Polar vs. Suunto GPS & Sports Watches – Which is Better?

Last Updated: May 29, 2022

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When it comes down to investing your hard-earned money, you want to make sure that you are doing it in the right places. This is especially true when you are purchasing accessories that will help you find your way to a happier and healthier life. 

Of course, one of the accessories that many people rely on is a GPS sports watch. These devices allow you to track your progress and help you plan out your routines to ensure you are reaching your health goals.

There are many options to choose from when it comes to brands, so it can be pretty overwhelming. We’re sure you came across Polar and Suunto’s names while doing your research. But which brand is the right one for you?

Below we will take an in-depth analysis of both options in hopes that it can provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.

Polar: An In-Depth Look

Polar started back in the 70s, looking to create innovations in technology especially surrounding fitness. They continued doing this for several decades; for that reason, their watches are considered some of the best. These athletic watches are designed to help elevate performance so that you can have a healthier lifestyle.

Check our reviews of the Best Polar GPS Watches.

Best Overall
Polar Vantage M2
Polar Vantage M2
Most Durable
Polar Grit X
Polar Grit X
Best Female Style
Polar Ignite
Polar Ignite
Best For Multisport
Polar Vantage V2
Polar Vantage V2
Best Value
Polar M430 GPS
Polar M430 GPS

Display

When you invest in a Polar watch, you will receive an accessory that offers customizable displays that relay in-the-moment information among this real-time data on your heart rate, distance run, and pace, to name a few. 

The watch utilizes a high-quality satellite tie-in that allows for accuracy when it comes to roads and trails. Polar watches use a streamlined display design that utilizes touch screen technology. These displays are often protected using either Gorilla glass or tempered glass. 

GPS

Because of its high-quality satellite tie-in, this brand’s watches offer elevated levels of GPS capabilities. This allows you to have access to distance runs and other high-performance features like detailed maps and navigation at the moment. 

The GPS technology used in these watches is designed as a built-in system. The technology accesses multiple satellite systems, including Galileo and QZSS, for more accurate speed and distance monitoring.

Navigation

Depending on the model, there might be a lot of excellent navigational capabilities. Not only via the display and search but also when it comes to actual navigation.

There are some models from Polar that offer a 3-axis compass as well as high-quality GPS technology. For this brand, when it comes to setting up your routes, you will plan your route out and then load it to the watch as you are unable to do it within the watch itself.

Monitoring

One of the most prominent features to pay attention to is the heart rate monitoring capability when it comes to this type of watch. Because of their beginnings in heart rate monitor creation, this company excels when it comes to this feature. Many runners feel that they have the most accurate real-time data for keeping track of their heart rate.

Battery

Of course, the battery life depends on the model and the features included in that model. But on average, you’re going to find that you can utilize your Polar watch anywhere between four and ten days.

Knowing that is important and understanding that you tend to have a faster charge with this brand’s watches may help you make a better decision for your needs.

These watches use a CR2025, which gives the watches a decent battery life. The life can range from two days all the way to several days, depending on how much the user runs the GPS feature. 

Data

All of the data management for Polar watches is done through their proprietary program called Polar Flow. This easy-to-use system creates charts for all of your physical activities.

The program also allows you to utilize notes on each chart to correlate with past sessions. These notes can be quite helpful in monitoring your progress. You can also use these notes on your past sessions to correct your current physical regimen to ensure optimized results.

Suunto: An In-Depth Look

Suunto may be a new name to you if you aren’t an avid runner, but this company offers high-quality smartwatches designed to optimize their focus on world-class GPS technology.

Headquartered in Finland, this company’s name literally translates into ‘direction‘, which is a perfect fit for a company that focuses on GPS technology as they do.

Check our reviews on the Best Suunto Sports/GPS Watches.

Best Multisport
Suunto 9 Baro
Suunto 9 Baro
Best Value
Suunto 7
Suunto 7
Best Battery
Suunto Core
Suunto Core
Best Outdoors
Suunto Traverse Alpha
Suunto Traverse Alpha
Most Affordable
Suunto 5
Suunto 5

Display

When it comes to GPS sports watches, many brands opt to offer customization of the displays. However, this company’s process is a little more challenging than other brands, which might be a problem for some. In order to customize your display, you have to go through their proprietary app.

