Montblanc Summit Lite review: get fit in style

But the new focus on health and fitness doesn't quite stack up
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Montblanc Summit Lite
By Montblanc
The Montblanc Summit Lite is a luxury smartwatch with a luxury price. And the mix of a style, premium materials and some good health features on paper looks like a winning mix. However, the exercise extras Montblanc adds on top of Wear OS fall short. The heart rate monitor accuracy is problematic, and there needs to be a phone app to help make sense of all the extra metrics and data points. It's a lovely looking smartwatch but if you're looking for something more than just looks, the fitness flaws make it hard to recommend.

Hit
  • Tidy look and nice strap
  • Good quality display
  • Nice watch faces and daily watches
Miss
  • Software extras let down by sensors
  • Needs a companion app
  • GPS dents battery life

The Montblanc Summit Lite is the German luxury brand's latest smartwatch, offering a slightly lower price and a new focus on health and fitness.

It's cheaper than 2019's Summit 2 and the LTE-packing Summit 2+ that landed in 2020, the Lite goes a little lighter on price.

At £700 (€790 – it's not on sale in the US yet), it's cheaper than the Summit 2. That's not crazy expensive in luxury smartwatch terms – it's way cheaper than the Tag Heuer Connected or Hublot Big Bang and around the same price as a stainless steel Apple Watch Series 6 44mm.

It retains the high grade materials, and features like a heart rate monitor, built-in GPS and NFC payments are all in place too. And it's Google's Wear OS that runs the show.

To make the Lite feel a little different to use to the other Summit watches, Montblanc has clearly taken a more fitness and wellness approach with the software extras it's added on top of Google's.

So we've established it's pricey, and if you've already accepted that and prepared to spend big on a smartwatch, is the Montblanc Summit Lite the right choice?

We've been living with it to find out. Here's our full verdict.

Montblanc Summit Lite: Design and screen

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When Montblanc first entered the smartwatch space, we'd fully expected the brand to nail it on the design side of things, but that wasn't really the case.

Things did noticeably improve on the second generation Summit and our brief time with the Summit 2+ showed it's now more on track with delivering an attractive smartwatch.

With the Summit Lite, you do have to be resigned to no longer having the option of a stainless steel case, with just an aluminium option available instead. It's still a high quality case and does come in black and grey options (we had the black version), but it's clearly a reason for the slight price drop.

It's a 43mm case, so just 0.5mm smaller than the one on the Summit 2+, with some stainless steel still reserved for the pushers and the twisting watch crown.

That case houses a smaller 1.19-inch, 390 x 390 resolution AMOLED touchscreen display that does have always-on option. While it's a drop down in size, it's up there with the best you'll find on Wear OS smartwatches. You get those great deep blacks and accurate colours and we can have little complaints on what is on offer here.

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It's a bright screen as well and you'll likely not need to resort to the maximum brightness setting on most occasions. We didn't have any visibility issues in bright outdoor light either, and Montblanc does include and additional sunlight boost mode on offer to temporarily perk up the screen brightness here too.

That case is paired up with your choice of a 22mm, interchangeable sporty rubber or fabric band to give it less of a formal look than the Summit 2+ and you're getting a pretty standard traditional watch-style buckle that certainly kept it in place throughout our time of testing it.

The fabric band we had to live with actually uses a softer, more sweat-friendly interior, which means it's one you can keep on for workouts no problem.

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As a package, it's been slapped with a 5ATM water resistant rating, making it safe for joining you in the shower and getting in the pool, when it's safe to do that again.

While the Summit 2 and 2+ play up to Montblanc's more business-friendly look, it's a slightly different story with the Lite. The black case and black fabric combo we had on our wrist clearly channels a more casual look.

It's clean, slick and minimalist, but we were just hoping for something a little more exciting on a £700 smartwatch.

Montblanc Summit Lite: Wear OS and extras

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So now we get into the software, which is familiar Wear OS story, though Montblanc does try to stamp its authority on things here too. All the hallmarks of Google's operating system is in place. The same gestures for navigating to your stream of notifications or quick settings. There's Google's usual suite of apps including Google Assistant and Pay thanks to the onboard NFC.

Nothing that we've seen on the Summit Lite has changed our opinion of Wear OS. It just doesn't feel as polished as watchOS or Tizen OS. There's an older processor tech powering the performance with the Summit Lite relying on the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 3100 processor with 1GB RAM and 8GB of storage. Since the 3100, we've had the 4100 and the 4100+, though very few watches pack the latter.

