Nokia Steel Review

Dan O’Neill 2018-01-11 4 min read

I’ve spent a couple of weeks with the Nokia Steel now and its a nice little device. It pairs with Nokia’s Health Mate application on my phone. I have some thoughts about the watch in general, and some specific issues. Those issue are minor but exist especially around the software.

I’ve only just started wearing a watch again last year after a gap of about 15 years. I was wearing a simple analogue watch that I bought after I got married. Not wanting to go full smartwatch - I mean, who really needs another thing to charge every night? - I figured I get something a little smart, but that still looked decent.

Nokia Steel watch with leather strap

On that subject, the Nokia Steel I picked up was the “Full Black” Steel Limited Edition. It’s definitely the nicest looking version. I like the black on black look, and it tends to go with everything. I’m still using the default strap that comes with it but might switch it out for a brown strap in future. Apart from having to charge a smartwatch every day, I still don’t like with how thick smartwatches tend to be. The Steel is still a little thick for my tastes. But it hides it well with a curved section that seems to sit down in to my arm so it doesn’t look as raised.

The included black strap is a type of rubbery material. Nokia calls it “silicone sport strap”. Unfortunately, it tends to grab loads of grime throughout the day. Its stretchy silicone, so it never feels too tight but it does seem to irritate my skin a bit. I’m not sure if this is because I leave it on more than my previous watch or if my skin doesn’t like the silicone. I’ll swap out the strap at some stage and see if it changes anything.

As I mentioned, I’ve leaving it on more than my previous watches. That’s because the Steel has sleep tracker functionality that interested me. It tracks how much of my sleep is light or heavy, and how much I’m getting. Accuracy isn’t perfect but does a good enough job for me. This is also where the software that you use on the phone side fell down first for me.

To pair the watch with your phone you download the Nokia Health Mate app. This is a pretty nice app with some decent features and it’s very easy to use. You can view historical data, or sync many devices etc. I’m impressed by most of the features of Health Mate . However, the data that the watch synced to the phone is not modifiable. This can lead to problems of mislabeled periods of time. For example, if I’ve taken the watch off it thinks I’m asleep, or if I’m gaming or whatever it will also mark me down as asleep. This seems to be down to a lack of wrist movement. It’s a minor annoyance but seems like it would be an easy fix to allow me to update the data when there’s been a mistake.

I’ve noticed that the app will sometimes lose connection to my watch. That seems to be pretty rare and is simple to fix. This is important as you use the Health Mate app to set alarms on the Steel. The watches alarm is a simple but effective vibration. You set an alarm time and give it a window leading up to that. According to the Health Mate, the watch checks your sleep cycle and will wake you at the right time in that sleep cycle so that you wake refreshed. I’ve seen that theory before, but can’t be sure it’s working for me…

Nokia Steel on my wrist

Along with the sleep tracking, it also tracks swimming, walking, and running. It was the swimming that grabbed my attention along with the looks of this device as its a very nice feature to have. Health Mate also gathers data from Nokia’s other health-based hardware. If you don’t have Nokia’s scales or other devices, you can enter data manually if tracking is your thing.

So I’m very impressed with the watch. I appreciate the minimal styling. The tracking features are nice to have even if they are a little inaccurate. I’ll also change the strap at some stage soon to see if the irritation is a silicone issue.

The Steel is a solid purchase if a simple hybrid watch is your goal. It is available online from Nokia, or from Amazon (affiliate link).