Polar Vantage V3 review: The tip of the iceberg

The Polar Vantage V3 has a ton of health, sleep, and training data beneath the surface. You won't see a lot of it on the watch, but you'll still benefit from what lies underneath.

The Polar Vantage V3, showing the wearer's VO2 Max score after a Running Fitness test.
(Image: © Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

The Polar Vantage V3 takes the template and training software of past Polar watches and adds health sensors and tests to give you more confidence in the results. Add in the AMOLED display, dual-frequency GPS, and extra battery life, and the V3 has more than enough upside to tempt V2 owners. Anyone not used to the stripped-down Polar interface might not be fully satisfied, however.


  • +

    Accurate GPS and very accurate HR data

  • +

    Fitspark workout and Recovery Pro suggestions

  • +

    Switch from MIP to AMOLED while keeping good battery life

  • +

    Offline maps and Komoot routes

  • +

    Useful orthostatic/ VO2 Max tests


  • -

    Expensive price tag

  • -

    Workout suggestions can be overzealous

  • -

    Polar needs to make certain data more accessible

  • -

    No music storage, ANT+, sapphire glass

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Polar had to make the Vantage V3. Fitness rivals have spent recent years adding AMOLED displays, new sensors for sleep tracking, maps, and other "mainstream" smartwatch tools. Meanwhile, dual-band GPS has become a near-necessity for fitness watches at all prices. Polar needed to bring these features to a flagship watch to keep its loyal fans satisfied. 

Your attitude towards the Polar Vantage V3 will vary based on whether or not you're a long-time Polar user. You may already have a running watch with some of these features, or perhaps you've used a GPS-only MIP watch for years and have to decide whether or not the Vantage V3 offers enough for you to upgrade. 

After months on and off with the Polar Vantage V3, I'll say that it won't change your current perspective on Polar as a brand. Polar Flow is unchanged. The on-watch UI is the same. The big draws are still the Fitspark workout recs and the training load algorithm guiding your workout calendar and recovery. 

That might be enough for Polar fans, but is it enough to justify the high price and lure fans of Garmin, COROS, or Suunto watches? Let's dive in.

Review disclaimer

I originally received a Polar Vantage V3 loaner in December 2023. This model would crash during long hiking or running activities, showing an endless flashing Polar symbol that could only be solved by a factory reboot. I received a replacement unit after Polar's support team couldn't crack the issue. 

After months of use, I haven't had a single crash or software issue. I, therefore, assume that Polar's initial batch of watches may have had hardware issues but that any new Vantage V3 models have had the issues fully resolved. That being said, I wouldn't recommend buying it used to avoid potential issues like mine. 

Polar Vantage V3: Price, bands, and accessories

Post-running test VO2 Max on the Polar Vantage V3, with a score of 53 (Very Good).

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

The Polar Vantage V3 launched in October 2023 at $599 / CA$879 / €599 / £519. That puts it on the same pricing scale as other premium multisport watches like the Garmin Forerunner 965 ($599) and COROS VERTIX 2S ($699), though higher than many AMOLED fitness watches in the $300–$500 range (APEX 2 Pro, Suunto Race).

The watch ships in three colors: Night Black, Sky Blue, and Sunrise Apricot. It comes with a 22mm silicone band of matching color and a proprietary USB-C charging cable with magnetic contact points. You can buy spare bands in different colors for $35–40. Thankfully, unlike the Vantage V2, you don't need an adapter to attach standard Quick Release bands. 

Polar lets you bundle in the popular H10 chest strap for $649 total; it normally costs $90 or more. Also, you can get free trials of Komoot or Strava when buying the Vantage V3, though you'll have to opt into Polar marketing emails first. 

Polar Vantage V3: What you'll appreciate

A Cardio Load Status screen of "Overreaching" on the Polar Vantage V3.

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Like the Polar Pacer Pro I reviewed a couple of years back, the Polar Vantage V3 has a UI similar to Tiles on a Galaxy Watch 6. You swipe left & right or tap the Up/Down buttons to move between full-display widgets showing key information like daily step percentage, weekly mileage, nightly sleep and recharge data, cardio load status, Fitspark workout suggestions, and the daily forecast. 

