Withings Body Cardio full review
Withings was one of the first manufacturers of smart scales, and the Body Cardio remains the company's top-of-the-line scale - and one of the best from any manufacturer right now.
A few years ago the company was sold to Nokia, before the Withings founder bought it back again, but the Body Cardio has been around through it all - meaning it was also briefly sold as the Nokia Body Cardio, so look out for that. The company also sells two cheaper versions, the Body and Body+, which have a similar design but miss out on a few key features.
Design and build
- Slim glass design
- Bright black-and-white display
- Works on hard floors and some carpets
The Withings Body Cardio is a square, glass scale that looks smart and minimalist, in either white or black. It won't look out of place in any modern home, whether you store it in a bedroom or bathroom, and it's slim and light enough that if you need to pick it up to move it around then you won't feel too hard done by.
The front of the scale features a bright, 128x64 monochromatic display, which is where the scale displays your weight and other metrics. The screen is large and bright enough to not only comfortably show your weight figures but also compact graphs to display your progress over the last few days, or place metrics like your body fat percentage in the context of what's typical or healthy for your age and body type.
The aluminium base is supported by four feet, and unlike some smart scales we've tested it works fine on the thin carpet in my bedroom - though measuring from a hard floor is still recommended for optimum results. It's likely that thicker carpets especially will skew the results.
Finally, Body Cardio features a rechargeable battery rather than running on AA batteries like some scales still do. Withings claims that this should last a year.
Measurements and features
- Tracks weight and body composition
- Measures heart rate and vascular age
It's a given that a scale will track your body weight, and these days it's also expected that it will measure your body composition. So it is here, with the Body Cardio capable of telling you your body fat and water percentages along with your bone and muscle mass.
Withings has gone further than that though. Unlike most scales, the Body Cardio can also measure your heart rate - perhaps not an essential metric first thing in the morning, but it will be a useful baseline for some.
More importantly, the sensors used for that measurement are also used to measure pulse wave velocity (PWV), a measurement of arterial stiffness that is a key indicator of cardiac health.
Withings defines PWV as "the speed at which heartbeat-generated vibrations spread out along the arterial walls of the body’s circulation system," with a higher score indicating higher blood pressure and other potential heart problems. No other company's smart scales currently measure PWV, so if you have concerns around your heart health this could be a significant reason to opt for the Body Cardio.
Due to regulatory issues the feature was removed from the scale for over a year via a software patch, but in April 2019 Withings announced that it was being re-enabled in the UK and Europe, though it remains switched off for now in the US.
Withings has figured out a workaround though, and in May 2021 the company added a vascular age score. This uses the PWV data to estimate the relative age of your arteries as a rough measure of how healthy your vascular system is, along with telling you if your arteries are ‘optimum’, ‘normal’, or ‘not optimum’ for your age. In countries where PWV is enabled you'll see both, while elsewhere - including the US - you'll only see the vascular age score.
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support
- Links to Withings app
A lot of smart scales live and die by how well they handle the smart side, and luckily Withings does well here. Data is sent to the free Withings Health Mate app, available on either iOS or Android, where it will sit alongside the data from any other Withings activity or sleep trackers you own.
The Body Cardio has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support, which is important - it means that unlike some scales you don't need to have your phone out with the app open in order to record your weight and other metrics. Simply step on the scale and it will send all your data to your app, regardless of where your phone is.
The scale can store the profiles of up to eight different users, and will do its best to recognise users based on their weight and body composition, so there's no need to sign in manually. In addition to regular weight modes, there are also dedicated options for tracking weight during pregnancy or for young kids, so it can suit the whole family.
If you do own other Withings devices the Body Cardio displays your previous day’s step count and a trend graph right there on the scale display. When the Body Cardio scale is connected over Wi-Fi it even provides a daily local weather forecast – handy for runners and outside exercisers. If you don't use a Withings activity tracker you can still sync your phone's step counter to the Withings Health Mate app.
The app itself is clean, attractive, and easy to use. The home screen is clear and concise, showing you your health stats in one easy glance, including steps either from your Withings activity tracker or from your phone's step counter.
Graphs help users visualize trends over time and note how their weight impacts overall health. After a few weeks, users should even be able to see how their lifestyle impacts their PWV or vascular age.
Users can set goals, earn rewards over time and celebrate health milestones. Health Mate also offers integration with over 150 partner apps to provide nutrition tracking, GPS run tracking and more to make it an integrated health aid. All Body Cardio data stored in the Health Mate app integrates with the Apple Health app.
My one complaint about the Withings app is the graphing of data. There are no trend lines for your weight, which makes it harder to get a sense of the direction you're going in.
It also takes the odd approach of telling you whether you gained or lost weight overall in a month based on the first and last measurements within that month, not factoring in the measurements on either side - with the odd side effect that it can claim you lost weight within a certain month even if you end it heavier than you did the previous period.
The Body Cardio retails for £129.95/$149.95 - a lot for a scale, but then it does do a lot. It's also often available for less than that, now that it's a little older.
The Withings Body Cardio does pretty much everything a smart scale can. It tracks the full array of standard body composition metrics, bolstered by its own unique vascular age score.
It syncs with Withings' range of activity trackers for all-round fitness monitoring, and can use a phone's basic step counter if you don't own a tracker.
Consider the cheaper Body and Body+ if you don't need the full tracking suite, but if you're willing to spend more for the works, then you won't find a better option than this right now.
Withings Body Cardio: Specs
- Weight, BMI, body composition (fat, muscle, water & bone mass), standing heart rate and Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV)
Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide