Image source: Polar

Polar Ignite 3 vs 2 vs Unite: comparison feature

Following a plethora of leaks and rumours, Polar has officially announced its next smartwatch today. Ignite 3 (view on Polar’s website) improves on the second generation product in a number of exciting ways.

Its about time. When it comes to new devices, this has not really been a busy year for Polar. The last release landed in April. Polar revived its old Pacer line with two mid-range runners watches, the Polar Pacer and a Pro version of the same. We were hoping to see the next in the Vantage V line or Grit X in 2022. But it looks like these will not land until 2023.

Launched in early 2021, Polar Ignite 2 is an all-purpose smartwatch. Unfortunately, the upgrade last year was not that great. It pretty much ended with slightly better battery life and a new Heart Rate Sensor mode which allows you to broadcast your heart rate readings. Reviews of the device were mixed. There was clearly room for improvement.

In this article we compare Polar Ignite 3 vs 2. We have also included Unite in this comparison feature, as it is another lifestyle watch from the company. Read on to find out which of the three is right for you.


Polar Ignite 3 vs 2 vs Unite: Hardware

Look & feel

Look at the pictures below of these three watches and you’ll notice just how similar they are. All of them pack a circular display, inside a slim and attractive case. Another common characteristic is that they are all lightweight. Unite comes in at only 32 grams while the Ignites are 3 grams heavier.

Polar Unite
Polar Unite

In all three cases you get something with a 43mm body. This makes the devices suitable for any gender. Interestingly enough, Unite is the thickest of the three. At 10.4mm in depth it is followed by Ignite 3 (9.5mm) and Ignite 2 (8.4mm). Not that you are going to notice. These are very small differences.

Polar Ignite 2
Polar Ignite 2

The larger differences are to do with the display. Ignite 3 packs a high-res AMOLED touchscreen with a resolution of 416 x 416 pixels. This is a considerable step up in how bright and colourful the screen is.

To take full advantage of the new display, Polar has introduced screen-widgets which act as shortcuts. You can customise them to include things such as weather, your heart rate data and more. It’s a way to make the new watch more user friendly.

Users have complained about the touch-responsiveness of the TFT screen that is built into Ignite 2 and Unite. Hopefully the AMOLED on Ignite 3 will resolve this problem.

Essential readingBest fitness trackers and health gadgets

As far as size, Ignite 3 has a slightly larger display than the other two. So its bezels are a bit smaller. Its screen measures 1.28 inches so a 0.8 inch increase.

Polar Ignite 3
Polar Ignite 3

Water resistance is exactly the same whichever watch you choose. The rating of WR30 means you are good to swim with them or take a bath.

Of course, the colour options available with each device are different. You can see them listed below. But because they all come with a quick-release mechanism your choices are not limited to the standard options.

Under the hood

The subtle differences continue under the hood.

While the sensors are the same (optical heart rate and accelerometer), the important improvement with Ignite 3 is dual-band satellite connectivity. This allows for quicker securing of GPS (Glonass, Galileo, QZSS) signals and more accuracy. It is a feature regularly found in sports watches. You do get regular GPS connectivity with Ignite 2 but this feature does not come as part of Unite. With that one you’ll need to rely on Connected GPS.

Another improvement with this latest edition is more processing memory. This has increased to 5MB as compared to only 0.64MB on Ignite 2 and Unite. This is combined with a faster processor for a more seamless experience.


Polar Ignite 3 vs 2 vs Unite: Technical specs

Ignite 3
Ignite 2
Unite
Dimensions
43 x 43 x 9.5 mm
43 x 43 x 8.5 mm
43 x 43 x 10.4 mm
Weight
35 grams with strap, 21 grams without strap
35 grams with strap, 21 grams without strap
32 grams with strap, 18 grams without strap
Display type
AMOLED touchscreen
TFT touchscreen
TFT touchscreen
Display size
1.28 inches
1.2 inches
1.2 inches
Display resolution
416 x 416 pixels
240 x 240 pixels
240 x 240 pixels
Sensors
Optical heart rate, accelerometer
Optical heart rate, accelerometer
Optical heart rate, accelerometer
Satellite connectivity
Yes (dual-band)
Yes
Connected GPS
Water-resistance
WR30
WR30
WR30
Memory
5MB
0.64MB
0.64MB
Storage
32MB
32MB
32MB
CPU speed
192Mhz
120Mhz
120Mhz
Connectivity
Bluetooth 5.1
Bluetooth 5.1
Bluetooth 5.1
Colour options
Purple Dusk, Brown Copper, Greige Sand, Night Black
Black Pear, Gold & Champaigne, White, Rose Gold & Pink
Rose Hook & Loop, Teal, Black Hook & Loop, White, Red, Black
RRP
$330
$230
$150

Polar Ignite 3 vs 2 vs Unite: Battery life

Battery life on Ignite watches is not too shabby. With normal use, in smartwatch mode you can expect about 120 hours between charges. Ignite 3 packs a larger 215mAh battery. Hence it matches the second generation device despite the boost in specs. AMOLED screens are very power hungry.

