Withings ScanWatch review: An FDA-approved hybrid smartwatch that measures ECG and Afib

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Fitness wearables, like smartwatches, are becoming smarter with each iteration. In addition to step, heart rate, and workout tracking, newer versions are even able to measure your ECG (electrocardiogram) and other stats. While they shouldn’t be a replacement for regular doctor visits and advice, they can help users potentially detect health issues before it’s too late.

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

Our Withings ScanWatch review looks at an FDA-approved hybrid fitness smartwatch that also measures your ECG and detects atrial fibrillation. Read on for our full review!

Specifications

The Withings ScanWatch we reviewed has the following features and specifications:

Display• Analog dial with hands for hours and minutes. Subdial displays progress toward daily activity goal in percentage. The PMOLED screen displays SpO2, irregular rhythm and smartphone notifications, heart rate, steps, floors climbed, distance, calories, activities, and settings.
• Workout mode displays timer and heart rate(continuous tracking).
• Clock menu with alarm, stopwatch and timer.
• Notifications display previews of incoming calls, text messages, calendar events and 100+ apps.
BluetoothBluetooth Low Energy – to sync with Health Mate; Bluetooth connection with location settings permission must be enabled to use the Connected GPS feature
Metrics• Heart rate: beats per minute
• Breathing disturbances: tracking via oxygen saturation
• Electrocardiogram: tracing of a 30-seconds ECG recording on a millimetric grid
• Clinically validated Oxygen saturation level (SpO2)
• Walking and running: steps, distance, calories, based on user’s profile for high precision
• Calories: metabolic calories and total calories expenditure
• Running: automatically detected, in-app daily recap of duration and distance
• Swimming: automatically detected, in-app recap with duration and calories burned
• Sleep: deep and light sleep phases, sleep-score, sleep interruptions
• Fitness Level: assessment via VO2Max estimation
• Elevation: meters and floors climbed
Sensors• Exclusive multi-wavelength PPG heart rate/SpO2 sensor
• Stainless steel electrodes
• High precision MEMS 3-axis accelerometer
BatterySingle battery charge lasts up to 30 days in normal use; approximately 2 hours to charge
Water resistance5 ATM
AppWithings Health Mate
Materials• Stainless steel (316L) case featuring a brass lacquered dial with applied chrome indexes, guilloche subdial (except the 42mm black model), chrome hands, sapphire glass, and a soft, durable & water-resistant fluoroelastomer wristband.
Dimensions• 42mm model: 42mm diameter (1.65’’), 13.7mm thickness (0.54’’), 20mm wristband width (0.79’’)
• 38mm model: 38.4mm diameter (1.6’’), 13.2mm thickness (0.52’’), 18mm wristband width (0.70’’)
Weight• 42mm: 83g (watch only)
• 38mm: 58g (watch only)

What’s in the box

  • ScanWatch Hybrid Smartwatch
  • Premium Sport Fluoroelastomer Wristband Black & Silver
  • Magnetic charging cable
  • Quick start guide (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish)
  • Reusable transport pouch
  • 2-year warranty
What's included with the Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch with ECG tracking
What’s included with the Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch with ECG tracking.

Design

The Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch looks like your basic analog watch at a glance. Our review unit was the larger 42mm size, giving the watch face a 42mm/1.65″ diameter. It is also relatively thin for a smartwatch, coming in at just over 1/2″ thick. White in colour, there is a small circular LED screen in the top quarter and an analog progress dial in the bottom quarter. The Withings logo is in the three o’clock position. Each hour position has a thin silver piece with black ticks in the minute positions around the outside.

The outer casing is 316L stainless steel with a single crown. The crown is ridged and serves multiple purposes which I’ll discuss further in the review. The underside of the casing is where the health sensors and charging pad connection ports are located. The bottom and top of the casing has your usual lugs to attach the included fluoroelastomer wristband. It is a quick-release band, allowing you to easily swap it out.

The included wristband is pretty soft, being constructed from water-resistant fluoroelastomer. The outer side is smooth while the underside is ridged. It has 16 holes in the bottom strap, allowing for a pretty perfect fit for most wrist sizes. The top strap has a single loop for holding the excess strap in place and a stainless steel buckle.

