Withings Pulse Ox

Since Nokia bought Withings in 2016, the name “Withings” will probably wither away. But hopefully their technology will not. The Withings Pulse Ox has been on the fitness tracker market for a few years. It’s far from stealing the show from any Fitbit products, but it does offer something a little different. The main call-to-fame feature is in the name: Pulse, as it detects your pulse and reads your heart rate, and Ox- for oxygen, as it also reads your blood oxygen level. However, this is not the most impressive feature of the watch, and it serves better as a reliable fitness and health tracker.

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Where to Buy
Where to Buy
Pros & Cons
  • Small and lightweight
  • Versatile ways to wear it
  • Easy to use
  • Can view up to 10 days of past activities
  • Long battery life and charges quickly
  • Cons
    • Not water resistant
    • No GPS
    • Heart rate and blood oxygen levels can only be taken when the watch is out of the band or clip
    • Key Features
      The Withings Pulse Ox can be used for most activities though it should not be considered a "multisport" watch. It automatically detects when you start a run or walk and starts tracking your activity. However, it cannot distinguish between activities and it is not great for tracking cycling because it uses a 3-axis accelerometer to track movement. Also it is very sensitive to water exposure so you definitely can not take it for a swim or into the shower, and you might want to be careful if you sweat a lot. The Withings Pulse Ox can also track your sleep.
      Basic Features
      The Withings Pulse Ox has features very similar to other fitness trackers like the Fitbit Charge. It tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, and displays the time. It also has an altimeter to track your elevation which is a unique feature for most fitness trackers. What it does not do is take your heart rate regularly. You have to manually start a heart rate check, remove the watch from the clip or band, and place your finger on the sensor to get a reading. Same goes for checking your blood oxygen level.
      Advanced Features
      The Withings Pulse Ox is a no-frills device. It has several features that it does very well. Any advanced features that it can do are mainly controlled from the Withings Heath Mate app. There you can set reminders to send to your device such as to “move” or “drink more water”. You can also set weight or step goals on the app although you cannot change the 10,000 step goal on the device itself. The sleep tracker must be manually started and stopped which is a bit of a bummer since most other fitness trackers track your sleep automatically. The Withings Pulse Ox keeps up to 10 days of activity on the watch which you can go back and view. Also, while you are completing an activity, the watch displays real-time distance and duration when you press the button. Leading fitness tracker brands like Fitbit do not have these two features.
      Most users of the Withings Pulse Ox have claimed that the 3-axis accelerometer gets an accurate step count for the most part. The distance is calculated by factoring in your height to the amount of steps taken. Its readings match pretty closely to GPS devices although it depends if you are wearing it on your wrist or your waist. The readings were slightly better when it was in a pocket or clipped to the waist. Calories burned is determined by your weight and activity level. Some users claimed that the calorie count was unreliable. This may be due to the fact that the algorithm is based on the science that the heavier you are the more calories you burn which might not necessarily be accurate. The heart rate sensor also repeatedly takes inaccurate heart rate measurements compared to other fitness trackers and chest straps. Although that might not be important because it is already a nuisance to use the heart rate sensor since you have to remove the device from the strap or clip and manually check it.
      The Withings Pulse Ox uses Bluetooth to pair with your phone so you can view activities on the Withings Health Mate App. It can also be connected to your computer with the micro-USB charging cable. Unfortunately, it does not have the capability to display notifications from your phone like other fitness tracking devices like the Garmin Vivoactive or Fitbit Alta HR. It has an "autosyncing" feature that automatically syncs your activity to the app as long as Bluetooth is enabled. It does this after 1,000 steps, you reach your step goal, or it has been 6 hours since your last sync. You can also manually start a sync by holding down the button if you notice the autosync feature is not working.
      Withings Health Mate is the app for Withings devices. It is necessary to install to use the watch but luckily it is very basic and intuitive to use. It is very similar to the Fitbit app. Viewing your activities is very easy and straightforward. You can view your activity for the day, the week, or the month. The app is how you can manipulate settings on the Withings Pulse Ox like choosing what screens you want to be displayed. You can also use the app to connect with friends and family that have Withings devices. It can also be connected to 3rd party apps like Runkeeper and MapMyRun.