I have a couple of nitpicks with Polar's overall data approach, but I think this method is very accessible. Most of the watch's summarized data can be accessed in a few seconds without needing the mobile app.

Post-run calorie burn and bar graph showing the percentage of fat, carbs, and protein burn.

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Polar jumped on the AMOLED bandwagon, and I'm grateful for it. MIP displays (like the Vantage V2's) are becoming less popular despite their outdoor readability and lower power demands. As it happens, the Vantage V3 lasts ten days (four more than the V2) thanks to an extra 142mAh capacity, so there's little trade-off. The pixel-rich Vantage V3 display is as bright, colorful, and readable indoors as any AMOLED watch, with a fairly narrow bezel.

Polar promises 43 hours of dual-band GPS tracking per charge in its spec sheet. In practice, a normal smartwatch battery drain will bring that number significantly lower in-between daily workouts. Despite this, I'm impressed by the battery life the Vantage V3 offers, among the best out there.

Running Power calculation on the Polar Vantage V3 during a run

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

At 57g/2oz with the strap, it's on the heavier side but on par with most other premium running watches in this range, like the Forerunner 965 (53g) and APEX 2 Pro (66g). The same applies to its 13.5mm thickness: it's just thin enough to be comfortable compared to many rivals in the 14mm+ range.

The in-box silicone strap is comfortable enough, though a bit more rigid than I'm used to; it helps prevent any wobbling during runs, but feeding the strap through the lugs can be surprisingly tricky. I do wish Polar let you choose nylon instead of silicone to mitigate the weight a bit, but you can buy one separately.

Polar made a surprising choice by giving the Vantage V3 an aluminum frame. That's the default for your typical smartwatch, but some fitness brands default to a durable polymer that's light but ugly. In this case, the Vantage V3 has a pleasant metallic sheen, accentuated by its long, textured buttons. It still looks like a fitness watch but without the usual plastic brick look to which I've grown accustomed. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryPolar Vantage V3
Display1.39-inch (454x454) AMOLED touch
MaterialsAluminum case / bezel
ProtectionWR50; Gorilla Glass 3
Dimensions47.3 x 47.3 x 13.5mm
Weight39g / 57g with strap
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.1 (No ANT+), dual-band GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BeiDou
SensorsOptical HR, SpO2, ECG, skin temp, accelerometer, barometer, compass
Battery488mAh; 10 days (smartwatch); 43 hours (dual-band GPS)
Key featuresOffline topo maps, GPX routes with Komoot, Nightly Recharge, Training Load Pro, Recovery Pro, Music controls, Personalized Running Program, Wrist-based running power, VO2 Max / leg stiffness tests

Aside from the dual-band GPS, the biggest change from the Vantage V2 to the V3 is that Polar caught up to the industry for health data with SpO2, ECG, and skin temperature readings. Of the three, only skin temp is measured passively at night, while you must spot-check for blood oxygen and AFib. It's a step in the right direction, though I do hope Polar offers overnight SpO2 or altitude acclimation data in the future. 

As someone who hates sleeping with a smartwatch, the Polar Vantage V3 is decently comfortable to wear, and it provides some useful insights into your sleep zones, restlessness, recovery time, skin temperature variation, and so on. 

I've had to go into the Polar app to adjust my wake-up time on certain nights. In one case, it marked me as waking up at 5:30 instead of 6:30, but when I adjusted the time, it still had my sleep zones for that last hour, including some brief REM sleep. 

Polar's Recovery Pro data, focused on your sleep quality, HRV stress data, recent training, and other metrics, more than competes with the "daily readiness" scores of other brands without needing a subscription. That might lessen the sting of the Vantage V3's high price.

"Test result: your cardio system is recovered" screen on the Polar Vantage V3.

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

I'm a big fan of Polar's Tests feature, which includes an Orthostatic test — previously requiring an H10 chest strap — and leg stiffness tests. Essentially, you can take HRV readings to spot-check your Cardio Load Recovery and readiness to work out or leap up and down in place to test your Muscle Load Recovery. 

This provides some useful insights I would normally miss out on by refusing to wear my smartwatches for sleep tracking like Recovery Pro.

