Two minutes of review
The Polar Verity Sense is a heart rate monitor that sits on your upper arm, unlike your wrist or chest, and promises to provide real-time heart rate data during exercise that Polar claims is comparable to a chest strap monitor in terms of accuracy.
This is Polar’s second wrist monitor and shares many similarities with the first, the OH1 and OH1 +, with the Sense using the same optical sensor technology to provide the data. It can still broadcast heart rate information to multiple devices, record sessions on the device itself, and has a special swim mode with an improved swim clip that is now included to keep it securely in place when you’re in the water.
The strap and bracket that attaches it to the arm have also been improved, ensuring that the sensor does not tip over while exercising, while the bracket provides a Bluetooth antenna boost when communicating with other devices.
In terms of accuracy, it held up well against a chest strap with a heart rate monitor on a variety of workouts, including running, HIIT workouts, and indoor rowing. It’s a little awkward to wear under long sleeves as you have to start tracking before you move. So it definitely feels better for indoor training times and when the weather is t-shirt friendly.
Data can now be synced with Polar’s Flow app, which was not possible with the OH1. Thanks to the support for Bluetooth and ANT + connections, a connection to a Garmin watch and third-party fitness apps such as Fiit and Apple Fitness Plus could be easily established.
The Verity Sense offers a battery life of up to 20 hours compared to the 12 hours of the Polar OH1. That’s pretty much what we get when we pair it with other devices and use it alone.
By and large, the Verity Sense is a solid performer at providing a reliable heart rate from the arm and has plenty of support to pair with a wide variety of devices and apps. Extend battery life as a package with the Wahoo Tickr Fit wristband monitor. However, the Verity Sense seems like a more comprehensive option.
Polar Verity Sense price and release date
Polar Verity Sense is available now in one design for $ 89.95 / £ 79.50 / AU $ 129.
The Wahoo Tickr Fit wristband monitor is comparatively £ 64.99 / $ 79.99 / $ 129.90 while the Scosche Rhythm 24+ is £ 99.99 / $ 99.99 / AU $ 169.
Polar Verity Sense design
- 30mm diameter
- Waterproof to 50 meters
- Weighs 12g
The design of the Verity Sense is inspired by the sensor that is at the heart of Polar’s first wrist monitor, the OH1. Indeed, up close and personal, it is difficult to distinguish between them and their large, coin-sized stature. It’s worth noting here that the Sense doesn’t replace the OH1, which is still for sale.
You still have a single physical button to turn the device on and off, but now there are a number of small icons that you can use that button to quickly switch between the three different modes. The first is to transfer data to another device via ANT + or Bluetooth. You can do this with two devices at the same time via Bluetooth and with any number via ANT +.
Next, save the heart rate-based training on the device with 16MB of onboard memory so that you can complete 600 hours of training.
The last mode is swimming. You can use the included swim clip attached to your own swim goggles to monitor heart rate in the pool or in open water. It is waterproof and safe to a depth of 50 meters, which should make it suitable for most swimmers.
The sensor technology that generates the data is an optical 6-LED light structure that corresponds to that of the Polar OH1. While this is a similar sensor technology used on Polar watches, relocating this technology to a larger surface higher up the arm is seen as reducing artifacts (such as movement) that could affect readings, thereby creating a better heart rate can.
This sensor is attached and held in a black holder, which, according to Polar, also acts as an antenna to increase the Bluetooth range by 150 meters. This should make it easier to use with Bluetooth enabled devices a little further away from your body.
This is connected to a stretchable textile bracelet that is fastened with a Velcro fastener. It feels like a quality upgrade over the OH1 and was crucial that it was comfortable to wear during our tests. It’s also machine washable, which is a nice bonus. Take out the sensor first before throwing it in with your sweaty fitness kit.
A couple of minor issues with the design are that it would be good if the Velcro was a bit bigger for a wider range of fits. It wasn’t a problem in our time, but we could see the benefits of making this area on the harness larger.
Again, it’s important to note that unlike a chest strap monitor, you’ll need to turn this sensor on to begin tracking. Trying to do this under a long-sleeved top may require you to start tracking before other devices and make sure you’ve pressed the button long enough to turn it off when your session is over.
