In this post
- Polar Grit X
- What's new on the Polar Grit X
- Polar Grit X at first glance
- Hill Splitter on Polar Grit X
- FuelWise, what it is and what it brings
- Route navigation with turn notifications, thanks to Komoot
- The rest of the platform features
- GPS Performance
- Optical heart rate sensor
- Buy Polar Grit X
- Polar Grit X opinion
The Polar Grit X is the latest watch of the brand, but it is intended for a segment of the market in which they had no representation. At least until now, because Polar has entered the trail, mountain and outdoor segment making a lot of noise.
The Grit X is very similar to the Vantage V, model with which it shares many of its functions. But it has added a number of additional functions that makes it more complete, all without neglecting its multisport capacity, as it can be used perfectly for triathlons as well.
After several weeks of use and abuse I am ready to explain all the good and bad that the new Polar model offers. As I usually want to make clear, the watch has been handed over by Polar and once I publish the review I'll contact them to send it back.
All the reviews and analyses you find on this page are done without any compensation by the brand, my opinions are always free and without any pressure on their part.
Remember that if you like the content I offer you and want to support the page, you can do so by purchasing your new Polar Grit X (or anything else) through the links you find on this page. That way I will receive a small percentage of the sale, which is what supports this site and pay for the many hours needed to perform all these reviews.
I won't keep you any longer. Make yourself comfortable, because I'm going to tell you everything you need to know about the new Polar watch and so far no one has told you.
- Adding to what Vantage already offers, the Grit X include more features: Hill Splitter and FuelWise
- Without being an economical watch, its price is cheaper than direct competition
- Polar Flow platform is simply fantastic
- Great design, good materials
- Despite improved navigation, it remains poor when compared to what the competition offers
- FuelWise alerts should be more noticeable or remain on-screen
- Somewhat awkward to see phone notifications. They do not appear automatically, it does not correctly detect the wrist gesture and the touch screen is somewhat clumsy
What's new on the Polar Grit X
Despite being a "parallel" model to the Vantage range, Polar has endowed it with certain exclusive functions. These are detailed below, and on which I want to dwell especially in this analysis (which does not mean that I do not refresh you something about the rest of the functions).
The new features of the Grit X are the following:
- Hill Splitter, automatic hill detection during training to separate that part and give specific information, both during training and for further analysis later in Polar Flow.
- FuelWise, an intelligent assistant that will give you hydration and nutrition recommendations during longer outings. Alerts may be automatic or manual.
- As part of FuelWise, at the end of the workout we will also have information about the origin of the energy used.
- Possibility to create navigation routes with Komoot.
- Current weather and weather forecast for the next two days.
- Magnetic compass.
- The battery has a little more capacity , going from the 320mAh of the Vantage V to the 346mAh of the Polar Grit X. However, the battery life announced is the same in both cases: up to 40 hours of use with GPS and OHR at maximum accuracy (every second). There are other battery saving options, allowing you to reach up to 100 hours of battery life by lowering the accuracy of the GPS or disabling the sensor.
- Depending on the options we have selected for a specific sport profile, before starting the training we will have information about the maximum battery life for our activity.
- The strap is 22mm wide, so we can use Polar's own or any other of that width. In the case of the Vantage V the strap was specific in the way in which the strap was anchored.
All the news of Polar Grit X in the first episode of the podcast Entre Umbrales, where I detail all the features it includes.
But we shall not forget that the Polar Grit X is intended for outdoor use and has a tougher look than the Vantage V, which is the model which Polar has developed the new version over. If we take it to Garmin terrain, it's like the Fenix series and the top-of-the-range Forerunner (935, 945): they are half-brothers and share a lot of functions with each other.
The Polar Grit X is essentially a Polar Vantage V to which specific features have been added. We can highlight them in three main things: Hill Splitter, FuelWise and routes with turn notification thanks to Komoot.
With regard to Vantage V it loses the Recovery Pro function, but it keeps all the others that are the ones I'll show you briefly in the next section.
Polar Grit X at first glance
The Polar Grit X is a watch that offers a very good feeling, both for the quality of its materials and for its design. It stands out for the steel bezel that, in addition to four marks, has the Grit X inscription on one of its sides.
It has a total of five buttons (and touch screen) generously sized and embossed so that your finger won't slip off when wet by sweat or other liquids. The feel is quite pleasant, much better than that of the Vantage M/V.
If the buttons have to be highlighted for their good operation and accuracy, with the touch screen you have to do the same but for the opposite reason. It's imprecise and quite erratic. So even though it has it you probably won't use it at all.
Part of the design change with respect to the Vantage V is also in the strap. Now it does not use a specific size, but it is 22mm of normal type and with "quick release". This allows you to be as modern as you want with the strap you choose, either from the original options offered by Polar or from any other third party vendor.
