At a Glance: Quick Ratings
Heart Rate Functions
Fitness / Sport Features
Ease of Use
A Deep Dive Into Polar M430
What Polar have done with the Polar M430 is take the brilliant M400 and add wrist based (strapless) heart rate sensors to the back of the watch.
The Polar M430 GPS running watch has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins for CardioCritic
Who Is It For?
For any serious runners looking to improve the Polar M430 is the ideal training watch.
If you previously owned a Polar M400 then this is the obvious progression now featuring wrist based heart rate. Although the M430 is aimed strongly at the running market, there is no reason why other exercisers cannot benefit from it’s performance tracking features.
The M430 is packed with performance monitoring features such as Training Benefit, Recovery Analysis, Intervals with vibrate alerts and much more.
In short, if you are serious about your running and have been considering alternative products like the Forerunner 235, then this M430 makes a competent alternative. One of the main features supported by the M430 is Polar’s own RUNNING PROGRAM.
It’s a brilliant feature that plans your training for a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon or Full Marathon. If you have any plans of running any of these races then this function alone is a good reason to buy a Polar M430.
Please scroll down for more details on the Polar Running Programme.
In case you missed it above:
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This is quite a long video compared to some of my others, however, it needs to be.
The Polar M430 is a brilliant GPS sports watch and I wanted to produce a video review that provides the viewer with an in-depth insight into this watch. As with all my video reviews it’s pretty much unscripted so please forgive the occasional “errmmm” and “uummms”.
Don’t forget to visit my YouTube Channel and subscribe for updates on the latest reviews.
Watch below for the Polar M430 Video Review:
The Polar M400 was recognised as one of the best GPS running watches for many years. It has everything a running watch needs including a clear bright display, auto-lapping, 5 x HR zones, long battery life, built-in GPS etc.
More recently the Polar M400 became less popular because it requires a traditional chest strap style heart rate sensor.
People often opting for the Garmin Forerunner 235 or less functional Polar M200 instead.
Enter the new Polar M430 – a firm contender as the Best Running Watch of 2021.
Polar have been leading innovation in heart rate monitors since 1976.
CardioCritic has reviewed dozens of Polar Fitness trackers and heart rate monitors.
More Polar M430 Resources
- Heart Rate Accuracy Testing
- Polar M430 In-depth Video Review
A History in Heart Rate Monitoring
It should be remembered that Polar started monitoring heart rate way back in 1976. No other company has the years of experience that Polar has.
No other company has access to some of the world’s best athletes relying on Polar to monitor their training.
If you want the best in WRIST BASED heart rate monitoring then the M430 can promise that.
Main Features and Functions
Heart Rate Accuracy
The Polar M430 can be used with a Polar H7 or Polar H10 Bluetooth heart rate sensor (chest strap style) if preferred.
The reason for this is simple:
There is NO brand of wrist based heart rate monitor that consistently acquires heart rate within 99.9% to 100% accuracy. If you insist on this level of accuracy you should pair the M430 with a chest belt HR sensor.
CardioCritic’s tests with wrist based heart rate monitoring including the Polar M200, Polar M600 and Polar A360 draw similar conclusions.
These sensors provide approximately 95% accuracy for about 95% of the time. However, they perform better for some sports than others.
For off road mountain biking with heavy wrist vibration they are more erratic and less accurate … for smooth road running, treadmill training and gym use they are generally more accurate. They also work best for STEADY level training e.g even pace running or road riding.
Rapid intensity changes from moderate to high HR in a short period of time, as experienced performing HiiT sessions or Fartlek training, may be less accurately recorded.
Personally, I prefer the convenience of NO CHEST STRAP for a vast majority of my training. However, when performing intervals of high intensity or mountain biking I may opt for the chest sensor for assured accuracy. With the M430 you have the option of both.
Update > July 31st. I have now finished some further tests comparing the accuracy of the M430’s off the wrist heart rate with traditional chest strap using Suunto Spartan (running) and Edge 820 (riding).
The results of these Polar M430 accuracy testing can be found here.
Built-in GPS & Heart Rate
The Polar M430, their latest running watch, features industry-leading heart rate algorithms. Some companies pop any old sensors in their product just so they can tick the [Heart Rate] box … not Polar.
The M430 has been designed and tested for reliability and accuracy. How many other GPS running watches include a proprietary optical heart rate solution with 6-LEDs?
At the end of your run it’s possible to relive your training session in great detail on the Polar Flow app and website. Please refer to paragraph above regarding heart rate accuracy …
Auto-laps or Manual over-ride
The M430 can be set up for auto-lapping e.g every 1 x mile or every 1 x km. Alternatively, you can use the manual lap option OR both auto-lap and manual lap.
A summary review of each lap is available in the M430 at the end of the session. A more detailed lap review is available in the Polar Flow app / website as shown below.
Note > if you forgot to set auto-lap it is possible to add lap markers by distance, e.g. 1 mile (running) or 5 mile (cycling) using the “Split into Laps” feature.
Dedicated Running Functions
It’s an all-in-one fitness tracker / sports monitoring device. It’s a 24/7 activity tracker and sleep monitor.
When it comes to performance monitoring the M430 features dedicated features such as Running Index, Training Load, Recovery Status and more. However, none of these features impact the M430’s excellent battery life with a selection of GPS power modes extending the battery life to nearly 30 hours
These advanced Smart Coaching features use the training data to show the efficiency of your running. Athletes can gauge their current fitness levels and see progress along the way using the built-in Fitness Tests.
