Activity Trackers: Withings Activité review

1

What is the Withings Activité?

Most activity trackers are ugly, awkward things. Their rubber straps and little LED displays are fine at the gym, at home or anywhere that’s informal, but you don’t want them dangling from your arm when presenting to the board, attending a wedding or in any setting where you need to ‘look the part’. The Withings Activité is the exception.

It’s a marriage of the old and new. Old-school watchmaking and watch design; new-school wireless technology and sensors. It tracks your steps, runs and sleep, but it has the style and pedigree of a Swiss-made watch. Many will prefer the cheaper Activité Pop (£120), but if you have a taste for the finer things in life then the Activité is a luxury statement worth considering.

Withings Activite Activity and Sleep Tracker

Here is a list of steps you can try while setting up your Withings Activit

Made by: Withings,

 

The Activité ought to look good given the price, and it does. It’s available in white with a brown leather strap and blue accents, or black with a black leather strap and orange accents. We tested the white and brown one, but both look great.

But looks alone don’t explain why the Activité costs more than twice as much as the Pop. It mainly comes down to materials and pedigree. The Activité is made from stainless steel, comes with two straps – a leather one and gym-friendly rubber one – and has a domed sapphire crystal. The latter is impervious to scratches and is very strong. Withings also throws in an extra battery and each lasts eight months – no chargers here.

The other key difference is that the Activité is ‘Swiss-made’. We’ll leave you to debate the point, but the key benefit is you can tell people it’s Swiss-made. It’s like Champagne versus Cava – they both have bubbles, but you feel superior drinking one and drink the other ironically. The Activité is as much a fashion item as a gadget.

That’s where the differences between the Activité and Activité Pop end. They share the same basic watch face design and have the same tracking abilities, which comprise steps, running, sleeping and – in a future update – swimming. Neither, sadly, feature an altimeter, so they can’t measure the number of stairs you climb. They’re both waterproof to 50m and are dustproof.

The Activité is the nicer looking of the two, though, even if it’s by a small margin. The stainless steel finish and leather strap give it a more classical look, whereas the coloured metal and silicone strap on the Pop has a more everyman, Swatch-like appeal. The straps are removable on both, though, so no there’s no reason a Pop owner can’t buy a nicer leather strap – the width between the strap lugs is 18mm, so there’s plenty of choice out there.

What makes both so attractive is their neat simplicity. The Activité isn’t a smartwatch in the modern parlance – it’s a ‘smarter’ watch. Yet the only visual evidence is the smaller dial on the watch face, which tracks your daily step goal progress. It’s an elegant, at-a-glance reminder that works perfectly.

There’s nothing particularly ostentatious about the Activité, either – a likeable trait. It’s stylish and classy, but not in a “look at me!” way. It’s also very comfy, in large part thanks to the slim unisex leather strap – I’m not a habitual watch wearer, but the Withings doesn’t irritate me the way smartwatches often do.

It’s debatable whether this is truly a unisex watch, though. It’s not huge – the case is 36.3mm in diameter – but ladies with slim wrists might find it a tad large. It also protrudes further from the wrist than you’d expect, thanks to the extra sensors inside. I got used to it quickly, but it’s not the best if you prefer a super-slim watch.

But these are just small quirks. If Withings’ aim was to create an outstanding watch that just happened to be an activity tracker, it’s succeeded.

3

Withings Activité – Setup & Healthmate App

No activity tracker is complete without an accomplished app to go with it. The Withings Healthmate app is just that, but it comes with one huge caveat – right now, the Activité isn’t compatible with Android. Withings promises an Android update in the coming weeks, but until then Android users are bang out of luck.

This large oversight aside, the Healthmate app is good. It’s not the very best among its rivals, but it delivers where it needs to. It’s colourful, easy to navigate and presents information in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way. It also supports Apple Health app syncing, something rival Fitbit has shied away from. Excellent support for third-party services, such as MyFitness Pal, ensures it plays nicely with other apps you’re likely to use.

