The fact is that the Activité Steel is a wristwatch, which has inherent pitfalls. I’ve had very occasional short bouts of steps – moving between chairs in the living room, for instance – not tracked. Similarly, on one day I gained a couple of steps while sitting in my chair doing work. I also racked up some decent mileage by juggling with clubs – not exactly standard usage, mind. On the whole, though, the step-tracking will give you a sufficiently accurate readout of your distance travelled on a given day.
Related: Google Fit explained: What can it do?
Sleep-tracking was almost always on point, measuring nod-off time accurately. However, a few notable wake-ups were missed, including one that was independently verified by my girlfriend, who decided 4am was the perfect time to accuse me of hogging the sheets. All in the name of science, I suppose.
Another issue is the limited range of activities covered – for instance, walking, running, swimming and sleeping. That might sound broad-reaching, but it’s little use to a cyclist who could spend hours on the bike and still appear lethargic on the Health Mate app. That said, swimming wasn’t available at launch, so I wouldn’t be surprised if cycling was added sometime down the line, courtesy of a software update.
Another feature is the alarm; no, there isn’t a speaker on the Activité Steel. The alarm actually works through vibrations, which has a great advantage: it won’t wake your partner up. There have been some complaints on the web about the vibration not being strong enough to wake you from a deep sleep. In my experience with both the Activité and Activité Steel, I’ve never had an issue waking up from the vibrations.
Finally, there’s the battery life – a real winner for the Activité Steel. Unlike basically every other smartwatch on the market, the Activité Steel boasts an incredible 8-month battery life. There’s no need to recharge either; it uses a standard watch battery, and Withings provides a spare in the box. If you need just one reason to buy the Activité Steel over another smartwatch, it’s this. Unfortunately, I can’t vouch for the battery life just yet – check back in 8 months.
Related: New Microsoft Band Features
Should I buy the Withings Activité Steel?
If you want an activity tracker, and you like wearing a watch, then the Withings Activité Steel is probably perfect for you.
That said, you can also chose between the Withings Activité Pop (£119.95) and the Withings Activité (£320). The former errs more on the side of Swatch, so those who want a more playful timepiece might want to consider the Pop. The Activité, meanwhile, is a seriously fancy wearable, and will suit those for whom money is no object.
But if the Pop is a little too gaudy, and you’re not willing to splash serious cash on a tracker, the Activité Steel is the perfect choice.
Of course, if you don’t really mind charging your device daily, there’s plenty of fun to be had with a more prosaic smartwatch, many of which retail between £150 and £300. Try the Apple Watch (£299), the LG Watch Urbane (£240), or the new Moto 360 (£230).
Similarly, if you don’t need all of the faff of pricy Withings fare, and are happy to just strap a budget band to your wrist, check out the Jawbone UP24 (£30) or the Moov Now (£50).
All-in-all, the Activité Steel might not be as versatile as some fitness trackers, but the fact that this will replace your normal watch and save you from wearing an ungainly activity band is a serious winner. And at just £140, it’s an incredible bargain.