Beyond that, the separation between cardio and muscle load is a welcome addition. Polar uses your running power data to judge your muscle soreness, as a separate calculation from whatever heart fatigue you'll experience from a hard workout. Polar then uses this data to determine your training's short-term strain on your body and long-term build-up of your tolerance, to decide whether or not you're improving or overtraining. 

Combining the two, Polar gives you active and passive tools for guiding your fitness routine, with an easy-to-understand widget summarizing your training progress and body status. 

"Today's suggestion: Liberate your muscles" screen on the Polar Vantage V3.

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Polar's "Fitspark" algorithm, connected to your Cardio Load data, recommends different types of workouts you could complete in your current state. 

For instance, when I'm fully recovered, Polar recommends I complete a 30-minute bodyweight workout—with a list of exercises like Good Mornings and Bench Dips and little stick figures showing how to complete them—to gain Strength or a 50-minute run in specific zones to improve Cardio, with recommendations for when to fuel or hydrate. 

I love Polar's recommended indoor exercises, something no other brand offers; Garmin has something similar with its indoor workouts, but without the auto-generated routines, its animated exercise examples are harder to find. 

Polar's outdoor cardio runs are a bit less instructive. They focus on duration and heart rate zones so you hit the right effort level. You won't get any estimate of how fast Polar thinks you'll need to run to hit those zones, though. I appreciate that Polar gives you multiple workout options per day, but they're never quite as specialized as the ones I get from Garmin (aka targeting low aerobic zones or recommending specific intervals).

Post-run heart rate zones on the Polar Vantage V3

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Polar's personalized running program fills in that gap to an extent. You mark down a target race distance from 5K to marathon, how many times and for how long you train per week, and get weeks of recommended runs, strength training, and rest days. Those auto-generated runs typically recommend Zone 2, 3, and 4 runs at specific points in the week. 

I find Polar's marathon program a bit simplistic and repetitive, without enough variety in the types of runs, but it's certainly an effective structure and foundation to improve as a runner. I use them as a guide for the effort level to match, while adjusting them to my preferred mileage and effort level. 

The basic map widget on the Polar Vantage V3

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

The last significant Vantage V3 upgrade is that it has 32GB for offline maps, with your region's "basic" continental data downloaded by default. You'll want to connect your watch to your computer and download the detailed maps for your region. You can't use the storage for anything else (like music), so there's plenty of room.

Once you download the maps, you get excellent topographical detail of your trail surroundings and decent speed when zooming out or scrolling around (with the occasional delayed loading).

You'll have to make a Komoot account to create routes with turn-by-turn navigation. I wrestled with whether to consider this a positive or negative; Komoot is a great hiking app and is typically free for your local region, and I suppose I'd rather get a great third-party option than a stripped-down first-party alternative. But if you prefer another app for GPX route files like Strava or Alltrails, be prepared to switch brands or frequently export to another app. 

Polar Vantage V3: GPS and heart rate

The Polar Vantage V3 and Polar H10 sitting on grass, with the watch showing the workout's average and max heart rate.

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Anyone with the Vantage V2 might find the V3 upgrade tempting for the dual-band GPS tracking alone. Otherwise, Polar is best known for its heart rate chest straps, and you might assume its smartwatches would have excellent heart rate accuracy as well. So, I put that to the test. 

First, I tested the Vantage V3 against the Forerunner 965 and VERTIX 2S for GPS and heart rate accuracy. In that test, Polar's GPS map didn't do especially well at points, shoving my path into buildings or the middle of the street where Garmin and COROS were more on point. However, for heart rate, the Vantage V3 came quite close to the Polar H10 in accuracy and responsiveness, and it did the best of the three for elevation tracking. 

I decided to give the Polar Vantage V3 its fair shake and do another GPS run in the same conditions to see if its issues were a fluke or not. This time, it did significantly better, though still imperfectly. You can see in the screenshots above how Polar (blue) compares to Garmin (dark red) for dual-band GPS accuracy. 

Neither stays perfectly on my path, with the left-wristed Forerunner and right-wristed Polar splaying out like I'm a dozen feet wide. That said, in specific instances, Garmin was more likely to be on the sidewalk, while Polar was more likely to stray into the street, though keeping the same line. Ultimately, they were 0.03 miles apart across three miles, compared to 0.04 miles last time. 

