Smart scales connect wirelessly (via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) to your smartphone, tablet or computer. Step on one of these, and your weight data will find its way to a corresponding app on your mobile device or a Web dashboard. Using the app or dashboard, you can then track your progress over time.
Scales that also measure body fat do this by sending a low electrical current through one foot and reading the current with a sensor under the other foot. The current passes through fat more slowly and the scale calculates the amount of resistance to come up with a body fat percentage. The accuracy of these body fat measurements should be taken with a grain of salt though, as they can be inconsistent and innacurate at times.
Consumer Reports tested six popular scales earlier this year and came to the conclusion that while they were all good at measuring weight, none were particularly accurate when it came to measuring body fat. At least they were consistent, though, so the scales can be used to track relative gains and losses over time. Or opt for the Skulpt Chisel – a hand held device, that measures the quality of your muscles and body fat for 24 individual muscles in your body.
Generally, we can separate smart scales into two camps. The well known brands such as Fitbit and Withings, and the dozens and dozens of scales released by lesser known brands. These are generally cheaper – but in many cases also less reliable. This article will be focusing on the more established brands.
If you are interested in the other option – head over to our interactive tool which will allow you to compare most smart scales on offer today.
Let’s cut to the chase right away. Scales produced by Withings, one of the pioneers in this market, are our pick of the bunch. The French company has recently come out with its fourth generation range, the Body and Body Cardio. They replace the Withings WS-50.
Body measures weight and BMI, along with fat mass, muscle mass, water and bone mass. The scale has multi-user support and recognition, a free Health Mate app and syncs to the Withings Health Cloud. It also has both iOS and Android compatibility.
This scale simply does the job. Having one of these in the bathroom means you can make weighing yourself part of your morning ritual, allowing you to track your progress every day, at roughly the same time, in the same state of undress, with no hassle. Once you’ve got it configured for your wireless network and set up the users, it just goes about its work reliably and quietly enough.
The Patented Position Control Technology delivers highly-precise measurements accurate to .2 pounds. The fat % monitoring and other metrics can sometimes vary, but this is the case with all such scales on the market. There are few truly accurate ways of fat percentage monitoring outside clinics/hospitals where you are submersed in water!
If you love gadgets and find tracking your weight useful to help you diet or maintain a healthy weight, you won’t go wrong with the Withings Body scale.
Instead of the Body scale, you can opt for the slightly more expensive Body Cardio scale. Apart from the design, the main difference is that the Body Cardio has heart monitoring functions. It tracks your standing heart rate and an exclusive new measurement – your Pulse Wave Velocity.
With every beat the heart generates a wave that propagates along the arteries. The propagation speed of this wave is directly linked to the health of your arteries. Faster speeds indicate stiffer arteries, which increase the risk of developing hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Each weigh-in will provide a pulse wave velocity reading and assessment within the Health Mate app. Taking age into account, the app will then inform as to whether it is optimal or not, and provide tips to improve it.
The Pulse Wave Velocity is an entirely new metric that you will not find with any other scales. Having said that, the jury is still out on how useful the measurements really are.
In terms of design, at only 0.7 inches with a solid aluminum base, Body Cardio has no feet to adjust, making it the thinnest, most stable scale available. Withings says that Body Cardio works equally well on any surface, from a hard floor to a thick carpet. Rather conveniently, there is no need to purchase batteries. Body Cardio lasts up to 12 months before needing to be recharged via the micro-USB cable.
The Fitbit Aria measures weight, BMI and body fat. It has multi user support and recognition, and you can set weight goals with a daily calorie plan, log food and other workouts. And it comes with a free iOS and Android app.
If you’re looking to lose weight or even just keep track of your current weight Fitbit scales make a good choice. You step on them, step off – done. Your weight is transferred to your Fitbit account which you can then tap into on your phone, tablet or computer.
Some reported set-up difficulties, and possible marginal variation in results (depending on how you are positioned on the scale), is the reason we prefer the Withings scale over this one – albeit the French company’s scale is the more expensive option. And the difference between the two is marginal.
