Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Polar Pacer Pro: Smartwatch Comparision

Even though they are very different, the Garmin Forerunner 255 and the Polar Pacer Pro are two of the most interesting smartwatches for ambitious amateur athletes. So it makes sense to look at the two watches more closely and compare them.

The Garmin Forerunner 255 is a modern smartwatch with a lot of training and fitness functions, as well as some smart features. The Polar Pacer Pro, on the other hand, is a real sports watch that focuses on the essentials. Both watches are made in very different ways, which makes comparing them so interesting.

Specification

Garmin Forerunner 255Polar Pacer Pro
ReleasedJune 2022April 2022
Screen1.3-inch MIP 1.2-inch MIP
Pixel260 x 260px240 x 240px
Touch screenNoNo
MaterialsFiber reinforced polymerPlastic case / aluminum bezel
Dimensions45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 mm45 x 45 x 11 mm
Weight49 grams41 grams
Waterproof5 ATM5 ATM
OSGarmin OSProprietary OS
CompatibilityAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS
TrackingGPS, GALILEO, GLONASS, 
multiband GPS for all systems
GPS, GALILEO, GLONASS, Assisted GPS
SensorsHRM (heart rate monitor), altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, SpO2HRM (heart rate monitor), altimeter, compass, accelerometer
SpO2 blood oxygen controlYesNot
Battery life14 days smartwatch mode
30 hours GPS mode
7 days smartwatch mode
35 hours GPS mode
Music storageUp to 500 songsNo (music controls only)
AppCONNECT IQPolar Flow
BluetoothYesYes

As far as the watches’ technical parts go, there aren’t any big differences or special features. The Forerunner 255 only uses modern multi-band technology to figure out where it is and how far away it is. Polar, on the other hand, still uses the old method. 

Design

Both watches aren’t very interesting to look at. The models have a simple, clear design, and they are made of strong plastic. You just notice that these smartwatches aren’t just a fashion statement, but that it’s all about what’s inside.

The Garmin Forerunner 255 comes in two sizes, so both men and women should be able to wear it. You can also choose whether the watch has a music player or not.

The Forerunner 255 has a 1.3-inch screen with a resolution of 260 x 260 pixels. The Pacer Pro has a 1.2-inch screen with a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels per inch.

The Forerunner has a smaller model, the 255 S, with a 1.1-inch screen. The Polar Pacer Pro, on the other hand, only comes in one size. but it works for both men and women. With this model, you can also choose between the basic model and the pro model, which also has different navigation features.

Display

When it comes to displays, smartwatches aren’t exactly cutting-edge, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Both watches have a MIP (Memory in Pixel) display, which is easy to read even in direct sunlight and uses less battery life.

A MIP screen, on the other hand, can’t keep up with the popular AMOLED screen in terms of resolution and colour reproduction.

The Forerunner 255 and the Polar Pacer (Pro) don’t have touch screens, so you can only use the side buttons to control them.

Activity and Health Tracking

Now let’s talk about how most people use activity tracking in their daily lives and to keep an eye on their own health.

Garmin Forerunner 255Polar Pacer (Pro)
Steps
Distance
Calorie consumption
Floor counter
Auto. activity detection
Sleep monitoring
SpO2 measurement
Respiratory rate
HRV measurement
Stress tracking
Women health
ECG
Blood pressure measurement

From the above comparison, it seems like the two watches have the exact same functions when it comes to sports, fitness, and training. But, as is so often the case, the biggest differences are in the small things.

The smartwatches are very different, especially in how they analyse the training data for a long time.

Polar’s Training Load Pro is a great tool for processing all of the important measurement data from a workout in a way that is clear and, most importantly, makes sense. You will get information on the training load, the current training status, the training impulse, the VO2max, and the muscular load (interesting for cyclists).

All of the information is shown in helpful charts and graphs, so even people with little experience can quickly find their way around and draw useful conclusions. Training Load Pro can only be used to its full potential through the Polar Flow web portal. In the app, only a short version of the training analysis is given.

