Knowing your weight is an important part of any fitness regimen, and many people looking to get healthy for the new year will want to check daily. Like most analog devices, the venerable bathroom scale has received a digital makeover and can now connect to your smartphone and tell you other metrics, such as your body mass index (BMI), body composition and even your heart rate.
So which scale is the smartest? We rounded up nine of the top smart scales, ranging in price from $49 to $180. Our favorite is the Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50 ($149). Although it isn't the most accurate, it is better than average and offers the greatest feature set for the price. Our favorite budget model is the Wahoo Balance ($79), which doesn't have as many features but is more accurate than the Withings and it syncs with the MyFitnessPal app.
How We Tested
We measured the scales' accuracy by comparing their results with our weight taken at the same time using a balance-beam scale at the office of Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist and pulmonologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. In addition to testing the scales' accuracy, we looked at their designs, features and prices.Credit: Sam Rutherford / Tom's Guide
Very few of the scales were initially as accurate as the one used by Horovitz, but all are self-calibrating. And after weighing myself several times on each scale, I discovered that they were all within a pound of each other. In general, Horovitz said the results of in-home scales shouldn't be considered precise measurements. Rather, you should use the results to see if your overall weight is trending upward or downward.
What to Look For
All of the scales we tested measure your BMI, which is your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in meters. Like your weight, BMI shouldn't be taken as a be-all, end-all metric of your health. As several studies have shown, someone with a higher BMI could still be healthier than someone with a lower BMI, and occasionally, someone with a relatively low BMI would be considered healthier if theirs were even lower. Credit: Withings
Some of the scales we tested can also measure body fat by sending a small electrical impulse up one foot and down the other. (Scales that have this feature should not be used by people with pacemakers; all have warning labels.) Horovitz was skeptical of how accurate the scales were at measuring body fat percentage, as the condition of your feet can affect the results. "Your body fat will be different before and after you've had a pedicure," he said.
When shopping for a smart scale, you should consider other factors as well. For example, what does the scale measure, aside from weight and BMI? How big and bright is the scale's display? If you'll be using it in a dark room, you'll want one with large, bold numbers. Finally, how can you get the data off the scale?
The more expensive scales can connect to your home Wi-Fi network, so they can automatically upload your data to your fitness account. If a scale has only Bluetooth, you'll have to have your smartphone handy in order to sync its data. Also, the max weight for most of these scales is 400 pounds, so you shouldn't use it if you weigh more than that.
Regardless of your weight, Horovitz said, you should concentrate on three or four metrics for leading a healthy lifestyle. "You should get about seven hours of sleep, four to five days of real exercise [cardio and/or weight training for at least 20 minutes], a BMI of 25 or less, and good nutrition."
The Withings WS-50 not only measures more types of data than other scales do but also presents the information in an intuitive, useful app. Measuring 12.8 x 12.8 inches, the WS-50 is large enough to accommodate my size 12 feet. I wish its 2.75 x 1.75-inch display were larger, but the bright-white letters and numbers are easy to read.
In addition to measuring your weight and BMI, the WS-50 can record your resting heart rate, which is also an important indicator of your overall health. The scale also monitors the air quality inside your home and provides the local weather report, which is useful if you're weighing yourself first thing in the morning.
Data from the WS-50 is uploaded, either via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, to your Withings account; you can view the data it gathers on the Withings mobile app, whose layout is very intuitive. A cloverleaf-like icon lets you view at a glance how you're doing on four metrics: weight, activity, sleep and heart rate. The app also charts your progress over time, making it easy to see how well you're doing.
Overall, the Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50 is the best all-around smart scale. It looks good, gathers more information than any other scale and presents the data in an easy-to-understand app.
The smallest of all the scales I tested, the Wahoo Balance is just 11.8 inches square; the toes of my size 12 feet were poking off the end. Still, its size may appeal to those with smaller bathrooms. It's also a very minimalist scale; apart from the white glass top, the underside has a U-shaped piece of plastic that connects the four corners.
The display on the Wahoo Balance is an equally Lilliputian 3 x 1.2-inch LCD that, unfortunately, isn't backlit. Of all of the scales I tested, its display is probably the most boring, reminding me of a calculator.
