Polar has added another sports watch to its lineup. The Polar Unite is a lifestyle fitness watch that packs some of the best features of the rest of the company’s range into an affordable package.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
In many ways Unite reminds of Polar Ignite. The most important omission on the first is the lack of built-in GPS. But there are some other differences to be aware of. Here they are.
Polar Unite vs Ignite: Specs
There are lots of design similarities between these two watches. Put them side by side and you might struggle to figure out which is which. The differences are subtle.
While both come in a round 43mm diameter design, Unite is slightly thicker (10.4mm vs 8.5mm). The build is a glass fiber reinforced polymer case with a stainless steel button on the side. Perhaps the easiest way to tell the two apart is the bezel. It comes in a steel design on Ignite and polymer on Unite.
The devices pack a 1.2mm color touch display (IPS TFT) with ambient light sensor (ALS), and resolution of 240 x 204 pixels. The glass lens is slightly different, not that you are going to notice. Ignite also comes with an always-on option in training mode.
Unite is slightly lighter in weight of the two. It comes in at 32 grams without the strap, versus the 35 grams of its counterpart. All of this is water-resistant down to depths of 30 meters.
Some bigger differences can be found under the hood.
As mentioned above, the main one is that Ignite comes with built-in GPS whereas you’ll need to satisfy yourself with Connected GPS on Unite. This won’t make a difference to some but it will be important for runners or cyclists. Those with Ignite do not have to have their phone with them during outdoor exercise. Unite owners do if they want detailed stats. Other that that, both watches come with a heart rate monitor and accelerometer.
When it comes to battery life, you can expect to get up to 7 hours in training mode with Ignite (GPS and wrist-based heart rate), up to 5 days in watch mode with continuous heart rate tracking. Unite keeps going up to 50 h in training mode (Connected GPS and wrist-based heart rate), up to 4 days in watch mode with continuous heart rate tracking.
Here’s how the specs compare.
|Material||Glass fiber reinforced polymer case. Stainless steel bezel & button.||Glass fiber reinforced polymer case. Stainless steel button.|
|Dimensions||43 x 43 mm||43.4 x 43.4 mm|
|Depth||8.5 mm||10.4 mm|
|Display size||1.2 inches (resolution 240 x 240 pixels)||1.2 inches (resolution 240 x 240 pixels)|
|Display||Gesture-activated color touch display (IPS TFT) with ambient light sensor (ALS). Always-on option in training mode. Resolution 240×204. Dragontrail glass lens.||Color touch display (IPS TFT) with ambient light sensor (ALS), resolution 240×204. Asahi glass lens.|
|Battery||165 mAh Li-pol battery||174 mAh Li-pol battery|
|Battery life||up to 7 h in training mode (GPS and wrist-based heart rate), up to 5 days in watch mode with continuous heart rate tracking.||up to 50 h in training mode (Connected GPS and wrist-based heart rate), up to 4 days in watch mode with continuous heart rate tracking.|
|Water resistance||up to 30 metres (WR30)||up to 30 metres (WR30)|
|Weight||35 grams||32 grams|
|Sensors||GPS/GLONASS, accelerometer, heart rate||accelerometer, heart rate|
|Color options||White, yellow, and black||Black, white, pink and blue|
Polar Unite vs Ignite: Functionality
These are both lifestyle fitness watches that will have you covered around the clock when it comes to activity tracking. In terms of the basics there’s no difference between them.
The watches have Nightly Recharge recovery measurement, continuous heart rate, detailed sleep tracking, 24/7 activity tracking, activity goal, FitSpark daily training guide, active time, steps and distance, activity summary, activity benefit, Serene breathing exercise and inactivity alerts. They also track hundreds of different sports with statistics to match.
The lack of built-in GPS on Unite means it misses out on some features.
One of these is Training Load Pro. This essentially compares your 28 day average Cardio Load versus your 7 day average. In essence it gives you advice on how to train, whether you are detraining and should do more or are overdoing it. Polar checks every workout that you do and assigns you a score between 1 and 5, with 5 being the biggest strain.
Other features that are missing from Unite are also related to running. They include cadence info from the wrist, Running Index and Altitude, ascent/descent. Speed/Pace info and zones, as well as distance information can be accessed from the watch on Ignite, but only from the smartphone app on Unite.
The final important difference worth mentioning are swimming metrics. You get them on Ignite, but not on Unite. A bit strange considering both watches have the same water-resistance so are suitable for swimming.
In terms of non-fitness functions, there is not too much to write home about. The watches keep you connected on the go. But there’s no NFC, music storage or any other fancy functionality.
|Training Load Pro (Cardio load, Perceived load)||in Polar Flow|
|Running cadence from the wrist||Yes|
|Speed/Pace (zones)||Yes||from mobile device|
|Distance||Yes||from mobile device|
Polar Unite vs Ignite: The bottom line
Polar is really stepping up its game with a range of great devices. Unite and Ignite are very similar animals, more lifestyle, fitness watches than sports watches.
The main difference between them is the inclusion of built-in GPS on the latter, along with some metrics such as Running Index, cadence and Training Load Pro. This means that Ignite is clearly targeted towards the running crowd. It also has the benefit of being able to track swimming.
Unite takes across great features of the rest of Polar’s range (such as the awesome recovery metrics), and packs them into an affordable package. It presents itself as an intriguing option if you are happy with Connected GPS. But if you are an avid runner, we suggest you go the extra mile and opt for Ignite.
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