Polar Ignite is a running watch with a difference. However, this watch is just ideal for fitness trackers, whether they’re for running or hiking.
However, unlike other Polar watches, the Ignite is focused only on helping you achieve your objective of getting in better condition by tracking your active time.
Built-in GPS, advanced wrist-based heart rate, activity tracking, advanced sleep-tracking, a nice display, long battery life, smart alerts, and phone notifications are all included as expected in a sports watch.
However, Ignite’s adaptive training plan and sleep and recovery monitoring capabilities truly set it apart. With these brand-new features, you’ll get daily training ideas for a variety of workout modes, and you’ll also keep a balance by knowing when and how hard to train.
Even if it doesn’t have the smartwatch features of an Apple Watch or a Fitbit Versa 3, there is a lot of value here for the price of the device. There’s a lot here for daily activity goal-chasers, too.
I’ve had the watch on my wrist for about two months now. Throughout that time I’ve used its adaptive training plan through several workouts and everyday activities. We’ll go through the good, the terrible, and the downright ugly. In terms of advanced metrics, the watch does a great job, but it also falls short in aspects like accuracy and usability.
Polar Ignite Overview
In addition to the Garmin Forerunner 45 and Vivoactive 3, the Ignite competes with the Fitbit Versa 2 and Ionic, as well as the Apple Watch Series 3. The Samsung Galaxy Active Watch is another option in Ignite’s price range. It’s a competitive field of rivals, and the cost is even more so, particularly because most of them are often on sale for between $199 and $229 (or less).
You’ll receive a sturdier rubber band for any of the basic pricing. Whereas in Europe, if you pay more, you get a far better silicone bracelet.
In terms of hardware, the following is the summary:
- One button on the side and a color touchscreen display. However, unlike the Apple Watch or most Fitbits, the display is not always-on (it only comes on when you raise your wrist). Like Polar’s Vantage series, it uses a Sony GPS chip.
- Polar Precision Prime (Vantage series) optical heart rate sensor on the back
- In addition to the standard rubber strap, there are two other options: a silicone strap (for an additional fee) and a hard rubber strap.
- Not compatible with power meters/cycling/footpod sensors due to the lack of Bluetooth Smart HR sensor support.
- Watertight to a depth of 30 feet.
- Bands that you can swap out when they become dirty
- There is no music or storage on the watch, and no NFC/contactless payments are supported.
- 5 days of battery life and 17 hours of GPS battery life are claimed.
My Polar Ignite Unboxing
The majority of the components l’ve found inside the package are rather ordinary. There’s nothing revolutionary about it. One drawback is that it does not have an always-on screen.
In contrast to almost all other Polar watches (with the exception of the earlier Android WearOS-based M600), this one’s screen shuts off after a brief interval of time. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to reactivate as well (about 3 seconds from wrist raise while running, 2 seconds while sitting at a desk). But I’ll get to it in a moment.
The Ignite’s new features are the most intriguing. Features that aren’t seen on any Polar watch at all may be found in this model (not even the Vantage series). There are:
- “Nightly Recharge” feature, which uses ANS data to determine whether you’re recovering at night;
- “Sleep Plus Stages,” which includes REM/Light/Deep sleep;
- Added a sleep score for each night of sleep;
- “FitSpark,” which recommends daily workout routine based on your exercise history as well as nightly recharge (this is huge).
- Weather forecast.
- For the first time, they have included “Serene,” guided breathing exercises (like what Fitbit and others have).
Since you haven’t seen any of these new Polar features before, I’ll go into further detail about them in the sections that follow. What’s even more encouraging is that I believe some of them are really implementing the changes I’ve been expecting for years now.
For example, you may have a bad night’s sleep, and then the gadget tells you to go for a two-hour run.
Polar Ignite Design and Display
The simplicity of the Ignite is stunning. It is, in fact, Polar’s most minimalist, slimline, and “stylish” watch ever. Despite the athletic look of the new gadget, there is a noticeable effort to make it more comfortable to wear all day, every day.
Designed for smaller wrists, it’s 43 x 43 x 8.5 mm and has a subtlety that hasn’t been typical with Polar’s watches.
