Group Home Tech Editor, Tech AdvisorMAY 30, 2023 10:08 am BST
Image: Emma Rowley / Foundry
At a glance
Wide range of metrics including nerve & heart health
This is a comprehensive smart scale that will give you all the fitness information you need, as well as additional health data on your heart and nerves. Between the scale and the app, Withings delivers a high-quality experience.
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Withings’ latest range of smart scales comprises three models: the Body Scan, the Body Comp and the Body Smart.
At the top end of the scale (apologies) is the Body Scan. Fitted with a retractable handle embedded with additional electrodes, it will give you a segmental body composition analysis and measure your heart rhythm. It’s also extremely pricey.
The most wallet-friendly is the Body Smart, which is still very comprehensive and far from a budget model.
And in the middle is the Body Comp, which we’re reviewing here. As well as all the fitness readings you’d expect, it also shows vascular age and a nerve health score. But is the Body Comp just right – or just middling?
Design and build
Larger scale than some rivals
Clear display that shows all key measurements
The Body Comp has a simple, attractive design, with a toughened glass platform that sits on a plastic base. It comes in black or white. We’re testing a white model, which you’ll see in the photos for this review.
We should also note that we are looking at the older Body Comp model, which has a monochrome display. The latest version has a colour display – and this is the model you should get if you buy now.
If you’ve only ever tried a budget-friendly scale, you’ll immediately notice that it feels solidly made and heavy.
It’s powered by four 1.5V batteries, which are included and should last for 15 months with a daily weigh-in.
At 32.5 x 32.5cm, it’s a larger scale, which may make it a more comfortable option for some people. The budget-friendly Renpho Smart Body Fat scale, for example, is just 28 x 28cm, which makes it a tighter fit for bigger feet.
When you unbox the Body Comp, you’ll notice that it comes with additional, wide plastic feet, which you can attach to the underside if you prefer to use the scale on carpet.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
However, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll probably get the most accurate reading on hard flooring. In any case, what’s most important is consistency: weigh yourself at the same time of day, in the same spot, to get meaningful readings.
At the front of the scale is a large, monochrome display. It also shows a good range of measurements – not just weight and BMI as some scales do. The measurements are easy to read and it’s clear which is which, which can be a problem on smart scales that flash up a lot of values before you can decipher them.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
In the app, you also have the option of changing which measurements are displayed on the screen.
Quick set up
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
Once you’ve downloaded the app – which is available for iOS and Android and free to download and use – you’ll need to create an account. Later, you can add up to seven other user profiles. You’ll be able to follow set-up instructions in the app and on the device’s screen.
In our test, pairing the device to our account and joining our Wi-Fi network was a straightforward business, although it doesn’t necessarily follow that that’ll be the case for everyone. It’s a good idea to have your Wi-Fi name and password ready and to move the scale near your router during setup.
However, you can still use the Body Comp even if your Wi-Fi signal is weak as it’s also Bluetooth-enabled. This will mean that you won’t get the optional weather and air quality readings that pop up at the end of your weigh-in – but I doubt you’ll miss those much.
Promises weighing accuracy
Wide range of metrics
What do you need a smart scale to do? Obviously, accuracy is a factor. Withings scales promise precise weighing accuracy – the brand claimed an accuracy of 0.2lbs for its Body+ scale.
It’s hard to test this, except by comparing it to other scales, which we did. But we can also say that if you leave it in the same place and test them repeatedly, it returns the same numbers again and again.
Move your scale, however, and the figures will change slightly, which is why using it in the same spot each time is important. But then for most people – athletes aside – pinpoint accuracy isn’t vital. What’s important is weighing yourself consistently and looking at longer-term trends, rather than worrying over a pound or two here and there.
Stand on the scale with bare feet and the Body Comp will provide you with a wide range of metrics. It measures your weight (and you can choose the display unit from kg, st and lbs, and lbs). It also measures your BMI, your muscle, fat and bone mass %, and visceral fat.
This last measurement is important because visceral fat – the type that wraps around your organs – is considered more dangerous than subcutaneous fat. You could, for example, be overweight while having a healthy level of visceral fat.
