I’ve been a tech nerd for as long as I can remember but never so much around fitness specifically until recently. For the last five years or so I’ve been able to play with and test some great up and coming fitness trackers in the industry from companies like Motiv, Withings, and Jawbone. The clear winner right now is the new Steel HR Sport which has become my new daily driver. This multi-sport hybrid smartwatch by Withings has to be one of my favorites and for the cost and overall design, it’s a pure winner.
First and foremost this is not an Apple Watch, it’s FAR better in my opinion and I’ll tell you why. When it comes to tech, especially fitness related I want something that I don’t have to constantly think about and know is on my wrist at all times. I want something that has great battery life and a seamless syncing process to my phone to tracking daily and weekly progress. I strongly believe this watch is far better than many high end smart watches, and it technically does less but in a good way.
Right out the gate, let’s chat about battery life. This is what Withings has kinda blown me away by since the beginning. Their base model Steel has a battery life of 9 months, yes I said 9 freaking months! The Steel HR, and Steel HR Sport boast a 25 day battery life. That is absolutely insane in this day an age of charging your Fitbit every few days or week and let me remind you that Apple watch needs charged daily with regular use.
After a couple weeks of use, and this is fairly early to tell a full review of all the things but initially this is just a beautiful piece of tech. Withings offers a few smartwatches including the Steel, Steel HR, and now the Steel HR Sport. Each with their pros and cons with various features but what helps the Steel HR Sport stick out is the connected GPS, which is a major factor for those runners and more active athletes. This gives a far more accurate data stream to read into.
On the watch itself you have the main crown as well as a digital face that springs open custom categories that can be selected by pressing the crown, then long pressing to enter each option. This is by far my favorite option in the watch as its customization via the app instantly and gives you the data you want immediately.
Though all those features above have nothing on my favorite aspect of the watch, the sleep tracking and smart alarm. Having tested some of the first Withings watches a few years ago this has to be their crown jewel in comparison to other fitness trackers and smart watches I’m looking at you Apple. Having the option to turn on an alarm, have it sync to your watch, and measure your sleep in a way that it wakes you up at the perfect moment so you feel rested it just a flawless experience.
By far my favorite feature of this watch, it’s overall look and feel. The thing is solid and gives the look of a everyday watch with just the right amount of tech. Made from a dark steel with the option for a black or white face this watch looks more aggressive but elegant. All Steel HR Sports come with a black sport band marked with holes for better breathing when working out.
The sport band is incredibly soft and almost unnoticeable on the wrist which is incredible for a watch you wear daily. Though that band is a great option for any attire I do love the other variations available on the site, including the brown leather I currently switch back and forth between depending on the occasion. If you’re already a watch fan, you can actually purchase any third party watch band that measures 40mm size as it matches the same build materials form standard watches. Compared to most fitness bands the only manufacture options are usually at a high cost by the brand you buy into, looking at you Apple Watch.
I’m only a couple weeks in with the watch but I’m learning the app and user experience quickly. Simply tap the crown on the side of the watch to toggle through the various options; time and date, steps, alarm, distance, battery level, heart rate, calories, and even notifications. Then to choose a category, you tap and hold to bring up a small animation that brings you into that specific task. This can start a workout or your smart alarm for the morning, which both are very easy and what I do the most with the watch.
For workouts, the app includes quite a few activities including the basics which include running, walking, biking, walking as well as some more specific workouts like tennis, yoga, climbing, hiking, weights etc. All of which are amazing because they seem to track distance and overall fitness scores differently.
The watch itself syncs outrageously fast through bluetooth and all the stats build quickly into my dashboard on the app. My favorite feature is sleep tracking, which is one of the original reasons I fell in love with Withings years ago. The watch tracks your sleep through the night knowing exactly when you are in light sleep or deep sleep and then using that information it wakes you inside a window that best fits your body around your alarm time.
Alright, is it worth it? How does it compare to other big fitness bands by Fitbit and Apple? To me, the look of a real watch on my wrist is far better than anything Fitbit is doing with their tracking systems and Apple, well it’s Apple. The Apple Watch is a masterful piece of product design but I still think it might be too much on my arm. I already frantically grab at my phone for social media, emails, etc but having all that on yet another screen on my person might be a bit much at the time.
Though Fitbit has a solid lineup of products ranging anywhere from $49 to $299 it’s difficult to know what you are getting and more research is needed to really dig into what each variation of products they offer actually do. Apple on the other hand for the latest and greatest starts at $399 though you can sneak into last years older model for about $279. Reminder, those are the base models.
Withings has a fairly simple lineup in watches ranging from $149 all the way up to the maxed out Steel HR Sport right at $199 and it’s a little easier for me to buy into an actually watch that has fitness tracking rather than a specific fitness band. So, if you like the simplicity of a real watch that has outstanding fitness tracking capabilities this might be the smartwatch for you.
As always if you have questions or want to know more hit me up in the comments below.