It is rare that a tech. company can be bought, sold and successfully make a comeback to its former glory but Withings have managed to do this, with their latest Steel HR smartwatch.
After being bought out by Nokia back in 2016, the Finnish conglomerate failed to make a splash in the personal health market with flailing profits and a few missteps. They eventually abandoned ship 2 years later selling back to the original owner Éric Carreel. Withings, have since returned to the market they helped create, with a strong focus on building technology that could improve people’s health and wellness.
Smartwatches have always been a part of the Nokia/Withings product line starting with one of their first offerings the Activite` steel which was not like other smartwatches on the market. It was sleek, modern and sexy and will not foolishly read you minuscule emails or weather details or cost you an arm and a leg to get one. It looked like an elegant, expensive and well-crafted Swiss watch but did so much more than that!
The Steel HR builds on this lineage by taking that stylish wristwatch design and offerings some welcome functional upgrades. The Steel HR is available in two sizes: 36mm and 40mm and boasts an impressive 25-day battery life, 5 ATM water resistance and like its predecessors, the Steel HR features hand dials that show the time and a sub-dial that shows the percentage of personal daily activity goal achieved.
New this year, is what Withings call their dynamic digital screen at the top of the watch face and it is great! It displays pertinent health data and smartphone notifications and you even can choose the information you would like to be shown on the screen through a multi-function button on the side of the watch. This button allows users to navigate through data options including calories burned, daily steps, distance, sleep duration and smart alarm, and to receive notifications for calls, new emails, texts and event reminders.
One thing we love about the Steel HR is the ability to launch continuous heart rate monitoring with the click of a button (not many smartwatches offer this), this allows users to see real-time heart rate data at a glance and help optimize workout intensity and motivate the user to improve performance. Post-workout, users can then view their maximum heart rate, calories burned, and a “time in zone” graph directly within Withings’ free Health Mate App.
There is also some powerful sleep tracking on board, the watch will automatically monitor the user’s pulse while sleeping to provide the resting heart rate and this is thanks in part to Withings’ own photoplethysmography (PPG) technology embedded within, which monitors heart rate using green LED lights to detect variation in the level of blood in the wrist.
Withings, have also returned to form with their Health Mate app, which remains one of most intuitive and comprehensive personal health apps, providing users with a plethora of usable data including heart rate summaries, a daily timeline, personalized advice, and advanced food logging capabilities. It even allows users to share their data and challenge friends via “in app” interactive leaderboards and through social media channels.
Withings, have managed a fine return to form with the Steel HR, this joins their already extensive product line that includes Wi-Fi health scales (Body Cardio), a Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor, a security camera with air quality sensors (Withings Home), the brilliant smart temporal thermometer (Withings Thermo), and an advanced sleep system (Withings Aura).
In a lot of ways, this is the anti-smartwatch, it does all the things a great fitness tracker can do but looks elegant, professional and less toy-like and for that reason, it is perfect for work and play.