This week, Polar announced two new watches, the Polar Pacer Pro and the standard Pacer. These are geared toward runners but should function well as multisports watches.
The two watches shake up the Polar range, effectively making the M2 obsolete and reducing the appeal of their premium-priced watches. In theory, that's good for the consumer, but if you look at similarly priced products for Garmin, they are perhaps not quite as good as I had hoped.
Price and Alternative Options
I will start with pricing as this gives some context to the comparison.
The Polar Pacer is priced very attractively at £169.
The Polar Pacer Pro is priced the same as the Vantage M2 but adds a significant amount of features, effectively making the Vantage M2 redundant. The Vantage M2 can be bought for lower than RRP via some websites, but the Pacer Pro has so many additional features I'd still go with the Pro.
The Polar Vantage V2 is priced at £429 RRP and £390 on Amazon. Due to this costing a lot more, I have left it off the comparison.
Garmin is by far the biggest name in the game, but at these price points, you don't have many choices.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 is the closest in price to the Pacer Pro. You have the none music variation for £210 or the music model for £299. These have been out for a while, so you can get them for quite a bit below RRP. On Amazon, the Forerunner 245 is £180, and the Forerunner 245 Music is £270.
Sitting below that, you have the Forerunner 55 for £150.
While I don't normally associate Garmin with affordable devices, if you want a cheap GPS running watch, the Garmin Forerunner 45S could be your best bet. It is £100 currently but has been as low as £85 recently.
Alternatively, if you can stretch your budget, it is hard to ignore the Garmin fēnix 6 Pro, which is currently just £360 on Amazon. It is significantly better than the Pace Pro, but even with that excellent price, it is still £100 more, so I have left it off this comparison.
Garmin Forerunner 255
It is worth noting that the Garmin Forerunner 255 should be launching soon. If you are not in desperate need for a watch, I'd suggest holding out for this. At the very least, once launched, it should help drive down the price of the Garmin Forerunner 245
Polar Pacer Pro vs Vantage M2 vs V2 vs Garmin Forerunner 245 Specification
|Pacer||Pacer Pro||Vantage M2||Forerunner 245|
|Material||Plastic case.||Plastic case. Aerospace aluminium bezel.||Glass fibre reinforced polymer case. STAINLESS STEEL bezel, buttons and buckle.||Fiber-reinforced polymer|
|Dimensions||45 x 45 x 11.5 mm||45 x 45 x 11.5 mm||46 x 46 x 12.5 mm||42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 mm|
|Weight||40 grams||41 grams||45 grams||38.5 g|
|Display size||1.2 inches (resolution 240 x 240 pixels)||1.2 inches (resolution 240 x 240 pixels)||1.2 inches (resolution 240 x 240 pixels)||1.2" 240 x 240 pixels|
|Display type||Always-on colour display (MIP). Corning Gorilla Glass 3.0 layer||Always-on colour display (MIP). Corning Gorilla Glass 3.0 layer||Always-on colour display (MIP). Hard-coated PMMA laminated lens.||Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)|
|Battery||265 mAh||265 mAh||230 mAh||Not stated|
|Battery life||up to 35 h in training mode (GPS and wrist-based heart rate). Training time with power save options 100h. Watch mode with heart rate: up to 7 days.||up to 35 h in training mode (GPS and wrist-based heart rate). Training time with power save options 100h. Watch mode with heart rate: up to 7 days.||up to 30 h in training mode (GPS and wrist-based heart rate). Training time with power save options 100h. Watch mode with heart rate: up to 5 days.||Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days; GPS mode: Up to 24 hours|
|Water-resistance||50 meters||50 meters||30 meters||5 ATM (50 metres)|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, heart rate||Accelerometer, heart rate, barometer, compass||Accelerometer, heart rate||Accelerometer, heart rate & SPO2, compass, thermoter|
£251 via Wiggle
|£210 for none music
£299 for music
Polar Pacer Pro vs Vantage M2 Features
DC Rainmaker has a list of points highlighting why the Vantage M2 is now redundant. In comparison to the M2, the Pacer Pro has:
- Added barometric altimeter
- Added faster processor, more memory
- Added new clearer screen/display
- Added wrist-based running power (no accessories required)
- Added Hill Splitter (hill repeat counter)
- Added route navigation
- Added Strava Live Segments
- Added Performance Tests (Walking, Running, Cycling)
- Added Polar SHIFT strap accessory compatibility
- Added Compass during activity/workout
- Added Smartphone notifications during workout
- Increased GPS battery life to 35hrs from 30hrs
- Increased waterproofing spec to 50m from 30m on Vantage M2
- Smart Notifications during training
- The Pacer uses a different HR sensor, being the same as the Polar Ignite
Then the Polar Pacer is almost identical in features to the Vantage M2 but at a much lower price point.
Polar Pacer Pro vs Garmin Forerunner 245 Features
Garmin is hard to beat for its wide range of features. In particular, they have done a good job of integrating daily smartwatch and health features into its sports watches.
Obviously, the music features are a major selling point for the Forerunner 245 Music. All the watches can control music playing from your phone.
For me, at least, the main selling point of the Polar Pacer Pro would be the built-in wrist-based running power. This would save quite a lot of money buying a Stryd or Garmin strap with running dynamics.
Then the Polar Pacer Pro has a barometer built-in, whereas the FR245 relies on GPS for its altimeter data.
Polar also has Strava live segments, but the FR245 doesn't, I don't think.
Polar also has a multisport mode, and DC Rainmaker and others have suggested this could be a good affordable triathlete watch. Polar is also listed as being compatible with power meters on your bike but getting this to work seems to be hit or miss.
On the other hand, Garmin has the PacePro feature, which many people are fond of for running. Polar has Race Pacing, but it is not as good. Then various other fitness and recovery features such as Recovery Advisor.
After watching my partner run the Manchester Marathon, I am a big fan of the Garmin Live Tracking feature, which Polar lacks. Garmin also has emergency contacts and SOS. I've used it for my marathons before, but it is the first time I have followed someone with it, and I loved it.
Garmin also supports ANT+, whereas Polar is Bluetooth only.
Overall, it seems to be a tough sell for the Polar Pacer Pro, it does certainly have a lot of advantages, but it also feels like a lot of the advantages will only appeal to a limited number of people.
The two Polar Pacer watches are quite an interesting launch from Polar. They have pretty much cannibalised the sales of several other watches. There is literally no point to the Vantage M2 now.
There is not much difference between the Polar Pacer Pro and the Vantage V2 or Grit X either, probably not enough to justify the £160 difference in the RRP.
This is great for the consumer. Features have trickled down to a more affordable watch. The one negative is that Polar hasn't really introduced anything new. They have just taken existing tech and made it more affordable. I think the lack of innovation is forgivable in this case.
Alternatively, you have the Garmin Forerunner 245/245 Music. This seems to have more mainstream consumer appeal and has plenty of features that the Polar Pacer Pro lacks which makes it appealing to runners.
Last update on 2023-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API