At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsGorgeous designWell integrated digital displayGood battery performanceLight & durableConsSome spotty step tracking and heart rate dataNotifications are crampedWithings app is a bit busyOur Verdict
The Withings ScanWatch Light is a beautiful hybrid smartwatch that manages to pack in useful fitness and wellness features in a mostly intuitive way.
The Withings ScanWatch Light is a hybrid smartwatch that wants to keep track of your steps, sleep and metrics like heart rate, all while looking like you’ve got a traditional analogue watch strapped to your wrist.
It’s available for less than Withings’ latest flagship hybrid the ScanWatch 2, scaling features and sensors back all while still giving you access to the same Withings companion app and the promise that you won’t have to think about charging it for weeks.
It’s fair to say that there have been more standout full-fat smartwatches than there have been hybrid ones, so does the ScanWatch Light go into the good hybrids list? Here’s our take.
Design & Build
37mm case size option only
Multiple case and strap colour options
Waterproof up to 50 metres
Design is everything on the ScanWatch Light. Withings knows how to make a beautiful hybrid smartwatch that looks and feels like a normal watch all while elegantly adding in the smarts. That doesn’t change here.
Withings knows how to make a beautiful hybrid smartwatch that looks and feels like a normal watch
The ScanWatch Light comes in a 37mm case size compared to the slightly larger 38mm and larger 42mm case sizes reserved for the more feature-packed ScanWatch 2. It’s certainly a light and dainty watch, so if you’ve got skinny wrists, it’s going to be a better fit.
Withings doesn’t scrimp on the materials to make this feel like a high quality analogue watch. There’s a stainless steel case and crown and Gorilla Glass to offer some protection against scratches. I’ve had it for a few weeks, took it away on holiday and that screen has thankfully remained scratch-free.
There’s colour options here too. You’ve got a pick of five different dial looks, either a gold or silver case and straps aplenty. I had the gold case and white flueroelastomer strap combination, which I would say wasn’t the most masculine combination, but there’s no doubt that it looked great.
That strap isn’t your typical flueroelastomer kind that you find on most smartwatches and does its job of giving the watch all-day wear all while maintaining that overall sleek and stylish look.
Baked into the analogue watch dial is an OLED display to display the ScanWatch Light’s onboard smart features. Pressing the crown on the side of the watch case lets you wake up the display while twisting it lets you scroll through screens. There is a raise-to-wake gesture feature you can set up from the Withings app as well if you don’t want to constantly press that crown.
Around the back is the second generation of Withings’ PPG optical sensor technology. That’s there to deliver the heart rate monitoring and this is also the place where you’ll clip on the proprietary charging cradle to power it up.
It’s a watch that carries a 5ATM waterproof rating, so is safe to be submerged in water up to 50 metres depth. I’ve taken it into the sea and indoor and outdoor swimming pools and the Light has carried on as normal after taking a dip.
Health & Fitness Tracking
Solid sleep tracker
Offers guided breathing exercises
Well integrated connected GPS support
The ScanWatch Light, like other hybrids, is about offering health and fitness tracking features that ultimately doesn’t compromise on offering an elegantly designed watch in the process. If you want something that can track steps, sleep, heart rate and workouts as well, it is pretty capable of all of those things.
It’s not necessarily groundbreaking sleep data, but the data in general felt good and useful
While it lacks the bigger health tracking skills of the ScanWatch 2 and smartwatches like the Google Pixel Watch 2, the Light still does overall offer a pretty agreeable experience.
Sensors-wise, Withings keeps it to just the two. There’s the PPG sensor as mentioned, which unlocks average heart rate readings and heart rate variability measurements during sleep, which is used to offer insights into your general wellbeing and isn’t designed as a medical feature. That optical sensor is also used to capture breathing disturbances and respiratory rate, again to offer more wellbeing insights.
There’s also an accelerometer to track daily steps and enable sleep monitoring with connected GPS on offer to more accurately track outdoor workouts like runs and cycling when it’s paired to your Android smartphone or iPhone.
As an activity tracker, you can view steps and distance covered from the watch, with additional data on floors climbed included in the Withings app. Though the Light doesn’t include its own altimeter sensor. You’ll get inactivity alert notifications and messages to remind you to plan in some activity to keep active.
I’ve been using it alongside a Garmin watch and the Oura Ring Gen 3 to compare step tracking. I found that comparing the totals during the day tended to display similar stats. At the end of each day however, there was on average 1,000 step difference in the daily totals. I never expect all devices to match as all use their own algorithms to calculate steps, but this is a big difference.
For sleep tracking, you can capture sleep duration, get a sleep quality score, see a breakdown of sleep stages and also see whether your sleep was interrupted. I found the sleep duration captured was similar on most nights compared to the Oura Ring Gen 3’s data and offered similar duration sleep stages as well.
