Polar Versus Fitbit Smartwatches For Running

If you’re ready to upgrade to a standalone fitness-oriented smartwatch, you have plenty of options. There’s always Apple Watch: it’s more of an all-around smartwatch with a decent set of fitness features, and it’s enough for some people.
But serious athletes and those looking for more granular tracking want something more than a general-purpose Apple or Google-powered smartwatch can offer. So other brands have filled this need with fitness-oriented smartwatches.
Two significant competitors in the fitness tracking smartwatch space are Polar and Fitbit. If you’re trying to decide which way to go for your next fitness smartwatch, this guide will help you know which way to go.

Fitbit: Geared for the Widest Range of Audiences

First up is Fitbit. This company hit the fitness tracking scene early and has continued to hold its own with new features and new product innovations. Its push into the fitness smartwatch category has been an interesting one, with several models that look surprisingly not like a fitness watch.
In general, Fitbit devices are geared for general fitness use more than any specific or deep niche applications. Many units don’t include GPS, making them limited in their usefulness for distance activities like running or mountain biking.
Fitbit devices are great for tracking your activity levels and reminding you to stay active. And newer devices like the Versa 3 or the Fitbit Charge will even look pretty nice in the process. In the best way possible, the Versa 3 looks a bit like an off-brand Apple Watch — but at a lower price and with some better fitness and lifestyle features.
If there’s a spectrum, with general purpose smartwatches on one end and extremely serious sport smartwatches on the other, most Fitbit devices fall somewhere in the middle.

Polar: GPS Running Watches for More Avid Runners

Sticking with the idea of a spectrum, most Polar watches are pushing hard in the other direction, into serious sport territory. These are big, round watches with large informative display faces. The size makes them perfect for tracking your location through the most complex of runs or mountain biking trails.
Even the budget-oriented Polar Unite features wrist-based heart-rate and sleep tracking, GPS features, smartphone notifications, and VO2Max sensors.
More midrange models like the Polar Vantage M add in waterproofing, so they work as swimming watches as well. There’s also tracking for training load, altitude, ascent and descent.
One downside to most Polar watches is their size. These sport smartwatches are built to give you the most information you can get on your wrist, and they’re built to take a beating, too. The result? They’re rather large.
If you have a smaller wrist — or even if you just don’t want to look like you’re wearing a giant sports watch all the time — then the Polar lineup isn’t going to work as an everyday watch.

Polar Versus Fitbit Pricing

Pricing is another consideration. Top Fitbit smartwatch models range from about $150 to $250, with the Apple Watch-esque Versa 3 landing at around $229.
Polar watches can cost significantly more. Their budget-oriented Polar Unite sells for $149, while the Vantage M sits at around $279. The Polar Vantage V2, though, costs a cool $499 to $549.
Since you can get a fairly basic fitness smartwatch from either maker for around $150, the feature set and aesthetics will still be primary drivers for most people.

Which Brand Is Right for You?

So, which brand is right for you? If you want a fitness smartwatch that doesn’t jump out at you or take up half your forearm, then Fitbit is the way to go. To a degree, it prioritizes aesthetics and size over power and features — though it still has plenty of great capabilities.
If you’re not running on and off trails or forging new paths, you might not need GPS capability, either. You could save even more by choosing a GPS-free model.
On the other hand, if you want a better, more comprehensive running watch, Polar is the right choice for you. Polar watches are larger, sturdier, and more fully featured — even if they sacrifice some aesthetics and a few niceties along the way.
If you need significant advanced features like performance testing, altitude gain/fall tracking, and even on-device fitness routines, you’ll definitely want to opt for the higher-end Polar watches.

Protect Your Fitness Smartwatch with Upsie

Your fitness smartwatch — regardless of whether you choose Polar or Fitbit — is designed for use in all conditions. But every device has its limits. You don’t want to get stuck buying a brand-new smartwatch if something goes wrong with your current one. Further, the more you spend, the more important it is to have this kind of protection in place.
Upsie offers affordable, powerful extended warranty protection for smartwatches. You can protect your smartwatch against defects and damage, so you won’t have to worry if something does go wrong.
Ready for the peace of mind that an Upsie warranty can bring? Get your Upsie warranty now.

Learn More About Polar and Fitbit:

Return to all posts

* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.