Truth be told, I’m not a fan of smartwatches. It’s not because I’ve never owned one. It’s simply because I don’t see the need for one, which is why I was shocked when I fell in love with the Withings Activité Sapphire. It’s smarter than the traditional timepiece, but not too smart — and I like that. It has a gorgeous design, tracks my movement, analyses my sleep patterns and automatically adjusts the time when I go abroad. But, best of all, it doesn’t push notifications to my wrist. They stay on my phone where they belong.
By now, you’ve probably realized that I have an unhealthy obsession with my Activité, so you can imagine that I was beyond excited to find out that Withings is releasing a refreshed model of the device. It’s called the Steel HR, and, from what I can tell, it’s better in every way, shape and form than its predecessor. The French company has managed to introduce a truckload of new functionality, while still maintaining the analog dial, stainless steel design, and durable calf leather strap that earned the watch the right to bear the coveted “Swiss Made” label.
So what makes the Steel HR a better pick than the regular Activité? Well, it’s more accurate in the fitness tracking department thanks to the introduction of a heart rate monitor, which provides the watch with the data it needs to differentiate between walking and running. This information is processed and sent to the companion mobile application via Bluetooth to give users a more reliable analysis of their workouts.
The Steel HR also sports a small digital display that can be used to show the number of steps a user has taken, their heart rate, how many calories they’ve burnt and the distance they’ve traveled. As you’d expect, it also has the facility to relay simple smartphone notifications. Although, I’ve already decided that if I do pick one up, I’m going to request that my phone doesn’t push alerts to my wrist.
That’s not all, though. While older Activité’s use standard watch batteries as a power source, the Steel HR packs a rechargeable cell. Withings is promising that the device will last for 25 days on a single charge, but has the ability to stretch the power over an additional 20 days if required. However, to do this, users will have to activate the unit’s low-power mode, which disables the heart rate sensor and slows down the frequency of data transmission between the wearable and a paired handset.
Unfortunately, Withings didn’t provide an exact launch date for the Steel HR. All we know for certain is that it’s going to be available to purchase exclusively from the company’s website in early October and will make its way to independent retail stores at the end of the month. The 36mm model will be priced at $179.95, while the 40mm variant will set you back $199.95.
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