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  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4.5 stars
£140 to £190
  • 80%

  • Polar RC3
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: 12th March 2018
  • Heart Rate Monitor functions
    Editor: 90%
  • Heart Rate Accuracy
    Editor: 100%
  • Running functions
    Editor: 85%
  • Cycling functions
    Editor: 80%
  • Fitness monitoring features
    Editor: 80%
  • Ease of Use
    Editor: 100%
  • Battery Life
    Editor: 90%

NOTE :  There is a new Polar alternative to the RC3 and that is the Polar M400. Please also consider the M400 if you want the latest Polar GPS watch suitable for use running, cycling, gym work and any other outdoor training. (updated 14th April 2015). Please CLICK HERE for more details about the M400. The main difference between the RC3 and the M400 is the Bluetooth™ connectivity of the M400 allowing seamless, wireless data transfer to iOs, iPhones and Android devices. The Polar RC3 has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins

The RC3 is Polar’s first integrated GPS and heart rate monitor (HRM) sports watch. It is not quite as technical as the Polar RCX5 being more similar to the RCX3, but with a convenient internal GPS sensor. The Polar RC3 is packed full of features that enable you to get more from your training. These include Sports Zones (5 x autoset heart rate zones based on age set or manually entered max heart rate)

The Sports Zones help you train at the right intensity and Training Benefit that gives you instant feedback after every session, so you can monitor your progress each and every time. If you want to save on GPS battery, then you can pair the RC3 with the WIND bike speed and pedal cadence sensors to give accurate speed, distance and pedal RPM data.

Polar RC3 review and test

Release Date (UK) > April 2012

Product it replaced > None. This was a new product line

Suggested Retail Price (when new) > £199 / £249 with HRM

Replaced by > Polar M400 (2015), Polar M200 (2017) and Polar M430 (May 2017)

Who’s it for?

The Polar RC3 is NOT a highly technical watch like the Polar V800. It does not have interval timers nor does it have data field customisation. So, if you are a very technical athlete, please consider the V800. What it is a competent training aid for anyone who cycles, runs or similar outdoor aerobic exercise 3 or 4 times per week – someone who wants to know how far, how fast and at what intensity, and importantly, providing what training benefit.

This is a great training watch to keep an eye on their training intensity, making sure you are not overtraining. At the same time as giving objective feedback about each session, it will give you the hard facts, how far, how fast and how hard. In summary it is suitable for MOST recreational / moderately competitive athletes who want an all in one GPS speed and distance heart rate monitor

Polar started selling heart rate monitors in 1976. CardioCritic have tested & reviewed most of the Polar heart rate monitors & fitness trackers released since 1996

Get the best PRICE

The RC3 is a great GPS sports watch suitable for a vast majority of customers. The only people who might want to consider something different are those looking for TRUE MULTISPORT functionality (ability to change sport on the fly, in the same recording file). Other than that, it’s a very good option. Please check the very best prices by clicking the buttons below to our International shopping partners (UK, USA, Japan, Australia & Europe)

Amazon sell this product

Note > the RC3 was replaced by the Polar M400 (2015) and again by the Polar M200 (2017) or the more technical Polar M430 (May 2017)

>> Back to Top of Review

Running with the RC3:

During this review of the Polar RC3 we had to take it outside and put it through it’s paces. This way we get to learn about the watch as a genuine user. We always give ourselves two or three sessions during a test before we come to any conclusions. Our inability to operate a watch is not necessarily a negative. The RC3 is however, one of the easiest GPS running watches that we have had the pleasure to test and review. When running with the Polar RC3 you can toggle between 7 data screens. It can be configured to give either 2 or 3 lines of data per screen, depending on your preference (and eyesight).

