Tue. May 21st, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • Withings ScanWatch Light offers an attractive analog design with long battery life and fitness tracking capabilities.
  • The small size may be a drawback for men, and the proprietary charger feels cheap, but functionality is solid.
  • Priced at $249.95, this unisex smartwatch is a good alternative for those who prefer classic style over digital screens.


Give me a smartwatch, but make it attractive. Withings has been plugging away at this initiative for a while and the ScanWatch Light finally gets close without also having an exorbitant price tag in tow.

Withings ScanWatch Light

Withings ScanWatch Light

Part of the newest generation of Withings’ hybrid smartwatches, ScanWatch Light includes upgraded HealthSense Software combined with new sensors to provide more metrics and improved accuracy.

Pros

  • Attractive analog design
  • Long, multi-week battery life
  • Sleep, and fitness tracking
Cons

  • Might be a bit small for a man?s wrist
  • Charger is cheap and proprietary

Price and Availability

The Withings ScanWatch Light is the entry-level model and joins other options in the lineup, like the ScanWatch Nova and ScanWatch 2. The Light model retails for $249.95.

Although the Light model is made to be unisex it does only come in the smaller 37mm size as opposed to the other models which offer multiple sizes.

Specifications

Battery Life
Up to 30 days

Onboard GPS
No

Offline Media Storage
No

Lens Material
Gorilla Glass

Case Material
Stainless steel

Connected GPS
Yes

Storage
7 days of fitness and health information

Connectivity
Bluetooth LE

Dimensions
37mm

Weight
27.g (without band)

Workout detection
Yes

Fast charging
Charged in 2 hours

Senors
High Dynamic Range Accelerometer, multi-wavelength PPG

The Design of Analog

ScanWatch Light laying next to an iPhone
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek


Personally, I’m okay with an unapologetically digital watch. The Apple Watch is a tiny computer so I’m okay with its digital, complication-filled watch faces. I’m less enthusiastic about its analog replica ones. And I know a lot of people are put off by digital watches pretending to be analog ones.

So, for those people who want a circular design and mechanical hands, but still some smart connections, the ScanWatch Light should hit a sweet spot. There’s not much customization that can be done to it, but it’s objectively nice-looking.

The ScanWatch Light crams all its fitness information and notifications into a small, colorless OLED at the top of the watch. The screen won’t satisfy data-thirsty people, but I found it easy enough to read the scrolling text and navigate around to perform simple tasks like setting timers and seeing my heart rate.

There’s no touch element on the watch so all interactions are controlled with the dial on the side. This felt limiting at first, but after a few days, I was using it without even thinking about it.


Since I found the thin silver hands a little hard to see on top of a white watch face, I opted to have the time show on the screen each time I raised my wrist. Similar to how smartwatches without always-on screens work.

Secondary to time, the watch is all about fitness, in some way. Steps are highlighted, along with your current BPM and a breathing companion. Sleep and cycle tracking are also the main components. All these things are available via the small display—with help from the companion app.

Work Out in Style

Withings ScanWatch Light sensors on the bottom of the watch
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

Although I found it weird to run in such a fancy-looking watch, it still did its job. Workouts can be tracked automatically, but I started them manually. I customized the long-press of the crown shortcut jump right to workouts so it only took me a few presses to get going. At the end of a run, a long press would stop it.


I wore the ScanWatch Light on my right wrist and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 on my left wrist to get a comparison. The two smartwatches yielded slightly different results, which I expected, but were close enough on multiple runs for me not to worry about the differences. Importantly, the ScanWatch Light appeared consistent.

This isn’t the smartwatch I would buy to use for running, mainly because I use my Apple Watch to listen to music, but for tracking purposes it was up to the task.

I tried to use the ScanWatch Light to track my sleep, but I didn’t get very far. The device itself is relatively slim and lightweight, but I have a hard time with anything on my wrist. I even have a hard time wearing a smart ring to track my sleep. I can’t report on its results, but it could be a good option for people who don’t mind wearing watches while they sleep as it is more minimal than some other watches.


Software: A Matching Design

ScanWatch Light with iPhone showing the Withings app
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

If you use a Withings scale, the ScanWatch Light uses the same Health Mate app—available for iPhone and Android. The app displays all the watch’s information and allows its settings to be tweaked. Scale users should be thrilled because the app is well-designed and easy to navigate.

Even if you aren’t already in the Withings ecosystem, you’ll catch on quickly. The homepage summary shows information with trending lines so everything is glanceable. The Health Mate app will sync with Apple Health and Google Fit to keep your health data synced across devices.

Since the screen on the watch is so small you’ll need to use the app to configure notifications. Even on the iPhone, you can receive notifications for calls, emails, maps, and dozens of other things. If you don’t need or want notifications with videos or images, as the Apple Watch provides, you can still stay connected using the ScanWatch Light. Notifications worked great for me and came in at the same time as on my Apple Watch.


Battery Life Is a Beast

ScanWatch Light charging in its charger
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

If not for looks and fitness tracking, the other reason to heavily consider the ScanWatch Light might be its 30-day battery life. That’s days, by the way, not hours. Actual battery life will fluctuate based on how many workouts you do and how many notifications keep it buzzing.

I had no problem riding the watch hard and getting weeks of use out of it. Thankfully, it does get a lot of battery life because its charger is pitiful. It’s a plastic cradle that touches contacts on the dial. Even though there’s a USB-C port on the charger, I didn’t have luck using any modern USB-C cables, it wasn’t happy unless it was using a “dumb” low-voltage USB-A to USB-C cable. Be sure not to lose the cheap-feeling charger either because that’s the only way to power the watch back up.


Should You Buy the Withings ScanWatch Light?

It’s easy to recommend the Withings ScanWatch Light to anyone who isn’t interested in the digital-first Apple Watch or Google Pixel Watch. I really liked having a lot of the connected qualities of a smartwatch without being consumed by another screen.

That being said, the ScanWatch Light might be on the smaller side for men and could be a little big for some women. It’s close to working for everyone but is still in a weird, in-between area. Also, if you want a data-packed wrist computer, this probably isn’t the product for you.

Withings is onto something with its hybrid watches, even if it isn’t specifically for everyone.

Withings ScanWatch Light

Withings ScanWatch Light

Part of the newest generation of Withings’ hybrid smartwatches, ScanWatch Light includes upgraded HealthSense Software combined with new sensors to provide more metrics and improved accuracy.



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By John P.

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