Polar's new software makes me (almost) want to switch from Garmin

Polar Vantage V2 Red
(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

In addition to launching two new watches this week — the Grit X Pro and the Grit X Titan — Polar released deals of its Vantage V2 3.0 software and two new watches in the Vantage V2 series. 

The existing Polar Vantage V2 is a multisport watch aimed mainly at runners who want to keep track of all their training, as well as their recovery data. With up to 40 hours of battery life with GPS, running and cycling performance tests and sleep tracking, it's easy to see how the V2 quickly became one of the best running watches on our list.  

On October 6, Polar announced a software update for the Vantage V2, which will roll out to Polar users on October 20. The software update will give Vantage V2 users new outdoor and navigation features.

The Vantage V2 line is also expanding with two new watches. The Polar Vantage V2 Shift is the largely the same as the Vantage V2 but with a different, easily exchangeable wristband. The Vantage V2 Shift comes in silver or black, with a perforated leather wristband and a functional FKM wristband, with a quick-release bar that allows you to swap between the two. The Vantage V2 Shift costs $549.95 and is available now.

Polar also announced the Polar Vantage V2 Red, which is the same watch in a new, brighter colorway. 

Polar Vantage V2 3.0 software — what to expect 

The software update gives Polar Vantage V2 users some of the latest features from the new Grit X Pro watches. Compared to Garmin, the Vantage V2 always had some gaps, for example, the lack of music onboarding and map navigation on the watch. The new update addresses some of these issues. 

Polar Vantage V2 Red

(Image credit: Polar)

We received a sample of the new Polar Vantage V2 Red, which is extremely bright on the wrist, and came loaded with the new software, which will be released on October 20. Here are the main updates for users: 

New outdoor features: including an always-on altimeter, location coordinates, sunrise, sunset, and twilight times, and a compass. When we got the watch out of the box, the watch screen displayed the sunrise and sunset times, but this can be customized in settings. 

New route and elevation profiles: While Polar still doesn’t have its own map feature (users have to sign up to Kamoot to load maps onto the watch), the update does improve the routes function on the watch with the new ‘Track Back’ feature, which lets you navigate back to the start of your run or ride from the watch. 

A new Heart Rate Sensor mode: which allows you to use the watch as a heart rate sensor, which you can connect to gym equipment or mobile apps via Bluetooth. 

Polar Vantage V2 3.0 software — the verdict 

It seems that Polar is focusing its attention on its Grit X line, as for now, there’s no word of a new Vantage running watch hitting the market. While the updates to the Polar Vantage V2 software are beneficial for runners who like to explore, they aren’t anything particularly new.

The similarly priced Garmin Forerunner 745 has always had the ability to create bread crumb trails and elevation profiles, as well as other useful features, such as distance to destination, and the Climbpro ascent planner. Hopefully, we’ll see further releases soon which will allow Polar Vantage V2 users to improve what is already a brilliant running watch. 

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.