Our Verdict

The Withings Steel HR may be on the expensive side of fitness tracking, but it has a gorgeous design and could be a great choice if you don't want a normal fitness tracker.

For

  • Stylish design
  • Accurate heart rate monitor
  • Easy to use companion app

Against

  • Expensive for a fitness tracker
  • Limited fitness features
  • Less competitive battery life

A large amount of people now want to wear a fitness tracker to keep an eye on their steps and exercise regime, but not everyone wants a plastic, eye-catching device like the Fitbit Charge 2 or Under Armor Band sat on their wrist.

Fitness trackers aren’t inherently attractive looking wrist wear, with many looking strange on the end of your arm – but what if all those tracking features were built into a watch?

The Withings Steel HR is trying to push the boundary of what we’ve seen inside a hybrid watch, combining a classic design with fitness tracking features.

But is there enough packed into the Withings Steel HR, or would you need to combine this with another product to keep track of your health? Read on below to find out. 

Withings Steel HR price and release date 

  • Out now in the US and UK - no word on Australia
  • Cheapest model is $179.95/£169.95 (about AU$300)

The Withings Steel HR is out now in the US and UK, while there’s no word on whether it will be coming to Australia. There are two versions of the wearable that you can choose from though.

The 36mm Steel HR costs $179.95/£169.95 (about AU$300), while the 40mm model is a little more at $199.95/£179.95 (about AU$315). That's quite a bit more expensive than a lot of other Withings products, so price-wise you can consider this a fairly high-end device.

Design

  • Classic watch-like design means no-one will know this is a fitness tracker
  • One button to interact with the tracker, disguised as a crown
  • May be a little too small for some traditional watch lovers

The Steel HR is the most watch-like fitness tracker we've seen. It looks much like a classic watch you’d wear on your wrist and is actually a bit slimmer than models from most of the big name watch brands.

It looks attractive and has a premium design that devices like the Withings Activité Pop and Withings Go have been missing.

We used the 40mm Steel HR, but you can also get a 36mm version of the watch if you have slimmer wrists. The 40mm version is still rather small though and we've heard some complaints that it's actually a little too small on the wrist.

For us though, this is the perfect size. It's slightly thicker than other Withings devices, which was presumably necessary to put a heart rate tracker inside the thing, but it’s still not much thicker than your average watch.

Compared to smartwatches available on the market, the smaller size and slimmer design makes this much more comfortable to wear.

The strap choices for the Steel HR are durable and feel comfortable on your wrist. We used a silicon one, which won’t get dirty when you’re out and about and is easy enough to clean off when you've got it all sweaty during a workout.

Some devices have had complaints about their silicon straps - such as some of the early Fitbit products - but this strap shouldn't cause you any skin irritation.

We had a black version of the strap, but you can also pick up white, yellow, blue and red versions. You can also buy those directly from Withings, if you want extra options.

The silicon options start at $30 (£25, about AU$40) while the leather versions, which come in either brown or black, are far more expensive at $80 (£70, around AU$110).

The leather options look far more formal and may suit a business environment more, but that's quite a lot of money to spend on a replacement strap.

On the right hand side of the watch display you'll find the only button. It looks like a crown, but won’t spin and just works as a button to cycle through the menus on your wearable to see each of your stats.

When first using this device we did find it quite strange to not be able to turn this button, but once you get used to tapping it you'll find it a simple way to see your results throughout the day.

Pressing it once will wake the small screen at the top of the watch face to show the time and with each subsequent press it will show heart rate, steps, distance, alarms and battery life, in that order.

This can get irritating when you want to just see the battery life, as you need to press the button at least six times, but it doesn’t take too long to cycle through.

Just above the six o’clock on the watch face sits the percentage calculator. This will go up the more steps you take in a day. If you set your target to 12,000 steps, it will show 50% done when you’ve reached 6,000.

This is a simple to use interface and you can switch your target within the app with ease, so you’re not restricted to just one goal.

Despite having both a digital screen and a percentage monitor, the time is easy to read on the Withings Steel HR. There's no second hand here, but you have a minute and hour hand to keep track of the time and that's one of the most important things for most people buying a hybrid smartwatch.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James is Phones, Wearables and Tablets writer for TechRadar and covers all the big announcements from the best manufacturers making gadgets for your palms, wrists and face. Based in London, James is often testing out the latest and greatest phones, smartwatches, VR headsets and - when he can be motivated to go outside - fitness bands. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all the latest from the mobile world.