The Polar M600 is currently unique. It’s not just an effective sports partner, it’s also a great smartwatch.
- Solid design
- Sports takes priority over smartwatch
- All of Android Wear’s functions
- Polar Flow does so much
- Respectable battery performance for a smartwatch
- IPX8 waterproofing
- Design could be more exciting
- Swimming could be better served
- Heart rate can be a little erratic
The explosion of smartwatches and fitness trackers has knocked down some real gems and real shit, so we all have to be careful when choosing a new device. Polar is a well-established name in fitness equipment, one of the oldest when it comes to monitoring heart rate.
In an expanding Polar portfolio, more A-family lifestyle devices were born, and the capabilities of the M (sports) and V (pro) devices were expanded, with the brand connectivity gradually increasing.
The M600 is a rethink. He uses an appropriate smartwatch platform and offers the features of the fitness tracker for which the company is known, with more functions on the watch side than it would normally have. The result is one of the most respected sports equipment we’ve seen so far, and certainly one of the best Android Wear devices.
Design and build
The Polar M600 adapts to the body module with a rubber band. As with the TomTom Spark, the body is pushed into the belt so that the two sections can be easily separated when cleaning.
The design is very similar to the previous Polar watches, although it is quite thick, which means you need enough wrist to sit on. If you belong to the thin forearm variant, you may think that it is too big, but we found that it sits well on an average male arm. The blockiness gives him some substance and looks good both from a sporting point of view as well as a smartwatch.
Compared to other Android Wear devices, Polar’s experience in making watches is obvious, as it’s much nicer than the Moto 360 Sport and looks better than the previous one. As with other Polar devices, the screen is square to match the family design of Polar.
On to the more serious things. With IPX8 protection, a good water seal is guaranteed, so swimming is supported. The screen is protected with Gorilla Glass to prevent scratches. The metal details that frame the display to the left and right provide a first-class look. You can choose between black and white, though we would like a range of belt colors to make the design more appealing.
The rubber band is easy to adjust and uses a conventional two-pronged buckle with two straps to prevent the replacement strap from hanging on objects. Most importantly, the M600 is comfortable to wear and penetrates. With a weight of 65 g it is not too heavy.
Sports features first
First designed as a sports watch, there are two buttons. The first button on the left is the standard Android Wear button that allows you to go home, wake up the display, or long press to access the menu.
The second button on the front brings you directly to the sports page and opens the Polar App. This is a very athletic field, and we really like that Polar was not distracted by Android Wear: it has taken over and belongs to the platform instead of skipping Google’s smartwatch capabilities.
The hardware tells a similar story. With an optical heart rate sensor on board and your own GPS, you can run out of the house and leave your smartphone at home. However, there is no compass or barometer. Direction and altitude are based on GPS. There is also support for accessories. If you have a H7 Polar chest strap, you have the option to use it. This is the preferred option for cyclists.
One of the features Polar has inherited from Android Wear is support for Bluetooth headphones and local storage for your music. This means that you can take your music without a cell phone. TomTom Spark 3 offers this as well as the Apple Watch 2. This feature will surely be popular.
The great thing is that this comprehensive feature set, which is supported by this hardware, is an excellent fitness device even before you touch the smartwatch page.
Hardware specs and display
The Polar M600 is powered by a MediaTek chipset with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of standard memory. The battery is 500mAh, which is pretty good for this device type and explains the thickness.
On the front there is a 1.3-inch display with a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels. This is not the biggest or sharpest Android Wear watch ad, but as I said, the screen fits and we found a good size for reading on the go. It always supports features, dims in normal wear and brightens when you move the clock.
An LCD screen is a backlit full-color display that is lit instead of using the lower-power displays that other sports watches offer. It looks good, which increases the attractiveness, but the battery charged more heavily than for example the Mono TomTom or Garmin displays. Although it has an ambient light sensor, but adapts to the lighting conditions.
Battery life and charging
With the 500mAh battery, you can use about two days if you’re connected to an Android device, including exercise time. You may be able to wear it for something more at leisure. We did not test the Polar M600 on an iPhone, but there are reports that this will be reduced to about a day with Apple’s phone. In reality, the Android Wear experience in combination with an Android phone is significantly improved, and unlike the Apple Watch you have at least the option.
Two days are good for Android Wear devices, but compared to many other sports watches, this means regular recharging, which may give you five or more active days – but does not offer truly smart features.
That’s the compromise here: The Polar M600 is not particularly endurous in terms of sport, but offers much more functionality, meaning that it describes much more than just the time when walking.
