Polar’s new Grit X sports watch offers some huge new outdoors features and a monster battery life, but it will have many wondering whether to choose it over the flagship Polar Vantage V.
The Vantage V is the company’s most advanced running watch, with a huge focus on performance.
However, at £439 compared to the £379.99 for the Grit X, it will be tempting to save money by going for Polar’s brand new watch.
But actually, these two devices are aimed at different runners – and making the wrong choice could see you miss out on some great features. What’s more, reading this article might actually save you money.
We’ve run hundreds of miles with both of these brilliant devices – read on for our thoughts.
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Grit X vs Vantage V: Design
The Polar Grit X screen is the same 240 x 240 pixel colour touchscreen you get on the Vantage V, but when you put them side by side the Grit looks sharper and brighter.
The heart rate sensor tech has been tweaked for the newer Grit X. It features a 10-LED array where the Vantage V has a 9-LED set up. Polar told us that was to help remove any ambient light and motion artefacts that can affect accuracy, although in terms of accuracy (more on this later) we couldn’t pick a winner.
Beyond that, it seems the main differences here are build. The Grit X has a more outdoors feel, and feels bigger and more solid. There’s less metal thanks to a carbon fiber coated back casing and some may find that feels less premium than the Vantage V’s metallic casing. But despite the chunkier look, that carbon fiber keeps the Grit X as light as the Vantage. The Grit X is 64g the Vantage V tips the scales at 66g.
You get the same 5 button controls on both watches but the stiffness we hated on the Vantage V has been fixed on the Grit X. The Grit X does have touchscreen, but we much preferred using the buttons – call us old fashioned.
On the wrist, the Grit X is a little thicker and doesn’t hug the wrist as nicely as the Vantage V. It’s a bit more raised up but it’s still nicely comfortable to wear over longer periods.
When it comes to water resistance, the Vantage V is water resistant to 50m while the Grit goes up to 100m.
Grit X vs Vantage V: Features
On the features front, it’s quicker to tell you what you don’t get on both than what you do. That’s how similar these two sports watches are.
The big thing to note is that you don’t get Recovery Pro on the Grit X – that’s Vantage V only. That will be a big deal for those who really push their training to the limits and are looking for assistance from avoiding burnout.
However, despite being more expensive, the Vantage V misses out on many of the latest features.
You don’t get Hill Splitter and FuelWise fuelling recommendations on the Vantage V. HillSplitter provides insights into climbs and descents out on the trails and attempts to analyse your pace, but FuelWise has garnered the most attention and helps you work out when to eat during endurance sessions and how much.
It will also remind you during the session, although in our review we found the alerts a little easy to miss.
The Grit X introduced Komoot route planning, and has been added to the Vantage V but you don’t get the turn-by-turn navigation found on the Grit X – just a breadcrumb.
Beyond that they feel like very similar watches in terms of what they track and the insights you get.
Both watches offer running power on the wrist, heart rate zone training and Strava Live Segments. Along with FitSpark workout recommendations, Training Load Pro, Training benefit readouts post run, Fitness test and Running Index scores for benchmarking your fitness. That’s a truly powerful feature set, and a dream for serious athletes looking for detailed and actionable data and analysis.
You also get sleep tracking. Nightly Recharge is available on both but on the Vantage V you get to choose between this to crunch your recovery read outs and the Recovery Pro with the orthostatic test.
You get the same Polar Flow app and web experience with its suite of reports, tools and training plans.
Polar Grit X vs Vantage V: Sensor accuracy
You’ve got Polar’s Precision Prime heart rate sensor technology on both the Grit X and the Vantage V. But Polar told us that “the OHR LED lights have been changed to improve removing ambient light and movement artefacts.”
And from our tests, if you’re considering buying based on the optical heart rate accuracy we’d argue there’s not much to choose between them.
Both missed spikes in effort and pace. The Grit X was quite laggy and often surged and the V often hovered in zones 2 and 3 for whole runs even when a chest strap put us in zone 4 for long stretches.
Because so many of the training, racing and recovery features on these two watches are heart rate dependent, we’d advise buying a chest strap to get the most out of both watches.
The GPS chips in both watches are the same with GPS, GLONASS and Galileo on both. You also get assisted GPS on both to facilitate a fast GPS fix but in our tests the Polar Vantage V always seemed to find satellites first by around 10 seconds.
In terms of accuracy, up against a Stryd footpod they both tracked with 0.05 miles – so a solid performance with nothing to choose between them.
Polar Grit X vs Vantage V: Battery life
On paper, both watches offer 40 hours GPS battery life and 7 days normal usage. The Grit X has an extendable battery life up to 100 hours. However, that’s with power saving modes on – essentially pulsing the GPS less frequently, which will sacrifice accuracy.
However, after some initial bugs and a full factory reset, the Grit X performance significantly improved, lasting beyond the seven days smartwatch usage claimed by Polar, and giving much closer to the 40 hours run time in full GPS mode.
One area that wasn’t quite as convincing was the low-GPS mode. In our run tests the Grit X and Vantage V drained at the same rate even when we had the Grit X in low-power mode versus the V in full power mode.
Choose the Polar Vantage V if…
There’s not a great deal to choose between these two watches so it’s going to come down to the type of runner you are.
If you’re a performance focused road runner that’s serious about your recovery, then the Vantage V is the clear choice for you. There’s no better tool than Recovery Pro and that should encourage you to choose the Vantage V.
Choose the Polar Grit X if…
If Recovery Pro came to the Grit X – and sadly Polar has told us it currently has no plans for that – it would be a no brainer to go Grit X.
However, if you’re an endurance runner – and by that we mean ultra distances – the Grit X just edges it. A better design, extendable battery life and that trio of FuelWise, Hill Splitter and Komoot features make it a better option for anyone who ventures on to the trails and takes on longer endurance events. It’s cheaper too.
And the significant price different will also suit those sitting on the fence. However, don’t forget there’s the entry level Vantage M and Polar Ignite, if you’ve just realised both these watches far exceed your needs.