few features that make the newer mid-range Garmin running watch a better device overall. But the Forerunner 255 is still a great running watch, offering plenty of health and fitness tracking features, including heart rate, blood oxygen, sleep and stress metrics, among others. 

The built-in GPS is accurate, and there are plenty of different activity modes to track your favourite exercise types – including running, walking, strength training, HIIT and yoga. Other tools such as Body Battery, Fitness Age, Morning Report and VO2 Max estimates all add to the package, making this a comprehensive watch for training and recovery.

It lacks smartwatch features, and the MIP display isn’t as bright as an AMOLED screen. But given the Forerunner 255 is sometimes available for less than £230, it makes this device exceptionally good value for money.

Pros

  • 14-day battery life is very good
  • Accurate GPS tracking
  • Plenty of health and fitness metrics
  • Typical asking price is uch lower than original RRP, making this great value

Cons

  • Screen isn't the brightest or sharpest
  • Design:
    4.0
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Performance:
    4.5
  • Value:
    4.5
Display:1.3-inch Transflective memory-in-pixel, 260 x 260 pixels
Battery Life:Up to 14 days
GPS:GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO
Water Resistance:5ATM
Compatibility:iOS and Android
Dimensions:45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 mm
Weight:49 grams

So, is the Polar Vantage V2 still worth buying?

Polar Vantage V2 watch on brick
©What's The Best/Steven Shaw

Ok, so the Polar Vantage 2 is four years old now. It’s been superseded by newer models with extra features and more accurate sensors, so it misses a few tools compared to newer rivals. If you’re looking for the latest and greatest, and want every possible metric available, the Vantage 2 is difficult to recommend. If we’re just comparing the Vantage 2 to the Vantage 3, the better screen and much wider array of metrics mean the newer watch is the superior device. And that’s without considering all the watches on offer from other manufacturers.

On the other hand, the Polar Vantage 2 was a very good multi-sports watch when it first came out. And while it may no longer be the new kid on the block, that doesn’t mean it isn’t hanging tough. It still offers plenty of useful health and fitness features, including built-in GPS and navigation, as well as heart rate monitoring, and recovery guidance. These remain as accurate as they were when the watch was new - and for many, the Vantage V2 will be more than accurate enough.

It’s well-built, lightweight and comfortable, making it ideal for outdoor pursuits. And the price you can expect to pay has fallen considerably over the years – making this a lot more affordable than it was when it first came out. If you’re happy to go for an older model without the latest bells and whistles, there is still value from the Polar Vantage V2.

Steven Shaw is a Senior Tech Writer and Reviewer for What’s the Best. Steven writes how-to guides, explainers, reviews and best-of listicles covering a wide range of topics. He has several years of experience writing about fitness tech, mobile phones, and gaming.

When Steven isn’t writing, he’s probably testing a new smartwatch or fitness tracker, putting it through its paces with a variety of strength training, HIIT, or yoga. He also loves putting on a podcast and going for a long walk.

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