After Nokia sold its Health division, Withings relaunched in September with the hybrid Steel HR Sport smartwatch. The French company is now back with the Withings Pulse HR amid other health-focused wearable announcements in recent weeks.
The Withings Pulse HR is a traditional fitness tracker to the company’s usual lineup of hybrid analog watches with small circular OLED displays providing key stats. Based on the design of the company’s first set of devices from 2013, the Pulse HR includes many of the same features found across the industry.
With an unassuming design that is not too far off from the just-released Fitbit Charge 3, the Pulse HR features a black polycarbonate surface that obscures an OLED screen. It features a stainless steel casing and changeable silicone wristband straps.
This device does not feature an always-on display with the screen turning on with a raise of the wrist or a press on the sole button. One feature that makes it a smart device is the ability to see notifications from your phone, alongside time/date, daily goal progress, calories, and heart rate. This smart feature allows users to see incoming calls, texts, emails, calendar events, and other alerts from apps.
A photoplethysmography (PPG) heart rate sensor will record your beat every 10 minutes throughout the day and continuously during exercise sessions, with a heart rate zone provided.
Over 10 activities are automatically tracked, but the Pulse HR can monitor over 30 from skiing to boxing once manually selected via the screen. While not built-in, connected GPS from your phone will provide pace, distance, elevation, and a map in the companion app.
Capable of being worn all day, it tracks sleep quality with a Sleep Score combining duration, depth regularity, and interruptions to provide a ranking in the Health Mate app. The app integrates with third-party services like Google Fit, Apple Health, and MyFitnessPal.
At $129.95, Withings’ Pulse HR is slightly cheaper than the Charge 3, though Fitbit’s ecosystem and network is bigger, while in line with some of Garmin’s dedicated trackers. With the watch-like Steel HR, the company’s appeal was very clear.
However, with the Pulse HR, Withings is returning to a market of similar fitness bands that are increasingly hard to distinguish from one another. The battery life is a standout feature, but the company will have to make more of an introduction. Nevertheless, it’s important for the fitness market to have upstart competitors to challenge the current leaders.
Pre-orders start today at Withings and Amazon, with shipping scheduled for December 5th.