The Polar Ignite and Garmin Forerunner 45 are two popular mid-range fitness watches on the market at the moment. Both offer exceptional training platforms and app support and can seamlessly sync with popular third party applications such as Strava, MyFitnessPal and more. If you’re looking for a fitness watch to guide you through your training and get you into good shape with access to a multitude of sports profiles, the Polar Ignite could be the ultimate workout buddy. However, if you’re an aspiring runner specifically interested in climbing up the ladder from 5K to half marathon, the Garmin Forerunner 45 may be a better choice. Read our in-depth analysis below to fully understand the unique similarities and differences between these two smart watches.
The Polar Ignite impresses with a wide range of training data and other insights to really help you get into the best shape ever.
The Ignite features a slim, minimal design with a large, round watch face. The crisp touchscreen display comes with a 1-button interface which allows you to prompt multiple actions. However, many testers did feel that it was often challenging to navigate the touch screen with sweaty fingers while completing a workout and the screen was also too quick to timeout. The Ignite boasts an incredibly lightweight design at 35g including the strap - which makes for an easy, wear-all-day experience. The watch also comes with interchangeable straps and is compatible with any 20mm watch strap.
Polar has really gone the extra mile with the Ignite - packing it with a ton of useful features at a very reasonable price. To start, the watch measures wrist-based heart rate using Precision Prime sensor fusion technology. This combines optical heart rate measurement with other sensor technologies in order to obtain more accurate readings. The Ignite also comes with GPS that keeps track of your speed, distance and route - as well as phone notifications that will keep you on top of your schedule throughout the day.
One of the most noteworthy features of the Ignite is definitely Polar’s FitSpart training guide that really offers incredible workout personalisation. It provides workouts that match your fitness level and training history, as well as your recovery - which is based on your Nightly Recharge status of the previous night. FitSpark also helps you keep your training versatile by giving you 2-4 daily workout options - one that is best suited plus other additional options. Throughout the entire workout, your watch will help you perform exercises with proper form and the cardio option will guide you through varying intensities. You also have access to the most important stats like heart rate, calories burned as well as a summary of your workout. If you’re a keen swimmer - the Polar Ignite can help you track your performance in the water with heart rate data, swimming style, strokes and rest times.
Next, you’ll of course have access to the Polar Flow App - which is the home of all your activity and sleep data, as well as the place where you can track your progress. With the app, you have the option to choose from over 100 sports and can add up to 20 to your sports watch. Then, set training targets on the app which you can sync to your Polar Ignite. For example, you can set calorie targets - like burning 400 calories in a workout - or set distance targets - like running 10 kilometers. Your Ignite will be there to guide you through every workout. You can even share valuable training data with your coach via the app - or sync with popular third parties like Strava.
Nightly Recharge gives you an accurate indication of how well you recovered from your day during the night. This enables you to make better decisions on how to train the next day. Sleep Plus Stages tracks the amount and quality of your sleep - giving you insights into sleep stages like REM sleep, which plays a vital role in recovery and fitness motivation. If you’re an anxious personality you’ll definitely find the Serene breathing exercises of great use. The Ignite guides you through breathing exercises that helps you relax body and mind, and enables you to better manage the daily stresses of life.
The Ignite also gives you access to Smart Cals, which gives you an accurate view of your calories burned by taking into account a variety of personal data such as weight, age, height, and gender. Continuous heart rate is measured all-day and gives further accuracy to calorie data. Furthermore, you’ll have access to Running Index, which provides an estimate of your VO2max - which is an indication of your running efficiency and maximum aerobic running performance. This is calculated based on a linear relationship between your heart rate measurement and oxygen uptake. Using all this data, Training Load Pro can also help you find a balance between your training and recovery in order to achieve optimal performance.
The Polar Ignite can last up to 17 hours with GPS and heart rate activated, and up to 5 days with only continuous heart rate tracking.
The Garmin Forerunner 45 is the base model watch within the Forerunner series and offers all the essential features and tracking ability you would need in a running watch.
The Forerunner 45 comes in two sizes, as Garmin ultimately hopes to accommodate smaller wrists with the smaller watch weighing in at 32g and the larger at 36 grams. The lens consists of chemically strengthened glass with transreflective memory-in-pixel technology - making the screen visible even in harsh sunlight. The watch allows you to personalise the screen by visiting the Garmin Connect IQ store and selecting your choice of custom watch faces. The Forerunner 45 comes with a standard silicon strap in various colours. Seasoned Garmin users will appreciate the standard 5-button display - especially useful in a running watch where your fingers are often sweaty which can interfere with touch screens.
