Tech review: Withings Steel HR Sport - versatile fitness smartwatch with good battery life

The Withings Steel HR Sport might lack smartwatch features, but is the one to get if you want a long-lasting fitness watch that looks like a standard watch.
The Withings Steel HR Sport might lack smartwatch features, but is the one to get if you want a long-lasting fitness watch that looks like a standard watch.PHOTO: WITHINGS

Looking for a fitness smartwatch that looks like an analogue watch? The Withings Steel HR Sport is a good place to start your search.

Whether it is the black or white (version tested) watch face model, it has an understated design that suits office and gym.

Both versions come with a 40mm black stainless-steel round watch case protected by a layer of mineral glass. You can easily swop the silicone watch band with a leather one for a formal look.

It tracks physical activities and sleep quality. Its built-in heart-rate monitor tracks a wearer's heart rate all day and during workouts. It is water resistant to a depth of 50m.

Both models use the same black soft silicone watch band that has ventilation holes for comfort and breathability during workouts.

Conveniently, they use 20mm watch bands that can easily be bought off-the-shelf.

The analogue watch face has an hour hand and a minute hand. There is a sub-dial at the six o' clock position that shows the percentage of daily activity goals achieved.

You set your daily activity goals when you pair the watch with your smartphone via its Health Mate app (Android and iOS).

On top of the sub-dial is a round monochrome Oled display. Pressing the button on the watch's right toggles this display through date, heart rate, steps taken, distance walked and calories burned.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $329

    COMPATIBILITY: Android 6 or higher; iOS 10 or higher

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    WEIGHT: 49g (watch only)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3.5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The Oled display also shows smartphone notifications, which appear as running text along with a discrete vibration. There is no timeline for the notifications. So, if you miss them, you will have to reach for your smartphone.

The Steel HR Sport can do better in tracking steps. Its readings were nearly 11 per cent less than what my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4 recorded.

It did better in monitoring heart rate, with readings no more than four beats per minute from what my Apple Watch tracked.

However, the Steel HR Sport can do what the Apple Watch cannot - track sleep.

It was able to automatically track my sleep quite accurately, showing the time I went to bed and when I woke up. It also recorded when I was in light sleep, in deep sleep and awake. It offers a sleep score and provides insights on how I can sleep better.

On the downside, the Steel HR Sport does not come with built-in GPS. Instead, it uses connected GPS, which means it needs to use a smartphone's GPS to track runs.

So, you have to take along your smartphone when running with the watch. But it was pretty spot-on in tracking the two runs I did on my usual 5km route, with both readings within 100m from the actual distance.

The Steel HR Sport's biggest strength is its battery life. On a full charge, it is said to last 25 days while being paired with a smartphone.

After using it for two weeks for two 5km runs, the battery level dropped to only 60 per cent.

The only worry is that you might misplace the charging cable, as you will not be using it that frequently, unlike with other smartwatches.

Verdict: The Withings Steel HR Sport might lack smartwatch features, but is the one to get if you want a long-lasting fitness watch that looks like a standard watch.