Withings Activité activity trackers are beautiful, but limited

We take Withings’ cheaper fitness hybrid for a spin to see if the savings pay off.

Wearables need to be wearable. That’s the ethos at Withings, the French company following up the gorgeous looking Swiss-made Activité with its cheaper offspring, the Activité Pop.

At £119 / $150, the Pop is an iPhone compatible, fitness tracker-watch hybrid that’s set to appeal to the masses more than its bigger, brasher, brother. But does the cost-cutting come with some unwanted compromises?

Withings Activite Pop Smart Watch Activity and Sleep Tracker

Activity Tracking: Steps, distance, running and calories burned; Sleep Monitoring: Sleep cycle analysis (light and deep sleep) Silent Alarm to start your day with a gentle wake-up vibration; ...

Made by: Withings, Available: In stock

We’ve had the Withings Activité Pop strapped to our wrist for the last couple of weeks. Read on to find out….

Withings Activité Pop: Design

The original Activité, which is around three times the price of the Pop, uses premium materials such as scratch-proof domed sapphire glass, stainless steel and French calf leather. Withings’ new arrival is constructed from a PVD-coated metal, features mineral glass and has a silicone strap.

It feels anything but cheap though – the rubber is soft, texturised and stretchy and it’s incredibly comfortable to wear. As stated in the intro, we’ve had the Pop on our arm for a couple of weeks now (including a few nights sleeping with it on) and there’s been no skin irritation issues to report.

The watch face may not sparkle quite as much as the original, but the Pop is still fantastic looking and, with a range of colours and straps on offer, you’re bound to find one you like. All colours are unisex, in theory, although the sand option is the most feminine.

While it’s very compact compared to other watch-like fitness trackers, the Pop is slightly thicker than a regular 1.3-inch, 18mm strap watch. But you’ll hardly notice the small rear-bump (where the battery and sensors are stored) while wearing it, and it’s not exactly a device that stands out. To a non-techy bystander, the Pop looks like a regular (and stylish) wristwatch.

The 18mm strap is interchangeable too, so while you might not be wearing genuine French calf-leather as you would with the original Activité, you could always grab a fake leather strap off of eBay without breaking the bank.

On the watch face is a pair of analogue hands and non-numbered five-minute interval markers, along with the 1-100 dial that represents your progression towards your daily step goal. Unlike its more expensive brethren, this dial isn’t double glass domed and there’s no added texture on it. There’s also no 50 marker, but that’s hardly a deal-breaker.

The ‘Swiss-Made’ tag is also missing, for obvious reasons – this one is produced in China.

Withings Activité Pop: Features

The functionality of the Pop is exactly the same as its more expensive namesake, with fitness and sleep tracking on board, and it uses the same Withings HealthMate app – but more on that later.

Setup is a doddle – the watch pairs to the app and sets the time automatically based on your smartphone. There is a calibration process to go through – to make sure the hands are all in the right places – but it’s really straightforward. The reason for this is it’s actually a digital watch powering analogue components. The Pop knows how to move its hands at the right pace, you just need to get them in the right place to begin with.

A cool sidenote – if you change time zones while wearing the Pop, it automatically resets itself. It does this using your phone’s time setting though, so don’t expect it to change mid-flight if your mobile is on airplane mode.

You can set a silent alarm for the Pop using the Withings app so you’ll be alerted with a series of vibrations at your desired time. It’s a touch annoying that you can’t stop this alarm once you’re aware of it though, you need to just wait for it to stop – it’s around 12 vibrations. You can also sadly only set one. Checking the alarm time on the watch face is simply a case of double tapping the glass and watching the hands spin around to display the programmed time.

Another bummer is that, although the app lets you set reminders (get some milk, go for a run, clean the car and so on), they just appear as pop-ups on your smartphone – the Pop doesn’t buzz at the same time, which seems a wasted opportunity.

If you hit your daily step goal, the Pop’s hands spin for a bit, like a little analogue party, and the device buzzes. The counter then returns to zero and starts again. It’s a bit underwhelming but hey, if you’re buying a Withings Activité device, you’re not doing it for onscreen updates.

Withings Activité Pop: Tracking and app

That step goal is 10,000 and not a step more or less. Despite the company stating on social media that the option to change the goal will be hitting the HealthMate soon, it hasn’t yet.

10,000 is also a lot of steps when you consider that Withings is a lot more stringent than some of its rivals. We’ve found the Pop to be pretty consistent with regards to step-recording to other devices from the company that we’ve tested – i.e. it tracks less steps than the likes of Fitbit or Jawbone.

Step counting using an accelerometer and an algorithm based on personal statistics isn’t an exact science, and is a relative measurement depending on the device you’re using. However, we think that it’s a bit harsh that an 8km run, combined with about 20 minutes of walking, still doesn’t mean a 100% goal achievement on 10,000 steps. This was the case on one day for us while testing.

