- Solid and sleek design
- Top battery life
- Breathing and temp data
- Insights slightly lagging rivals
- Sleep data not best in class
- Rogue workout detection
When it comes to hybrid smartwatches, Withings is the guvnor. The ScanWatch is one of the best health smartwatches on the market – and manages top insights all from within the body of an analog watch.
It’s been a success, for those who don’t want a computer on the wrist – and that choice is sweetened with a month of battery life too.
While the ScanWatch was ahead of the curve for wellness insights and ECG – there’s more competition now. Whoop, Oura, Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin are all doing the same thing. So is the ScanWatch 2 still ahead of the pack?
We lived with it to find out.
Price and competition
The Withings ScanWatch 2 doesn’t come cheap – at $349/£319 it’s not a budget alternative – and it’s aimed at those who want a top health watch experience, in a more subtle design.
Alternatives are the Garmin Vivomove – which is less powerful as a health watch but does have Garmin’s Body Battery and superior workout tracking powers.
Of course, you can pick up a Withings ScanWatch Nova, which offers a far more premium design, for a slight increase to £599/$599.
And if the amount of health data here feels too much, the Withings ScanWatch Lite offers a simplified experience for £229/$249.
Withings has become synonymous with the hybrid smartwatch, and the ScanWatch follows this tradition.
The ScanWatch2 certainly looks smart and sleek, with stainless steel used for the case and sapphire glass providing decent protection on top.
It comes in 42mm and 38mm case sizes, so its easy on the wrist for both males and females.
We got the blandest version in silver with a black rubber strap and black dial, but some of the other combos look far more interesting. The gold case, with blue or sand dials look far more appealing – but these only come in 38mm sizes. We’d have appreciated a gold version in 42mm.
The rubber strap slips a fair bit, but it's easy to change as it uses a standard clasp fitting.
The ScanWatch 2 is 5ATM water resistant, which means it can take a dip in the pool and survive happily. And there’s a swimming mode on board, too.
In terms of desirability, it’s way behind the ScanWatch Horizon – and there’s now the ScanWatch 2 Nova for £599.
A small monochrome OLE display can be used for viewing stats, changing watch modes, and using on-watch features. It’s controlled by the crown, which can be pressed and twisted. It’s very basic but does enough and doesn’t take long to master.
The secondary dial will also show your progress to your step goal. Personally, I feel step goals are a little 2012, and there are far more interesting data points on the Withings ScanWatch 2. But none of these are as easy to put on a little dial as a step goal – and people do like them – so this element remains.
Sleep tracking on Withings devices has always been one of its strongest suits – but we did have a bit of a mixed bag on the ScanWatch 2.
We compared it with our regular Whoop 4.0 across 20 nights of sleep and found some strange deviations.
First of all, the sleep duration data was largely spot-on throughout our testing.
But a number of “good” sleeps reported by Whoop were flagged by Withings for lack of deep sleep. Whoop didn’t back this up – and while it’s impossible to say for sure without a sleep lab, deep and REM levels seemed suspiciously low on the ScanWatch 2.
What's more, some restless nights of being bothered by a 12-week-old baby and a bed-invading toddler got sleep scores of nearly 100/100 by Withings with raise for a lack of interruptions. And you don’t need a sleep lab to know that these were not restful nights.
So this isn’t an experience we would call best-in-class.
It’s a shame as the presentation of sleep data is largely good, with the app also tracking breathing disturbances (this must be turned on in the app and will affect battery life) and sleep heart rate as well.
The ScanWatch 2 is a fully-fledged health smartwatch, and can offer pretty much anything the Apple Watch Series 9 does.
It's features are more geared towards health (heart rate, ECG, sleep apnea detection) than wellness, so there aren't features such as daily readiness, HRV, stress – all of which are mainstays of the likes of Oura, Whoop and the excellent Garmin Venu 3.
High/low heart rate notifications are here (we got one for a middling heart rate of 52bpm) and there’s also spot SpO2 tracking – nd you can also turn on night-time SpO2 levels as well as the Respiratory Scan feature (below).
Heart rate tracking is a core element of the Withings app, although it’s measured differently to other devices, so hard to compare like-for-like. It looks at average HR throughout the day, rather than a purely resting heart rate. Although there’s a separate metric for sleeping heart rate.
I’m not a huge fan of the average heart rate metric and think it makes the Withings ecosystem less useful as a barometer of health and wellness.
Firstly, resting HR is powerful because it’s measured at rest and therefore constant. If you take the ScanWatch 2 for a workout, you will skew the average HR data for that day, so you will see the figures bounce around which minimizes its usefulness.
