They are both excellent GPS running watches, they were both released in Q2 2019, and they are both designed to satisfy the exact same target market, namely – runners thinking about buying their first GPS watch.
But which one is better? Which has more sports mode, and which one should you buy? In this post, we will do our best to help answer these exact questions.
Let’s get started.
Polar Ignite vs Garmin Forerunner 45 - Key Similarities
Polar IgniteSEE PRICE
Garmin FR45SEE PRICE
Polar Ignite vs Garmin Forerunner 45 - Key Differences
Polar Ignite vs Garmin FR45 - Sports Modes
|Polar Ignite||Garmin FR45|
|Outdoor Running||Outdoor Running|
|Treadmill Running||Treadmill Running|
|Track & Field Running||Indoor Track Running (added through App)|
|Indoor Cycling||Indoor Cycling (added through App)|
|Mountain Biking||Cardio Mode|
|Trail Running||Elliptical Mode|
|Step Workout||Stair Stepping|
|Yoga||Yoga (added through App)|
|Multiple Cardio Modes|
|View all 100+ Sports Profiles|
Key Features Unique to Polar Ignite
Pool Swimming - Polar Ignite Only
This is a key difference between the Polar Ignite and the Garmin Foreunner 45.
While the FR45 might be waterproof, it doesn’t measure any pool related metrics. This stands in start contrast to the Polar Ignite, which gives you access to:
- Heart Rate
- Swimming Stroke
- Rest Times
Over 90 Additional Sports Modes - Polar Ignite Only
FitSpark - Polar Ignite Only
The Polar Ignite is the first watch in Polar’s range to introduce FitSpark technology.
The goal of this tech is actually fairly simple. The watch uses your nightly recharge score (assessment of sleep quantity and quality) as a basis for recommending what type of workout you should do.
But rather than forcing you to stick to a particular workout suggestion, it gives you 2-4 options to choose from. This makes it possible for you to still maintain a degree of freedom over how you train, while taking in the workout recommendations from the watch.
All in all, it’s a pretty nifty feature, and a slightly different take on Garmin’s body battery score.
Key Features Unique to Garmin Forerunner 45
Body Battery Score
While Polar might have introduced FitSpark with the Ignite, there’s no question that they’ve taken a lot of inspiration from Garmin’s body battery score.
This is essentially a holistic energy metric which combines your heart rate data, stress levels, sleep quality and recovery status into your ‘Body Battery Score’. It’s an interesting feature that can help you keep tabs on your energy levels, and adjust your training intensity based on the feedback from your watch.
Even though some Garmin users have questioned the accuracy of the body battery metric, it’s a pretty cool concept that can help you avoid over-training when your body is clearly in need of rest. It can also inspire you to improve your sleeping habits and lower your resting heart rate (through regular cardiovascular exercise), if you get hellbent on improving your body battery score.
Safety Tracking (Incident Detection)
The inclusion of incident detection in the Forerunner 45 is another nice addition from Garmin. The basic idea here is that your watch can communicate with your phone, and alert key family members if an alarming event occurs.
In other words, if you suddenly stop moving for an extended period of time (as someone might do in an emergency), your watch can detect this abnormality and automatically notify your emergency contacts.
Obviously this is the type of feature that you really don’t want to use very often, but it’s reassuring to know that your watch could help you through a safety crisis if anything untoward happens when you’re training or racing.
This is a major strength for the Garmin Forerunner 45, and a major weakness for the Polar Ignite.
The main thing to be aware of is that ANT+ support is essential for a lot of 3rd party accessories like chest straps and cycling computers. Sadly, no Polar watches offer ANT+ support at this point in time, so it’s no surprise to see that it’s missing from the Polar Ignite.
Galileo Satellite Tracking
This is probably the least meaningful difference between the two watches, mainly because they are both equipped with GPS and GLONASS satellite tracking.
However, if you are a fan of Galileo satellite tracking, it should comfort you to know that this technology is packed into the FR45.
So which one should you buy?
- If you train in the pool regularly – Polar Ignite
- If want the more well rounded sports watch – Polar Ignite
- If you want the more reliable wrist-based heart rate monitor – Polar Ignite
- If you are intrigued by Garmin’s body battery score – Garmin FR45
- If you need ANT+ support for your cycling and running accesories – Garmin FR45
- If you like Garmin more than Polar – Go for the FR45. It’s still an excellent choice, and it’s about 30 bucks cheaper.
Garmin have done a great job with the Forerunner 45. It’s by far the best entry level running watch they have ever released.
But the Polar Ignite is the more well rounded sports watch. It tracks running, cycling and pool swimming, together with over 100 additional sports profiles (accessed through Polar Flow).
In addition, it has the more accomplished wrist-based heart rate monitor, which adds another layer of distinction to Polar’s unit.
Long story short, they are both extremely good GPS watches that will deliver great value for money for most runners. But on paper, the extended feature set of the Polar Ignite makes it the winner of this product battle.