AT A GLANCE: QUICK RATINGS
Heart Rate Functions
Fitness / Sport Features
Ease of Use
Where To Get It
A Deep Dive Into Polar M600
The Polar M600 was one of the stand-out products of 2016 and continues to be one of the best wearable sports watches of 2018. Polar’s first smartwatch with integrated GPS, off the wrist heart rate and the Android Wear operating system. If ever there was a product that shouted “look out Garmin, Fitbit, TomTom” this is it. This review of the Polar M600 smartwatch has been prepared by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic
Who Is It For?
The M600 is aimed at the user who wants the following main features, Off the Wrist Heart Rate, Built-In GPS for accurate speed & distance tracking, 24/7 Activity Tracker with steps, distance, calories & sleep monitoring and FULL smartwatch functionality from the competent Android Wear operating system. If you just want a GPS running watch and you’re too concerned about the smartwatch features then I’d recommend the Polar M400. If you own an Apple iOs phone then you can still use the M600 by installing the iOs Android Wear application on your iPhone. You won’t get access to all the Google Play Android Wear applications, but you will get the essential smartphone notifications and alerts.
- The battery life could be better .. however, the M600 has the longest battery life of all Android Wear watches tested
Main Features and Functions
I always try to keep my reviews as short and concise as possible, if you think I’ve missed something, or you’d like to know, please use the CONTACT form to get in touch. The following features are what I consider to be the main selling points of the Polar M600
- Built-in GPS for accurate speed & distance
- Off the Wrist heart rate from 6 x high powered LED sensors
- Android Wear operating system
- Supports dozens of Polar Sport Profiles
- Built-in storage for MUSIC with Bluetooth connection to headphones / speakers
- Battery Life expectancy > 48 hour battery life from 500mAh lithium battery (24 hrs when used with iOs phones)
- IPX8 water resistant to 10m > fine for swimming (surface only)
- 24/7 Activity Tracking with Sleep monitoring
- Training Benefit & Activity benefit providing plan English explanation of each training session
- Soft silicone wrist band and Gorilla glass
- Running Index > showing how your running in improving
- For the best appreciation of the M600 watch my VIDEO REVIEW
- For more pictures, please visit the GALLERY
- Review Conclusion and Summary
Off the Wrist ACCURATE Heart Rate
At the time of writing this I have to admit to having only used the M600 for 3 x runs and 1 x 2 hour bike ride. The standout feature of this new smartwatch is the ACCURACY of the built-in heart rate sensor. Unlike competitors products that use 2, 3 or 4 powerful LED’s to sense the heart rate under the skin, the M600 uses 6 (six). Of all the strapless heart rate monitors I have used from the Polar A360, to Garmin Vivoactive HR and Forerunner 235, this Polar M600 is the best. I have yet to have any erroneous readings, spikes or drop-outs.
Sports Training watch
The Polar M600 is a competent sports training watch. Pressing the FRONT button (or swiping to APPS) activates the Polar Flow app and displays TRAINING or MY DAY (and SYNC for iOs). A tap on the red training icon gives access to your Polar Sports Profiles. The Polar Flow web-service allows the user to select sports that they participate in. Each profile has it’s own TRAINING VIEWS so you get to see what you want for each sport while training. At the end of the session simply press and hold the FRONT button and there M600 gives a 3 second countdown before giving the option of SAVING or DELETING the session.
Post Training Feedback
At the end of the training session, the M600 gives feedback on everything from Average Heart Rate, Calories, Time, Distance, Average Speed etc. What you also get with the Polar Flow app is TRAINING BENEFIT. Training Benefit informs the exerciser, in plain English, what has been achieved from the latest training session. For people looking to achieve a specific objective from their training sessions, Training Benefit will hopefully reinforce that objective whether it was a FAT BURNING session, an AEROBIC ENDURANCE session of a SPEED ENDURANCE interval session.
If you have previous experience with the Google Fit application then it is possible to use the Google Fit application instead of the Polar Flow one. Personally, I’d recommend the use of the Polar Flow APP as the post session feedback is superior to that of Google Fit.
Internal Music Storage and Google Music App
Similar to the TomTom Runner 2 & Runner 3 the M600 has an internal memory that is available for MUSIC storage. Google Play can be used to either control the music on your phone or the downloaded music on the M600. Transferring music from your phone to the M600 is simple and seamless. Once inside the watch you can play it back through connected Bluetooth headphones or speakers. I really enjoyed having all my favourite songs in the watch. It freed me from having to have my smartphone with me while out running or at the gym.
What is Android Wear?
For those unfamiliar with Android Wear it’s an operating system that many popular smartwatches use. Android Wear is a version of Google’s Android operating system designed for smartwatches and other wearables. Android Wear requires a phone running Android 4.3+ or iOS 8.2+. It’s a stable and well tested platform that opens the door to dozens of exciting and useful applications. Android Wear is currently used on several smartwatches including Moto 360, Tag Heuer Connected, Fossil Q Founder, Sony Smartwatch 3 and Huawei Watch.
Android Wear Applications – Google products
There are dozens, probably hundreds, of applications available on Android Wear. Most of Googles apps are available in the Polar M600 eg. Google Maps, Google Music (more about that later), email, texts, diary, Google search, notes, reminders, etc. You can SPEAK your reply to texts and to initiate a Google search or similar, or you can make use of some popular replies like, “I’ll call later” or “No thank you” or “Yes please”. To get a clearer understanding of how Android Wear powers the Polar M600, please take 10 minutes to watch my video review
As well as these Google applications you have access to hundreds of other applications like, Strava, Endomondo, Find my Car, InstaWeather, AccuWeather, Spotify and many more. If you’re new to Android Wear then it’s worth reading this review by Wareable for the best smartphone apps.
Realworld example – Navigating with Google Maps
The photos below were taken while reviewing the M600. Using the Google SPEAK function I asked Google “How Far from Hunstanton to Stansted Airport?”
Within less time that it takes to pick up your AA road map my M600 popped up a detailed map with full auto-routing. (requires connection to phone for data access)
Should you buy one?
Yes. If you are looking for a competent and easy to use activity tracker with accurate speed & distance feedback from the built-in GPS and off the wrist heart rate monitoring. You probably own an Android phone and would benefit from Google’s collection of Android Wear applications like Google Music, Maps, Diary and Reminders.
You should be competent using smartphone technology and not be phased by talk of “Bluetooth pairing” and “downloading Android Wear applications”. You have an interest in one or more sports at a fun / non-competitive level.
You may also like the idea of receiving informative TRAINING BENEFIT feedback at the end your training sessions, giving advice on long term goals and what effect undertaking similar training sessions will have in the future.
No. If you are more of a technical sports person / competitive athlete than you are interested in smartphone tech and you’re happy to check your phone to find where you parked your car or what the weather’s going to be like tomorrow then the M600 may not be for you. In particular, if you are a keen cyclist and you want to make use of Polar pedal cadence sensors (or Power meters) then you would be better advised to consider the Polar V800 (with H7 chest strap).
If you are more of a dedicated runner / execiser, maybe looking for 24/7 activity tracking and basic smartphone alerts then consider the Polar M400 with chest strap style heart rate.
Polar started selling heart rate monitors in 1976. CardioCritic have tested many models of Polar heart rate monitors – using them first in 1996
I really enjoyed my time spent testing the Polar M400. I have to be honest and put my hand up and say it’s NOT going to replace my Polar V800. I’m quite a technical user and I need pedal cadence and the ability to follow phased training targets (when running) and GPX routes (when cycling).
We know there is a huge market for smartwatches out there aka Moto 360 and Apple Watch. The Polar M600 adds competent training and activity tracking functionality to the excellent Android Wear platform. The result is an easy to use smartwatch with a bias towards FITNESS tracking and heart rate monitoring.
Next Model UP
If you want OFF the WRIST strapless heart rate monitoring then there isn’t a model up from Polar. This is the top of their range for built-in heart rate monitors. It would be fair to say that the Garmin Forerunner 235 or the Polar M430 would be the best alternative model for serious RUNNERS, but it does NOT have the flexibility of Android Wear … I’d probably need to know what specific feature you were looking for before making an alternative suggestion. If that’s the case, get in touch with me.
Next Model DOWN
Assuming you are attracted to the OFF the WRIST heart rate monitoring of the M600 then the next model down in the Polar range is the Polar M200. It is NOT Android Wear powered but instead uses Polar’s own OS. You still get smartphone notifications but no access to Google Play apps etc. As well as wrist based heart rate it also features a built-in GPS. If you’re after GPS accuracy for outdoor sports, basic smartphone alerts & notifications and are happy to use the Polar H7 HR chest strap then please consider the Polar M400
Closest Alternative watches?
It depends on what functions attracted you to the M600 in the first place as to the models I could recommend as alternatives. If you are primarily a runner and you want a running watch with built-in GPS and wrist based heart rate then the shortlist would be, in no particular order, the Garmin Vivoactive HR, the Garmin Forerunner 35 and the TomTom Runner 3 (Spark 3). They all support smartphone connectivity and notification. The Vivoactive HR is another full colour GPS multisport watch and has the functional flexibility provided by Garmin Connect iQ. If you were attracted by the Android Wear functionality then the alternatives would be watches I have not reviewed like the Moto 360 Sport.
- Garmin Vivoactive HR review – 2016/2017
- Garmin Vivoactive 3 review – NEW 2018, replaced the Vivoactive HR above
- Forerunner 35 review – still one of the best value dedicated running watches now with VO2 Max
- TomTom Runner 3 review – often overlooked, but an excellent alternative for those partaking in several sports
This was the first genuine smartwatch I have used and tested so it took a little while to get used to the concept. Since reviewing the Polar M600 I have had a chance to look at other wearable tech watches designed with sport in mind like the Moto Sport 360 and Pebble 2 HR. I have concluded that the Polar M600 is by far the best SPORTS FOCUSED smartwatch on the market. The fact that it is powered by Android Wear opens it up to a world of new apps, features and functions. I have given the M600 a rating of 4.5/5 stars mainly due to the wrist based heart rate, built-in GPS, Android Wear platform and, importantly, the pre-installation of a Polar Flow sports app.
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