Performance: basic, ballpark fitness tracking
Other than basic step tracking, the Steel will also auto-track runs and swims.
And if it senses other activity it can’t make out, it’ll just whack it in the Nokia Health Mate app as a generic activity. You can then label it as kite surfing, an elliptical session, or as 34 other activities.
Nokia Health Mate is the new-fangled version of the Withings Activité app. It has some neat legacy features like cute ‘badges’ you unlock as you walk or run, and the ability to link up with loads of other popular apps. Google Fit, MyFitness Pal, RunKeeper and Nike+ are in.
Run tracking is surprisingly decent given it’s based purely on how much you waggle your wrist. After 5km of interval training on the treadmill, the Nokia Steel spat out an intensity graph that looked a bit like an HR one. But with no useful metrics at all, of course.
If you want better fitness tracking, the Nokia Steel HR could well be worth waiting for (although Nokia still hasn't confirmed when it'll be available).
Depth isn’t the Nokia Steel’s strong point, but it sails across the surface of fitness tracking gracefully enough.
The Health Mate app could do with a bit more work, though. Nokia has taken out some of the colour of the old app and tried to make it look more sophisticated. But now navigating around it is a bit less intuitive.
Still, if you’re going to spend ages poring over stats, the Nokia Steel isn’t for you. It can be used to wake you up, though. There’s a ‘silent’ vibrate alarm. However, don’t expect the battery to last eight months if you use it all the time. That buzz doesn’t come for free.
Nokia Steel verdict
The Nokia Steel is eerily similar to the older Withings model it replaces (above left). Nokia has just put its stamp on a classic design.
Don’t buy the Steel if you want to track marathon training or are hoping for real smartwatch features. You don't get phone notifications, apps or music controls.
But what you do get is basic tracking like steps and distance from a handsome watch that's easy to live with. For those things, it's one of the best around, along with the Timex IQ+ Move (above right).