Comparison Polar Ignite vs Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Suunto 3: the differences, which one to choose?

How about comparison Polar Ignite vs Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Suunto 3?The 3 models smart watches compared in this article are mid-range sports watches offering everything you need for leisure sports use or simply to benefit from daily monitoring and to stay healthy. They offer numerous sports profiles, assistance tools to stay in shape and progress, a function of activity monitoring 7 days a week and 24 hours a day and more. They are more “fitness” oriented than “performance”. They have an elegant design to be worn everyday like a watch and can easily match your outfit with their interchangeable straps.

 

Polar Ignite: the multisport watch that replaces your coach

 

New for 2019, the Polar Ignite is a multisport watch with a touchscreen, thin, ultralight and elegant, offering everything you need to stay in shape or train easily. His main interest: an intelligent assistant (electronic coach) who analyzes your physical condition and your night recovery to offer tailor-made programs or prepare for a race (5 or 10 km, half-marathon, marathon) while predicting your time of race according to your physical condition! It is perfect for those who want advice to progress without knowing themselves in training. It offers performance analysis tools, analyzes your sleep in detail (breathing is taken into account in addition to the heart) and offers cardiac coherence exercises with real-time feedback to relax and eliminate stress. This watch is our favorite for 2019 sports watches under $ 250.

 

Garmin Vivoactive 4: the watch with payment, mp3 player and advanced health monitoring

 
A jewel of technology, this touchscreen smart health connected watch offers breathtaking functions and is very successful. It has many sports profiles including yoga, skiing, golf, rowing, bodybuilding. It has a Garmin Pay contactless payment system to pay for purchases directly from the watch, an mp3 player and ultra-comprehensive health monitoring functions. It assesses the level of stress and physical condition, allows you to load training programs, embeds animated exercises to learn how to do cardio, weight training, yoga and Pilates workouts. It is a serious alternative to high-end watches or Smartwatches (Apple Watch, etc.) for a much lower price. The Vivoactive 4 exists in a version with AMOLED screen in bright and rich colors, the Garmin Venu.

 

Suunto 3 Fitness: a watch to stay healthy

The Suunto 3 Fitness is a pretty, robust sports watch designed for active people who want to improve their physical condition and stay healthy. Please note, it does not have GPS. Its strong point is to offer progressive training assistance that allows you to progress without knowing anything about it. The watch offers a tailor-made 7-day program with optimal duration and intensity to be respected for each exercise. The program adapts according to the activities actually carried out. You just have to choose a mode (maintain your form, improve your form or boost your form) and follow the program. It also tracks stress and recovery levels and provides an overview of the day. Finally, it helps to find the right balance between activity and rest.

 

Price, design and technical characteristics compared

The 3 watches are offered at a similar price (around € 200, a little more for the Vivoactive 4 released in September 2019), which corresponds to mid-range watches. They offer fully sufficient functions for leisure sports use, with tools to help the sportsperson, and offer complete activity monitoring. They are intended for mixed use (man or woman).

We note for the 3 watches an elegant and refined design (in particular the Polar and the Suunto), which allows them to be worn in everyday life (city, work, sport). This is an essential point for fitness oriented watches and activity trackers. These models are aimed as much at athletes who practice a sport as at non-athletes who wish to know their daily activity better (calorie expenditure, quality of sleep, number of steps, etc.) and be encouraged to move and exercise . They can effectively replace an activity bracelet in addition to offering interesting sporting functions.

We are dealing with 3 light watches (weight close to that of a classic watch) and offering good screen definition. The polar Ignite and Vivoactive 4 offer a touch screen that makes them more user-friendly. Note the thinness of the Polar Ignite (almost half the thickness of the Suunto 3): it is almost the thickness of a classic watch.

The big advantage of the Vivoactive 4 is to be offered in 2 case sizes (which was not the case for the previous model, the Vivoactive 3): a small 40 mm case for thin wrists and a 45mm wider case for standard wide wrists.

The advantage of the Polar Ignite and the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the interchangeable strap without tools (no need to take out a screwdriver to change the strap), a practical side if you want to share your watch or change the strap according to his outfit or activity (city, sport, etc.). Note that the bracelet supplied with the Polar Ignite is made of silicone except on the black model or a lower quality plastic version exists. The latter is offered for € 30 less.

Regarding materials, the 3 watches have a stainless steel bezel. The Vivoactive 4 also has an ultra-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 3 glass which is more suitable for this type of watch intended for outdoor use.

 

Autonomy: a little fair depending on use

Autonomy is an important point to consider if you practice a sport regularly or for 24-hour use. These watches offer correct autonomy for mid-range watches. In activity tracking only mode, if you wear the watch 24 hours a day, you will need to recharge it at least once a week. With an additional sporting use (recording of activity during a running outing for example), the battery will last less (6 hours of sport on the Polar Ignite will leave you only 2.5 days of autonomy before the battery is exhausted). The Suunto 3 is doing better with its 30 hours of autonomy in training mode. This is not surprising since this model does not carry a GPS (it is the GPS that consumes the most battery).

