Withings Activité Pop review

We take Withings’ cheaper fitness hybrid for a spin to see if the savings pay off
Withings Activité Pop

Wearables need to be wearable. That's the ethos at Withings, the French company following up the gorgeous looking Swiss-made Activité with its cheaper offspring, the Activité Pop.

Essential reading: Best fitness tracker

At £119 / $150, the Pop is an iPhone compatible, fitness tracker-watch hybrid that's set to appeal to the masses more than its bigger, brasher, brother. But does the cost-cutting come with some unwanted compromises?

We've had the Withings Activité Pop strapped to our wrist for the last couple of weeks. Read on to find out….

Withings Activité Pop: Design

Withings Activité Pop review

The original Activité, which is around three times the price of the Pop, uses premium materials such as scratch-proof domed sapphire glass, stainless steel and French calf leather. Withings' new arrival is constructed from a PVD-coated metal, features mineral glass and has a silicone strap.

It feels anything but cheap though – the rubber is soft, texturised and stretchy and it's incredibly comfortable to wear. As stated in the intro, we've had the Pop on our arm for a couple of weeks now (including a few nights sleeping with it on) and there's been no skin irritation issues to report.

Our verdict: Withings Activité review

The watch face may not sparkle quite as much as the original, but the Pop is still fantastic looking and, with a range of colours and straps on offer, you're bound to find one you like. All colours are unisex, in theory, although the sand option is the most feminine.

While it's very compact compared to other watch-like fitness trackers, the Pop is slightly thicker than a regular 1.3-inch, 18mm strap watch. But you'll hardly notice the small rear-bump (where the battery and sensors are stored) while wearing it, and it's not exactly a device that stands out. To a non-techy bystander, the Pop looks like a regular (and stylish) wristwatch.

The 18mm strap is interchangeable too, so while you might not be wearing genuine French calf-leather as you would with the original Activité, you could always grab a fake leather strap off of eBay without breaking the bank.

On the watch face is a pair of analogue hands and non-numbered five-minute interval markers, along with the 1-100 dial that represents your progression towards your daily step goal. Unlike its more expensive brethren, this dial isn't double glass domed and there's no added texture on it. There's also no 50 marker, but that's hardly a deal-breaker.

The 'Swiss-Made' tag is also missing, for obvious reasons - this one is produced in China.

Withings Activité Pop: Features

Withings Activité Pop review

The functionality of the Pop is exactly the same as its more expensive namesake, with fitness and sleep tracking on board, and it uses the same Withings HealthMate app – but more on that later.

Setup is a doddle - the watch pairs to the app and sets the time automatically based on your smartphone. There is a calibration process to go through – to make sure the hands are all in the right places – but it's really straightforward. The reason for this is it's actually a digital watch powering analogue components. The Pop knows how to move its hands at the right pace, you just need to get them in the right place to begin with.

A cool sidenote - if you change time zones while wearing the Pop, it automatically resets itself. It does this using your phone's time setting though, so don't expect it to change mid-flight if your mobile is on airplane mode.

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You can set a silent alarm for the Pop using the Withings app so you'll be alerted with a series of vibrations at your desired time. It's a touch annoying that you can't stop this alarm once you're aware of it though, you need to just wait for it to stop – it's around 12 vibrations. You can also sadly only set one. Checking the alarm time on the watch face is simply a case of double tapping the glass and watching the hands spin around to display the programmed time.

Another bummer is that, although the app lets you set reminders (get some milk, go for a run, clean the car and so on), they just appear as pop-ups on your smartphone – the Pop doesn't buzz at the same time, which seems a wasted opportunity.

If you hit your daily step goal, the Pop's hands spin for a bit, like a little analogue party, and the device buzzes. The counter then returns to zero and starts again. It's a bit underwhelming but hey, if you're buying a Withings Activité device, you're not doing it for onscreen updates.

Withings Activité Pop: Tracking and app

Withings Pop review

That step goal is 10,000 and not a step more or less. Despite the company stating on social media that the option to change the goal will be hitting the HealthMate soon, it hasn't yet.

10,000 is also a lot of steps when you consider that Withings is a lot more stringent than some of its rivals. We've found the Pop to be pretty consistent with regards to step-recording to other devices from the company that we've tested – i.e. it tracks less steps than the likes of Fitbit or Jawbone.

