Bottom line: A top-notch hybrid smartwatch that collects essential health and fitness data 24/7. And did we mention the battery life? It puts the Apple Watch to shame.
Lots of useful features like ECG
Health Mate app
30 days of battery life!
Small digital window
Learning curve to get ECG/SpO2 readings
White watch face model doesn't offer a red activity hand
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At iMore, we love the best Apple Watches on the market. And yet, we also recognize these full-featured smartwatches aren't for everyone. So if you're someone who wants to track health and fitness routines from your wrist but couldn't care less about changing watch faces and having an App Store on your arm, it's time to consider the Withings ScanWatch.
A great alternative to the Apple watch, this FDA-approved hybrid smartwatch is beautifully designed and well-made. Better still, it's packed with many of the same features found on the Apple Watch Series 7 at a lower price. Though it too isn't for everyone, Withings' latest product is its best to date and worth considering, as you'll learn in this review.
Withings ScanWatch: Price and availability
First announced in 2020, the Withings ScanWatch was finally made available in the U.S. in late 2021, following Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The ScanWatch is available to purchase through the Withings website and large retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. The 38mm model starts at $279.95, with the 42mm model starting at $299.95. The watch is available with a white or black face with silver everywhere else. Each watch ships with a sport Fluoroelastomer wristband, magnetic charging cable, and reusable pouch. Additional bands, including some made of leather, are available to purchase separately from the Withings website.
Withings ScanWatch: What's good
There's much to love about the ScanWatch. The best place to start is with its design and build. We'll then move on to its long list of features.
Design and build
The first thing you'll recognize about the ScanWatch is its face, which looks every bit like a traditional watch (hello, physical watch hands) until you see the two circular insets at the top and bottom. The top one is a PMOLED screen where you'll find the digital day/time and key metrics collected throughout the day, such as notifications, your current heart rate, steps, and more. This area also plays a role when calculating your on-demand ECG and oxygen saturation level and starting fitness sessions. You can find every option by turning the watch's crown on the right side up or down. The PMOLED screen is nicely lit, making it easy to view at night.
The second inset offers a single-arm analog dial that shows your current daily step count. Watch as the arm slowly moves throughout the day (assuming you're taking steps), only to be reset to zero each day at midnight. The arm on this inset is silver on every ScanWatch model except for the black 42mm version (but not 38mm), where it's a far superior red.
From a build perspective, the ScanWatch is anything but cheaply made. It features a stainless steel (316L) case with a brass lacquered dial and sapphire glass. The 38mm version weighs 58 grams (2.07 ounces), while the 42mm version is 83g (2.92 ounces). My 42mm ScanWatch review unit felt somewhat heavy on my wrist, but this is no doubt because it's heavier than my aluminum 44mm Apple Watch Series 7 that I wear every day, which comes in at 1.38 ounces.
Features. And more features
As I first mentioned in 2019 in my Withings Move review, I've long been a fan of Withings products, and one of the reasons for this is the company's companion app, Health Mate. The free app keeps track of every metric you can think of when it comes to fitness and health as collected from its many products, including body scales, blood pressure cuffs, sleep tracking mats, etc. The app automatically migrates this data to Apple Health.
The ScanWatch collects a lot of data, starting with its two most touted features, ECG and SpO2.
Called a one-lead electrocardiogram, the process works as intended, although there's a slight learning curve when it comes to taking a reading. You must activate an ECG reading by selecting it from the PMOLED screen menu using the crown. As designed, this means covering up the screen with your fingers, which makes it confusing the first few times. The reading begins when you feel a slight pulse and ends 30 seconds later with another pulse.
Collecting your oxygen saturation level (SpO2) follows a similar process as it requires placing your fingers across the watch. SpO2 can determine a person's respiratory function.
Ideally, you should have the Health Mate app open when performing ECG or SpO2 readings on your watch. Doing so will allow you to view the data collection in real-time. Regardless, this information remains in the app for later viewing.
The ScanWatch also keeps track of a user's heart rate and sleep phases. Fitness-wise, the ScanWatch has an activity detection system for running, swimming, and surfing and can also monitor performance for up to 40 additional types of activities. It also offers VO2Max estimation to assess your fitness level. Calories and elevation are also collected. ScanWatch does not have GPS built in, which means you'll need to carry along your iPhone for location data. The two devices talk to one another using Bluetooth Low Energy.
It's worth noting the ScanWatch offers up to 30 days between charges, not the 18 hours you're likely to get with the current-gen Apple Watch. It takes around one hour to recharge the watch up to 80% and two hours to 100%. Additionally, the watch offers water resistance up to 50m.
Withings ScanWatch: What's not good
Though I mostly love the ScanWatch's design, there's one area where an improvement is in order. The PMOLED screen, while helpful, is much too small when it comes to reading iPhone notifications. It's why I recommend turning these off. I also think the bottom dial looks oh so much better with a red hand, which means I'm not as happy with the silver hand that comes with the white watch face.
Withings ScanWatch: Competition
Smartwatches tend to get better with each new generation, and the same goes for wearables from Withings. If you like what you read about the ScanWatch, but don't want the ECG and SpO2 capabilities, consider the less expensive four-star Withings Steel HR. The aforementioned four-star Withings Move is also still very good for something more entry-level, assuming you can do without many of the features that make the ScanWatch shine. Both work very well with the same Health Mate app mentioned above.
Naturally, if you're not tied to the Withings ecosystem and willing to step up to a full-featured smartwatch, say hello to the Apple Watch Series 7 or the less expensive Apple Watch SE.
Withings ScanWatch: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want Apple Watch features on a hybrid watch
- Want to track lots of personal data
- Don't mind spending around $300
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want a full-featured smartwatch
- Want a budget wearable
- Not concerned about collecting health metrics
Currently, I can't think of a better hybrid smartwatch on the market. A good rule of thumb: if you appreciate the hottest features on the Apple Watch Series 7 but don't want a full smartwatch, go with the Withings ScanWatch.
There's little not to love about the ScanWatch, which is packed full of outstanding features on both the fitness and health front in a design that's classic and modern at the same time.
Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.
By Tammy Rogers