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It's been a month since Polar announced the renewal of its mid-range model, the Polar Vantage M2. This is a slight update to the original Polar Vantage M that came to market in 2018, a watch that received a multitude of updates throughout its life and on which minor aesthetic and software changes have been added.
There are no exclusive features in the M2, Polar has added features that were previously released on the Vantage V2 or Grit X. Except one option to transmit heart rate data to other devices via Bluetooth, although it is something that needs to be added later via software update and has not been included at launch.
I've been testing the watch for several weeks with the review unit provided by Polar. As usual, once this review is published, I will send it back to them. There is no compensation whatsoever for performing the review. That is, what you'll read below is what I think about the watch, without any pressure from the manufacturer. And remember, if you like the work I do in the reviews and want to help the site, you can do so by making your purchases through the links published. Thanks for your support!
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- Polar platform, may be the best in the market
- Good change in appearance and quality (bezel, buttons, strap)
- FuelWise is a nice addition to its features
- Great sleep and rest metrics
- Missed opportunity to include running power for Polar's mid-range
- Wrist rotation detection continues being rough
- No tone alerts (only vibration)
- Its main problem is that we can find original Polar Vantage M at a fairly lower price
Polar Vantage M2, what's new
The watch size is exactly the same as the original Polar Vantage M, as well as the screen diameter and the bezel. This bezel, buttons and buckle are made of steel (already in the original Vantage M), but has now improved aesthetically because it is no longer completely smooth but both bezel and buttons are “carved”.
The case is made of polymer and weight and measures remain unchanged with 45 grams for 46mm in diameter. The thickness (12.5mm) is also the same.
All that is in terms of the physical characteristics of the watch, but where there are more changes is in the software that accompanies it, many of them inherited from top-range models such as the Grit X or the Vantage V2.
- FuelWise, a smart assistant that will makehydration and nutritionrecommendations during the longest outings. Alerts may be automatic or manual
- Information about the energy source used during your training, which we can see at the end of the workout (carbs/proteins/fats)
- Music control from the watch (the player is the phone, the Vantage M2 has no playback capabilities)
- Possibility to share heart rate with external devices via Bluetooth (apps, treadmills, gym, etc.)
- Weekly training summary visible both on watch and app
- Current weather and weather forecast for the next two days
- Battery life of up to 30 hours in 1s GPS mode, but now adds the ability to extend the battery up to 100 hours of GPS by lowering GPS accuracy or deactivating the optical sensor
- Depending on the battery options we have selected for a specific sport profile, before starting the workout we will have information about the maximum battery life for our activity.
- Available in 4 different bezel and strap colours
- Possibility to customize the watch face with different colors for the second hand.
As I guess you'll also want to know, these are the main differences that exist from its older sibling, the Polar Vantage V2:
- Polar Vantage M2 has no navigation capabilities
- Without the specific Running Test, Cycling Test or Leg Recovery Test
- No barometric altimeter
- No Hill Splitter
- Without running power
- No magnetic compass
In short, the new model is small facelift, especially at the aesthetic level.
Polar Vantage M2 101
Aesthetically there are small changes. For a neophyte such changes go completely unnoticed, but for a trained eye they are seen quite easily.
Not only is the most modern and eye-catching colour scheme in the Vantage M2, but also its most worked bezel and buttons. The bezel, depending on the color of the watch, will have a different engraving type. Not all bezels are equal.
The copper-coloured bezel has small engraved paintings.
And black or gold bezels have a different decor.
You can see how the gold-colored buttons also have a different engraving than black or copper buttons.
As usual with Polar watches, we have a total of five control buttons. Three on the right side and two on the left side. Unlike the other models in the upper range (Vantage V2, Grit X), the screen is not touch enabled. That is not a problem at all as it is certainly not a feature that you use too much on any of those watches.
The strap has also climbed one step with respect to the original model. Without having a premium quality, it has a pleasant touch feeling and is relatively stretchy. On the wrist it feels very comfortable. In addition it is not specific and has a quick extraction system.
