October 2023 witnessed the launch of two significant contenders in the sports watch arena: the Polar Vantage V3 and the Suunto Race. These models are arguably the finest creations from their respective brands to date.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
If you’re contemplating a purchase, continue reading. This comparison piece explores the nuances of these models, scrutinizing their functionalities, design, and overall value proposition
The Polar Vantage V3 and Suunto Race offer distinct experiences. The first excels in detailed health monitoring and fitness tracking, while the Suunto Race is tailored for endurance sports and outdoor navigation. Their pricing, $600 for the Vantage V3 and starting at $450 for the Suunto Race, mirrors their specialized features. Both watches, while limited in smartwatch capabilities, provide a focused and comprehensive experience for their respective user bases.
Polar Vantage V3 vs Suunto Race: Hardware
Design & display
Starting with their physical build, the Polar Vantage V3 boasts an extremely strong stainless steel case with a glass fiber reinforced polymer back cover and an aluminum bezel. This gives it a robust yet elegant appearance.
Visually, the Suunto Race appears quite similar. But that one comes in a choice between a titanium or stainless steel bezel, coupled with a fiber polymer case and sapphire crystal glass material. The combination emphasizes durability and a premium feel.
In terms of shape, the watches maintain a round design. Don’t let that surprise you. This form factor is a common preference in sports watches for a classic and versatile look.
The Vantage V3 measures 47 x 50.8 x 14.5 mm, making it slightly larger and bulkier compared to the Suunto Race’s more compact dimensions of 49 x 49 x 13.3 mm. This difference in size may influence user comfort and preference, especially during extended wear or intense physical activities.
The approach to physical buttons also varies between the two models. The Vantage V3 features five flat physical buttons, providing a traditional tactile experience for navigation and control. The Suunto Race, however, opts for a digital crown accompanied by two flat buttons. This is an interesting design choice, that leans towards a more modern and streamlined interaction.
Display, colour options, water-resistance
Display quality is a standout feature for both models, with each sporting a quality AMOLED screen. The Vantage V3’s display is 1.39 inches with a resolution of 454 × 454 pixels. The Suunto Race offers a slightly larger 1.43-inch screen with a higher resolution of 466 x 466 pixels. So not a huge difference. These high-resolution displays ensure clarity and vividness, enhancing the user experience during various activities.
Color options for both watches allow for personalization and style preferences. The Vantage V3 is available in Sunrise Apricot, Night Black, and Sky Blue, offering vibrant choices. The Suunto Race provides options like All Black and Titanium Charcoal. This caters to users who prefer more subdued or classic color schemes.
Water resistance is another critical aspect, especially for athletes and adventurers. The Vantage V3 comes with a WR50 rating, making it suitable for swimming but not for diving. The Suunto Race, with its 10 ATM rating, offers higher water resistance, suitable for more diverse water-based activities.
As far as sensor technology, the Polar Vantage V3 is equipped with quite a bit. This includes an accelerometer, magnetometer compass, barometer, Elixir biosensing, GEN 1 ECG, SpO2, and skin temperature sensor. The diverse range allows for detailed tracking of various physiological and environmental metrics.
In contrast, the Suunto Race focuses on a slightly different set of sensors, including a heart rate sensor, optical pulse oximeter, barometric altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass. This combination puts more emphasis on navigation and environmental interaction.
When it comes to GPS connectivity, both watches excel with advanced capabilities. The Vantage V3 features dual-frequency GPS, along with support for Glonass, Galileo, BeiDou, and QZSS. The Suunto Race is also no slouch. It boasts impressive GPS features with its L1 + L5 Dual Frequency GPS, alongside GLONASS, GALILEO, BeiDou, and QZSS support. So the two are quite evenly matched on this count.
However, both watches have limited features in certain areas. Neither the Polar Vantage V3 nor the Suunto Race includes NFC capabilities, restricting their use for contactless payments. Similarly, both lack music storage. This might be a drawback for users who prefer to have integrated music capabilities in their fitness watches.
Moving on to the all important battery life. The Polar Vantage V3 is equipped with a 488 mAh battery, delivering up to 8 days in smartwatch mode. This extends to 61 hours in single-frequency GPS/HR mode, and up to 47 hours in dual-frequency GPS/HR mode.
The Suunto Race, with its focus on long-duration sports, offers a remarkable battery life of up to 26 days in daily mode. This comes down to 40 hours in multiband/dual-frequency mode, and an extended 120 hours in ‘Tour’ mode.
