Nokia Steel HR watch

Previously, my Withing Steel HR watch had developed a condensation problem inside it, which made it difficult to read the time. Compound that with some scratches to the watch glass sustained when I went swimming during our holiday in America, and I could not wait for Nokia to release the replacement watch. And finally I received the notice from Nokia (who bought over Withing) that they were finally shipping the replacement watch for the Steel HR. It has taken a while but it is finally here.

Below is my Withings Steel HR showing the scratches on the watch glass. Interestingly now that the humidity in the house has dropped owing to the central heating drying up the air, there is less condensation visible inside the watch. But during summer there were times when you just could not tell the time as it was completely clouded over inside.

Issues with my watch: Scratches to the watch glass and condensation inside the watch

Hence I was pleased to receive the new Nokia Steel HR, which Nokia took a while to re-design in order to rid it of the condensation problem. But they also managed to improve it in many other ways, and deal with most of the gripes I had with the watch.

New Nokia Steel HR

The front of the Nokia Steel HR looks very similar to its predecessor. The very subtle changes are the Nokia brand on it, the change in the markings of the step counter and the 5 ATM marking (water resistant to 50 m) at the bottom of the watch. The watch glass still protrudes out and hence is still at risk of sustaining scratches if it contacts a hard surface as the glass used remains the same.

Front unchanged except it bears the Nokia brand instead of Withing

The bulk of the difference is noticeable in the back of the watch, as that was where the problem with the condensation arose. Nokia has added a scratch-proof Sapphire glass cover over the heart rate sensor to overcome the condensation problem. They have also improved the algorithm for the heart rate measurement which should make it more accurate. And with the change in shape of the watch, they needed to change the charger as well – great news as I did not like the old charger.

Back of watch completely redesigned left is old Withing Steel HR, right is the Nokia Steel HR

The old charger just was not very good and did not fit the watch very well – you have to adjust it a bit in order to get it charging. And any tiny knock could cause it to stop charging at any moment, which is not great. But fortunately the watch battery lasts a long time, so it did not need charging very often.  Now the new charger, I have to say, looks much better designed and looks to fit the watch perfectly with those grooves to hold the watch securely in place. You would require much more force to get the watch to come off the charger.

Improved charger

As you can see below, the watch fits nicely in the charger so charging it should no longer be a problem; although this still won’t be needed very often as it retains its relatively long battery life.

Sits nicely in the charger

What I like about the Nokia Steel HR?

  1. Better design to overcome the condensation issue which plagued the Withing Steel HR.
  2. Improved heart rate algorithm which improves the accuracy of HR tracking.
  3. Scratchproof sapphire glass covers the heart rate sensor.
  4. Improved battery charger design which works much better than the original charger.

What could be improved?

  1. As with the old model, the glass protrudes out so there is a high risk of scratching it.
  2. It still does not have the option to display seconds, which can be useful e.g. counting a patient’s heart rate.
  3. Although messages received on the iPhone’s iMessenger App will display a notice on the watch, it still does not allow other Apps such as Whatsapp to do this.

Verdict:

Nokia has definitely improved on the Steel HR, and it is still one of the few which look more like a watch than a fitness tracker. The fact they have overcome the condensation issue is great. But as I experienced during my holiday, the front glass can easily get scratched. And as the watch glass has not been upgraded in the new model, this still remains a risk; only the heart rate sensor has scratch-proof Sapphire glass covering it.

This is the only true negative point for this watch, as Nokia seems to have addressed all the other issues including improving the watch charger. I will be buying a screen protector for the watch as I do not wish for it to get scratched again. And this is also precisely the reason why I cannot fully recommend this watch (unless you protect it with a screen protector).

Boon