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Polar Loop review

Polar Loop in hand
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £66

It's apps need some work, but the Polar Loop is cheap and packed full of features


Pedometer: Yes, Heart-rate monitor: Yes (optional), Display: Yes (LCD touchscreen), Battery life: 6 days


The Polar Loop is the Finish company’s first foray into the ever growing activity tracker market. Despite the fact that Polar has been at the forefront of fitness technology for over three decades, it has taken a while for it to produce an activity tracker, which leads to the obvious question – was it worth the wait?

The beat of its own drum…

Polar has never been one to follow the crowd, instead choosing to innovate and go its own way. That same innovative attitude was clearly front of mind when the engineers at Polar designed the Loop. When the Loop was on the drawing board, Polar clearly looked at what other activity trackers were doing and, more importantly, at what they weren’t doing. Having gathered all that data, Polar then attempted to create an activity tracker that was a bit different.

But while Polar has managed to squeeze an inordinate amount of features and functionality into the Loop, it has done so in its own unique way. From the minute you remove the Loop from its box, you know that it’s not quite like any other activity tracker out there.

Polar Loop box

Cut to fit

Usually when you buy an activity tracker, you need to make sure that you get the right size for your wrist. Some devices like the Jawbone UP24 have no adjustment, so you need to choose carefully, while the Nike+ FuelBand SE comes in multiple sizes and offers adjustment links in the box. Polar has done things a little differently. When you remove the Loop from its box the first thing you’ll notice is that the strap is large enough to fit an ogre’s wrist. The next thing you’ll notice is that there’s no obvious way to adjust it, but then you’ll realise that the strap can be adjusted – you just need to attack it with a pair of scissors.

To get the perfect fit from the Polar Loop, you literally have to cut it to size, and you better not make a mistake because if you cut it too short, there’s no going back. Polar has tried to ensure that you don’t make such a mistake, but the process is still quite convoluted. The first thing you need to do is remove the clasp from the strap. This involves using the pin extraction tool that comes in the box. The strap is attached to the clasp using spring-loaded pins, much like a normal wristwatch – you need to use the tool to depress the pin so that you can pull the clasp free. Be careful doing this as the pins can “spring” off in a random direction!

Polar Loop watch clasp detached

Once the clasp is removed, you then need to wrap the paper size guide around your wrist for a comfortable fit. When you’re happy with the fit the guide will tell you how many pin holes you need to cut away from each end of the strap. Polar has been pretty cautious with the size guide, so you’ll probably find that a perfect fit wrapping the paper around your wrist will result in a generous fit on the device itself. This isn’t a bad thing though, allowing you to fine tune the fit without fear of cutting off too much. Once you’ve cut the strap down to size, you slide the pins through the holes in the strap and re-attach the clasp. That metal clasp does feel a bit flimsy, though, and the Loop never sits quite as comfortably on your wrist as the Jawbone UP24 or even the Nike+ FuelBand SE.

There’s a USB charging cable in the box, which snaps onto the four-pin connector on the back of the Loop thanks to an integrated magnet. It’s slightly annoying that the Loop uses a proprietary charging cable, but then the vast majority of activity trackers and sports watches use similar systems, so we’re not going to chastise Polar too much on that count.

Polar Loop rear

Polar quotes six days of battery life from a full charge, but we found that it was closer to four days, especially if you use the heart rate monitoring function (more about that later). On the plus side, though, the Loop charges incredibly quickly – so even if you have to charge it in the middle of the day, you won’t miss much activity when doing so.


The Polar Loop certainly isn’t short of features and functionality.  Like the Nike+ FuelBand SE, the Loop has a built-in LED display, which means that you don’t need to get your phone out of your pocket to check your progress. It also means that you can use the Loop as your wristwatch. Pressing the touch-sensitive button on the Loop will cycle through various options – time of day, steps taken, calories burned and activity. The latter is a measure of your daily activity represented as a rectangle that fills up throughout the day. The loop will also tell you how long it will take to hit your activity goal, whether you’re jogging, walking or just awake.

Polar Loop steps

The loop also does a pretty good job of tracking activities other than walking, with long bike rides registering as an equivalent amount of steps – although, as always, that only works on a real bike, not a stationary training bike. Unlike the majority of activity trackers, the Loop is fully waterproof. Not only does that mean that you don’t have to take it off before jumping in the shower, but that you can also wear it while swimming and track those lengths too.

