Stylish and easy to use: Withings Steel HR Review

Bring your fitness tracker to a fancy night out

If you are looking to combine style and stamina together look no further. The Whitings Steel HR delivers strongly on both. Of course, if you’re still on the fence fo not worry. This review aims to help you find out whether style or health is the most important factor for you. Luckily, the Steel HR comes with both.

We will go over the features of the Steel HR, explore them in detail and cover its shortcomings, and see what other stylish competitors are out there for you.

If this a no-brainer for you and have made up your mind, check the latest price on Amazon!

If you are looking for answers on big questions check out our Table of Contents below. You will most like find the answer you’re looking for right there. So, let’s do this and take it from the top!

A healthy Business Philosophy

Our eyes are drawn to the style of this watch immediately. It is made by Withings, a company founded in 2008 to bring health-oriented design products to the market. This company knows what it is doing. They were bought by Nokia in 2016, but in 2018 its owner decided to buy the company back. Since than Withings has started to produce according to its distinctive style again.

Withings’ focus is on health and elegant design. This combination has been a driving force behind its design from the beginning. Apart from smartwatches, they provide sleep trackers and scales. All these products are able to combine their data to create a more complete picture of your health. Their latest design even includes a VO2 MAX feature. Reason enough to take a closer look at the Steel HR. You will sometimes see it marketed as the Withings / Nokia or Nokia Steel HR. These products are identical. Enough talk, let’s get down to business!

Why the Withings Steel HR?

Because look at it! It is the best designed hybrid smartwatch out there. This means it is an analog watch with all the functionality of a smartwatch. You get a 25-day battery life and some 20 days extra if you just use the watch to tell the time and for activity tracking. This is a whopping 45 days of battery life, as advertised by Withings.

It will help you move calmly through your day. It doesn’t matter if you are in the office or outdoors, the Steel HR will gently notify you of your next appointment or an incoming call. This smartwatch supports a clutter-free and focused day with the family or at work. No endless barrage of beeps and buzzing from this watch! You simply will not know what to do with all that extra time on your hands.

Apart from this the watch itself is not that imposing on your body. It comes in two different watch faces with a variety of bands to choose from. The silicone versions are soft on the skin. They give the Withings a more sporty look. If you are looking for the elegant version you’ll want to opt for the leather bands.

Withings Steel HR

Shortcomings of the Steel HR

Despite these obvious features that will improve your life, there are some downsides to the Withings Steel HR as well. This might depend on what you expect from your smartwatch or for its price. We’ll go over the most important shortcomings we encountered.

For all you activity fans out there, there is no inbuilt GPS. Withings offers connected GPS. This means you pair your phone with the smartwatch before you can effectively track your distance-based activities such as running. Connected with this is the lack of an automatic workout setup and stopwatch feature. Obviously, this is not a rugged outdoor watch such as the Polar M430.

The sleeping sensitivity is not adjustable. Some users have reported inaccurate measurements if they move a lot during their sleep. This seems odd for a company whose niche is health monitoring and design. Once you wake up there is only one alarm to set. Multiple alarms are not possible on the watch. To enable or disable the alarms you can set you’ll find it easier to do this with your app than with your phone.

Granted some of these shortcomings are not that important. The Withings Steel HR is not made for heavy outdoor work, nor is it a hardcore smartwatch. If you can live with an elegant design and good functionality these will not bother you.

Time for the features

If you started to worry, don’t. The Steel HR comes with very neat equipment, some of which has already been briefly mentioned. Time to dive deeper. Speaking of diving. The watch is waterproof up to 5 ATM. So, don’t be afraid to dive right in.

Heart rate monitor

When you’re in the water there is, of course, heart rate monitoring. Withing uses a photoplethysmography (PPG) heartrate monitor. This technique is used to detect changes in blood volume. It does so by using an oximeter. This meter illuminates the skin and detects changes in light absorption. In doing so it measures your heart rate.  Withings offers two differs modes,  standard and continuous monitoring. Standard means reading is given every few minutes. Continuous monitoring just does what it says and has to be activated. This means you have to switch it on using the knob on the watch itself.

Sleep Tracker

The Steel HR doubles as a sleep tracker as well. It Syncs automatically to the Healthmate App as soon as you leave the bed. Users are highly appreciative of this App. They are generally happy with the user interface and the ease with which to access your own data. Your smartwatch will monitor four stages of sleep, where others measure only three. Withings differentiates between two deep sleep stages where you regenerate your brain and body. You’ll get a sleep score based on your settings that reflect your own average. This will give you somewhat of a personal insight into your sleep development.

Alexa Integration (Beta)

A really cool feature is the integration with Amazons Alexa. Once you are connected you can ask Alexa questions like “how many steps have I taken this week”. While still in Beta, it shows the dedication of the Withings team to make a really outstanding product.