While our review unit came with a white face, you can also get the ScanWatch with a black face. In addition, extra watch straps are available in leather, silicone, and recycled woven PET in various colours. The look of the watch is pretty nice. and while I do like smartwatches, I’ve always been partial to hybrid versions due to their “old-school” look.

The Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch with ECG tracking
The Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch with ECG tracking.

Smartwatches typically include a proprietary charger of some sort, and that holds for the ScanWatch. The included charger has a disc on which you lay the hybrid smartwatch. There is a nub and two charging pins that line up on the bottom of the watch, and the disc is held in place magnetically. The other end is a typical USB-A plug, allowing you to use it with any USB-A power adapter you have laying around. The included charging cable is pretty standard and basic fare, but it works as intended.

The included reusable travel pouch is a nice addition. It is pretty basic, mostly crafted from felt with a smooth lining. The inside of the pouch has a compartment for the watch itself and another for the charging pad. When closed, an elastic wraps around the entire pouch to keep it closed. While a nice touch, I don’t really see a huge use for it, however, as you’re likely going to be wearing the ScanWatch most of the time in order to see better tracking.

Display

While the majority of the Withings ScanWatch has an analog face, it does have a small LED screen 1/2″ in diameter. Although small, the display is quite clear and works for displaying basic information, including notifications. While stats like the time, date, heart rate, steps, and the like display well, I did have reservations on how notifications would show up on such a small screen. Withings handles this quite well as when a notification does come up, it starts to scroll across the bottom of the display. Once it does, you can twist the crown to scroll forward or backward through the notification, ensuring you don’t miss anything.

Setup

To start, you’ll need to download the Withings Health Mate app. Next, you’ll need to log in or create an account. Once logged in, select the Devices button on the bottom navigation bar. Tap “Install a device,” “Watches,” “ScanWatch,” and finally, “Install.” You’ll need to allow Bluetooth permissions and then you’ll be prompted to press the side button on the ScanWatch. Select the “I see setup button” on your phone and follow the steps to finish pairing the watch with your phone.

Once connected, tap Next, select which user is going to be using the device (if you have family users set up in the app), and wait while the ScanWatch updates. When asked, verify all the hands are pointing up after which the watch will sync the time. You’ll then be asked what wrist you wear it on and then walked through the different features. This includes how to navigate the watch, activate notifications, take your first electrocardiogram, take your first oxygen saturation measurement, learn more about irregular heartbeat episodes, configure breathing disturbances scans, learn more about workouts and GPS, and set your activity goals.

The LED display screen on the Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch
The LED display screen on the Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch.

You can also enable notifications for irregular heartbeat monitoring and notification, as well as calls, messages, and on a per-app basis for any other app installed on your phone.

ScanWatch can record a medical-grade ECG and atrial fibrillation. During setup, it also notes that it cannot detect heart attacks or other medical conditions. Unfortunately, the ECG feature is only available for those in the U.S. at this time. You’ll have to select your state (we chose California for our testing) and agree to share your data with Heartbeat Health, a Withings partner.

Once selected, you can take your first ECG measurement by staying still, not talking, and putting your arm on a table or chair arm and relaxing. Next, press the crown, rotate it to ECG, press the crown in, and place your other hand on the edge of the watch as shown in the app to start taking a reading. After 30 seconds, the watch will vibrate to let you know the reading was successful. Once taken, it will be sent and reviewed by Heartbeat Health and you will receive results in 24 to 48 hours.

The ScanWatch can also be set up to look for irregular patterns in your heart rhythm every 10 minutes. If the watch does detect an irregular heart rhythm, it will notify you on both the watch and your phone. Once activated, there is no interaction required by the user for the watch to take the readings and report on any issues. Breathing disturbance monitoring while you are sleeping can also be enabled and you will see your sleep and breathing data each morning in the Health Mate app once synced. Finally, you can allow GPS for workout activity tracking and set your activity goals like workout frequency and step goals. The step goals activity will be tracked and the small dial on the face of the watch will let you know your % progress at a glance.

The setup process is fairly straightforward and takes about 10-20 minutes, depending on how many of the extra features you set up.

Ease of Use

Once set up, press the crown to wake up the display screen on the watch. Rotating the crown lets you browse through the time, heart rate, step counter, distance, floors, ECG, SPO2, workout, breathing, clock, and settings screens. Pressing the crown lets you select each of these for more details and/or options.