The Loop can also automatically tell the difference between when you’re walking and running, and it does a pretty good job of logging minutes spent running throughout your day. Given that Polar has been at the cutting edge of heart rate monitoring technology for decades, it comes as no surprise that the Loop is also the first activity tracker that will pair with a chest strap heart rate sensor.

The Loop makes good use of its Bluetooth 4.0 functionality by pairing with any Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor, like Polar’s own H7 sensor. Setup is as simple as it could possibly be – you simply strap on a Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor, and then hold the Loop to your chest and tap the button.

Your heart rate training session will then begin, and when you want to end your session simply remove the heart rate sensor. While the Loop is no substitute for a proper sports watch, if you’re taking your first steps on the road to an active lifestyle, it gives you that bit more functionality and insight than an average activity tracker, without the expense and complexity of a dedicated GPS sports watch.

Polar Flow app

The Loop syncs with Polar’s new Flow online portal and smartphone app. This is a very different platform from the Polar Personal Trainer site that has been the companion portal for Polar devices for some years now. The Polar Flow portal is still in Beta phase, so it’s very much a work in progress. You need to download and install the Polar Flow app onto your computer – both Mac and Windows versions are available. Then whenever you hook the Loop up to charge, it will sync all your data and transfer it to the Flow portal.

Polar Loop and apps

As well as logging your activities, you can also schedule in future training targets using the diary. Your feed will show you proper exercise sessions, letting you analyse your heart rate throughout the session and the heart rate zones that you were training in. The Polar Flow portal also lets you stalk other Loop users from all over the world. You can literally spy on anyone and examine their training sessions – you can even save specific sessions and try them yourself. If it sounds a bit voyeuristic, it is, and we did feel a bit uncomfortable spying on other Polar users and what they’ve been doing.

The Polar Flow smartphone app provides a very different experience to the online portal. The main display is presented as a 24-hour clock, with an indication of how active you’ve been throughout the day running around the clock face. Below the clock is an iconographic breakdown of your day, telling you how long you’ve been laying down, sitting, standing, walking and running. The Loop does give you a pretty good approximation of your daily activity, but before you get too disheartened about the amount of time it says you’ve been lazing around, just remember that it’s counting the hours you were asleep from midnight onwards.

Polar Loop app overview

To sync your data from the Loop you have to open the app and then press the button on the Loop. You have to wait until the display on the Loop has disappeared, then the synchronisation should begin on the app. We say should because the syncing seems to be a bit hit and miss, so it may take a few tries. What really surprised us, though, was that you have to do anything at all to initiate the sync. Given that the Loop uses Bluetooth 4.0, it really should sync automatically whenever you open the app, which is what the Jawbone UP24, Fitbit Flex and Nike+ FuelBand SE all do.

There’s no supplemental functionality in the app either. There’s no food tracking, weight tracking, and no simple way to share your activity feed with chosen friends. It’s also worth noting that the Polar Flow app doesn’t integrate with other apps, services or platforms like the Jawbone UP app, or the Withings Health Mate app. Polar is far from alone in having a somewhat closed system for its activity tracker, but it’s still a shame that you can’t import data from elsewhere, or export Loop data to other apps you might be using.

The Polar Flow app, much like the online portal feels like a beta build, which is potentially a good thing, since it probably means that Polar will be adding new functionality to it over time, hopefully bringing it in line with the best apps and portals offered by the competition.


The Polar Loop has a lot going for it, not least the ability to pair with a heart rate sensor. The fact that it’s fully waterproof is another plus point that the majority of the competition don’t boast. But it’s also not without its issues. The need to physically cut the Loop to size will be a bit scary for many it was for us. The lack of automatic syncing via the smartphone app is also a bit disappointing, as is the limited functionality of the app itself.

Polar Loop hero shot

The Loop makes up for its shortcomings when you factor in the price. With an MSRP of £85, the Loop is pretty reasonably priced considering its extensive feature set. But you can actually find the Loop online for far less than that, with Amazon offering it for only £66! If you’re looking for an activity tracker that you can take to the swimming pool, and track your heart rate in the gym, the Loop definitely fits the bill. And while the app and portal don’t quite feel like finished products just yet, the bargain price makes the Loop quite an attractive option, although the benefit of not having to cut the strap to size makes the Garmin Vivofit a slightly better choice.

Wearing modesWrist strap
Heart-rate monitorYes (optional)
DisplayYes (LCD touchscreen)
Smartphone connection
OS supportAndroid 4.3+, iPhone 5+
Battery size25mAh
Battery life6 days
Buying information
Price including VAT£66
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Part code90047656

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