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Hands-on with the Withings ScanWatch 2: A new hybrid hero emerges

Style, meet substance.
By

Published onSeptember 4, 2023

Depending on who you ask, some might say that smartwatches have become a bit too smart. They’ve turned into wrist-mounted smartphones rather than timepieces with a few extra features onboard. There are Ultra and Pro models for adventurers and more proprietary chargers than you can count. However, other brands like Withings and Fossil have embraced a hybrid approach, pairing timeless style with streamlined health tracking and notifications. We went hands-on with the new Withings ScanWatch 2 and ScanWatch Light at IFA 2023, and here’s what we thought of the fashion-first wearables.

Classic design

withings scanwatch 2 colorways

The first thing you’ll notice about the Withings ScanWatch 2 is, well, everything but its display. Like the original ScanWatch, this wearable puts style and everyday wearability first and smart features second. It comes in two case sizes — 38mm or 42mm — and black or white faces with silver or gold details. Withings also introduced a 37mm entry-level hybrid smartwatch, the ScanWatch Light, with even more colors to pick from.

Outside of the case sizes, comparing the watch faces is the best way to tell the ScanWatch 2 apart from the affordable ScanWatch Lite. The ScanWatch 2 has a second smaller dial at the bottom with Withings branding on the right-hand side, whereas the Light version puts its Withings logo front and center and ditches the secondary dial. Both watches use stainless steel for the case and crown, though the ScanWatch 2 upgrades to a Sapphire Glass display instead of the ScanWatch Light’s Gorilla Glass face.

Withings' classic design is stylish enough for daily wear and smart enough to replace your Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch.

The two watches also require slightly different bands, depending on your case size. It’s one-size-fits-all for 18mm bands on the ScanWatch Light with its single 37mm case, but the ScanWatch 2 requires either 18mm or 20mm bands, depending on whether you pick up the 38 or 42mm version. Conveniently, both Withings watches support Quick-Release bands, so you can swap your favorite metal, leather, or silicone straps in as needed.

Last, and in some ways least, it’s time to dig into the smart display after we’ve already talked about the rest of the design. The ScanWatch 2 and the ScanWatch Lite use 0.63-inch grayscale OLED panels that you can navigate by twisting and pressing the crown. The displays show health-tracking metrics like your heart rate, step count, and temperature, as well as notifications from WhatsApp and other messaging services. There’s no way to respond to those messages — it’s not a touchscreen — but sometimes it’s best to read along with your group message anyway.

Withings’ lack of a touchscreen also means that the ScanWatch 2 and ScanWatch Light promise excellent battery life. The company doesn’t mention its battery sizes, but both hybrid wearables are rated for 30 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and take about two hours to charge. Of course, you won’t reach the 30-day mark using the ScanWatch 2 or Light as your daily running watch, but many people will likely prefer a Garmin or Coros model for their fitness needs.

Modern tracking

withings scanwatch running interface

Despite Withings’ classic, reserved design, both the ScanWatch 2 and ScanWatch Light are brimming with health-tracking metrics under the surface. The ScanWatch 2 offers significantly more insight, carrying sensors for SpO2, ECG, and round-the-clock temperature tracking, on top of constant heart rate monitoring and cycle tracking. The ScanWatch 2 uses the Withings’ brand-new TempTech24/7 module to monitor both your skin temperature and the ambient temperature so as not to confuse a hot summer day for a sudden fever.

As the more entry-level watch, the ScanWatch Light keeps its health tracking on the straight and narrow. It still counts your steps, watches your heartbeat, and helps you track your cycle, but it skips out on the advanced settings mentioned above. Of course, you might not be worried about ECG or SpO2 monitoring if you’re young and healthy, so you might be perfectly happy to save yourself $100.

withings scanwatch with app home screen 2

Whether you pick up the ScanWatch 2 or the ScanWatch Light, you’ll have more than enough activity modes to choose from. Both watches support more than 40 sports, meaning you can easily wear the ScanWatch for sports instead of a Garmin despite its buttoned-up appearance. The ScanWatch 2 has an advantage in that it also records elevation, making it a slightly more capable companion if you’re trail running or hiking.

Given the ScanWatch’s tiny, simplified display, you’ll have to use Withings’ Health Mate app to follow your health trends. It collects all your metrics into a simple daily report and provides card-based tracking for steps, sleep, and heart rate throughout the day. You can also sync Health Mate with services like Strava and Google Fit to log activities and keep consistent data across your other wearables.

The ScanWatch 2 doesn't look like a running watch, but looks aren't everything.

