Polar Ignite 2 Review
THE Polar Ignite 2 is one of Polar's more affordable fitness trackers.
We put it through its paces in our review.
- Good looking and customisable
- Small presence on your wrist
- Built-in GPS
- Can track many types of exercise
- Shorter than expected battery life
- No always-on display
Polar Ignite 2 review: quick summary
- Polar Ignite 2, £199.50 at Polar – buy here
The Polar Ignite 2 is a stylish, comfortable and practical fitness accessory that fits into the Jack-of-all-trades bracket of smart watches.
It’s customisable enough that you should be able to find a watch, face and strap to suit your style, and its fitness features are a quick and easy way to knock out a home workout.
As a running accessory it’s a useful piece of kit, with built-in GPS that means you can leave your phone at home, if you'd prefer.
Our gripes are limited to what feels like a short battery life (under five days if you’re using it for heart-rate monitoring and workouts frequently) and the lack of an always-on display, which is annoying for reasons we’ll discuss later.
Buy this if you want a do-it-all GPS fitness watch to track your activity across multiple sports and workouts.
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Polar Ignite 2: full review
Speaking as someone who’s already integrated into the Polar ecosystem (the proud owner of a Polar H10 heart-rate monitor and a Polar Vantage M smart watch) I was excited to see how a slightly cheaper device would hold up as a workout accessory.
I tested the Ignite 2 over a couple of weeks, using it for HIIT workouts, sports such as climbing and, most importantly, running.
First impressions of the smartwatch were good: download the Polar Flow app on your phone, sync it with your new device and you’ll be away pretty quickly.
The app is there to track your workouts and acts as your calendar if you sign up for one of Polar’s free training programmes. It also allows you to control some of the settings on your watch, including what types of workout and sport you'd like to track, and gives you feedback on everything from your activity to your sleep time.
One of the first hurdles fitness trackers can fall down on is comfort, as the placement of heart-rate trackers can dig into your wrist (especially if you have bony arms like some reviewers…).
Happily I found the Ignite a very comfortable wear that isn't as chunky or cumbersome as plenty of other smart watches I’ve tried. Put it on in the morning and you can pretty much forget it’s there for the whole day (until it vibrates to tell you you’ve been sat at your desk for too long).
The comfort level is especially handy if you’re planning on using the Ignite 2 as a sleep tracker, as it will sit unobtrusively on your wrist as you nod off. I ended up turning off the constant heart rate tracking that would allow me to see my sleep data, though; partly to save on battery life, and partly because I don’t need reminders that I woke up at 4am and didn’t manage to switch off again for two hours.
Speaking of battery life, Polar says the Ignite 2 will go five days in-between charges. That’s probably true if you don’t use much heart rate tracking and only do a couple of workouts a week, but I found it to be more like three or four days with frequent use.
Plus, you don’t want to go into a long run with 10/15% battery and risk losing your progress, so, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself charging your Ignite 2 every three days or so.
I managed to use the Ignite 2 for a variety of workouts, but I'll start with running since that’s what I used it for the most.
As someone who’s entrusted Polar with preparing my marathon training plan, I was already familiar with how the ecosystem works.
The programmes involve staying in specific heart rate zones and are designed to keep you training consistently and, hopefully, keep you injury free as you avoid overtraining. For what it’s worth, I've found the training programme very useful and, touch wood, have avoided injury to this point.
You can find out more about Polar’s running plans here.
Heart rate tracking
While the optical heart rate tracking will give you a general idea of how hard you’re working and be able to help track your sleep patterns, when you’re busting a gut in training, no smart watch tracker can keep up. (I’ve been on the verge of collapse while playing sport in the past, while my optical heart rate monitor cheerfully informed me I was breaking a light sweat).
That’s not a problem if you’re doing a workout class or running at your own pace, but if you’re trying to stay in a specific heart rate zone, using the Ignite 2 on its own isn’t going to cut the mustard.
Optical heart rate monitors tend to lag when measuring your effort and can lead to maddeningly frequent adjustment prompts from your watch, causing you to lurch between speeds as you run, which is pretty frustrating and something I didn’t persist with for long.
If you’re planning on using a Polar watch to stick in heart rate zones, buy a Polar H10 chest strap heart rate monitor, sync it to your watch and thank me later.
If you pair it with the H10, the Polar Ignite 2 becomes a useful feedback system, carefully monitoring your speed, heart rate and effort and telling you when you need to speed up and slow down for optimal training.
The only downside is, unlike the Polar Vantage M watch, for instance, the Ignite 2 doesn’t have an ‘always on’ display. While the display generally does turn on when you flip your wrist towards your face, it’s not 100% consistent and can leave you tapping at the screen to check how much longer you’ve got on a run, or if you’re in the correct heart rate zone.
It's a small frustration but it's one I didn't have to deal with when using the Polar Vantage M.
I also used the Ignite 2 to access some of Polar’s free workouts which are a nice addition to your week whether you’re training for a long race or you’re just fitting in a quick workout when you’ve got some free time.
If you use Polar’s sleep tracking, your watch will recommend tailored workouts for you depending on how well rested you are and how much training you’ve done recently.
The workouts are fine and pretty easy to understand, but, if I’m honest, I’d still rather work out with videos on YouTube than look at a stick figure on my wrist telling me to do crunches.
It's a good idea to track your workouts using the watch, though, as it means Polar can send recommended workout types and times depending on how much activity you've got through in a given week.
In terms of other useful features on the Ignite 2, you can use your watch to control the music in your headphones (useful if you don’t have touch controls on your headphones and you can’t access your phone as you run).
You can also have your phone notifications display on the screen so you never miss a message and there’s heaps of customisation options available so your watch will look exactly how you want it too.
Polar Ignite 2: the verdict
I enjoyed my time using the Polar Ignite 2. The slim, understated design was a plus for me (although you could certainly jazz up your colour scheme if you’d prefer) and I frequently forgot I was wearing the watch, which is always a good sign.
The workout tracking worked well (particularly once hooked up with the Polar H10 monitor) so the Ignite 2 is a useful running accessory if you’ve got a training programme planned.
In terms of value, the RRP of £199.50 is in line with offerings from Garmin but you’d be getting great value if you saw it around the £150 mark, as it was on Black Friday.
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