The ease of use and auto syncing with Fitbit is impressive and useful. If you are already a Fitbit fan, you may prefer this scale due to the available integration with its other devices.
The Index Smart Scale is the first body composition monitor integrated directly into the Garmin ecosystem of products. In addition to weight, the scale measures your body mass index, body fat percentage, water percentage, muscle mass and bone mass.
The device has a sleek, modern design with a bright LCD display and extra large numbers for easy visibility. Like other smart scales on the market, it allows you to set up multiple profiles for different members of your family. Garmin Index will automatically recognise the user when they step on the scale, and will record their information in Garmin Connect as well as syncing with MyFitnesssPal.
Our main gripe with this product is that you can only measure once a day. Your last weigh-in is the only one retained. Which means, if you weigh yourself in the afternoon, any measurements from the morning are overwritten. For most people this should not be a problem as most experts recommend weighing yourself at a consistent time every day. It may, however, pose an issue, for example for athletes who want a morning baseline and also use the scale to evaluate post-workout hydration needs.
If you are the owner of other Garmin devices though, you might want to opt for this one due to integration with other Garmin products.
iHealth is one of the early entrants into the connected scales market. Their third generation scale measures nine aspects of your overall health including weight and body mass index, body fat, lean muscle, bone mass, water weight, daily calories and visceral fat rating. If you have a lot of people in your household, you’ll be happy to know – the scale recognises up to 10 users.
iHealth Core keeps a record of all your readings and provides detailed statistics on a wide range of vitals, which you can then monitor over time. The accompanying smartphone app lets you set goals, view readings, and share results. Measurements are stored on your secure iHealth account, presented in easy to read charts, and weight and BMI are graphed with past readings to view your progress at a glance.
On the minus side, set-up difficulties some users have experienced and occasional inconsistencies in measurements need to be taken into account when considering this purchase.
Chinese gadget maker Xiaomi is making its mark in the connected fitness market with another budget device – this time its a smart scale. The Mi scale was launched in early 2015 and originally sold only in China. Luckily for us, it has since made its way across the border. Although not as feature rich as some of the other connected scales, at less than $60 the Xiaomi scale sells at about half the price of leading brands.
The device tracks weight and BMI, and connects via Bluetooth to Xiaomi’s Mi Fit iOS and Android apps, so you can track your weight over time. It is capable of managing the weight of up to 16 people with its app, so its suitable for the whole family.
There are 161 LEDs which light up to show your weight. The overall body of the scale has a smooth design and round edges, and is protected by tempered glass panels. The display itself is embedded into the body.
The scale is receiving excellent reviews on Amazon, and is averaging an impressive 4.5 stars out of a maximum of 5. This is a great product, especially when you consider the price.
Launched at CES 2016, the Polar Balance scale features a large display, to ensure that the digits are easily readable, and a splash-proof glass design. The scale will provide you with your weight and BMI, and can be used by up to 10 different people. The biggest selling point of this device though, is the software.
Once you have set a personal goal, the app and web service will provide you with motivational guidance on how to reach your daily activity goal. The app works on the basis that 60% of the excess calories should be cut from your diet and 40% should be burned with activity.
Daily activities such as steps, distance and calories are recorded from one of Polar’s fitness trackers (if you own one), and the food intake you will need to record manually. A promising aspect and a novel feature of the app is the beautifully designed Weight Loss Speedometer. A graphic that gives you an easy way to see how close you are to reaching your weight goals.
The Yunmai scale comes from a Chinese manufacturer and retails for about half of the price of most other scales on this page. You wouldn’t know this, however, by looking at its features. Rather impressively, the scale measures 10 different body composition statics, including weight, BMI, BMR, hydration, bone mass, body age and more. It also comes with a well designed app that offers you guidance to help you reach your goals.
The first thing that strikes you when you see this scale is its size. It’s sleek, compact and does not take up a lot of space. And we’re not kidding, it really is smaller than most other smart scales on the market.