(Image credit: Android Central)

My one continued complaint with the Vantage V3's dual-band GPS is with its accuracy during track runs. I spent the entire 2.5-mile training run in the fourth lane, but my GPS map had me...elsewhere.

(Image credit: Android Central)

For most reviews, I use a chest or arm strap as the control group to rate the watch's optical sensor. Unfortunately, this last test had me questioning whether my Polar H10 chest strap is all that reliable. You can see in the charts above and below how it had my heart rate spiking or dropping at absurd rates, disproportionate to my effort.

Thankfully, for the first run I also had the Forerunner 965 to compare against, and both watches had the same 142bpm average and near-identical charts throughout. Both watches matched the H10 closely before it started to freak out, then continued to responsively change to my varying effort without the straight-lined dips and crests you get with watches that don't sample accurately or frequently. 

(Image credit: Android Central)

For the second run, I only compared the two Polar devices. Once again, the Polar H10 had me hitting some absurd highs and lows, including 20 beats above my max heart rate. However, once it calmed down halfway through, it gave a useful baseline to compare against the Vantage V3. At that point, the watch closely trailed behind the chest strap, lagging slightly whenever I switched from sprinting to jogging, but never off by much. 

Overall, I'm quite satisfied with the Polar Vantage V3's GPS, heart rate, and elevation accuracy in my practical tests. Even if I don't like the track run's wild GPS map, it doesn't seem to affect the tracked distance significantly, so complaining about it feels unfair. 

Polar Vantage V3: What you won't love

Weekly workout summary on the Polar Vantage V3

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Like any other brand, Polar has a specific vision of what a "premium" fitness watch needs and what features it can skip to save on costs. 

While other premium fitness watches typically use sapphire glass or (at minimum) Gorilla Glass DX with good anti-reflective coating, Polar gave the Vantage V3 Gorilla Glass 3. I'm not thrilled with that choice of a $599 watch for visibility or protection. It makes AMOLED a harder selling point for anyone used to MIP displays.

I don't think ANT+ accessories are especially prevalent these days, but you may resent its absence here. If that's a concern, only Garmin watches consistently offer ANT+, while other brands increasingly abandon it. 

More people will find the absence of music storage frustrating, given its 32GB of storage. Even if Polar couldn't make a deal with music streaming platforms, it'd be nice to store your own MP3 files and connect workout earbuds while leaving your phone behind.

I also noticed the apparent lack of an ambient light sensor, which means this watch will blind you at bedtime until you turn on DnD mode. 

Given its 32GB of storage, it'd be nice to store your own MP3 files and connect workout earbuds while leaving your phone behind.

To me, the software experience always matters more than hardware. That's what athletes are paying for. And on that front, I have a few hang-ups.

Two years ago, I would have loved the simplicity of Polar's Cardio Load Status widget. You're either under/overtraining, maintaining, or improving. You don't need to understand what training load or (an)aerobic effect numbers mean; you just run, follow the Fitspark suggestions, and try to improve. 

More data-driven users — the kind that might buy a $599 watch — will wish they could see more information on the watch itself. There's a weekly summary widget, but it's light on data (total miles, total calories, time spent in specific heart rate zones) and doesn't show weekly targets besides HR zone percentages. If you tap the Cardio Load widget, it doesn't show anything new, just a text summary explaining why you need to train more or less. 

Polar collects the same data that Garmin Connect or COROS EvoLab offers; every post-run summary shows a performance Running Index, the type of Training Benefit (similar to Effect), and the cardio/ muscle training load. However, the only amalgamation of this data is the Cardio Load Status widget with its 7-day Strain and 28-day Tolerance numbers, along with a graph buried in the Calendar tab of the Polar Flow app with a bit more detail. 

For me, the best way to improve my VO2 Max is to know how to improve my Tolerance (or Chronic Load) with data on whether my aerobic and anaerobic numbers are optimized. Polar's data is simply harder to find, making you rely on Fitspark recs to know what you can handle. 

FitSpark cardio recommended workouts on the Polar Vantage V3

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

As I said above, I like the Fitspark recs, especially the strength training options. But it seems to put more stock in my training status than my body's fatigue. 

