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Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle vs. Polar Vantage V (Top-of-the-line smartwatches?)

With a $200 difference in price, the Polar Vantage V is a watch meant for a niche group of users, whereas the Fossil Carlyle is suitable for most.

fossil gen 5 carlyle vs polar vantage v main watch face

Two of society’s elites met at a conference to solve a problem that has confounded people since time immemorial — how do we help people lead better lives?

The first person is a tech elite, family name “Fossil”, first name “Carlyle”, and suggests that helping people live more efficient lives is key by employing technology to automate work and make other chores easier. With more time on your hands, you can spend more time with your family, your hobbies and the community while doing equally good work.

The other expert, an elite coach, named “Vantage”, middle initial “V”, family name “Polar”, suggests that nudging people to get off their couches daily, motivating them with statistics and data, and ensuring they sleep well every night will help people lead happier lives with more energy, more vibrancy and fewer health problems.

So who do you believe? Let’s examine their points of view.

Related: Polar Vantage V Review | Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle Review

Popularity Chart

Below is a chart showing the relative popularity of each smartwatch.

Chart Fossil Gen 5 vs. Polar Vantage V

Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle Google Maps

Productivity

It’s just a great feeling to be able to do so many things on your wrist as you would if you picked the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle.

Notifications

fossil gen 5 carlyle vs polar vantage v notifications

The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle offers superior integration with Android phones. iPhone users should pay heed that it’s integration with Apple phones is a bit lacklustre.

With Android phones, you can reply to messages and interact with notifications but on an iPhone you can only read them. On the Vantage V, you will only be able to read notifications regardless of which smartphone platform you are using.

There is something just very convenient about being able to reply to messages without having to dig deep into your pockets or bags. And you can do this with the speech to text feature, use one of the canned responses or type using a keyboard. The final option sounds difficult because of the small screen but it was surprisingly easy because you could touch-type or swipe to form a word. Just remember — Android only.

Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle keyboard replying to message

Winner: Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle

Watch faces

fossil gen 5 carlyle dog watch face

The Carlyle brings you other conveniences including being able to add widgets such as weather, your heart rate and international clocks. Don’t even think about it on the Polar.

With the Vantage, you get six watch faces by default. You can’t customize them and all the details they offer point towards your lifestyle, sleep and health.

Winner: Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle

Apps

In fact, you can’t even add apps on the Vantage. The ability to add apps matters if your goal for a smartwatch is to have a mini smartphone on your wrist. You can add a bunch of useful apps on the Carlyle such as Google Maps, calculators and games like 2048 but not on the Polar. The last big update for the Vantage gave it Serene, a breathing relaxation app, and an equivalent is also available on the Carlyle as part Google Fit.

Winner: Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle

fossil gen 5 carlyle vs polar vantage v exercise

Fitness

This is where the Carlyle can’t compete. The Polar Vantage V is just too good at fitness that any general purpose smartwatch would have a hard time competing with it. On motivating you to exercise, tracking your sleep and planning your exercise routines, the Vantage wins.

Hardware and integrated functions

On the hardware front, both watches are similar. Both have an integrated GPS and both can be taken into shallow water such as a swimming pool as I have tested it. Notably, on the Carlyle, you will have to download a third-party app in order to track your swimming routines.

The Vantage V has a less responsive touchscreen which at times does not respond to finger input. The Carlyle is a lot better. But when exercising, you want to spend less time fiddling with the watch and that’s where the benefit of having five buttons (on the Vantage) comes in. It’s a lot easier to activate functions when you have a tactile response.

fossil gen 5 carlyle vs polar vantage v active time

Motivation to exercise

The Vantage also has some very useful functions including a power output estimator for runners. You can also go on Polar’s web interface, called Polar Flow, and that will create exercise plans for you in order to train for a run anywhere from 5k to a marathon.

polar vantage v polar flow cellphone app

Otherwise, the watch also has FitSpark, which gives you two to four custom workouts based on your fitness level, training history and your recovery and readiness every day. These workouts are split into cardio, strength and supportive categories. Cardio tries to work your heart at a specified zone, strength involves doing bodyweight or circuit exercises while supportive gets you doing strength and mobility exercises.

One function in the Vantage that really motivates you to exercise is the Cardio Load app. This compares your short-term training load and long-term training load, then tells you whether you are maintaining, progressing or detraining in fitness.

google fit

The pre-installed software on Google Fit does not have any of these advanced functions but has some activity level tracking functionality. Upon activating Google Fit, the watch will ask you how many active minutes a day you’d like to do along with how many Heart Points you’d like to target every day. You earn Heart Points by keeping active and those points increase if you do more intense exercise.

Winner: Polar Vantage V

Sleep tracking
Polar Vantage V sleep app

The Carlyle does not come with any native ability to track your sleeping.

The Vantage, however, has a very good app and analytics to track your sleep quality. In fact, it also analyzes your sleep in relation to how much exercise strain you have put on it.

The analytics you get is excellent. On the app, you will be able to review how your sleep was in terms of length of sleep, solidity and regeneration. Polar gives you a typical score between 70-85 and tracks when you go to bed and when you wake up.

The watch is quite large and uncomfortable to sleep with, which is its major downside. It’s quite intrusive if you put any weight on your arm, say if you put your arm under your pillow, because the watch will concentrate the force on your wrist.

Winner: Polar Vantage V

Strap and bracelet

Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle bracelet modification links

This deserves a paragraph because the Carlyle comes with a bracelet and clasp as opposed to a typical strap on most watches. As a result, the Carlyle is not a unbox-and-use kind of watch.

You will need to break out some tools to adjust the bracelet’s lengths before you can wear it. But once you have adjusted the bracelet to the correct length, wearing the watch is a lot faster.

The Vantage’s bracelet is more standard but takes a bit longer every time you wear it. You have to buckle it up and then put the strap through the free loops.

Winner: Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle

Verdict

The Polar Vantage V is an excellent watch for people looking to improve their lives through a healthier lifestyle or high-performing athletes. The analytics that the watch tracks helps you see which areas you need to work on and the ability to create customized exercise plans is a welcome feature. This is truly a high-end fitness watch.

But the Vantage V is terrible as a productivity tool. It just can’t do anything outside of sports and fitness. The Carlyle, costing $200 less, can do a lot more than the Vantage V in every area but sports and fitness.

=> Skip to the chase: Our Epic guide on the best smartwatches for different uses and devices
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