Polar Verity Sense performance and app
To see if the point was up for the task, we put them to the test for a variety of workouts. We ran calmly and at high intensity and used it for HIIT workouts at home and for indoor rowing sessions. However, due to the current lockdown restrictions, we were unable to get into the pool to test its reliability in the water.
For constant runs we ran it next to a chest strap with a heart rate monitor and switched between the comparison with a Garmin HRM Pro chest strap and the Wahoo Tickr X. In general, we found that the data from the Sense averaged between 4 and 5 bpm and measured values within 2 bpm for maximum heart rate readings.
Where we really thought there were problems, things actually went well, and then we quickly increased the intensity for interval-based running sessions. In these tests, it was within 1-2 bpm of a chest strap monitor and the graphs also show a very similar history of the session.
We moved indoors and used it against a chest strap monitor and the Apple Watch Series 6, which is one of the most reliable wrist-based sensors out there. We used them for a number of HIIT workouts with the Fiit workout app. The data showed that they were the same for maximum and average heart rate readings. In our indoor rowing tests, it was generally 1-2 bpm away from a Garmin HRM Pro chest strap monitor that we could live with.
The bigger differences in readings on these constant runs seem to have something to do with the need to set up the sensor earlier than the chest straps we attach them to. However, it went well across the board. It definitely feels better for indoor use, but it also performed well when we put it on a high-intensity test outdoors, where so many wrist-based optical sensors can stall badly.
If you are using the Sense with a third party app like Strava or Nike + Run Club as opposed to the Polar apps, your data should sync as normally as you have correctly connected the two platforms. Polar allows you to sync data with the Flow app and the Beat app, which was not the case with the OH1, which only had support for the Beat app. However, outdoor sessions are logged as indoor workouts unless you transfer data to another device such as a sports watch or compatible smartwatch.
Flow remains a bit clunky in places and the web app definitely feels better optimized than the phone equivalent. Although it’s nice to see that the scythe is compatible. In terms of connectivity and syncing, we had some teething troubles syncing data with an Android phone, and using it with an iPhone was definitely more hassle-free.
Polar Verity Sense battery life
- 20 hours on a single charge
- Uses USB charging adapters
Polar does not state the capacity of the battery in the Verity Sense, but it does say it should be good to track 20 hours of exercise. That’s more than the 12 hours promised on Polar’s OH1 + wrist monitor.
On the device itself, the LED lights on the back of the sensor will slowly flash red when there is around 15% of the battery life remaining, and flash faster when there is around 8% of the battery life remaining. Polar will add a battery status indicator in the Flow app in a future software update.
If you exercise for about an hour a day, you can expect a few weeks of battery life before you need to charge it, and that’s exactly what we’ve found in our experience. There isn’t a terrible toll whether you pair it with another device or use it on its own.
When it’s time to charge, there is an identical USB charging station to the one supplied with the Polar OH1 and OH1 + sensors that builds the USB charging port into the charging station. Again, it’s small, which makes connecting to a laptop nicer, but a bit more annoying for power outlets. It’s also easy to misplace, which is why Polar has now probably decided to stow a small bag for the sensor, charger, and swim clip in one place.
Checked for the first time in March 2021
Buy it when
They don’t like chest monitor monitors
The Verity Sense can withstand most accuracy-related activities, making it a great alternative if you don’t trust the heart rate of a smartwatch or sports watch.
You want something for home training
If you find a chest strap uncomfortable and are looking for something that provides reliable data, the Sense is a good choice.
You want to track your heart rate in the water
With the useful swimming goggle clip, the scythe can also work on land and in water.
Don’t buy it, though
You want the most accurate heart rate monitoring
Chest belt monitors are still the gold standard for accuracy. The Verity Sense certainly works well, but we’d still opt for a chest strap.
You put your workout clothes on top of each other
The Verity Sense is definitely better suited if you have easy access when you need to start tracking rather than looking for the button to end a workout.
You want months of battery life
Unlike chest straps with a heart rate monitor, if you exercise with it regularly, you’ll need to charge the Sense every few weeks and try not to lose this tiny charging case.
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