Talking of running and you should consider the Pop a basic assistant rather than a training device. That 8km run we mentioned was tracked as 7.3km of running and 1.7km of ‘other’. There’s no GPS, so it’s not a dedicated running device and you should take its activity recording results with a pinch of salt.

The app nicely breaks down your activities into clusters of days or weeks, though, and on the day mode you can even see bursts of individual activities and the time of day that they occurred.

Sleep tracking data is displayed in a similar fashion to activities in the HealthMate app, and the good news is that sleep detection on the Pop is automatic – you don’t need to press any buttons before nodding off. We found the sleep monitoring to work pretty well and it helps that the Pop is so comfortable to wear. If you’re used to wearing a watch to bed, you’ll have no issues keeping it strapped on.

The HealthMate app is also used for the Withings Smart Body Analyzer and the Pulse tracker, so you’ll see empty sections for weight (unless you manually add it), heart rate and elevation within your activity. This is a tad annoying but you can pull in extra data from some third party apps to fill in the gaps and Apple Health is compatible too.

The one major downside is that the Withings Activité Pop is only compatible with iOS at the moment, although we’re told Android support is imminent. With the Apple Watch on the horizon, it makes sense for Withings to work on Android compatibility as fast as it can.

Withings Activité Pop: Battery life and extras

The Withings Activité Pop is powered by a regular CR2025 coin battery, and you can expect a power-cycle of around eight months. You’ll get a little tool in the box to open the back of the watch, and it’s just a case of swapping the cell out. This tool can also be used to reset the watch using the button on the device’s rear.

Like the original, the Activité Pop is 5ATM water resistant, meaning you can take it swimming. In fact, its makers claim that swim tracking is a feature that will be added in a firmware update soon.


PROS:
  • Great price-point
  • Plenty of colour options
  • Fantastic battery life
  • App information is very detailed

CONS:
  • Step counting is slightly harsh
  • You can’t change the step goal
  • Only one smart alarm
  • Run tracking is hit and miss



Withings Activité Pop - Activity and Sleep Tracking Watch
7.5 Total Score
Start from: $45.00

Enter your model number to make sure this fits.; Activity tracking: steps, distance, swim, running and calories burned; Sleep monitoring: sleep cycle analysis (light and deep sleep) silent alarm to start your day with a Gentle wake-up vibration; Fun-to-wear materials: activite pop's design...