Garmin provides extensive training analysis. The same metrics—training load, training effect, training status, and VO2max—are calculated in greater detail. 

HRV status is now a parameter on the Garmin Forerunner 255 and 955. The best recovery times and training status are determined by heart rate variability.

Unlike Polar, Garmin’s entire training analysis can be viewed in the app.

Both manufacturers’ trackers are excellent and help amateur athletes train at the right intensity and make permanent progress. Which analysis you prefer depends on taste.

Both watchmakers offer a variety of extra features. The Garmin Forerunner 255 lets you train with a coach or on your own. 

The Pacer Pro also offers FitSpark daily training suggestions based on sleep monitoring and Nightly Recharge data. On bad days, you may be recommended mobility training, on good days, demanding interval training.

Garmin and Polar have been leaders in measuring heart rate and distance for many years, which is why the measurement data is very precise and reliable.

The Garmin Forerunner 255 and Polar Pacer Pro use latest generation sensors. Garmin’s multi-band GNSS technology ensures precise distance measurement.

The Forerunner 255 and Pacer Pro distance measurement with other watches. Despite its old GPS, the Polar performs as well as the Garmin watch with modern equipment.

Both watches measure heart rate well. During constant-pace endurance runs and intense interval training, both smartwatches measure as accurately as a chest strap.

Polar Pacer (Pro) HR measurement during interval training

Garmin Forerunner 255 HV measurement during interval training

Battery

If you look at the manufacturer’s information on the battery life, you can see some very clear differences.

Garmin

  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 14 days
  • GNSS mode with GPS only: Up to 30 hours
  • GNSS mode with all systems and music: Up to 6.5 hours
  • GNSS mode with all systems: Up to 25 hours
  • GNSS mode with all systems and multi-band: Up to 16 hours

Polar

  • Battery life clock mode, up to 43 days
  • Battery life training mode, up to 35 hours
  • Battery life in power-saving training mode, up to 100 hours

It seems like the Polar Pacer Pro has a slightly more powerful battery, so the runtimes are also a bit longer. In fact, during our tests, we found that if both watches are used in the same way, they need to be plugged into the charging cable every seven days on average.

Smart Features

Garmin Forerunner 255Polar Pacer (Pro)
LTE mode
notifications
Telephony
Music player
Voice assistant
Payment services
Watch faces
Apps installable

The comparisons above show that Polar doesn’t have a lot of smart features, which is why the Pacer (Pro) is more of a sports watch than a smartwatch.

On the other hand, the Garmin Forerunner 255 has all the smart features that most smartwatches have these days.

Conclusion!

Even though the final score clearly favoured the Garmin Forerunner 255, that doesn’t mean that the Polar Pacer (Pro) is the bad watch in this case.

It just shows how the two models are turned in different ways. The Polar Pacer Pro is a sports watch, while the Forerunner 255 is a modern smartwatch. Both watches are good for sports, fitness, and training.

The Garmin Forerunner 255 is a great choice if you want a watch that can also be used as a fitness tracker in everyday life and has a lot of smart features.

If the basic functions for activities and health are enough for you and you mostly use the watch for sports and fitness, then you should choose the Polar Pacer (Pro).

A few use cases:

  • Do you need SpO2 (blood oxygen) data? In that case, you should go for the Forerunner 255 (Polar does not provide this data).
  • Do you want an app that is easier to use and “less loaded” data? Then the Polar Pacer Pro is your watch. Your Polar Flow service and app are easier to understand
  • Do you want more detailed data and an infinite number of statistics? Then the Forerunner is your watch along with the Garmin Connect app.
  • Do you want music on your watch? The Garmin Forerunner 255 offers a version with music storage (you can connect to Spotify). The Polar does not have this option.
  • Battery life? In our tests, running daily swims and walks, the Forerunner 255 got up to 9 days of battery life versus 7 days for the Polar Pacer Pro.
  • GPS accuracy? Both are very accurate and pick up the signal from the satellites very quickly.
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