Alarms

We had to give this a separate heading. If you are not a fan of waking up at the wrong moment, the Steel HR is the watch for you. It wakes you up with a gentle buzz at the right time in your sleep cycle. Based on your heart rate and movement the watch detects in what kind of sleep stage you are. Once you hit the sweet spot between the time you have to wake up and your actual sleep you will feel the buzz.

Withings Integration

The best feature is probably that Withings has an integral idea about health and design. Because of this vision, the data of your smartwatch can be combined with the scale or with the sleep-system provided by Withings. If you have old data from earlier devices, these valuable insights into your healths past will not go lost. Withings offers excellent integration of old and new data across devices.

Withings Steel HR

Who can compete with the Withings Steel HR?

If it comes down to design not many watches can rival the Steel HR. Luckily, there are more features that are worthy of a comparison. Before passing judgment on this smartwatch we’ll have a quick look at the competition.

Diesel Stainless Leather Hybrid Smartwatch

Quite frankly, this hybrid looks like a beast. It comes with everything you want in a smartwatch. There is only one major downside. Since it is a hybrid, the watch basically functions only as a watch once you don’t pair it with your phone. This is the case for GPS as well with the Steel HR, but expect it for almost every feature on the Diesel Stainless. Besides this, users complain about difficulties with reading the small dials.

The watch is resistant to 3 Bar, so no showering with this one. One would expect a bit more than this for such a price. It features a larger watch face than the Steel HR coming in at 1.9 inches which makes it a bit chunky to wear. This hybrid watch is more of a watch with extra functionalities. If you do not care about this being a real smartwatch and are looking for extra functionality on your watch, this will be your choice for about $ 230.-

Garmin Vivoactive 3 (Music)

Designwise it is obvious the Vivoactive 3 is made by an outdoor-company, such as Garmin. Its materials reflect this background. It houses the features of the Steel HR, and more in a sturdy and sporty looking frame. This makes it a very good competitor for the Withings, but less well designed

Want to know more? >> Check out our review!

Being a bit bigger in size the comfort to wear it in bed is reasonable compared to the Steel HR. Users report a very comfy and barely noticeable bed companion in the Steel HR. The best way to view your data is through the Garmin website, whereas with the Withings you can do this with the Healthmate App right away. The Vivoactive 3 does a decent job with an advertised 7 days of battery life. This is, after all, a regular smartwatch and not a hybrid having the benefit of a minimalistic design as the steel HR does.

The Vivoactive is no design watch, but it was never designed this way. It functions perfectly. Its broad spectrum of features makes for good integration with your workouts or runs. All in all the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music is not a smartwatch you would want to buy for its design alone. If you’re looking for a well-rounded smartwatch, be sure to see the newest price on Amazon.

Skagen Falster 2

The minimalistic design of the Falster 2 reminds us of the Steel HR immediately. We’ll let you decide which one you like better! The Falster 2 features heart rate tracking in co-operation with Google Fit. There are inbuilt GPS and routes which can be tracked during bike rides and runs. Going for a swim? Take the Falster with you!

An interesting addition is the NFC which allows you to pay wireless with your credit card. This feature uses Google Pay. Not surprisingly since this smartwatch runs Wear OS by Google. Ever wanted to use your voice to direct your watch? This one has Google Assistant integrated. The Wear OS platform is compatible with both iOS and Android, so no problems there.

Want to know more about this

All in all, this appears to be a great watch. However, since it runs Wear OS you have to be near your phone in order to have all the functionalities. Move away too much and it might not work as well as it did before. Some users complain about the interface being too minimalistic, yet in general the attraction of this smartwatch is the minimalistic design.

Despite these shortcomings, its design is still very beautiful. If you are not deterred by these shortcomings, you might want to check the price on Amazon. Just remember, you pay a bit more for a smartwatch which at times seems to function as a hybrid.

Withings Steel HR

Is the Withings Steel HR for me?

If you are looking for a well-designed smartwatch from a company dedicated to health or if you really need to check your heart rate while at the opera this watch will be for you.

The Withings Steel HR will help to get good insights into your health, especially when combined with their other products. You will be able to go on for weeks without having to change batteries.  You will have a beautiful health companion on your wrist at any time.

If you’re already sold on other brands than it is understandable you’re hesitant to jump right in. There are way better watches out there for tracking activities such as the Garmin Vivoactive 3 (Music). This one will cost you significantly more.

However, if you are looking for a well-designed smartwatch that feels comfortable and looks like a classy regular watch than this the Withings Steel HR is for you. If you are looking for an even better hybrid we recommend the Skagen Falster 2, which, of course, comes at a price, namely $259.60

Withings Steel HR is a beautiful watch that sets itself apart when it comes to rigorous health monitoring and design. This makes it comfortable to be worn in any situation. Add to this the stellar battery life and you have got yourself a good investment. If you’re looking to step up your game and want your money’s worth, the Withings Steel HR is just for you. Decided? Be sure to check the latest price on Amazon.

Leave a Comment