10 February 2017
Classic time-piece design
Water resistant up to 50m
Colour: Black, white
Small digital display
Health Mate, smart notifications, Heart Rate tracker, activity companion, automatic sleep monitor, personal assistant, compatible with Withings WiFi scales
Up to 25 days battery life
36 mm or 40 mm watch
Strong battery life
Classic time-piece design
Good Heart Rate Monitor
Small smart display
Limited smart notifications
A look at Withings Steel HR
If you are familiar with the Withings Active you won’t be surprised by the Steel HR design. Withings have gone for the classic time-piece design once again rather than a sporty look, which works really well for those who want a fitness tracker that can easily transition in to evening wear. Withings have provided two sizes to suit a wide variety of wrist sizes however, while the smaller of the two comes in either a black or white watch face, the larger of the two only comes in black. Colour difference aside the two designs are pretty much the same except for the large bezel surrounding the larger watch face which has numbers etched marking five minute intervals. Withings Steel HR base model comes with a rubber strap, if you pay a few extra Euro you will get a nice leather strap which looks fantastic and is also very comfortable, the straps are interchangeable therefore you can switch depending on your mood. Withings has made the Steel HR water resistant up to 50m so you can wear it in the shower or take it swimming, but change to the rubber strap before you do. Steel HR design is simple, classic and somewhat understated, it won’t be for everyone as some prefer their fitness trackers to look like a fitband but for those who want a tracker that can double as a normal watch this design is just for you.
Unfortunately Withings has not forked out for a full coloured display like you see in most smartwatches these days, instead the Steel HR has a classic watch face, yes a standard watch face with a small circular digital display sitting just under “12 o’clock”. This combination means you have the luxury a standard watch at all times so you can easily tell the time and the small monochrome screen displays your step count, heart rate or smart notifications. The screen is small but easy to read, however the information is limited.
Ease of Use
Withings Steel HR is compatible with iOS and Android devices, just download the Health Mate app and pair with your mobile device, from then the Steel HR can sync all data to your mobile which you can read on the Health Mate app. Just like other fitness apps you can read your daily or weekly data and view your progress on easy-to-read charts, the app is good but unfortunately not as detailed or feature rich as other fitness apps available. The Steel HR is not equipped with GPS therefore it relies on your mobile to read distance, which unfortunately means the Steel HR is not as accurate with tracking distance as other fitness trackers. Where the Steel HR does quite well is as a Heart Rate tracker, readings are very accurate and will provide additional information about your health status whether you’re sitting at a desk in the office or out for a jog, the Steel HR will record your Heart Rate as long as you are wearing it. The Steel HR will also monitor your sleep, information is limited to light and deep sleep though this is typical for most fitness trackers. Like other Withings fitness trackers the Steel HR is compatible with Withings WiFi scales and other Withings devices, which combined will give you a more rounded picture of health, though you will have to pay extra for these. The Steel HR will also display smart notifications like texts and calls, while you can’t reply with the fitness tracker it will display a small image to let you know when you have missed a call. This feature is also limited at present, though Withings advise it will expand to WhatsApp and other third party apps, though this is yet to be seen.
Steel HR connects with your device via Bluetooth, connection is strong while syncing data however there have been issues reported with smart notifications failing to come through, though I did not experience this while testing.
Withings has given the Steel HR up to 25 days battery life which is actually quite accurate and a very good battery life. Withings has also equipped the Steel HR with a battery saving mode which means when the battery is low the Steel HR will conserve energy and continue to record your basic activity for an additional 20 days, which is handy if you forget your charger on holiday.
The Steel HR comes in two sizes – 36 mm or 40 mm which means it will suit most wrist sizes. The addition of a Heart Rate monitor does affect the thickness of the watch however, Withings have done a good job, the watch does extend a little at the back but not so much that it’s noticeable or uncomfortable to wear, you will not have any issues with it catching on your sleeve like previous trackers.