Withings Go review

A budget fitness tracker that keeps things simple, and that's fine with us
Withings Go

The Withings Go is a fitness tracker that's gunning for budget tracker rivals like the Misfit Flash and Jawbone UP Move. It's all about keeping things simple. You strap the Go on around your wrist (or wherever you choose) and let it get on with tracking your data day and night.

That E Ink screen gives it an upper hand on the Flash and Move, though, letting you glance down and see your progress – which isn't always a given with the cheapest fitness wearables.

There are also a few features inherited from the elegant Withings Activité line of trackers and the Withings Pulse, such as automatically tracking running and swimming sessions.

Affordable at $69.95, the Withings Go is actually still slightly more expensive than the Misfit Flash and UP Move but matches the (ageing) Fitbit Zip. We've been living with the Go to find out if this is the cheap tracker to go for.

Withings Go: Design

A Withings Activité this most certainly is not. It's pretty obvious where the Go gets its design inspiration from and that's from its closest rivals. The stature is similar to the UP Move and offers the same flexibility as to how and where it can be worn. At its heart is a disc shaped sensor that's just a little larger than the Misfit Flash one.

Read this: The best fitness trackers to buy

Up front is an E Ink display that's activated by pressing down to switch between tracking and the watch face mode. It's not the sharpest we've seen but with such a simplistic interface, it's well suited. You also have the option to choose between dark and light background modes from within the Withings Health app. Around the back you'll find the compartment for the battery. There's no proprietary charger to carry around here folks.

You'll want to decide where to wear the Go. There's a pretty bland rubber strap that's available in a five different colours. The black one we tested is certainly the plainest of the bunch, but we're not convinced any of the brighter hues could really mask the cheap, budget vibe it gives off. It doesn't feel badly made, but doesn't look all that stylish either.

Withings Go sensor (left) compared to Misfit Flash sensor

The module slips into the back of the band and it does not budge. The clasp is identical to the one used on the Misfit Flash and while it remained secure, I'd have much preferred a watch style set-up. The band is at least light and comfortable to wear and didn't cause any skin irritations.

Your other option is the small clip that holds the Go module in place so you can wear it on your waist band, inside a bra, on your keys and even on your shoes. I've had bad experiences in the past running with similar clips on other trackers so I did take the Go for a few runs clipped onto my laces. Thankfully, it did stay put – although I'd be sceptical as to how well it would hold up if you were trudging through muddy conditions.

The Go is water resistant up to 5 ATM (so 50 metres), and that does mean you can take it swimming. It also has the ability to automatically track swimming, which we'll talk a bit more about later. But don't expect advanced metrics like the swim trackers we tested recently, this will just serve up duration and calorie burn.

Withings Go: App

The only data you can view on the Go's E Ink screen is your progress towards your step goal. If you pass that daily target, the small walking man will be replaced by a little star icon and continue counting the additional steps. For everything else, you need to head to the Withings Health Mate app on your iPhone or Android phone.

The app has come a long way since we first tried it out with the first gen Withings Pulse fitness tracker and it certainly now feels like a cleaner, sleeker place to navigate and review data. There's a greater emphasis on the timeline UI as opposed to the butterfly progress UI that's still tucked away in the dashboard. It's here you'll see a feed of step counts, sleep tracking and logged activities.

The big blue plus icon lets you add weight measurements, heart rate readings and blood pressure readings as well as log food. The latter is quite interesting because it pushes you into MyFitnessPal, arguably the best calorie counting app currently available and owned by Under Armour. Linking the two will help gain further insights into your health by taking into account the meals you eat. This is the kind of feature where you'll only reap the benefits after a good few weeks of using it, though.

All of the sections and features are hidden in a drop-down menu in the top left hand corner, where you can also view leaderboards, profiles and a new reminders section. Here you can set reminders to weigh yourself, go for a run, eat your breakfast or reduce your alcohol intake. These updates don't come through to the Go unfortunately, instead popping up on your phone as a notification. This is where the Go really lacks some form of vibration motor to give you a more purposeful nudge to make sure you don't miss the reminders.