Charging takes place via the magnetic connection point on the back. In the past few weeks, when we used the M600, we usually chose to charge every other day without going blank. The charger can be neatly attached to the back of the watch without any need to attach it.
Polar M600 review: Running and sports functions
Press this button on the front panel and the Polar App will open on the M600. There are two sections, one section where you can check your daily activities more closely, and the second to start recording a sport.
Polar gives you the freedom to choose your sports profiles according to your activities. For many, this will be running, cycling or swimming, but there is a wide choice of sports, such as badminton, dancing, football or just plain old walking. That’s great because you do not have to compromise on categorizing your activity. Do you want to pick up your dog while running? No problem. Would you like to record your Friday rowing session? No problem.
For outdoor sports there is GPS tracking. For example, there are different profiles for swimming and swimming outdoors, which we really like, and you just have to have the sports on your watch that you actually need. Do not you want “other outdoor”? You can remove it. Visit the Polar Flow website and you can further customize your sports profiles by changing the information on your watch, which is really smart.
When you have selected your activity, the watch sensors will be activated, look for GPS and turn on the optical heart rate sensor on the back panel. You can start the activity immediately or wait for these sensors to turn on, but over time it may be good to start without waiting.
However, we noticed that the GPS locks quickly, so there was never too much delay in getting started.
During your sport you will receive a series of screens with relevant information based on your activity. To run, you get a main screen similar to other Polar devices like the V800. The M600 offers the benefit of color. As you move through different heart rate zones, the color of the HR screen also changes to get information at a glance. There is also clear evidence of speed and distance while running.
Swimming is not as good as it could be because swimming in the pool lacks the option of automatically detecting lengths, as is the case with the Apple Watch 2. So you have heart rate measurement and time, which is good enough. We also found out that the flow of water could pass through the screens, so we often stop a set in the pool with something else on the display.
Since Android Wear automatically dims the display, Polar has added the option to always keep the display on. This means that you can view and see the statistics without having to touch, and avoid the problem of not being able to see the screen without exaggerated gesture. This will consume more battery power, but if you have the guts to beat your 10k PB run, you do not care, all you have to do is keep track of your pace.
If there’s one thing we want to improve on the watch’s athletic credentials, it’s another button. We’d love a start / stop button instead of having to use the display, but that’s a minor matter. There is also no automatic detection for your activities, but if you are closer to a reputable running watch, we think that this is fine: There is already a distinction between the activity levels in the daily tracking. It is not a disadvantage if you select the sport for detailed tracking.
The Polar Flow website offers much more information than other platforms. You will get an overview of your progress. You estimate how much fatigue you may have had from previous workouts and tell you whether you are over or under training. You can also sign up for exercise programs, which means it has much to offer beyond your actual running statistics.
Polar M600 review: A full Android Wear experience
Here, most sports equipment would reach its limits, but on the Android Wear platform, the Polar M600 offers a whole lot more.
You get a comprehensive selection of alerts and notifications. If you have an Android smartphone, this is truly a first-rate offer, especially compared to other sports equipment. It is something that is offered by other Polar watches and some Garmin devices, but here you are supported by the Android community for their functionality, not just Polar.
We mentioned apps, and one of the things the Android M600 does get is the support for Bluetooth headphones and music. You can connect any Bluetooth headset, but music support is limited to Google Play Music service. You must download and sync it from your phone. This is a bit crazy, so it’s worth just syncing music for running. You do not have to carry this old iPod on the run.
Among other Android Wear highlights, you’ll have Google Maps for navigation while connected to your phone. Plus, you’ll support Google voice control so you can respond to messages. Then you have all the fun things, such. For example, you can stop Spotify music from your watch, control Netflix through your Chromecast, or get the instructions from Citymapper directly on your wrist.
Although Android Wear has a poor repeat of smooth early devices, the Polar M600 is not. This is a sports watch that benefits from a host of extra features that Android Wear allows, resulting in some fun and functionality. In many ways, the Polar M600 is currently incomparable.
The Polar M600 is a fusion of smartwatch and sports equipment. The platform and laces of Android take advantage of sports and fitness tracking capabilities, but maintain a balance that some devices do not master. It succeeds in being both where others have failed. It feels like a real Polar sports watch, enhanced by the best of Android Wear.
For an Android smartphone user, this is a device that is worth considering. If you’ve been shy of Android Wear so far, you can make Android Wear so fun. It’s not about a bland presentation, it’s about bolstering something more exciting. In this case, it’s a fully functional activity watch that’s perfect for running and does not feel like Android Wear.
The Polar M600 is currently unique. It’s not just an effective sports partner, it’s also a great smartwatch.