Nokia Steel HR Review: Hybrid Smartwatch With Classic Timepiece Flair

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Nokia Steel HR Design, Comfort, And Battery Life

The Nokia Steel HR’s sleek and minimal design will be a hit with those who prefer a more classic style of watch. The device can easily work in both a gym and a business professional environment.

nokia steel hr on wrist

The Steel HR features a traditional round analog clock dial, a customizable OLED notification display, and an activity sub-dial that tracks a user’s step progress. The Steel HR’s OLED screen was easy to see in various lighting conditions, thanks to the mineral glass encasement. Some users have complained that the mineral glass scratches easily. We did find this to be true, but the scratches were minimally noticeable in bright light. A little round button on the right side of the watch turns on and changes the notification screen, silences alarms, and begins and ends “continuous heart rate” mode. The curved back of the case allows the device to easily rest on one’s wrist.
nokia steel hr full view
The activity subdial measures how close a user is to meeting their step goal for the day. The periphery of the sub-dial is divided into 1% and 10% increments. If a user reaches their step goal, the sub-dial will reset, but the total number of steps will be accurate in the app. We found this sub-dial to be an inconspicuous, but effective way of keeping us on track with our step goals.

nokia steel hr profile

The round button on the side of the device needs to be pressed for roughly two seconds to begin or end continuous heart rate mode. Users will be able to look down at their wrist and keep track of their heart rate during a workout session. They will be unable to access other notifications until this mode has been turned off. The Steel HR vibrates slightly whenever this mode is engaged or disengaged. The round button can also be used to activate the notification sub-dial and switch through the various displays. If the user does not press the button, their current notification screen will remain visible for about thirty seconds.

The Steel HR vibrates when a user receives a text message or phone call or when an alarm or calendar reminder has been set off. We found the vibration to be strong enough to catch our attention, but subtle enough to not distract others. We received a phone call during a business meeting, but no one else in the rather crowded room seemed to notice that the device had vibrated. A quick press of the button on the side of the device will stop the vibration.
nokia steel hr watchface angle
It is important to note that the Steel HR does not include a touchscreen. You will only be able to receive text message, phone call, and calendar notifications. This feature can be a positive or a negative depending on the user’s preferences. The lack of touchscreen means that the Steel HR looks and functions more like a regular watch and less like a wearable smart device, though it is obviously a bit of both.

nokia steel hr boxed strap options

One of the biggest draws of the Steel HR is the number of wristband selections. The leather, woven, and silicone wristband options are all comfortable to wear and easily adjustable. The leather and silicone wristbands include notches to adjust their size, but the woven wristband does not. We did notice that there was a slight bend in the leather wristband after one of the notches had been consistently used. This bend did not appear with the woven or silicone wristbands.

Nokia states that the Steel HR is water-resistant up to 5ATM or 165 feet deep and can be used to track swimming sessions. We did not personally test the limits of Nokia’s claims, but we found that the device was unaffected by less extreme circumstances like washing dishes or taking a shower.

nokia steel hr watchface battery

Nokia Steel HR Battery Life Is A Major Strength

nokia steel hr next to charger
Nokia Steel HR Cradle Charger
Battery life of the Nokia Steel HR is fantastic. Nokia claims that the device will last for 25 days with normal use and 4 days in “continuous heart rate” or “work-out” mode. We found this estimate to be accurate. The Steel HR remained at 100% for four days with normal use. Even the “continuous heart rate” mode only siphoned a little percentage of the battery life when it was used during a work-out session. Nokia's Steel HR cannot match the 8-month battery life of its predecessor, but it is is also capable of much more. Battery life with this wearable smart timepiece is altogether superb and lasts significantly longer than some similar devices.

Charging the Steel HR is simple. It includes a cradle charger which the watch rests on. We did find that this cradle does not grab the watch as securely as others do, but it does charge incredibly quickly. Regardless, combined with the outstanding battery life, the Nokia Steel HR seldom needs to leave your wrist for long.

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