Step counting using an accelerometer and an algorithm based on personal statistics isn't an exact science, and is a relative measurement depending on the device you're using. However, we think that it's a bit harsh that an 8km run, combined with about 20 minutes of walking, still doesn't mean a 100% goal achievement on 10,000 steps. This was the case on one day for us while testing.

Talking of running and you should consider the Pop a basic assistant rather than a training device. That 8km run we mentioned was tracked as 7.3km of running and 1.7km of 'other'. There's no GPS, so it's not a dedicated running device and you should take its activity recording results with a pinch of salt.

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The app nicely breaks down your activities into clusters of days or weeks, though, and on the day mode you can even see bursts of individual activities and the time of day that they occurred.

Sleep tracking data is displayed in a similar fashion to activities in the HealthMate app, and the good news is that sleep detection on the Pop is automatic – you don't need to press any buttons before nodding off. We found the sleep monitoring to work pretty well and it helps that the Pop is so comfortable to wear. If you're used to wearing a watch to bed, you'll have no issues keeping it strapped on.

The HealthMate app is also used for the Withings Smart Body Analyzer and the Pulse tracker, so you'll see empty sections for weight (unless you manually add it), heart rate and elevation within your activity. This is a tad annoying but you can pull in extra data from some third party apps to fill in the gaps and Apple Health is compatible too.

The one major downside is that the Withings Activité Pop is only compatible with iOS at the moment, although we're told Android support is imminent. With the Apple Watch on the horizon, it makes sense for Withings to work on Android compatibility as fast as it can.

Withings Activité Pop: Battery life and extras

The Withings Activité Pop is powered by a regular CR2025 coin battery, and you can expect a power-cycle of around eight months. You'll get a little tool in the box to open the back of the watch, and it's just a case of swapping the cell out. This tool can also be used to reset the watch using the button on the device's rear.

Like the original, the Activité Pop is 5ATM water resistant, meaning you can take it swimming. In fact, its makers claim that swim tracking is a feature that will be added in a firmware update soon.


Withings Activité Pop
By Withings
The Withings Activité Pop is further proof that the French company ‘gets’ wearables. It understands the need for not only creating stylish-looking designs but also making devices that people can use, with ease, and in form factors that they are already familiar with. In terms of fitness tracking the Pop may be a touch on the basic side, and we’re not convinced it’s the most accurate tracker we’ve used, although what is recorded is presented in great detail in the smartphone companion app. The reason people will love the Pop is its simplicity. In its own right it’s a lovely looking wristwatch and, at less than £120 / $150, the fitness features could even be looked upon as an added bonus.

Hit
  • Great price-point
  • Plenty of colour options
  • Fantastic battery life
  • App information is very detailed
Miss
  • Step counting is slightly harsh
  • You can’t change the step goal
  • Only one smart alarm
  • Run tracking is hit and miss

14 Comments

  • moszinet says:

    I feel like Withings really nailed it with this watch. 

    In my opinion the smartwatch in it's current form (multitude if sensors, digital display, 2 days battery) will not be very compelling for too many people. Withings was able to release a device that lasts for 8 months "one a charge" and delivers perfectly on the things it meant to do.

    I will definitely order one.

  • splat_matt says:

    I had one of the early release units. The crystal shattered and no impact occurred. I surmised it was extreme temperature change. BB almost didn't take it back but every employee there agreed it didn't look misused.  I hope mine was just a bad unit, but I have never damaged a crystal before in a watch. Other than that it was very accurate and I really liked the form factor, but I'm very hesitant to try another one. 

  • Dachar says:

    I received my Activite Pop this week. The set up worked and initially sync first time but ever since it will not sync. I have used Pulse O2 before so I am used to Withings. I have emailed Withings support but 2 days later no reply.  The watch itself looks like a normal watch rather than something designed by a geek with no understand of looks. Also it seems no thicker than my other watches. Hopefully my problems are a one off and not a sign of cheap manufacturing.

  • MariaMR says:

    What about gym workouts? Or any other activity outside of step counting/ running or swimming?

  • maxanon says:

    Does it absolutely need bluetooth 4.0 in order to sync?  How large is the data buffer?  The watch seems super interesting.

  • jrmiss86 says:

    I saw a side by side comparison of the Pop and 3 of the fitbit wrist trackers (the flex, charge, and charge HR) and according to what I saw, the Pop is not compatible with My Fitness Pal. Is this accurate? This could be a deal breaker for me, since without my fitness pal, I have no other way to get my food log into the apple health app, if I go with the Pop. If I stay with the fitbit ( I currently have a flex) I will continue to log my food in their app. 

