You remember Billy Crystal’s character on Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s – Fernando. Well, Fernando might go for the “mahvelous” Nokia Steel activity & sleep watch – it definitely looks good – but the question is will you also feel good about its capabilities?
The Nokia Steel is not a full smartwatch, which would allow you to connect to phone calls, texts, and emails, give calendar reminders, etc. But the Nokia does monitor your activity and sleep, reporting both back to a Health Mate app (for Android or iOS) on your phone. The analog face not only tells time, but the third hand shows your progress to reaching your activity goal, from 0 to 100%. You set your “step” goal in the app, for 15,000 or as few as 3,000 steps a day. Other activities you have to record manually.
The watch is waterproof down to 165 feet, so you can not only shower with it on, you can swim with it, and it will measure that activity. And unlike other connected watches, the Nokia Steel does not have to be recharged, because it is powered by a replaceable button battery, a CR-2025, and is said to go up to 8 months before it needs replacing, somewhat less if you use the watch’s alarm feature. The battery is user replaceable, but Nokia advises having a jeweler do it, unless you can properly reseal the back to keep the watch waterproof.
This is not a fitness watch, as it does not track your heart rate, but if you want to measure your rate, you can do it with the app, which turns your phone’s rear camera into a sensor over which you place an index finger, and it reads and records your heart rate.
The Nokia Steel is actually a somewhat modified reissue of the Withings Activite – Nokia bought the French company in 2016 – so the Health Mate app also works with other former Withings products, such as a smart scale. Health Mate can link with other apps, such as Google Fit, which keeps track of running – for those who exercise that way.
I found the Nokia Steel pretty easy to sync with my Android phone, which among other things set the time on the watch, which has no side buttons or touchscreen, just a small reset button on the back where you can turn the watch on with a supplied tool (or end of a paperclip). The only problem I had was with the sleep monitor, which showed me falling asleep one night almost two hours later than I know I actually fell asleep, and the other morning where it showed I was in “deep sleep” during the time I was taking a shower and had left the watch alone on my bed; not sure what went wrong there.
The watch is quite attractive and not bulky like most full fitness watches, it comes with either black or white face, and several different colored bands are available.
If you want a smarter watch, the Nokia Steel HR is coming out soon, and it will have a heart rate monitor, step & calorie counter, plus notifications (from your phone) of calls, texts and calendar events.
But if you just want a nice looking watch with a couple of “smart” functions, the Nokia Steel can be bought direct or on Amazon for about $100.