Knowing your weight is an important part of any fitness regimen, and if you're trying to keep your New Year's health resolutions, you might be weighing yourself 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 $100 Nokia Body+ (formerly known as Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50). 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 Nokia Body ($59), which doesn't have as many features but is a solid pick for most people.
The Nokia Body+ 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 Body+ 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 Body+ 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 Body+ is uploaded, either via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, to your Nokia Health Mate account; you can view the data it gathers on the Health Mate 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 Nokia Body+ 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.
If you don't need a scale with quite as many features, Nokia's $59 Wi-Fi scale, Nokia Body, delivers the basics in a stylish package. The scale measures your weight, of course, and does so accurately. I compared it to the $200 Body Cardio and a dumb (er, not Internet-connected) $20 digital scale, and the scale was within 0.2 pounds of both.
The Body, which comes in black or white, has a 2.4 x 1.6-inch display that flashes your weight, weight trend (up or down), BMI and the weather forecast. That's useful if you're weighing in at the beginning of the day before you head outside. The screen isn't the biggest, but it's easy to read and the numbers are big and bright.
The scale syncs with the Health Mate smartphone app, which is where its Wi-Fi connection comes in handy. There you can view your data as a dashboard and see how your weight and BMI fluctuate over time. You can also set goals and pair the scale with apps such as MyFitnessPal. And like Nokia's higher-priced scales, the Body offers a pregnancy mode.
The Body doesn't measure your heart rate or your home's air quality, but those are bonus features you can do without to save some money. And unlike our last budget pick, the Wahoo Balance, this scale works with both iOS and Android devices.
Other Scales We Tested
The Fitbit Aria 2 is a refreshed version of the original Aria, though it doesn't look much different with its all-glass body and backlit LCD display. The next-generation smart scale is more accurate than the first Aria, Fitbit says, and that proved true in our testing.
The Aria 2 connects to your Wi-Fi network via the Fitbit app on your smartphone, so setup easier than the first-gen version (which required you to connect the scale to Wi-Fi using a web browser).
The Aria 2 measures the weight, body fat percentage and BMI of up to eight users, which it then automatically syncs to the Fitbit app. If you use a Fitbit activity tracker, the app's dashboard syncs information about your weigh-ins with your daily workouts and the food intake you manually input for a true overview of your body on any given day.
The scale takes several seconds to display your weight, which is annoying. It also lacks support for pregnant women. If you're deeply embedded in the Fitbit ecosystem, the Aria 2 is worth a look. Otherwise, the Nokia Body+ offers more features for less money.
MORE: 15 Best Fitness Apps
We didn’t love the first-generation QardioBase, which lost points for requiring eight AAA batteries, being a little unsteady to stand on and a lack of compatibility with other fitness apps. The second-gen model is about an inch larger in diameter than its predecessor, which makes it more stable. This version is also rechargeable and lasts up to a year on a charge instead of needing all those batteries.
The QardioBase 2 is one of the most stylish scales around, if you care about what you’re looking at when you weigh yourself. A scale takes up a not-small amount of space in your bathroom, so at least this one looks good.
Qardio is now integrated with third-party apps such as Apple Health and MyFitnessPal, a long-awaited move that we docked this scale for initially.
However, one drawback to QardioBase 2 compared to other smart scales is the time it takes to display your weight on the display, which is located in the center of the device (where you stand). In my testing, it took about 12 seconds for a number to pop up, rather than the near-instantaneous readings I get from other smart scales and my dumb digital model.
QardioBase 2 has a couple of unique features, such as a smart feedback mode that shows you smiley faces instead of numbers and a pregnancy mode you can customize according to your due date. You can choose a mode at set-up or adjust it later in the Qardio app for iOS or Android. You can use the app to set goals and see charts of your progress over time, as is standard for a smart scale.
QardioBase 2 is a solid smart scale, but we found Nokia's smart scales or Fitbit's Aria 2 are better options.
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 $100 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 the Nokia Body+ offers more features.
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."
|Best Diet and Nutrition Apps for iOS and Android|
|How to Make the Most of Your Fitbit|
|Fitness Tracker Buying Guide|