Unlike Fitbit, which has one app that aggregates data from all of its devices, Wahoo has a multitude of apps, each tailored to different activities. I downloaded the Wahoo Wellness app, whose only function is to connect to the scale. (Helpfully, the app icon has two feet.) The app first has you enter your weight range and desired weight so it can distinguish among individuals. (The scale can recognize up to 16 people.)
Like the $49 Nuyu, the Wahoo Balance connects only via Bluetooth to your smartphone, but it does so quickly. However, unlike the Nuyu, Wahoo's scale can be synced with HealthKit and MyFitnessPal, making it far more useful for those who want to incorporate it into their overall fitness regimen.
It's not perfect, but if you don't want to spend more than $100 on a smart scale, Wahoo's gives you the most features for the money.
Other Scales We Tested
At 14.3 x 14.4 x 1.6 inches, Philips' Connected Body Analysis Scale is a bit larger than Withings' scale, though the Philips product should fit comfortably in your bathroom. I like that it's water-resistant to 30 feet. You shouldn't take it swimming, but it'll survive splashes of water from your tub. The scale is available in white or black, and has a large, 2.75 x 1.8-inch, backlit display. Three large lines divide the scale's glass surface, similar to the layout of Garmin's scale.
The Philips scale measures weight, body mass index and body fat percentage. It uses bioimpedance, meaning it sends a small current from one foot through your body and down to your other foot. Because of that, pregnant women and people with pacemakers should avoid using this scale. The scale has only Bluetooth, so if you want to upload your data to the cloud, you'll need to sync the scale with your smartphone running either Android (4.4 and higher) or iOS 8 and higher.
As with Philips' other connected gadgets (a thermometer, Health Watch and blood pressure cuff), data from the scale is imported into the Philips Health app to give you a more rounded view of your overall health, while offering suggestions and recommendations about how you can improve. While you can't share your data with the MyFitnessPal calorie counter and exercise app, Philips' own app has its own food-logging feature.
Overall, Philips Connected Body Analysis Scale is a good device for less than $100.
The Fitbit Aria has a clean, white look, with fun, bubblelike contours on the bottom. The Aria's display is just 2.2 inches in diameter — the smallest of all of the scales I tested — so messages longer than four numbers or letters scroll across the screen. However, the LCD is backlit, which makes it easy to view.
To set up the scale, you have to use the Web browser on your phone, and not the Fitbit app itself. You connect to the scale's Wi-Fi network and connect the scale to your home network.
The Aria measures both weight and BMI, but nothing more than that. However, it automatically syncs to Fitbit's app, where you can also log your food intake, as well as any exercise via Fitbit's own trackers. Fitbit's app is also compatible with a wide range of third-party apps, so you can export your data from the Aria to MapMyFitness, among others.
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For those who already use one of Fitbit's activity trackers — which means most people who wear a fitness device — purchasing the Aria may make the most sense. However, if you're not wedded to Fitbit's app, consider the Withings WS-50, which offers a lot more features for just $20 more.
While most smart scales are symmetrical, the Garmin Index is wider (13.75 inches) than it is deep (12.2 inches), leaving ample room for large feet. Its 4.5 x 2-inch display is also massive, which made it all too easy to see how heavy I was. In addition to your weight and BMI, the Garmin scale shows your body fat percentage and muscle mass, among other metrics, giving you a fuller picture of your overall health.
The setup was very quick, taking less than a minute for the scale to connect to my phone via Bluetooth. I could then connect the scale to my Wi-Fi network from within the Garmin Connect app. (Most other scales have you jump back and forth from their app to your phone's Wi-Fi settings menu.)
However, to see your weight in the app, you have to dig through several menus (More>Health Stats>Weight). Then, if you want to see other stats (body fat, BMI, body water, muscle mass and bone mass), you have to select each from a drop-down menu. Every other fitness app I used presents your weight right on the home screen.
I liked the Garmin's easy setup process and large display, but finding my readings in its app was tricky. There are better deals at this price.
You can purchase the Under Armour scale either separately for $180 or as part of the $400 UA Healthbox, which also includes a fitness tracker and a chest-strap heart-rate monitor. Read our full review of the UA Healthbox here.
