Polar Heart Rate Monitor – M400 Review

To anyone looking for a great heart rate monitor that can do so much more, quality is no substitute. The worst thing I can think of is running 4 miles and not having my steps counting right, or my heart rate being read wrong. I once had a heart rate monitor that had everything you could get back then, but in one jog in the rain it had shorted out…come to find out it was not waterproof. You have already done the crucial step I missed years ago by doing all your research first, so pat yourself on the back! You are in luck as well, because I’m about to give a review on one of the top brands of heart rate monitors in the market…the Polar Heart Rate Monitor. For such a review, what better model then the highest trending one in their lineup, the M400. I will also put it up against a couple of it’s competitors as well, the Fitbit Surge and the Garmin Forerunner 35. You can decide for yourself and judge which one is right for you.

Polar M4oo

Features and Benefits

5 Colors -Black, Blue, Pink, Red, White

Built in GPS – Tracks pace, distance, altitude.

Fitness Tracker – Tracks workouts, steps distance, calories burned, sleep quality, and activity 24/7

Waterproof Fitness Trainer – Waterproofed up to 30 meters, keeps an eye on your running cadence to improve your running efficiency and avoid injuries in all weather conditions.

Advanced Technology – Compatible with H7 Heart Rate Sensor (chest strap) to train at the right intensity with target heart zones.

Social Smartwatch – Plan, sync, and share training using the Polar Flow app and web service.

Sync stats wirelessly and automatically to your computer and over 100 leading smartphones.

Price – 212.87 on Amazon with Free Shipping (as low as $83 used).

Weight – 56.6 grams (2 oz.)

Pros and Cons

The Polar M400 has a ton of awesome features and is extremely smart. It even knows when it isn’t being worn, when you are sitting, standing, walking, jogging, or resting. It will even pause automatically when you stop running and interval workouts can be created based on time, heart rate, or distance. There is a “back to start” feature that will take you back to your start point from wherever you end up which is great for running in unfamiliar areas. The typical virtual pacers many watches have function differently than the Polar M400. Instead of it telling you if you are running too fast or too slow, it tells you how long to it should take to complete the set distance at your current pace. The added wireless H7 chest strap is extremely accurate for those looking for a more extreme workout experience that goes beyond just monitoring heart rate, and the M400 can link via Bluetooth to any chest strap heart rate monitor (except for a Garmin as their heart rate sensors use ANT + technology). Decent battery life lasts up to 10 hours to a week depending on how it is used. Charges through a normal Micro-USB which is awesome compared to the Garmin and Fitbit which require a dock connector.  You will get a cord which can be plugged into a PC or smartphone adapter.

Unlike the Garmin and the Fitbit, it will not show you smartphone notifications on your wrist. It is more comfortable than the Garmin Forerunner 35 and doesn’t feel as cheaply, but the Fitbit surge is slimmer and slightly more comfortable to most. The built in GPS is great, but has been known to take some time syncing much like the Fitbit Surge. Garmin actually has awesome sync times and many say trees are not a problem, which personally I did not even know that this was ever an issue.

Fitbit Surge

Features Benefits

Colors – Black, Slate, Violet, Lime, Pink, Teal, Tangerine, Navy

Built in GPS – Tracks pace, distance, and altitude

Fitness Tracker – Tracks workouts, steps, distance, calories burned (no chest strap), sleep quality, and activity 24/7

Water Resistant

Text and call notifications

Auto Sleep and alarms

Battery Life up to 7 days/GPS battery life 10 Hours (many say 5 hours)

Price – $168 on Amazon & Free Shipping

Weighs – 32 grams (1.12 oz)

Pros and Cons

The sleeker and more comfortable of the three. This watch makes an excellent watch for anyone training for a marathon. It is lighter and can be found at about the same price or less than the M400. It is water resistant but not nearly as protected as the fully waterproofed Polar M400. Offers some extra features like call notifications and Bluetooth connectivity for music.

Though it boasts similar lifespan, many users are finding that the charge times are a little lower than stated. Again, this is all relative to its use just like the M400 and Forerunner 35. The LED display stays on all of the time and there are issues with many owners of the screen going off into unintended screens and programs within the watch. Watch feature does not revert back to the time and often requires checking the time on your watch a two handed operation. Many often find themselves still using their phone to check the time whether while running or during everyday use, because they can do it with one hand on the phone instead of using two on the watch to bring the time up again. Only iphones  are compatible with the Fitbit as they do not support the standard GATT Server for the other phones that use the Windows platform.

Garmin Forerunner 35

Features and Benefits

5 colors – Black, White, Frost Blue, Limelight

New high resolution LCD display for indoor/outdoor viewing.

Vibration Alerts available unlike Surge and M400

No phone required or chest strap required.

Auto uploads to garmin connect (free online community).

Only black and white display

Virtual pacer  – indicates how far behind or ahead you are from pace.

Tree lines not an issue and fast syncing.

Price  $160.22 Amazon & free shipping

Weighs – 36.8 grams (1.3 oz.)

Pros and Cons

The Garmin Forerunner 35 is a great option for the beginner to experienced runner. Though it doesn’t have have as many features as the M400 or Surge it is still has a lot of the needs for a great heart rate monitor. It boasts a little longer battery life lasting from 11 hours to nine days depending on useage, and is waterproof up to 50 meters. Excellent syncing times and no need for phones or chest straps.

Though no chest straps necessary, the foot-pad may be a required purchase for specific types of exercise like cycling. It is much lighter than the Surge and M400, but with that comes a price. The strap is just a light cheap plastic feel and the watch display is a lower grade monochrome LCD, but for someone looking for a good heart rate monitor at a budget it should not be an issue.


There you have it. Hopefully this answers many of your questions on the Polar M400 and its competitors. Each of these watches can serve any beginner or experienced runner or athlete well. However, for me the best of the three is the Polar M400. With its loaded features, price, comfort, and user friendliness, it makes for the best option for most. However, that is ultimately up to each person to decide as everyone’s needs are different. Truly you can’t go wrong with any of these three excellent choices. Feel free to click on each Amazon link and research them yourself. As any questions below and if you have any feedback or personal experiences with these three heart monitors, feel free to add to the comments below. Your comments are appreciated and can help someone make the best choice!


1 Comment

  1. I like the fact that these watches have GPS built into them. I’m assuming that the GPS type is for measuring altitude and speed, not direction. Are there any watches that will track my path through the mountains?

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