Polar’s new smartwatches are designed to help runners accelerate themselves

The pandemic sparked a running boom, with a study found that about 28 percent of current runners started during the quarantine. To cater to this new audience, Polar announced today that it is launching two new GPS watches designed to help runners get better at the sport. The $199.90 Pacer is aimed at beginners, while the $299.90 Pacer Pro is designed to help serious runners improve their game.

Polar says both smartwatches will come with faster processors than their 5MB RAM predecessors. It’s an upgrade meant to improve performance and provide a better user experience. This was badly needed with Polar watches, which sometimes lag during syncing and occasionally struggle with menu transitions. Both watches also feature Polar’s Precision Prime heart rate monitoring technology.

In terms of design and features, the watches have a lot of overlap. Pacer and Pacer Pro share the same minimalist design, physical buttons, and memory-in-pixel color displays for better outdoor visibility. Battery life is the same too, with an estimated seven days on a single charge and up to 35 hours of GPS training with heart rate monitoring. Finally, both watches support push notifications, weather, music controls, and third-party integrations with running apps.


The polar pacemaker. It looks like the Pacer Pro, but it’s not.
Image: Polar

The main design differences between the two are weight, straps, and color scheme. The Pacer is slightly lighter at 40g while the Pro is 41g. Both watches take 20mm straps, but the Pacer requires those with quick-release spring bars. The Pro is the only one that has an adapter that makes it possible any 20mm standard tape. As for colors, the Pacer comes in white, black, teal, and purple. The Pro is available in grey, white, blue, maroon and green.

Despite the similarities between the watches, Polar says they are aimed at runners of different abilities. The Pacer was specially developed for beginners. For example, a new walk test will be introduced that can assess aerobic fitness after a 15-minute walk on a flat surface. While you can also take the walk test on the Pro, the company says the test was designed for beginners who may not be able to complete Polar’s more strenuous Running Performance Test.


The Pro’s tools are more geared towards experienced runners.
Image: Polar

The Pro, on the other hand, is for professionals. In addition to turn-by-turn navigation, it adds a barometer to measure a runner’s “power readings” in watts on the wrist. In simpler terms, the idea is to monitor how much effort a runner is putting in during a run so they can run at the right intensity. How it performs in practice remains to be seen, but it sounds similar to Garmin’s endurance meter.

Otherwise, both watches make use of Polar’s longstanding running and recovery tools, like heart rate training on guided runs, training load, sleep tracking, and running index score (Polar’s metric for measuring progress over time).

The Polar Pacer Pro is available today for $299.90 on the Polar website and in retail stores. The $199.90 Pacer is available for pre-order on Polar’s website and is expected to ship in May. Polar’s new smartwatches are designed to help runners accelerate themselves

Fry Electronics Team

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