When in RUNNING MODE it displays speed as PACE, i.e. minutes per mile or min/km as required. The 7 data lines displayed cannot be changed, but between the 7 screens, there is pretty much everything we wanted to see at hand in a convenient format (we would like to see average lap pace, when autolapping during a race for example). These data fields include all the essential fields like : lap time, lap distance, total time – total distance, live heart rate (displayed either as BPM or %MAX), HR zones, and running pace (or bike speed)

It also has an autolap feature which will automatically store the lap data every “x” miles. I normally set this to 1 mile when running and 3 miles while biking. After the session you can review your auto saved mile times with associated heart rate data. At the end of the run session, you can check your Running Index. Running Index score is calculated automatically after every run, based on your heart rate and from the speed data collected from your GPS or stride sensor. A higher reading indicates that you can run faster with less effort

RC3 and Cycling:

You select between RUN, CYCLE or OTHER each time you train. When running it will display RUN specific data, similarly, when CYCLING it will provide bike specific data like SPEED in MPH instead of minutes per mile.  It provides bike speed from either the integrated GPS within the unit or a wireless WIND bike speed sensor. If you want pedal cadence, then there is also an option to add a Polar WIND cadence sensor to the crank (magnet) and chainstay / seat tube  For people with more than one bike it can store setting for 2 bikes (wheel size, cadence on/off etc).

Other Sport

The RC3 is designed for all aerobic exercisers, not just running and cycling. In the “other sports” mode you still get the essential data views like, heart rate, calories, speed and distance (if enabled), training time etc. In the “other sports” mode it will NOT pair for a bike speed sensor, nor a cadence sensor or a stride sensor – it will only pair with the heart rate belt and the G5 GPS unit. We found this “other sports” mode was useful for sports like swimming, gym training, walking etc.


The Polar RC3 is IPX7 water resistant. This means it cannot be used for swimming. It is fine to get SPLASHED while running, biking etc, but it should NOT be swam in.

Training Benefit

The RC3 GPS multisport watch provides motivating feedback that’s delivered straight to you immediately after exercise is something we can all benefit from. If you want to know the trianing effect of different training sessions, this feature will tell you exactly what you need to know. You get a quick overview after each session, and for more detailed feedback, you can either check your training file or you can get further in-depth analysis at

Fitness Test

For anyone who is looking to improve their fitness and wants to keep up to date with how well you’re doing, the Smart Fitness Test will tell you exactly what you need to know in just five minutes. By regularly comparing your test results, you can see what progress you are making and how your fitness is improving.

Training Load:

The Training Load helps you to find the perfect balance between rest and training. Find out your training load status at It shows you at a glance your cumulative training load for every day, advising if and when rest days are needed and when it’s best to train harder in order to maintain your performance improvement.

Zone Optimiser

The Polar Zone Optimiser feature ensures that you always train at the right intensity. Knowing how hard to train can be a challenge. By using ZoneOptimizer, you can get the exact training effect you’re looking for as the feature adjusts your five heart rate training zones to perfectly match your body’s current physiological condition

Own Calories

This is the most accurate calorie counter on the market. It calculates the number of calories expended during a training session based on your weight, height, age, gender, your individual maximum heart rate (HRmax) and how hard you’re training.

Polar RC3 demonstration video:

 Technical Features

Body Measurement Features

  • Average and maximum heart rate of each lap
  • Average, minimum and maximum heart rate of training
  • Heart rate – bpm / %
  • HRmax (age-based)
  • HRmax (user set)
  • Polar Fitness Test
  • Polar OwnCal® – calorie expenditure with fat percentage
  • Polar OwnCode® (2.4 GHz W.I.N.D.) – coded transmission
  • Polar sport zones
  • Polar ZoneOptimizer – personalized sport zones
  • Polar Training Benefit

Data Transfer

  • Compatible with Mac (Intel-based) via USB cable
  • Compatible with PC via USB cable
  • Compatible with via USB cable

Recording Features

  • Totals
  • Training files (with summaries) – 99
  • Weekly history

Training Features

  • Automatic lap recording
  • Graphical target zone indicator
  • Number of laps – 99
  • Sport Profiles (5 fixed sport profiles)
  • ZoneLock
  • ZonePointer

Watch Features

  • Time of day (12/24h) with alarm and snooze
  • Date and weekday indicator
  • Backlight
  • Dual time zone
  • Water resistant – IPX7
  • KeyLock
  • Low battery indicator
  • Rechargeable battery
  • StopWatch
  • Display text in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish

 What’s In The box ??

  • Polar RC3 GPS watch (black)
  • Charging and data transfer cable
  • “Getting Started Guide”
  • OPTIONAL HRM strap
  • OPTIONAL Bike Speed and Cadence sensors is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to,,,,, or Likewise, we are members of other private affiliate programs and may earn comissions on purchases done by referrals at no additional cost for the buyer.