Best Fitness Trackers: Comparing the Polar A360 to the Apple Watch

 Comparing the Polar A360 to the Apple Watch

The biggest gripes about the Apple Watch are that it's too bulky for exercise, it's expensive, and the battery life is poor. I would add that accessing your heart rate takes longer than it should.  Enter the A360 Fitness tracker ($199.95) from Polar. These folks have been making "wearables" since 1977, specializing in heart rate chest strap devices. In fact, the A360 bracelet can link up with Polar's H7 chest strap to get a more accurate measurement of your heart rate. This makes it one of the best fitness trackers for hardcore athletes.

For the fashion conscious, it's nice to know that you can get the A360 in assorted colors (black, white, pink, green, and blue) and sizes. Be advised that they sell a small, medium, and large version, so you might want to try one on in person first. Perhaps what is most impressive about the A360 is the long battery life. Polar claims two weeks of use for tracking daily activity and working out for one hour a day. The companion app is quite thorough as well, and while you can't run apps like you can on a smartwatch, you do get notification and gesture support. For example, you can turn your wrist to light up the screen, showing the time, your activity status, and training data.

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Still, at about $200, the Polar A360 is on the expensive side for a fitness tracker and offers less functionality than a true smartwatch, at a time when smartwatches are becoming more affordable. Plus, the microUSB charging port is tricky to access. You have to lift a small flap underneath the device that always came off entirely when I tried to do so. It made me long for the magnetic-based charging mechanism of the Apple Watch. The clasp mechanism is also tricky and makes me appreciate the variety of bands available for the Apple Watch.

Pros

  • True heart rate measurement, especially when combined with the H7 chest strap
  • Assorted color and size choices
  • Long battery life
  • Thorough software
  • Notification and gesture support

Cons

  • Expensive for a fitness tracker
  • Need to choose the right size
  • Charging port is tricky to access
  • Band clasp is hard to get used to

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a fitness tracker that can connect to a chest strap, and offers notification support, the A360 might be worth a look. 

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Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.