Withings Steel HR Sport review: the enduring hybrid watch
Especially in the spring, some start exercising again - the Withings Steel HR Sport can help. It doesn't look like a typical fitness tracker, but is a unisex watch. In the following review, you can read where the endurance watch from Withings scores and what, on the other hand, did not work so well.
The nice weather and the upcoming summer tempt some to take it on a bit sportier again. This also works in the Corona period - it is well known that going out into the fresh air is allowed. We got up here TechnikNews already many Fitness tracker tested, but they were all more in the classic tracker design. So it was time to test a hybrid watch. Thanks to Withings, I was able to take a closer look at the Withings Steel HR Sport for over a month.
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Unpacked & furnished
As is typical for Withings, the packaging is rather plain and simple. On the front you can immediately see which one Product it is here. If you slide the cover up, the Withings box immediately catches the eye. When opened, you can find the clock at the top and a USB charger underneath. Of course, there are quick instructions on how to pair and set up in the app. A wristband is also included - the standard version is a gray silicone one.
After setting up the watch – a Withings account is unavoidable, by the way – you can actually get started right away. In my case, the Withings Steel HR Sport was already 80 Procent charged. The coupling with the smartphone works as usual with Bluetooth, the "Health Mate" app is available for Android smartphones and iPhones. During setup, you can also calibrate the hands if they slipped during transport and are not correctly at 12 o'clock - a good idea.
Design & comfort
Let's talk about the two most important points: design and comfort. If the latter doesn't work, the fitness watch would be a no-go for me. You don't have to worry about Withings though, there is nothing to complain about here. The waterproof, rustproof stainless steel case feels very comfortable and is not really noticeable due to the low weight of 56 grams and the thickness of 13 millimeters. The watch's diameter of 40 millimeters sounds like a lot at first, but it is also recommended for women’s arms - the Withings Steel HR Sport is not as bulky as some watches of this size.
The silicone strap is also a good choice in my opinion. If you sweat, you can easily wash it off and you're ready to use it again. In contrast to leather, which starts to stink when it gets wet. Only the bracelet could be a bit tighter according to my taste. This aspect is only really noticeable when you put the watch on and doesn't bother me in everyday life. However, the tape proeasily replace with another 20mm model.
Chrome-plated hands sit above the white dial, which in my opinion are a bit too thin. The contrast between the pointer and the dial is okay, but is no longer optimal in direct sunlight. This could easily be solved by using slightly thicker pointers, even if thin pointers make a good contribution to the appearance. The 11 millimeter OLED display digitally shows the day's data from the app. This includes the date and time, heart rate, steps, distance and calories of the day. In addition, the alarm clock set in the app can be activated or deactivated. Unfortunately, the display is far too dark and cannot actually be read in direct sunlight. It would also be practical if the display switches on automatically when you turn your wrist.
Fitness & Features
You should already be familiar with the usual functions of a fitness tracker: count steps, analyze sleep and usually also measure your heart rate. The Withings Steel HR Sport can also do these functions proflawless. In addition, the hybrid watch offers a lot more: display notifications, start training, measure GPS with the smartphone and VO2Max. Most of these functions are controlled directly via the small display and the button on the right. With this you can click through the menus and after a long press a training session can be started. The five sports selected in the app are displayed here and can be started with a longer press of the button.
During training, the duration, heart rate pro Minute, distance traveled and minutes pro show kilometers. If you have also connected your smartphone, the exact route is also recorded using GPS during training. However, the connection with my Android smartphone was not particularly reliable - very often there was the phenomenon that the watch was connected, but no GPS was recorded.
In addition to starting workouts manually, the watch also automatically recognizes when you have moved. The running lap or the walk was reliably recognized, but the recording did not work reliably. For example, the heart rate was never shown in retrospect in the app during automatic training, allegedly there was not enough heart rate data. The route was never automatically recorded via GPS. These two points bothered me and will hopefully be improved in a future update.
In addition to the typical training functions, notifications can also be displayed on the Withings Steel HR Sport. If you receive a WhatsApp message, for example, the sender including the message content is shown twice in scrolling text in the small display. In addition, the watch vibrates quite strongly when compared, for example, with models from Fitbit. While Fitbit's tracker only makes itself felt for a few seconds when a call is made, the Withings hybrid watch vibrates continuously - this can get on your nerves with many calls. A point in the app would be ideal where you can precisely adjust this vibration duration.
Sleep tracking with a Problem
Basically, the sleep recording always worked very reliably during the test. After each night you get a breakdown of how good your sleep was by means of a point score. The duration of sleep, the quality of sleep (a lot of deep sleep), regularity (same waking up and going to bed time) and interruptions (how often you woke up) play a role here. In addition, the heart rate is also evaluated and whether it is in the optimal range. You will also receive tips on how to improve these values.
It all sounds good, there is only one point where the watch fails completely when it comes to sleep recording. So you can't sleep twice a day - if you take an afternoon nap or fall asleep on the sun lounger, the coming night is no longer recorded. Once it also happened that the clock on the sofa in the evening mistakenly recorded an hour of sleep - the next night there was no longer any recording.
App & synchronization
Since my test of the Withings Body Cardio the app has evolved significantly. There are fewer errors, diagrams are displayed more clearly and the app generally looks tidier now. Nevertheless, I would like long-term charts for some points. So you can see the average heart rate for just one day at a time, but not an average chart for the past few weeks, months or years. This works for the steps, but there is no real diagram here either, only a calendar view. A diagram with curves with steps would also be desirable here pro day where the numbers are much easier to interpret.
However, what I have to emphasize very positively is the synchronization between the app and the watch. Compared to some of the competitors, this usually takes less than five seconds and always ran reliably. Apropos synchronization: This should be done more often, since the Withings Steel HR Sport can only store data for five days. The oldest entries are then deleted if they are not imported into the app.
tl; dr: Conclusion
Too long, didn't read? No Problem, here's the conclusion.
The young French company didn't do much wrong with the Withings Steel HR. Due to the company's location in the EU, it is worth mentioning that all data is also stored in accordance with EU data protection law (GDPR). The look, the wearing comfort, the app and the functions are convincing. In addition, the watch lasts for almost a month, only then does it have to be recharged. Most fitness trackers give up after a week.
But there is room for improvement in almost everyone Product – this is also the case here. With a successor, for better contrast between the dial and hands, the hands could be made a little larger and the display brighter so that it is easier to read in the sun. In addition, activating the display when turning the wrist would be a really practical thing. In terms of software, the automatic training recording was sometimes wrong, and sleeping twice a day does not work with the Withings Steel HR with the current software. The app could provide slightly more detailed charts for longer-term comparisons of your activity and heart rate data.
Otherwise, the Withings Steel HR will continue to accompany me in the future, since I don't have to worry about constant charging as the main reason. The hybrid watch then also counts the steps and measures sleep very inconspicuously. This classic watch look makes a difference. For a price starting at around 140 euros (according to the price comparison), I can definitely recommend the Withings Steel HR in terms of value for money. Even if the pulse sensor definitely needs an overhaul so that you can really take its values seriously.