 

The sensors

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is clearly the best supplied with its many sensors: compass, barometric altimeter (based on atmospheric pressure, therefore more precise), thermometer, pulse oximeter (measurement of blood oxygen level) and compatibility with sensors cadence and speed. It opens the door to more sports (mountain sports including hiking and skiing for example).

Suunto 3 and Polar Ignite are significantly less supplied. They offer the bare minimum: measurement of the heart rate on the wrist or by chest belt. Suunto suffers from the lack of a GPS chip. If you want to record your route on a map, you will have to pair it with a Smartphone, which is not very practical.

 

Functions for training and performance monitoring

There are interesting functions for the 3 watches: the possibility of loading training programs to follow on the watch, Estimation of the VO2max (physical condition), evaluation of the stress level and its taking into account in certain functions. They assess all the calories expended during the day or during the sporting outing.

Some functions stand out as:

  • Adaptive training programs: Suunto 3 offers training plans according to your goals. It also takes into account your actual activity in order to readjust the plans accordingly. The Polar Ignite goes further by offering training plans that take into account your recovery from previous days’ activities: if your night’s sleep was not of good quality, the watch will avoid offering you intense activity or even suggest rest. The Vivoactive 4 embeds simple animated exercises for bodybuilding, cardio, yoga and Pilates: just watch the animation to learn the movements.
  • VO2max estimation (physical condition): to estimate your fitness level and track your progress. Polar offers a 5-minute rest Review to assess your physical condition in addition to a systematic evaluation in the field. The other 2 manufacturers use the algorithms of the company Firstbeat to estimate the VO2max
  • Recovery assessment: the watch checks that you have recovered from your efforts and the stresses of the day. Polar assesses recovery during the night by an in-depth Review taking into account the respiration rate (in addition to the heart rate and its variability) in assessing the quality of the first hours of sleep. The other watches more simply assess recovery throughout the day. Garmin offers a Body Baterry function that estimates the level of recovery and lets you know if you can go out and play sports. Suunto 3 also estimates how long it will take you to recover from an activity.
  • A function evaluating race time: the Polar Ignite is the only one to predict the running time, for a half-marathon for example, according to your level of training. This function is also found at Garmin but on more sophisticated sports watches.
  • Estimation of acclimatization to altitude and heat: Garmin uses the predicted external temperature (weather), altitude, heart rate, and pulse oximeter to assess acclimatization to altitude and heat. The VO2max is adjusted accordingly. This avoids surprises when you train in one place for a competition planned elsewhere (different climate and altitude).
  • monitoring the respiratory rate: Garmin measures the respiration rate from the variability of the heart rate. Follow-up allows you to better control relaxation or yoga exercises in particular.
  • Hydration monitoring: Vivoactive 4 can record the quantities of water drunk throughout the day (manual entry) and assesses water losses (perspiration).

 

The exploitation of the heart rate

The 3 watches are equipped with a heart rate monitoring on the wrist for monitoring the heart rate and its variability. These measures are used to deduce the calories expended during the day (activity monitoring) and during sport as well as physiological measures (calories burned, stress level, recovery, VO2max, physiological age, etc.) and the quality of sleep. .

The 3 watches allow a measurement of the heart rate underwater. The Polar Ignite and Garmin Vivoactive 4 even do it from the wrist monitoring. For Suunto, you will need to wear a chest strap.

 

The metrics and tools associated with the main sport profiles

There are many profiles available at Polar and Suunto but many are similar and consist of displaying data differently and adjusting the assessment of calorie expenditure according to the sport. At Garmin, the Vivoactive 4 only has around twenty profiles but more complete measures such as the number of ski descents or the ascending speed when hiking.

Please note, the Polar Ignite can only manage 20 profiles. However, you will be able to access more than 100 profiles on the Polar interface and download and customize those that interest you.

The 3 watches can manage many sports, but depending on the activity, some are better suited:

  • The Polar Ignite and the Garmin Vivoactive 4 are particularly well suited for swimming with full functions and a measurement of the heart rate underwater from the wrist monitoring. The Vivoactive 4 is intended for use in swimming pools while the Polar Ignite has also planned open water measurements.
  • The Vivoactive 4 is the most complete with functions suitable for swimming, outdoor (GPS navigation, altitude and elevation measurements), winter sports (ski profile and counting the number of descents)
  • Suunto 3 offers limited functions. It is not ideal for advanced sports use.

 

Smart functions, connectivity and security

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 really stands out from the crowd with very comprehensive functions that make it a Smartwatch. There is in particular a means of payment (Garmin Pay) using an NFC chip (contactless payment), an on-board mp3 player, the Live Track and Group Track functions to be followed on the Internet or to know the position of the other members of the group, the access to the weather and various services via a Smartphone. The watch can detect falls and can automatically contact an emergency number and transmit GPS coordinates.

The other 2 models only offer the minimum: smart notifications.