Measuring 14.2 inches in diameter, the UA Scale is one of the largest I tested and, aside from the QardioBase, the only other one with a circular design. At the top is a large, easy-to-read, 4 x 1.75-inch display. The UA Scale connects to both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so it can automatically upload your weight to the UA Record app as well as MapMyFitness, which is also owned by Under Armour.
The UA Scale is a solid device, but it costs $30 more than our favorite scale, the Withings WS-50, which offers more features.
The least-expensive smart scale I tested, the Nuyu Wireless Scale impressed me right off the bat with its large, 6 x 2-inch display that has bold, bright-green numbers and disappears into the scale's black top when not in use.
The Nuyu measures a comfortably large 12.8 x 12.8 inches, which makes it good for those with bigger feet.
Nuyu's app is simple but effective. It's divided into four cards: Steps, Distance, Sleep and Weight. Selecting one of these cards lets you see your data over a week, month or year. The biggest drawback to Nuyu is that you can't sync its data to any third-party app or device. So, for example, you can't link it to MapMyFitness for diet tracking or the Fitbit app for tracking your movement.
The Nuyu is an inexpensive scale that looks better than its price would suggest, but its lack of integration with any other diet or fitness-tracking app limits its appeal. Spend $30 more for the Wahoo Balance, which lets you share its data with MyFitnessPal.
The square BewellConnect MyScale Analyzer has a clean, white face with a round, metal logo in the middle. Measuring 12.5 inches on each side of its square frame, it's just the right size for my feet, and I like its fairly large LCD display, whose numbers are shown in bright, white light.
Like other budget scales (such as the similarly priced Polar Balance), the MyScale connects only via Bluetooth, so you'll need to have your phone with you.
Bewell's app stands out from the others in that its primary focus is health, not fitness. The home screen has six pie pieces arranged in a circle: My Eco, My Thermo, My Tensio, My Oxy, My Scale, and My Gluco. Each connects to a different Bewell product that measures a different aspect of your health.
Unfortunately, you can't share your data with MyFitnessPal, so you can't link it with any third-party fitness device, though Bewell makes its own fitness tracker. You can also send your data directly to your doctor, and Bewell's app also has a virtual doctor that can help diagnose any symptoms you have.
If you want to dive deep into Bewell's ecosystem of thermometers, blood pressure monitors, glucose meters and more, then its $99 scale is a good first step. However, if you're looking for more flexibility, look elsewhere.
Similar in name and design to the Wahoo Balance, the 12.4 x 12.4-inch Polar Balance smart scale has an all-black top with a small window for its 3.5 x 2-inch LCD display. Polar's display isn't backlit; I had trouble reading it in a darkened room.
Like other budget scales, the Polar Balance can connect only via Bluetooth, so you'll need to open the Polar Flow app on your phone in order to sync data.
Polar's scale was the most annoying to set up. If you don't already have a Polar wearable device, you can't set up the scale using a smartphone app; you have to first go to Polar's website, log in and then register the scale by entering its ID number. Fortunately, you can connect the scale to MyFitnessPal and Apple HealthKit.
A poor setup process, a dim display and an only average price tip the scales against the Polar Balance.
One of the smallest of the bunch at 12.6 inches in diameter, the QardioBase should easily fit in even the tiniest bathrooms. Despite its size, this scale uses a whopping eight AAA batteries — double the number most scales use.
Unlike all of the other scales I tested, whose displays are at the top, the Qardio's small 2 x 2-inch display is situated in the center of the scale. The location of the screen, coupled with faint green lettering, made it the most difficult to read of all the scales.
The QardioBase measures weight, body mass index, bone density, and water and muscle mass, and does so well — it was the second-most accurate scale I tested. However, other than putting your BMI on a bar graph, which shows if you're overweight, there are no tips or guides to help you understand what the other numbers mean or how to improve them. Also, you can't link the data from the Qardio scale to MyFitnessPal. It's one of the few scales that don't have this functionality.
Qardio's app is pretty straightforward. Your weight appears in the upper-left third of the screen, along with your body fat and muscle mass. Below that is a chart showing your BMI. You can view your history over a daily, weekly or monthly time period. The app also lets you set a weight goal — but again, without the ability to connect it to other fitness devices or apps, it doesn't do much good.
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