Heart rate monitoring during sleep was largely consistent too. It’s not necessarily groundbreaking sleep data, but the data in general felt good and useful.
From a heart rate point of view, the Light will monitor heart rate during the day and will acknowledge high and low resting heart rate readings in the app. Unfortunately, that heart rate data didn’t feel hugely reliable. While real-time readings felt nicely in line with other heart rate monitoring watches, the average heart rate data felt wildly high and at times 15-20 bpm higher than those other devices.
This is a smartwatch that can track your workout time even if it doesn’t look like it belongs anywhere near a gym. There are workout profiles for running, swimming (pool), cycling (indoor and outdoors), bodybuilding and some general fitness tracking to cover other activities not accounted for here.
I’ve used it for treadmill and outdoor runs, rowing workouts, swims and general weight work and I’d say its credentials as a sports watch is a mixed bag.
When using the connected GPS for outdoor runs, it performed fine, capturing similar distances to a Garmin GPS watch and posting a similar average pace. It was a similar story for indoor run tracking and heart rate surprisingly fared better than continuously monitoring heart rate coming up a lot closer to a heart rate monitor chest strap than expected. For activities without dedicated modes, the tracking is far more basic.
You’re certainly not going to get a fully-fledged sports watch here, but the connected GPS support works well and there’s enough that works well enough to make it useful when exercising with it on.
Withings does include support for menstrual tracking from the watch and guided breathing exercises where the watch vibrates to correspond when to inhale and exhale to complete a good package of health, fitness and general wellness features that are available.
View phone notifications
Alarms and timers
Works with Apple Health, Google health and Google Fit
Like all hybrid smartwatches, you’re going to make compromises as far as how they behave as smartwatches simply because you’ve got less digital real estate to play with.
The Withings app is a pretty busy place and can feel overwhelming to interact with
The ScanWatch Light doesn’t have a very big screen, so that makes some smarts more useful than others. It will display phone notifications, but you’ll need to wait for the messages to scroll through horizontally to read it in its entirety. Outside of viewing notifications, it’s all pretty basic. You can set up timers and alarms from the watch, but if you want features like payments or changing watch faces, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
From the Withings app you can customise how screens are organised on the watch, but that’s really about it. The Withings app is a pretty busy place and can feel overwhelming to interact with.
If you also decide to subscribe to Withings+ ($9.95/£8.95 a month with 1 month free or $99.50/£89.50 annually), that opens the door to things like Health Improvement Scores, which are designed to score your overall health once it has 3 months worth of data to look over. You also get access to programs, workouts and recipes, though isn’t anything here that feels hugely groundbreaking.
Battery Life & Charging
30-days battery in daily use
2-hour charging time
Uses proprietary charging cradle
The Scanwatch Light promises to keep you tracking for an entire month before you’ll need to grab the not-so-sleek charging cradle that clips around the watch case to power it back up.
I’d say that it’s a watch that’s more than capable of going well over a week, but you’ll need to restrict the use of features like the connected GPS and limit the frequency of the respiratory rate scans to get even close to that 30 days.
I found battery drop-off, in general, could be as little as 2-3% but did on occasion suffer from a noticeable battery drain overnight at around 10-15%.
Withings says it takes 2 hours to fully charge it and a 30-minute charge managed to knock the battery back up by 40%. The bottom line, it’s a watch that will comfortably last a full week with scope to go much longer.
Price & Availability
The Withings ScanWatch Light, at $249.95/£229.95, might be more affordable than the ScanWatch 2 ($349.95/£319.95), but it’s still not as cheap as previous Withings hybrids.
You can buy it from Withings as well as BestBuy in the US and Amazon in the UK.
That puts in and around the same price you’ll pay for a Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid and is a cheaper buy than rival hybrid smartwatches like the Garmin Vivomove Trend ($269.99/£279.99).
Check our roundup of the best smartwatches to see more options.
Should you buy the Withings ScanWatch Light?
The Withings ScanWatch Light is a really beautiful hybrid smartwatch that continues the company’s trend of merging digital and analogue worlds in a really sleek way.
When it comes to its smart abilities, it definitely does some things better than others. It feels like a better sleep tracker than a step tracker, and heart rate tracking performance bizarrely feels better when you’re working out compared to slowing things down.
It does an okay job as a smartwatch albeit it’s a basic one, but there are definitely hybrid smartwatches that can do more on that front.
If you want the best-looking hybrid, this is the one you want. If you want a hybrid packed with good fitness, wellness and smartwatch features still wrapped up in a nice design, it might be worth looking in the direction of Garmin and its Vivomove series.
Grayscale OLED screen
5ATM waterproof rating
Optical heart rate sensor
30-days battery life
Works with Google Fit and Apple Health