As a runner, I gravitate to news of clever sports accessories so when the Polar M430 hit the market, I was more than curious. Positioning the sleek black device on my wrist, I set about putting this GPS/tracker to the test and was pleasantly surprised. Is the Polar M430 the be all and end all of wrist devices? That was the question I asked repeatedly while evaluating features that are of utmost importance to me. 

1. Design

Love the buttons! There are two on the left and three on the right. That’s a lot of buttons but runners eager to scroll, navigate and change-up display data can master them fast and frankly, buttons beat touchscreen accuracy by a running mile. The band is slimmer and lighter but the signature perforations for wrist ventilation were retained by designers. 

2. Pedigree

Engineers have put some muscle into improvements so I send a shout-out to Polar for listening to consumer feedback; it shows the brand really does respond to suggestions from wearers. Polar seems to have made inroads in the optical heart-rate monitor function. I’m no math whiz but I understand this to be the result of improved algorithms that stabilise the product so it’s more accurate. 

3. Readability

Trying to focus on readings within the display area of tracker faces can be a daunting task when moving at what one hopes is the speed of light. I appreciate the ability to turn on the display backlight by hand in low-light areas so I don’t have to wear glasses when I run. The M430 delivers mega-data when I work out, but the best news is that I no longer have to stop and wait for the GPS function to kick in.

4. Battery

Sick of claims that GPS and other functions will be powered for X-number of hours only to have it die long before that happens? It’s the bane of my existence and I’m not alone. My skepticism reached new heights when I read Polar’s claim that the 240-mAh battery can turn a single charge into weeks of power. So far, so good. Time will tell if my appreciation for this battery turns to love. 

5. Training benefit

We all know when we’ve worked ourselves into overheated messes, but the 430 informs you of the progress you make, elucidating specific benefits you receive simply by doing what comes naturally. You won’t get advice from the coach but you will learn how your workout impacts your body in real time. Should we run into each other, don’t think me daft if I’m speaking to my wrist: I’m simply thanking my coach for invaluable feedback.

6. Polar Flow running program

This training program is awesome so call me impressed. It took some time to prep the “program” because Polar Flow is really helpful, asking me questions about how long and often I train. I was also queried about my intensity. In the end, all of those questions culminated in a training plan designed to prepare me for events that range from a 5km to a full marathon.

7. Extras

I get smartphone alerts, but what’s missing is something I consider essential: music storage and controls. I know what you’re thinking: I expect too much from this device and you could be right, but can you blame me for seeking the ultimate number of features when I fork over a huge chunk of change? On the other hand, kudos to Polar for introducing a new USB charging cable for the M430. 

Runner’s Boon

  • Those side buttons rule; I love the ability to control things quickly on the fly.
  • The Polar Flow running app is a stand-out.
  • I’m standing by my battery life kudos.

Runner’s Bane

  • Although it’s lightweight, the device may look clunky to some people.
  • The M430 may be outside your comfort zone when it comes to price.
  • The lack of music controls and storage capability is a little disappointing.

Do you have a formula for weighing buying decisions when a new running accessory goes on the market? Are you willing to share it?

You can get the Polar M430 GPS running watch for S$359 at the official Polar online store.

Priscelia Chin

Priscelia adores beautiful visuals and has a keen eye for detail. As a smart shopper and avid runner, she assists in the creative direction of RunSociety as well as occasionally conjuring thought provoking articles. Never shy to give constructive feedback, she also manages the product reviews section.

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