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Polar M430 HR Review

This watch is a good training option for most athletes but lacks in design and comparative value
Polar M430 HR
Photo: REI Co-op
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Price:  $200 List | $146.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Easy to use, large fonts are easy to see, accurate heart rate, just enough features for training
Cons:  Smaller screen for the size of the watch, monochromatic and dated look, lower value
Manufacturer:   Polar
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 18, 2021
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 12
  • Features - 20% 4
  • Battery Life - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8
  • Accuracy - 20% 8
  • Design - 20% 5

Our Verdict

The Polar M430 HR is a simple GPS watch that tracks daily fitness and activities and can help you plan out your fitness journey. Wrapped in a simple design, it's very easy to use, utilizing five buttons and large monochromatic font. It doesn't have any bells or whistles but does tout excellent heart monitor accuracy when the watch fits the wrist well. We tested it while cycling, hiking, and running. While this is a lower-priced option, it's not one that we readily recommend as there are much higher-performing GPS watches for the same or similar price.

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Pros Easy to use, large fonts are easy to see, accurate heart rate, just enough features for trainingExcellent quality, accurate, simple design, astounding value, very easy to use, great feature set, very long battery lifeLow profile design, exceptional battery life, very accurate, low costExcellent features, downloadable workouts, access to Garmin ecosystem, small watch face, excellent accuracy, lower priceTouch screen, sleek look and design, lightweight, good features, super low cost
Cons Smaller screen for the size of the watch, monochromatic and dated look, lower valueBacklight isn't bright, heart rate monitor accuracy is a little offNo mountain sports or navigational featuresLacks navigation and higher end features, plastic design, battery life isn't for ultra athletes, scratches easilyPoor GPS and heart rate accuracy, limited app features, no cross-over to other software ecosystems, some activities lost upon synching
Bottom Line This watch is a good training option for most athletes but lacks in design and comparative valueA well-constructed and accurate watch with a minimalistic design, excellent battery life, and all the right featuresA fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting out of this world battery lifeThis lower-priced GPS watch is easy to use and intuitive with a host of features that'll aid in moving your fitness forwardA low-cost GPS watch with all the basic features, but lacking in accuracy and app functionality
Rating Categories Polar M430 HR Coros Apex Coros Pace 2 Garmin Forerunner 45S Letscom Smart Watch
Features (20%)
4.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
3.0
Battery Life (20%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
4.0
Ease Of Use (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Accuracy (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
4.0
Design (20%)
5.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Specs Polar M430 HR Coros Apex Coros Pace 2 Garmin Forerunner 45S Letscom Smart Watch
Model Tested Small Standard N/A N/A N/A
Watch Face Material Plastic scratch resistance material, actual material unknown Sapphire glass Corning glass Chemically strengthened glass N/A
Bezel Polymer Stainless steel bezel Fiber reinforced polymer Polymer No bezel
Case Polymer Alumnium Fiber reinforced polymer Polymer Aluminum
Strap Material Silicone Silicon or nylon Silicon or nylon Silicone TPU
Tools Required to Change Band? Yes No No Yes No
Size Tested One size only 44 mm One size only 39 mm One size only
Measured Main Body Size (diameter or W x H) 37 x 43mm 44mm 43mm 40mm 35 x 42mm
Measured Thickness 10mm 13mm 11mm 11mm 9mm
Measured Screen Width 23mm 33mm 32mm 26mm 24mm
Measured Weight 1.6 oz 1.7 oz 1.2 oz 1.2 oz 1.2 oz
Measured Charging Time 90 min 70 min 80 min 130 min 90 min
Battery Type Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion
Measured Battery Life With GPS On 7 hours 31 hours 38 hours 10.5 hours 4 hours
Manufacturer-Reported Battery Life Daily training sessions: 5 days
Stand-by mode: 14 days
8 hours of GPS training time
Smartwatch Mode: 25 days
25 hours Hours in Full GPS Mode
80 hours in UltraMax GPS Mode
Smartwatch Mode: 20 days
GPS: 30 hours
Ultramax Mode: 60 hours
Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days
GPS mode: Up to 13 hours
45 days battery saver mode
10+ days in smartwatch mode
No GPS time measurement
Navigation Built In? No Yes No No No
Satellite Networks Used GPS GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO GPS
Maps? No Yes - basic No No No
Back to Start Navigation? No Yes No No No
Water Resistance (max depth) Yes - no depth data 100m 50m 50m 50m
Music Control? No No No No Yes
Music Storage? No No No No No
Daily Fitness Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Touchless Payment? No No No Yes Yes
Sleep Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blood Oxygen? No No No No No
Compass? No Yes Yes Yes - widget No
Barometric Altimeter? No Yes Yes No No
Temperature Sensor? No Yes Yes No Yes
Main Software App Polar Coros App Coros Garmin Connect, widgets for other features VeryFitPro
Can Software Cross Over to Different Software Ecosystems? Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Polar M430 stands out for its heart rate accuracy and simple design. It features basic health monitoring, activity tracking, and sleep tracking with the use of the Polar app. However, while it's priced lower, there are much better GPS watch options on the market at the same price point, so it's not one that we easily recommend.