The app itsself is impressive and shows a wealth of data. It does take some getting used to. You can chart your weight fluctuations on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. You will also get a composite ‘Health score’ each time you weigh yourself. We are not sure exactly how this is calculated, presumably a combination of all the metrics. And the app will assign you a ‘Fitness Age’ score.
Also, we have to commend Yunmai. Rather than just providing you with raw data and letting you make sense of it, the company tries to show you what exactly you need to do to improve your health. After all, a thin person is not in every case healthier than an overweight person.
All in all, in terms of value for money, this may be one of the best budget smart scales on the market right now.
Philips has recently joined the increasingly crowded market for wearables with its own health platform and ecosystem. The health suite is the first in a larger product line of smart medical-grade devices to come. The five gadgets are listed with the FDA and include a health watch (Amazon), a body analysis scale (Amazon), an ear thermometer (Amazon), an upper arm blood pressure monitor (Amazon) and a wrist blood pressure monitor.
The Philips smart scale looks very much like other devices from leading brands. It provides body composition analysis based on weight, BMI and body fat percentage and tracks your body composition over time in the Philips Health Suite health app.
It is clear that Philips is not targeting fitness enthusiasts with the suite of new devices. These are gadgets that are targeted for consumers who are at risk of chronic, lifestyle-related conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease, and who may not have considered a health wearable in the past.
|Withings Body||Withings Body Cardio||Fitbit Aria WiFi scale||Garmin Index Smart Scale||iHealth Core HS6||Xiaomi Mi Smart Scale||Polar Balance Scale||Yunmai Mini Smart Weighing Scale||Philips Body Analysis Scale|
|Size||327 x 327 x 23 mm||327 x 327 x 18 mm||312 x 312 x 334 mm||350 x 310 x 300 mm||350 × 350 × 28.5 mm||345 x 340 x 60 mm||335 x 328 mm||26 x 26 x 1.9 cm||321 x 321 x 25 mm|
|Weight||2.0 kg||1.9 kg||2.8 kg||2.5 kg||2.7 Kg||2.2 kg||1.0 kg||1.98 kg|
|Batteries||4 AAA batteries||Rechargeable li-ion battery (micro USB, included)||4 AA batteries||4 AA batteries||4 AAA batteries||4 AA batteries||3 AAA batteries||4 AAA batteries (included in the package)||4 AAA batteries|
|Battery life||18 months||Up to 1 year||Up to 9 months||Up to 3 months||Up to 9 months.|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Smart (BLE), ANT+||Wi-Fi||Bluetooth||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Bluetooth||Bluetooth|
|Display||LED||LED||LCD backlit display||LCD display||LED||LED||LCD||LED||LCD display, white backlight|
|Colours||White, Black||White, Black.||Black, White||Black, White||White||White||White, Black||Blue, White, Pink||White, Black|
|Number of users||Up to 8||Up to 8||Up to 8||Up to 16||Up to 10||Up to 16||Up to 10||Up to 16||Up to 8|
|Body fat %||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Other||Position Control.||Position Control, measures heart rate when you step on the scale, Pulse Wave Velocity, daily local weather forecast||Works with Fitbit trackers and the fitbit app so you can set goals and use Calorie Coaching to achieve them.||Displays bright, extra large numbers against a black background, allowing easy visibility||Daily caloric intake, visceral fat rating||Position Control||Provides a personalized daily activity goal and eating plan.||- Visceral fat, protein, BMR, Body age|
- App syncs with Apple Health, MyFitnessPal, Google Fit and Fitbit
|View on||Withings, Amazon.||Withings, Amazon.||Amazon||Amazon, |
|Amazon US rating||4.2 out of 5 stars||4.0 out of 5 stars||3.7 out of 5 stars||3.8 out of 5 stars||3.1 out of 5 stars||4.5 out of 5 stars||3.7 out of 5 stars||4.7 out of 5 stars||4.4 out of 5 stars|