Scanwatch Horizon Review: The Standard For Hybrid Smartwatches

The Scanwatch Horizon looks to build on the originals’ utility by pairing it with a new, sleek, plooking design, as well as a bigger battery. Can it really hang with the big boys? Is a smartwatch or hybrid watch best for you? I was very much looking forward to putting this lovely hunk of steel on my wrist and seeing whether I’m still “Team Hybrid”.

Scanwatch Horizon
+ FOR
  • Gorgeous design
  • Good battery life
  • Excellent fitness/health features
- AGAINST
  • Quite pricey
  • Essentially the same features as the original Scanwatch

Buy on Amazon – £449

Disclaimer

Withings provided the Scanwatch Horizon free of charge in exchange for a full and frank review. No mbefore exchanged hands and Withings will receive no copy prior to the r3 weekson. The Scanwatch Horizon was reviewed over a 3-week period paired with an Android smartphone.

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Overview

Withings are no stranger to trotting our smartwatches with a hybrid twist, and the Withings Scanwatch Horizon cements its place at the top of that particular wearable market. They were arguably already at the top following the release of the original Scanwatch at the end of 2021.

With the Scanwatch Horizon, Withings look to grab the attention of the more discerning smartwatch wearer by designing a watch that could equally be at home with daytime or nightwear accompaniments.

The Horizon is presented in a much more premium-feeling package. The box is pulled apart to uncover the stainless steel watch as well as a suite of tools designed to allow changing the links and strap.

The watch face has increased in size to 44mm, whilst the OLED notification screen remains the same size, perched above the main watch hands. Around the outer case is a rotating bezel, with my review unit being the green colour which matches the face and the dial.

The crown isn’t just decoration here, with it being the sole method of interacting with the Scanwatch Horizon. It has an easy button depress motion as well as rotation.

The OLED display can be cycled through date/time, various health metrics such as steps, SpO2, ECG, etc, as well as settings for brightness and notifications.

Specifications

  • 44mm Watch face
  • Bluetooth v5
  • Waterproof to 10ATM
  • Health Sensors –
    • Electrocardiogram – Detect atrial fibrillation or normal heart rhythm, monitor low and high heart rate in just 30 seconds via ECG.
    • Wrist-based Oximetry – Provides on-demand medical-grade oxygen saturation level (SpO2) in just 30 seconds.
    • Heart Scanning – Check heartbeat and receive notifications when heart rate is atypical (low or high) and if irregular rhythms are detected.
    • Heart Rate Tracking – Track heart rate continuously during workouts to optimize training, and monitor daily and overnight heart rate to help improve health over time.
    • Breathing Disturbances – Detect breathing issues during the night and identify signs of sleep apnea.
    • Sleep Tracking – Delivers a Sleep Score based on light and deep sleep cycles, sleep duration & wake-ups.
    • 24/7 Tracking – Dedicated workout metrics, Fitness Level via VO₂max estimation, connected GPS, elevation and water resistance to 100 meters.
  • Battery – Up to 30 days
  • Swappable bands

In The Box

  • Scanwatch Horizon watch
  • Metal and Silicone bands
  • Pin Punch
  • Hammer
  • Charging Cable
  • Holder
  • User Guide

Performance & Use

I’ve been waiting for this watch for what feels like an eternity. The experience starts very well. Eager to get in the box, sliding the box out of the outer shell, the watch and peripherals are visible. There’s everything you’ll need in here to get up and running and more importantly, keep running. The watch, manual and charging cable to one side, there are additional items you wouldn’t expect to get with other smartwatches. Here we find a watch holder to aid users whilst they are changing the links or band. Additionally, a metallic strap is included (which I added immediately) complete with a pin punch and hammer. Excellent package!

The green colour seems to change tint depending on the light (as you can see in the picture above) which just adds to the allure of the watch. The rotating bezel moves with satisfying clicks, and the crown has a smooth pressing motion, and perfectly weighted haptic feedback when rotated. It’s all great so far.

10-minutes later and the metallic band was on and my wrist was now the proud wearer of perhaps the most gorgeous hybrid smartwatch available right now. It just screams premium. It is, in fact, premium. At over £400 this watch is not for the faint-hearted. It’s big, proud, and demands to be seen. If you’re into something a little more subtle or cheaper, check out our review of the original Scanwatch.

