As a longtime user of fitness trackers and smartwatches that look like mini smartphones on the wrist, such as the Apple Watch Series 6, I have become accustomed to pulling off my wearables when it's time to dress up for a business meeting or a night out on the town. No matter what band I put on them, my smartwatches just don't look like they belong with a more elegant wardrobe. Now, with the Withings Steel HR, this is no longer the case. This is a fine-looking watch that also happens to be a fitness tracker.
Despite its simple appearance, the hybrid smartwatch incorporates a small digital screen and activity tracker into the watch face, but you'd never know it until you push the watch button. From here you can scroll through the date and time, heart rate, steps, and a variety of other information. You also use this simple interface to track exercise. When you're not using the screen, it goes blank and becomes a quiet part of the watch face once again. This took some getting used to after using a touchscreen smartwatch, but we'll cover all those details later. Let's get down to the basics first.
Withings Steel HR
Bottom line: Because sporty smartwatches don't always look great with your fancy threads, Withings's Steel HR brings a classy timepiece to the fitness tracking arena.
- Has a classy, upscale look
- Small screen shows relevant info without taking away from the classic appearance
- Works seamlessly with smart scale and HealthMate app
- Provides exercise tracking, heart rate, and lots of other health stats
- Digital screen feels a bit Y2K
- Exercise calorie burn is inaccurate
Withings Steel HR: Price and availability
Withings is a well-known brand that you can find in many large retailers. Aside from the Withings website, you can buy the Withings Steel HR from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and Sam's Club. The Withings website offers the watch at $180 and they also have the largest selection of bands and accessories. When it goes on promotion, at Withings or elsewhere, we'll be sure to let you know in our deals section.
Withings Steel HR: A fancy watch with a sporty appeal
From the moment I took the Withings Steel HR out of its cleverly designed box, I loved the look of it. This is a minimal, classic timepiece with a stylish aesthetic. It looks and feels expensive, even though it's not that pricey when compared to many other smartwatch brands. I would feel totally comfortable wearing this watch with a business suit or even a nice dress — it's that attractive. Despite its fancy look, the silicone band and steel exterior are comfortable and effective for sports tracking, even if you go hard and sweaty.
Speaking of sports, I was mostly happy with the exercise tracking provided by this watch. It tracks exercise automatically when your heart rate reflects aerobic levels, or you can use the watch button to scroll through different exercise modes and record more specific workouts. The watch was able to record my heart rate, route, pace, and duration during walks and runs, which I found enormously helpful for tracking fitness progress.
Despite its fancy look, the silicone band and steel exterior are comfortable and effective for sports tracking, even if you go hard and sweaty.
In order to take full advantage of the Steel HR's fitness tracking potential, it's necessary to download the HeathMate app. I have always used Apple Health in the past, but I was surprised at how much more straightforward and helpful the HealthMate app was. It syncs perfectly with the Steel HR and my smart scale to give me intricate insight into my overall health and fitness. Besides just exercise, this app works with the watch to track sleep, heart health, weight, activity, and even diet. It uses all of these factors to assign a fitness score and overall health assessments, along with pointers and tools to improve fitness in the future. I really like the HealthMate app and was happy to see that it works with my other wearables as well. The only thing that seemed a bit off was the calorie burn reporting, which I'll go into below.
Finally, it bears mention that despite the small size of its screen, the Withings Steel HR will still provide notifications from your smartphone, as well as sleep tracking and calendar updates or alarms.
Withings Steel HR: Where did my calories go?
Since I've been using the Withings Steel HR and its accompanying HealthMate app, I have noticed one inconsistency; the recorded calories burned during a workout don't seem quite right. As mentioned previously, I have used other fitness tracking wearables, so I have a good sense of how many calories I burn during a workout. I'm not sure how this number is calculated, but the number seems off with the Steel HR. For example, I recently went on a brisk, hour-long walk with my dog and HealthMate informed me that I had only burned 74 calories. I'm positive that an hour-long walk burns at least 200 calories, according to my other trackers, so I'm not sure why the Withings wearable is calculating this differently. If it keeps up, I'll be contacting customer service.
I'm positive that an hour-long walk burns at least 200 calories, so I'm not sure why the Withings wearable is calculating this differently.
The only other thing is that the little screen on the watch face takes some getting used to. In order to keep the design aesthetic minimal and elegant, Withings kept this screen very small and simple. The pixellated screen feels a bit 1999 to me, but it doesn't take away from the design or functionality at all. This is just not what I'm used to, at least not since the Y2K era.
Update: Withings has since contacted me and let me know that they calculate calories burned during a workout apart from those burned in general by the human body, which likely accounts for the discrepancies.
Withings Steel HR: Competition
The Withings Steel HR is rather unique in that it functions as a hybrid smartwatch, even though it looks like a classic watch and still has a digital screen built-in. The only other watch that shares these same features (that I know of) is the Garmin vívomove HR. This is another fine-looking watch with a small digital screen for updates and notifications. This style is a little more bold and clunky than I prefer, but it does offer many of the same features at the Withings Steel HR. The Garmin vívomove also offers music controls, which is something the Withings hybrid smartwatch does not have. I'm not sure if that justifies the much higher price tag of the Garmin watch, however. I, for one, prefer the more streamlined look and affordable price point of the Withings Steel HR.
Withings Steel HR: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a fitness tracker that looks good with a business suit or nice dress.
- You like a simple, minimalist design.
- You'd like a smartwatch and health app that are more straightforward than those offered by Apple Health.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You're looking for a smartwatch with a touchscreen.
- You need a perfectly accurate calorie burn calculation.
If you're looking for a classic watch that also doubles as a fitness tracker, then the Withings Steel HR is your match. The beautiful design and minimal look will look great with any outfit, but the sporty build will still work perfectly to track your fitness and workouts. The watch also pairs with Withings smart scales and the HealthMate app to help you monitor your overall health and wellness from day to day. It's the perfect blend of classy design and fitness features to fulfill every need you could hope for in a smartwatch.
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