What it lacks is the more proactive, analytical feedback offered by some rivals – Jawbone is especially good for this. For example, it has a section for setting up helpful, life-enriching reminders – such as sticking to a single bedtime, taking a walk after dinner, and remembering to weigh yourself regularly – but it doesn’t dynamically prompt you based on your activity.

This means it’ll often congratulate you on hitting records, but it won’t nudge you when you’re falling short, and a well-directed nudge is often more important. Moreover, as most notifications are scheduled, they’re also repetitive. The more repetitive they become, the easier they are to ignore and the less effective they become.

Withings wins points for its excellent ecosystem, however. There’s a myriad of clever and effective accessories that hook into the Withings Helathmate app, such as the Smart Body Analyzer and Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor. It also has some neat touches, such as the ability to read your resting heart rate using your phone’s camera. There’s so much room to grow here and the Activité proves that Withings is dedicated to real quality, which shines through in all its products. You could do worse than to invest in the Withings ‘health ecosystem’.

Setting up your Activité is very simple, too. It connects to your phone using Bluetooth 4.0, which means you don’t have to anything to setup the connection – the app automatically connects when you open the app. It sometimes takes a little longer than we’d like to make the connection, which is irritating when you launch the app and you want to see the latest data straightaway, but at least there’s no messing about involved in making the connection.

4

Withings Activité: Performance & Tracking

We had no problems with the Activité’s tracking through our use. It accurately recorded daily steps with great consistency, and did the same for running. It struggles more with ‘mixed activities’ where you’re switching between running and walking – or slouching – but that’s not unusual for this kind of tracker.

Sleep tracking works OK, too, though we often feel there’s lots of guessing involved in judging light versus deep sleep in all trackers. The total sleep stats are the most instructive and provide a useful guide to whether you’re getting enough shuteye. The Activité also features a ‘silent’ alarm – it vibrates when it’s time to get up. This works well enough, though it’s quite a light vibration – heavy sleepers may want to set a fallback alarm in case it doesn’t stir them.

Our only serious complaint with the alarm system is the inability to set a different one for the weekend. Perhaps this is intentional so you stick to your routine, but waking up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning isn’t a routine we’re keen on. You can turn the alarm off, of course, but that relies on your remembering to do so, and turning it on again before Monday morning.

5

Other things to consider

One small feature that doesn’t work as well as advertised is the ‘responsive glass’ feature. The idea is you can tap the glass to reveal your alarm time, but it often takes several attempts before the arms actually move.

We do like the timezone feature, though, which ensures the watch will automatically switch to the timezone you’re in when your phone does. It’s a neat piece of attention to detail and a cool thing to brag about to ‘luddite’ watch lovers.

 

6

OtShould I buy the Withings Activité?

Inevitably, it comes down to whether you think it’s worth spending extra for the Activité over the Pop version. The difference in price – £320 vs £120 – is large and the difference entirely down to the design and materials used. A high-quality leather replacement strap and a Pop will still come in at less than £200.

We can’t answer that question for you, but we can confirm that the Withings Activité is an exquisitely made watch and a very capable tracker. We love the long battery life, the beautiful and comfortable leather strap, and the faultless build quality. You’re paying for quality and getting it.

That may be enough if you value its finer design and ‘fashion statement’ it makes. If not, go for the Activité Pop – you won’t be disappointed either way. If you’re less fussed about looks but want a tracker that shows the time and some useful info, take a look at the Fitbit Charge, though the Jawbone UP24 remains our no.1 best fitness tracker overall.

7

Verdict

An outstanding and stylish tracker and watch, provided you don’t mind the price attached.

Withings Activité Sapphire | Activity and Sleep Tracking Watch - Swiss-Made
9 Total Score
Start from: $89.99

Make sure this fits by entering your model number.; Watch case: stainless steel, strap: calf leather, hands: aluminium, dial:brass, buckle: stainless steel; Imported; Activity Tracking: Records steps, distance and calories burned; Recognizes you are running and swimming automatically; Activité is...