In the bottom half of that drop-down, it's pretty standard fare. There's access to the Withings Store and the help centre. There's not much in the way of fiddling with the Go's settings. You can change the style of the screen (dark or light) and change how you wear your Go, which can impact on the reliability of the tracking. You don't have the same form of calibration that you do on Fitbit's app to improve tracking accuracy.


You are likely to spend most of your time in the timeline mode. Here you'll see sleep, daily steps and badges that feel like a feature nabbed from Fitbit. It's nice to know you've covered the same distance as crossing the Bahamas, but it's not new. How does it measure up to what Fitbit, Jawbone and Misfit offer? I still feel like there could still be a little less clutter, but crucially it's easy to soak up the data and manually upload info to help fill in the gaps.

Withings Go: Activity Tracking

So let's get to the important part, the tracking. As we've already mentioned, the Withings Go keeps things simple. The motion sensors will give you step count, distance and calories burned. There's no altimeter here, so you can't track elevation. But that step goal can also be adjusted within the phone app.

From a motivational perspective, the Go is pretty limited. There are no inactivity alarms to remind you to keep moving and it doesn't adjust goals like Garmin's trackers to push you to move further than the previous day.

When it comes to step tracking, we always talk about algorithms. No two fitness trackers ever appear to deliver the same results as the combination of motion sensors and the software used to calculate the data always varies. The most we can really ask for here is that trackers don't deliver wildly different numbers.

Step tracking compared: Withings (left) and Jawbone (far right)

The good news is that the Withings Go looks pretty solid on this front. We paired it up against the Jawbone UP2 and UP3 and the numbers were pretty close. The small differences seem to account for the times we've had to take it off then jump in the shower at home or in the gym.

Essential reading: Sleep trackers explained

It's not quite the same story when it come to sleep monitoring. This is accelerometer based so it takes lack of movement as an indication that you're in bed snoozing. You'll get a pretty basic breakdown of deep and light sleep. It'll also tell you how long it took you to fall asleep, but lacks any real useful insights. Again, we tested against the UP2 and UP3 and there was often a difference in sleep duration of 30 minutes. That's quite a lot.

Sleep monitoring compared: Withings (left) and Jawbone (middle and right)

The two additional tracking modes are the run and swim detection modes. With running, it'll offer details on duration, start time, distance and calories burned. We tested its accuracy against the TomTom Spark running watch and Runkeeper iPhone app wearing the Go around the wrist and clipped onto our running shoes.

Run tracking compared: Withings (left and centre) and Runkeeper (right)

Generally there was a 100-150 metre difference in distance recording, which might not be great for serious runners, but it's not bad at all. Swim tracking is a little more basic. There are no specific swim tracking metrics and it will only record duration and calorie burn. We put it up against the TomTom Spark and the calorie data was at least accurate.

Withings Go: Battery Life

Charging is not something you need to worry about with the Go. That's because it runs on a simple coin cell battery, the kind that you'll find inside the Misfit Flash, most analogue watches or inside a heart rate monitor chest strap. You can expect to get eight months of tracking before you need to replace it, and it'll cost you around $5 for a set from Amazon so you won't have to break the bank to power it up again.


Withings Go
By Withings
If you’re after a fitness tracker with versatile wearing options and a screen, then the Go is certainly worth considering. It’s not the prettiest thing to have around your wrist but it delivers baseline data that fitness tracker newbies will find easy to digest. Step tracking was reliable although we couldn’t say the same for sleep. The automatic run tracking is a nice addition for the casual runner as well and the software has vastly improved in recent years. That said, it still feels like it lags behind some of its competitors when it comes to offering valuable insights and third party app support. If you can live without the luxurious looks associated with Withings’ top end model, it ticks all the important boxes to be a solid fitness tracker for beginners.

Hit
  • Easy to use
  • Reliable step data
  • MyFitnessPal integration
Miss
  • Cheap looks
  • Sleep data accuracy
  • Lacks actionable data


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