Polar's best watch ever just got three new features for free, making it a potential Garmin-beater

Polar Vantage V3
(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

Fitness tracker brand Polar has brought a new firmware update to its best running watch, the Polar Vantage V3. It’s available to install now, and you can update your watch by using the Flow mobile app or via computer using FlowSync. 

In the midst of the rollout of Polar’s latest running watch, the Grit X2 Pro, the Polar Vantage V3 will receive some of the X2 Pro's features thanks to a new firmware update (version 2.0.19). While it’s already a solid choice for a fitness tracker, having received almost full marks in our review last year, the firmware update will boost the V3’s capabilities with the addition of three new training metrics for a number of outdoor sports. 

The first is Vertical Speed, a feature that will calculate your meters/feet ascended or descended per minute. VAM is the second advanced metric, which measures your average ascent speed per hour in vertical meters. The third training feature is 3D Speed, a feature that takes data from both vertical and horizontal movement to measure your speed more accurately. 

Checking out GPS on Vantage V3

(Image credit: Polar)

In addition to the three advanced tracking features, the firmware update will enhance the Polar Vantage V3’s navigation, optical heart rate (OHR) accuracy, and third-party app compatibility. This includes the addition of the Breadcrumb Trails step retrace feature, syncing your Komoot and Strava routes with Polar Flow, and refreshing the OHR algorithm. 

While the Polar Grit X2 Pro smartwatch has only just started its shipping process after a delay, this latest firmware update brings a broad variety of the Grit X2 Pro's advanced tracking features to the already-excellent Polar Vantage V3. This offers existing Polar users the chance to test out the Grit X Pro’s new tools without having to purchase an entirely new model.

However, it’s convenient that Polar dropped its new firmware at the same time it started the shipping process for the Grit X2 Pro, which poses the question of whether this was an intentional move.

Analysis: coincidence, or strategy? 

Just last week, Polar put out a statement announcing that it was postponing the shipping for Grit X2 Pro pre-orders until this week (April 8-12). Polar claimed that this was due to the firmware being in the final stages of development, which plays smoothly into the theories behind the shipping delay. 

It’s possible the underdeveloped firmware may have genuinely been what caused the shipping delay, but by pausing the shipping process, it gave Polar extra time to not only polish up its new advanced firmware but also rethink its outroll strategy. 

Polar had planned this rollout for a while according to a Notebookcheck report, but since the Polar Vantage V3 is still relatively new, there’s a chance that buyers would have reverted to purchasing the already excellent V3 over the new Grit X2 Pro, if the firmware had been released before the new model. 

The Grit X2 Pro is pitched squarely against premium offerings such as the Garmin Epix Pro, so for the Vantage 3 to get some of its features brings that watch up several notches. It might even be more impressive than a Garmin Forerunner, depending on the price you can pick it up for. 

This might have changed your mind about purchasing the more expensive Grit X2 Pro, but stay tuned for our full review to find out if it really beats the Vantage V3 at its own game. 

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Rowan is an Editorial Associate and Apprentice Writer for TechRadar. A recent addition to the news team, he is involved in generating stories for topics that spread across TechRadar's categories. His interests in audio tech and knowledge in entertainment culture help bring the latest updates in tech news to our readers.