Performance Comparison


A look at the Polar M430, a simple and easy-to-use GPS watch.
A look at the Polar M430, a simple and easy-to-use GPS watch.
Photo: Larin McPeak

Features


This is a decently featured watch that will be sufficient for most athletes that like daily health and sports data. It features daily health tracking (i.e., pedometer, calories, personal goals, sleep quality), timers, alarms, diary, and four simple sports modes (running, cycling, other outdoor, other indoor) out of the box. You can also optimize the look and watch faces (five options) and enjoy smart notifications. It does not have a blood oxygen sensor or other high-end features like wireless pay, maps, or navigation.

Although the M430 does not have a barometric altimeter, it uses GPS...
Although the M430 does not have a barometric altimeter, it uses GPS to calculate the altitude.
Photo: Larin McPeak

The Polar Flow app is used as the main software platform to make the Polar M430 HR more functional. It automatically syncs activities when paired and will provide you with data like sleep time and your calendar. On the calendar, you can add activity plans manually, including goals for heart rate. On the app, you can also access tutorials, different sports profiles, the store, and blogs for a more integrated experience. We appreciate that this device will automatically share data across platforms as well, as it does not have its own social sharing ecosystem.

We like the large display and features like continuous heart rate...
We like the large display and features like continuous heart rate tracking.
Photo: Amber King

A notable highlight is the heart rate sensor which uses six lights to capture data and has continuous heart rate monitoring. We also like that the fitness test requires you to simply lay still while it tries to capture your VO2 max instead of requiring you to do a series of activities. Overall, the features are a bit limited but complete for most recreational athletes.

Notable Features:

  • Sleep tracking
  • Fitness tracking
  • Sports profiles (many to choose from)
  • Recovery status
  • Training loads
  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Activity summaries that include GPS mapping
  • GPS altimeter (no barometric altimeter)
  • No navigational features or compass
  • Water-resistant WR30
  • Check out a full list of features on Polar's website.

Battery Life


This watch offers enough battery life to satiate the needs of most recreational athletes but isn't geared towards ultra-distance goals. GPS life is simply too short for most ultra-athletes. Polar advertises five days in smartwatch mode (with daily training sessions), 14 days in standby mode (basically all features shut off, and only time), and 8 hours in GPS mode. Charging takes 90 minutes based on our tests.

The battery charger is located on the back of the watch and makes a...
The battery charger is located on the back of the watch and makes a decent connection.
Photo: Amber King

During our battery tests, we noticed that with regular activity (3 times per week, 1-2 hour sessions), we had to charge the watch once every 1.5 weeks, which is continuous with the numbers Polar advertises. During our GPS testing, we set it out and let the GPS run. After about 7 hours, it switched itself into power-saving mode and continued to last for another 12 hours before turning off completely.

Since our main GPS test involved the watch staying in one location, we think that the actual GPS time would be closer to 6 hours. This was verified when we took it out for a 3-hour run starting at 100%. It was at 50% after that time. For shorter distances, this is a good option.

Ease of Use


The simple monochromatic design with a large watch face and font make the M430 easy to use. There aren't too many features, and the button set-up is pretty self-explanatory. There are three buttons on the right (an enter button and two toggle buttons) and two buttons on the left. The buttons are relatively flat, so they don't catch on clothing, but we found that pushing them required a little extra effort than most.

Flatter buttons and a simple design make this watch pretty easy to...
Flatter buttons and a simple design make this watch pretty easy to use right out of the box.
Photo: Amber King

Starting a sport requires you to go back to the time screen and press the right middle button. This will bring you to an activity screen where you will choose from your preloaded profiles. From here, you hit start, and your activity will start almost instantly. Unfortunately, there's no way to really tell if the satellites or your heart rate has picked up.

These buttons are rather difficult to use these with a thicker pair...
These buttons are rather difficult to use these with a thicker pair of gloves.
Photo: Amber King

Overall, we think this watch is simple and easy to figure out. Set-up takes under five minutes but does require you to charge the watch before you can begin. The app is simple to use, and it's easy to find everything you need on the software platform.

Accuracy


The most current Polar M430 has much better accuracy than its predecessor. During our testing period, we looked at GPS and heart rate accuracy. To test GPS accuracy, we ran all watches simultaneously on a 10.8-mile bike ride and compared the data.

Here we see the Polar M430 tracks in purple alongside the road...
Here we see the Polar M430 tracks in purple alongside the road. While it's not exactly on the road, the line is smooth and contours it nicely, making for decent accuracy.
Photo: Amber King

During this test, the GPS accuracy proved to be about average compared to the rest of our lineup. At the beginning of our bike ride, a tiny bit of data was lost, but in the areas where the GPS signal was in and out, the track showed pretty good coverage. The distance logged was 10.75 miles with a descent of 2020 feet. The actual data was 10.8 miles with 2,200 feet of descent. So while this is close, it isn't 100% on point. We also ran trails through covered areas and never noted any big difference in the data collected versus what was returned. Overall, we deem GPS accuracy to be good.

Heart rate accuracy, on the other hand, is excellent. It was never off by more than 2 bpm, which is an outstanding result. Only a few times on a trail run did we notice a heart rate that wasn't correct. In all cases, it was most likely because the watch was slippery from sweat and the strap had loosened, or the sensor wasn't sitting exactly where it should have been. The heart rate sensor protrudes more from the watch's body than on most models, which we think helps to maintain contact — something many of the other models struggle with.

Here we can see the plug-in for the battery outlet which doesn't...
Here we can see the plug-in for the battery outlet which doesn't take very long to charge.
Photo: Amber King

Design


Simple and a bit dated. While many other watches feature colored screens and more attractive fonts, this one has a monochromatic and pixelated look, making it look less current than it is. We measured the body to be quite large (37 x 43mm) with a thickness of 14mm including the heart rate monitor. We weighed it at 1.6 oz. The manufacturer claims thickness at 12mm and weight at 1.8 oz. We measured the screen to be much smaller at 23mm across and high. We do wish for a larger screen, especially since the body is so relatively large.

The fit is larger and a bit thick, but we do like the watch face...
The fit is larger and a bit thick, but we do like the watch face. For those with a thinner wrist, you might find it difficult to get a good connection for heart rate accuracy given the design.
Photo: Amber King

The data is clear and easy to see in all types of light. There is a backlight that can be turned on with the press of a button for any night-based activity. The fit overall is good, but smaller-wristed users might find it hard to get heart rate data. Overall, the design is a bit lower than average, but the look might be attractive to some.

Value


The Polar M430 comes priced at the lower end of the spectrum, but there are much better options to choose from. While it boasts good accuracy (especially the heart rate monitor), it's not our first choice for value. There are better, more featured options on the market that are easier to use with better battery life and overall performance.

Conclusion


The Polar M430 HR doesn't really stand out next to the competition. It is designed to track daily fitness and sports with simplicity in mind. That said, we think there are much stronger contenders in this review that are overwhelmingly better at the same or a similar price point. However, this one does stand out for having excellent heart rate monitoring capabilities for short periods of activity.

Running out on open plains is a great place for the Polar M430 HR...
Running out on open plains is a great place for the Polar M430 HR. Here we play in far-off lands in Europe.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King