The general operation of the watch is the same as that of the Vantage, having the time screen (which only supports switching between digital or analog, but nothing else) that we can combine together with the different screens that give us relevant information at a quick glance for Training Load Pro, Nightly Recharge, Fit Spark, real time HR, weather, latest activities and daily activity.
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 the Grit X includes. At the bottom of the screen it will show the forecast and temperature for the next two hours. And if we go inside it we will have the data expanded as well as showing information for the next few hours and the next two days.
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.
Within the additional pages that we can select to view in sport profiles, we find the usual time of day, pace, altitude, etc.
Without going into the Hill Splitter function (which I have written a full section for it), a new page that is not found on the Vantages and it's available in the Grit X is the compass page. This is because neither Vantage V nor of course Vantage M have a magnetic compass (only by GPS).
The magnetic compass is useful not only for the simple fact of being able to visualize the cardinal points on the watch screen, but also because when it comes to navigating it allows us to stop at a fork and turn around to identify the right path we must follow.
Another new feature that we can find in the Polar Grit X is that now, before starting an activity, we can see the approximate battery life remaining depending on the settings we have selected.
The Grit X would be able to reach up to 100h of battery life if we make the relevant GPS recording frequency settings, disabling the optical heart rate sensor or activate the screen saver. Activating that function, when doing a workout we will have the time of the day on the display, and no other data shown, being able to get it by simply pressing a button.
The battery life is the following, depending on what we choose:
- Up to 40 hours: GPS recording at 1 second, optical sensor on, screen protector off.
- Up to 60 hours: GPS recording at 1 minute, optical sensor on, screen protector off.
- Up to 65 hours: GPS recording in 2 minutes, optical sensor on, screen protector off.
- Up to 100 hours: GPS recording in 2 minutes, optical sensor off, screen protector on.
Being able to see the remaining battery life is of great help, because before starting a workout we can see if we will be able to finish it or if it will be necessary to play with the battery saving settings.
Actually, we're hardly going to need to alter any of these parameters except very specific cases. The watch, with everything at the higher settings, would be able to record up to 40 hours of activity. Unless we're going to do a multi-day activity and you're bringing the charger and an external battery with you, there's no need to apply these changes.
In addition, you should keep in mind that going from recording 1 second to 1 minute will significantly alter the quality of both the track and the pace and distance recorded by the watch, so it will only be useful in extreme need.
As for the use of external sensors, the Polar Grit X only supports Bluetooth sensors. Although within this type of sensors allows you to use any 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
The Grit X also inherits the running power function that premiered the Vantage V. I don't want to dwell excessively on this function as I have already commented a lot about it in the Vantage V review.
I just need to remind you that this is not a direct measurement but an estimation, in any case. At the moment there is no running powermeter that performs direct measurements outside of the lab.
In short, there are no changes in Polar's implementation with respect to Vantage V, everything remains the same. Thanks to GPS data, accelerometer and barometric altimeter, it allows you to estimate your running power.
However, the Grit X also supports powermeters as an external accessory (not just running, but also cycling). In fact I've been using it with Stryd, because Polar's measurement is higher and the power zones I'm using are the ones I get with Stryd, so I did not really want to mess my TrainingPeaks stats.
Finally, we have the data summary after the workout is done. In the case of the Grit X, it has been expanded as it adds those that come from its specific functions such as Hill Splitter and FuelWise (on which I will talk later on).
Of course, if you want to have more detail of your workout, where you'll find it best is on the web or in the app. Keep in mind that they do not offer the same possibilities, so looking at some things it will be more comfortable in the app (for example, FuelWise) and for others Polar Flow website is a better option (reports, etc.).
I think it's already clear what the basics of the watch are (and the little novelties outside of main functions), so how about we'll go with the watch's highlights: Hill Splitter, FuelWise and Komoot navigation.
Hill Splitter on Polar Grit X
Hill Splitter is the first new big feature I want to talk to you about. Being the Grit X a model intended for use in the mountains (trail, cycling, MTB, etc.) the tendency will be to find ascents and descents. And since you may have already noticed in the past (I don't know, imaginations of mine), it doesn't require the same effort when we go up and down.
Hill Splitter is present both during training and at the end of it. So let's go in pieces and start with the part where we train. Because before we analyze the workout... we have to do it first.
When it comes to setting up a sport profile we can add the additional Hill Splitter screen, it is an additional data screen apart of those you already have with pace, time, distance, etc.
Once activated, this screen will always appear in the sport profile, but it changes depending on whether we are running (if that is the profile you are using) on a flat, going up or down a slope.
Hill Splitter automatically detects when you are up/down or when you are running on flat terrain. It will provide you with relevant information for that climb or descent, as well as counting how many ups and downs we have traveled.
