While they are both excellent GPS sports watches, there are some key differences between the two units. These are the most important differences:
- The Polar Ignite is cheaper than the Vantage M
- The Polar Ignite is designed primarily for runners and gym goers
- The Polar Vantage M is designed primarily for triathletes
This is why the Vantage M is more expensive than the Ignite. It has the ability to measure open water swimming, and it also boasts a multisport mode, where you can easily switch between each triathlon discipline.
Despite this obvious advantage of the Vantage M, my feeling is that the Polar Ignite is still perfectly suited to the needs of most runners, fitness enthusiasts and general sports people.
It’s really just triathletes that don’t really have a choice in this matter (they basically have to choose the Vantage M, or its more expensive counterpart, the Vantage V).
Now let’s take a deep dive into all the key similarities and all the key differences between these two watches.
Polar Ignite vs Polar Vantage M - Key Similarities
Now you might be wondering why sleep plus stages, nightly recharge and serene breathing are listed as ‘After October’ for the Polar Vantage M.
This explanation from Polar should suffice:
Polar Ignite vs Polar Vantage M - Key Differences
New Features - Available In Both
Please note – The 3 features listed below will only be available in the Vantage M after the firmware update in October 2019.
Sleep Plus Stages
Polar’s Sleep Plus Stages function is being debuted in the Polar Ignite, but it will be added to the Vantage M in time.
The technology is pretty similar to what you will find in a Garmin or Fitbit watch. Basically, Sleep Plus stages automatically tracks the following:
- Your total amount of sleep
- The quality of your sleep
- How long you spent in each sleep stage
Overall it’s comfortably the best sleep tracking technology that Polar has ever produced.
Nightly Recharge is another new feature for Polar, and it builds on their improved sleep tracking technology.
The goal of this feature is to assess whether or not you have recovered from training and other energy demands on your day (like being in a permanent states of stress, which usually leads to an increased resting heart rate).
Polar use 28 days of data to assess your nightly recharge score, so it’s safe to say that there are some solid calculations going on in the background. Ultimately, Nightly Recharge is a great compliment to Sleep Plus Stages, and it can help you assess when you need more rest, with a reasonable degree of credibility.
As someone who engages in mini meditation sessions almost every day (it’s one of my mini habits), I find this feature particularly exciting.
One of the biggest challenges when practicing mindful breathing is that you have to manually count each breath in, and each breath out. With the Serene Breathing Feature, the Polar Ignite essentially counts each breath for you, so all you have to do is concentrate on inhaling and exhaling.
Some people might brush over this feature completely, but I think it’s pretty cool. Guided breathing and regular meditation can genuinely help reduce your stress levels. The benefits of reduced stress are pretty obvious, so it’s nice to know that if you use this feature regularly, you can unlock some of these benefits over time.
Key Features Unique to Polar Ignite
FitSpark is the only feature that’s truly unique to the Polar Ignite.
The goal of FitSpark is to use sleep data, resting heart rate measurements and recovery data to build personalized workouts for you to follow.
Instead of forcing you into a particular routine, FitSpark offers you multiple workout options to choose from. This helps the recommendations of the watch match up with your moods and desires on any given training day. Kudos to Polar for actually factoring user desires into this feature.
Then there’s the challenging nature of the actual workouts. With certain brands, the recommended workout plans can be a bit soft, and are only really useful for beginners.That’s not the case with FitSpark.
Despite the pleasant sounding name, these workouts can push you into full Spartan mode. For all intents and purposes, this is a good thing. It adds a much needed measure of longevity for reasonably fit people who train regularly (rather than being limited to absolute beginners).
Key Features Unique to Polar Vantage M
Open Water Swimming
Open Water swimming is essential for any fully functional triathlon watch, so it’s obviously one of the core features of the Polar Vantage M.
On this point, it’s worth clarifying the swimming modes for both watches:
The thing is, most people will be perfectly fine with pool swimming only. For people that run a lot and do a bit of pool training at the gym, the Polar Ignite should be more than adequate for their training needs.
We’ve mentioned this a few times, but it’s still worth repeating. The Polar Vantage M includes a triathlon mode, where you can easily switch between swimming, cycling and running.
Perhaps more importantly, the Polar Vantage M is arguably the best budget friendly triathlon watch in the world right now. It might not have the bells and whistles of the Garmin Forerunner 945, and it might not be quite as accomplished as the Polar Vantage V, but it delivers in terms of value for money and overall performance.
Running Power Meter Support
So which one should you buy?
Polar have done an exceptional job with the Polar Ignite. It will meet the needs of almost all runners, it’s literally ideal for fitness enthusiasts, and the inclusion of pool swimming rounds off the overall package quite nicely.
However, the Polar Vantage M is still the better watch overall, because of its triathlon capabilities and the option to support running power meters, and the enhanced battery life.
All that being said, in my opinion, it all comes down to this.
- If you do triathlons – Polar Vantage M
- If you don’t do triathlons – Polar Ignite
- If you enjoy running and training at the gym – Polar Ignite
- If you want to add running power metrics to your workouts using Stryd or RunScribe – Polar Vantage M
So in my view, most people will actually be perfectly served by the Ignite. It’s affordable, it’s packed with features, it caters to the needs of most runners and gym goers and it looks good. Well played Polar.