I was one of the lucky ones who could buy a scanwatch a week ago. To help others making their decision, I will write a short review below based on my experiences.
For the past year and a half, I used the Steel HR Sport with a white face so I will be comparing the scanwatch mainly against its predecessor.
- Design: the design is great! A big step up from the Steel HR Sport. I showed both watches side by side to some people who had no idea what they were and all of them thought the Scanwatch was just a real "real" watch. That says it all really, especially with the black face, this is just a really nice minimalist classic watch. It is also a big plus that it uses sapphire glass as standard now. The glass on previous watches inevitably scratched with time and a scratched watch is just not nice to look at.
- Screen: the screen is updated when compared to the Steel HR. The difference is actually bigger than I thought. The screen is slightly bigger but the big changes for me are brightness and resolution. I can now comfortably read the screen in direct sunlight, something which was not possible with the Steel HR and very annoying when going for a run on sunny day for example. Resolution has been improved and they use a new font on the screen. It makes reading notifications much easier than before. Thanks to the bigger screen and resolution, the display can now display 2 lines at a time when compared to only 1 on the Steel HR. Seems like a small upgrade but the difference in usability is huge :)
- Elevation (floors counter): This is a new functionality compared to the Steel HR. The Scanwatch estimates the number of floors based on an altimeter (as far as I know) and in my experience, the accuracy can be improved but is fine. In general it overestimates a bit. Just take that into account.
- HR tracking (not ECG): This appears to be improved (new sensors?) when compared to the Steel HR. The accuracy is on point but the biggest difference is that locking your heart rate seems to be improved. With the Steel HR, I sometimes noticed that I had no heart rate for whole parts of the day because it could not get a reading. With the Scanwatch, I have no such problems. I did not go for a run yet so I can't report on HR tracking during workouts yet. As soon as I do, I'll update this post :)
- Additional software features: before I even got the watch, I had a pretty goods idea of what I was getting. However, there a few small improvements in the software which are worth mentioning. (1) Timer and stopwatch on the watch. To be clear, this is pure software so only visible on the screen (not the mechanical hands) but it works and is a nice addition. (2) Quick Look: it automatically activates the display when lifting your arm and looking at the display. It works well but is not very useful during the daytime. Would be useful during the night though. (3) Do not disturb: this was already present on the Steel HR and turns off all notifications.
- Battery life: based on a couple days of use, I have no reason to doubt the 30 day claim of Withings. This has always been a strong point of the Withings watches and I'm really glad this is still the case. Keep in mind that tracking your SpO2 during the night for sleep apnea detection takes a big hit on battery life (around 30 to 40 percent per night).
- Activity detection: it seems to me that activity detection has been improved. Short bike sessions were previously not always recorded. In the limited experience up until now, all bike sessions were automatically detected with great accuracy.
- Step counting: seems the same as with the Steel HR. Neither more accurate or less accurate than before. Compared to for example a Fitbit, I always found the step counter of Withings to be conservative. The Fitbit on the other hand always overestimated. Neither is 100% accurate but the main thing is that you can compare from day to day.
- ECG: It works and gets a goods reading 90% of the time. However, I cannot comment on accuracy because I have no reference device.
- SpO2: It works but getting a reading is very sensitive. You really have to stay still, not talk to get a good reading. Again, I cannot comment on accuracy but the results are consistent. As I mentioned above, the watch can track SpO2 during the whole night to detect sleep apnea. Using the recommended setting, the watch will do this automatically a couple consecutive nights each trimester. The reason is simple, to limit the impact on battery life.
- Sleep tracking: this was actually a bit of a disappointment for me. The accuracy of sleep tracking was the biggest limitation of the Steel HR in my opinion and it is not improved with the Scanwatch. In advertising, it mentioned REM sleep tracking but this is missing. The accuracy in general is also still the same. Not to say it is bad by any means but the time you go to sleep and the time you wake up can be slightly off sometimes. The reason it is a con for me is that REM sleep is missing and accuracy is not improved meaning it is essentially the same as in the Steel HR. In my opinion, Fitbit is still the best when it comes to sleep tracking accuracy.
Lastly, a word on software improvements which are coming. Withings promised the following features in the coming weeks/months:
- Sleep Apnea detection: as far as I understood. Withings is not certified yet to detect sleep apnea. For now, they are simply calling the feature breathing disturbances but are not specially mentioning sleep apnea.
- HR alerts: when the normal HR sensor detects some abnormalities in your heart rate. The watch will suggest to take an ECG. This feature is currently not available.
- Probably more is on the way. But the page where the improvements were listed is not available anymore unfortunately.
What I really hope will be added in the future:
- REM sleep detection / better sleep accuracy
- Do not disturb automatically activated when detecting sleep.
- Quick look automatically activates when ambient light is really low. For example, in the dark, at night, etc. But not when detecting sleep.
It was mentioned that by joining the so-called insider program. We would get direct access to the software team, would be able to report feedback etc. As of now, I have received no indication that this is the case or that anything is different when compared to a normal sale.
Overall, I'm glad I bought the watch. The design is biggest plus, namely the sapphire glass and better screen are awesome. The battery life is also a big plus but this is the case with each Withings watch. The hardware is great, if they can fix some things and add additional features via software updates I will be happy with my purchase :)