The Garmin Forerunner 45 comes with some impressive features - especially if you’re an aspiring runner looking to start analysing stats. It comes with an accurate wrist-based heart rate monitor and Sony GPS chipset that supports GPS, GPS+ GLONASS and GPS+ Galileo. This tracks your pace, distance as well as intervals.
Getting your hands on a Forerunner 45 gives you access to Garmin Coach - the personal trainer that gives you access to a range of workouts with guidance from expert coaches. These are easy to set up on Garmin Connect and sync to your watch so that you are guided through training. Workouts are also based on your recent performances for added personalisation. Your first session will act as the benchmark session that will dictate the rest of your training. For example, if you missed a training day - the plan will shuffle accordingly.
Upon completion of a workout you can upload all your training data to the Garmin Connect App - where you can enjoy engaging with other Garmin users and even compete or share triumphs with them. Alternatively, the Forerunner 45 can sync to other popular apps such as Strava, MyFitnessPal and more.
You’ll also have access to activity data from 12 activity profiles such as running, cycling, treadmill running, indoor track, elliptical, cardio, yoga and more. However, you can only use six of these on your watch at any one time. In essence, the Forerunner 45 is a running-focused sports watch that gives you valuable insight into metrics such as running speed and distance, as well as cadence. This is an especially useful mechanics metric if you’re looking to improve your stride. Plus, the Forerunner 45 can also provide a VO2 max estimate - which is an indication of your aerobic endurance. It is measured in a similar fashion to the Polar Ignite, using a relationship between your heart rate and oxygen uptake.
One drawback, however, is the fact that the watch does not offer any real swimming metrics - even though it is waterproof and can be worn while swimming. If you’re not a swimmer, you probably won’t miss this feature.
Indeed the Forerunner 45 also comes with a few nifty features, including Body Battery - which uses stats like heart rate, sleep and activity to show how much energy you have at any given time. To restore, simply sit quietly for a few minutes. Many runners find it hard to take a day off as they feel like they are losing out on valuable workout time - but recovery is in fact an integral part of any training plan and should not be overlooked. This feature can, therefore, help you identify the best times for activity and rest. Resting heart rate measurements can also help indicate when you are overtrained or fatigued - which would prompt a much-needed rest day.
Stress Tracking takes your heart rate readings into account and shows your level of stress at any given moment. Your watch will then send you relaxation reminders and prompt a short breathing activity. This can be useful for identifying stress triggers within your day, since your stress is directly linked to your heart rate. For example, your watch may show increased stress during a big presentation at work.
Another cool functionality is the safety feature Garmin has included in many of their recent watches, called Incident Detection and Safety Assistance. The former automatically detects an incident, such as a cycling crash, and notifies your predetermined emergency contacts with an SMS and live tracking. Safety Assistance, on the other hand, allows you to send a predefined message and tracking link to your emergency contacts with one button. Essentially, you’ll use this feature when you’re feeling unsafe and you want someone to know about it. Both of these functionalities depend on you having your phone nearby - since the Forerunner 45 does not come with a sim.
It also comes with some useful Fitness Tracking data including steps, floors climbed and intensity minutes. Plus, you’ll be able to access basic Smart Notifications such as SMS, phone calls and emails. If you’re connected to an Android device, you’ll even be able to send customised text messages and quick replies straight from the watch. Let’s not forget about the music controls. Although the Forerunner 45 doesn’t allow you to upload any songs, you will be able to effortlessly control the music as you enjoy your daily runs.
Your Garmin Forerunner 45 provides accurate sleep insights by automatically tracking sleep and can plot trends over various time frames. You’ll also get some data on how much time you spent in each sleep stage - like REM sleep, which is your deep sleep. However, the watch is only able to track one sleep per day - so if you’re an afternoon napper, you’ll lose out on those stats.
The Garmin Forerunner 45’s battery lasts up to 7 days in smart watch mode, or 13 hours in GPS mode.
The Polar Ignite is an attractive and lightweight watch packed with a ton of active features at a very reasonable price. With its FitSpark training guide, it may be the perfect partner if you’re geared toward getting into better shape, with workouts that match your fitness levels and training history. Compared to the Garmin Forerunner 45, the Ignite is more of an all-rounder - offering over 100 sport profiles including swimming (which the Forerunner 45 does not). According to testers, it also offers better sleep insights than the Forerunner 45. However, it features a touch screen that many testers found difficult to navigate with sweaty fingers.
On the other hand, the Garmin Forerunner 45 is a running-focused fitness watch, giving access to a variety of tools, including Garmin Coach, that will guide you with expert training plans from 5K to half marathon. It also features Incident Detection as a useful safety feature while running or cycling, as well as music controls which the Polar Ignite does not have. The Forerunner 45 offers limited sports profiles, however, it is specifically aimed at runners - so if you’re a recreational runner you’ll most likely get all the stats you need from this watch.