This allows you to be as modern as you want with your chosen strap, both from the original options offered by Polar or from any other third party seller.
Where there are no changes is in the detection of wrist rotation. Honestly, it's the part of the watch I dislike. It is hard for the watch to recognize the wrist turn to switch on the light or display notifications, the latter being quite uncomfortable. In fact, I would prefer the notification to be displayed directly on the screen without having to make the wrist gesture.
In addition to not always recognizing the gesture, there is some delay both to display the notification and to turn on the light. And the combination of both elements causes that, as it takes time to show the notification, when it has not recognized the gesture we are waiting for something to happen on the screen. It becomes a somewhat frustrating situation.
The overall operation of the watch is the same as that of the Vantage V2, having the time paired with different widgets that give us relevant information at a quick glance. Each of them would form a different watch face, composed of the time and date next to the information of each of the widgets.
Now there are more screens or widgets, and we have a menu where we can enable or disable the screens we want to have available.
These are the options available:
- Time only
- Daily activity
- Training load status
- Instant heart rate
- Last training sessions
- Nightly Recharge
- FitSpark training guide
- Weekly Summary
- Music controls
Apart from that we can choose between analog and digital time, as well as two or three different combinations for the second hand (and in some cases colors). In this regard Polar's proposal is quite limited if we compare it with the rest of the competition, perhaps another section to be reviewed by the manufacturer.
By clicking on each of the screens or pressing the main button, you can access the detailed information for that particular option. For example, in the case of Training Load Pro it will give you information about your training load status.
The weather screen is one of the new features that comes the Vantage M2. At the bottom of the screen it will show you the forecast and temperature for the next two hours. And if we access inside it we will have the expanded data as well as showing information for the next few hours and the next two days.
Another new screen is music control. Through this screen we can control the playback of the paired phone. This is a basic pause/playback and forward/backward control in addition to volume.
But to make it clear, the watch is not able to play music by itself and it needs in any case to be paired with another device.
The vast majority of settings are configured via Polar Flow or the app (sports profiles, data screens, settings, structured workouts, etc.), with a fairly simple menu on the watch where we can access the most basic functions such as pairing sensors or setting the alarm.
Another feature inherited from higher-end models is power saving settings. Now, before starting a workout, we can see at the top of the screen the approximate battery life remaining depending on the settings we have selected.
The Polar Vantage M2 offers 30 hours of battery life, but we can lengthen up to 100 hours by adjusting the GPS recording frequency, using the optical heart rate sensor or activating the screen protector. By enabling this function, when doing a workout instead of having the data screen will only show the time, and you can press a button to see the actual screen.
Being able to see the remaining battery life at a glance helps a lot. Before starting a workout we can see if we are going to be able to finish recording the activity with the watch or if it will be necessary to play with the battery saving settings.
We should not forget that this is going to be an option that we will use sporadically. The watch, with everything enabled, would be able to record up to 30 hours. Unless we are going to do a multi-day activity and do not carry the charger and an external battery there will be no need to apply these changes.
Please note that switching from recording 1 second to 1 minute will alter the quality of the track as well as the pace and distance recorded by the watch, so it will only be useful in extreme necessity.
As for external sensors, the Polar Vantage M2 only supports Bluetooth sensors, there is no support for any ANT+ sensors. But within the Bluetooth sensors offers compatibility for any type of them.
- Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensors
- Bluetooth Smart cycling powermeters
- Bluetooth Smart running powermeters (if we don't want to use the built in one)
- Bluetooth Smart speed and/or cadence sensors
- Running footpods
I think Polar has missed a good opportunity to get running power to the mid-range watch. At the moment it is something that remains exclusive to the top-end models (Vantage V, V2 and Grit X do have it). I say this especially considering that the COROS PACE 2 does offer it and it is a model that sits in its same price range.
But it doesn't mean that with the Vantage M2 we can't run with power. Because it supports running power meters (in addition to cycling power meters), we can use Stryd to record all these data natively.
