Hybrid smartwatches are an appealing segment, combining the health tracking benefits of a standard activity tracker with the unobtrusive, fashionable appearance of a traditional watch. Withings is one of the few participants in the field.
That makes the company’s most budget-friendly model, the Withings Move, all the more disappointing. Its low price point is matched by few features, relying on a connected phone for most of its actual benefit, and the materials and finish of the watch itself aren’t up to the standard set by the Withings Steel and its stablemates.
If you’re in the market for both a very cheap activity tracker and a very cheap watch, you could combine both purchases into the Withings Move. But if the appeal of a hybrid watch is in its resemblance to a fashionable accessory, and the appeal of an activity tracker is in its accuracy and utility, then the Move falls flat on both of those points.
You Get Watch You Pay For
From a functional standpoint, the Move is very similar to the Withings Steel, the original hybrid watch design that the company inherited from its days as a Nokia subsidiary. Like the Steel, the Move tracks steps and sleep with on-board hardware, with its only feedback coming from a sub-dial that shows progress towards your daily step goal. The watch can vibrate, but offers no other interactive functions.
Unlike the Nokia/Withings Steel, the Move looks…well, cheap. It uses a plastic case and window, something that would be tacky on even an inexpensive conventional watch. The silicone band is more forgivable, and I appreciate that it can be changed quickly thanks to quick-release pins. But if you want a nice band that’s an extra $20-30, which seems like an odd extravagance on such a cheap device.
The plastic case would be alright, if Withings had used the savings for a mineral crystal window. Something like tempered Gorilla Glass or synthetic sapphire is too much to hope for on a sub-$100 device, but the plastic window is going to scratch easily and repeatedly, even if you’re not using the Move in frequent high-intensity workouts.
That cheapness is presumably a feature and not a bug. At just $70, the Move is indeed one of the cheapest activity trackers around from a reputable supplier, hybrid watch design notwithstanding. It’s a bit more than half the price of the original Steel, for the same features…and in order to move up to something with heart rate tracking, you’d need to shell out $180 for the Steel HR. That’s well beyond impulse buy range for most users.
A Splash of Color
Withings is pushing the customization angle with the Move and its more expensive cousin the Move ECG. It’s being offered with a variety of color combinations for the band, face, and “tracker” hand, with a full web-based color customizer tool being offered sometime later this year.