Tech & Wearables

Polar Vantage V2 Smartwatch Review

One of the most data-dense smartwatches available doubles down with more training features and a few much-needed lifestyle functions. We put it to the test.

Review Rating


Basics

This watch is literally bursting at the seams with performance metrics, data analysis, and everything you’d need to train, even without a coach.


Pros

Staggering amount of performance feedback
Sport modes for days
Very good battery
Lots of post-workout metrics presented in a very clear way

Cons

Light on lifestyle features
Large size
Connectivity dropouts
Price


Weight

52g

Price

$500

Brand

Polar


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A couple of years ago, Polar (finally) updated their smartwatch line with the Vantage M and Vantage V. The former was a favorite because it packed a ton of features under a very competitive price tag, and the latter was a favorite for the data-heavy crowd who wanted a veritable performance lab on their wrists. As you’ll see from our Polar Vantage V2 review, with the introduction of the latest update to the Vantage line—hot off the heels on the very similar Grit X—the Vantage V2 adds a handful of more unique data-driven functions and a few lifestyle features that honestly have been a long time coming.

Related: Smartwatch Reviews From a Triathlete’s Perspective

Polar Vantage V2 Review: The Basics

If you’re unfamiliar with the Vantage V, just know that it has more sensors, analytics, recovery, and performance features than nearly any other smartwatch on the market. While Garmin’s higher-end watches might have more battery life, better sport modes, and the Garmin name, Polar is the gold standard for measurement and analysis. The Vantage series all boast swimming (open water and pool), advanced cycling (but no ANT+ connectivity), and advanced running (including built-in on-wrist running power). They all also have a prebuilt triathlon mode and a slightly clunky multisport mode. The new version of the Vantage V also boasts a running performance test (for estimated VO2 max), a built-in FTP cycling test, a leg recovery test, and a place to store all of that info in the app. Minor additions to the V2 include smartphone music controls, the hill splitter function (which the Grit X already had), and some very cool fueling capabilities.

Polar Vantage V2 Review: What Works

Though we could probably write a book on all of the performance functions and features that the Vantage V has, it’s important to know that this really is a watch for triathletes. While many other smartwatches assume that running is the most common usage, Polar’s ecosystem does a great job of integrating cycling and swimming (to some extent) into the overall recipe for performance feedback and recovery. The fact that the new Vantage V2 not only has testing, but a place to keep all of those tests should really make triathletes feel at home. While not everything is super useful (more on that below), the vast majority of features, like the fueling alerts/energy sources or the post-workout data require almost no setup and provide info that probably 80% of triathletes would understand. The recovery data is as accurate as we’ve seen, and the sport functions themselves present real-time info in a very concise and easy-to-understand way. While some advanced smartwatches can drown you in data, the Vantage V2 gives you what’s helpful in a more digestible way.

Polar Vantage V2 Review: What Doesn’t Work

While the issues with the Vantage V2 are not major, they’re still worth talking about—and no, it’s not an overabundance of data or options, like you’d expect on a platform like this. Sadly it’s the simple things. First, the navigation and basic use of the menus and buttons are very counterintuitive—it’s a steep learning curve on getting it dialed. Second, the lifestyle functions on this watch are a little weak, though they’ve finally included things like weather and music control—alongside notifications that were already present, although not particularly easy to use. For sure this is best used as a training watch, and will make due for everyday wear, but for $500, one would hope the little quirks like smartwatch connection dropouts and user experience would get some attention. It’s also important to note that although you can do breadcrumb routes via the smartphone app or Komoot, there are no maps in this watch—online or off. Finally, the touchscreen for sure has its use when scrolling, but it’s not nearly as good as some other touchscreen smartphones, like the Apple Watch (obviously) or the Suunto (a surprise).

Polar Vantage V2 Review: Performance Conclusions

For the Polar Vantage V2, science and data are absolutely the names of the game. Garmin’s upper-end models certainly have many of the same features, but this smartwatch seems to outdo them in a few ways. While heart-rate and GPS accuracy aren’t surprisingly at the forefront of the Polar (they’re fine, but not heads above anything else), it’s the data crunching and output that makes this a great choice for statistics-starved triathletes. If Polar could get on board with some simple lifestyle/user interface updates, this would be at the top of the heap for multisport, but until then this is the watch to reach for when you want to simply analyze everything from top to tail.