Withings ScanWatch hands-on review: a powerful hybrid watch

Withings ScanWatch hands-on review: a powerful hybrid watch

When it comes to fitness and health wearable devices, the Apple Watch is considered by many to be a high-end purchase. But you don't have €450 ($530) or more to splurge on a smartwatch with a similar set of useful features should you want a wearable device that ticks all of the right boxes. Today, the hybrid timepiece known as the Withings ScanWatch will launch, where it comes complete with a whole range of health features without passing the €300 ($355) mark. I was able to get my hands on one ahead of its official release and would like to share my first impressions with you.

Good

  • Wide range of functions
  • Simple to operate
  • Nice design
  • Great app

Bad

  • Pedometer accuracy needs some work
  • Still relatively expensive

Who is the Withings ScanWatch for?

Withings ScanWatch appeals to you if you are looking for a fully-featured health watch that doesn't look like a clunky computer. Instead of looking like a functional fitness tracker or a clunky smartwatch, the hybrid model from the French manufacturer carries the aesthetics of an analog timepiece. Only a tiny PMOLED display located on the inside of the dial reveals that there is a lot of technology underneath the hood.

Those who are interested in the Withings ScanWatch should not have too small a budget to work with. At a price of €280 ($330) for the 38-millimeter version and €300 ($350) for the 42-millimeter version, this particular model resides somewhere on the upper end of the price scale where fitness watches without full smartwatch functions are concerned. The normal retail versions will arrive with a silicone strap similar to my hands-on device. If you prefer the more luxurious leather or Milanese options, they would obviously cost you more with a corresponding increase in price.

What I like about the Withings ScanWatch

A wide range of functions

When Withings first showed off their ScanWatch at CES 2020 earlier this year, it caused a sensation with its wealth of health functions. Sure, activity and fitness tracking are part of the deals, similar to what everyone else is doing even on the cheapest of fitness trackers. A touch of class is seen in the stainless steel housing that carries sensors that will be able to measure the wearer's heart rate, perform an ECG reading, estimate the amount of oxygen in the blood and detect respiratory disorders while you are sleeping. This is usually only found on more expensive devices - or you can also head straight to a doctor or sleep laboratory, although those would definitely yield far more accurate results.

For example, keeping track of my sleep quality based on breathing is very important to me. For this purpose, I used to have to use the sleep sensor mat known as the Withings Sleep. Now a watch is sufficient to record such readings. Unfortunately, the ScanWatch still lacks apnea detection capability at the time of its announcement. This function was unable to be integrated in time due to unforeseen circumstances because of the coronavirus pandemic - at least, that is what the manufacturer informed me. An update will be available later this year which will incorporate that feature.

Withings ScanWatch Handson 3
The Withings ScanWatch is easy to use. / © NextPit

Ease of use

Withings has solved the conflict of interest involving form and function by providing easy access to digital functions while preserving an analog look that does well. With one push on the new and larger crown, the otherwise dark PMOLED display will be activated. When I turn the crown, I will be able to scroll through the displays. Another push activates an ECG recording, blood oxygen measurement, or even launch into training mode. I do everything else in the accompanying app that is known as Health Mate.

A smart companion app

Recently Withings updated the app known as Health Mate for both Android and iOS platforms. In addition to the already very extensive and clear data visualization, there is now a chatbot that explains the background of certain measurement results. Through this method, health education ends up being fun! Another great thing is this: data can be easily exported and synchronized with Apple Health and Google Fit.

withingsscanwatch app
Nice app: This is how health education becomes fun. / © NextPit

Cool design

Although the case is a few millimeters thicker than previous Withings models, this is attributed to the increase of new technology packed within. Nevertheless, the manufacturer has been able to retain the pleasantly discreet look of an analog time display. The stainless steel case accompanied by a brass lacquered dial and applied chrome indexes simply leaves a very elegant impression.

What I don't like about the Withings ScanWatch

An inaccurate pedometer

As with previous Withings watches, the pedometer does seem to provide a very conservative count on its pedometer - making it less accurate than others. In fact, it does seem to register only intensive activity, where light steps go unrecorded. The sensor technology apparently continues to ignore normal everyday movements. Thus the number of steps taken daily is not recorded accurately as preferred.

Withings ScanWatch Handson 2
So many good sensors - but the pedometer fails to impress. / © NextPit

The price

Sure, as a complete package like the Withings ScanWatch has a lot to offer. But the jump in price compared to previous models does seem to be on the steep side. The Withings Move ECG offers pseudo-ECG readings at a reasonable price point of €130 ($154). And the Withings Steel HR Sport is already able to measure oxygen at a price of €200 ($236) back then. For a combination of these functions with added features, Withings certainly upped the final sticker price of the ScanWatch by a significant amount. This would not go down well with the Withings fanbase due to a sharp spike in its price.

Early Verdict

On paper, the Withings ScanWatch offers a lot of performance in exchange for a sizeable amount of money. The aesthetics, user-friendliness, and functionality are definitely strong plus points to pick one up. Working in tandem with the exemplary Health Mate app, this new timepiece from Withings makes a strong first impression. However, my experience with sleep quality recording and battery life so far does not provide sufficient information to pass a verdict. It remains to be seen whether the measured sleep quality corresponds to the subjective perception and whether the watch is able to last for up to a month of regular use before requiring a recharge when armed with a slew of new functions.

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