Polar Vantage V3 vs Suunto Race: Technical specs
Here’s a detailed comparison table for the Polar Vantage V3 and Suunto Race:
Here’s a detailed comparison table for the Polar Vantage V3 and Suunto Race:
Polar Vantage V3
Extremely strong stainless steel case, glass fiber reinforced polymer back cover, aluminium bezel
Titanium or stainless steel bezel, fibre polymer case, sapphire crystal glass material
Number of Physical Buttons
5 flat buttons
Digital crown + 2 flat buttons
47 x 50.8 x 14.5 mm
49 x 49 x 13.3 mm
454 × 454 pixels
466 x 466 pixels
Weight (without strap)
69 grams (Titanium version), 83 grams (Stainless Steel version)
Accelerometer, Magnetometer compass, Barometer, Elixir biosensing, GEN 1 ECG, SpO2, Skin Temp
Heart rate sensor, Optical pulse oximeter, barometric altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass
Dual-frequency, GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BeiDou, QZSS
GPS (L1 + L5 Dual Frequency), GLONASS, GALILEO, BeiDou, QZSS
Bluetooth 5.1, ANT+
Smartwatch mode: Up to 8 days. Training with single-frequency GPS/HR: Up to 61 hours. Training with dual-frequency GPS/HR: Up to 47 hours. Training time with power save options 140h.
Up to 26 days in daily mode, 40 hours in multiband/dual-frequency mode, up to 120 hours in ‘Tour’ mode.
Sunrise Apricot, Night Black, Sky Blue
All Black, Titanium Charcoal
$450 and up
Polar Vantage V3 vs Suunto Race: Features
The Polar Vantage V3 is a standout for those deeply invested in comprehensive health monitoring and advanced fitness tracking. It introduces Polar Elixir, a next-generation biosensing technology. This elevates the watch’s capability to measure a wide range of physiological data with high accuracy. You get advanced heart rate monitoring and new metrics like skin temperature, which can be particularly insightful for understanding recovery and training efficiency. The Vantage V3’s focus on detailed health metrics, including ECG readings, makes it a preferred choice for users who are keen on having in-depth insights into their cardiovascular health and overall fitness levels. Additionally, its enhanced GPS features and various sports profiles cater well to athletes who require precision in tracking their outdoor activities.
Contrastingly, the Suunto Race positions itself as a robust tool for athletes who prioritize endurance and navigation. It offers a strong suite of features for long-duration sports, supported by its impressive battery life in various modes. The Race’s nightly HRV (Heart Rate Variability) tracking and integration with Suunto Coach for personalized training advice based on HRV data are significant draws for athletes focused on optimizing recovery and performance. Its advanced GPS capabilities, coupled with offline maps storage, make it an ideal companion for outdoor adventurers and long-distance athletes who often venture off the beaten path.
When it comes to smartwatch-type features, both the Polar Vantage V3 and Suunto Race offer a balanced approach. They provide essential functionalities like notifications, alarms, and basic smartphone integration, ensuring users stay connected during their activities. However, they do not venture deeply into the realm of typical smartwatch features like NFC for contactless payments or onboard music storage, reflecting their primary focus on sports and health tracking. This approach aligns with the needs of their target audience, who prioritize fitness and health functionalities over extensive smartwatch capabilities.
Polar Vantage V3 vs Suunto Race: Price
The Polar Vantage V3, with its advanced health monitoring features and comprehensive fitness tracking capabilities, is priced at a typical retail recommended price (RRP) of $600. This price reflects its position as a high-end sports watch. It caters to users who seek detailed physiological insights and a wide array of fitness functionalities.
Conversely, the Suunto Race is positioned at a more accessible starting price of $450, with the cost increasing for premium builds. This pricing approach renders the Suunto Race a great value for money option.
Polar Vantage V3 vs Suunto Race: Final thoughts
The Polar Vantage V3, priced at $600, is designed for those who seek an in-depth analysis of their physical health and fitness. It offers a wide range of physiological metrics and advanced fitness tracking capabilities. Its comprehensive health monitoring system, including the innovative Polar Elixir biosensing technology, positions it as a premium choice for fitness buffs and athletes who require detailed insights into their training and recovery.
The Suunto Race, on the other hand, with a starting price of $450, provides slightly better value for money. That one caters to endurance athletes and outdoor adventurers. It stands out for its long battery life, robust GPS features, and durability in challenging environments, making it a reliable companion for extended outdoor activities.
While both watches limit their smartwatch-type features, focusing primarily on sports and health functionalities, they offer a balanced mix of essential smart functionalities, such as notifications and basic smartphone integration.
Naturally, the debate over whether one brand surpasses another due to specific features and gimmicks is subjective. Plus, loyalty to a certain ecosystem might come into play. Ultimately, the best system for you is the one that meets your specific needs most effectively. Having said that – software-wise, both brands will suffice for anyone’s level of training.
You may also be interested in:
Like this article? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and never miss out!