    • arijaycomet says:

      The latest version of the Withings app DOES work with MyFitnessPal.  It also allows custom steps now (it used to be fixed at 10,000 per day).  Overall the Pop is the best in this segment, for a classic style watch that also does step/activity tracking. Check out my full post here:

      http://arijaycomet.com/2015/05/15/comparison-withi...

      Although I think most are better off spending the same $150 for a Fitbit Charge HR, if you're determined to have something a bit simpler (both in style, and function), the Pop is a worthy consideration.

  • CherryRob says:

    I have had the Pop since it came out, about 3 months.

    The minute hand is starting to drag, so the time can show up to 10 minutes behind. At a quick glance, this is not enough to make me realize there is a problem there, but it is enough to make me late sometimes. I can reset via the app, but the problem keeps repeating

    The steps generally run a bit slow too, compared to the number I get when I sync. And once that hand stopped altogether.

    Sometimes the syncing goes wrong and double-counts.

    At this point I am losing patience with it. If it is taking up the watch space on my wrist, it HAS to show correct time, apart from the activity functions. I contacted support last week, but have yet to hear from them.

    • cyah says:

      I'm considering getting the watch...CherryRob - are you still having lag problems?

    • Alexey says:

      Minute hand is a common problem with these watch.
      It lags behind from time to time - so after some days it can lag several minutes or so - on contrary the hour hand is precise.
      Fixable by replacing with new good-quality fresh battery. Then it lasts for month or two, then again the problem is coming back.

  • Canada says:

    I'm a student is the Withing Activte Pop worth it (is it good) Or am I better off with an Apple Watch or some other brand of fitness tracking?

    • Erffy says:

      Hi, I hope this didn't come too late for you!

      I bought, wore it, used it. A Pop is good enough- if your aim is to have an activity tracker that gives an indication of how much calories burned, and perhaps how well you sleep.

      I've tried an Apple watch for a day, and it definitely isn't an activity tracking device. It is more of a condensed phone that lets you check you emails, check instagram, answer (hands-free) calls while driving.

      This guide was honest and answered a few questions that many average consumers have but tech reviews always miss out (does getting a wearable make me exercise more, can i change the pop wristband to my own leather choice, will it fit my formal clothes etc):

      https://beaminghamster.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/me...

      Let us know your decision! I would say, a Pop is great as it tracks well. And it tells time (my main draw). No need for multiple watch and band strapped to our wrist.

  • evilalpaca says:

    TLDR: *Not* 50m waterproof, splash proof or 'water resistant' at best.

    I bought one, can't comment on the tracking accuracy, close enough is good enough for me. As another reviewer mentioned, swim tracking is hit and miss. One of the main features I wanted was sleep tracking and aside the *very* occasional hiccup I find sleep tracking quite accurate.

    Aesthetics and wearability are excellent, although the rubber band irked me and I replaced it with a nylon webbing NATO / G10 style generic strap which (to me) improved the looks and comfort a lot.

    Alas, the watch is barely "water resistant" let alone 50m rated like they claim. To be fair, I did change the battery myself but with a watch like this that needs a battery every 6-8 weeks, who is going to pay a professional to do that each time? I took great care with the gasket, even applied some sealant lube, and used a proper watch press to close the watch back when I finished. It handles showering fine but even washing the dishes is questionable and I end up with condensation inside the glass.

    Took it for a swim and had the entire watch face flooded when I came out. Trying to flush the salt out with isopropyl alcohol and distilled water and see if it can be rescued, if it dies I won't be buying another. Reading other reviews around the place plenty of people have found this out the hard way like me, don't expect to swim with this watch/tracker.

  • Lizb123 says:

    i have had mine for a few weeks. I have also spent those 2 weeks dealing with customer support. Sadly my watch is still not working. The whole reason i got it was for the swim tracking. Sadly it sucks. I swim at least an hour a day. It is waterproof, but some days it records my swim, other days it says i swam 5 min, some days (most) it doesnt record it at all. My sleep sometimes records twice. Sometimes it says i slept 14 hours. Sometimes i wake up at 6 and it says i woke up at 8:30....basically it keeps the time and counts steps? But that is all. It hasnt even been doing a good job keeping steps. I have had nothing but excuses and vague promises from customer support. 

    They claim the sleep isdue is known and will be fixed eventually with the next update. They claim the swim issue is a software issue. I am returning it. 

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