Polar has revealed its first new GPS running watches of 2022: the entry-level Polar Pacer, and the mid-range Polar Pacer Pro. Both watches are slimmer and lighter than devices like last year's Polar Vantage V2, with some new features and design tweaks to help improve your training.
The Polar Pacer is designed for people who are new to running and want to get their training off on the right foot, putting it in competition with watches like the Garmin Forerunner 55 and Coros Pace 2. One of its most interesting new features is a walking fitness test that provides an estimate of VO2 max (the amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise) if you aren't yet ready to run for an extended period at a stretch. Just walk for 15 minutes on a flat surface and the watch will do the rest.
The watch also provides workout suggestions and training guidance to help new runners avoid getting stuck in a rut, or overtraining and putting themselves at risk of injury (a common problem when people are starting out).
The Polar Pacer Pro is intended for runners who want to take their training to the next level, and perhaps start competing in events. It features a new, faster CPU that should make the interface feel noticeably smoother, plus a barometer that allows it to measure power from the wrist so you can track your effort in real time.
It has a more compact case than most of Polar's recent watches, with a thin aluminum bezel and ergonomically designed buttons that should be easy to press and weather resistant, even if you're training in heavy rain.
Polar has also redesigned the Pacer Pro's GPS antenna in a way that it promises will deliver more accurate satellite positioning than earlier running watches. We don't yet know exactly what the change looks like internally, but it's possible that the antenna is now housed within one of the lugs securing the strap, as with the recently released Huawei GT Runner.
Brightness and battery
Both watches sport backlit memory-in-pixel (MIP) screens, which Polar claims will be clearly visible in all lighting conditions, including direct sunlight. MIP displays use significantly less power than OLED, but can sometimes be hard to read with muddy colors. That was one of our main complaints with the otherwise excellent Garmin Fenix 7, so we're very interested to see how the Pacer and Pacer Pro compare.
Both watches promise battery life of up to 100 hours on standby mode, which is relatively short for a running watch, most of which run for a full week on a single charge. However, it lasts 35 hours with GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring enabled, which is very respectable.
The comparatively short battery life in standby mode might be due to the backlight, which is probably set to 'always on' to improve visibility. We're hoping to test both watches and bring you a full comparison of the two very soon.
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Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)