Review: Withings Activite – elegantly invisible

Withings Activite

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    Ease of use


      Use of information





          • Beautiful design
          • Good battery life
          • Water-resistant
          • Automatically tracks activity


          • No heart-rate monitor
          • No GPS
          • Occasional issues with syncing data


          Withings was one of the first companies to enter the market for connected health and fitness devices with its smart scale and smart blood pressure monitors. It has since gradually widened the range of its products on offer with devices such as its pulse oximetre and Aura sleep tracker. All of these devices report data to the Withings Health Mate app, which also provides coaching and motivation tools.

          The French company has also come out with its own smartwatch/fitness tracker combination. Smartwatches and fitness trackeres come in all shapes, prices and sizes. But if you’re looking for a nice looking regular watch that also functions as a basic fitness-tracking device, the Withings Swiss Made Activite and Withings Activite Pop may be your best option.

          Ease of use
          Use of information
          OverviewView technical specs


          The Activite is a stylish watch made of sapphire glass and French leather. It comes across as a better looking regular watch. Underneath however, this regular looking watch comes with hidden extras.

          Like the Apple Watch, the Activite has a gender neutral design. It has a slightly thicker watch face, to accommodate both a regular watch battery and activity tracking components. It is however comfortable enough to wear all the time, even when sleeping, showering and exercising.

          The device arrives packaged in a high quality box, with a spare silicone strap for running/swimming, a spare battery and a tool to open the back.

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          Crafted by a team of prestigious Parisian designers, Withings collaborated with the Haas tanneries to develop a unique leather watchstrap, naturally tanned, and without the use of any chemicals. Using the Connected Movement TM, Activité is certified for its precision and long lasting accuracy. Entirely Swiss-made, Activité is made with high-end Swiss materials including unbreakable, scratchproof sapphire glass, 316L stainless steel watch case, and dial designed in Le Locle village, an area know as the center of Swiss watchmaking.

          The Activite comes in two colours: silver (brown leather wristband and white dial) and black (black leather wristband and black dial). The display is analogue, and there is a smaller second dial that shows your activity level.

          As mentioned, the watch also comes with a sports strap for the pool, making it as adept for workouts as it is in the boardroom. Thanks to quick release spring bars, it is easy to interchange your watchband straps.

          The Activite Pop debuted back in January this year as a less expensive version of the Activite watch. It trades calf leather, polished steel, a sapphire dome and Swiss-made certification for a silicone strap, PVD-coated steel, and a mineral glass dome. The price difference is quite sizeable though.

          Its other features are identical. It’s a Bluetooth-connected fitness tracker, capable of step-counting and sleep-tracking. It syncs automatically with iPhones and Android phones. It has a silent vibrating alarm. It’s water-resistant for swimming and showering (up to 50 meters). And it comes in number of colours: Shark Grey, Sand, Azure.

          The device has an 8 month battery life and uses a classic watch CR2025 battery.

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          Ease of use

          The first step after getting the Withings Activité is to pair it with your phone. After downloading the free Withings Healthmate app you need to add the Withings Activité to your list of devices and pair it with your phone. After pairing the watch come the calibration steps. Once calibrated and paired with your phone, you can now just use your watch as you would any other watch.

          At any point in your day, glance at the dial tracker for an update on your status towards reaching your goal for the day. Activité automatically detects and tracks whether you are walking or running.

          Using Bluetooth, all your data, including steps taken, distance walked, distance run, and calories burned, will automatically upload to the Health Mate app on your smartphone.

          Syncing happens in the background, but not always consistently. Sometimes it may be slow, and data has been known to gets lost from time to time. Withings says the Activite only holds about a day and a half of data onboard. That is disappointing. For example, if you are on a vacation where you’re not syncing with your phone, you’ll lose data.

          There is no crown to set the time: that happens automatically when the watch is synced with your phone’s Withings Health Mate app. And when you change time zones, the watch changes its time automatically, too.

          When not in use, the watch will go into sleep mode – unlike the Apple Watch, this seems to only happen when you are not wearing it.

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          Use of information

          The Activite tracks steps, distance and calories. Step counting works as on any other pedometer, except on the Activite you will only be able to see daily progress via a secondary dial on the watch face that goes from 0 to 100, marking the percent of your daily goal met. At midnight, the dial resets to zero. Aside from that, all activity information is conveyed through the mobile phone.

          Activite automatically detects running and swimming and is water resistent. It logs the total time of your run or swim workout and the calories burned. This function isn’t super sophisticated – but it is useful. Withings says the new features are just the start of its foray into swimming. The company says it plans to add lap tracking and distance in the near future.

          The watch measures three levels of sleep: deep, light and awake, the number of awakenings and the total duration of sleep. It is on par with other sleep-trackers using accelerometers like the Misfit Shine and Jawbone Up24, but lacks the heart-rate input of more advanced trackers like the Microsoft Band and Basis Peak. Set an alarm in the app to start your day with a gentle wake-up vibration.


          The watch allows you to see how you are doing on your daily step count with a quick glance at the dial on the watch face. This means, at any point in the day, you know exactly how far you are from your daily goal.

          While the watch shows you how active you are in real-time, the Health Mate app suggests easy changes throughout the day to encourage you to move around.

          The Health Mate app also offers a fun program–with activity badges, a leaderboard, healthy reminders and activity insights.


          The verdict

          The Withings Activite and Activite Pop watches are a clever, stylish blend of everyday watch and connected fitness band that look good, are fun and easy to use. This unobtrusive device has a good battery life, is waterproof and automatically tracks activity and sleep. Activite is one of those rare watches that works in pretty much every situation. You could wear it not only during business hours, but also for a formal event, as well as light hiking or other light sporting events.

          On the negative side the Activite has some issues storing and syncing data over periods longer than a day and a half. Which might mean that while it works from day to day just fine, there is a possiblity you might encounter some gaps in your data when you are looking at trends.

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          Withings Activite
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          And, it doesn’t measure heart rate or have GPS tracking – features that we would like to see. But nevertheless, the Activite is the closest thing to standard watch that you can currently buy, that also offers fitness tracking capability.

          Ultimately, the Withings watch is designed to look and feel normal. And it does this very well. While there are definitely more advanced fitness trackers, and more advanced smartwatches, the Activite provides a glimpse into the future where connected devices will be all around us, and will blend seemlessly into the environment. The Withings Activité is a beautifully designed activity tracker that succeeds in being one of the first truly wearable devices of its kind.

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