Polar M430 vs Garmin Forerunner 235: Which One Should You Buy?

By | April 5, 2019

In the old days, training for a marathon, tracking your fitness, or keeping track of the calories you burned used to be a tedious process. You need all that data, and you often need to write it down on some notebook, while timing everything with a stopwatch. What’s more, you may have all the numbers, but you need to do the crunching yourself, trying to see if your exercises are doing you good.

For runners, having devices such as the Polar M430 and the Garmin Forerunner 235 is a blessing. These devices not only track everything from steps to pace, but it can also keep you healthy and safe. They both work with a mobile app that can help analyze the numbers for you, giving you more insights into your running activities and overall health. So which one should you buy?

Polar M430

The Polar M430 is a great running watch for beginners. If you are starting out, you will love this watch for its simplicity. It delivers only the features and functionality that you need. What’s more, the Polar M430 makes it a point to show all your relevant data without needing to scroll too much. What should you know about the Polar M430?

Features of the Polar M430

Buying the Polar M430, here are the features you can expect to enjoy

Wrist-based heart rate monitor

The Polar M430 has an embedded heart rate monitor that gives you accurate measurements without needing to wear a strap across your chest. With six LED optical sensors and Polar’s algorithm, accurate readings are guaranteed.

Onboard GPS

The Polar M430 also comes with an included global positioning system that allows it to give you location data. This GPS works with the accelerometer to provide you with more fitness data such as pace, distance, and speed.

Personalized coaching

The Polar M430 gives you personalized Smart Coaching to help you improve and become more fit. Polar M430 gives you a five-minute fitness test, comes up with your own running program for different events, gives you your running index, training load, and recovery status.

It will also track your sleep, calories, and heart rate, as well as everything you need for activity tracking.

Long battery life

The Polar M430 will give you up to 30 hours of training time on a single charge.

Other features

Polar M430 comes with a light performance band that makes it very comfortable to wear. You can choose from three colors: orange, white, or black. More than anything else, Polar M430 also offers great time-related features such as a stopwatch, timers, and a finish time estimator.

It also notifies you of calls and text from your smartphone. The smartwatch also has more than 100 exercise profiles that you can use complicated.

Ratings

The Polar M430 gets an average of 3.9 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon. Verified users note that the M430 has a lot of new features and functionalities you do not see on its predecessor, the Polar M400. They also like the accurate heart rate monitor, and the activity tracking they get from this watch. Others praise the GPS, which can lock in your location fast.However, some reviewers warn interested buyers that it is challenging to set this device up and customer service is no help. There are also complaints about synchronization errors and the unreliable mobile app.

Pricing

Prices for the Polar M430 ranges from $160 to $360 if you buy the device from online retailer sites. However, you can still buy this from Polar’s Web-based

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is one of the devices under the company’s best line of smartwatches for runners. The Forerunner 235 mixes a range of useful features and a pocket-friendly price. These make it an excellent running watch for beginners and puts it squarely against Polar M430.

Features of the Garmin Forerunner 235

What are the features you should know about the Garmin Forerunner 235?

Clock features

The Garmin Forerunner 235 can tell you the date and time, synchronize time using the GPS location, and automatically adjust to daylight saving time. It also functions as a stopwatch and an alarm clock.

Quality materials

Garmin uses durable materials for the Forerunner 235. For instance, it has a silicone strap while the lens is made of chemically strengthened glass.

Larger display than the Forerunner 225

Compared to its predecessor, the Garmin Forerunner 235 has a 44 percent bigger screen at 1.23 inches in diameter. It has a display resolution of 215 by 180 pixels. The transflective memory in pixel screen is visible even under the glare of the sun.

Activity tracking

The Garmin Forerunner 235 includes onboard GPS and GLONASS transmitters that give you location data. It also features a wrist-based heart rate monitor and an accelerometer. All of these sensors help to provide you with a wide range of information about your activities.

The Forerunner 235 can count your steps, monitor your sleep, count the calories you burn, and measure the distance you travel. It can also remind you to move and automatically assigns you a goal depending on your fitness level.

Smart notifications

The Garmin Forerunner 235 informs you when you get a text message or an incoming call on your smartphone. You can also use the device to find your phone. The Forerunner 235 can also tell you what the weather is going to be like, and remind you of your schedules.

Rating

Garmin Forerunner 235 gets an average rating of 4.1 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon. Verified users like the fitness tracking and running-related features on this device. They also love the always-on display that shows you the latest data. Further, they praise the long battery life that is rated to last up to nine days in smartwatch mode, and up to 11 hours of training time. Others like the fact that the GPS is very fast when locking in your location.However, not everyone is happy with this device. Some reviewers say that this is not a good smartwatch, so if you want a connected timepiece that can interact with your smartphone, you will need to look elsewhere. Meanwhile, others complain that they expected better materials used for the watch, especially with its expensive price tag.