Of course, some of the ScanWatch 2’s most advanced health metrics take a while to kick in, so we couldn’t experience them all during our short time with the watch. Withings has already announced that metrics like irregular heartbeat notifications, overnight heart rate variability (HRV) for sleep tracking, and respiratory rates will be made available via a software update later in 2023, and accurate sleep tracking still takes a few days to build an accurate profile. We’ll give these features a chance to kick in once we have our review units before passing judgment on how they stack up against the best from Fitbit and others.

Withings ScanWatch 2 specs

Withings ScanWatch 2Withings ScanWatch Lite
Display
Withings ScanWatch 2
0.63-inch OLED
16-bit Grayscale color
282ppi
Withings ScanWatch Lite
0.63-inch OLED
16-bit Grayscale color
282ppi
Dimensions and weight
Withings ScanWatch 2
38 or 42mm case

18 or 20mm band

38mm case: 34.6g without band
42mm case: 52.6g without band
Withings ScanWatch Lite
37mm case

18mm band

27.1g without band
Build materials
Withings ScanWatch 2
Stainless steel case and crown
Sapphire Glass display
Withings ScanWatch Lite
Stainless steel case and crown
Gorilla Glass display
Battery
Withings ScanWatch 2
Up to 30 days in smartwatch mode
2-hour charging time
Withings ScanWatch Lite
Up to 30 days in smartwatch mode
2-hour charging time
IP rating
Withings ScanWatch 2
5ATM
Withings ScanWatch Lite
5ATM
Sensors
Withings ScanWatch 2
TempTech24/7 Module
High Dynamic Range Accelerometer
Multi-wavelength PPG 16 channels
Altimeter
Withings ScanWatch Lite
TempTech24/7 Module
High Dynamic Range Accelerometer
Multi-wavelength PPG 16 channels
Altimeter
Connectivity
Withings ScanWatch 2
Bluetooth LE
Withings ScanWatch Lite
Bluetooth LE
Compatibility
Withings ScanWatch 2
Android 9 and higher

iOS 15 and higher
Withings ScanWatch Lite
Android 9 and higher

iOS 15 and higher

Withings ScanWatch 2 hands-on impressions

withings scanwatch lite in blue

I will readily admit that I’m an everyday Garmin wearer. There’s almost always a Forerunner 965 or Enduro 2 on my wrist, no matter how inappropriate the sport-first styling may be for the occasion. However, the Withings ScanWatch 2 might have me changing my tune.

I rarely respond to notifications using my watch, nor do I care about it having a touchscreen, so I wouldn’t miss either feature when putting my Garmin in a drawer. What I do care about is battery life, and having 30 days of juice in the Withings ScanWatch 2 is enough to put me in my happy place. We’ll have to wait and see how regular fitness tracking impacts that battery life — the Withings representatives at IFA didn’t have an accurate estimate to offer — but I’ll be happy enough leaving my charger at home for a weekend away.

There's plenty of health-tracking substance to go along with Withings' wedding season style.

There are a few other features that the ScanWatch 2 lacks, which might give me pause before replacing my Garmin full-time. For starters, there’s still no NFC support, so you can’t use the ScanWatch 2 to grab a coffee when you want to leave your credit card at home — something I do almost daily with Garmin Pay at my disposal. The ScanWatch 2 doesn’t support maps, either, meaning that you can’t load up and follow a trail without memorizing the turns and blaze colors.

In fairness, the ScanWatch 2 and ScanWatch Light are more health-tracking watches than GPS watch replacements. What matters is that both the ScanWatch 2 and ScanWatch Light look stunning. They’re more refined than the last hybrid smartwatch we checked out — the Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition Hybrid — offering premium stainless steel cases and almost endless options for leather and metal watch bands. The 38mm and 42mm case sizes are small enough to fit comfortably on just about any wrist, unlike the 49mm pancakes that running watch brands offer much of the time.

Would you replace your smartwatch with a hybrid watch?

335 votes

All told, Withings’ new ScanWatch 2 and ScanWatch Light improve on one of the most stylish hybrid smartwatches, adding more health tracking features without compromising the classic design. They swap rich notifications and wireless payments for simplicity and long-lasting battery life while staying far more affordable than the best of Apple and Samsung.

See price at Withings
Withings ScanWatch Light
Withings ScanWatch Light
Long battery life
Elegant watch design
Great activity tracker
See price at Amazon
Withings ScanWatch 2
Withings ScanWatch 2
Water-resistant
Health-focused
Hybrid smartwatch