Withings Steel HR: Everything you need to know about the smart analogue watch

Your essential guide to this ambitious Withings hybrid
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Withings announced the Steel HR, its latest smart analogue watch at IFA 2016. And while it might just sound like an updated version of the Withings Activité Steel, this is far from a minor upgrade.

It's got Team Wareable excited along with a fair number of our readers thanks to the new digital display that handles phone notifications, the new heart rate monitoring, 25 days battery life and all in a stylish analogue design.

Verdict: Withings Steel HR review

Before you make up your mind about whether this is the fitness tracking watch for you, read on for your need to know on the Withings Steel HR.

Withings Steel HR: Design

Withings Steel HR: Everything you need to know about the smart analogue watch

In terms of design, there's still all the hallmarks here of the Activité watch family with stainless steel casing, chrome hands and a silicone strap. It's also water-resistant (5ATM) letting you take it for a dip in water up to 50 metres deep.

Withings, now owned by Nokia, is offering the Steel HR in two sizes: 36mm and 40mm. With the 36mm version, you'll get a 18mm strap and that will be available in black and white. The 40mm case model meanwhile, comes with a 20mm strap also available in black and white colours. Both are marginally heavier than the Steel and the Pop with the 40mm version weighing in at 49g.

Withings Steel HR: Tracking and heart rate

Withings Steel HR: Everything you need to know about the smart analogue watch

The Steel HR is still very much about activity tracking and includes the familiar Withings dial, which displays the percentage of your activity goal achieved. It offers automatic activity recognition for walking, running and swimming and will automatically monitor sleep analysing light and deep sleep cycles.

Read this: The best smart analogue watches

With this new device it's also adding an optical heart rate sensor that can continuously monitor heart rate during the day - though every few minutes not every few seconds as you might expect. You will be able to see how much time you've spent in a specific heart rate zone. It also uses the sensor to monitor your pulse as you sleep to provide resting heart rate data.

That heart rate sensor extends to covering workouts when you press the lone physical button on the side of the watch. It will also automatically activate heart rate monitoring when you start running.

Withings Steel HR: App

As always, all of the activity data, including setting goals, is stored in the Withings Health Mate app for iOS and Android.

You'll now be able to see additional metrics including maximum heart rate, calories burned and a 'time in zone' graph to indicate which heart rate zones you've been training in the most. Health Mate also includes food logging, leaderboards with friends and integration with both Apple HealthKit and Google Fit.

Withings Steel HR: Screen

Withings Steel HR: Everything you need to know about the smart analogue watch

The other notable new feature is a second dynamic digital screen, which sits at the top of the watch face. That means you can now view health data including your activity/steps goal, real time heart rate data and smartphone notifications.

You can toggle between data screens including daily steps, distance, sleep duration via the physical button on the side. You can also cycle through screens showing calories burned, steps, distance, sleep duration and more. It's worth noting that this isn't an always-on screen.

Withings Steel HR: Battery life

When it comes to battery life, the extra sensor and screen clearly impacts on its ability to match the six month battery life offered on the Activité watches.

It's now down to 25 days, but it'll move to a power save mode after that period to give you an additional 20 days of power. In this mode you'll still be able to track steps and swim activity.

To charge the tracker, pop it on a magnetic charging pad - easy.

Withings Steel HR: Price and release date

The Withings Steel HR is going on sale at the beginning of October from the Withings website priced at for the 36mm model and for the larger 40mm watch case version. You'll be able to pick it from other stores at the end of October.

It's arguably the company's most ambitious watch yet and it'll be interesting to know both if the heart rate tech is up to scratch and the extra screen was worth the hit in the battery department.

How we test

Michael Sawh


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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