As mentioned above, to take an ECG reading, press the crown, rotate it to ECG, press in again, and place your hand on the edge of the watch, and wait 30 seconds. Taking an SPO2 reading works in the same fashion.

The crown on the right side of the Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch
The crown on the right side of the Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch.

As mentioned above, as far as notifications are concerned, I was a little unsure of how they’d translate into such a small display. When you receive a notification, like an SMS message, it auto-scrolls through the display. Twisting the crown up or down allows you to manually scroll back and forward through the message as well, making it pretty easy to read.

Software

To use the Withings ScanWatch, you’ll have to install the companion Health Mate application. Once installed, opening the app will sync your watch and you’ll be able to see your latest readings like steps, ECG, SpO2, heart rate, and sleep stats on the home page. The home page also includes an Insight tile which has a useful tip about your sleep or other health-related measurements.

Tapping on one of the readings will open a detail page. On this page, you can then view previous days, as well as see weekly and monthly overviews. In the case of your ECG readings, not only can you see your readings as well as a short overview of the current rhythm, but you can share your reading or monthly stats with your health care professional right from the app by generating PDFs.

The Dashboard tab shows a more compact overview of your daily stats. The Devices tab shows what Withings devices you have connected, and allows you to adjust your brightness, and customize what screens are displayed on the digital screen of your ScanWatch. As with most apps, you can also check for updates for the hybrid fitness smartwatch.

Example screenshots from the Withings Health Mate Android application
Example screenshots from the Withings Health Mate Android application.

Finally, the Profile tab lets you edit your personal stats, share your health report, see achievements, set goals, and view overall stats like the number of times you’ve weighed yourself (if you have a Withings smart scale), your total number of tracked steps, your best day, and more.

Performance

With any health tracking device, performance and accuracy are key. During my time with the Withings ScanWatch, I found it to be pretty accurate based on my previous experiences. Steps and heart rate measuring were in line with other devices I’ve used. While I’m not a huge workout fanatic, the couple of walks that I tested the GPS out with worked as expected as well. As far as my ECG measurements, given I don’t have any issues with my heart, it did record and report what I can only assume are accurate readings. For nightly sleep activities, my charts each morning seemed pretty accurate compared to how I felt I slept. In addition, they lined up pretty close to what the Google Nest Hub with sleep tracking was also reporting.

The sensors and charging receptacles on the bottom of the Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch
The sensors and charging receptacles on the bottom of the Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch.

As for the non-fitness-related features, the alarm and notifications worked as one would expect, as did the stopwatch and timer. Overall, the Withings ScanWatch performed as I would expect a fitness device to perform.

Battery Life

Being a hybrid smartwatch, you will get longer battery life with the Withings SmartWatch. According to the company, a single battery charge lasts up to 30 days in normal use. During my testing, I got around 28 days between charges. This included wearing the watch 24/7 to track both daily and sleep activities. Once depleted, it does take about 2 hours to get to 100%.

Price/Value

With an MSRP of US$299.95 for the 42mm size and $279.95 for the 38mm size, the Withings ScanWatch is a bit pricier than other options. However, it does offer FDA-approved ECG monitoring which others don’t. If you are concerned about atrial fibrillation and ECG monitoring, the extra cost will definitely be worth it for you.

Wrap-up

Hybrid fitness smartwatches come in many variations. The Withings ScanWatch is the first wearable to be cleared by the FDA that records both ECG and SpO2 measurements, making it the perfect choice for those interested in monitoring those stats on an ongoing basis.

Last Updated on December 6, 2021.

Withings ScanWatch

US$299.95

Design

9.5/10

Display

9.0/10

Setup

8.5/10

Ease of Use

9.0/10

Software

9.0/10

Performance

9.5/10

Battery Life

9.5/10

Price/Value

8.5/10

Nailed it

  • Classic design
  • Solid build quality
  • Great tracking performance
  • FDA-approved ECG tracking
  • Decent battery life
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Includes transport pouch

Needs work

  • A bit of a process to take ECG and SPO2 readings
  • SPO2 readings come up inconclusive more often than successful
  • A nicer included watch strap would be nicer
  • Pricey
The Withings ScanWatch hybrid fitness smartwatch with ECG tracking
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