 

Activity monitoring

Activity tracking (tracker function) lets you know your daily expenses (calories burned, number of steps, etc.) for everyday activities of life: shopping, gardening for example, walking to work, cooking , etc.

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is once again the most complete with a complete health monitoring, 4 relaxation exercises including one of cardiac coherence. According to recent studies, exercises promoting cardiac coherence would be beneficial for short and long term health. Polar Ignite nevertheless offers very interesting tools such as a serious and ultra-detailed analysis of the quality of sleep and, also, cardiac coherence exercises to relieve stress with a biofeedback system allowing to know in real time if the exercise is well done.

 

Our opinion

The Polar Ignite, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Suunto 3 Fitness are very good sports watches, especially fitness watches, for activity monitoring and occasional sports sessions. The Polar Ignite and Vivoactive 4 are relatively complete for leisure sports sessions. The absence of GPS on the Suunto 3 makes it less interesting than the others since it does not display the distance traveled and does not allow you to see its route on a map after exiting.

If you are looking for a watch to improve your performance, prepare for a competition or have detailed statistics and metrics, it is better to choose a more suitable model. See our comparison of cardio-GPS watches.

We are dealing with 3 elegant and light watches. The Vivoactive 4 is a little more “sports watch” than the others but it has its chic.

Note that these watches are intended for mixed use. Sports watches are sometimes a little bulky on a thin wrist, which can put off the female gender. If you are looking for a sports watch for women, these are perfectly suited because of their relatively small screen size (around 43 mm) and suitable sizes of straps. The Vivoactive 4 even offers a small model suitable for fine wrists (Vivoactive 4S) with a 40 mm diameter case. The Polar Ignite provides a shorter bracelet for small wrists (therefore more suitable, more comfortable to wear, lighter too). It is also very thin (about the thickness of a classic watch).

How to choose between the 3?

The choice depends on your goals and tastes. Each of these watches offers different strengths. We particularly appreciate the Polar Ignite for training and health monitoring (ultra-detailed sleep analysis, relaxation exercises with biofeedback) and the Garmin Vivoactive 4, very well supplied, as a smart health connected watch or smart health watch. The Suunto 3 Fitness is also an interesting choice for its elegance and adaptive workouts, provided you do not need GPS.

Here is a summary of our opinion for each model as well as a comparative table to help you choose between the 3:

Polar ignite

Our favorite of the current (2019) mid-range watches for sport and health. It is both beautiful (perfect as a watch for women who want a really fine and elegant watch) and relatively complete with its simple and sufficient tools for most athletes. We appreciate the high quality of Polar’s algorithms for sleep analysis and recovery. Training plans take recovery into account and allow you to progress without knowing yourself by following the programs and exercises offered. For runners, training programs and the race time predictor is an advantage. The watch also offers a relaxation exercise and a real-time display of the effectiveness of the exercise. An excellent product for athletes who are looking for a watch for sport and daily monitoring. Note that you must wear the watch at night to benefit from the recovery assessment.

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Our favorite mid-range smart health connected watches for people looking for gadgets and technical innovations. It offers many practical tools for sport, ultra-complete health monitoring and animated exercises (mini videos) to learn how to execute movements well. It allows you to pay for your purchases, listen to music while doing your sport, be monitored on the Internet, control devices remotely (camera for example), access services (Uber, weather, etc.) and its sports functions are complete . Unlike the 2 other watches compared, it also offers GPS navigation.It is the most complete in terms of tools and sensors and the one that is best suited for most sports (water sports, mountain, outdoor, etc.). It is a little less elegant than the others (if you are looking for a chic watch). This watch is similar to Smarwatchs like the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Watch for an attractive price. A good alternative to this model is the slightly more expensive Garmin Venu, which offers the same functionality but an AMOLED screen for exceptional rendering.

 

Suunto 3 Fitness

It is pretty to wear, perfect for men and women who like to wear an elegant watch. Its advantage lies in adaptive training: like the Polar Ignite, you don’t need to know anything about it to follow training plans. The watch adapts the exercises according to your outings. It is however somewhat limited in terms of functions. The absence of on-board GPS can also be a drawback (no possible measurements of the distance traveled, no recording of the track unless you couple it with a Smartphone, which of course will have to be transported with either!) . Its autonomy of 30 hours is a plus. It is perfect for people who are looking for a pretty and discreet watch, with activity tracking, but who do not need sophisticated tools for sport. Note that this is a real multisport watch: it allows you to go from one activity to another without stopping the recording.

 

Polar Ignite, Garmin Vivoactive 4 or Suunto 3: where to buy it?

Best price of Polar Ignite

$199.40 $229.95 in stock
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$234.95 in stock
1 new from $234.95
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Amazon Amazon.com
Last update was on: December 2, 2020 9:13 am

$234.95 in stock
1 new from $234.95
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Last update was on: December 2, 2020 9:13 am

$234.95 in stock
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Best price of Garmin Vivoactive 4

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Best price of Suunto 3

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