Withings Steel HR: 5 reasons you’ll want Nokia’s new smartwatch

Withings has unveiled a brand new smartwatch at IFA 2016, finally adding heart-rate tracking to its already capable roster of stylish wrist-borne wearables – meet the Withings Steel HR.

Back in June, Nokia completed its 170 million euro acquisition of Withings. The Withings Steel HR is the first fruit of that acquisition, and we’re seriously impressed. It’s the first of Withings’ smartwatches to offer heart-rate tracking, and comes with a bunch of other new features too.

Speaking at the launch, Cédric Hutchings, VP of Digital Health at Nokia, said: “Whether you’re an athlete or simply trying to lose a few pounds and get a better handle on your health, knowing your heart rate can help you better understand your overall health and reach your fitness goals. With the wealth of insights it provides and the extended battery life for a health watch of its type, Steel HR truly is the first of its kind.”

So what exactly makes the Withings Steel HR so appealing?

1. Design

Withings has always taken a design-first approach to wearables, turning out devices that actually look like watches. The Withings Steel HR is no different, thankfully, borrowing from the Withings Activité Steel. The Steel, for the unaware, is a more budget-friendly spin-off of the flagship Withings Activité, shipping with less premium materials.

Like the Withings Activité Steel, the Withings Steel HR looks just like an analog watch, with stylish French design, stainless steel casing, chrome hands, and sport-friendly silicone straps.

For the first time, you’ll also be able to get a Withings watch in two different sizes: 36mm and 40mm. The standard 36mm case comes with an 18mm strap, and is available in black and white The new, larger 40mm version comes with a 20mm strap, and is available in black.

As before, the Steel HR includes hand dials that show the time, plus a sub-dial that will track your progress towards a goal. But there’s now a new dynamic digital screen at the top of the watch face that displays health data and smartphone notifications. You can choose the information you want displayed here, including options like calories burned, daily steps, distance, sleep duration, and texts, e-mails, calls, or events.

withings steel hr

2. Battery life

Previously, Withings watches were powered by standard watch batteries that needed to be replaced after several months of use. But the Steel HR is powered – for the first time – by a rechargeable battery with a seriously impressive 25-day battery life.

After the 25 days are up, heart rate monitoring shuts down and the Steel HR transitions to a power-save mode. This low-power mode gives you an additional 20 days of battery life: you lose heart-rate tracking, but you’ll still be able to keep a tab on basic activity, including steps and swims.

3. Heart Rate Monitoring

The headline feature here is, of course, the heart-rate tracking. This is an increasingly requested feature in the fitness tracker sphere, so it’s great to see Withings finally stepping up to the mark.

The Steel HR achieves heart-rate tracking through a technology called photoplethysmography (PPG), which monitors heart-rate using green LED lights that detect variation in the level of blood in your wrist.

When you’re working out, you can hit the button on the watch to launch a continuous heart rate session. But heart-rate tracking will also commence when you start running too. Once you’ve completed your workout, you can view metrics like maximum heart rate, calories burned, and a “time in zone” graph, all within the Withings Health Mate app.

Finally, the Steel HR will also automatically monitor your pulse while sleeping to provide a resting heart rate, so you can track your health improvements (or failings, you slacker!) over time.

4. Automatic Activity Tracking

As I alluded to earlier, the Steel HR borrows from previous Withings devices in that it offers automatic tracking.

The Steel HR can tell when you’re walking and running, and automatically start tracking workout sessions based on that knowledge. It’s also water-resist (5 ATM), and will automatically register when you’re swimming too. Similarly, the watch knows when you’re sleeping (like Santa, but without the gifts and cookie-theft), and will analyse your light and deep sleep cycles.

withings steel hr

5. Health coaching

Withings Health Mate app is back again, fully compatible with the Steel HR. The app is available on both iOS and Android, and will guide you on the path to fitness enlightenment, should you be willing to tread it.

Health Mate will provide detailed info on your activity, including:

  • Heart rate summaries
  • Daily timeline
  • Personalised advice
  • Advanced food logging

You’ll also be able to share your data, and even challenge your mates through in-app leaderboards and good old social media. Even better, Health Mate integrates with over 150 health and fitness apps, so you can share the love between existing platforms you already use.

How to get Withings Steel HR

Want one? Us too. Both versions of the Withings Steel HR will be available at the Withings website starting from the “beginning of October”. The 36mm version will cost £169.95, while the larger 40mm model prices at £179.95. The watch will begin appearing in brick-and-mortar stores at the end of October.

Related: Best Fitness Tracker 2016

Watch: IFA 2016 Highlights – Day One

What do you think of the Withings Steel HR? Let us know in the comments.