It doesn’t look like a smartwatch but it is packed with smartwatch features like fitness tracking and even an ECG monitor. But is the Withings ScanWatch worth buying? Here’s my review…
If you work out or train in any capacity, tracking your workouts and monitoring your progress is essential. Smartwatches like those made by Garmin and Apple are popular options with hobbyists and professionals alike, but these types of fitness trackers DO NOT look like traditional timepieces – they look like pieces of tech, strapped to your wrist. But what if you want something different?
This is where the Withings ScanWatch comes into play. It looks like a traditional timepiece, yet it packs in loads of smartwatch features, including a built-in ECG monitor, GPS, step counter, heart rate monitor, and the ability to track a range of workouts – from running and cycling to swimming and lifting weights.
But is the Withings ScanWatch worth buying? Here’s my full review of this stunning-looking “hybrid” smartwatch…
Withings ScanWatch Design
The Withings ScanWatch is smart enough to wear with a suit, to formal events, out on the town, and it is made from premium-grade materials like aluminum and stainless steel. Even its strap, made from comfortable FKM, looks and feels exceeding classy. The damn thing is gorgeous to look at too – I’m a big fan of its design language and how it looks.
Available in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm, the Withings ScanWatch is also available in an entire range of color options:
And you also have LOADS of options for the strap color too. This means you can basically make it look totally unique. With the straps for the Withings ScanWatch, again, you have loads of options including metallic Milanese straps and leather straps – basically, every style of potential watch strap is available inside the Withings Store.
The Withings ScanWatch itself looks like a traditional watch, complete with a stainless steel crown. The only telltale sign that it isn’t a normal watch is its small PMLED display that is located just below the 12 o’clock position on its face. This is where you can quickly view your heart rate, steps, and perform ECG and SP02 readings. To access these settings you press the crown and then turn it to navigate through the menus.
The downside to this watch’s design is that, on the whole, it doesn’t really feel or operate like a smartwatch. To really see what’s going on, you need to open the Withings Health Mate app on your phone. You can see your heart rate and steps and whatnot on the PMLED display but it is very small, so you cannot get much detail. It’s terrible for messages and call alerts too. But that’s fine in my book; this watch is for people that don’t want any of that stuff on their wrist anyway.
You need to think of the Withings ScanWatch as a timepiece first and foremost. That’s kind of the point, and why it uses mechanical hands to tell you the time. But unlike a normal watch, the Withings ScanWatch is constantly compiling data, in the background, about what you’re doing – it could be the number of steps you’ve taken, your heart, your breathing rhythm, or your blood oxygen levels. And this, for me, is what makes it so attractive.
I own a bunch of smartwatches from an Apple Watch to a Garmin Fenix 6 and one of the first features I turn off on these devices is notifications. I hate getting notifications on my wrist; it is unnecessary, especially since I usually always have my phone on me. The fact that the Withings ScanWatch cannot really do notifications, for me, is one of its main USPs. It’s a smartwatch for people that don’t like smartwatches, basically.
And it is built for action too. The Withings ScanWatch has a 5ATM water and dust resistance rating which means it can survive submersion in water for prolonged periods of time which makes it an ideal choice for swimmers, surfers, and people that like to wear their watches in the shower and/or bath.
What Can The Withings ScanWatch Track?
The Withings ScanWatch has tons of features packed inside it. I run quite a bit and work out too, and I have found that the Withings ScanWatch is a great tool for tracking my runs and workout sessions. The data isn’t quite as detailed as what you get inside Garmin Connect but it is good enough to monitor progress and see where you’re lagging and where you’re improving.
Withing’s Health Mate app is simple to use too. You have a dashboard where all your daily stuff is stored and easily consumable, a section for all your workouts, a daily readout of your average heartbeat, your fitness level (based on your V02Max), and the ability to track and monitor your weight over time. You can even add in blood pressure readings which makes tracking your blood pressure readings over time a lot easier.
The Smartwatch With A Medical-Grade ECG Reader
The main event with the Withings ScanWatch, however, is its built-in medical-grade ECG monitor. This aspect of the watch is the focus on its marketing. The built-in ECG reader can quickly scan your heartbeat and pick up any AFib issues which, if left untreated, can cause all kinds of issues in the long run. This kind of feature is novel, you will not find it on another smartwatch, and unlike most smartwatch features, this one could actually save your life.