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Product Dimensions

3.2 x 3.2 x 5.5 inches

Shipping Weight

3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

Item model number

3700546700910

I've had this now for about a month. Had the microsoft band and liked the features but hated the recharging. Researched and found that the wrist-mounted heart rate trackers are useless over about 140 so I went back to chest strap for HR and just wanted a step counter for my wrist that I didn't have to recharge. The withings watch was the best thing I found and it's done exactly what I hoped it would. The little percent-done tracking hand is an unobtrusive way to see how much I've done. I can see it at a glance without having to press a button and it's not showing up in neon glow for everyone else to read. The sleep tracking is sort of useful as well - never could use my fitbits or the microsoft band reliably at night because they needed recharging. With this I can tell more about my patterns. For instance my deep sleep occurs right after I go to bed but not if I go to bed at 1am because my wife starts her restless period. Anyway, that's nice to have.Waited to review to try out the swim feature. They just pushed the update to me yesterday for me and went swimming today. As advertised, it just appeared upon sync which was really nice. I've always been annoyed at having to write down when I swim. While this doesn't integrate with apple's health app (yet - hopefully coming??) it's a very nice feature. Not sure how they are calculating calories - they do have weight but it seems effort dependent and i'm not sure pace gives you that. Anyway, you just see a duration, not a stroke count. Maybe that's coming. I've never had a fitness product that received automatic firmware updates - that's outstanding.Finally a quick thumbs up for their customer service. I had two questions for them and they responded to both within a day. It's nice to be as pleasantly surprised by a company as you are by their product.update: after six months I'm still wearing this watch every day. One battery replacement that went smoothly. They have moved the swim tracking piece out of beta and it's accurate in terms of time in the pool. The band is holding up well but it's my least favorite part - sort of cheap looking - something a 12 yr old would choose. Their online choices are colored bands. Not sure who they think their market is, exactly. Do kids really care about step counting? Having said that, my other watches are collecting dust as having the reminder that you haven't moved all day is a motivator, never having to stop to recharge it makes it easy and not having to think twice when you head for the pool seals it for me.
July 8, 2015
I've owned a Activite Pop for about three weeks now and am very impressed. I owned a Misfit Shine, but the unit fell out of the band after about six weeks of wear. In addition to a better design and build, I like the following about my Pop: (1) unlike many other activity devices, this runs on a watch battery for about eight months and doesn't need constant recharging; (2) it is no bulkier or obtrusive than any watch; (3) it is very easy to set up, connecting easily to my iPhone 5s (so, you don't need the most recent iPhone); (4) the app is wonderful, tracking my steps, miles, calories, and sleep activity; (5) none of these activity monitors give precise measurements, but that isn't the point, as the measurements I'm receiving are still very accurate; (6) it connects wonderfully with the Withings Smart Body Analyzer, tracking my weight, pulse, BMI, and the air quality of my home; and (7) it is water resistant so I never take it off (which is the point of an activity monitor). I've researched a lot of activity monitors on the market and, for someone like me who just wants to monitor basic fitness (and not precise measurements of pulse and blood presssure), it is hard for me to imagine a superior device for $150.
January 18, 2015
Update 11/30/2015: this watch lost a star based on a couple of glitches and the battery life. I received an email about my watch battery that is low and it has only been 3 months. It said the alarm is the item that kills the battery. The issue is there is no way to stop the alarm when it goes off. If there was a tap feature to stop the alarm, it would save the battery life. I also lost a whole days steps when I ran a 5k and RunKeeper was connected.I have had this watch for about two months and really like it. I used to have a Fitbit Flex but lost it when it fell off because of the faulty strap. I compared the Fitbit Charge, Garmin Vivofit 2, and a few others but ultimately chose this watch based on the pros outweighing the pros on all the other fitness trackers. Jumping straight to the pros and cons, here we go.Pros:-looks like a watch and not a weird fitness tracker on your wrist-8 month battery-water proof (I take showers, swim, and never take my watch off)-well developed app (IOS)-watch bands are easy to replace and watch strap is a standard size in case you wanted a custom bandCons:-the back of the watch is round (I'm guessing to fit Bluetooth, accelerometer, etc) and doesn't sit very flat on my wrist. (I have included a picture on what I am trying to explain)-no available backlight. I did not realize how much I used previous watch backlights to until it wasn't available.-a little smaller dial than I prefer (I was wearing a G-Shock before so that may have a little to do with it)-I don't believe the step count is 100% accurate (more on this later)Features I wish it had:-Backlight-Date dial: would save me time from checking my phone-Multiple alarms: should be an easy app software fix-bigger dialSo ultimately, I wanted a fitness tracker that I didn't have to take off weekly to charge, was waterproof, a watch, and didn't look like I had a weird bracelet on my wrist. I loved my previous Fitbit Flex's app and really wanted another Fitbit but none are waterproof and they had to be charged weekly if not more. Even though Garmin's Vivofit 2 is both waterproof and has a great battery life, the app has horrible reviews and what is a fitness tracker if the app crashes and doesn't work.The reason I don't believe the step count is 100% accurate are for a few reasons. One, when I ran with my GPS for two miles, it only calculated 1.4 miles. Also, my friend has a Fitbit Charge and we walked the same 1.2 miles and she had a couple hundred steps more. I understand people have different strides but we tried to maintain the same stride to see if we had the same step count.I will update this review as I notice more pros, cons, and features I would like to see in the future.
October 3, 2015
Withings Activité activity trackers are beautiful, but limited
The Withings Activité Pop is further proof that the French company ‘gets’ wearables. It understands the need for not only creating stylish-looking designs but also making devices that people can use, with ease, and in form factors that they are already familiar with. In terms of fitness tracking the Pop may be a touch on the basic side, and we’re not convinced it’s the most accurate tracker we’ve used, although what is recorded is presented in great detail in the smartphone companion app. The reason people will love the Pop is its simplicity. In its own right it’s a lovely looking wristwatch and, at less than £120 / $150, the fitness features could even be looked upon as an added bonus.
7.5 Total Score
Awesome

The Withings Activité Pop is further proof that the French company ‘gets’ wearables. It understands the need for not only creating stylish-looking designs but also making devices that people can use, with ease, and in form factors that they are already familiar with. In terms of fitness tracking the Pop may be a touch on the basic side, and we’re not convinced it’s the most accurate tracker we’ve used, although what is recorded is presented in great detail in the smartphone companion app. The reason people will love the Pop is its simplicity. In its own right it’s a lovely looking wristwatch and, at less than £120 / $150, the fitness features could even be looked upon as an added bonus.

Design
6
Usability
8
Perfomance
8.5
Speed
7.5
User Rating: 3.53 (22 votes)
Editor's choice
2 Comments
  1. Reply Thomas June 19, 2015 at 10:35 am

    What a beautiful design for an activity tracker. I would love to buy it.
    Thank your guys for the review.

  2. Reply best fitness trackers July 3, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a
    little more in the way of content so people could connect
    with it better.

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