Withings Body Comp smart scale review: For better or worse, I’m obsessed


The Withings Body Comp smart scale.

It is a truth universally reviled that you can exercise and eat well for months before noticing even the tiniest changes in your body. Though such efforts do have a positive impact on your wellbeing, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up when that 30-day ab challenge doesn’t actually sculpt your abs in 30 days. As such, getting any sort of indication that your hard work is paying off can be vital motivation.

Withings’ $199.95 Body Comp smart scale helped me persevere with my fitness routine by providing me with that proof of progression. I’ve been using the Body Comp for 10 weeks now, and it has quickly become my favourite gadget in my daily routine.

Rather than merely measuring weight, the Body Comp also evaluates body composition (hence the name), basal metabolic rate, standing heart rate, and visceral fat — that is, the fat around your organs. It further assesses the health of your arteries, using pulse-wave velocity to determine your Vascular Age, and measures sweat gland activity in your feet to provide an Electrodermal Activity Score (or Nerve Health Score if you’re outside the U.S. like me).

All this information might seem excessive, but it can make a world of difference when trying to improve your health. It has also thoroughly convinced me that body scales which only measure weight are pointless.

Setting up the Withings Body Comp

Once you’ve picked a spot on the floor for it, the Body Comp is easy and painless to set up. All you need to do is download the Withings app, create an account, and pair it with your scale so your measurements are automatically logged whenever you weigh yourself. The scale connects with your phone via WiFi, though Bluetooth is used during setup and as a backup if WiFi isn’t available.

This process only took me a few minutes, and soon I was ready to literally find out what I’m made of.

Withings recommends weighing yourself at least twice a week, and to do so at the same time of day under the same conditions (such as clothed or unclothed). It’s a much healthier guideline than the Garmin Index S2’s encouragement of multiple weigh-ins per day, particularly as weight can fluctuate according to matters as simple as how recently you’ve eaten, when you last went to the bathroom, and even how much you’ve been sweating. As such, it’s much more useful to look at how your data trends over time than fixate on individual numbers.

I personally weighed myself with the device every morning, as I quite enjoyed the daily check-in. Once set up, using the Body Comp is simple. Merely step on it, ensuring your feet are either side of the round knob in the middle, and stay still for several seconds as the 2.8-inch LCD screen loads your measurements.

Cycling through various screens at a sedate pace, the Body Comp’s default display will include data such as your weight, fat mass, muscle mass, and even the weather and air quality at your location (as identified by you in the app). You can customise this though, and there’s different modes for athletes, pregnancy, and an eyes-closed setting which hides numbers in favour of focusing on trends.

Metrics such as your Vascular Age aren’t available immediately upon setup, as the Body Comp needs to collect data from multiple weigh-ins first. Unlocking this data provides a decent incentive to use the scale somewhat regularly, though.

My Withings Body Comp is my biggest supporter

The Withings Body Comp smart scale on a tiled floor.

The Withings Body Comp smart scale gave me proof that my workouts were actually working.
Credit: Amanda Yeo / Mashable

I was initially inspired to try out Withings’ Body Comp due to my new fitness routine’s apparent lack of impact. While I’d been exercising consistently for weeks, my weight was relatively stable and I saw practically no difference in the mirror. I wasn’t noticing any improvement in how I felt either. I was mainly just achy from my workouts.

It was easy to conclude from this that I must be doing something wrong, and that my earnest efforts at improving my health were completely ineffectual — a highly discouraging thought.

Fortunately, the Body Comp proved this idea incorrect. Taking my body composition measurements over several weeks, the Withings app showed me that I was actually losing fat and gaining muscle, which was offsetting downward progress in my weight. It was the encouragement I needed to help me keep going, reassuring me that my persistence wasn’t in vain.

All this data encouraged me to push on through my slumps, offering a vital boost to my resolve.

Seeing even the slightest downward slope in the app’s graphs was energising, yet the Body Comp still helped me keep on track when the numbers weren’t shifting in my desired direction. For example, I saw my weight jump up by more than its usual fluctuations after a short trip — not an unexpected result. However, the Body Comp also showed me that a lot of it was water weight, and that I had not miraculously undone months of work and discipline within just 72 hours.

