After selling to Nokia and then returning to its own brand, Withings is back in action bringing stylish and functional fitness devices to market. The way that I first got turned on to Withings was when I was looking for a stylish watch with heart rate tracking. Back then, it was the Nokia Steel HR that caught my eye. It delivered everything I wanted functionality-wise in a sleek analog design – and at $180, it’s a pretty affordable wearable. Then, a few months after I bought the Nokia Steel HR, Withings came out with the Steel HR Sport with a dark grey stainless steel case. This is the look I originally wanted with the Nokia. The Sport is a little more expensive at $200, but not by much.
Once I was researching Withings, I started looking at its other offerings. With everything from watches and fitness trackers to blood pressure tools and sleep tracking mats, they have a lot to offer to the connected fitness consumer. Along with the Steel HR Sport I also am using the Body+ Wi-Fi scale. Here’s a look at my experiences with these pieces of stylish fitness tech. Check out the video below for more.
Withings Steel HR Sport
Of course, the obvious choice for a lot of people wanting a smartwatch with health tracking features is an Apple Watch – it’s a great choice. But I didn’t necessarily want all of the smartwatch capabilities. I wanted something with a more classic design and some basic smart features – mainly heart rate. Enter the Steel HR Sport. As previously mentioned, this is actually my second Steel HR. I have a Nokia-branded model as well, from their brief ownership of the Withings brand. But I always wanted a darker case, and that’s exactly what Withings delivered with the Steel HR Sport. You can also opt for a white watch face instead of the black.
The included black and grey silicone watch band is great for exercise and definitely delivered a sporty look. I opted to get a leather band as well to dress it up a bit when not working out – this one is from Archer. With the quick release attachment on both the Withings and the Archer band, I can easily swap them out depending on my activities.
Withings Wearable and Scale: Video
Steel HR Sport: Design
One of the things that drew me to the Steel HR Sport was its classy design. With its analog face, dark features, understated tracking hand and small dark screen, it’s hard to tell that it has smart watch features. Personally, I like the red accents on the Sport. Those aren’t present on the standard Steel HR.
All of the functions of the watch are controlled with a single button on the side. You can scroll through stats like today’s steps, heart rate, date, and battery life with a single click. A long press of the button will enable a sport session, where you can cycle through up to 30 activities to track your workout. Both of these menus are customizable within the Health Mate app to only deliver the info that you want.
Steel HR Sport: Fitness Tracking
I’ve been using the Steel HR and the Steel HR Sport for over a year to track my heart rate and fitness activities. Most of the time, it works very well. Occasionally during a strenuous workout it seems that the heart rate sensor gets covered with sweat and has a hard time reading. But if I take if off and give it a quick wipe with my shirt or towel it seems to work fine again. That’s really the only complaint I have with its fitness tracking feature set. When compared to heart rate readings on a treadmill, they were both very close.
Within the Health Mate app, you can keep track of your fitness level, which Withings calculates from heart rate and pace against your other physical stats. It’s a fun goal to track and see improve, and also a bit of motivation to get moving again if it slides down.
Steel HR Sport: Sleep Tracking
Sleep tracking wasn’t really a feature that I was seeking when looking for a fitness tracking watch, but it’s one that I actually find myself checking more often than I expected. The Steel HR Sport uses your movement to track sleep. It divides your slumbers into three different categories – deep sleep, light sleep and awake. The Health Mate app then gives you a sleep score based on that tracking. I don’t have much else to compare it to, but I think that the Steel HR Sport does a good job at tracking these measurables. I do find it thinks I’m sleeping at times when playing games on my PC or watching TV late at night – a reminder that maybe I should just go to bed (after one more match…).
Steel HR Sport: Notifications
To add some more smart functionality to the Steel HR Sport, you can also enable, or disable, alerts for your watch. Notifications prompt a soft vibration from the watch, and then scrolling text on the screen of the watch. I find it nice to have turned on for call and texts, but that’s about all I have enabled. You can go through the allow other apps to send notifications as needed. Alerts can be muted with a click of its side button.
Steel HR Sport: Alarm
Another nice feature you can enable on the Steel HR Sport is an alarm. Within the Health Mate app, you can set your desired time, schedule it to repeat on certain days, and even indicate a smart wake feature, which tries to wake you up at the right time during your sleep cycle. I don’t use this much, I have found mixed success with the watch actually waking me up. It might work better if I had a more regular sleep schedule, but for me it doesn’t do much.
Steel HR Sport: Battery life
Battery life on the Steel HR Sport is pretty remarkable. Withings claims up to 25 days, which I’ve found to be pretty accurate. The watch alerts you when the battery is getting low. It gives some advanced warning and will enter a low power mode – so I’ve gone a few days before recharging it after being alerted to the low battery. With the included charging dock, boosting the watch back up to 100% takes under two hours.
Put it on your wrist and forget it
Because of its sleep tracking, long battery life and alert features, I never really take the watch off. When it needs a charge, I’ll just place it on the dock at my desk for a few hours, but then slap it back on when fully charged. It’s water resistant as well, up to 50 meters, so you can wear it when swimming or showering, making it suitable for just about any activity.
Body+ Smart Scale
With a few different scale choices from Withings available, the Body+ sits right in the middle for both price and functionality. As a Wi-Fi-enabled scale, it measures more than just weight. By sending low-impedance pulses up from your feet, the scale also measures fat mass, body water, muscle mass, BMI, and bone mass.
Withings feels like a premium brand when unpacking the Body+ scale. The box and accompanying materials are very neatly laid out, and getting up and running with the Body+ is very simple. Just download the app and follow instructions.
With it’s four available color options (as of 4/2019), The Body+ has a very simple and pleasing design. The screen is relatively small, but everything is clearly visible with the large bolt font. When a new weigh-in is prompted, the scale cycles through the enabled measurements – which are all customizable within the Health Mate App. You can easily enable, disable and rearrange the readings.
Also included in the box are larger feet to install when using the Body+ on carpet. Withings suggests using it on a hard floor, but using the included feet made it work fine on our carpet as well.
Withings claims up to 18 months of battery life using the four included AAA batteries and with a pregnancy mode, baby mode and up to 8 users that automatically sync, the Body+ is a great choice for a family as well.
While I haven’t cross-checked the body measurements with any other methods of reading, from what I can tell and what other people are reporting, the Body+ measures fairly accurately.
Health Mate App
Acting as the command center, the Health Mate app takes information from the Steel HR Sport, Body+ scale and most of the other Withings products to give you an overview of what they’re tracking. On the timeline you get an overview of what your days are looking like, and by going to the dashboard you can see current statistics. Every item in here can be clicked on and explored more, which is pretty neat. In the weight measurements, you can dig down and it will give you an explanation of how the measurements are taken. Information from Health Mate can also be sent to the Apple Health app.
For me, Withings checks the boxes that I was looking for in a fitness tracking watch. The Steel HR Sport’s sleek analog design, heart rate measuring capability and simple smart features make it a great everyday wearable for me.
Likewise with the Body+ Scale. It’s long battery life, easy of use with Wi-Fi connectivity and extended measurements make it a great scale for those seeking to improve overall wellness.
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