Withings Steel HR
A lot of people will be waiting for the release of Android Wear 2.0, but sometimes a semi-smartwatch is a better choice. Withings is becoming a master of the hybrid wearable and its latest release is the stylish-looking Steel HR.
Withings’ £320 Activité set a high standard when it was released and the firm has done a great job of maintaining that level of build quality with its cheaper watches.
You won’t be surprised to hear that the main body of the HR is made from steel. It also looks a lot like the original Steel, although the HR comes with a heart-rate monitor. It’s available in two sizes: 36- and 40mm. Our review unit was the larger model, which has a wider bezel around the edge with engraved numbers.
The 40mm version is only available with a black watch face, so if you want white one you’ll need to opt for the smaller option. Each model comes with a smooth silicone strap (18- and 20mm respectively), which uses a quick release mechanism. A leather strap priced £70 is also available from Withings, though it won’t fit the 40mm model.
Aside from the heart-rate monitor there are two major differences between the Steel and the Steel HR. For starters, the activity tracking dial, which goes from 0- to 100 percent of your target, now goes full circle instead of 12- to 9 o’clock and sits centred. The other is the addition of a small digital screen, which provides information and notifications. This is slightly hidden when not in use on the black model, but stands out on the white watch face. A lone button on the side operates the display.
As with previous Withings watches, the Steel HR is waterproof up to a depth of 50m, though the firm points out that it can’t be used for snorkelling or diving.
Activity tracking One of the Steel HR’s main selling points is activity tracking. On top of walking, running and swimming, the watch tracks sports such as dancing, volleyball and table tennis.
You tell the Steel HR your daily exercise target (10,000 steps is the default setting) and the additional dial will let you know how you’re doing. The accompanying Health Mate app (available for Android and iOS) is easy to use and delivers detailed information such as calories burned and distance travelled right to your phone. This data can then be shared with other fitness apps.
If you wear the Steel HR at night, it monitors your sleep patterns and can be set to wake you up with a silent alarm using a vibration motor. Heart-rate monitor The heart-rate monitor is located on the device’s rear and uses green LEDs to measure your pulse . By default, it takes a reading every few minutes, but will start continuously monitoring your heart beat while you’re exercising. During testing, we found it did a great job and this is a good choice for fitness fanatics.
You can also take a one-off scan by clicking the button on the side, though this didn’t work as well in our tests and the results jumped around. Digital screen The HR’s display is easy to use: push the button on the side repeatedly to cycle through the different modes. It provides information such as the date and battery percentage, but there are more useful items on offer. These include notifications for phone calls and texts, though you don’t get a preview of what a message says even though a calendar reminder provides scrolling text. Battery life At the time of writing, we’ve been using the HR for almost two weeks and it still has 53 percent left in the tank, so is on track for the firm’s claim of 25 days. At around the 25day mark, the watch automatically turns on a power-saving mode, which Withings says will give you an extra 20 days’ battery life.
We do, however, wish the watch came with a charging stand rather than the supplied cable, which doesn’t always connect properly.
If you’re not fussed about a touchscreen smartwatch, the Steel HR is stylish, well-made and offers excellent battery life. Plus, we’re glad to see the addition of the heartrate monitor and the screen. Overall this is a great semi-smartwatch for the price.
You tell the Steel HR your daily exercise target (10,000 steps is the default setting) and the additional dial will let you know how you’re doing