Depending on the profile you are using, it will understand that we are climbing a hill when we have climbed 5/10/15 meters at a certain distance. Logically it is not the same for all sports:
- 5 meters: Running, walking or other sports on foot
- 10 meters: Cycling and cross-country skiing
- 15 meters: Downhill profiles
Let's just say we're climbing a hill. That fragment will be marked in the activity file for further analysis (which we'll see below), but on the Hill Splitter screen it will show us the relevant information for that particular segment.
Here are the data that appears on the screen:
- Distance we have been climbing or descending. That is, the distance of "that lap" up to that moment.
- Total of meters we have been ascending on this climb. If it were a descent what we were doing, it would indicate the meters we were descending.
- Instant pace.
- The number of ups and downs we have been through. In the picture it indicates that we are on our first climb.
And what if we're running on flat ground, this is the screen we'll see.
It is the same information, but removing the part of ascended or descended meters since obviously it is not relevant at that time.
As this is an additional training view and not a screen configured by us, it is not possible to define what data we want to see.
It is important to remember that this is an automatic function that depends on nothing but the detection of ascent or descent through the barometric altimeter. It is not necessary that we have loaded a route that tells you that we are going to climb a hill, but it also does not provide us with information on how much we have to climb and the profile because it doesn't know where we are going.
Once the workout is complete, the data of Hill Splitter will appear in the summary that we can see on the watch screen, indicating the total number of ups and downs and the distance traveled in each of them.
Automatic detection means that we sometimes encounter "errors". Imagine that we are ascending and we reach a point where there is a small plain, and then we go up again. Depending on the length of that flat you can mark it as one or two climbs.
You, who have traveled the route, surely consider that it's all the same climb but you have just had a short break. But the watch may consider that you have had two separate climbs. This can also lead to the fact that at the end of the worktut the watch indicates, for example, that we have climbed more metres than the ones we have run downhill.
The reason is the same, it all depends on how the watch identified each segment, because If we have climbed one side of the mountain at 15% and then descended on the other side at -2% for much longer time, considering the watch that that was almost flat.
Where everything is much more interesting is when it comes to reviewing the workout through the web or the mobile app because, as I indicated at the beginning, the watch has set a mark for each of these segments, allowing us to review each of these ups, downs or plains completely independently.
And here we have almost endless possibilities. Let's take for example the cycling workout I have done today, in which I had to do eight 5 minutes repeats at FTP going uphill.
Once I completed the uphill I used, I have been going down to go uphill again until finished, so it counted the first climb completely and the rest in 5 minute periods approximately. We can see that perfectly in the altitude chart.
At the bottom we now have a new tab in which we can select whether we want to show uphill, downhill or all the slopes (which include the flats as wells).
On that list we can select one of them and all the information on the page changes to show the relevant details: part of the map, power, heart rate, speed, etc.
And if we want to see the details of each of the sections identified automatically, we can scroll to the right in the bottom box to show the rest of the relevant information.
We also have this present in the mobile app, although it does not leave as much freedom to analyze data as in the web version.
In short, Hill Splitter is a very good function when it comes to analyzing, and something more basic during training. While we are doing a workout maybe it can be interesting if we are doing hill repeats because we can see how many we've done, paces, time and length. But in a standard workout or competition it does not provide such decisive information.
That doesn't mean it doesn't have its good things. For example, it is fantastic to be able to see in real time the duration or distance that we have been ascending a hill, something that no other watch is capable of doing (unless we make a manual lap, which may interest us or often not). Similarly it is also the only one that tracks downhill (other watches only care about climbs).
FuelWise, what it is and what it brings
As with Hill Splitter, FuelWise also consists of two different parts: the one we have during training (Fueling in the menu), and the information that it provides us when the workout is terminated and synchronized (Energy Sources).
I'll start with the specific fueling part of FuelWise. This is the new hydration and nutrition assistant Polar has developed for the Grit X. They are alerts to remind you when to eat and drink. These alerts may be manual, programmed by you to remind you at a set time that you should eat or drink. For example, you can select to remind you to drink every 20 minutes and eat every 40 minutes.
These are the usual manual alerts that don't specifically bring anything new. Where the interesting function is found is in the automatic alerts, in which it is the watch itself that, depending on the values we have entered and how our training is going, it will tell us when we should eat.
This configuration will have to be done before starting the training, through the Fueling menu.
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.
After indicating these three values and putting it together with the data it knows about your physical condition and training history, it will indicate the total number of carbohydrates that we will have to consume and how many times we are going to be eating.
Next you can add hydration reminders.
This way before going out to train you will know in advance the number of gels or bars that you will have to take with you, as well as the approximate amount of liquid that you will consume.
And once set up, you'll have to choose the sport profile you're going to practice. On the sensor search screen the watch will display a box confirming that we have configured the FuelWise function.
