Review of Steel HR Sport, a more athletic hybrid from Withings

PROS

  • lovely design
  • long-lasting battery
  • GPS and VO2 Max connections:
  • Accurate activity tracking. Comfy strap

CONS

  • The OLED screen is small and expensive, with few notifications.

Rating

DESIGN: 8.5/10

EASE OF USE: 8.5/10

USE OF INFORMATION: 7.5/10

MOTIVATION: 7.5/10

Not everyone desires a sporty fitness band or a fully functional smartwatch. Some people prefer a device that resembles a classic clock. Fortunately, you no longer have to choose between activity tracking and attractiveness. You may have the best of both worlds with hybrid or analogue watches.

The world’s first analogue watch with an integrated heart rate sensor was released by Withings in 2016. The French company was quickly acquired by Nokia. But it didn’t take long for the digital giant to discover how challenging it is to succeed in the health and fitness sector. When Nokia decided to leave, co-founder and former chairman of Withings, Éric Carreel, brought the business back under his wing earlier this year. The debut of Steel HR Sport heralds the original brand’s return.

One of the greatest hybrid alternatives available is still its predecessor, Steel HR. The improved device has connected GPS, a calculation of VO2 Max fitness level, and better watch straps. And yes, you will continue to receive the incredible 25-day battery life. These improvements are made to the Steel HR Sport in order to raise the quality of the user experience and make it a more useful multisport tracker.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been sporting the new hybrid. Here is what I created using it.

The Design Steel HR Sport doesn’t look all that different from the model it replaces. It looks and feels like a typical watch thanks to its mineral glass, matte metallic hands with color accents, and stainless steel casing with an engraved bezel. Nevertheless, it is a pretty attractive one.

However, it does have a sportier vibe. This is because the silicone band now features air holes that are intended to be comfortable during exercise. With quick-release pins, the 20mm band can be changed out for another of the same color or a leather band for more formal situations. The silicon bands in black and gray that I tested out were incredibly silky and comfortable.

The Steel HR Sport is a one-size-fits-all watch, as opposed to the original watch’s two sizes. It is available in a single model with a watch face that is 40mm in diameter and either white or black. The watch is quite thin and suitable for both men and women because it is only 13mm thick and weighs less than 50 grams.

The large dials still display the time, and the small red sub-dial displays your daily step progress. This makes it very simple to see where you stand at a glance. For instance, if your objective was 8,000 steps, the little display at 6 o’clock would indicate that you had completed half of that amount, or 4,000 steps. If you achieve your target, the small dial will simply make another roundtrip.

Additionally, there is a tiny, monochrome OLED display at the top of the watch face that gives additional data, such as the date, time, heart rate, number of actual steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, alerts, and battery life. By default, it is off, but you may turn it on by pushing the button that looks like the watch crown. It’s really easy to learn how to navigate. The stats can be viewed by repeatedly pressing the physical button. All it takes to start and end an activity is a lengthy press release.

Additionally, information about phone calls, text messages, the calendar, and intelligent notifications from your favorite apps is displayed on the dynamic screen. There is a vibration there to draw your attention. It’s important to note that the screen does not remain on for very long in order to preserve battery life. Due to its modest size, it is also difficult to read outside. However, you won’t be looking for a hybrid if you want a big screen. Your best choice is either a smartwatch or a sports watch.

A day and night motion sensor, a high-precision MEMS 3-axis accelerometer, and a photoplethysmography (PPG) heart rate sensor are all built into the hybrid. There hasn’t been any modification from the previous model, despite an improvement to the software that enables connected GPS and fitness level evaluation. As far as we know, GPS smartphone connectivity will also be available for older models of Steel HR. However, they will not receive the performance numbers (VO2Max).

Once more, the device will automatically identify and track your swim workouts and is water-resistant down to 50 meters (5 ATM). However, the optical heart rate monitor won’t function effectively underwater, as we’ve observed with other wearables, so you’ll only get data on calories and duration. This is so that the watch can detect your heartbeat via a series of green LEDs. This is quite challenging since water interferes with the lights’ ability to properly and consistently flash against the skin.

Withings makes a comeback with the sporty hybrid Steel HR Sport.

The AD battery life is still fantastic and a major selling point. For an amazing 25 days, Steel HR will continue to run. It will then continue to function inefficiently in power-saving mode for an additional 20 days. The majority of its rivals are left in the dust by this performance.

It only requires a few hours on its specialized magnetic charging wire to restore its full capacity and an hour to reach roughly 80%. I didn’t need to use the charger even once over the three weeks of testing. Given how infrequently you’ll use it, the only risk I see is that you might lose the charger.

Software and feature sets

Fitness monitoring

The original device monitors a variety of sports; steps, distance, calories, all-day heart rate (resting and zone information), and sleep (deep and light sleep stages, sleep disruptions) (30 to be exact). It also offers automatic exercise recognition. With the Steel HR Sport, you’ll receive all of this and more.

The updated Withings Health Mate companion app is used to configure the smart watch after Bluetooth pairing. It’s an easy process that goes quickly and painlessly.

Withings makes a comeback with the sporty hybrid Steel HR Sport.

