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Polar OH1: An In-Depth Review [Updated 2018]

Polar OH1
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 5 stars
  • 100%

  • Polar OH1
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: 20th June 2018
  • Heart Rate Accuracy
    Editor: 97%
  • Comfort during Exercise
    Editor: 99%
  • Ease of Use
    Editor: 99%
  • Battery Life
    Editor: 90%

Another innovative product from the company that have been improving heart rate monitoring for over 40 years. The Polar OH1 is an optical heart rate monitor that can be worn on either the upper or lower arm.

It has the added functionality of being able to both BROADCAST and STORE your training data. In broadcast mode heart rate data is sent via Bluetooth to compatible devices.

In standalone mode HR training data is stored internally. This review of the Polar OH1 has been written and prepared by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic.

The Polar OH1 has been adopted by CardioCritic as the GOLD STANDARD for optical heart rate monitors. CardioCritic will use it to judge the performance of all other optical heart rate monitors for future tests & reviews.

Product Review - the Polar OH1 Optical Heart Rate Monitor

Released – October 2017

Product it Replaced – New Product

Price at launch – $79 / £69

What is it and Who’s it For?

The Polar OH1 is an optical heart rate monitor sensor that is worn around the arm. It can be worn on the upper arm, above or below bicep, or the lower arm.

It is aimed at anyone interested in monitoring heart rate on either a smartphone (iOs or Android) or compatible watch (Bluetooth connected eg. Suunto Spartan, Polar V800, Polar M460 etc).

When paired with a compatible smartphone running the Polar Beat app (or other fitness app like Google Fit, Strava, Endomondo, MapMyRun etc) the OH1 broadcasts accurate heart rate data for real-time review.

Polar have been leading innovation in heart rate monitors since 1976 – we have reviews of loads more Polar Fitness products here

Broadcast or Store

An innovative feature of the Polar OH1 is it’s ability to work in STANDALONE training mode. Simply turn it on and press the button TWICE to enter standalone training mode.

The OH1 acquires the exerciser’s heart rate from their arm and stores it in it’s own internal memory.

Up to 200 hours can be stored internally. At the end of the training session all the data is wirelessly uploaded to the Polar Flow app installed on your smartphone for convenient review.

Video Review

CardioCritic have produced this short video presentation of the Polar OH1 heart rate sensor. If you have any direct questions for CardioCritic then please use the COMMENTS field provided by YouTube to chat with Tristan and team.

Heart Rate Accuracy

LED heart rate technology has been around for several years now but we still get asked how accurate it is. The OH1 has performed brilliantly in the many tests we’ve put it through over the last couple of weeks.

The OH1 uses 6 x proprietary LED optical heart rate sensors similar to those used by the Polar M430 (another 5 Star CardioCritic review).

CardioCritic has used the Polar OH1 for 8 x training sessions.

It’s been perfect for everything but one bike ride. This particular ride features an intense hill sprint effort where my heart rate quickly increased to 168 bpm.

The riding style was aggressive and the road far from smooth. The OH1 failed to detect this short spike of effort as can be seen from the heart rate graphs here.

The control model in this case was the Blueleza chest strap heart rate sensor paired with a Garmin Edge 820 (reviewed here). For all other sessions there has been NO NOTICEABLE deviation from the heart rate acquired via CHEST STRAP.

We could have not bothered to mention this single minor failure, but it highlights how even a 5 Star product can have it’s little wobbles now and then. CardioCritic is confident to recommend the Polar OH1 for the vast majority of exercisers.

Heart Rate Graph from an Intense Interval session

This is the heart rate graph extracted from the internal memory of the Polar OH1

Max HR was recorded at 169 BPM

Polar OH1 heart rate accuracy test graph compared to chest strap HRM sensor

Heart Rate from Chest Strap style HRM

This is the same session’s heart rate data acquired from a Blueleza chest strap heart rate sensor paired with a Garmin Edge 820 (review).