Let's continue with the new features. There is a new weekly activity widget. The screen shows the total hours of weekly training and, depicted in the circle, the heart rate zones we have “touched”.
As with everyother widget, pressing the main button will give you all the details along with the week workouts, which ultimately are the same data you can see in the Polar Flow weekly summary.
Within Polar's proposal, without a doubt the most remarkable are performance metrics. I don't want to extend too much on this because I have already analyzed it on successive occasions and I don't want to have to do it again.
That is not to say that it is not worth mentioning and detailing what each of these features are.
They are certainly the most important part of their product not only because of the information they offer but primarily because of how they all relate to each other. I give you a brief summary of what each one of them offers
Training Load Pro
Cumulative measurement of training load over time. You can learn full details in the Polar Vantage M review.
Sleep Plus Stages
Analysis of the different sleep phases. It first arrived with the Polar Ignite and reached the rest of the range.
Beyond the sleep phases, it tells us whether the rest has served to recharge energy.
Recommended workouts for each day based on load values from previous days, our night rest and the general condition of tiredness. You also have the details in the Polar Ignite review.
These were already present in the Vantage M, and as the only new metric for the Vantage M2 has been FuelWise, which I will detail below in case you don't know all about it.
FuelWise is the name of the new hydration and nutrition assistant that Polar launched first with the Polar Grit X and now also reaches the mid-range thanks to the Vantage M2 (having also passed to the Vantage V2 as well).
These are alerts to remind you when to drink and eat. The alerts can be manual, in the sense that you schedule the watch to remind you every X time what to drink and/or eat.
It also offers an automatic alert, and that is the interesting part, in which it is the watch that, depending on how the training is going, will tell you what to eat and when to do it.
This configuration will have to be done before starting the training, through the Fueling menu.
Before starting the workout you will have to tell the watch what you are going to do, because without such information you can not calculate it. It's as if on the weekend you're going to eat at your mother's house and don't tell her in advance that you'll be hungry after you've run 3 hours. If you don't want to stay hungry, you'd better let her know in advance...
You need to define three values:
- Workout duration
- Intensity, depending on the heart rate zone (Z1 to Z5)
- Carbohydrates per serving, which should be obtained from the composition of the gel or bar that you use in your workouts.
And with all this data, FuelWise is going to offer you the total amount you're going to need for your workout. The calculation will be based on the data it knows about your fitness and training history, which is what it collected earlier with the Training Load Pro feature. So when you go out to do your workout you will know in advance what amount of water and gels or bars you will have to take with you, and also how many shots you will have to do.
The minimum time for the automatic function to work will be 90 minutes. Actually for shorter workouts it will not normally be necessary to supplement in addition to what you have eaten before.
When it is already set up, you must select which sport you are going to do. On the sensor search screen we will now have a new icon, confirming that FuelWise is enabled.
What if we entered that the intensity is going to be low, but the reality is that you start to compete with your training mates and increase the intensity? (Something that has never happened to anyone, has it?) FuelWise will vary the number of alerts and their frequency, constantly adapting to the actual energy consumption you are having. And the same if the intensity isn't as high as you thought.
Additionally, we will also be able to know what energy sources we have used in training, something that depends on the intensity of the exercise.
The watch will estimate the percentage of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, thus allowing you to know how it has affected you nutritionally and how to plan your recovery. We have that information on the watch at the end of the workout.
The watch estimates the percentage of each one, allowing you to know how the training has affected you nutritionally and how you can propose your recovery.
It can also be consulted in Polar Flow along with a graph with the consumption of each of the energy sources.
Logically it is an estimate and not a laboratory test, although absolute data are not the important aspect but the relationship between them (more or less carbohydrates than fats, etc.).
This information will always be present, regardless of whether we are using FuelWise in the workout session or not.
GPS and optical HR review
One of the advantages of being testing two watches simultaneously is that I can take advantage of the work for both reviews and make my workflow easier, so most of the comparisons you'll see below will be the same as you find in the analysis of the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium.