Basic fitness tracking is quite well done by Steel HR Sport. This is particularly impressive because it takes the form of a device that doesn’t appear to track your calories and steps. You have the option of personally starting an activity or letting the company’s Connected Movement Technology determine when you work out. You do not need to sync the watch to the app every day because it will store data for roughly a week.When it comes to sports, Steel HR can detect tennis as well as walking, swimming, and running. The automated recognition system performs admirably. There were a few false calls when I first started using it, but that can be quickly fixed in the app. The more you use the software, the more likely it is that it will learn from you and improve over time at figuring out what you’re up to.

Visit the Health Mate app for comprehensive information on exercise, sleep, and heart rate. You’ll see right away that it’s rather straightforward and doesn’t overwhelm you with stats. There are five tabs at the bottom. This consists of a dashboard, a timeline of activity that scrolls, and other wellness programmes, devices, and profiles created by Withing. You may access more granular details by tapping on pretty much any metric.

Withings makes a comeback with the sporty hybrid Steel HR Sport.

By skipping through the OLED display, you can obtain on-demand heart rate readings instead of the Steel HR Sport’s standard 10-minute readings. The watch will automatically switch to continuous mode when you start exercising. It will also monitor your resting heart rate, one of the most crucial measures of fitness and wellness.

The statistics can be displayed daily, weekly, or monthly. The sleep tracking was really enjoyable. The Steel HR Sport, like its predecessor, recognizes when you are in bed automatically and provides a detailed analysis of your sleep, including information on deep and light stages, wake-ups, and duration.

Additionally, you receive insights that are written in clear terms. How did your regularity and depth go? You’ll learn through the software. Additionally, it will give you a daily sleep score, which is a single statistic that rates how well you sleep each night.

You can be gently vibrated awake with the silent alarm feature. You can also set multiple alarms in order to ensure that you wake up in time for that crucial meeting.

Withings makes a comeback with the sporty hybrid Steel HR Sport.

The app also links with over 100 partner health and fitness apps, offers advice, challenges friends, and awards accomplishments. You may track all your statistics in one place if you own one of the company’s scales or blood pressure monitors.

GPS connectivity is one of the most significant updates this time. This indicates that the watch may use the satellite signal from your smartphone to get readings, which is a function that will undoubtedly be crucial for the many runners and bikers out there. In my opinion, the connection was swift and reliable. The accuracy of GPS measurements is totally dependent on the GPS signal received by your smartphone.

The connected GPS gives you the advantage of charting your runs in addition to providing more precise statistics. The smartphone app will make all of this information readily visible. Your pace, distance, and heart rate will be visible on the watch’s OLED screen if you have decent vision. As an alternative, you can view your progress with the Health Mate app.

Visit the mobile app after your run to view a summary of your results. The app displays duration, distance, calories burned, pace, average pace, altitude gain, splits, heart rate (zones plus average heart rate), and more, in addition to a map of your run. Steel HR sport will provide more than enough data to delve into for the average person who runs the occasional errand. But if you’re a serious runner, you might wish there were more.

I checked the runs’ accuracy against a Garmin Forerunner 935 and discovered it to be rather good. For instance, a recent 10 kilometer run recorded on Steel HR Sport produced the following data: 5:47 min/km average pace; 6m altitude gain; 159 bpm average heart rate; 10km distance; and 797 kcalThe statistics on the Garmin device were pretty comparable to these: 5:46 min/km average pace; 5m altitude gain; 157 bpm average heart rate; 10km distance; 811 kcal good.

The hybrid now provides a VO2max evaluation as well. This gauges how well the heart and muscles can use exercise to turn oxygen into energy. Simply said, it informs you of your level of fitness. It’s quite impressive that the first evaluation just requires one run lasting more than 10 minutes. My VO2 max was 44 according to Steel HR, which matched the reading my Garmin watch gave me exactly.

The Withings device’s value dropped to 43 over successive runs, but my Garmin stayed at 44. But I believe I was closer to the lower end of the 44.

Withings makes a comeback with the sporty hybrid Steel HR Sport.

clever elements

The tiny OLED display can be used to show notifications, as was already indicated. The smartphone app allows for complete customization. This includes alerts from the calendar, mail, SMS, and phone. There will be a slight vibration to go along with the notifications.

Messages’ whole contents will scroll across the screen as they are read. Since the little display can only show a finite quantity of text at once, they are not that easy to read. Catching notifications as they come in and then grabbing your phone to get a full summary is far more practical.

Third-party programmes can use this functionality. A list of suitable apps is shown in the Health Mate app’s notification settings section, and you can turn each one on or off separately. This is very effective.

Overview: Summary

Few other wearables can blend style and usefulness as well as the Steel HR Sport can. The device makes an effort to make you fitter this time around, but there aren’t any significant changes to the design or feature set from its predecessor.

In order to achieve this, the French company included Connected GPS and VO2Max (your maximal oxygen consumption) evaluations, both of which perform admirably. You’re sitting on a winner when you add this to the impressive nearly month-long battery life and really good basic fitness tracking.

At Steel HR Sport, we prioritize simplicity. Put it on your wrist, then carry on with your day. It will discreetly complete its task of gathering activity statistics with little involvement from you.

The improvements are a welcome step up and elevate the timepiece to a higher level of consideration for the typical user seeking a covert tracker. Hard-core runners may want to pass on it, as it is obviously not the most powerful fitness gadget available, but it does find a fantastic mix between functions, looks, and comfort. I’m confident it will appeal to many because of its subtle style that doesn’t scream “I’m a smartwatch.”

 

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