Similarly, my Vascular Age and Nerve Health Score kept me motivated when even my body composition trend graph plateaued, becoming a largely straight line for weeks. My cardiovascular and nerve health weren’t issues I’d had sincere concerns about, but it was unexpectedly gratifying to see them improve and to know they were in good condition. Despite my inability to see any changes in my physicality, it was encouraging evidence that I was getting healthier.

All this data encouraged me to push on through my slumps, offering a vital boost to my resolve. Even the exceedingly slow inching down of my Visceral Fat Index was a welcome reminder that, though it may take months, I was making progress.

How accurate are Withings’ smart scales?

There isn’t any independent research specifically investigating the Body Comp’s accuracy. However, there have been studies examining Withings’ earlier Body Cardio. Like the Body Comp, the Body Cardio scales also use bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) to assess users’ body composition. BIA works by running a small alternating current through your body, then determining how much fat, muscle, and bone you have by how the tissue conducts electricity.

In 2020, a study of 20 people found that Withing’s Body Cardio accurately assesses pulse-wave velocity — an indicator of cardiovascular health. However, its body composition readings deviated from those taken by air displacement plethysmography (BOD POD), the “gold standard” measurement method. A 2021 study further concluded that while Withings’ Body Cardio was reasonably accurate when measuring weight, it underestimated fat mass and overestimated muscle mass when compared to dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).

This didn’t concern me. Such variations merely seemed like the natural consequence of different measurement methods varying in precision. I wasn’t expecting a $199.95 at-home device to be as accurate as a clinical assessment by a medical professional with thousands of dollars of equipment. Even so, a 2018 paper found BIA’s margin of error to be similar to that of other methods, and further argued that such small variations are of minimal clinical value anyway.

I wasn’t expecting a $199.95 at-home device to be as accurate as a clinical assessment by a medical professional with thousands of dollars of equipment.

Withings’ smart scales may not be a complete replacement for BOD POD or DEXA, particularly when monitoring people with severe health issues. However, the Body Comp’s BIA measurements are far more accessible to the average person, as getting frequent X-rays or regularly paying $45 for a BOD POD scan isn’t feasible for most. 

Whether or not Withings’ BIA body composition assessments are precise to the gram, the information the Body Comp provides is still accurate enough to assist and encourage the average user in reaching their health goals. I was rarely surprised by my measurements, and my longer term trends progressed as expected considering my diet and exercise habits. This helped reassure me that I could trust my Body Comp’s assessments for functional everyday use.

Withings’ Body Comp is informative, but you might not like what you learn

The Withings Body Comp smart scale on a tiled floor. It shows water stains.

The Withings Body Comp picks up smudges, dust, and stains incredibly easily.
Credit: Amanda Yeo / Mashable

As much as I love it, Withings’ Body Comp isn’t perfect. It frequently took several minutes for the measurements from my latest weigh in to appear in the Withings app, which left me standing around as I waited to be sure nothing had gone wrong. I’d once made the mistake of assuming my measurements would just show up in the app later, and ended up with a skipped day in my progress graph because of it.

The Y-axis on the body composition graph is also inaccurate, as its numbers don’t correctly align with the data points. For example, a 40-kilogram data point may be plotted as closer to 28 kilograms than 42 kilograms. Withings tells Mashable it plans to address this issue in a future update, but for now you’re better off ignoring those vertical values in favour of your data points and overall trends. You should also disregard the Withings app’s home page summaries of your progress. While the body composition tile insists that my metrics are stable and unchanging, tapping it for more detailed information quickly reveals this to be incorrect.

The Body Comp would occasionally have difficulty taking my measurements as well. A few times the LCD screen showed my weight fluctuating before settling on a red X indicating an error, or successfully took some of my measurements before failing to show my Vascular Age or Nerve Health Score. The screen also completely glitched out more than once. Fortunately, the matter was inevitably resolved after I stepped off the scale and stepped back on again to reweigh myself (though sometimes I’d have to do this a couple of times).

I further encountered some difficulties setting up other people in my household on the Body Comp. While the Withings app has a function to allow you to add family members, a spokesperson informed me it was more geared toward children than other adults. Adding my mum to my profile resulted in my Apple Watch data being copied to her profile as well as mine, crediting her with workouts that she absolutely did not do.

