December 10, 2022

This Hybrid Smart Watch Fitness Tracker Has a 25-Day Life of the battery

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

The first thing you see when you see the Withings Steel HR is how little it resembles what just about everyone has come to expect from most fitness trackers in terms of shape and style. Initially, it appears and feels like a classic analog watch: the silicone strap (or leather, when you purchase that option) connects to some slim, round display with minute markers dotting the perimeters and hands to inform you time. The main one giveaway that this is not your typical watch is the small circular OLED display at the top, and little can you realize that housed behind that round face is sufficient hardware to power a very capable fitness tracker.

The Withings Steel HR (from $179.95, amazon.com, bestbuy.com) has all of the standard features you might expect from a fitness tracker: it lets you know how many calories you’ve burned, offers heart-rate monitoring, automatically tracks your sleep, counts your steps, pulls notifications out of your phone and has an alarm to gently wake you up.

Aside from the design, something that actually helps to set the Steel HR aside from lots of other fitness trackers is its incredible battery life. Most fitness trackers can last you a few days before it needs to be charged again. Withings boasts that it may last up to 25 days on one charge which has got the longest battery life of any heart-rate tracker on the market. After spending nearly three straight weeks using the Steel HR on my wrist and also over a dozen workouts tracked in that time, there was still enough juice left within the tank to depart me with little reason to doubt them with that claim.

Using the Steel HR is simple enough. There is a single button around the right side from the watch that you simply press to show around the display and to cycle with the different stats. It had been a small nuisance having to press the button every time to show the OLED display on, as the display doesn’t automatically illuminate should you pull the timepiece up toward the face. However, the aim meter underneath the OLED display is a fairly discuss the watch face. You can quickly see how close you’re to hitting your daily activity goal by exploring the meter because it climbs towards 100%.

Withings likely needed to have compromises for the sake of life of the battery and overall look and I found the OLED display to be one of te biggest weaknesses of the watch. While it’s relatively simple to see in regular usage if you are just casually checking to determine the number of steps you walked, all of that changes if you are involved in a good work out or on the run. If you are running, attempting to browse the display or cycling through the different screens was a bit of a challenge. And you won’t obtain a large amount of useful real-time feedback throughout a workout. With your a small screen, you cannot just casually look at the display to obtain a quick readout. Notifications from your phone also don’t give you any real useful information.

It appears that GPS functionality was another compromise that Withings likely made. Its not all fitness tracker comes equipped with GPS built into the unit. Instead, they typically rely on your phone’s GPS to track you. However, the Steel HR isn’t even able to utilize your phone’s GPS, therefore it is difficult to put much faith into the accuracy of the distance measurements. It instead uses sensors and data about you to generate the distance, that is not even close to accurate. If you’re a runner, this is a pretty glaring omission.

Workouts are automatically detected, which appeared to work fine. Like most fitness trackers which have this selection, it will occasionally falter, however, you can typically depend on it to record your exercise routine in the event you forgot to do so. You also have a choice of tracking a workout manually by holding the button on the side, and workouts can be logged in the app after you sync your watch.

The heart-rate monitor around the Steel HR has two modes: workout and smart mode. Smart mode is constantly running and takes measurements about every 10 minutes, which helps to preserve battery life. However, if you switch to workout mode, it continuously runs throughout your workout. Every fitness tracker that I’ve used has had odd, random spikes that occur every now and then-this was no different for the Steel HR. I frequently wore a Fitbit Charge 2 along with the Steel HR to check and realized that the Steel HR always tracked greater than the Fitbit. It had not been enough to provide me any real cause for concern, but it’s something which ought to be noted nonetheless. The Steel HR also seemed slower to normalize, frequently spiking at the beginning of a good work out before eventually returning right down to a far more reasonable level.

Sleep tracking worked along with the Fitbit Charge 2, cheap you barely spot the watch while you are wearing it makes it easier to wear at night compared to a few of the bulkier fitness trackers available.

If you are the type of person that wants the characteristics of the fitness tracker but don’t like how many of them look, the Withings Steel HR may be the tracker for you. It features a sleek and stylish design that looks good whether you’re in a fitness center or out and about. Many people that view it won’t even be able to tell that you are wearing an exercise tracker. For people who may be runners or just a little more serious about fitness, you might find the Steel HR lacks in some areas. Although, even with the compromises that Withings made with the Steel HR, this is actually the best hybrid option available.