Great for runners, awesome for beginners: The Polar M430

Polar M430

Released already more than two years ago the Polar M430 remains a favorite of many runners, cyclists, and other sports enthusiasts. It features state of the are running metrics, heart rate monitoring, Smart Coaching tools and impressive battery time.

So, if you are looking to improve from your current activity tracker or just want to research a great product, this review of the Polar M430 is just for you! The aim of this review is to help you along with your decision and see whether this tracker is for you or not.

Already made up your mind? Catch your latest price on Amazon!

As usual we´ll see what features are inbuilt and check how they hold up against the competition. We´ll keep track of its shortcomings as well to give you a balanced view of what you can expect. If you can´t wait to get the answers on some of the big questions you have, check out our Table of contents below.

5 Features to get you going

The company has combining sports, physiology, and electronics since what seems to be the dawn of mankind, 1977. They have a great track record and it shows in their jam-packed designs. So, let’s go over to the Polar M430 and see what it features for you.

Optical heart rate technology

With the M430 you will get the most accurate sensor Polar had in Q1 2017 with a 6-LED sensor. This was an upgrade from the M400, its predecessor. This sensor features continuous heart rate tracking, which was not standard in 2017. No worries about training either. The M430 distinguishes between high-intensity training and casually walking towards the subway.

Polar M430

User reports the M430 to be fairly accurate in colder weather, which is great feat seeing optical HR sensors usually perform less precise under these conditions. If you’re looking to use the Polar while cycling you needn’t worry either. The optical HR outperforms other beasts in this department such as the Fenix 5 by Garmin. It deals very well with the vibrations that come with cycling.

Its accuracy and ability to start measuring almost instantly and correct make the optical HR one of the best features of the Polar M430, even in 2019.

Inbuilt GPS

Still not standard on every smartwatch, the Polar M430 featured it already 2 years ago and it still does an amazing job. It will track accurately even in the forest, while in the city it might get distracted a bit from all the interference. This is not major though since it will simply calculate where you actually were. Users report back this quality and it is evidenced in coming out from under a bridge. The connection renews almost instantly. This is what you’d expect from a quality product and the Polar M430 delivers on this front!

Cross-platfrom compatibility

With active users in mind, Polar designed the M430 software to be compatible with a whole range of products and platforms. The accompanying app lets you set up and customize different sports profiles. But wait, there is more!

Your data will automatically end up across popular platforms for tracking if you want to. The app connects you amongst others to Strava, Apple Health, TrainingPeaks, and Nike+. Some of these are even configurable via the Polar Flow website. This is especially great if you already use one of these platforms. It keeps your data(history) together and will continu to give you an overview of all those awesome workouts and runs.

Sleep tracking

This is the one feature that seems to age a little less well than the rest. It is based on polysomonography. This technique uses several parameters to determine if you are asleep. These include heart rate and movement, which the M430 sleep monitor is able to track. Others, like brain wave activity, are obviously not included in this activity tracker.

Looking for sleep trackers? -> We took some naps to find the best wearable sleep trackers for you!

The aging part is found in the way it shows your sleep. Newer smartwatches, like the Garmin Vivosmart 3 are able to determine the three sleep stages you go through each night. The Polar M430 only quite accurately shows whether you are asleep or not. If you might wake up during the night, these disturbances are measured as well. Yet, there is no distinction between e.g. light and deep sleep.


While the Polar M430 is waterproof it is not really recommended to use the optical heart rate technology while in the water. Also, don’t push the buttons if you want to maintain the waterproof nature of your watch. Recording your heart rate while swimming does work, although Polar mentions explicitly the possibilities of interference. Apart from it is worth mentioning the M430 is not a dive watch either. Want to know more about the features beforehand? Check out the manual!

Polar M430

Does the Polar M430 withstand the test of time?

We realize this activity tracker is not the newest piece of equipment on the market. All the more reason to see how its features and their quality stack up against newer competitors. Before we do that, we’ll go over the features that come with the Polar M430.


If you’re looking to use the M430 for running, this will be your go-to feature. It measures cadence, pace, distance, and speed. Cadence is the steps per minute you take and an optimal number is depended on your own weight, height, and stamina. Most self-respecting runners watches will have this feature nowadays. So, no the M430 is not unique anymore in this sense. It maintains very good standing among newer models because of its accuracy.


You want accuracy while riding a trail or even through the city? Well yes, the M430 will give you this though its accurate GPS. The Polar is remarkably well-suited to deal with the shocks that come with cycling. The connection holds up relatively well in cities where there is lots of interference. The M430 can easily compete with the Garmin Fenix 5 for example and even outperform it.