As well as showing you what your measurements are, the app will evaluate them. But, if you’re beginning a fitness journey, you can switch off recommended ranges in the app. This will allow you to log changes to your weight, for example, without a daily reminder that it’s not exactly where you want it to be.
Then there are the heart health measurements. The Body Comp will display your heart rate, give you a vascular age and measure your pulse wave velocity, which is a measure of arterial stiffness.
The final key measurement is nerve health. The Body Comp takes a reading from the sweat glands in your feet to determine the state of your nerve health. Like the heart health measurements, if you’re basically okay in this area, it won’t tell you much.
However, if you’re among the 6% of the UK population or 11% of the US population who have diabetes, this is a useful measurement to keep an eye on. Diabetics and people with some autoimmune conditions can get an early warning of nerve problems they’re more likely to face by using this scale.
Overall, Withings tends to err on the side of providing more data than most people need. But this is a nice-to-have problem.
Withings also rounds up your measurements to give you an overall health improvement score. It’s really hard to say how meaningful this is, but people trying to take better care of themselves might find it encouraging to see this number rise with their efforts.
Weigh-in information can go to the wrong account
High-quality hardware aside, one of the key differences between a Withings scale and a budget rival is the high-quality app experience.
If you’re going to pay more for a scale, this is one of the chief reasons to do so. The app is well laid out, with a homepage showing your latest measurements, which, when you click on them, show trend graphs.
All the information is easy to read and understand and there are plenty of explainers under each category. Under weight, you’ll find articles on how to get the most accurate weight reading, what a healthy weight is, the thyroid and weight gain, weight loss plateaus and more. Following, for example, is some of the information the app provides on pulse wave velocity.
This is not the kind of thing you’ll get on a budget scale, which is likely to take a more bare bones approach, with basic charts and no information to help you interpret results – not that pulse wave velocity is offered as a measurement by any other brands.
You can also join Withings+ service via the app. You’ll get a three-month free trial to see if it interests you, and after that it’ll cost you $/£/€9.95 per month or $/£/€99.50 per year. What you get for this is a bit more structure to your health journey. You can join six-week modules that’ll give you training and goals in aspects of nutrition, heart health, activity and sleep management.
Other profiles are easy to set up. However, there was one annoyance during testing, which was that weigh-in information was repeatedly sent to the wrong account. This is only likely to be a problem if you have two users with a similar weight.
Price and availability
At $199.95/£189.95, the Body Comp is one of the more expensive smart scales around. There is certainly no need to spend this much if you just want the basics, with reliable smart scales available for around $/£30. You can browse our round-up of the best smart scales we’ve tested for some options.
However, if you have a Withings tracker, or you’re looking for a better app experience than a budget scale can provide, a Withings scale is a good option. But you’ll need to decide which model is right for you. We’d recommend the Body Comp for anyone who wants a full range of fitness measurements plus some heart and nerve focused health monitoring.
If you want more in-depth heart rate tracking, we’d suggest the Body Scan (UK, £349.95; US users will have to wait for its launch). It also has the benefit of giving segmental body composition analysis, so instead of getting fat and muscle mass information, you’ll get much more accurate information on the fat and muscle makeup of your arms, legs and torso – as well as how that measures up to Withings’ users overall. You can read our review of the Body Scan to find out more.
If you just want a fitness-focused device, the Body Smart, at around half the price of the Body Comp ($99.95 in the US; £99.95 in the UK, although UK users will have a join a pre-launch waiting list) will suit your needs. It delivers all the same metrics as the Comp – minus vascular age and nerve health information.
This is, quite simply, an excellent smart scale that delivers a superior experience across its hardware and app. Our only issue in testing came when weigh-in information was delivered to the wrong account – but this is an issue for all Wi-Fi scales with users who share similar weights.
You don’t need to spend this much, but a Withings smart scale is the quality gold standard and the Body Comp is an all-round great model. Buy it if you are looking for a comprehensive fitness scale that delivers some added health information on top.
To see how the Body Comp stacks up against its rivals and for more smart scale recommendations, read our best smart scales round-up.
Emma is Group Home Tech Editor at Tech Advisor. She covers everything from kitchen appliances to smart home devices, from floor care to personal care to air care technology. She’s particularly interested in environmentally conscious brands and products that save people time and money.