      One of the great things about the Withings Pulse Ox is how lightweight it is. It only weighs 8 grams and you barely notice it is on your wrist. And you really don’t notice if it is clipped to your pocket or waist. Women might even consider clipping it to their sports bra. The band is silicone and does not irritate the wrist, however some people might find it just too bulky to wear to bed. That is why it is great that there is the option to wear it as a clip. The device itself is only 8mm thick and weighs 8 grams. It has a barely there feel to it when you are active, however it could be slightly uncomfortable to wear to sleep.
      I don’t think that style was a priority for Withings when they made the Withings Pulse Ox. However, it does have character. The band comes in black or blue but you can purchase different colors or a leather one separately. The device itself is sleek and simple. It is completely black, has a touch screen and the logo is simply written on one edge next to the only button. When you are wearing the wristband, it doesn’t look like a piece of jewelry like the Fitbit Alta HR, It looks like a neat fitness tracker. But if you don’t want it to cramp your style, you can use the clip to attach it to your belt or put it in your pocket. It will still track your activity and nobody will know!
      The Withings Pulse Ox is not as bomb-proof as other fitness trackers. However, with proper care, it can last you a long time. The pulse sensor and blood oxygen level reader on the back is very sensitive to water exposure. Any liquid will damage the watch so that you are unable to use it. This makes it difficult to wear if you sweat a lot during a run on a hot summer's day. Also some reviewers have complained that each time you remove the device from the band or clip, the material stretches. This lessens the lifespan of the band and clip as well as increases the chances that the device might slip out of it and get lost. The device itself will last you at least a few years if you don’t drop dumbbells on it, sweat too much, or misplace it because it's so small!
      The face of the Withings Pulse Ox is a simple, sleek black OLED touchscreen with blue lettering. It is 52x22mm in size - tiny, but still big enough to read the display clearly. To flip through all the screens, press the button and use the touchscreen to interact with them. The default screen displays the time but you can edit what is displayed and how it is ordered in the Withings Health App.
      One of the great features about the Withings Pulse Ox is that it comes with a band and a clip so that you can choose the way you want to wear it. The band is a thin strap, made of silicone. It comes in either blue or black. The device slides into the encasing, and then you wear it like a watch. The downside to the band design is that in order to use the heart rate sensor, you have to remove the device from the band. The more times you do this, the easier the WIthings Pulse Ox device slips out of the band. Some users have complained that this is how they have lost their little Withings Pulse Ox.
      Sizes Available
      You can only get the Withings Pulse Ox in one size, but it can fit any size wrist up to 8.25 in (210mm). The band has plenty of notches for adjustment. And if it doesn’t fit your wrist, there of course is the option to wear it in the clip!
      Ease Of Use
      From unboxing the Withings Pulse Ox to navigating the features, it is very intuitive and easy to use. The button functions smoothly, the touchscreen is responsive, and the software is very user friendly. Even though it takes a few extra steps to get your heart rate reading than other fitness trackers that automatically record your heart rate at regular intervals, it is still easy to do it if you wish.
      Power Source
      The Withings Pulse Ox comes with a micro-USB cord for charging. It plugs into your computer or any USB port for charging. It takes 15-20 minutes to fully charge - faster than many other devices! The battery life typically lasts 7-9 days even using all its features.
      The price of the Withings Pulse Ox is definitely on the lower end of the spectrum for fitness watches. It is on average $50-100 cheaper than major brands. But the watch doesn't feel cheap. The price is just reasonable. You are paying for what it offers rather than the brand name.
      Key Features
      • Can be worn with a band or in a clip
      • Automatic activity tracking
      • Tracks elevation
      • Heart rate and blood oxygen level reading
      • Sleep tracking
      • Bluetooth connection to the Withings Health Mate App
      Bottom Line
      If Fitbit is the Starbucks of fitness trackers, Withings is the local start-up coffee shop around the corner. The Withings Pulse Ox may not be as trendy as Fitbit, or as technical as Garmin fitness trackers, but it offers something different while still being a great fitness tracker. If you want more of a lifestyle watch that connects to your phone and displays notifications, then the Withings Pulse Ox won’t cut it for you. It is a good option if you don’t want to wear something around your wrist all the time, but still keep track of your activity. Even though when it is on the wrist, it still looks and feels minimal. Even though the heart rate and blood oxygen sensor is an alluring feature, it is not practical enough to use regularly and should not be the main reason for you to get the Withings Pulse Ox. The price is certainly a draw to the Withings Pulse Ox, and it does everything a fitness tracker should do, so that could be a reason why you go for it. Basically, the Withings Pulse Ox is for anyone who wants a simple way to track and keep a record of their sleep and activity without too many frills.
      Where to Buy
      By Ella Eser
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 30. 2021

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