There are plenty of fitness trackers on the market, and they all are pretty similar. The differences come with how the tracking data is displayed, the design of the tracker, and extra features. While most of these blend together, Philips new suite of health products for consumers strikes a different tone.
Rather than going after the traditional fitness buff, they are putting their large medical experience to use. Instead of just tracking steps and heart rate, the Philips Health Watch wants to help you with a goal. While it does definitely have an appeal for those with chronic health issues, the Health Watch is a clinically validated product with a strong company behind it.
It also doesn’t steer from the design of a Watch— While the Apple Watch has a square build and FitBit’s are generally rectangles, the Philips Health Watch sticks with a traditional round face. Which has some touch sensors built-in, along with a haptic sensor inside. It has an all black design, not too flashy and relatively simple. This wearable puts the focus on tracking, not on design.
It is a stainless steel build and is pretty durable, as it does not scratch to quickly. The thickness and weight are not too bad—it certainly won’t weigh your arm down. The back features an accurate heart rate sensor that does not stick out.
In the box, you get a comfortable rubber-like watch band in a black color. It can easily be swapped out for another band; Philips should release some others. However, a regular watch band should theoretically fit in the slots.
Display and Touch Control
Going along with a durable stainless steel build would be a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass on top of the monochrome display. This is similar to an e-ink display but performs much better. Thankfully a backlight option is available for nighttime viewing. As depending on your eyesight, it can be a bit difficult to read the display. You can even invert the colors if you choose to do so—Philips gives you plenty of viewing options.
While it is not a touch screen, it does have touch control on the bezel itself. You just swipe across the bezel to access your data and even to change some settings. The circular home button on the top of the watch will take you back to the clock if you hit it enough times. While it is a home button, it can be thought of as a back button as well.
The controls can be a bit confusing at first, but will eventually begin to make sense. You swipe from the left to right from the clock interface to see quick statistics. Tapping the main button allows you to see all of the “applications” on the watch. These being settings, clock, workout modes, calorie intake, sleep tracking, and heart rate.
Performance and Battery Life
As I expected, tracking performance and accuracy on the Philips Health Watch was quite high. It matched both an Apple Watch and FitBit, which are standards. I will say that it was better as figuring out if I was trying to cheat, by just shaking the watch to get steps. Heart rate was also very accurate, more so than the Apple Watch.
Somebody who is very health focused and who wants to work towards the goals listed in the application will be quite happy. Philips has a clinically validated system that they are using, and they have been in the health care industry for a very long amount of time. They have calculated there move into the consumer tracking market carefully. As they have released a sea of products that can sync together to give the end user a very clear picture.
Even better, Philips states that that watch should get four days of battery life. In my testing, it went well beyond the call of duty and lasted for a full week. Even better with fast charging, it can get to 50% in about 25 minutes. While the charger is proprietary, it has a USB-A connector, allowing it charge in most laptops and wall plugs. I only wish the cord was a bit longer, but then again you will not have to charge that often.
Philips Health Suite Application
This application is not just for the Health Watch, but will work with Philips entire line of products in the Health Suite ecosystem. It is an application that works well with the Watch but, is meant for an ecosystem of products. The application starts by asking for some “get to know you” information— things like name, weight, and height. From there it takes a unique and inviting approach by letting you pick a goal.
These can be things like losing weight or being more active every day. It will also help you along the way, by suggesting you lose 1lb a week to reach a goal of 6lbs lost. Alternatively, it will give you a target goal of calories burnt every day or length of workout on a daily basis. The Heart Watch will do its best to push you towards the goal, and the application will push you as well with push notifications.
The application can also be used to set a reminder for you to keep moving after a certain amount of time of inactivity. Your activity levels can be viewed on a daily basis and can be seen historically from a calendar view. Adding calories from a meal is quite simple thanks to Philips extensive database of foods. It also splits this up in different meals time— breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
I hope that in the future Philips will add support for Health applications built into iOS and Android.
Fitness trackers as a whole have not changed much or improved much with tracking. Instead, they add in more technological features, like notifications on the wrist. However, rather than following the normal beat and path, the Philips Health Watch doubles down on fitness and hitting goals. In fact, you will notice very early on; it is mainly there as a watch and fitness tracker; you will not be getting text message notifications your wrist.
While it does have a higher end price tag of $249, it is meant for those whose focus is primarily on fitness and getting healthier. Those with chronic health issues will like the idea of a full ecosystem of products that all have a home in one application. It also has spectacular battery life and very accurate tracking.
So the Philips Health Watch is not for everyone, but it has fantastic battery life and very high accuracy when it comes to tracking.