Max HR recorded as 171 BPM

Control test with Blueleza chest strap heart rate sensor

Blueleza Chest Strap versus Polar OH1 Optical Heart Rate

Blueleza Heart Rate chest strap and Polar OH1 optical LED HRM


Polar’s own blog site suggest the OH1 is not their most suitable product for professional athletes involved in high intensity interval training. For those sessions the Polar H10 is the recommended heart rate sensor

It’s hard to beat Polar H10 when it comes to extremely accurate heart rate measurements in a fast-paced situation, such as a hard interval training session. ( BLOG)

Main Features


  • Bluetooth Heart Rate broadcast
  • Compatible with most iOs and Android devices
  • Compatible with newer Suunto & Garmin watches eg Spartan Trainer & Edge 1030
  • Optimised for Polar Flow and Polar Beat apps
  • Broadcast Mode - transmits heart rate
  • Standalone Mode - stores up to 200 hours of training data - multiple files
  • Water Resistant (30m)
  • 12 hours battery life
  • Simple to operate and connect to smartphone / tablet
  • Cons

  • No ANT+ support
  • Simple USB Charging Bracket

    The Polar OH1 is charged quickly and conveniently with the small charging bracket supplied.

    It would be useful if the plug shaft was a bit longer as I could not fit another USB peripheral next to the OH1 in my MacBook Pro … extending the shaft just 1 inch would allow for all USB ports to be used at the same time …

    Easy to Use

    The Polar OH1 has only one button. Operating the OH1 is simple

    • Press once to turn on (it will default to BROADCAST mode) – 1 flash
    • Press TWICE to change it to STANDALONE mode – confirmed by 2 x flashes every second or so
    • Press and HOLD to turn off

    The user is assisted throughout with some useful colour coded flashing. eg. white flashes indicate that no heart rate is detected, green signifies HR detected.

    On power up the Polar OH1 flashes 5 times. If the 5 x flashes are GREEN, then the battery level is GOOD. If it’s 5 x RED flashes the OH1 needs immediate charging. A full list of LED signals and their intended meanings can be found here on the Polar OH1 support page

    A convenient “aide memoire” is printed on the inside of the OH1’s bracket to remind the user of the key button presses.

    Standalone Mode

    This is for those who just want to train without any live feedback from their phone or watch. Just press the OH1’s button TWICE to enter the ‘standalone” training mode. Up to 200 hours of training data in, I think, as many as 99 files, can be stored internally.

    At the end of the session simply turn the OH1 off. When you wish to upload the training data to Polar Flow website turn the OH1 on and start the Polar Flow app on your smartphone (or connect it via USB to your PC or Mac and go to the Polar Flow website).

    All your training data is uploaded to Polar Flow where it can be categorized and reviewed

    During testing I found I was wearing the OH1 even when taking the dogs for a quick walk during lunch break … as shown below

    Polar OH1 in standalone mode - data upload to Polar Flow

    Broadcast Mode

    I can now ride my bike and broadcast Heart Rate data to my Polar M460 without the need for a chest strap. Brilliant. The Polar OH1 transmits accurate heart rate data to any compatible Bluetooth device. CardioCritic have tested the OH1 to the following hardware – this list is only what we’ve tested. The compatible products list is HUGE !

    Phones & Tablets

    • iPhone 6
    • iPhone 7
    • Huawei P9
    • Samsung Galaxy S7
    • iPad Mini (V2)
    • Basically – a majority of iOs and Android devices with suitable app installed (eg Polar Beat)

    Watches and Other Devices

    • Polar M450
    • Polar M460
    • Polar V800
    • Suunto Spartan Sport
    • Suunto Spartan Wrist HR

    OH1 or Polar H10 / H7

    There will be some people who may be a little bit confused now.

    They know they want to add heart rate monitoring to their phone’s fitness app but they can’t decide between Polar H10 chest strap sensor (or even the older H7) or this Polar OH1.

    Polar themselves recognize this as a bit of a conundrum and as such have answered the question here. In short, unless you are a professional athlete performing a high volume of intense interval training the Polar OH1 is the cheaper and more convenient choice.

    The Polar H10 is reserved for Elite athletes and those who swim (as it can store a single HR session on it’s internal memory). The Polar OH1 may work in the pool, but it is NOT guaranteed to. The Polar H10 is.

    Review Summary

    The Polar OH1 is an innovative product from the world’s longest established experts of heart rate monitoring. It has all the unique selling points required to make it a best seller.

    It’s easy to use, discrete, comfortable, compatible with dozens of third party products including iOs and Android devices.

    We had just one hiccup while testing it and that was just a minor heart rate spike missed during a hill sprint. In defense of the OH1 the rider was moving around considerably and the road is anything but smooth.

    The Polar OH1 has been adopted by CardioCritic as the GOLD STANDARD of optical heart rate monitors. The Polar OH1 will be used to judge the performance of all other optical heart rate monitors for future testing.

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