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Polar A370 review: Not worthy of your wrist

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
170
170

Uncomfortable, chunky and overpriced, the A370 is a rare misstep from Polar

Pros 
The Polar Flow app is excellent
Micro-USB charging
Cons 
Overpriced, considering its features
Questionable build quality
Unattractive design
No GPS
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Polar Unisex A370 activity tracker

Save £66 on the Polar A370, now on sale from £108 at Amazon. I mean sure, our review was less than glowing, but for a saving of 38% you'd be a fool to just dismiss this lightweight fitness tracker.
Amazon
Was £175
Now £108

I had high hopes for the Polar A370. The Polar M430 is one of the best things I’ve ever put on my wrist. True, that’s not an enormous list, but I have reviewed a lot of wearables, and the Polar M430 has passed the test of time. It has accompanied me to dozens of parkruns and been a reliable companion along the way, reliably informing me of how much more punishment my body has to take.

It’s so reliable, in fact, that I’ve taken to using it as a reference watch to call out when others are proving flakey on their metrics.

Unfortunately for Polar, in this instance, the wearable being called out by the M430 is its stablemate: the considerably weaker Polar A370.

Polar A370 review: What you need to know

Rather than a smartwatch, the Polar A370 sits firmly in the fitness band category. When worn on the wrist, it will keep track of your steps and heart rate and log your sleep patterns, giving you a better idea of your general level of fitness.

While it can be used to track runs or bike rides, the A370 can only offer a best guess of this when worn on its own, and needs to be paired to a phone with GPS turned on to provide accurate data on pace, speed or distance travelled.

Polar A370 review: Price and competition

In other words, it’s a fitness tracker that’s very similar to the Fitbit Charge 2 or Fitbit Alta HR in both form and function. While it looks similar to the Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro and Garmin Vivosport, both of these one-up the A370 by packing GPS inside the watch itself.

The trouble for the A370 is that Polar has priced it at £170, putting it directly in the firing line of the better-equipped £200 Gear Fit2 and £170 Garmin Vivosport. The two Fitbits that the A370 is a match for in terms of function retail for £130 each. And that price bracket also packs the GPS-toting Garmin Forerunner 30.

Polar A370 review: Design

Generally speaking, people tend to get fitness bands rather than full-on running watches for style reasons. While the latter tend to be showy and bulky, the former can be discrete and even stylish. Unfortunately for Polar, the A370 fails this first test without style.

Yes, it’s not as much of an eyesore as the M430, but that’s damning with faint praise. In fact, the A370 looks like a knock-off Fitbit Charge 2 – an impression not helped by the fact that the rubber housing of the tracking began to peel away from the device after a few weeks of lifting the flap underneath for charging. While I applaud the fact that Polar has devised a solution that allows for charging with any old micro-USB cable, build quality just doesn’t seem to be there – or at least wasn’t in my review unit.

But even if it were, it’s chunky and a bit unpleasant to wear. It pokes out a good centimetre from the skin, for a start – and while that may not sound like a lot, bear in mind that this is about a fifth thicker than the latest iPhone. It’s also not very comfortable for extended wear, which is a bit of a problem in a device that’s supposed to be worn at night to keep tabs on your sleep patterns.  

The A370, like the Fitbit Charge 2, tries to keep things streamlined with a single button, with the rest of the controls handled by the fiddly 13mm x 27mm touchscreen. I have never been a fan of touchscreens on fitness trackers, because they tend to become unusable with a bit of sweat or rain, and this one failed to win me over. Although the 80x160 TFT colour screen is bright and readable enough, there’s no text on the icons in the settings menu, leaving you guessing what each brightly coloured icon does in a tedious game of trial and error.

Polar A370 review: Performance

So the design isn’t the Polar A370’s strong point. Can it make up for these shortcomings where it matters? Sadly not. While I found the Polar M430 unnervingly accurate compared to other running watches, I found the A370 completely unreliable when tracking runs. A 2.5k run came up a little short at 2.16km, while a 10km jog was massively overshot, as the A370 insisted I’d run 12.62km.

To be clear, this isn’t the A370’s fault, as such. Because it has no GPS built in to the device, any accurate run tracking is done by piggybacking off a paired smartphone. If your smartphone GPS is giving duff information, the A370 will uncritically read it back to you. The above mistakes came from running with a very iffy Samsung Galaxy S7, and weren’t repeated when running with a Pixel 2, where the figures were pretty much spot on. Your mileage may vary (literally), but the point is that it can’t be relied upon.

All of these negatives are all the more disappointing when you get into the Polar Flow app, which is actually really good. It’s not as detailed as Garmin Connect, but it does an excellent job of breaking up your entire day in terms of exercise, offering a load of stats on each energetic burst. It connects to MyFitnessPal, Strava, Nike+ and more, and it even lets you add training results and targets to your Google Calendar, to make sure you stay on top of your fitness goals even when the app is closed.

Polar A370 review: Verdict

Am I being a bit unfair on the A370 by judging it on my phone’s flakey GPS? Maybe a little. But even if I am being harsh in that respect, I have pretty severe misgivings about the product, especially at its optimistic price of £170. For that kind of money, I’d hope for GPS built in. In fact you can have exactly that by giving your £170 to Garmin for the Vivosport instead.

Compare like for like, and things get worse. Without GPS, the A370 is a direct parallel for Fitbit’s midrange products: the Alta HR and the Charge 2. Both of these match the Polar A370 feature for feature, and both look better and feel more comfortable. Crucially, they also do so for at least £40 less.

Even if the A370 retailed for £130, I’d still suggest getting the Fitbit Charge 2 or Alta HR instead. At £170, it just makes saying so a no-brainer.