Polar Vantage M2 Review Sports Watch With Music Controls And Physical Buttons

Monday, May 17, 2021

Health has been on the forefront of everyone's mind more than ever before, making more people evaluate their healthy habits. If there is one thing we can all takeaway from being stuck all day indoors, it's the freedom of being able to enjoy a healthy outdoors lifestyle. The easing of lockdown is giving more people the impetus of self discipline to hit the ground running and, buying a sports fitness watch such as the new Polar Vantage M2, it's one of the best ways to keep oneself motivated.

An upgrade from the original Vantage M, the new Vantage M2 has an updated design, a new strap and a longer day-to-day battery life. The vast majority of the changes done to the Vantage M2 are mostly software based, while the design aesthetics and construction remains almost identical. The Vantage M2 watch case is made of glass fibre reinforced polymer, while the etched bezel, buttons and buckle are made of stainless steel. The 1.2-inch colour display has 240 x 240 resolution and a hard coating of PMMA laminated glass.

The Vantage M2 display may not be the most vivid and, it is prone to glare too but, you can still view everything in broad daylight without issues. Despite the glare and lack of vivacity, the Vantage M2 display provides very good viewing angles and, it's less power hungry than a color-rich display; hence the amazing battery life. Inside the Vantage M2 watch case, there is a 230 mAh Lithium-polymer battery capable of up to 30 hours in training mode (with GPS and heart rate turned on) and up to 120 hours in watch mode with continuous heart rate tracking, which you can change from "always on" to "nighttime only".

If you use power saving settings, you can increase the training mode runtime from 30 hours to 100 hours, which means you can get up to 4 days with an hour-workout each day. The only downside is that you have to turn off heart rate monitoring, enable screen saver and set GPS recording rate to 1-2 minutes. This means, speed/pace and distance aren't as accurate and, you won't be able to view the training data because the screen saver kicks after a 8 seconds. You cannot charge the Vantage M2 watch during a training session either; hence you won't be able to power the Vantage M2 watch using a powerbank.
As far as charging, the Vantage M2 has a charging time of 60 minutes via 5V/500mA. You can charge the Vantage M2 via a computer USB port, as well as a wall charger, although you do have to mindful because the Vantage M2 doesn't have automatic power shut off so, you can potentially damage the watch due to overvoltage and overcurrent when leaving the watch charging once the battery is fully charged. There is no quick charge support and after 500 discharges, there will be a notable decrease in battery performance; hence it's a good idea not letting the battery fully discharge.

Setting up the Vantage M2 watch is easy. Like all other Polar watches, you can do the set up via the watch using the Polar mobile app or, you can do it via a computer. Setup can take up to 30 minutes if firmware needs updating. The Polar Flow application is intuitive with easy to understand metrics so, you can figure out the strain of your training sessions, energy levels, hydration and sleep recovery so, you know when you can safely push your body further. Via the Polar application, you can also create running plans and have personalized workouts via the FitSpark Daily Training Guide.

As well as being able to track fitness and sleep, the Vantage M2 lets you control music (play/pause, skip to previous/next and volume), check weather as well as get push notifications so, you can receive notifications from your phone to the watch. You can disable and enable notifications, although it's worth noting notifications only come through when you aren't training. This means, you cannot receive notifications during a training session. You can control music from the watch during a training session and from the watch face screen. There is no option to store music on-board, which would be useful for listening to music with Bluetooth earbuds

While recording a training session, you can only access the following settings: backlight, GPS recording rate (1 second, 1 minute, 2 minutes or OFF) and wrist-based heart rate. A quick wrist shake wakes the watch and turns on the screen backlight automatically. The GPS accuracy will depend on your mobile operator. This is because, like most GPS sports watches, the Vantage M2 uses Assisted Global Positioning System (A-GPS), which works in tandem with a satellite-based navigation system and your phone's mobile network provider.

The choice of satellites include Glonass, Galileo or QZSS. The Vantage M2 uses your phone's mobile network to pinpoint your location, making it faster and more accurate, although accuracy does depend on a strong mobile network coverage so, if you're in an area with poor mobile coverage it will impact the GPS accuracy. If "tracking" isn't a feature you need, you should consider getting a non-GPS based sports watch, like Polar Unite, which is considerably cheaper than a GPS watch. 