You can, however, track sleep heart rate data, which is more constant. The trend intervals for long-term analysis are quite extreme, and you can only view them by day, quarter, or year. So you need three months of wear to even start to see trends effectively.
What’s more, we’d have liked to see more baseline data – which would help people identify what’s normal.
Whoop will flag any deviations from your personalized average heart rate baselines, which is a great indicator to tell users something is up – be it stress, illness or a bad hangover. But Withings only does this for temperature data.
We also got a low HR notification for 53bpm – which is a little unnecessary. Likewise, should my nightly heart rate surge to 79, it would still be displayed as “good”, despite my baseline being 45-50. The approach here feels like it lags other ecosystems.
Trend data is a big focus of the ScanWatch 2, but as mentioned, we’d prefer to see a little more granularity, and it feels like single-day or quarterly trends are too much of a jump.
However, Withings will differentiate weekend and weekday data which is an unusual but nice touch. That’s especially good for sleep data, where the reality is that people will sleep differently when they don’t have to set their alarms for work.
One of the more unique aspects of the Withings ScanWatch 2 is its attention to breathing during sleep. It’s one of the few wearables with the power to detect sleep apnea, and this is a well-presented tool within the sleep tracking metrics.
It shows low, medium, or high levels of disturbance, and it’s easy to understand and read. Getting regular medium or high levels of disturbance should spark a conversation with your doctor.
You’ll need to go and turn this on manually in the settings. Another smart integration is that once it’s been tracked for a few nights, Withings only tracks breathing intermittently, and not every night, which saves on battery.
ECG makes an appearance on the ScanWatch 2, just like the original and the Withings Move ECG. It works much like other implementations: cover the watch case with your hand and take a spot check – and you’ll get a normal or Afib reading, and an ECG to show your doctor too.
Body temperature is a new addition to ScanWatch 2 and it uses a baseline system and shows changes throughout the day.
It also measures temperature during workouts and will flag if it feels you’ve overheated – and whether you need to prioritize recovery. Testing ScanWatch 2 in December didn’t trigger too many warnings, but as someone who runs hot, I’d love to check back on this in summer, and feel it’s a really useful addition.
Fitness and workouts
Due to the nature of the ScanWatch 2’s tiny OLED display, it’s not a natural workout partner.
On-watch feedback is minimal, but we tried it for gym-based workouts and outdoor running – and it’s certainly usable for the right type of person.
Clearly, this is not the device for someone looking for in-depth live feedback on heart rate, pace, or exertion – but if you work out casually and want to track that session – it’s more than good enough.
There’s no GPS built-in, but if you turn it on in the settings, you can use “Connected GPS” which means using your smartphone to track location data. This is fine, but will never be as accurate as a ‘proper’ smartwatch. Our 10K run was tracked 500m longer.
But the overall summary of the workout is nicely presented, and a good overview of your session.
In terms of heart rate data, the raw numbers are good – with an average HR of 163bpm compared to 165bpm on a chest strap. In real-time, heart rate readings bounced around a lot with clearly erroneous readings. So it’s not a partner for serious workouts.
We also had a serious issue with the auto-workout detection, which would regularly record cycling workouts when driving.
The workouts section of the app being flooded with short walks to the shop and random cycling workouts that never took place annoyed us so much, that we’d advocate switching off the auto-detection altogether.
As a hybrid smartwatch, the smart side of the ScanWatch is limited – compared to what you’d find on the Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch.
There are no mobile payments, apps, or the like. Being able to pay for stuff contactlessly would be nice, but you don’t buy a hybrid smartwatch to get snazzy features. It’s all about a minimal, less techy experience.
The ScanWatch 2 will show incoming notifications, and the small screen will display the sender’s name and type out the message. It needn’t bother with the message aspect as it’s hard to understand text being scrolled rapidly across the screen – but getting sender data is useful.
I also like how Withings enables you to approve notifications from any app individually, so you can see what you need, without turning on a firehose of wrist buzzes and beeps. That’s something Garmin needs to work on.
Withings says that you will get around 30 days between charges, which is a staggering amount when compared to the single-life battery you’ll get from the Apple Watch Series 9.
We’d say this is achievable from our testing – although doing workouts and having lots of notifications buzz the wrist could take this down to around 20-25 days.
This also means having SpO2 and Respiratory Charge turned off.
We turned these on every night and depleted around 40% of the battery in four days, so you can see the effect that has on the battery.
How we test