Withings Move review

Now split from Nokia, Withings is going back to the basics

Since Withings turned back into an independent company, it’s been making up for lost time. The startup was snapped up by Nokia in 2016 and spent two years as part of the Finnish company’s health division before Nokia got bored and spat it back out again, into the arms of the original co-founder Éric Carreel.

Since reclaiming its identity Withings has hit the ground running, quickly launching the Withings Steel HR Sport and now following up with the Withings Move and Move ECG, two new hybrid smartwatches differentiated by an electrocardiogram.

Hands-on: Withings Move ECG review

However, Withings is waiting for FDA clearance before it can launch the Move ECG, so for the time being you can only get your hands on the Move, which costs just £59.95 and offers a host of fitness features, a customisable design and an 18-month battery.

Does it impress? Read on to find out our full verdict on the Withings Move.

Withings Move: Design

Withings Move review

After the rather drab matte black Steel HR, we’re pleased to see Withings having a bit more fun with its latest watch, which comes in five different colour options – and plenty of band options to mix and match your look.

Essential reading: Best smartwatches to buy

Yes, we’ve gone for the black and white combo, but we're old, boring and joyless. For everyone else, there are greens, blues, pinks and yellows to play with.

Oh, and if you’re paying attention you’ll have noticed the Wareable logo on our watch. No, we haven’t gone into the manufacturing business; Withings gave us a special edition model with the company name emblazoned on the face. Otherwise, it’s just a normal Withings Move.

For the time being you can only get the Move with a plastic case, but Withings says there will be a stainless steel option later in the year (we actually got to see it, so we promise it’s real). In fact, the company has vowed to release a bunch more designs throughout the year.

Withings has always been good at unisex design, and with the Move measuring just 38mm, it’s a good fit for both men and women with a universal strap fitting for added flexibility (no messing around with Withings’ own bands if you don’t want them).

But as you know, you get what you pay for, and a premium watch this is not. If anything, Withings is going after Swatch with a cheaper, plasticky design that focuses more on character than build quality.

Withings Move review

Case in point: A screen that is prone to scratches. After just a few days of wearing my Withings Move I noticed there was a scuff on the plastic. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as that plastic feels like it can be dinged quite easily. I’ve also noticed dirt has found its way into the perimeter of the plastic face, and once it’s in there it’s extremely difficult to get out.

Talking of that face, there’s a sub-dial that displays your activity progress through the day. However the tiny screen found on other Withings watches doesn’t make an appearance in either Move model. There’s a single button on the side of the watch, which is used for pairing purposes and for starting a workout.

A note on waterproofing, which in fairness to Withings it has managed to roll out on all of its wearables. The Move is no different, having been slapped with a 5ATM waterproof certification that means you can take it in the shower and the swimming pool.

Withings Move: Health and fitness

Withings Move review

We’re skipping straight to the health features because the Withings Move doesn’t offer anything by way of notifications or smartphone shortcuts. Your wrist won’t be buzzing when every time you get a text message – and whether that’s a good thing or not depends on what you’re looking for in a smartwatch. For all intents and purposes, the Move is more of a fitness tracker than a smartwatch.

What the Move does do is track your activity through the day – so steps and sleep – while offering specific workout tracking for a range of activities.

Step tracking is pretty par for the course, and Withings’ algorithms are generally fine. Sleep tracking is so-so: There’s no heart rate monitor here, so Withings is relying solely on movement to work out when you’re asleep and when you’re up.

Most nights have tracked within the right ballpark, but it lacks precision. There’s also clearly a disconnect between the activity tracking side and the sleep tracking side, as on one morning it told me I was up and walking for at least 10 minutes before my supposed wake-up time. Unless I’ve picked up a habit of early morning sleepwalking, something isn’t right. To its credit though, the Move hasn’t produced any wildly odd results, despite its obvious limitations.

Withings Move review
Workout tracking: Apple Watch (Top) and Withings Move (bottom)

To track a workout you need to long-press on the watch’s side button. This will cause the hour and minute hands to move to the 12 o’clock position and start counting, while the sub-dial will move to zero and start tracking your exercise.

Now as mentioned, there’s no heart rate monitor here so the watch is measuring the intensity of your workout through movement. What it does have is connected GPS, which means that if you’re running outside or cycling you can track your distance as long as you have your smartphone paired.

Withings Move
Withings Move

It’s a system we’ve seen Fitbit and others use, piggybacking off the phone’s GPS for a more accurate reading than you’d get using the accelerometer alone.

I put the Move up against the Apple Watch Series 4, which we've found to have excellent GPS accuracy, and after a run I’d tracked 3.34 miles on the Withings Move and 3.18 miles on the Apple Watch. So not too far off, but if you’re training for a marathon, you’ll want something that delivers better accuracy.

After your workout you can select the activity in the app. There’s a tonne to choose from, ranging from swimming to ping pong, but unless you’re tracking distance you’re just getting an estimated calorie burn, which can contribute to your daily goal. You’re not getting any of the juicy in-depth stats you’d get from a Garmin or Apple wearable.

Withings Move: Battery life

Withings Move review

Battery life is definitely one area the Move excels. Withings claims you’ll get 18 months before needing to replace it. We haven’t been able to test that, but considering how little tech is inside the watch, we're willing to trust Withings on this one. When you do finally run out of power, it's just a regular watch cell battery to replace.


Withings Move
By Withings
The Withings Move is about as basic as you can get in a hybrid smartwatch. In fact, we'd categorise the Move as more of a fitness tracker than a smartwatch. The connected GPS gives it some added clout, but Withings is targeting the Swatches of the worlds here, not the Apple Watches. Wait a little longer (and save a little more) and get the ECG version when it's available.

Hit
  • Very affordable
  • Colourful designs
  • Connected GPS
Miss
  • No heart rate sensor
  • Cheap build quality
  • No notification support




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