The Withings Steel HR Sports is the first hybrid fitness / classic wristwatch that I’ve tested. From the face of it, it looks like a smart, if a little masculine, watch. Yet, press in the dial at the side and you’ve got a whole bunch of functionality and data at your fingertips.
Good packaging is important to me, and the Withings box was comfortingly sturdy – 1 point already, and I’d not even seen the product. I was initially surprised at how heavy the watch face is, compared to my current fitness tracker, and also how sturdy and velvety the watch strap felt. It’s an odd word for a watch strap – velvety – especially when it’s made from rubber, but it feels right!
The watchface is large and shows the analogue time. And also the digital time when you activate the digital display. The dial face at the bottom of the watch shows your daily progress. The digital display is fairly small and you scroll through by pressing in the dial at the side of the watch. One click takes you through the sections and options and a long hold makes your selection. Mine scrolls through the day and date, heart rate, steps, calories burned, your alarm, battery life, stopwatch and timer. A deep dive into your data can be accessed through your app on your phone.
The first thing I did was set it up to my needs. I made sure all the sports / exercise I do (of which there are 30 you can choose from) were all in there so I could start and stop it quickly, and added in the timer and stopwatch functionality which I often need when with my pre and postnatal personal training clients. It took a little time to get used to how to navigate but it’s not that hard once you’ve got it.
GPS tracking – this is my first fitness tracker with GPS! Previous fitness trackers hadn’t had this which always made me feel slightly suspicious of the distances they recorded when I went for a run. It puts a spring in my step when I go out running now!
Heart Rate Monitoring – it’s nothing new that this can do this, and when I manually took my heart rate and compared it to the monitor, it was spot on the first time, measure a couple of beats slower the second, and was out by one the third time. It gets the thumbs up from me on heart rate measurement!
Automatic Movement Monitoring – especially on shorter rides, I jump on my bike and head off without selecting ‘bike ride’ as it doesn’t feel worth it. But Withings has got my back! While I only ever walk, run or bike, it has been great at knowing the difference and recording these automatically for me when I don’t.
Sleep monitoring – I feel like this measures my sleep more accurately than past fitness trackers. Plus, it scores you harder, so while what I thought was a terrible night’s sleep was being recording as a ‘Good’ and given a score of 72, the Withing’s Steel HR Sport tells me that my sleep score was actually a 59 and I needed to improve…
Long battery life – It’s easy to forget that this actually needs charging, the battery life feels so long. Lasting up to 25 days, you can go on holiday without needing to take your charger so that’s one less thing you have to think about, and charging time feels really quick.
This watch doesn’t necessarily do anything wildly different from other fitness trackers on the market but what it does do, it does in style.
Long strap – I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve got quite small wrists so the strap is quite long on me and I am sometimes aware of the flappy end bit unless I properly secure it down.
Small digital display – The digital display is small, roughly 1cm in height, and while it’s easy for scrolling through the functionality, it doesn’t really work for notifications such as WhatsApp. When a message comes in, it scrolls along their name and the beginning of their message. But I’ve never managed to work out how to see it again once I’ve cleared it (or if you even can) or how to see more than just the latest one.
If you want a fitness tracker which doesn’t look like one, the Withings Steel HR Sport is fantastic. My husband, who has what I call a ‘serious’ job, has been eyeing it up, so it gets his seal of approval as a watch which can be worn with a suit. It’s smart, it looks good. I love that I can see the time without having to click a button as you do on some fitness trackers. It’s definitely not a smart watch, and doesn’t claim to be one, so while notifications of calls and messages are useful, it can be hard work trying to read them. If the Withings Steel HR Sport were a person, they’d be dependable, supportive, not much of a talker, but always be nudging me to do better with their helpful tips in the app and way it accurately monitors the activities I do, even when I forget to.
The Withings Steel HR Sport costs £169 and you can purchase it from the Withings Website.
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