It is often advised working out with a companion improves fitness gains and establishes accountability. For those same reasons smartwatches have not only become a highly adopted fitness companion at the gym, but are commonly worn around the clock to track all varieties of metrics for well-being. Options available today range widely in styles and features, but subjectively speaking, French consumer electronics company Withings has done a laudable effort to emphasize fashion alongside the smart tracking functions incorporated into their elegant sensor-equipped wrist wear, the Withings ScanWatch.
First impressions: the ScanWatch’s compact size required a moment to become acclimated to visually; in comparison to the Apple Watch we normally wear, the 38mm is noticeably smaller (and smaller than most of any traditional watches in our collection). But what was immediate was the Withings watch was supremely comfortable. Unlike the Apple Watch, the ScanWatch leaves the arm feeling completely unencumbered, both in weight and also because its modest circumference. The 42mm edition is likely to be more appealing as a statement piece, but there’s no denying this smaller size delivers an “almost nothing” feeling we came to appreciate throughout the day and during workouts.
The impetus for migrating from a traditional watch to a smartwatch vary as widely as features available today. For those looking for a distillation of health and app-connected features minus many of the overly distracting screen-based notification systems of “smarter” devices, the ScanWatch is an intriguing proposal. With the appearance of an elegantly styled analog design timepiece, the ScanWatch is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Behind its minimalist stainless steel case and sapphire glass hides an impressive array of health-tracking features, including an ECG, sleep tracking, heart rate, and an oximeter allowing for recording blood oxygen levels using an SpO2 sensor.
Sans a screen-dominated design, Withings has equipped the ScanWatch with a small circular PMOLED display at its top, one capable of reporting a surprising amount of relevant information despite its size thanks to its ability to utilize a ticker-tape style display for longer messages. The display is primarily dedicated for the above-mentioned health tracking purposes, most prominently an on-demand electrocardiogram and SpO2 sensor for cardio-respiratory health tracking, alongside fitness metrics like tracking distances and elevation walking, running, biking, swimming, and the calories burned doing so.
The svelte size of the ScanWatch also makes the device’s sleep tracking abilities a promising possibility rather than an uncomfortable proposition, something we barely noticed throughout nights wearing it on our non-dominant arm. Most of these data points, alongside fitness tracking noted below, is handed off to to the Withings Health Mate app. From there users can check-in to workout progress and cardiovascular health. A more cumulative snapshot and macro trends of health are made available when the watch is paired with Withings other health monitoring devices, such as their Body Cardio scale (also accessible using the same app).
One glaring missing feature we’ve become accustomed to while wearing the Apple Watch is the ability to track workouts using stationary equipment like a rower or spinning bike; we were disappointed we couldn’t use the ScanWatch while pedaling away on a Peloton (nor any official integration) or tracking our lifting sessions using weights. Another miss is the absence of an integrated GPS chip, meaning you’ll have to bring your Android device or iPhone if you want an accurate documentation of your ride or run route.
What the ScanWatch does offer is the ability to customize how and what info it displays with a firm vibration, whether it be an incoming call, texts, calendar events, or app-based notifications. While the PMOLED is small, it is effective in displaying vital information; in essence, less becomes more wearing the ScanWatch.
Even more impressive is the ScanWatch’s extremely long-lived battery. If the Apple Watch is a 12oz can, the Withings SmartScan is one giant keg. The company claims up to 30 days of use on a single charge (and 20 more days in power reserve mode), and we believe this might even be a bit conservative depending upon an individual’s use. Even with a deluge of daily notifications vibrating away throughout the week, the watch battery only sipped 60% of its capacity after 3 weeks of use. Withings has effectively solved the equivalent of “range anxiety” of smartwatches.
Is the Withings ScanWatch the best health+fitness watch? Yes…and no. With its lightweight form factor, fashionable design, coterie of built-in health monitoring sensors, and month-long battery life, it’s nearly perfect. If future iterations offer internal GPS tracking and a more robust selection of exercise tracking to match Apple Watch, we might make it our choice to strap onto the wrist daily.
For more information on the Withings ScanWatch watch, visit withings.com.
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