Case in point: I did a three-mile jog followed by 2.5 miles of 100-meter sprints and hard 400-meter laps interspersed with jogging. After a night's sleep, my Garmin watch recommends 60 hours of recovery, while Fitspark's two cardio recommendations are 56 minutes of zone 2/3 running or 90 minutes of walking/jogging. That seems ill-advised, and it's because I'm still "Detraining" according to Polar's algorithm.

Thankfully, Polar's Orthostatic and leg stiffness tests signaled that rest is preferable today. But it's up to the user to check that for themselves. Anyone trusting Polar's algorithm to get fitter might get pushed to work out more rigorously than they should.

Ultimately, I think Polar has a lot to offer athletes, but it could make more information available on the watch and make the Polar Flow app much more accessible. Right now, it can be very difficult to find what you need. 

Polar Vantage V3: Competition

The Garmin Forerunner 965 (left), COROS VERTIX 2S (center), and Polar Vantage V3 (right) sitting on a table together, all showing post-hike result screens.

The Garmin Forerunner 965 (left), COROS VERTIX 2S (center), and Polar Vantage V3 (right). (Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

The Garmin Forerunner 965 is the Vantage V3's closest rival in price and features. You get a 1.43-inch AMOLED display with better GG DX coating, a design that's 0.3mm thinner and 3g lighter, and an extra 13 days of battery life — though about half the dual-band GPS hours. The Forerunner 965 beat the Vantage V3 in GPS accuracy in multiple tests, while they were comparable in heart rate accuracy. Garmin has music storage and all-day SpO2 data but no ECGs or skin temperature.

I prefer the Forerunner 965 for its more accessible data on training load and status; it's always clear how my VO2 Max, recent breakdown of workout types, and my overall workload compare to previous weeks, whereas Polar makes you search for that data. Both watches give you workout and recovery suggestions, but Garmin's recs don't include strength training. 

The COROS APEX 2 Pro is another option to consider if you want epic battery life, offline maps, and dual-frequency GPS. You'll have to accept the MIP display and lack of non-HR sensors, but it's more affordable and has the upside of EvoLab training load data. 

You may also want to look at the Suunto Race, an AMOLED running watch with similar perks to the Vantage V3 (dual-frequency GPS, coaching, and HRV recovery data). Since I've only just received my review unit, I can't give a more definitive recommendation. 

Polar Vantage V3: Should you buy?

Sleep score summary on the Polar Vantage V3

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

You should buy the Polar Vantage V3 if...

  • You're a long-time Polar Flow user.
  • You need training guidance and data to improve as an athlete.
  • You're willing to spend a lot in exchange for a high-end display and sensors.

You shouldn't buy the Polar Vantage V3 if...

  • You need smarts like actionable notifications, apps, or music storage.
  • You're on a budget and can accept a cheaper Polar like the Pacer Pro.

For me, the most important aspect of a fitness watch is that it gives workout suggestions that are both aspirational and realistic. You need something to keep you motivated but also grounded so you don't run yourself into the ground (figuratively or literally).

The Polar Vantage V3 is certainly aspirational. It has running programs and Fitspark recs that give you tough workouts to help you improve but also keep you grounded with recovery estimates, tests of your heart and muscle load, and heart rate data that were quite accurate in my tests. At the same time, I've found moments where it recommends workouts that are above and beyond what I'm capable of, so the Vantage V3 is best suited to athletes who know their own limits. 

Otherwise, the Polar Vantage V3 is what it sounds like on paper. It's a big but relatively comfortable watch with a nice AMOLED display, solid battery life, a nice smattering of health sensors, and Komoot maps for hikers. If that all sounds appealing to you, then you'll certainly like the Vantage V3. 

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael is Android Central's resident expert on fitness tech and wearables, with an enthusiast's love of VR tech on the side. After years freelancing for Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, Digital Trends, and other sites on a variety of tech topics, AC has given him the chance to really dive into the topics he's passionate about. He's also a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves D&D, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

For wearables, Michael has tested dozens of smartwatches from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, and other brands, and will always focus on recommending the best product over the best brand. He's also completed marathons like NYC, SF, Marine Corps, Big Sur, and California International — though he's still trying to break that 4-hour barrier.