It’s gained mass-market attention in recent years, but GPS sports watch maker Polar still takes a back seat to the market leader Garmin. That’s despite earning recognition for wearables that provide detailed, accurate readings, and usually delivering on the design front. The latest is the Polar Ignite 3 Titanium, a slight update on the original Ignite 3.
This fitness-focused watch promises many of the same features found in the flagship Vantage V, which has garnered rave reviews from serious athletes, only at a much lower price, and in a slimmer chassis. Does it live up to its pricier sibling?
Design & Build: Snappy happy
The Polar Ignite 3 Titanium has a sleek and slim design, just like its two predecessors. It measures just 9.5mm thick, with a 1.28in circular watch face encased in durable curved Gorilla Glass. We reckon there’s a real Google Pixel Watch vibe about it. The big upgrade is the titanium bezel, which you’d think would shave off weight compared to its stainless steel counterpart; instead, it weighs a somewhat baffling 1g heavier, at 36g. We’re assuming the introduction of this new metal at least makes the watch more durable, though.
Even before you splash out on the leather strap edition pictured here, the Ignite 3 Titanium is a fair bit pricier than the standard (stainless steel) edition – yet it doesn’t look or feel all that different. We’d event say it generally fees a little cheap, lacking the premium edge you’d find from a more affordable Apple Watch SE. Its light weight doesn’t help here, either.
We found the leather edition’s strap comfortable to wear, but perhaps not ideal for scenarios where you’re getting super sweaty. That’s what the silicone strap is there for. We’d say it’s worth the extra expense for the versatility having two straps offers. You can switch out the leather option for the silicone when you’re going to the gym, and slap the leather one back on when you’re off out for dinner, for example. The watch itself is waterproof down to 30m, but if you’re planning to take a dip we’d definitely suggest using the silicone strap.
The watch features a single button on the left side to navigate menus or control workouts. These all work well, with snappy navigation between menus – a welcome improvement over some of Polar’s older touchscreen smartwatches, which would be somewhat laggy at times. While some users might prefer to control the Ignite 3 Titanium via its nifty touch interface, this could prove a frustrating trait for those who want to use the watch to track more – let’s say – “extreme” endeavours. More on performance later.
Like the Ignite 3 that came before it, the Ignite 3 Titanium is the brand’s first smartwatch to feature a Hi-Res AMOLED touchscreen, offering a sharper, crisper, and more vibrant range of colours. It certainly looked the part in our testing.
Features: Double-edged smarts
The Ignite 3 Titanium’s main focus is on heart rate, activity and sleep, in order to help users achieve a balanced lifestyle aligned with their circadian rhythm. Nightly Recharge and Sleep Plus Stages monitor sleep quality, while a SleepWise feature forecasts alertness levels and optimal sleep times. These features seem to work well and provided some very interesting insights.
This data is accessed through the connected Polar Flow app, but only after you’ve manually synchronised the device to your phone, first, which feels a little tedious. The app itself just isn’t so well designed and certainly takes some getting used to.
On the plus side, the watch has the ability to track over 150 pre-defined sports profiles, including your standard running, cycling and swimming. The latter option is pretty smart, in that it automatically detects your swim style, distance and strokes. Each trackable fitness type offers a real-time and post-workout stats roundup, helping you to better monitor progress and performance.
Disappointingly, the watch lacks the smarts you’d expect from a lifestyle smartwatch, such as downloadable music and track playback, contactless payments, call answering, or text replies. And while it appears promising on first use, the Ignite 3 Titanium felt less nippy and more frustrating the longer we wore it.
Performance: fit for purpose?
Despite Polar’s claim of twice the processing speed of its predecessor, the Ignite 2, the reality is the Ignite 3 Titanium’s modest CPU and restrictive amount of memory don’t really cut the mustard, even on the firm’s pared-back interface.
While scrolling through activity tiles is generally smooth, swiping for notifications during fitness tracking can make it struggle. The same can be said for the ‘raise to wake’ function, which – more often than not – failed to work and resorted to us using the side button to wake the screen instead. Not ideal.
On a more positive note, the Ignite 3 Titanium impressively tracked heart rate, sleep, step count, and workouts accurately. The multi-band GPS also proved reliable in providing precise tracking of pace, distance, and location during runs and cycles.
Battery life was impressive enough, supplying up to 120 hours in Basic Mode with continuous heart rate tracking and notifications. When using GPS extensively, it was necessary to charge every 3 days or so. Charging the watch is quick enough, though, using the proprietary USB-A cable.
Polar Ignite 3 Titanium verdict
The Polar Ignite 3 Titanium stands out as the brand’s most attractive watch to date, thanks to a slim and sleek design, and super colourful AMOLED screen. It delivers reliable data, even if the app isn’t all that straightforward, and battery life is decent too.
A lack of lifestyle features mean this is primarily a fitness and wellbeing tracker than a full-fledged smartwatch, and even then the sluggish touchscreen makes it cumbersome to use on the move. Those looking to dip a toe into fitness may get all the data they need from a generic smartwatch, while dedicated athletes will probably look towards the higher-tier Vantage V – or check out the Garmin alternatives instead.
A stylish smartwatch with a colourful AMOLED display and decent battery life, but one let down by a lack of lifestyle features, a somewhat sluggish interface and unintuitive app.
Sleek, attractive design
Vibrant AMOLED touchscreen
Different strap options offer versatility
Detailed tracking insights on app
New titanium bezel doesn’t really add much
Doesn’t always respond quickly to demands
Lacks lifestyle features like music and NFC payments
App design unintuitive
Polar Ignite 3 Titanium technical specifications
|1.28in, 416×416 AMOLED
|WR30 water resistant