What happens if the workout ends being longer than you initially thought, or you make it harder than planned? FuelWise will automatically change the number of reminders and frequency, constantly adapting to the energy consumption you are having.
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.
The alert will be via an on-screen notification. It's practically impossible to hunt down the screen to take the picture and show it to you, so I'll choose to use one of Polar's press photos.
That is my main complaint regarding this function, it appears briefly to fade shortly afterwards. The warning is also not that it is very effusive, so it is very easy to miss because perhaps at that time we are busy doing a complicated descent, or at a time in the race when attacks are being launched.
My suggestion for Polar would be to keep that screen visible, so that even if we didn't notice it at the time of the alert, it can warn you the next time we look at the watch screen.
As I was saying at the beginning, FuelWise is composed of two parts. The first one is the one I just explained to you, the next one is the one we can see at the end of the workout.
Right from the workout summary screen you can see how many calories you have needed to finish it, along with what has been the origin of that energy in carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
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.
In addition, it is also present in Polar Flow for more detailed analysis. And in this case, unlike Hill Splitter, it is much more interesting to analyze it in the mobile app (rather than the web) because it gives access to a nice graphic that allows us to see the variation that has been existing depending on the intensity of the workout. For example, it is nice to visualize it for interval workouts.
It is simply an estimate that is intimately related to the intensity of exercise in terms of heart rate, it is not a lab test. However, it should be noted that this information will always be present, whether we are using FuelWise or not.
Komoot is a navigation service of an Austrian company, designed specifically for adventurous users. Polar relies on Komoot for the management of navigation routes because, unlike Garmin or Suunto, they do not have the possibility to create routes directly on their platform, it is only possible to import a route from Polar Flow.
The truth is that it is a very complete and easy to use platform, in which in addition to being able to create your routes you will also be able to see and navigate the routes that other users load on the platform. Let's say it's a social network of adventurers.
As a platform that is not related to Polar, route management will have to be done through its website, and in your Polar Flow profile you will simply have to connect both services through the Partners section, exactly the same as if you were connecting your Strava account.
The way Komoot works is by unlocking regions. As soon as you sign up for the platform, you can unlock the region of your next route. This first region is free and allows you to create unlimited routes in that area.
But if you want to use more regions, you'll have to unlock them. You can choose to unlock a province for €9, or unlock all regions with a single payment of €20.
That would be all you need to enjoy that navigation with turn-by-turn alerts, you don't need to be subscribed to the Komoot Premium option but simply unlock the region or regions you're going to use.
There is no doubt that this partnership is very positive for Polar, as the aspect where the Vantage V has always failed most is in its route navigation. Not that a substantial jump is added (because there are no POIs or maps on the watch), but turn-by-turn is an essential element in any outdoor watch.
Once you've finished all the necessary setup in Komoot and created your routes, you'll need to go to the Polar Flow website and, in the Favorites section, update the routes to sync what you've created on the other website.
When selected, you will see that it appears in the right column as the route to sync to the watch. After syncing, you'll be able to activate this route in the sport profile you're going to use. To do this, you need to enter the submenu of the sport profile (which is accessed by pressing the light button while the watch is searching for satellites and sensors), and select it in the route option. You can also indicate whether you want to start the route from the start or halfway.
After selecting the route you can see that an icon appears with a map on the screen. That indicates that the route in question will be used for that activity.
There are no maps or other functions (such as an altitude profile). Navigation is simple and simply shows the breadcrumb line representing our route.
The only thing that brings with respect to the Vantage V is that before we reach a detour, the watch will notify us of the turn we need to make and the remaining distance. This notice will be given both on the navigation screen and on any other data display.
And if we leave the route, a warning will appear to warn you.
Therefore, at the navigation level, Polar's proposition is still quite simple. Maybe too much. It all depends on what your needs are, but if you're going to make extensive use of this feature, both Garmin and Suunto offer more powerful solutions. If navigation is going to be somewhat sporadic or you don't need more than what Polar offers, then that's enough.
The rest of the platform features
I want to dwell very briefly on the other four features the Polar Grit X shares with the Vantage: Training Load Pro, Sleep Plus Stages, Nightly Recharge and Fitspark . The first of the functions is fully detailed in the Vantage M and Vantage V review, while of the other three I wrote extensively in the Polar Ignite review.
Still, I'll leave you a few short strokes so that, if you know already know it, it will serve as a little reminder.
Training Load Pro
Training Load Pro makes the cumulative measurement of the training load over time. This metric measures your workout intensity and is obtained from cardiovascular load, muscle load and perceived load. The goal is to provide a single metric that is easy to understand and that, by visualizing it quickly, you can know if you can or should train more intensively or, on the contrary, you should relax your workouts a little.
On the watch we can see the data in one of the time screens.
And by pressing the main button we will enter to see more details of this metric.
Beyond the indication that appears on the screen, interesting facts are effort and tolerance.