There are a ton of Suunto models that are designed with a simple to use design that consists of several traditional buttons as well as a touchscreen. The screen is protected by either gorilla or sapphire glass. Of course, the type of glass will depend on the model, but both offer a heightened level of protection.  

GPS

As we said in the quick intro, this company has focused much of its research and design around GPS technology. For decades it has worked on finding the newest technology in ways to use it. When you get a Suunto watch, you will have access to real-time data for both your movements and progress.

This is included explicitly in their watch is designed to help you reach your goals and make them the most proficient and high-performance option on the market.

Suunto chooses to use both built-in and connected GPS technology. Many of the newer models are crafted with the built-in GPS utilizing the GLONASS satellite system.

This more in-depth satellite system gives the user more accurate tracking capabilities and super-detailed maps. (For those that use a connected system, the user will connect to their smartphone using their Bluetooth.) 

Navigation

GPS is only one part of the navigational capabilities of these watches. Along with this, you will find that you need to pay attention to the map sizes and the screen sizes that you look at those maps on.

Watches from this brand allow you to utilize simple maps with a ton of detailed information (including breadcrumb maps). Along with this, they also come outfitted with barometric and altimeter capabilities.

Monitoring

Depending on the model, you’ll either have access to optical technology or a heart rate monitoring belt to keep track of vitals. But no matter which method is used, the company opts to maximize its performance by ensuring high-quality materials and features are included in the heart rate monitoring systems.

Battery

When you’re looking at battery life in regards to a Suunto watch, you’re going to find that typically you will have up to a week’s worth of power. This, of course, depends on the model and what features you use regularly.

You can choose from multiple different battery modes that can help ensure you don’t wind up with no power out on the trails.

Each Suunto watch is outfitted with a CR2032 (which usually lasts for about a year to a year and a half with constant use), giving the watches a good battery life.

The actual battery life of the charge depends on the model and the features used in that model. Some models, like the Suunto 9, give the user 120 hours thanks to an intelligent battery life management system. 

Data

Part of the reason people invest in a smartwatch like this is to be able to track their progress. That means you have to have high-quality data management capability.

The data management regarding Suunto watches is done through one of two smartphone apps.

Pros & Cons: Polar Versus Suunto

The trick to making an educated decision is understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each option. To streamline that process for you, we thought we’d create a quick pros and cons list of each of the companies. We hope this helps!

Polar

Pros

  • Heart rate and calorie monitor is incredibly accurate
  • It comes with smart features, including suggestions for best workouts
  • Some models come with the ability to personalized running plans
  • Watches are designed to track activities as well as sleep 
  • Made to give the user an extended battery life
  • GPS capability is designed to not only track distance but speed and route

Cons

  • Some models may not sync to certain smartphones and PC’s
  • On specific models, the display is a little dark
  • Watch face can be small on some of their watches

Suunto

Pros

  • The overall design is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use while being durable
  • Crafted to be a Wear OS smartwatch with a wide range of tracking capabilities
  • Built with many fitness features and a high-quality wrist heart rate monitor feature
  • It comes with the ability to utilize offline maps for improved navigation
  • Outfitted with extra features like speech to text and weather information
  • Compatible with Google Assistant and Google Pay

Cons

  • There is a limited range of design variation
  • Not designed with extra features like fall detection or ECG monitoring
  • Some may find the price point a little too steep

Frequently Asked Questions on Suunto and Polar Watches

Once you have looked at the comparison above, there may still be a few questions you have left. So we have decided to answer some of the most commonly asked questions online. Hopefully, these answers will help make your decision that much easier.

Does Garmin own Suunto?

Suunto is a Finnish company that makes everything from sports watches to dive computers. It is a subsidiary of Amer Sports, a Chinese-owned company that also owns companies like Wilson and Atomic.

Are Polar watches made in China?

Though the company itself is headquartered out of Finland, they own a manufacturing facility in China. This is where all the manufacturing for the Polar watches is done.

So when it comes to being cautious of where your products are made, if you have a problem with them being made in China, then these watches may not be the right choice for you. That being said, the company is based out of Finland, which means that it conforms to all the rigorous rules and guidelines from there.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between these two high-quality brands can be pretty challenging. After all, there are so many different models and features that one must consider before making that final choice.

By comparing each of the most important factors of a GPS sports watch, we hope that we have helped you make that decision a little easier.

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