Withings Activite Steel Review – Style Over Features
I’m quite confident in saying that 2015 was the year of smartwatches. In fact, fitness trackers that look like smartwatches. Smart devices that resemble the traditional watches, but can also track the steps you take, your sleep quality, the calories you burn, and much more.
Withings was one of the first companies to test this market with its Activite devices. Quite a good looking device, with a stainless-steel case and durable display made of sapphire glass. But, with a price tag of $450, the watch was too expensive for what it had to offer.
A year later and Withings is back, with a new gadget. The new Withings Activite Steel rivals the original regarding the design, yet it is almost three times cheaper. Priced at just $169, the watch comes with the same monitoring app, the familiar “Health Mate”.
I’ve been using the new model of Withings Activite Steel for a couple of months now. Enough time to help me find answers to some of the initial questions I had such as: Does the new Activite Steel have enough tricks under the hood to compete against the more expensive fitness trackers on the market? Even more, is this device worth the money?
Without further ado, let’s find out what’s going on with this watch in the “Withings Activite Steel review,” here at WTVOX.
Withings Activite Steel Review – Design And Specs
Be honest; one of the main reasons you are wearing a watch on your wrist, every day, is to augment your style. Nobody’s checking the time on their wrist watch but wear them as fashion statements. And this is the tune the company’s playing on and playing it well.
The Withings Activite Steel is as attractive as the former – much more expensive – relative. The casing of the Withings Activite Steel is made from a 316L stainless steel and the top of the device is covered by a layer of Swiss mineral glass. It is not sapphire, however, in our test the glass performed much better than expected.
Black and white are the colours option and this time around, the strap is made from silicone rather than real leather. I think that it looks more modern and it lasts much longer than the leather. However, if the rubber is not your favourite material choice, Withings Activite Steel comes with standard strap lugs so you can swap out the rubber band and replace it for a premium one. Crocodile, snake, your choice, your wallet.
Still, the advantage of having a rubber band is that it is fine to get wet since the Withings Activite Steel is waterproof up to a depth of 50m.
Moving on to the case of the Withings Activite Steel, you will not find the usual buttons on the watch. That is because everything smart this watch can do, are controlled via the HealthMate app on your mobile.
And when I say everything, I mean it. Even to set up the time. It is true; you’ll have to do this just once, as the Withings Activite Steel can recognise in which time zone you are and then adjust itself.
At the moment, the new Withings Activite Steel is available just in one size. The size could be problematic if you do not have an average wrist. It measures 36.3mm in diameter and fits wrists up to 190mm. For my average wrist, the 18mm watch strap is almost the right size, even if sometimes it feels a little bit too small.
On the positive side, the Steel is comfortable enough to wear all day and weighs just 37 grammes. I am a huge fan of the design and I think that Withings did a great job in making sure you can wear the Withings Activite Steel with any outfit, on any occasion. In fact, this is a valuable selling point for many users, including me.
Withings Activite Steel Review – Features
When it comes to smartness or features, the Withings Activite Steel does a bit less than other premium fitness trackers on the market. Less than Jawbone for example and nowhere near as much as a smartwatch. Whether it is an Android Wear, Apple or Tizen.
But that is expected as this device is not a smartwatch but a fitness tracker. Price wise, a mid-class tracker that also looks good. So what can this tracker do then?
Well, the new Withings Activite Steel can track your steps taken, the calories you have burned, the distance travelled and the quality of your sleep. Its main focus is on measuring your steps, hence the physical display on the watch. Still, the watch can also recognise different types of activity such as running and swimming.
It is not yet possible to track activity that isn’t walking, running or swimming, although sometimes the app will mark something as “other”.
There is no heart-rate sensor, altimeter or GPS on board but I’ll say it once again just in case. Like its predecessors, the Withings Activite Steel main selling point is its design, not its capabilities. It is not a device you use in the gym to record your workout. Not even a gadget that will keep you connected at all times, with useful notifications.
The Activite Steel is not a smartwatch. It is not vibrating when you receive an SMS or an incoming call, nor will it keep you up to date with your Twitter timeline or the latest emails. The only vibrating the Withings Activite Steel does is when the alarm you have set up goes off.
Withings Activite Steel Review – App
The Withings Health Mate app has a beautiful design, and it displays all your fitness data in a very simple way to understand.
The top part of the app is where you can see a quick resume of your daily activity. Steps, calories burned and a leaderboard. Swapping left over this section will bring another section where you can set up alarms and your target weight.
Scrolling down you can see your fitness history, day by day. Tapping on a particular day will open another page with a full report of your active time and the walked distance.
The app is one of the best-designed of its kind, but it is not as user-friendly as Fitbit’s app for example. The app tends to flood the screen with data, all at a time with stats from the past few days. But, if you are the type of person who likes to see as much data as possible, the Health Mate app will make you feel like home.
If you are already using another activity tracking platform, you are also in luck. With the HealthMate app, you can share data with other fitness apps such as Google Fit, MyFitnessPal, or RunKeeper.
Withings Activite Steel Review – Battery
Withings Activite Steel boasts the same excellent battery life as its predecessor. Withings claims a year of juice from one battery and when you compare that to most fitness trackers on the market, which offer you the same data with just three days battery life, there is no comparison.
Withings Activite Steel Review – Conclusion
So, should you buy the new Activite Steel? If you hate the look of most activity trackers on the market at the moment and are also looking for something more elegant, then trust me, you cannot go wrong with the Withings Activite Steel. You’ll also want to consider this device if you are trying to exercise more or want to keep an eye on your fitness habits, from time to time.
Even more, Withings offers a large variety of companion devices such as the “Smart Connected Scale” and Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor. A must have a set of smart devices, for the active, urban person, in touch with his/her fitness side.
Just remember, the Withings Activite Steel is not a smartwatch, nor is it as powerful or versatile as some more expensive trackers out there. However, for just $169.95, this device is an absolute bargain.
It is also worth noting that Withings offers a similar device, called the Activite Pop. For $60 less, you can get the same fitness tracking features in a more colourful, but less premium looking package.
Withings Activite Steel Review – Gallery
- Good battery life
- Affordable price
- No HR sensor
- Analog watch face