The curved stainless steel bezel of the 240 x 204 color touchscreen display is reminiscent of the Garmin Vivoactive 3.
Bright and clear images are shown on the screen itself. The Polar Vantage V, on the other hand, seems drab and lifeless in contrast. While it lacks some of the sharpness of the Apple Watch display, it’s still quite simple to see in any light, and the colors are cheery. A Polar logo, oddly, slashes across the bottom part.
The Apple Watch’s Ignite screen is turned off by default. To wake the watch, just lift your hand or press the side button, like you would with an Apple Watch. However, I appreciated the fact that this conserved battery life, but I noticed that the shutdown was frequently too rapid and that the rise to wake was not always accurate. Additionally, it’s aggravating that you can’t change the time it takes for the screen to turn off again.
The absence of side buttons on the Ignite is likely the most noticeable aspect of its overall design. There is just one button to operate the Vantage M and V’s five on-board controls. There are advantages to this, such as having a streamlined design and reducing weight, but there are also disadvantages.
As compared to the Apple Watch 4, the touchscreen is less responsive. Moving through screens typically requires two or three touches, and once you start to perspire on it, the game is over.
The user interface is rather straightforward. However, I did see a few instances when the touchscreen froze and would not react. Additionally, there was a noticeable delay while navigating between displays.
In addition, the absence of a back swipe to return to prior displays is something we’d query. Instead, a single button does the trick.
The Ignite is exceptionally light, weighing in at only 35 grams. With a single button and a significantly slimmer face than previous Vantage watches, this watch is a significant improvement over its predecessors. Compared to the V and M, it features a significantly thinner strap. The clasp is much more delicate.
All of this adds up to a watch that’s a dream to wear all the time. In order to take full advantage of the device’s unique selling points, such as its ability to measure sleep cycles and recuperation, this is critical.
This watch is equipped with the same sensor fusion technology as Polar’s Vantage V watch. But we’ll get to it in a moment.
You may swim with the Polar Ignite since it is water resistant to a depth of 30 feet.
It’s also available in a variety of hues. When it was launched, it came in three colors: orange, white, and black, with a variety of strap materials to pick from. The black strap is made of TPU plastic, as opposed to silicone in the orange and white models. Any 20mm watch strap will work as a replacement. Since the product debuted, rose gold, pink, black, and copper have all been introduced.
Polar’s normal magnetic disc and USB charging cord are also included in the package. As a result, the charging cords that came with your prior Polar watches will work just fine. That’s a great perk, especially if you forget your lead and need to borrow one while on the road.
My Experience with Polar Ignite
The non-sport essentials are out of the way, so let’s get down to the business of utilizing this watch for sports. Because, if you’re not into sports or fitness tracking, there are better watches out there for you to choose from.
For me, Polar’s Ignite sports watch has the same wide range of sports profiles as its other models. However, even though it allows for the loading of up to 20 different sports profiles at once, not all of them are compatible. For example, triathlon mode is not compatible.
In addition to provide me a starting point for certain data fields (which you may adjust), these modes also guarantee that calorie counter is accurate for intensity activities. On top of all that, they made sure that the GPS was correctly turned on. For example, you may disable it when jogging on a treadmill but leave it on while swimming in open water.
A compatibility indicator will appear at the top of the app when you touch on a certain sport profile. I have a lot of dots at the top of my account since I have a lot of Polar watches attached to it.
There are thousands of sports profiles available for the Polar Ignite, but the FitSpark daily training guide, Nightly Recharge recovery tracker, and Sleep Stage are the most noteworthy additions. With this app, Polar gives the most comprehensive analysis of your sleep ever.
Swipe through six panels to see the time, activity tracker, heart rate, last training sessions, and FitSpark suggestions as you lift your wrist to wake the watch.
Each page has a summary of key statistics for each of these categories, making it fast and simple to get an overview of your data. Using a single press, you may then go further into the app.
Recommendations for personalized training
With FitSpark, you can get personalized exercise recommendations based on your current fitness level, previous workouts, and sleep stats.