Like the optical HR sensor tests we'll see later, GPS comparisons are done in the same way: with the watches accompanying me in my usual workouts. Wearing both Polar Vantage M2 and other watches and checking where problems appear.
I don't have a defined path to establish a score for the simple reason that there are other external factors that we should never forget. Things like clouds, leaves on the trees or simply the position of the satellite can alter the GPS results from one day to the next.
I'll start with this workout in which I mix straight roads with trails where reception is much more complicated. For the comparison I wore Suunto 9 Baro Titanium and Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL as companions of the Vantage M2.
Without zooming in the image everything promises to be quite positive.
And in general it is. Here you can see both the start and end of the workouts. I want to highlight the beginning, in which triangulation is usually somewhat complicated, the three wathces are shown completely coinciding (except for some slight deviation from the Wahoo ELMNT Rival).
Of course “problems” arise. In this left turn the Polar Vantage M2 separates a bit from the graph of the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium and Wahoo, but we must also keep in mind that I was wearing the Polar on the right wrist while the other two go on my left arm, it comes within normal that in the turns the Polar will go somewhat longer, because in fact that separation exists.
However, this is no longer so normal. Polar continues too shifted to the right. The track is perfectly parallel to the other two watches, but I want to highlight it.
It is not something that worries me, because that does not lead to errors in pace or distance, simply the track is slightly shifted (about two meters). That I'd like to see it closer to the other two? Yeah, but it would be worse if there were spikes going on all over the place.
The Suunto 9 Baro Titanium, meanwhile, remains perfectly anchored to the correct route, except for the first of the marked arrows (the rightmost) where it slightly cuts the turn.
But let's go to the tricky area. Here the reception is more difficult as I'm running inside a small canyon by the river, and at the top I do it under a fairly leafy forest.
You can appreciate the difficulty of the area in the erratic behavior on the part of the three devices, but within the error there is nothing blatant. None of the three members of the comparison is noticeably lost and all three, despite not receiving good signal, recover very quickly.
Change of route and I go to one of my usual areas, where I already know perfectly where are the most problematic points. In addition, in the area of Puerto Banús I complicate the matter a little more passing through the inner street, very narrow and with buildings on both sides.
But before we get to that tougher test there are some points that must also be highlighted. In the marks I've made, from left to right, you can see how I marked with an arrow (to the left of the image) a point at which Suunto 9 slightly deviates from the path, something that also happened to it when crossing the bridge in the middle of the image.
However you can see one of my favorite turns to check performance, in which all three watches have made the quick course changes without any incident. Polar Vantage M2 and Suunto 9 Baro Titanium behaved perfectly in that spot.
At this point we have erratic behavior on the part of the Polar Vantage M2 and the Garmin FR935. The Suunto 9 is the one with the best behaviour, the correct route being the one it has made at all times. However the Polar Vantage M2 has had a small punctual neglect, although it has quickly been resolved.
This is the most complicated part, because on the return route I enter the inner street of Puerto Banús. Narrow, with tall buildings on both sides and frankly complicated reception. I didn't expect great things from any of the three watches, however within the difficulty it is the Suunto 9 that has best approached the correct layout, with the Polar Vantage M2 and the Garmin FR935 showing the same difficulties.
At that spot I must highlight those who do it well, and not those who do it wrong, because the reception, I insist, is really complicated.
With cycling, as usual, there are no great things to highlight.
Of course and I insist again, it does not mean that everything is going to be perfect, we can always find some turn or some point where the layout is not the right one. Do not forget that a GPS watch is not a precision instrument.
But as a whole, cycling is something that is perfectly dominated by all manufacturers, especially because speed is usually higher than running, which makes it easier to obtain beautiful and aesthetic graphics.
Overall the behavior of the Polar Vantage M2 is good enough, but not stellar. In different workouts I have found points where it has not behaved correctly, but it is true that there is no point that was tremendously bad. And compared to the first months of the original Polar Vantage M, the truth is that the improvement is noticeable.
