If you don’t want a smartwatch but you do want a smart watch, then Withings is probably your best option. It’s spent the last decade producing classy hybrids which resemble old-fashioned Swiss watches to the untrained eye. Three years after launching the ScanWatch, the company is ready to show off its follow-up, the ScanWatch 2. At the same time, it’s also announcing the ScanWatch Light, a more wallet-friendly version that is really not much to write home about.
ScanWatch 2 is the most iterative of upgrades, with a new temperature sensor which could identify the early signs of infection. The rest of the sensors have been improved for greater accuracy and better power efficiency, but that’s about it on the hardware front. The only other change is that people can track their menstrual cycle by inputting the data to their wrist. That will, after a few months, start offering predictions but it’s surprising this doesn’t work in tandem with the temperature tracking.
At first blush, it doesn’t look as if much has changed in the case or face designs either, with the same options from the first generation on show here. There’s a 38mm or 42mm body with a pick of a thick or thin bezel and lugs attached to a black or white face in the steel bodies. You’ll get the choice of a stone or dark blue face and band combo with the rose gold variations, same as before. It’s a shame that we didn’t get a Horizon version – which puts the same internals in a diver’s watch body – at the same time, but I’m sure that’ll come next year.
In Withings’ defense, there isn’t much it could add to the ScanWatch that it didn’t already have. A few years back, I explained there are only so many pieces of data the laws of physics and biology can monitor from the wrist. Much as I could damn the ScanWatch 2 for a dearth of new features, it’s not Withings’ fault it did such a good job last time out. Let’s not forget its elegant analog and digital subdials, the depth and quality of its tracking and the 30-day battery life. Not to mention Health Mate, which remains the preeminent fitness-tracking platform in its class.
A focus on period tracking raises concerns for users living in a post-Roe US, where that data can be weaponized. Withings told Engadget its customer data is stored with a France-based provider, which is subject to EU law. Backups of its consumer data is held on Google Cloud but those backups are encrypted, with Withings the only entity able to decrypt them. This, however, may not be enough to prevent the enforced handover of data concerning a US citizen via the CLOUD Act.
The ScanWatch Light, meanwhile, is a ScanWatch with many of the existing bells and whistles taken out. There’s basic activity, sleep and heart-rate monitoring, but you lose the ECG, SpO2 and temperature-tracking tools. The hardware’s been downgraded, too, with the Sapphire Glass crystal replaced with Gorilla Glass and a less-accurate accelerometer. Given their respective prices, it’s probably better to hunt for a discounted first-generation ScanWatch if you can. This, to me, screams of an attempt to offer a lower-cost model that makes its pricier sibling look good.
Both the ScanWatch 2 and ScanWatch Light are available to pre-order from today with shipping expected to begin in October. Prices for the ScanWatch 2 start at $349.95 for the 38mm model, while the smaller ScanWatch Light will set you back $249.95.