As such, you’d be best off having everyone who wants to use the scales create their own Withings account on their own phone. The Body Comp claims to support up to eight users and refers to people’s last known weight to determine who is standing on it, though you can use your feet to select the correct profile on the display if it misidentifies you.

Finally, the Body Comp did have a few aesthetic issues. Though the scale’s beautifully shiny surface looks great straight out of the box, it accumulates dust and stains at an impressive rate. They wipe off easily, but it is a notable annoyance. 

The Body Comp’s reflective finish also acts as a mirror, which unwittingly provides users with way more information than is likely welcome. Seeing what you look like when viewed from that particular angle is a tad confronting, to say the least.

I’m addicted to the Withings app

Three smartphones displaying the Withings app. The app shows a person's weight and body composition, as well as how they are trending.

The Withings app automatically logs your measurements and shows you how they’re trending over time.
Credit: Mashable composite: Withings

While Withings’ Body Comp has basically transformed my life, it’s important to note that body weight scales aren’t without their dangers. Having your data automatically logged and organised on your phone is fantastically convenient, but it’s also easy to inadvertently get caught up in those numbers.

Withings’ app is intuitive, clearly comprehensible, and neatly organised, displaying your most recent measurements up top — all undeniable positives. However, this ease of use means you might need some strong resolve to prevent yourself from pouring over your data a little too often. I did find myself opening the Withings app to check my weight and body composition graphs more frequently than perhaps I should, habitually tapping on it whenever I picked up my phone. 

While Withings’ Body Comp has basically transformed my life, it’s important to note that body weight scales aren’t without their dangers.

Even if I hadn’t weighed myself or performed any exercise that might have been logged via my linked Apple Health app, I’d regularly refer to Withings’ app simply to flick through my data throughout my day. This included compulsively switching between weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly overviews; viewing my body composition according to both percentage and weight; and double checking that yes, the recommended ranges for all my metrics were still the same as they were two hours ago.

I found the Body Comp great as an average person working to improve their health, with the data serving as a good reminder and motivator to keep on track. Even so, it could easily become destructive for people who struggle with negative body image issues, eating disorders, or would find such comprehensive data condemning rather than motivating.

Which Withings smart scale is for you?

The $199.95 Body Comp is Withings’ middle-of-the-road smart scale option, flanked by the $99.95 Body Smart (an upgrade from the Body+ and Body Cardio) and its top of the line $399.95 Body Scan. The primary differences are that the Body Smart doesn’t measure your Vascular Age or Nerve Health Score, while the Body Scan monitors your heart with six-lead ECG and breaks down the distribution of your fat and muscle mass into five body segments.

The Body Scan may be useful for gym junkies aiming to build muscle in specific areas rather than just improve their overall health. Otherwise, the Body Comp or Body Smart should more than suit the average person’s needs. Though considering the similarities between the two devices, it does raise the question: Is it worth springing for the Body Comp, or should you save yourself $100 and opt for the Body Smart?

If you have cash to spare, you may want to invest in the Body Comp if you’d like some indicator of your cardiovascular and nerve health. As previously mentioned, I found these measurements galvanising when my other metrics seemed to be stagnating. Still, while I haven’t used it myself, Withings’ Body Smart may be a good alternative to consider if you’d prefer to save some money and are primarily interested in your body composition.

Is Withings’ Body Comp smart scale worth it?

In a society obsessed with appearance and weight, the stark numbers body scales spit up can feel like sneering judgement and negatively impact your self esteem. Weight alone isn’t even necessarily a good indicator of your overall health, meaning that stepping on a standard set of scales may do little more than demoralise you.

The Body Comp’s focus on fat mass, muscle mass, and trends made it a game changer for me. I found its comprehensive breakdown of my body composition extremely useful and motivating, and loved the convenience of all that data being instantly logged on my phone in an easily comprehensible format.

I will reiterate my caveat that Withings’ smart scales may be dangerous if you have even the slightest tendency to obsess over your weight. Being able to access a graph of your weigh-in history on your phone at any time could be damaging to your mental health if misused, so you’ll definitely need to know yourself well before investing in a device such as this.

But if utilised carefully and appropriately, Withings’ Body Comp could be just the gadget to help you help you finally reach your health goals.

If you feel like you’d like to talk to someone about your eating behavior, text “NEDA” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected with a trained volunteer or visit the National Eating Disorder Association website for more information.

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