Image source: Polar

Polar Pacer Pro vs Vantage M2 vs V2: which watch should you go for?

Polar has unveiled a couple of days ago a revival of its decades old Pacer line. The new devices come in the form of two watches – the Polar Pacer and Polar Pacer Pro (check price on Amazon). The first is an entry level, the second a watch for advanced runners.

This slightly confuses the situation as there is not all that much that separates these new timepieces from the Vantage M2. And let’s not forget the more capable Vantage V2. Does that one offer better value for money than the new Pacer duo?

We’re here to help. Read on as we explore the differences between all these watches.


Polar Pacer Pro vs Vantage M2 vs V2: technical specs

Look and feel

The Pacer and Vantage series look quite alike. These are sporty looking, circular watches with two physical buttons on the left and three on the right. There are some visual differences between them but nothing to write home about.

The dimensions indicate that the Pacer line is more of a unisex watch. Its two devices have a diameter of 45mm and depth of only 11.5 mm. Vantage M2 is a slightly more sizeable coming in at 46 x 46 x 12.5 mm, and then there’s Vantage V2 which is the largest with its 47 x 47 x 13.0 mm measurements. The Pacer line is also more lightweight than Vantage watches.

As far as the screen, all of these have a 1.2 inch colour display that never goes dark. However only the one on Vantage V2 is touch-enabled. This means you will purely need to rely on the button configuration to make you way around the menus on the others. Not too much of a problem – those who run or cycle often actually prefer that. Try navigating a touch display with sweaty fingers – its not easy! The touchscreen on Vantage V2 is useful for smart functionality, scrolling longer menus or pages or reaching the quick settings.

Worth noting is that the backlight of the screen on Pacer and Pacer Pro is 10 times more efficient than on other Polar watches. This helps extend battery life. And the display offers a crisper viewing experience.

There are also some differences in build worth mentioning. The Pacer duo has a case made of plastic, with the Pro line sporting a fancy aerospace aluminium bezel around it. This type of build helps to keep the price down. The Vantage M2 case, on the other hand, is constructed of stainless steel while the entire case of V2 is made of an aerospace aluminium alloy.

If water-resistance is important to you, you’ll be happy to learn you can swim with any of these watches. However, Vantage V2 is good down to depths of 100 meters, the Pacer duo down to 50 meters and Vantage M2 down to 30 meters. Some slight differences there.

Finally, all of these watches offer a choice of colour options. They also have a strap with a quick release mechanism so you can swap it around for other options. The Vantage V2 SHIFT edition and the Pacer Pro have something called SHIFT adapter. This lets you adopt any standard wristband so that you can attach it to the watch.

Under the hood

The Vantage M2 is a more budget friendly version of the high-end Vantage V2 watch. As mentioned, both Pacer and Pacer Pro are quite close in specs to the M2. It makes you wonder whether Polar is planning to do away with the M2 as the new watches offer better value for money.

In terms of sensors, all of these watches have satellite capability (GPS, Glonass, Galileo, QZSS) which means you can leave your smartphone behind when exercising outdoors. They also have an accelerometer and heart rate sensor. The one on the newer watches is, of course, more current (it has additional two LEDs). Beyond that, Pacer Pro and Vantage V2 also have the addition of a barometer and compass.

Polar says the Pacer and Pacer pro come with an enhanced high-speed processor so work faster and more smoothly than its other watches. They also have more internal memory which should help with this.

Finally, there’s the all important battery life. We’re happy to report that all these watches function well on this count. The M2 is the under-performer, offering about 5 days in smartwatch mode and 30 hours in training mode (with GPS). The Pacers are middle-of-the-pack with about a week in smartwatch mode and 35 hours in training mode. The start performer is the V2, offering a week in smartwatch mode and 40 hours in training mode.

Here’s a table showing the main specs.

Pacer
Pacer Pro
Vantage M2
Vantage V2
Material
Plastic case.
Plastic case. Aerospace aluminium bezel.
Extremely strong stainless steel case. Glass fiber reinforced polymer back cover.
Aerospace aluminium alloy with glass 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
47 x 47 x 13.0 mm
Weight
40 grams
41 grams
45 grams
52 grams
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 inches (resolution 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.
Always on colour touch display (MIP). Laminated Gorilla glass lens with anti-fingerprint coating.
Battery
265 mAh
265 mAh
230 mAh
346 mAh
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.
up to 40 h in training mode (GPS and wrist-based heart rate). Watch mode with heart rate: up to 7 days. 100 hours with power saving options.
Water-resistance
50 meters
50 meters
30 meters
100 meters
Sensors
Accelerometer, heart rate
Accelerometer, heart rate, barometer, compass
Accelerometer, heart rate
Accelerometer, heart rate, barometer, ambient light sensor (ALS), compass
Built-in sattelite connectivity
Yes (GPS power save mode)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Colours
Night Black, Cloud White, Deep Teal, Purple Dusk
Carbon Grey, Snow White, Midnight Blue, Autumn Maroon
Black/Grey, Brown Copper, Champagne, Black/Yellow
Black /Black, Silver/Grey-lime, Black/Green, Red
RRP
$200
$300
$300
$500

Polar Pacer Pro vs Vantage M2 vs V2: features

Those who own a Polar sport watch know they have a quite capable piece of equipment on their wrist. The company, along with Garmin, Suunto and a handful of other names is a specialist in this area. Polar, perhaps, has the lead in recovery stats. They are quite detailed and offer everything you need to know on how ready you are to face another training day.

