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Garmin Vivomove HR vs. Withings Steel HR: Which hybrid smartwatch should you buy?

Withings Steel HR
Withings Steel HR (Image credit: Android Central)

Withings Steel HR

Withings Steel HR

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The Withings Steel HR is another example of a hybrid done right. You still get to enjoy the traditional analog watch face and subdial along with a unique OLED screen. It's also packed with great features, including connected GPS tracking.

Withings Steel HR

Great Performance

Connected GPS
Activity and sleep tracking
Heart-rate monitoring
5 ATM water resistance
Stylish design
Hard to read in sunlight
Small OLED screen
No music controls

Garmin Vivomove HR

Garmin Vivomove HR

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It might look like your everyday fashionable timepiece, but the Garmin Vivomove HR is much more than that. This innovative hybrid smartwatch features a touchscreen with a hidden display and plenty of helpful features to go around.

Garmin Vivomove HR

Clever design

Activity and sleep tracking
Heart-rate monitoring
5 ATM water resistance
Music controls
Fashionable design
No GPS options
Finicky touchscreen
Hard to read in sunlight

When you want to reap some of the benefits of owning a smartwatch but you're not ready to part with the traditional aesthetic of a stylish analog watch, a hybrid is the perfect middle ground. You don't have to settle for one or the other thanks to this marvelous combination of design and features.

Two popular players in this game are the Garmin Vivomove HR and Withings Steel HR. As the names suggest, both of these hybrids come with a heart-rate monitor, but that's not all they have in common. Some other similarities include sleep and activity tracking, 5 ATM water resistance, smartphone notifications, and more. Their price tags are just about the same, too. This is an extremely close call. Want a bigger watch that's all about fashion with some sweet features sprinkled in? Go for Garmin. If you prefer a smaller watch with connected GPS and swim tracking, Withings is a winner.

Close competition

While these two hybrids share many of the same features, there are a couple of differences that might determine which one is a better fit for your needs. For example, if you're a fitness fanatic who wants to be able to track workouts with GPS, you'll want to opt for the Withings Steel HR. It doesn't have built-in GPS, so you'll need to have your phone with you when you exercise. It's still better than no GPS at all, which is what you get with the Garmin Vivomove HR.

On the other hand, if you want to be able to control the music playing from your watch, you'll probably find the Garmin Vivomove HR more appealing. The OLED display isn't as small as the one you'll find on the Withings Steel HR, either. However, neither of these screens do particularly well in direct sunlight. That's going to be a bit of a bummer for those who like to get their steps in when they're outdoors rather than inside on a treadmill.

Otherwise, the Garmin Vivomove HR display can be managed by a series of taps and swipes, but the touchscreen can be a bit finicky at times. The Withings Steel HR has a side button for easy navigation.

Garmin Vivomove HRWithings Steel HR
DisplayOLEDOLED
SensorsHeart rate, barometric altimeter, accelerometer, ambient lightHeart rate, accelerometer, day and night motion sensor
ConnectivityBluetooth® Smart and ANT+®Bluetooth Low Energy
Water Resistance5 ATM5 ATM
Battery lifeSmartwatch mode: 5 days
Watch mode: additional 2 weeks
Typical use: up to 25 days
Workout mode: up to 5 days
Connected GPS✔️
Music controls✔️
Notifications✔️✔️

On the topic of design, the Withings Steel HR is available in two sizes: 36 mm and 40 mm. It's nice to have a choice, especially if you have an especially tiny wrist that does better with a smaller watch size. The Garmin Vivomove HR is only available in the 43 mm size. Some users prefer a larger watch, so not having an additional size option may not be a deal-breaker in this case. They're also both made of stainless steel and come in various colors. Garmin offers Rose Gold, Slate, and Silver, and Withings offers Black, White, and a more-expensive Sapphire. You'll enjoy interchangeable bands with both, too.

Garmin Vivomove HR

Source: Garmin Pictured: Garmin Vivomove HR (Image credit: Source: Garmin)

While there aren't many major differences as far as tracking is concerned, there are a couple of points worth noting. Both of these hybrid smartwatches are water-resistant up to 50 meters, but only the Withings Steel HR offers proper swim tracking — automatic, in fact. In this area, the Garmin Vivomove HR only offers a basic rest timer for pool swimming. However, it does offer all-day stress tracking with a relaxation timer, which isn't a dedicated feature on the Withings Steel HR.

One very important feature that deserves some attention is battery life. Most regular smartwatches will last a day or two at best, but you get a little extra juice with a hybrid. The Vivomove HR promises to last for up to five days in smartwatch mode and can go for an additional two weeks in watch mode. However, the Withings Steel HR wins this round with a whopping 25 days of battery life with typical usage. Keep in mind that it will last for up to five days in activity mode. You can get 20 additional days in power reserve mode, which offers time and activity tracking only.

Bottom line

Now that you know everything there is to know about the Garmin Vivomove HR and Withings Steel HR, it's time to decide. Given their nearly-identical price points, it might be as simple as choosing the design you like better. Those who prefer big watches will likely be drawn to the Vivomove HR, which is arguably the more fashionable option. If you want something a bit more modest in size and flashiness, the traditional aesthetic of the Withings Steel HR might be your pick.

That being said, if you're a stickler for features, your choice may carry a little more weight than what's on the surface. If you're set on having GPS for tracking your workouts, you'll only find that on the Withings Steel HR. It also has longer battery life and swim tracking in its favor. If music controls and stress tracking are more important to you, then the Garmin Vivomove HR is the way to go.

The Withings Steel HR might be the best deal for most people since you get the connected GPS at the same price as the Garmin Vivomove HR. Luckily, both of these hybrid smartwatches have a lot to offer and it doesn't hurt that they're relatively affordable.

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.