Polar has even managed to improve battery life in training mode. You can now expect 30 hours between charges, a decent bump on the 20 hours with Ignite 2. Plus you have the battery saving training mode which will keep the thing going for around 100 hours.

Polar Ignite 3
Polar Ignite 3 – it remins a bit of Pixel Watch | Image source: Polar

Polar Unite packs a slightly larger capacity battery than Ignite 2. But this doesn’t offer battery improvements. In training mode you can expect around 20 hours between charges. In smartwatch mode this climbs to around 4 days.

The table below shows what you can expect in different modes. It is a bit of a mix.

Ignite 3
Ignite 2
Unite
Battery capacity
215mAh
165mAh
174mAh
Battery type
Lithium Ion
Lithium Ion
Lithium Ion
Training mode
30h
20h
20h
Power saving Training mode
100h
100h
n/a
Smartwatch mode
120h
120h
96h

Polar Ignite 3 vs 2 vs Unite: Functionality

Moving quickly on to functionality. Any of these watches will suffice if you are after basic health and fitness stats. They also come with some Polar-specific goodies such as:

  • FitSpark or daily training guide with ready-made workouts that you can do anywhere;
  • Sleep Stages which spit out a wealth of stats on your nightly rest, along with a Sleep Score and insights; and
  • Nightly Recharge which measures how well your autonomic nervous system (ANS) has recovered. This will let you know whether you should push hard that day or take it easy.

There is no blood oxygen tracking on any of these watches. But there is continuous heart rate, a quick fitness test for continual improvement, Serene relaxing experiences, tips and insights on activity and calories burned.

The fact that Unite does not come with built-in GPS means that the Ignites are much more suitable for those who exercise outdoors often (run or cycle, for example). Mind you, you can still use your phone’s GPS on Unite, but this is not as convenient.

As compared to Ignite 2, Unite also lacks Training Load Pro. This is a feature that gives you detailed insights into how your training sessions strain your body. It helps you understand whether to train hard or take a rest day.

Ignite 3 offers more detailed sleep insights, along with a few other features

Ignite 2 comes with all the features of Unite so you will not be missing out on anything. Plus you get music controls. But if you get this one, you will miss out on some functionality that comes with Ignite 3.

This includes something called SleepWise. Polar has always been good at sleep tracking. Its algorithms offer more insights and actionable advice as compared to the competition. SleepWise takes this further. It takes into account the amount, quality, timing of your sleep, and your sleep-wake cycle, to estimate how alert you will be during the day.

Should you go for that long drive? Check your watch. Similar to Whoop, the device will also suggest the best time to get some more sleep. Polar says SleepWise insights will land on all Polar devices that support Sleep Plus Stages. They specify a time of “Later this year”.

You also get a few Performance Tests on Ignite 3. This includes a Running Performance and Walking Test.

The final addition worthy of note is FuelWise. Also available on high-end Polar watches, this provides reminders to refuel and help you maintain adequate energy levels during your long sessions.

Here’s a recap of the differences in features between Ignite 3, 2 and Unite.

Ignite 3
Ignite 2
Unite
Music controls
Yes
Yes
No
Screen widgets (configurable complications)
Yes
No
No
SleepWise
Yes
No
No
Performance Tests; Running Performance test, Walking Test
Yes
No
No
Training Load Pro
Yes
Yes
No
FuelWise
Yes
No
No
Voice guidance
Yes
No
No
Back to start
Yes
No
No

Polar Ignite 3 vs 2 vs Unite: the bottom line

If you are after a general lifestyle watch Polar has a few options for you. At $150, by far the cheapest of the three is Unite. But it doesn’t pack built-in GPS, music control and some of the health and fitness features of the other two. Not a problem for those interested in a general health tracking device.

Those that run or cycle often will want something with built-in GPS. The price difference between Ignite 3 and 2 is quite significant. The first sells for $330, so $100 more than the predecessor generation.

For that you get something with the addition of an AMOLED display instead of a TFT one, dual-band GPS, on-screen widgets, more memory, along with a quicker processor. You also get more detailed sleep insights a few performance tests and FuelWise.

garmin-fenix-7

Polar Ignite 2
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Garmin Instinct 2 vs Instinct

If these features are important to you, we suggest going for the latest generation device. If not, the other two remain solid lifestyle watch options. You can check out all three of these devices on Polar’s website.

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