On the FitSpark home screen, you’ll get a strength training, cardio, or supportive training recommendation for the day, based on your fitness level. A new phrase, “supportive,” refers to regions such as core and mobility.
In addition, if you want to try something new, Ignite provides three alternate daily activities.
Cardio workouts are broken down into zones depending on average heart rate and time. When it comes to cardio workouts, you may be given the option of a cardio medium exercise lasting 1 hour and 22 minutes or 2 hours and 20 minutes in heart-rate zones 1-3.
My nightly recharge recovery time was poor, and Ignite was able to identify this and offer a recovery session. However, I thought it was weird that the majority of the cardio workouts that were suggested were for periods of at least an hour. While medically it may be the best decision, having an option for a session lasting up to an hour would have been appreciated.
There are several good explanations of the program’s purpose, such as “a moderate workout to increase your aerobic fitness.” The watch will buzz and beep while you work out to keep you focused on the appropriate zones.
Ourtdoor workouts for the stamina and agility include a countdown timer and a step-by-step instruction with animated avatars to teach you exactly how to do each exercise. Additionally, there is a full analysis of each exercise in the strength session. Despite its simplicity, it’s an effective teaching tool.
Anyone who isn’t sure how to put together a well-balanced training program or doesn’t know what a core session may look like will find this an invaluable resource. Simplifying the training process by allowing users to complete tasks with only a few touches on their wrist is a welcome improvement in efficiency.
A drawback to this feature is that you can’t access any more exercises not associated with the day you were given. To participate in a guided strength session, for example, you must have completed the Ignite’s daily four recommended workouts.
Aside from the fact that I didn’t have enough time to assess whether or not following the FitSpark training suggestions would help us become fitter, this is a great tool that makes my exercises interesting. However, Polar will need to increase the number of sessions in order to keep this going for a lengthy period of time.
Sleeping and Recovery Assistance with Polar Ignite
When you train out, you don’t develop fitness; your body rebuilds during recuperation. Nightly Recharge is a recovery insights used by Ignite to illustrate how well you’ve recovered from your day’s demands overnight.
There are many factors that go into determining your nightly recharge status. Based on the sleep quality (Sleep Charge) and the effectiveness with which your autonomic nervous system (ANS) settled down in the first few hours of sleep time (ANS Charge).
Even when you’re sleeping, your progress is being recorded automatically, and the advice is provided in an easy-to-understand format.
Advanced wrist-based heart rate, heart rate variability, and breathing rate are used to calculate the ANS Charge score. On a scale from “far below usual,” “below usual,” “normal,” and “above usual,” the Sleep Charge reading compares your sleep score from the previous nights to your typical level and provides comments.
A nightly recharge readout is generated each morning and shown on a scale of very poor, poor, compromised, OK, good, very good. As a result, you’ll be able to make more informed judgments, not only when it comes to your on-demand workouts, but also when it comes to your energy levels.
So, how true is this information? Begin with a good night’s sleep. I compared its advanced sleep monitoring to that of the Garmin Forerunner 945 and found that they both recorded the same time I fell asleep. However, this was more of a time when I prepared to go to bed than when I actually slept.
Getting up at a reasonable hour wasn’t an issue. The Ignite precisely recorded my wake-up time, whilst the Garmin just recorded my rise time. Ignite wins this round by a whisker.
In general, the Ignite matched how I thought we’d slept vs how much deep sleep I actually get. When it comes to sleep patterns, things become a little different compared to Forerunner.
The Forerunner has a lot of discrepancies:
- Garmin Forerunner records 35 minutes of Deep sleep, Light 5 hours, REM 2:41, Awake 1 minute
- Polar Ignite records 1h:19m of Deep sleep, 4h:36m Light, 2h:05m REM, and 27m Awake
That said, the Ignite’s advanced sleep and recovery study is perhaps the most comprehensive of any watch on the market today.
The Polar Flow app now includes a wealth of additional information in addition to what’s on the watch. It’s even better than Polar’s flagship devices, but the Vantage V will have similar capabilities shortly.