The one area that might need tweaking here is the OLED display. A carry-over from the 2018 Steel HR, is starting to look a little long in the tooth now and perhaps a more refined design is required.

The battery life is superb with up to 30 days beiested by the marketing fluff. During my testing, we really get rather close with me managing 21 days of the review still on the same charge with just under 30% battery remaining. This is with all the automatic measurements turned on. Impressive!

The Smart in Watch

Calling this a hybrid smartwatch does it a little bit of a disservice. The major difference here to the offerings from Samsung, Garmin, Apple, and so on, is the lack of a touch screen. I’m not going to lie, this hurts the Withings watches. It’s more intuitive to swipe nowadays than to scroll; smartphones and their apps have seen to this. That doesn’t mean that the crown navigation is painful, it’s far from it.

There are still a lot of smarts here. Notifications are an area that has been improved over the generations of Withings watches. Alongside the health notifications, users can easily decide which applications should provide updates to the OLED display. Upon a new email for example (I use Nine email client) the application pushes the notification flawlessly to the Scanwatch Horizon, and the text starts to scroll across the display. Granted, a very small display and a readable scroll speed means that you will no doubt use the OLED display as nothing more than an ‘importance gauge’, but it’s still nice to have.

All The Measurements

Taking measurements on the Scanwatch Horizon is a doddle also. SpO2, heart rate and ECG are easily manually measured by rotating to their respective settings and kicking off a measurement. ECG and SpO2 require you to hold your hand over the watch face for 30 seconds whilst a reading takes place. Conversely, heart rate simply flashes on the wrist from the rear of the watch and delivers your ongoing rate. All of this data is synchronised with your paired device and assembles historical data in Health Mate, the companion application.

Workouts can be manually kicked off by navigating to the relevant workout on the watch and pressing and holding the crown. Alternatively, just start working out and the Scanwatch Horizon makes a decent job of guessing the activity and logging accordingly. It’s worth noting here that automatic detection works best with cycling, walking and swimming. It struggles with the nuanced differences between fitness, weights, and dancing, for example. Pro tip: any non-standard workouts you engage in, move these into the manual method of starting on the watch and remove things like walking, swimming, and running, to make your logging more accurate.

One area I haven’t engaged in as much as I did with the original Scanwatch, is sleep tracking. I don’t sleep with the Scanwatch Horizon on my wrist. It’s a little too bulky for this, for me personally. I did test it and it did track my sleep well enough, but it was uncomfortable and left a bit of a mark on my wrist in the morning. It was during my sleep tracking however I realised that the dial markings glow in the dark – awesome!

Software

I won’t go over too much on the software front as there’s more of a deep dive on my previous Withings watch reviews. Suffice to say the myriad of measurements are categorised within the Health Mate application and can also be accessed via the Withings website for a larger view.

The Health Mate application has been a staple of the Withings eco-system for many years now, with little change to the user interface or the management of the readings. It could do with a little overhaul, from a UI perspective if nothing else.

Look back over your historic sleep, steps, heart rate or workouts in the app. You can even add some additional data such as weight, blood pressure, etc. The more data you put into Health Mate the more information you’ll get back. If you have other Withings fitness devices, they will all work in tandem.

For more detail as to the use of the Health Mate app and its pros and cons, check out my previous reviews of the Steel HR and Steel HR Sport and the original Scanwatch.

Final Thoughts

The Scanwatch Horizon is a behemoth of a hybrid smartwatch, no question. It has all the sensors and technology that the casual wearer will want to utilise such as heart rate, steps, sleep, etc, whilst also looking like it could almost be modelled on a billboard. It has battery life in spades, and the Health Mate application captures all the data most will want to review.

So why would you not give this watch a go? If you’re after something a little more conventionally smart in watch terms, you might want to look at the Galaxy Watch or Apple Watch ranges. With these, you also get a more intuitive touch screen, which is also missing on the Horizon.

Another reason might be the price. The original Scanwatch has essentially identical utility to the Horizon, at around £200 and £250 for the 38mm and 42mm options respectively. Is the more premium design, slightly bigger watch face and improved battery life worth a £200 uplift? Well, that’s down to you.

Given the fitness and health features, coupled with the design, if you don’t already own a so-called smartwatch, the Scanwatch Horizon should definitely be on your shortlist.

About Craig Bradshaw

Tech enthusiast and Editor-in-Chief of MobileTechTalk

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