Today I did a workout with very cloudy sky and lots of rain. In such conditions the reception is always complicated, but still the result has been reasonably good, or at least as good as the rest of the watches I wore with me at the time.
As for the optical heart rate sensor it seems that Polar has not yet decided on a definitive design. Strangely it's different from the sensors present in the Polar Vantage V2 and Polar Grit X , which have moved on to use a sensor with a total of 10 LEDs (5 red, 4 oranges, 1 green). But the last two Polar models have returned to a design like the first Vantage M and Vantage V with 9 LEDs (5 green, 4 red).
Why not adopt that new sensor? I have no idea, but it certainly seems a little strange. Maybe it's because of the possibilities that these most advanced sensors have regarding metrics that are still pending announcement.
But let's go with the comparisons themselves. I'll start with this fairly easy workout, with warm-up and three intervals.
If we ignore the disastrous result of the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium we have two very well aligned graphs that are those of the Polar Vantage M2 and the HRM-tri sensor paired to the Garmin FR935.
Beyond the slight delay in the rise and drop of heart rate, common in all optical HR sensors, there are not too many things to check.
Let's look at a short interval workout, which is typically the most complicated thing for optical sensors. This is the last workout I've done today.
I have pointed out some peaks, which occurred at the beginning of the workout (still being a little cold) and at one of the intervals. Despite that I have obtained a good result from its HR sensor, rather better than that of the Suunto 7 Titanium, something that I find weird because I have always had good results with the Suunto 7.
Here is another interval training, in this case somewhat longer (the previous ones were 90 seconds, those shown below are 3 minutes long).
If we go to check a bike workout we find the usual result, barely good results when there is high intensity (first part of the workout), many more complications when there is much more variability (end of the workout).
In short, the optical HR sensor of the Polar Vantage M2 has worked quite well for most of the workouts I have done both running and trainer rides (where there are no vibrations that affect reading and intensity is more constant). Outdoor cycling still needs an external sensor, like the rest of the watches on the market, so there is nothing that surprises us here.
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Polar Vantage M2 opinion
My opinion when the Polar Vantage M2 was unveiled was quite cold. The main reason was its price, considering that the original Polar Vantage M offers almost the same features and is usually on sale at a much cheaper price.
But after being living with the watch for a few weeks it has started to grow. In fact, if I were to buy one of the two I know that I would opt for the Vantage M2 for several reasons:
- Looks. Although there are hardly any changes, the bezel and button engravings are quite suggestive, and the colours in which it is available looks way better.
- Features. The Polar Vantage M2 includes much of the features presented by the Vantage V2 and Grit X.
- Updates. Will there be a lot of updates coming to the Vantage M2? I honestly don't know, but what is clear is that the original Vantage M has already reached the end of its development, and it is a model to which Polar has added many more features than it originally brought. I wouldn't want to stay out of those new features.
Perhaps what I expected most and Polar has not included was the running power estimation. To have it the Vantage M2 would need a barometric altimeter, an element that is still lacking. Considering that the COROS PACE 2 does include running power and costs €100 less, I think it's a missed opportunity.
The COROS is a great option at a cheaper price, but it is equally true that it is aesthetically poorer and does not reach the looks and quality of the Vantage M2, and the Polar platform is several steps above COROS' (for example in relation to training load and rest tracking).
Polar has found a niche market to attack, the mid-range of triathlon watches. Garmin does not have any current model that covers it (we would have to opt for previous models at discounted prices, with the good and bad that it has), and the rest of the manufacturers don't seem to think too much about that particular segment either.
It may have things to improve in terms of wrist turn detection and notification management. It may not be the one with the best GPS performance. But overall it is nice a nice watch to use, in my opinion it still has the best platform out there and the level of algorithms Polar uses is frankly high. What is clear is that it can perfectly cover the range of use of many users.
And with that... thanks for reading!