Polar Vantage V3 — 5 things that surprised me about this premium smartwatch

Polar Vantage V3 smartwatch rear.
(Image credit: Future)

With Black Friday and Cyber Week in the rearview mirror, I've finally found time to check out the new Polar Vantage V3 fitness-focused smartwatch. This is the first Polar wearable I've had the chance to try out. And though I'm only beginning to wrap my head around it, several key aspects of the V3 surprise me. 

If you're not familiar with the Vantage V3, here's the deal: This $600 device is the brand's flagship model and is marketed to serious athletes and fitness buffs. The V3 features a large AMOLED display, dual-frequency GPS, built-in maps and an enormous suite of activity-tracking capabilities and recovery tools. 

On the health monitoring side, the Vantage V3 boasts an optical heart rate sensor, SpO2 sensor for monitoring blood oxygen saturation, a skin temperature sensor for keeping tabs on sleep quality and stress levels and an ECG sensor for on-wrist monitoring of overall heart health. 

This is easily one of the more advanced health fitness tracking devices you can purchase in 2023. And I look forward to putting it through its paces for a full review soon. In the meantime, here are the five things about the Polar Vantage V3 that surprised me the most.

1. It's large and lightweight but wears small

Polar Vantage V3 smartwatch next to a mechanical watch.

(Image credit: Future)

I'm not a huge fan of large, chunky watches, whether they're of the smart or mechanical variety. In the image above, the Vantage V3, which is 47mm in diameter, sits next to my mechanical Hamilton Khaki field watch, which is 38.5mm. While the V3 is considerably larger, I was surprised to discover that it actually wears much smaller than it appears on the wrist. 

Interestingly, both the V3 and Hamilton Khaki have a similar lug-to-lug distance, which might explain why the former feels smaller than it is. I was also pleasantly surprised by how light the watch is. While the bezel and housing are made of aluminum, the case back appears to be plastic. Either way, it weighs only 57g, which is a full 3g less than my little mechanical buddy. 

Beyond that, I'm finding the V3 to be quite comfortable on-wrist. I've yet to sleep with it on, so the jury is still out on all-day and night comfort. But I certainly don't feel like this device will weigh me down. 

2. There is a plethora of physical buttons

Polar Vantage V3 smartwatch side profile.

(Image credit: Future)

The buttons, Duke, the buttons! Oh, what a rarity it is in 2023 to have a piece of consumer technology with so many physical buttons in addition to a touchscreen. But with five in total, there is no doubt a learning curve to using this smartwatch. 

That said, navigating settings and menus from the watch face doesn't take a degree in rocket science. The touchscreen can also often be used in a pinch (pun intended) when you're not exactly sure which button to press. 

3. Setup is painless 

Polar Vantage V3 smartwatch with smartphone app.

(Image credit: Future)

Setting up a new tech wearable can be a real chore. From pairing issues to long, arduous firmware update processes, I've seen the worst of the worst. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how simple and painless the setup process was for the V3.

Anyone capable of following basic on-screen prompts should be able to get this device up and running with ease. I was also seriously surprised by how easy to navigate the Polar Flow app is. Tasks like adding additional trackable activities to the watch, for instance, are a straightforward affair. 

I did have to wait about fifteen minutes for the devices to download the latest firmware and update, but that's par for the course. More importantly, I've had no pairing or syncing issues yet to speak of. 

4. It tracks a seriously impressive number of activities 

Polar Vantage V3 smartwatch on a wrist.

(Image credit: Future)

While I enjoy the occasional jog, whether on a treadmill or outdoors, many of the physical activities I enjoy the most can't be tracked by popular fitness devices. For instance, my Fitbit Inspire 3 doesn't keep tabs on my skateboard sessions or snowboard excursions, nor can it give me data on my kayaking adventures. But the Polar Vantage V3 can do all three and more.

In fact, there are well over 150 sports profiles to choose from. These include everything from jazz dancing to disc golf and windsurfing to table tennis. Better yet, the V3 lets you customize and save up to 20. 

5. The AMOLED display is gorgeous 

Polar Vantage V3.

(Image credit: Future)

Lastly, I was delighted to discover that the Vantage V3's 1.39-inch AMOLED display is bright, crisp and colorful. The resolution is 454 x 454 pixels, which I found plenty detailed. I also had no issues reading the watch in direct sunlight, with the screen set to its brightest setting.

The face itself uses curved Gorilla glass, which should hopefully hold up to bumps and bangs. As mentioned, it's also touch-sensitive. However, by default, the touchscreen is disabled while activities are being recorded. 

Polar Vantage V3 surprises

Ultimately, my short time with the Polar Vantage V3 has been quite positive, as I'm sure you probably gleaned from this article. And I'm very much looking forward to more time on the wrist. I also can't wait to delve into my stats the next time I shred the gnar, either on the mountains or at the skatepark. 

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Dan Bracaglia
Senior Writer, Fitness & Wearables

Dan Bracaglia covers fitness and consumer technology with an emphasis on wearables for Tom's Guide. Based in the US Pacific Northwest, Dan is an avid outdoor adventurer who dabbles in everything from kayaking to snowboarding, but he most enjoys exploring the cities and mountains with his small pup, Belvedere. Dan is currently training to climb some of Washington State's tallest peaks. He's also a big photography nerd.