Effort is our training load accumulated in the last 7 days. Tolerance is the training we have made to resist that training in the last 28 days.
Obviously, where you will best be able to review this data is through Polar Flow, both in the app and on the web.
Just remember that it's a metric that takes several weeks, so at first you'll always find yourself in overload until the tolerance is built.
Sleep Plus Stages
Sleep Plus Stages is an analysis of the different phases of sleep, both last night as well as taking into account the trend over time, summarizing everything in a single value so that we can easily compare it between different days.
The information used to obtain the different data that make up the metric are records of brain activity, respiration, blood oxygen levels and muscle activity.
With the watch we will have information, thanks to the optical sensor, of the breathing and oxygen levels in blood; while the muscular activity can be measured by the accelerometer. Therefore unlike a medical test what we do not have is the brain activity.
As with Training Load Pro, in the watch we can see the different details of the sleep phases entering one of the time screens.
And on the app as well.
Nightly Recharge is the next step in recovery analysis. The data obtained with Sleep Plus Stages are added to what Polar calls SNA (Autonomous Nervous System). That said in words that everyone can understand, is relaxation during the first 4 hours of sleep and indicates whether the rest has served to recharge energy.
This is what we'll see on the watch.
While in the app we will have more convenient access to all data.
I know, I should sleep more/better...
And lastly there is FitSpark, which is the culmination of all the metrics detailed above. They are recommended workouts for each day based on load values of previous days and considering our night rest and the general state of fatigue.
In short, FitSpark is an intelligent virtual trainer that, based on all the above data and your current fitness level, determines which exercises are recommended to be done that day.
Remember that the workouts offered by the Polar Grit X are not intended to prepare you for a marathon or an Ironman, their goal is simply to keep you active and fit. The important thing is that these recommendations are given taking into account all the values indicated above, offering you variety and recommended exercises. Or even recommend that you rest, just like that.
On the watch screen you can see which workout it recommends.
If you click on the screen you will have a quick description of what it has recommended, always within one of the three categories: strength, cardio or complementary
Therefore FitSpark can be useful in off-season moments when you don't know what or how to train, but it's not a function that allows you to prepare a particular race such as a marathon or a trail run race. Its only purpose is to keep you in shape.
Like the optical heart rate tests you'll see in the next section, the GPS comparisons are done in the same way: with the watches accompanying me in my regular workouts, wearing both the Polar Grit X and other models, and checking where problems occur.
I do not have any 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.
This is why I prefer to make this type of comparison instead of having a predefined route and assess it from this one.
So I start with this short workout of only 4 kilometers, which was also the second session of the day and the recommendation from my coach was to make it EASY. As I am very disciplined, I did it at a slow pace of 6:28 min/km on average. As I indicated earlier, it is far from ideal conditions for a GPS watch.
For this test, in addition to the Suunto 9 Baro (again, in its latest firmware version and with GPS+Beidou option enabled) and the Polar Grit X (configured in GPS+GLONASS); I also carried the Polar Vantage M (GPS+Galileo) and Garmin FR945 (GPS+GLONASS).
By the way, I just restored the FR945 because lately it was giving me horrific GPS performance.
The first impression is really good on all four watches. At least, from a bird's eye view, none of them have deviated from the route and the lines drawn are quite straight. But let's zoom in to see the details better.
This is the beginning of the training, but already advanced a few meters so the signal quality should already be reasonably good. It's not an easy zone because I run under some metal structures that give shade, and they can make a little of a Faraday cage effect.
On the Grit X I have already seen a behavior that has been very common in the Vantage M and Vantage V. A slight positioning error, but that persists over time. It is not too important because in the end all you are doing is moving the track 2-3 meters out of the actual location, but the measurement of pace and distance is correct because by persisting in the error it draws a completely straight line parallel to the real track.
I mean, it's not very important, but none of the other three watches have it. Neither does Vantage M, although it is true that its satellite configuration is not the same (GLONASS on Grit X and Galileo on Vantage M).
Later we can see that the Grit X is still committed to moving slightly to the right of the correct route, when none of the other three have. And by the way, I haven't mentioned it yet, but Suunto 9 has been perfect so far.
However in the following image is the Suunto 9 the one that has shifted a bit compared to the other tracks. The area I have pointed out with the arrow is a moment when I get off the road to avoid people walking along the sidewalk (social distancing and such), something that every watch has recorded perfectly, except the Suunto 9.
Same thing happens here, I go down to the road to make room and every watch obeys... except the Grit X that keeps making a straight line.
In the second arrow you can see that the Grit X repeats the mistake for which the Polar have been known... although it is true that in the Vantage M it is not appreciated at any time. By the way, I haven't mentioned it yet, but it seems that restoring the FR945 firmware solved the issues I was having with it. As I said, the tracks that were coming out from it were horrendous.
