Polar Pacer Pro review: A seriously sporty smartwatch

Polar Pacer Pro

MSRP $300.00

“The Polar Pacer Pro is designed for runners and serious sportspeople, where the data-rich software and comfy, slimline design is smart, but casual exercisers risk being overwhelmed.”


  • Slim and light-weight
  • Fast and accurate GPS
  • Comprehensive fitness tracking
  • Masses of knowledge on watch and in app


  • Low quality screen lacks brightness
  • No Sp02 sensor

A smartwatch is just not only a smartwatch, there are different versions higher suited to different activities and situations. Some suit on a regular basis wear, others have a sportier design for the gym, and a few even look a bit like a diver’s watch. Then you have got sports smartwatches similar to the main focus of this review, the Polar Pacer Pro. The design is overtly sporty, and its functionality is built across the sporty person.

But does this level of focus make it only suitable for somebody really into running or one other sport? I’ve worn the Pacer Pro for greater than 10 days to seek out out.


Smartwatches don’t get rather more easy than the Polar Pacer Pro. The circular case is product of plastic, the bezel is aluminum, and there are five buttons across the edge. The diameter is around 44mm, and in total it weighs about 40 grams. It’s attached to a cushty, very flexible, and highly customizable silicon strap. There are two versions within the box, and I discovered the smaller version nice for my 6.5-inch wrist, because the long version bordered on ridiculously long. There are multiple holes to get the tightness excellent, and two keepers to be certain that the top doesn’t flap about.

Buttons showing on the Polar Pacer Pro, worn on a man's wrist.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Gorilla Glass 3.0 protects the 1.2-inch Memory-in-Pixel (MIP) screen, which has been brought closer to the surface in comparison with previous Polar watches, and it has an improved backlight. In the intense gray color seen in our photos, the Pacer Pro is anonymous to have a look at. I took little pride in wearing the Polar Pacer Pro since it has such a basic look. There’s nothing incorrect with it, it’s just not exciting within the least. That said, it’s very comfortable and I even have been in a position to wear all of it day and overnight without it getting sweaty or causing a skin response.

The huge bezel across the screen ages the design, which combined with the screen’s lowly 240 x 240 resolution, makes the Pacer Pro appear like a watch that has been out for years quite than a recent 2022 model. The screen doesn’t have an automatic brightness adjustment either. You possibly can set it at low, medium, or high brightness, or control it manually using one in every of the side buttons. On anything lower than high brightness, you possibly can’t see thoroughly in sunlight, and the viewing angles are tight. It does reliably illuminate whenever you raise your wrist though, unless you choose the manual setting for the backlight.

Polar Pacer Pro on man's wrist, seen from the side.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The essential look and screen mean I needed to force myself to wear the Pacer Pro. It’s not a smartwatch to have a look at and think, wow, I like that design, or for the screen to light up and show beautiful, detailed animations. It’s generically functional, and I personally need greater than that from something I wear. Nevertheless, in comparison with many other dedicated GPS sports smartwatches it’s a stunner, with a slim case and innocuous design that’s far more suitable for on a regular basis wear than you normally expect.

Software and app

The software on the Polar Pacer Pro is a step back in time, visually. There are numerous easy lines, colours, and pixels, and never much by way of design flair. It’s solidly functional. You employ the multiple buttons to maneuver through the menus, and the shortage of a touchscreen adds to the retro feel but is smart when you concentrate on ease of use when running. Additional processing power and more RAM over previous Polar smartwatches make it snappy and straightforward to live with on a day by day basis. I haven’t been frustrated by any aspect of the Pacer Pro’s performance.

Polar has made the software so it’s not all the time obligatory to go to the app. Different screens show all the information you could possibly want about your sleep, workout performance, and even suggestions on exercises to do this day. Select these and also you get a selection of several workouts, all with different amounts of time, after which easy instructions to follow. Each is less complicated to personalize, and much more varied and interesting than the guided workout sessions on smartwatches just like the Huawei Watch GT Runner and the Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4.

What’s clear from using the Polar Pacer Pro is it rewards continued use, and that if you happen to’re probably not that sporty you won’t profit from its true ability. It requires multiple workouts and multiple nights of sleep tracked before it’ll provide much in the way in which of in-depth evaluation, so casually energetic people will wonder if it’s doing much in any respect for some time. While you aren’t on the right track with a sleep or exercise regime it makes it clear too. Have a nasty night’s sleep and “Compromised” appears in yellow on the sleep screen to remind you ways rubbish you might be, and the workout screen counts the times because you last worked out, to motivate or guilt you into doing something.

Keeping you out of the app isn’t a nasty thing. It’s not the prettiest or most immediately accessible I’ve used. Again, it requires many days of knowledge to start out showing any meaningful information. There are multiple graphs, a variety of granular detail, and many of knowledge on what all of it means, however it’s relatively light on motivation outside of this. When you’re serious about sport and health, then pouring over all of the numbers will probably be your motivation, but if you happen to’re not, the number-heavy presentation could be off-putting.

I even have used the smartwatch with an iPhone 13 Pro and it has reliably shown my notifications, the vibration alert is noticeable, and there’s the choice to regulate music from my phone too. It doesn’t run other apps, so don’t expect to make use of Spotify or an identical app when out without your phone.