But even if you are not that serious about training, these watches offer a nice set of activity training features. No SpO2, but they’ll have you covered around the clock as far as everything else.

As with battery life, the Vantage M2 is the under-performer. It offers nothing really extra as compared to the others, but it lacks Strava live segments and Heart Rate Sensor mode that can be found on the three other watches. It also lacks Hill Splitter, Komoot route planning, Route and elevation profiles, wrist based running power and some of the Performance Tests of the Pacer Pro and Vantage V2.

Of course, Vantage V2 is the most capable of the bunch but that’s no surprise considering its price-tag. It is the only one with Recovery Pro metrics, Orthostatic Test, Leg Recovery Test and Track Back.

But it does miss out on the new Walking Test. It will be interesting to see whether this arrives via a software update. It would be logical to expect so.

That test lets you measure VO2Max in 15 minutes – just by walking. Most watches only allow you to do this by running so it represents an easier way of doing the measurement. Polar says the Walking Test is an “uncomplicated test to estimate aerobic fitness by going for a 15-minute brisk walk on a flat path.”

No built-in storage for music on any of these watches but you do get the standard music controls. Lots of people like to exercise with music. This is in addition to ability to view weather forecasts and smartphone notifications. Worthy of note, the Pacer line has the ability to receive smartphone notifications during workout – which is new.

Pacer
Pacer Pro
Vantage M2
Vantage V2
Hill Splitter
Yes
Yes
Recovery Pro
Yes
Komoot route planning and turn-by-turn guidance
Yes
Yes
Wrist-based running power
via 3rd party sensor
Yes
via 3rd party sensor
Yes
Strava live segments
Yes
Yes
Yes
Orthostatic Test
Yes
Cycling Performance Test
Yes
Yes
Leg Recovery Test
Yes
Walking Test
Yes
Yes
Trackback navigation
Yes
Route and elevation profiles
Yes
Yes
Heart rate sensor mode
Yes
Yes
Yes
Audio alerts
Yes
Outdoor Dashboards (Altimeter, Coordinates, Compass, Daylight times)
Yes

Polar Pacer Pro vs Vantage M2 vs V2: which should you choose?

Polar is offering lots of nice options now if you are after a runners or triathlon watch. The Vantage M2 and Pacer Pro come in at an identical price-point (check current price on Amazon: Pacer Pro, Vantage M2). But you do get more for your money by going for the Pacer Pro option. So much so that it wouldn’t really surprise us if we don’t see a Vantage M3. Polar might be killing off that watch.

Pacer Pro and even Pacer, which retails for $100 less, offer pretty much everything that you can get on the M2. If you don’t mind the less premium build and slightly smaller diameter of the watches, that is. The extras come in the form of additional performance tests, Strava Live Segments, faster watches, clearer display and better battery life. On Pacer Pro you also get a barometer, compass, running power from the wrist and a few other bits and pieces.

If you are in the market for a new watch and are in two minds between the two – its a no brainer. Go for Pacer Pro. There’s no point in purchasing the M2. Or save a few bucks and opt for Pacer’s little brother.

Is it worth switching from the Vantage M2 to Pacer Pro? You might be better off just using your current watch until its expiry date. Unless the additional features are important to you.

And let’s not forget the Vantage V2. It is a very capable device that offers the best build with its touch display and most capable specs. But it is quite a bit more pricey than the other options (check current price on Amazon). If you’re a serious runner the Pacer or Pacer Pro is better value for money. If you’re a CrossFitter or similar, the V2 may be the the one to go for with its Orthostatic Test.

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3 thoughts on “Polar Pacer Pro vs Vantage M2 vs V2: which watch should you go for?

  • Thanks for your article! The Polar website lists the Pacer Pro dimensions as 45 x 45 x 11.5 and your listing states that it is 41 x 41 x 11.5.

    Reply
    • Thanks – well spotted, made the correction.

      Reply
  • Hola. Tengo dudas… Tengo que comprar un reloj preferentemente para triatlón…
    Me podéis ayudar o por lo menos tener una opinión más experta que la mía.
    Garmin ha bajado el precio al 745, cuál prefieres? 745 o Polar Pacer Pro? Muchas gracias.

    Reply

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