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Specs, performance and fitness
- Comes with connected GPS and normal step tracking
- Also features sleep tracking
- VO2 Max feature also works well to give you a "fitness level"
This isn't a fully-fledged smartwatch, but it comes packed with some sport tech that we haven't seen on previous watches from the brand, such as connected GPS and a fitness level estimate.
But it also has the old tech. Like the Nokia Steel HR, there's a heart rate tracker on the rear of the Withings Steel HR Sport. We tested it compared to the competition, and we’ve found it to work quite accurately during our testing period.
You can spot your exact heart rate in the screen on the watch or you can break it down further throughout the day in the app. While you’re exercising the watch may struggle to get an exact reading, but we found when we stopped moving it was able to give an accurate result. It's like this on most smartwatches of this type.
The watch pairs with an app called Health Mate, which we've used before, and which breaks down your data into an easy to read interface. More about that later on.
The Steel HR Sport will track your steps with a fair amount of accuracy, but as with all fitness trackers it’s worth noting that the results may be a little skewed here. It's never going to get it 100% right.
There is support for 30 different workouts including volleyball and yoga alongside your normal running and cycling activities. The watch is also water-resistant to depths of 50 meters, so you can also swim with the Withings Steel HR Sport, though it only tracks duration and calories in swim sessions.
We’ve yet to take the watch to the pool for a dip, but it’s something we’re hoping to test out in full further down the line. As noted there's also connected GPS, which means it will be able to keep an idea of your location as long as you keep your smartphone paired with the watch.
We found this to work well with a variety of different phones, but it’s still a bit of hassle that there’s not GPS built into this watch. The fact you have to carry your phone with you will put some fitness fanatics off of these products.
But the biggest upgrade on the Withings Steel HR Sport is called Fitness Level, which uses a VO2 max (your maximal oxygen consumption) rating that the watch will be able to estimate from a variety of stats when you're out running. It will take stats like heart rate and pace into account to give you an overall score for how much oxygen you're transferring to your blood during your workouts.
You'll get a score of between 17 and 60 for this with the Withings Steel HR Sport. It's something you may have seen on high-end smartwatches, and we found it to work well here but, again, don't take this as a 100% accurate result. It's more of an estimation that you can improve over time.
You can also get notifications through to the small screen on the watch that will be able to let you know who's calling you or why your phone is vibrating in your pocket.
Withings has said the watch will work with 100 other apps for notifications, and you can choose within the watch app what other apps you want to get notifications from.
These notifications will only scroll through quickly, so you're usually best off reading the full notification or message on your phone - this is just a good way to see what the notification is and whether it's something you want to deal with now or something that can wait.
There’s also sleep tracking on the Withings Steel HR Sport, and due to the slim design we found it comfortable to wear at night. This gave relatively accurate sleep tracking scores for us as well, but it won’t be as accurate as the Nokia Sleep pad product that the brand offers.
There’s an alarm to wake you up with vibrations on your wrist, but that’s not always guaranteed to wake up the heavy sleepers who are reading this review.
App and compatibility
- Easy to use app that displays all of the data most people will need
- Works with both Android and iOS devices
The Withings app is quite accomplished and while it won’t offer you the most stats out of all the fitness platforms, it looks attractive and presents the details clearly.
It displays all of your details split into days, with information on step count, your heart rate, sleep and more all displayed in charts that make everything easy to spot.
We like the Timeline element that allows you to break down your days, so you can spot where you’re most active and the areas you want to improve on.
For your heart rate, your stats will appear every half an hour by default as that’s how often the watch will attempt to read your heart rate.
In terms of compatibility, the Withings Steel HR Sport will work with both Android and iOS devices. The Health Mate app is available on both platforms and works in a similar way on each.
- Super long battery life that will last around a month from a single charge
Withings estimates the Steel HR Sport will last 25 days from a single charge, and while that may sound a lot it’s correct.
In fact, in our testing period we’ve been using the watch for almost a month and there’s still lots of battery left in the tank.
At the time of writing, we’ve been using this watch quite consistently for 27 days and we’ve still got 45% of the battery left in the watch. We’ve had the odd day where we weren’t pushing it hard, but this should give you a reflection of how long it will last.
We think 25 days is about accurate for consistent heavy use on this watch and it’s a good idea of how long it may last, but we also think with lighter usage you could get a lot more life out of it.
Recharging the Withings Steel HR Sport uses a proprietary charger that you'll get in the box, and we found it only took around two hours to charge this up. That means you won’t have to leave it on charge overnight.
Battery life is a big highlight of the watch, especially considering a lot of modern smartwatches often last for just a day or so. If you’re buying the Withings Steel HR Sport, you’ll get consistent hybrid battery life that we love.
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James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.