Let's go on... complicated place. Crossing the highway by a bridge over it, to which I reach at the a slow pace and I still don't want to go over zone 2. The result is that I go uphill even slower, making a 180 degree turn.
The only watch that has correctly recorded the climb (which is on the side next to the parking lot) is the Garmin. The other three have diverted. Again on the descent is the Garmin that has been the most accurate, with the Vantage M and the Suunto 9 following closely. The Grit X has again made the descent knot with a displacement of a few meters.
But the Garmin has not always done the correct route, shortly after the descent of the bridge the Grit X and FR945 move towards the sidewalk on the left while the Vantage M and Suunto 9 making the correct route.
As you can see the Grit X is already dragging the error (and I don't want to be a broken record... but it's what I've been seeing in the Vantages for years), but the 945 is inexplicably shifted halfway and that's less common.
It doesn't always have to be mistakes. There are also times when the four fully agree, which is what really has to happen.
Let's go to the second test. On this occasion I replace the Vantage M with the COROS APEX Pro, with GPS + GLONASS. A slightly faster workout than the previous one but also not lightning fast (5:50 min/km on average).
One of my usual routes, so I'm going to focus on the points I know are always more conflicting. To add details, this day was cloudy, making it more difficult to receive satellite signal (in test #1 it was completely sunny).
In the first image before we zoom in we can already see that there is something strange in the Suunto track... but we will get to that point later on.
At the beginning of the route one thing that catches the eye is that the COROS happens to have a similar error to what suffered the Grit X in the first run. It goes into an error of 3-4 meters and keeps it. As I say it is not excessively important, because the distance and pace that you get will be the right ones, it's just that the track is off and you can see it on the map.
Let's go to the first of the hotspots, a turn of about 100 degrees. The Polar Grit X (still in GPS+GLONASS) reaches that point with the same error we've been seeing so far, but it takes the corner correctly, as does the COROS and Garmin. But the Suunto cuts the corner by a few meters.
That can be more problematic if it happens constantly, because in a long workout or marathon race, those two meters from here plus those two meters from there can end up accumulating a good hundred meters.
Next hotspot. Historically, the pass over the bridge and the turn after crossing it often creates problems. In this case, apart from more or less meters of displacement by almost evey watch (the COROS has the correct path), the turn is reasonably good, within the error of being a few meters off the actual route, especially noticeable in the case of Garmin and Grit X.
This turn is usually very problematic, as two changes of direction are made in very little ground space. The COROS APEX Pro nails it, while the other three behave reasonably well, always considering that at the turning point they arrive slightly displaced.
Further on Suunto starts to get lost. You can appreciate that while COROS, Garmin and Polar make the turn correctly and continue along the promenade route, Suunto makes a "bust" before the turn point and then takes a while to recover. That is, it has reached that turn point with not too many satellites for poder to get information from.
But at the exit of Puerto Banus is where it loses it completely, which is what you saw in the first picture.
This time the Suunto does not have much justification, because none of the other three watches present any problems.
The next point I like to observe is when crossing the road through a passage below the highway. At this point the watches lose the signal, because I spend several seconds under the road, and what interests me is to observe what is the behavior both inside the tunnel and the speed to recover the signal when leaving the tunnel.
Suunto 9 takes the easy path and simply joins the point where it has lost the signal with which it has recovered (and took a little longer than the others). Remember what I just said in reference to continuously trimming corners? Well, we keep adding meters...
Meanwhile the Polar Grit X and the COROS APEX Pro make the stretch under the highway perfectly, identifying that we have run in that direction even when they were not receiving GPS signal. They make some strangers movements out of the tunnel, but it's totally normal considering the situation.
Garmin for its part is also lost quite similar to Suunto, although performing the recovery in the opposite direction.
Little more to stand out from this workout, beyond noting that sometimes there is separation of two tracks. The reason? I have the Grit X and FR945 on my left arm and hand, and the COROS and Suunto on my right arm and hand, so each tends to deviate slightly to that side.
So just to be clear on which of the four was on the right path in this last image, it is the Grit X that shows the correct track in that section.
Looking at the issues I was having with the Grit X using GLONASS, from that moment on I chose to set it as GPS+Galileo, like the Vantage M, to see if the performance improved.
This next training is special, because it is a interval hill workout (I go up and down the same hill again and again) and it rained cats and dogs as well, which is especially interesting because the sky was very cloudy. It is not a hugedifference, but it is true that clouds and rain alter the reception of GPS signal.
But at first glance it does not seem to have affected too much this time.
This is the beginning of the training, still with the satellites "cold". That is, the clocks have not yet triangulated with the maximum number of satellites available, so there may still be occasional errors. The first traffic circle turn the Grit X, in red, draws it perfectly along with the COROS APEX Pro. The FR945 cuts out a little.