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Product Dimensions

11.6 x 3.4 x 1.3 inches ; 1.44 ounces

Shipping Weight

10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

Domestic Shipping

Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.

International Shipping

This item can be shipped to select countries outside of the U.S. Learn More

Item model number

3700546700545

I purchased this watch in February 2016, and up until around November, it worked well for the most part. I wore this watch almost every day, and certainly every time I went for a run, and while the step tracking was pretty much spot on in my opinion (although you'll want to avoid swinging your arms too much; this adds extra steps), sleep tracking wasn't as exactly, sometimes leading to some rather interesting (read: incorrect) results. Also, the minute hand would frequently fall out of alignment, forcing me to open the app and realign it manually. It was a little frustrating.Then November 2016 came. One day, I looked at my watch and it said it was sometime after 10:30. Close…except it was a quarter past 7. Worse still, it wasn't moving at all; it had to have been like that for hours. I tried connecting it to the phone, no response. Then I changed the battery, which worked for about a month until it happened again. This time, I "simply" reset the watch, and all was right with the world again, but alas, the title of this review says it all.It's the end of January 2017 now. I've tried resetting, nothing. Changing the battery, nothing. And so, a beautiful but short friendship comes to an end made even more bitter by the fact that I paid $300+ for a watch that couldn't survive a full year. Two stars, however, for the good work it did put in up until now.TL;DR: Don't buy this watch, it's not worth the money, but if you're set on Withings for some reason, get the new Steel HR. It does more and it costs less. Easy. Two stars in honor of the good times.
January 31, 2017
I give two stars because when it worked, my wife and I loved it. We both work in healthcare for large institutions, and myself having been hands on with the Pop loved the passive nature. 80% of the time it was just a watch for me. But when I lost sleep, it would tell me, without remembering to put on a different tracker. That is when our tale turns sour. About a month in, the battery in my wife's died. Mine lasted several months on, purchased the same day, but I digress. She replaced the battery and we were back in business... For about a month. Withings support again diagnosed battery. We changed it. Again. This time, it went two weeks. Mine continued to go strong, and Withings invited her to change the battery again. She gave up and went back to her Fitbit, which I had lured her away from.My time came due. Symptoms of battery failure started at about six months for me. Outstanding, 50% of our purchase lasted as long as we hoped! On changing, which required quite a bit more of a fight, it seemed OK, until I checked my phone. An hour of fussing and no pairing. I'm a mobile developer who has far more patience when things do not go well. But this is my breaking point.It's great while it lasts, but it's clear this product needed more QC before release.
May 28, 2016
The alarm on the watch failed to function out of the box. Tapping didn't work either. Nokia tech support refused to give any assistance until I purchase a new battery even though the Nokia Health application shows the battery at 100%.When I pushed back support said it's expected that the battery is nearly dead because the watch has been on the shelf for 2 years. They seemed completely good with the idea that they're shipping product as new with exhausted batteries so the product is non-functional right out of the box. They refused to supply a good battery or pay for the cost of putting one in. They also let slip that the battery level in their application is completely bogus. It's doesn't actually measure the battery level but only how long the watch has been in use. That's why it shows the battery at 100% even though it's almost dead. The timer only started when I turned the watch on. Nice touch.Update.Just when you think it can't get worse, it does. Nokia finally agreed to replace the watch however the replacement does not work either. The function to set the alarm is intermittent and even when it works the watch won't display the alarm setting. Worse, the alarm never goes off. Nokia now claims the ability to display the alarm has been disabled. They have no explanation why the alarm won't set or go off. What is clear is that the watch doesn't work as claimed yet despite this the company appears to have continued to sell them anyway.
November 25, 2017
Activity Trackers: Withings Activité review
9 Total Score

Durability
9
Portability
9
Ease of use
8
Design and form factor
10
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1 Comment
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