Pricing

You can buy the Garmin Forerunner 235 for anywhere from $240 to $300 from online retailers. Additionally, you can buy it for $240 to $255 from the smart watch

You should not be surprised to see that the Polar M430 and the Garmin Forerunner 235 share a lot of features and functionalities since both of these devices are geared toward runners. They even have the same sensors: an accelerometer, a heart rate monitor and a GPS antenna. That means that both are capable of giving you the same fitness-related data and information about your runs that can help you improve.

Both the Garmin Forerunner 235 and the Polar M430 suck at being smartwatches. While they can connect to a mobile app, allowing you to see your data on a bigger screen and giving you more in-depth insights about your activities, there really is not much interaction going on between your smartwatch and your phone. You can get notified if you receive a call, but you cannot answer it from your wrist. You will likewise get alerted to incoming text messages, but you cannot reply to it without taking out your phone.

Differences between the Polar M430 and the Garmin Forerunner 235

However, there are small differences that may help you decide one way or another. Perhaps, the most significant difference between these two is rooted in each company’s history. Polar Electro, the manufacturer of M430, provides sports training computers, and they are known for introducing the first wireless heart rate monitor. Meanwhile, Garmin is well-known for their GPS products.

As such, the focus of each device is different. Polar uses the accurate heart rate monitor as the M430’s main selling point, while Garmin banks on its GPS expertise to sell the Forerunner 235. The Garmin Forerunner device can connect to two satellite systems, which means that it can give you GPS tracking at more locations around the world.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 might have a smaller display than the one you see on the Polar M430, but it has a higher resolution at 215 by 180 pixels. Further, the Forerunner 235 sports a better water resistance (WR) rating than the M430.

Meanwhile, the Polar M430 wins on the price front, selling around $50 cheaper than the Forerunner 235. That more affordable price tag means that there are features that the Garmin device offers that the Forerunner 235 does not. The GLONASS compatibility mentioned above is one.

Time-related features

The Polar M430 also does not have the automatic adjustment for daylight saving time that the Forerunner 235 offers, nor does it adjust for the time according to your GPS settings. If you travel to a different timezone with your Forerunner 235, the device will know, and it will change the time settings itself. No such luck on the Polar device.

Other features

The Polar M430 also loses out if you want to control music on your smartphone right from your wrist. The Polar M430 also has a shorter runtime than the Garmin Forerunner 235. The lithium polymer battery on the M430 gives you up to eight hours of training time, while the lithium-ion cell you see on the Forerunner smartwatch powers up to 11 hours with the GPS and heart rate monitor turned on.

Moreover, the Garmin Forerunner 235 has a memory in pixel display that is easier to see under direct sunlight than the LCD on the Polar M430.

But…

The best reason to buy the Polar M430 is the smart coaching feature that uses your fitness data to come up with a training plan for you. Regardless of what event you are joining, the Polar M430 can help you prepare for it. The Polar M430 also has a more accurate heart rate monitor than the Forerunner 235.

Side-by-side comparison: Polar M430 and Garmin Forerunner 235

To see the features offered by each smartwatch, here is a side-by-side comparison of the Garmin Forerunner 235 and the Polar M430.

Brand Polar M430 Garmin Forerunner 235
Price $199.95 $249.99
Accelerometer Yes Yes
Heart rate monitor Yes Yes
GPS Yes Yes
GLONASS No Yes
Time and date Yes Yes
GPS time synch No Yes
Automatic DST No Yes
Alarm clock Yes Yes
Stopwatch Yes Yes
Waterproof 30 m 50 m
Color display Yes Yes
Touch display No Yes
Display type LCD MIP
Display size (inches) 1.4 1.23
Display resolution 128 by 128 215 by 180
Smart notifications Yes Yes
Cale5ndar Yes Yes
Weather No Yes
Controls music on your phone No Yes
Find my phone No Yes
Mobile app Polar Flow Garmin Connect Mobile
Counts steps Yes Yes
Reminds you to move Yes Yes
Auto goal Yes Yes
Sleep tracking Yes Yes
Calories burned Yes Yes
Distance traveled Yes Yes
VO2 Max No Yes
Swim tracking Yes Yes
Battery run time (maximum, hours) 8 11
In smartwatch mode (maximum, day) 1.25 9
Battery used Lithium polymer Lithium-ion
Depth (inches) 0.47 0.46
Weight (ounces) 1.8 1.5

The Polar M430 vs. the Garmin Forerunner 235: Which One Should You Buy?

Looking to buy a smartwatch that not only tracks your run and helps you improve your overall fitness, but also has excellent connected features? Look elsewhere, as both of these services provide very basic smart notifications and very minimal interactions with your smartphone. You only get alerted of calls and text messages, but you cannot interact with it.

You should buy the Polar M430 if you want a more affordable smartwatch that delivers great running-related features as well as accurate heart rate monitoring and GPS information. It is a very capable smartwatch that tracks everything you need to monitor, while also working with software that can help you improve your running.

However, the Garmin Forerunner 235 has some extras that you might like. The additional GPS antenna that allows it to connect with GLONASS satellites, more time-related and smart features, and the running and cycling features. It also helps that you can get ConnectIQ on this smartwatch, which allows you to customize your device.

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