Withings Move ECG hands-on review

Apple brought ECG tracking to consumers. Withings is making it affordable

Electrocardiograms at a fraction of the cost of the Apple Watch Series 4? Yes please!
Electrocardiograms at a fraction of the cost of the Apple Watch Series 4? Yes please!
Electrocardiograms at a fraction of the cost of the Apple Watch Series 4? Yes please!

Highs

  • Beautiful design
  • ECG is beneficial (pending approval)
  • Long battery life
  • Affordable
  • Sleep and fitness tracking

Lows

  • Watch may be too small for some
  • No support for notifications

The Apple Watch Series 4 has been heralded for being the first direct-to-consumer wearable that allows the average person to measure an electrocardiogram (ECG). Cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this function can help detect atrial fibrillation (AFib) and notify wearers of irregular heart rhythms, potentially saving lives.

But the $400 price tag, along with the need to use an iPhone, puts the technology out of reach for many people. Withings’ new Move ECG sets itself apart by making the technology far more affordable and accessible. It’s an analog watch that can also measure electrocardiograms, and it’s currently pending FDA clearance. We took a look at the Move ECG at CES 2019.

Same as the Move

The Withings Move ECG looks almost exactly like the company’s Move watch. It’s small and lightweight, with a design that’s sure to attract minimalists. The Move is also thin, and it’s easy to pass it off as just a regular watch; it’s easy to fall asleep with it on without feeling uncomfortable. The silicone strap looks good and sits snug on the wrist, and it’s interchangeable if you want another style.

There’s only one button on this watch, and it’s on the right side. It’s firm and easy to push. The watch face comes in either black or white, and there’s a subdial on the right side of the face that’s used for a variety of features, including the ECG.

We love the compact nature of the watch, and it elegantly suits most outfits.

The Move ECG is water resistant up to 50 meters, and no charger is required to keep it powered. It utilizes a simple CR2430 button cell battery that Withings claims will last up to 18 months. The companion app — which you pair using the Bluetooth Low Energy chip on the watch — alerts you to how much juice is left.

We love the compact nature of the watch, and it elegantly suits most outfits — whether it’s worn to the gym or to a formal event. However, we do think an additional size is warranted, as there may be those who would prefer a larger option.

Measuring electrocardiograms

The electrocardiogram on the Move ECG works through the three electrodes on the watch. Two are located in the body of the device, whereas the third sits on the stainless-steel bezel. You have to touch both sides of the bezel to start recording an ECG, and the reading takes around 20 seconds. The subdial hand will start moving to help keep track.

Withings Move ECG
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The results are logged in the Health Mate app, and it will tell you if there are signs of AFib. You can read more about AFib here, but in short, it’s a type of irregular heart rhythm that poses a high risk of stroke. Having an ECG where you can capture data at any moment reduces the chances of AFib going undiagnosed. It’s why the app allows you to export the data to your doctor. In the demo we watched, it all looked seamless and easy to use.

It works on Android and iOS, and with such a low price, the Withings Move ECG brings the ability to measure electrocardiograms to a wider audience.

The ECG function doesn’t mean the watch has a heart rate monitor. You’ll need to use the ECG quite often to get an average heart rate over time.

What else can it do? The Move ECG is essentially the Move watch, plus an ECG. The rest of the features are still present, from tracking your steps to automatically detecting workouts. The watch can also identify sleep patterns when it’s worn to bed. A sleep score is provided based on data such as sleep duration, depth regularity, and interruptions. We haven’t been able to test any of this yet, though.

What the watch does not do is notifications. You’ll still need to pull out your phone when you don the Move ECG.

Price and availability

The Move ECG is currently awaiting clearance from the FDA, as well as a CE marking from the European Economic Area. It’s expected to be released in April, when it will retail for $130.

It works on Android and iOS, and with such a low price, the Withings Move ECG brings the ability to measure electrocardiograms to a wider audience. It does all this while still looking like a traditional watch. It’s incredibly promising, and we can’t wait to test it further in a few months.

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