As already mentioned the activity tracker is waterproof. Newer trackers will be better though, especially if you consider Polar’s advice is to not touch the buttons while you’re in the water. Also, it will not track your distance if you swim indoors. It will, however, track your heart rate. Tracking your distance indoors is something the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is capable of doing. This is one of the small signs the Polar M430 is slowly starting to age.

Sports Modes

You can easily take the M430 for a high-intensity workout in the gym. It will register most exercises, although users report this to make the tracker somewhat inaccurate. That in itself is nothing new, however, are more activity tracker struggling with these kinds of exercises. Your neat little tracker won’t stop operating until you’ve climbed higher than Mt. Everest, so no worries there. This makes it a perfect companion when parachuting since that is done between 12 and 18.000 feet.

More important is the ability to create a profile for almost any sport on the Polar website and use it with your Polar M430. Compare this to other brands like Garmin, which have a much more restricted range of possibilities. Despite this, if you like playing golf you might want to switch over to Garmin since this is not supported on the M430.

Where is the competition?

So, we’ve seen the features of the Polar M430 and seen that is has aged rather well. Of course, in due time this too will be old technology. For now however it still stacks up quite well. What if you’re looking towards something different?

Withings Steel HR

No, this is not real competition. We have to remain honest. The Withings is a window into a world based on health and activing. The company behind it was expressly formed for that purpose. The Polar M430 outclasses this smartwatch in almost all categories, except battery life and sleep insights. This is to be expected since the M430 is designed as a GPS running watch.

>> The Withings Steel HR is stylish and easy to use: Check out our review!

The contrast is important here. Basic features like sleep tracking needn’t come in a somewhat clunky looking design. If you’re looking for style and a health-focused upgrade from having an activity tracker be sure to check out the newest prices on Amazon.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 (Music)

One of the big other dedicated companies is of course Garmin. The Vivoactive 3 is a good mid-range smartwatch featuring better sleep monitoring than the Polar M430. As mentioned it does lack in the sports profiles department.

>> The Garmin Vivoactive is an excellent step up for beginners: We review it here for you!

It does outperform the M430 in terms of battery life, features contactless payments ánd the upgraded version is able to play music. This makes it a more convenient smartwatch for the more casual active person. If you’re one of those people who can do without a wide array of sports profiles on your waterproof smartwatch the Garmin Vivoactive 3 will be yours to find at Amazon.

Garmin Forerunner 645

Not into style or casual running? Want a watch that can make a decent estimate when it comes to you VO2Max and suggest recovery times after a workout ánd will play music? The Garmin Forerunner 645 does it all, and more. It can give ‘advice’ on training effectiveness based on the data it collects.

You have around 4 days of battery life. This is a great smartwatch to take with you during multi-day hikes. It tracks your amount of steps and is aware of you taking the stairs. It differentiates between walking to do some shopping or catching the bus and actual ‘intensity minutes. You can receive messages from several common apps and even connect with Spotify. If you want to do it right, you’ll want to check the latest prices at Amazon, which is the version including music.

Is the Polar M430 for me?

The Polar M430 is a great all-in-one GPS running watch, smartwatch and activity tracker starting at an affordable price of $ 159.-. For this price you get a ton of very well designed features in support of your active lifestyle.

You’ll have, one of, the most accurate GPS smartwatches to help you collect your data, even in forests. Ad the M430 to your outfit means an easier run. This means you’ll invest in a worthwhile addition that will help you get along better than before.

Of course, if you’re more into health itself and want a watch that is a bit different than the run of the mill design by Polar you might want to go for the Withings Steel HR, also priced at $159.-

Are you serious about maintaining an active lifestyle and interested in having some ease of use? The Garmin Vivoactive 3 with its optional music playback and contactless payment will likely be your choice. Prices start at $199.-

You have already got a few thousand miles under your belt. You want it all. The Garmin Forerunner 645 combines the ease of use of the Vivoactive 3 with the quality of the Polar M430. If you want the best of both worlds this would be your choice, starting at $449.99

Needless to say, the Polar M430 is two years after its release still a strong contender. It holds its own against newer models and provides its user with a wide variety of options and features. Combine this with the precision of its GPS and the great support for all sorts of sports and you’ll understand why you’ll be improving your work-outs in no-time. If that is what you’re looking the Polar M430 will be your choice for a great price at Amazon.

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