When buying the Vantage M2, you can select the type of wristband material you want (recycled PET fabric, silicone or genuine vegetable-tanned leather), as well as the finish on the watch case and the case back cover (brown/copper, black/grey or gold/champagne). The Vantage M2 has a 3mm bump on the back cover, which helps minimize sweat build-up. The Vantage M2 uses 22mm size spring loaded lugs, which are compatible with Polar Grit X and Vantage M wristbands.

The wristband pictured on this review, it's the black/grey silicone version, which is especially nice because of the extra perforations for breathability and elasticity, which allows the M2 watch to fit snugly around the wrist. The 12 o'clock side of the strap weighs 10 grams, while the 6 o'clock strap weighs 7 grams. The M2 watch case weighs 29 grams (without the wristband). Total weight of Vantage M2 is 46 grams. The wristband measures 2cm wide and 13cm long (small/medium size) and 21cm with the medium/large size.

Compared to Vantage V sports watch, the V watch has some advantages over the Vantage M2, including an altimeter and running power from the wrist, as well as more training feedback with Recovery Pro, which is better if you mostly running. The Vantage M2 does have some advantages over the Vantage V too, including music controls, lower weight, weekly training view, weather widget and universal wristbands. The Vantage V uses a proprietary wristband and touch screen; whereas the Vantage M2 uses physical buttons, which are very grippy thanks to textured finish stainless steel. The low weight and size of the Vantage M2 is a great advantage because it allows the watch to sit better on the wrist, allowing it to collect more accurate heart rate. Heavier and larger watches tend to bounce around on the wrist, which can throw off heart rate accuracy.

With the Vantage M2, you can also setup alarms although you cannot customize the alarm tone. In fact, there aren't any audio alerts. By default, the Vantage M2 alarm makes a quirky buzzing vibration that sounds like a ringing telephone. Speaking of vibrations, the M2 watch will produce a short vibration when scrolling menus, which can be disabled too. The Vantage M2 can be manually restarted, turned off and reset (to factory settings) by navigating to the "About Your Watch" section under General Settings. You cannot power down the M2 watch by holding the power button like on a smartphone.

You can turn on the backlight on the Vantage M2 watch at any time using the upper left hand button and the backlight will remain lit up for as long as you are scrolling through menus. The backlight is designed to turn off automatically after 8 seconds of inactivity. You can also enable "Always On" for the backlight. Speaking of inactivity, you can set up reminders too, including a sedentary reminder and fueling reminders (carbs and drink), which can be set in intervals of 5 minutes from 20 minutes up to 60 minutes. You can also manually enter the amount of carbs you want the watch to remind you to take and, how often the watch should remind you.

The default home screen of the Vantage M2 watch face shows date, hours/minutes/ seconds and the latest session, as well as the Polar logo. The battery indicator bar (and percentage) only shows when turning on the backlight. Toggling from the home menu screen will show different screens cardio status, weather and nightly recharge. The Vantage M2 watch also has a dedicated menu section, called Physical Settings, where you can enter preferences into the watch. You can enter training frequency (e.g. 3-5 hours per week), set a daily activity goal (light, moderate or heavy), enter proffered sleep time, maximum heart rate, resting heart rate and VO2 max. There is also a calorie count feature (just like in the Polar M400) so, you can see the calorie expenditure throughout the day.

There is currently no HR broadcasting mode on the Vantage M2. In fact, no Polar watch supports broadcasting mode, other than the recently released Ignite 2 (read review). That said, Polar has reported the Vantage M2, Vantage V2, and Grit X will have HR broadcasting (via a firmware update) before the year is out, which is great because it will allow you to broadcast your heart rate from the Vantage M2 to third party apps (e.g. Zwift and, Peloton), as well as gym equipment.

The Vantage M2 is compatible with bluetooth heart rate straps too so, you can connect the Vantage M2 to a bluetooth HR strap such as the H9 heart rate sensor, as well as some third-party power meters such as Favero Assioma, Powertap, Quarq DZero, Power2Max NG, etc. There is no support for ANT+ and BLE sensors; hence you cannot pair the M2 to cycling sensors like you can with the Polar V650. Once the Vantage M2 is paired to an external HR sensor, it turns off the built-in optical heart rate (OHR) in the watch, although this is normal with most fitness watches. 
Another feature you won't find on the Vantage M2 (or any other Polar watch), it's an Incident Detection. Sports watches with Incident Detection will send out a message as well as real-time feed of your location, which is useful when running on your own and run into trouble. The Vantage M2 comes with two different size of wristbands and a proprietary Polar charger attached to a 1.7 meters long cable with a USB-A connector. You can buy the Polar Vantage M2 from amazon.

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