But is the ScanWatch’s AFib reader accurate? I said above that it was medical-grade. This isn’t a term that Withings is allowed to use lightly. In order to include this wording in its marketing, the company had to have the ScanWatch robustly tested in a medical environment. Needless to say, the ScanWatch passed with flying colors. Here’s a statement from Withings on the accuracy of its ECG monitor inside the ScanWatch:
Like Move ECG, ScanWatch has been clinically-validated for its AFib detection. We conducted our validation study at Centre Cardiologique du Nord and Hôpital Européen Georges-Pompidou where ScanWatch was compared to the industry gold standard, a 12-lead ECG. Results were read blindly by three independent cardiologists to compare the accuracy with the gold standard. The study confirmed ScanWatch’s accuracy, compared to industry standards, and the device has received CE marking for medical devices.
But it doesn’t end there. The ScanWatch will monitor your heart around the clock, looking for irregularities – things like faster than usual heart rates or low or slow heart rates. If it picks these up, it will tell you and then you should go and speak to a doctor as they could be a sign of bradycardia or tachycardia, and these are pretty serious things you don’t want to ignore. Treatment is essential and relatively routine, but most people walk around completely unaware there is anything wrong with their heart.
Another cool feature? If you do have AFib issues and you’re monitoring them on an ongoing basis, you can use the Withings ScanWatch to track and then share all your readings with your doctor or health care professional. It takes a couple of seconds to generate a report based on its readings and you can then share it via email or generate a PDF based on its findings and share it online via email or whatever medium you’d like.
It Also Tracks Breathing Anomalies Too
As noted earlier, the Withings ScanWatch comes with a medical-grade pulse oximeter – this is what it uses to give you accurate readings for your SP02 levels. But the Withings ScanWatch’s pulse oximeter can also detect irregular breathing when you’re asleep too which is sometimes a sign of sleep apnea. By doing this, you can glean information, round the clock, about your breathing. If you’re worried about stuff like this, the pulse oximeter inside the Withings ScanWatch will become an invaluable tool in your day-to-day life.
To keep abreast of your breathing patterns, all you need to do is open Health Mate and it’ll show if you have had any breathing disturbances while you slept. I’ve had mine on for over a month now and it says there have been a “few” which is totally normal. If it says you’re having consistent, regular breathing disturbances it is probably time to make an appointment with a doctor and get yourself checked out.
For reference, 0-30 disturbances fall in the “few” category, 30-60 are rated “moderate,” and 60-100 are rated “high.” If your reading comes in high, you should act on it – sleep apnea is no joke.
Because the Withings ScanWatch is more or less a mechanical watch and it doesn’t run an AMOLED display, it doesn’t use the same amount of power as something like an Apple Watch. This means, from a single charge, you’ll get about one month’s worth of battery life. And that includes using its GPS features as well.
This means you can charge the watch once, it takes one hour to charge up fully, and then go about your life, smashing it in the gym, running 5K and 10Ks, and not have to think about your watch ever running low on power for an entire month.
This is one of my favorite things about the Withings ScanWatch. I can just forget it’s there and never have to worry about “top-ups” before a run or a workout session, as I do with my Apple Watch. If you’ve been avoiding getting a smartwatch because you don’t want ANOTHER thing you have to regularly charge, the Withings ScanWatch could well be the watch you’ve been waiting for. Plus, it is 100% compatible with both iPhone and Android.
Is The Withings ScanWatch Worth It?
The Withings ScanWatch is a beautifully constructed smartwatch that packs in all the features you’ll ever need from a smartwatch. It has a class-leading ECG monitor inside it, and you can use it to track and monitor all of your workouts. Add in the fact that it looks just like a normal watch and has a battery life of over 30 days, and I’d say the Withings ScanWatch is well worth the asking price.
I’ve been using mine for over a month now and it has completely replaced by my Apple Watch and my Garmin Fenix 6. Again, the Fenix 6 does give you more granular information about your exercise but this isn’t a deal-breaker for me. I’m not a pro athlete or training for anything, so I can more than get by with Health Mate’s data – it shows me everything I care about (speed, mileage, V02Max, Pace, and calories burned, as well as my route, complete with speed variations).
And for the asking price, just $275 / £249 / 299EURO, the Withings ScanWatch is also really well priced too, at around half the price of a new Apple Watch or a decent Garmin watch. And when you combine how it looks and what it can do, alongside its impressive battery life, the asking price starts to look really very reasonable. If you don’t like smartwatches but want to track your health metrics, this is basically the smartwatch you’ve been dreaming of…
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.