At the end of every session receive immediate feedback explaining the benefits of a workout with Training Benefits.
Polar Flow App with Personalised Feedback
Polar doesn’t just provide a wealth of training metrics, it takes the running data and makes it actionable. When the M430 has been paired with Polar Flow it acts as your own personal running coach.
Polar Flow provides personalised feedback, adaptive training plans and live guidance for athletes during various stages of their training sessions.
Planning for your next PB
Some training programmes simply tell you what to do and when to do them. They do not take in to consideration your previous training load and recovery.
Not so with the Polar Running Programme.
Polar’s intelligent Running Programme considers your recent training session along with your current activity levels. Taking all that data in to consideration against your training goal it builds you a personalised running programme. Your daily training programme can then be uploaded to the M430.
Running Programme Set Up
Setting up your running program is simple. Log-in to your Polar Flow account and then click on PROGRAMS. Simply select your preferred EVENT from 5K to Marathon, give it a name, enter the start date and when the program starts …
NOTE > if the event is TOO SOON, the intelligent Running Program will NOT let you enter the date. It will let you know what the minimum training time for each event is. e.g a 5K race requires 9 weeks and a half marathon 14 weeks …
Previewing your Running Program
One you have entered the information above your Running Program is created.
The program consists of 3 training periods. Base Building, Build Up and Tapering as shown above.
Your training program will be sent to the Polar M430 next time you synchronise the watch to Polar Flow. Your M430 will guide your daily training and help you achieve your running goal.
Running Programme Video
Polar Running Program is a free running plan that you can set up in the Polar Flow web service. It’s personal and easy to use and it guides you through your training and makes sure you’re in top condition come race day
Customisable Training Views
Just like the Polar M400, M450 and V800 the M430 features fully customisable training views.
For each Sports Profile (running, cycling, gym, track etc) the training pages can be customised to suit your training needs.
It’s possible to have as many as 8 x Training Pages per Sports Profile. Each page can be made up of 1,2,3 or 4 lines of training data.
The examples below show 4 x different training pages that could all be stored under the RUNNING Sports Profile.
The two examples of training pages above show a fundamental running option for Regular running with Distance, Pace, Duration and Heart Rate.
The other shows Interval Training with Lap Distance, Pace, Lap Time and Heart Rate.
These other two examples show more specific training pages for Track Running with just Lap Time and Heart Rate.
The other shows a useful combination of metrics for Fartlek Training with Duration, Lap Time, Pace Zone and Heart Rate.
Phased Targets – Interval Training
A simple Interval Session.
The Polar M430 supports Polar’s Phased Target training. The M430 can store phased target interval sessions that can be recalled prior to starting a session.
The image below shows a simple 4 x 1 Mile at 7:15 Pace Interval set. Before starting a run select the training session called “4 x 1 mile at 7:15” and the M430 will guide you through the session.
More details of Phased Training here.
The M430 below shows a phased training session with WARM UP > 5 x minute WORK with 1 minute REST for each interval then a COOL DOWN
Activity To Go
Polar M430 WHITE showing time TO GO to reach activity goal (walking, jogging & standing)
Exercise Mode – Training Views
Polar M430 BLACK/GREY in training mode. Remember, the training pages of the M430 can be customised to show precisely what you want to see from 1 line to 4 lines and various heart rate graphs etc
Custom Watch Faces
There are several watch faces to choose from, however, my personal favourite is the DEFAULT digital one rather than these two analogue ones shown here
6 x Optical LED Sensors
The 6 x optical LED sensors ensure accurate heart rate monitoring throughout the exercise session
Next Model UP
The next model up from the M430 is the Polar V800 reviewed here. The V800 does NOT feature wrist based heart rate relying on a Polar H7 or H10 heart rate sensor.
The other major difference between the two is the addition of MULTISPORT support in the V800.
Next Model DOWN
For those who run looking for something slightly less technical than this model Polar have their M200. The Polar M200 is 24/7 activity tracker with wrist based (strapless) heart rate and built-in GPS.
For a majority of runners and recreational exercisers the Polar M200 could be the better (and cheaper) option.
Best from the Competitors
The Polar M430 will be a best seller for several years to come (as was the M400). If you are in the market for a technical GPS running watch then the M430 could be your perfect training partner.
One of Polar’s strong points over their competition is the post exercise analysis from their Polar Flow website and app.
With everything from training load to recovery analysis it’s one of the best FREE apps out there. However, there are some other very good GPS running watches notable from Garmin.
The closest alternatives to the M430 are the Garmin Forerunner 35 and the Garmin Forerunner 235.
- Forerunner 35 in-depth review – a less technical GPS running watch also featuring wrist based heart rate & built-on GPS
- Forerunner 235 detailed review – another technical watch aimed at runners – wrist based HR and built-in GPS
There is no doubting that the Polar M430 will become one of the most popular GPS running watches of 2021 and beyond. The Polar M200 (reviewed here) was a little disappointing with regard to DISPLAY size and clarity .. fortunately the M430 uses the same big CLEAR, BRIGHT display technology used by the M400 (reviewed here).
Wrist based heart rate, built-in GPS, intervals, fitness testing, running programme, auto-laps and much more make it a HIGHLY recommended running watch.
It is without any hesitation that CardioCritic awards the Polar M430 a stunning 5/5 Star Review rating.
Looking for something a bit different? Check out our reviews on the polar a370 here!