While it is older tech, it's not something we really felt impacted on performance. There's wasn't any noticeable lag or stuttering when apps launched. There's some small loading times on some of Montblanc's own apps, but it's hardly a painful wait for them to boot up.

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Montblanc still offers its own very distinctive collection of watch faces to dress your screen up alongside a great Daily Style app that offers you five new watch faces to try out. It also includes additional apps you won't currently find on its other watches.

The first is called Body Energy works in a similar fashion to Garmin's Body Battery monitor, looking at your daily exercise and activity along with sleep tracking to give you an insight into the kind of energy levels you have to take on the day. That sleep monitoring data is gathered from the LifeQ Sleep app, where you can track sleep stages including REM sleep, sleep quality and efficiency.

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Cardio Coach is an attempt to delve deeper into the kind of training load and analysis features found on sports watches. It promises to recommend the recommended amount of cardio exercise to do daily based your training load, recovery time and fitness level, which is taken from your VO2 Max.

There's also a Stress app, which will continuously monitor stress during the day via heart rate monitoring, which is standard practice for most stress tracking watches.

While these are all great to see being added by Montblanc, there is a problem. There isn't a companion app available to view this data in greater detail. It's all on the watch, so there's no real way to get a sense how reliable this data really is over time if you can't see trends over a longer period. Then there's the accuracy problem, which we'll get into next.

Montblanc Summit Lite: Fitness and sports tracking

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On the sensor front, everything you get on the Summit 2/2+ from a fitness and tracking point if view, is here too. You've got built-in GPS, a barometer to track elevation and an optical heart rate monitor. You can look to Google's suite of Fit apps, Montblanc's own apps or go for some third party options instead. As we said, Montblanc's options live on the watch.

If you use a combination of Google's and Montblanc's apps, it gets messy very quickly. You really need to go all in with one or the other. Especially if you favour tracking workouts over daily step counts.

We'll start with the Cardio Coach app where you can see your heart rate, daily calorie burn and a suggested cardio workout. You can also see training load, recovery time and a VO2 Max score.

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We tracked a few GPS runs through this mode and GPS distance tracking was actually pretty close in comparison to a Garmin Fenix 6 Pro. Pace average data wasn't far off either, though it was a different story for heart rate tracking. It posted significantly lower average and maximum heart rate readings compared to a Garmin HRM Pro chest strap.

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Heart rate tracking compared for HIIT: Montblanc Summit Lite (left) and Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap (right)

When we switched things back indoors for some Fiit home workouts and a bootcamp class, we got mixed results from that heart rate monitor again. With the Fiit workouts, it largely matched up with Apple's reliable Apple Watch Series 6 heart rate monitor.

When we switched to compare to a chest strap monitor for a bootcamp class, the max and average BPM readings were off enough to put you into a different heart rate zone. It was particularly worse with average BPM readings.

Ultimately what that also means is that apps like the Cardio Coach, Body Monitor and stress tracking Montblanc has built into Wear OS can only be of value if the heart rate monitor pushing data to them can be relied on. In our experience that didn't really feel like the case.

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It's a similar story for the addition of sleep tracking, which feels weirdly executed on the watch. You can't see the previous day's sleep, so how do you know if your sleep is getting better? We went to sleep with it alongside a Fitbit Sense and it just didn't seem to work for us.

There's some nice ideas here and the idea of having these coaches and insights to tell you when to pick up the workout intensity could be useful, If they were executed well and had the reliable sensors to back them up. That's simply not what we found on the Summit Lite.

Montblanc Summit Lite: Battery life

The Summit Lite packs in a smaller 400mAh battery compared to the 440mAh sized one included on the Summit 2. Though it's essentially designed to give you a day's play and possibly push to a day and a half. When you are running low, there is a battery saver mode there too, letting you view the time only.

In our experience using it in full smartwatch mode, that single day's play is accurate. If you factor in using GPS or tracking a workout, then that does put a sizeable dent in battery life. An hour of running with GPS knocked battery life by almost 50%. In a day without tracking, you'd be likely to have 20-30% left over the following morning if you take it to bed to track sleep. It was usually down to about 20-30% with a tracked activity.

That battery saver mode is useful by giving you a nice Montblanc watch face to look at if you just want to use it as a watch and will give you more than a day's of use from it. Ultimately though, this is one where you're going to need to use the charger on a pretty regular basis through a week if you don't want to get caught short in full smartwatch mode.



Michael Sawh

By

Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.


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