You’ll also receive a 5-minute lie-down test to keep track of your improvement, which is quite beneficial. You may use the watch to estimate your VO2 max based on your resting heart rate and heart rate variability, as well as your gender, age, height, weight, and training history.
Our VO2 max was 69 on the Ignite test, while the Vantage V Running Index, which measures VO2 max based on continuous heart rate tracking while running, placed us at 67. It’s not that far away.
Ignite’s breathing function, Serene, is a further attempt to raise its health credentials. This is similar to Apple’s Breathe app, which allows you to do timed breathing exercises while the watch tracks your heart rate. Using it is simple and convenient, and it has a place in the world.
Swimming with Polar Ignite
Your heart rate and strokes are tracked automatically by the Polar Ignite swimming metrics while you are swimming in the pool.
GPS and travel time
The Polar Ignite packs built-in GPS and GLONASS in tracking, and the fix times were quick. For a link-up, it consistently outperformed the considerably more expensive Garmin Forerunner 945.
After a number of comparison runs, I noticed that the Ignite somewhat underestimated the distances, although these were just fractions of miles each time. The Polar Vantage V and Forerunner 945 proved to be more accurate.
Aside from the Forerunner 945 and the Vantage V, the Ignite’s real-time pace readouts differed from each other. For example, the Forerunner and Vantage V had an average speed of 6:26 minutes/km, whereas the Ignite had a rate of 6:30 minutes/km in the session shown. There wasn’t a significant change, but there were distinct differences along the run.
Using the same Precision Prime optical setup as the Vantage V, the Ignite has an electrical sensor that monitors the quality of sensor-skin contact to help remove incorrect data from times when good contact between the sensor and the skin is lost.
Polar Ignite’s advanced features are heavily dependent on continuous heart rate monitoring, so precision here is crucial.
In my testing, the Ignite’s current heart rate measurement may initially be higher than the Garmin’s when I elevate my wrist to compare. After a while, it would catch up to the Garmin, although it was a bit unsteady.
- When it comes to monitoring how well you’ve recovered over the night, the Nightly Recharge function has a lot of detail, and the information is displayed effectively.
- Following the Ignite’s daily training recommendations, which are divided into multiple categories based on how well you’ve recovered, will result in a more fit, stronger, and flexible you.
- In terms of design, Polar has nailed it with the Ignite: it’s sleek and lightweight, and the screen is bright and brilliant. The screen shuts itself off to save battery, but you can configure it to be always-on during workouts, which is much more handy for checking your numbers.
- The Nightly Recharge and recommended exercise functions are hampered by (sometimes) inaccurate sleep monitoring.
- GPS accuracy: The Ignite consistently comes up short of the actual distance when running, especially on routes with a lot of sharp turns.
- The touchscreen isn’t always responsive and can be slow to wake up when you turn your wrist.
- Battery life: Because the Ignite only has one button, controlling it via the touchscreen is inconvenient. It has a claimed battery life of 17 hours of GPS or five days in watch mode, but you’ll need to recharge it every couple of days if you leave the screen continually on while exercising.
For the last month, I’ve been wearing the watch, and despite its shortcomings and quirks, I like it. It’s better than the ForeRunner 45 from Garmin. In spite of how it functions, I find this watch to be a wonderful piece of jewelry. If you’re searching for a nice sports watch, this one offers all you need and more!
Despite just using this watch for a month, I find myself questioning whether Polar made all of its decisions with thought.
Initially, the dark screen frustrated me, but as I got accustomed to it, it let me concentrate more on the running itself rather than the distance, time, or heart rate monitor. This watch may be based on that ratio. Considering that there are a number of functions that concentrate on recuperation, such as the nighttime recharge and the Serene option, this is a good idea.
This isn’t a watch for experienced runners, and I’m not sure it’s a good idea for those with high expectations, either. For those who like running, improving, and participating in sports but aren’t too concerned with the outcomes, this program is for you.
During the exercise, focus on sports and then examine the outcomes. If you’re looking for a sports watch with a conscience, this may be it!
For its price range, you get a lot of watches for your money. The application works well, and the design is nice.