With so many smartwatches out there, you really have to consider your purchase on a number of factors; price, looks and functionality. The Withings ScanWatch has a strong focus on health.
Rather like any item of jewellery, what you like in a watch is very subjective. Withings makes watches for people who want something resembling a normal watch, but with added smarts inside.
Amazfit recently did this at the lower end of the scale with the highly affordable, retro-style, Amazfit Neo, and Withings is pitching for a premium customer with the ScanWatch.
At £249.95 to £279.95 depending on the watch size (38mm and 42mm respectively), it is more expensive than some offerings on the market, but is still far from being the most expensive.
The functionality of the ScanWatch goes far beyond what the Amazfit does, and indeed many other watches. For one thing, it can produce medical reports based on the data it collects, which you can present to doctors to help keep track of your health.
This ‘Clinically Validated’ badge of honour certainly gives the watch an edge, with a medical-grade ECG monitor and SpO2 oximeter inside.
The ECG readings are not simply output in a PDF for a doctor to read, as there are additional health reports you can generate over time that can help a doctor track heart health, including detecting signs of atrial fibrillation.
Scanning is carried out 24 hours a day, allowing the watch to spot anything irregular and provide an early warning system.
Sleep monitoring also keeps track of breathing disturbances, while also providing all the usual activity monitoring and step counting that you’d get on any other smartwatch.
A smart wake-up feature allows you to give permission for the watch to decide the best time to wake you up (so you don’t awake as a zombie), before giving you an overall sleep score.
The watch can automatically detect the type of activity, saving you from having to amend the details later or remember to start and stop a manually selected activity. The watch can go down to 50 metres, so that’s your swimming covered too.
You also have a workout mode that displays a timer and constant heart rate reading in real-time if you wish.
You will need to keep it connected to your phone if you want detailed maps of your run, as the watch itself doesn’t include GPS. There are watches out there with integrated GPS and even 4G to allow you to make and receive calls, but this isn’t one of them.
The ScanWatch has a small window that conveys information in a simple form, using scrolling where necessary to show alerts (like who is calling, Whatsapp messages and so on).
For the majority of the time it remains ‘dark’ and this helps the watch achieve up to 30 days battery life, despite all of the constant background tracking.
If you are going away for a long time and for some reason don’t bring the bundled charger (a simple magnetic dock to USB-A cable) then there is a power reserve mode that can get you up to 20 more days before the need to charge.
With a full charge from 0% taking just two hours, I can’t imagine many situations where you’ll want to cripple the functionality to go beyond the best part of a month in battery life you already get.
Most of the time you’ll be using the Health Mate app on your phone to keep track of everything you do, as well as customising the few aspects of the watch you can adjust, such as the order of the information displays when you turn the watch crown, whether you want the display to show information by turning your watch towards your face, or what apps to actually trigger a notification.
The app can also work in conjunction with other apps like Google Fit, Strava, RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, Samsung Health and Nest. You can even use IFTTT to trigger actions when you fall asleep or wake up! That’s a pretty neat feature, which I wasn’t able to test personally.
Besides app notifications on the watch, there are obviously no apps you can run – and the watch also lacks NFC, so no Android/Apple Pay support either.
The other dial you can see on the watch is there to show your progress towards your daily activity goal, as a percentage from 0-100%.
Suffice to say, with a truly analogue display for showing the time (and no second hand), you’re not going to be able to customise how the watch looks. It’s this look that will appeal to those not wanting one of the many smartwatches that relies on an illuminated display.
The watch itself is protected by extremely strong sapphire glass, and the display itself is 260 nits in brightness to remain readable on a bright sunny day.
Getting the watch set up out of the box is a quick and simple process, and I was very impressed with the simplicity of the health app. It has stacks of functionality, but presents it in a straightforward manner.
Everything about the watch oozes simplicity, with a degree of style and finesse – along with that medically approved health tracking that sets it apart from a lot of the competition.
There are also two watch styles and colours to choose from, with no compromises on battery life or functionality on any of them.
Not everyone will like the simplistic watch design, but many will love it and be appreciative of a company that allows people who may not like a traditional smartwatch to still reap all of the benefits.
Price and Availability
The ScanWatch is available with two watch sizes; 38mm and 42mm. Both models have the same specifications, but the model I reviewed was the 42mm (pictured).
You can also get the watch with a white or black face, and a choice of optional straps.
- Simple watch face design with traditional hands
- Medical grade health tracking
- Powerful health app with connectivity with third-party services
- Battery life is excellent
- No second hand, nor any way to see them on the display
- You'll be using the app more than the watch itself for tracking usage
- Display can look a little distracting on white watch face
- No NFC or downloadable apps