Later it is the COROS that deviates a bit from the trajectory while both Garmin and Polar record the track perfectly.
We arrive at the first 90º turn, which is preceded by a small section bordering the roundabout. Again the Polar Grit X behaves perfectly, being the Garmin this time the one that goes a little longer when making the turn.
But the turning points all three watches mark them perfectly, and when it comes to running along the promenade there is no incident that we had seen in previous workouts where the Grit X had GPS+GLONASS selected.
What I have pointed out, is a place I like to look at it very much, because they are very abrupt turns in which it is easy to identify if there are errors. In general, all three watches behave perfectly, but crossing the bridge the Grit X moves about a meter away from the real route.
But at the moment it's the only conflicting point I've been able to see on the Grit X during this test.
I start climbing a hill in search of the point where I will perform the hill intervals, and the Polar Grit X continues to behave impeccably. Also the Garmin, while the APEX Pro deviates very slightly to the right, but not too important.
This is the point where I did the uphill series and breaks. Except for two "loops" by the CHORUS, both Garmin and Polar Grit X consistently hit the same repeated route, with no change in direction at any point even though I was going up fast and down slow (which may confuse the algorithm).
And I repeat, it was a rainy day, so the score is very good for the three participants in that comparison.
I'm going with a last comparison to confirm if the good results with GPS+Galileo are repeated. To do this, I once again include the Vantage M.
In general the straight lines are totally straight. Here we see a small detour by the Vantage M, but it is not that behavior that could be seen in which the watch entered moved aside and remained completely parallel to the real track.
At this point the turns are all done correctly by the three members of the comparison of this day, but on the climb to the bridge the Grit X deviates about a meter to the left, while on the descent is the one that performs the correct track (both the Garmin and the Vantage M are located too far to the right).
However, I insist, the turning points have been nailed by all three models. Just like my usual "chicane" in which all three watches again behave impeccably.
This is the only point of conflict where there are quite a lot of hesitation by the three watches. Here I am running alongside buildings that are hindering the visibility of the sky, which is the source of the problems. It's a fault shared by the three watches so obviously that lack of signal is normal at that point.
As for cycling nothing special to report. The high speeds that are carried on the bike facilitate virtually perfect tracks, whatever the device you carry.
As you can see, the back and forth lines are exactly identical for all three devices.
Finally there is open water swimming. As you already know (and if you don't know, I'll tell you), every time we take a stroke and the watch enters the water we lose GPS signal, because water does not transmit digital signals. The watch has only opportunity to get position in the short space of time spent outside the water.
The result is somewhat more erratic, but it is common to all watches given the difficulties that this type of sport has. Still, as you can see from the picture, the result is reasonably good and very true to reality.
To sum up this whole section, Polar's GPS operation is very good, as long as we select the GPS+Galileo option. If we opt for GPS+GLONASS we find the usual errors I have been seeing in the Vantage generation in which the watch moves from the correct track and persists in the same error. But making use of Galileo it has been very rare to have seen any positioning failure on Polar Grit X side.
So when there are no big things to stand out, it means that the result is good. And luckily it is something that can be applied to almost all the members of these comparisons.
Optical heart rate sensor
With the Polar Grit X we also see that Polar has made a small change in its optical sensor. The design remains unchanged, but what has changed is the number and color of the LEDs.
While in the original design of the sensor we had 9 LEDs (5 green, 4 red), Polar has now added one more and changed its color. In the Grit X sensor we have 5 red, 4 orange and 1 green.
But it's not the only thing that changes, the way the light acts is also different, so there's more work here done by Polar.
According to information provided by Polar, with the Grit X sensor and the color of the LEDs chosen, the impact of ambient light is reduced and the reliability of the reading is increased. Theoretically, because that's what the tests you'll see below are for.
This sensor does not have a significant impact on the watch's battery life, so it is also used throughout the day to record your heart rate 24/7.
It is also essential for recording other metrics such as Nightly Recharge.
Before I show you comparisons of different sensors, I would like to remind you of some basic aspects of optical sensors.
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How heart rate sensors work and differences between them
Keep in mind that a wrist heart rate monitor does not work the same way on all bodies. We're all different, and if we put things in the equation like skin tone, tattoos, body hair... the difference from person to person can be quite big.
In my tests it is not that the spectrum of users is very broad: it is me, myself and I. So what works well for me might not do it for someone else, or it might be better.
But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to follow some guidelines to wear the sensor. It should be tight (but not cut off your circulation), enough to keep the watch from moving freely on your wrist, leaving a separation of approximately one finger from the wrist bone. By following these details you will ensure that you get the best results that your conditions can offer.
I´ll start with one of the first post-confinement workouts. Very smooth pace and very few changes in intensity beyond going up or down small hills. I have identified three different things on the graph.
