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Throughout the past few years, we’ve had to choose one or the other – fitness trackers or smartwatches. Dedicated fitness trackers might be better at tracking your daily activity and heart rate, but they normally lack things like voice commands and proper notification support – two features normally found only on smartwatches. Sure, there’s always the option of buying a fitness tracker and a smartwatch, but that’s not a very elegant solution for those who are looking to wear just one device at a time.

But what if you don’t want to choose between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker? That’s where the Polar M600 comes in.

With a built-in GPS, optical heart rate sensor and plenty of other essentials found in higher-end fitness trackers, the new Polar M600 certainly brings a lot to the table. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the device, though, is the fact that it’s running Android Wear, Google’s smartwatch OS.

Does the M600 offer up enough to warrant its high price tag? Or should you opt for something else? We find that out, and more, in our full Polar M600 review.

It’s clear that Polar set out to create a true fitness tracker/smartwatch hybrid device with the M600. While that may be the case on the software front, this thing doesn’t look anything like the other smartwatches currently on the market. Rather, its overall shape and size bares a slight resemblance to Garmin’s vívoactive HR, mostly because of its big, bulky design. In fact, the M600 is actually quite a bit bigger than the vívoactive HR. It measures 13mm thick, compared to the vívoactive HR’s 11.4mm.

One of the biggest downsides of a bulky device like this is that users could potentially feel less inclined to put it on every day. Especially for sleep tracking, this isn’t the most comfortable device to wear on your wrist, so try to keep that in mind if you’re looking for a comfortable, wrist-mounted activity tracker.

On top of the size issues some may have with the M600, the design of the device is quite bland, overall. While there are a few things that help the device stand out, such as the chrome bezels on the left and right edges and Gorilla Glass 3 screen, we can’t help but think that the M600’s design feels a bit uninspired. Polar might not be in the business of creating fashionable fitness accessories, but it’s hard not to compare it to the work Fitbit is doing with its latest activity trackers.

 

One of the more positive aspects of the M600’s design is support for interchangeable straps. This means if your strap breaks for some reason, you can pick up a spare on Amazon for about $30 without replacing the whole unit. The M600’s straps remind us a lot of the ones found on the Moto 360 Sport. They’re very rubbery and tend to collect a lot of dust and fuzz. It’s a small gripe, really, but should still be kept in mind if you own any dogs or cats.

Smartwatches often try to toe the line between style and functionality, given that they often need to be quite thick in order to accommodate the technology underneath the screen. The problem with the Polar M600 is that it makes no such effort. For a watch that is supposed to be useful in more than just active situations, we felt like we could only use the watch when we were exercising or outdoors. Forget ever using the M600 with a suit or even a button up shirt – while we don’t have any problem letting others know we are active people, this fitness watch finds a way to make it a little too obvious.

The M600 also carries an IPX8 waterproof rating, which means it’s suitable for swimming up to 10 meters. This is certainly one of the more positive aspects in the design department, as it means you can not only track your swims, you also don’t need to worry about it getting wet if you’re near a pool.

Now let’s talk about the display. The M600 sports a 1.3-inch TFT display with a resolution of 240 x 240, resulting in a pixel density of 260ppi. We’ve been quite happy with the quality and responsiveness of the display, though it does seem a tad small compared to the overall size of the device.

The M600 has two physical buttons – one right below the display and another off to the left. The leftmost button acts as a home button, which can also be used to wake up the display if you don’t want to swipe to wake it. The button below the display is the activity button, and pressing it will bring you to Polar’s built-in training application. From here, you get two options – Training and My day. The Training section is where you’ll go to select which workout you’d like to perform, and the My day section will give you a snapshot of the current day’s activity. You can only see your steps, distance and calories progress from this screen though; for everything else, you’ll need to open the Polar Flow app on your phone.

Features & Performance

The Polar M600 is one of the most feature-rich fitness trackers we’ve tested. As for daily activity tracking, it’ll keep track of your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, resting and active heart rate, and sleep. In order for the M600 to track any of these things, you’ll first need to download the Polar Flow app on your Android or iOS smartphone. Once that’s downloaded, sync your M600 to the app and you’re ready to start tracking.

It’s also worth noting that Polar Flow has a desktop client and a browser version, too, if you’d rather look at your activity history on a computer. It’s definitely refreshing to see a fitness-focused Android Weardevice with a robust companion app. While Google Fit and Moto Body are easy to use, simplistic applications, Polar Flow is much more to our liking. More on that later, though.

Before you take the M600 out for its first workout, we recommend opening up Polar Flow and navigating to the Sport Profiles section. This is where you’ll be able to load up to 20 different sport profiles on your M600 to select before you start working out. You can ‘only’ load 20 onto your device at one time, but there are over a hundred to choose from. Some of the most common Sport Profiles are running, hiking, walking, spinning, road cycling, jogging, indoor cycling and strength training. It can also track other sports like baseball, hockey and football, too.