Workouts and accuracy

It’s whenever you track a workout and compare it to a more standard smartwatch that the Polar Pacer Pro’s strengths are revealed. A 40-minute outdoor walk tracked on the Apple Watch Series 7 shows general information most individuals will likely be fascinated with — heart rate, distance, pace, and calories — however the Pacer Pro goes a step beyond this.

The heart rate sensor on the Polar Pacer Pro.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Training zones are isolated and are mapped out using pace and heart rate data, it breaks down calorie burn into carbs, protein, and fat, there’s an in depth route map and knowledge on heart rate, speed, and pace for every lap. When you’ve tracked enough workouts, the app builds a baseline to indicate your performance and where to enhance, and your VO2 Max data may also start to return into play. Runners get a bunch of additional features including training plans, running power measurements, and training load data too. All of this shows how the Polar Pacer Pro is aimed toward the intense runner or sports person.

All the same old workouts are able to be tracked on the watch, including running, walking, cycling, and swimming, plus weight training and the choice to select a generic indoor our outdoor activity if nothing really matches. There’s no specific option for golf or activities like horse riding or yoga, however the Multisport feature may appeal to triathletes. The Polar Pacer Pro has its own GPS which found a signal in a short time during my tests and matched the Apple Look ahead to accuracy, as did the guts rate sensor.

Wear the Pacer Pro overnight and it’ll track your sleep. It matched the guts rate data collected by my Oura Ring, however the pair differed on the period of time spent in several sleep stages. I’m more inclined to consider the Pacer Pro’s data though. It gives a Nightly Recharge rating alongside the same old Sleep Rating, which helps you understand how restful your night was, and whether it should affect plans to exercise. When you’re ready for it, the watch also has workout and running plans to follow, a few of which look like very difficult.

The heart rate sensor on the Polar Pacer Pro.

The Polar Pacer Pro being used, worn on a man's wrist.

I’m well aware I’m not the audience for the Polar Pacer Pro, and am ill-equipped to check its limits personally. It even took a couple of tries using the beginner VO2 Max walking test for it to acknowledge my “ability.” Nevertheless, seeing the extent of detail when you’ve accomplished enough sessions — it shows if you happen to’re training enough, doing too little or an excessive amount of, and sets clear targets based in your progress — combined with its accuracy, activity planning, and general on-wrist comfort gives me confidence it’ll work thoroughly for many who love running and wish to get even fitter.

It’s disappointing that the Polar Pacer Pro doesn’t have an Sp02 sensor or an electrocardiogram (ECG), each of that are common on competing smartwatches.

Battery and charging

Battery life has been good. Polar’s seven-day estimate is a bit of conservative if you happen to only track a few workouts plus your sleep, when you need to see the smartwatch last for eight or nine days. Add GPS into the combo more usually and 7 days is about right. Polar claims a complete of 35 hours total training time with GPS and the guts rate sensor energetic.

Charging is sort of slow and takes about two hours to go from under 10% to capability. A proprietary charger that magnetically attaches to the smartwatch’s case back is included within the box.

Price and availability

The Polar Pacer Pro is accessible now for $300 or 259 British kilos. It is available in the essential black color — Polar calls it Carbon Gray — seen in our photos, or in a prettier Midnight Blue, Snow White, or Autumn Maroon.

Our take

The Polar Pacer Pro doesn’t look or feel especially recent, and it doesn’t really bring anything recent to the table either. It matches the potential of similarly priced fitness-orientated smartwatches but doesn’t provide a standout reason to purchase a minimum of by way of features and design. It’s even missing some sensors which can be standard on other fitness smartwatches and bands.

That leaves the Polar software. I only scratched the surface of what it’s able to, and the information it returns may look overwhelming to the casual owner wanting to know a bit of bit more about their health and activity. For the dedicated runner (yes, it’s primarily going to appeal to runners) though, the depth of detail, fast and accurate GPS, and good battery life will make it very appealing.

It’s then the design comes into its own. The slim, lightweight case is so rather more wearable than chunky, rough-and-tumble GPS watches seen before. It’s not stylish like a Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro, however it’s easy and subtle. All of the functionality an athlete (budding or otherwise) wants, but not wrapped up in an obscenely proportioned case for once. You’ve got to really need the Polar software experience, but if you happen to do, the Pacer Pro is the best method to get it.

Is there a greater alternative?

It depends a bit of on what you wish. When you want an all-out sports watch, the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music competes on price, plus the Garmin Vivomove Sport brings Garmin’s excellent software platform to an amazing looking smartwatch. When you desire a more health-focused smartwatch take a have a look at the Withings ScanWatch or ScanWatch Horizon.

When you don’t think the really hardcore sports tracking will likely be for you, then the Apple Watch Series 7 is one of the best smartwatch if you happen to own an iPhone, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 stays the strongest selection if you happen to own an Android phone.

How long will it last?

The Polar Pacer Pro has a 50-meter water resistance rating, and has apparently been tested to “military standards,” so expect it to be pretty durable. The strap is definitely replaced if it breaks, however the special pin system used to secure it means you should have to purchase one directly from Polar. The software is proprietary and updates could be added via the app. The Pacer Pro’s overall ability means you’re unlikely to hit its limits any time soon, and its odd design won’t succumb to fashion trends either. It’ll last you for a few years.

Do you have to buy it?

Yes, but provided you’re aware it is a sports smartwatch for sporty people. It’s not an Apple Watch alternative.

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