Wearables

Bridging the gap between smart and analog watch, with Withings Steel HR

Bridging the gap between smart...
New Atlas swung by the Withings stall at IFA 2016 to check out the brand new Steel HR
New Atlas swung by the Withings stall at IFA 2016 to check out the brand new Steel HR
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New Atlas swung by the Withings stall at IFA 2016 to check out the brand new Steel HR
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New Atlas swung by the Withings stall at IFA 2016 to check out the brand new Steel HR
As usual the watch works in tandem with Withings' polished app
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As usual the watch works in tandem with Withings' polished app
Heart rate monitoring isn't the only upgrade, because there's a new blue LED display too
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Heart rate monitoring isn't the only upgrade, because there's a new blue LED display too
The watch feels well made and is comfortable to wear based on our first impressions
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The watch feels well made and is comfortable to wear based on our first impressions
The watch automatically measures heart rate continuously when you start running, or when you activate it manually
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The watch automatically measures heart rate continuously when you start running, or when you activate it manually
Throughout the day and at night the Withings Steel HR measures a resting heart rate by default
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Throughout the day and at night the Withings Steel HR measures a resting heart rate by default
The familiar step-tracking dial from the first Withings Steel is still here
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The familiar step-tracking dial from the first Withings Steel is still here

Withings has always been a top choice for those wanting normal watches with a little taste of smartness, and today it added heart rate monitoring to its classic Steel watch. The Withings Steel HR has launched at IFA 2016 in Berlin and New Atlas was one of the first to be able to strap on the new wearable.

The good news is the watch exudes all the class and comfort we've come to expect from Withings. This really does feel like a normal watch, something smartwatch makers are endlessly promising but not always delivering.

Unfortunately in the hustle and bustle of a trade show, and with the watch only in demo mode, we weren't able to really put the Steel HR through its paces. What we can tell you is that it looks very fine indeed on the wrist and is comfortable to wear.

The watch feels well made and is comfortable to wear based on our first impressions
The watch feels well made and is comfortable to wear based on our first impressions

Two sizes are going to be available, 36 mm (with an 18 mm strap) and 40mm (with a 20 mm strap). That makes them noticeably smaller than some of the other big and chunky smartwatches currently on show at IFA (and we've tried most of them).

With the addition of heart rate tracking comes a blue LED display and smartphone notifications, so you could argue the watch is really pushing it in blurring the lines between analog and smart; but those mechanical hands and a 25-day battery life just about qualify it as a standard wristwatch with extras.

That's 25 days with heart rate tracking – after that the watch can last another 20 days in power save mode, which means you can still tell the time and get a steps count.

As usual the watch works in tandem with Withings' polished app
As usual the watch works in tandem with Withings' polished app

Withings traditionalists might bemoan the addition of any kind of display at all, even if it offers more tracking capabilities, but the small screen is tastefully included and the older model is going to remain on sale too for those who prefer it.

As with the previous model, you get sleep monitoring too, and everything runs through the Withings app for iOS or Android, which has long been one of the more polished offerings out there. The getting-smarter-watch goes on sale direct from the Withings website from the start of October, with prices set at US$179.95 for the 36 mm model and $199.95 for the 40 mm one.

Once we get the Withings Steel HR in for longer-term use we'll be able to tell if it's worthy of a place on your wrist, but our first impressions are good. In the meantime we'll continue to bring you news of all the most interesting gadgets and gizmos launching at IFA in Berlin.

Product page: Withings

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