I haven't managed to get the names of all four devices reflected in the graph, but to the COROS APEX Pro (blue), Polar OH1+ (purple) and Garmin HRM-Tri (green) should be added that the yellow chart corresponds to the Polar Grit X.
The first one doesn't have much to say... the watch just wasn't measuring the right data. It happens on many occasions both with the Polar and with any watch of the same or different brand. It can even happen with the chest heart rate sensors. But once it gets in the right track, it seems that everything is going well.
At least until we came to a few changes in intensity due to the hills. It is the second circle I have marked in the first image, and which I highlight in this image below.
In the leftmost part of the image, in the area that I have not indicated, we can see how the green graph corresponding to the chest heart rate sensor, it's slightly more advanced than the other sensors. This is the usual behavior of optical sensors, in which we will almost always find a slight delay in intensity changes.
The points indicated show two failures on the part of the Grit X that does not occur in the rest of optical sensors. While the arrows I refer to with regard to the green chart of the HRM-Tri show, once again, how the chest sensor will always be faster in the intensity changes.
And here's the third fault on the Grit X side, zoomed in.
I'm going now with a second workout, this time a little faster and cheerful a few weeks after the end of confinement.
This type of training is always more complicated because there are work and rest periods, with increases in intensity and cadence and the corresponding rest. However in this case the Grit X behaved considerably better than in the previous example.
In this first graph we can see how, except for a small peak during the warm-up (which I don't know why it occurred), the behavior of the Grit X has been really good during the just over 45 minutes workout.
In this case it was the Vantage M that had a strange behavior, at least during the first two intervals. The peaks are very similar to those we have seen on the part of the Grit X both in this and in the previous workouts, so perhaps it brings out something about the algorithm, rather than the sensor itself.
Would you like to see some indoor cycling? Well, let's see how he behaves when we're riding in the bike trainer. This situation is relatively simple for the sensor, even despite the sudden changes in intensity, because there are no vibrations in the handlebars when going through bumps on the road (which is what we'll see next in the last graph).
But the start is a bit rough for all models. Although two peaks stand out from the Grit X, if you click on the image to enlarge it you will see that during the warm up it has been difficult to put all the sensors on the same pace.
You didn't click to expand? Don't worry, I'll do it for you. Below you can see those initial minutes. Beyond the two sudden spikes during warm-up, the start of the workout took about a minute or so to get in agreement with the rest.
This is the error that is appreciated in the break of the third interval. The reason for this? I got off the bike and went for a water bottle, which I forgot to leave in the bike frame.
And after that, no major incidence during the rest of the workout.
But as I say, that's on the bike trainer. When we go outside and start to be movements and vibrations that pass from the handlebar to the wrist, we start seeing strange things.
Globally, let's say that more or less both graphs have a certain resemblance. But the reality is that if the graph isn't completely correct, it's incorrect. And the Polar Grit X, like 95% of the rest of the watches, does not work properly during cycling workouts.
Bottomline, the usual behavior of all optical heart rate sensors integrated in watches. Perhaps I expected some improvement as Polar has renewed the sensor with respect to the Vantage models, but the results are very similar. However, one thing is that the result is similar right now, and another that Polar can still take advantage of and improve those LED color changes that they have introduced to the sensor.
Buy Polar Grit X
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Polar Grit X opinion
I can say without fear of being mistaken that it is the best Polar watch ever. Nice and fashionable design, good appearance and feel materials, a good range of sport specific functions and a lower price than its competition. It has everything it takes to become a real bestseller.
Polar wants to repeat the success they had a few years ago with the M400, but this time in a different range of products (and this time in one that may give him greater margin).
I certainly have very few negative things to say about the Polar Grit X. I don't like how it behaves with mobile notifications because it doesn't correctly identify the wrist gesture and the touch screen is downright erratic to swipe from the bottom up. And navigation is still basic, perhaps too much if we consider that Polar is focusing this watch mainly for outdoor use.
But if we leave those two aspects aside, the Polar Grit X is a winning horse. It's packed with metrics that add many integers to your workouts, allowing you to keep a clear and concise track of a whole season. And in the same way I think Polar is the brand that best manages night rest and identifies sleep phases.
Hill Splitter may not provide as much as Training Load Pro or Nightly Recharge, but it still gives interesting data at certain times, especially when it comes to analyzing training once synchronized. Perhaps during training its use is more limited. And FuelWise on the other hand brings an interesting concept, especially because it makes it easy for everyone to understand what nutrition is like during training and competitions.
Polar has done right with this model. Its price puts it below its direct rivals on the category (Garmin Fenix 6, Suunto 9 Baro), and that's talking about it as an outdoor watch. But the truth is that someone looking for a triathlon watch is also going to find all the features they need in the Grit X, and in that segment it is also a missile shot for the Garmin FR935 and Garmin FR945.
In short... I liked it! And with this... thanks for reading!