1. Expert reviews

Test: The 6 Best Scales of 2021

Daniel Hessel

Updated January 21, 2021

Want to keep track of your weight? We tested a range of scales, both standard and smart models. We name the Withings Body+ the best choice, as it’s both multi-functional and consistent in terms of measurement, while being a premium product at two-thirds of the price.

Test: Keep tabs on your weight with proper bathroom scales

How we performed the tests

We test all products ourselves and use them as they are intended to be used in everyday life. Each set of scales has been set with profiles, network services and values according to the manufacturer's instructions and has then been used daily for at least one month. Test subjects consisted of two adults and a small child, plus intermittent measurements of interested visitors. Several scales were used at the same weigh-in to see if they differed and if so by how much. At the same time, a separate set of scales – not included in the test – was used as a reference. For scales that also measure body fat, these were compared with other scales that do the same thing, combined with at least one caliper measurement, per scale, as a reference point.

In our tests, we focused primarily on the following three factors:

  • Use: Do you simply stand on the scales or do you need to do something else? How easy is it to set up the different special functions?

  • Accuracy: The scales were checked against other models to see how well they performed. We also made sure they measured accurately as often as possible, without producing totally incorrect results.

  • Build quality: Because you have to stand on scales, it’s important they feel robust. Squeaky and cheap feeling plastic isn’t really desirable.

We also took into account the scale's design and any special functions. We then took all the results and looked at them in relation to the price of the scales. For each set of scales tested, we allocated a score based on their value for money.

1. Withings Body+ - BEST CHOICE IN SCALES

A bullseye set of scales that make more expensive models obsolete

Price class: Premium Measurement data: Weight, body fat, muscle mass, bone mass, body water, caloric needs, and BMI Accuracy (weight): 90 grams (0,19 lb) Operation time: One year on 4xAAA batteries Maximum weight: 180 kg (396 lb) Miscellaneous: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Withings Body+

Withings Body+ kicks in the door and installs itself right in our hearts. It is to such a degree that we actually struggle to see why one would consider Withings' own high-end model, the Body Cardio. Sure, the Body Cardio has a rechargeable battery and can measure your pulse, but those are the only real differences between the two, and the Body+ is a whopping £50 cheaper (on average)!

Easy installation from start to finish

If you've used one of Withings' scales before, you'll feel right at home here. The scales are well-built and the surface and display ooze of quality. The display is large, clear, and easy to read.

Close-up of the Withings Body+ display, with the measurement set to body water percentage

The Withings app is simple and connecting the scales to the app and your Wi-Fi is a straight forward process that even the least tech savvy of us can handle. As long as the different users don't have the exact same measurements, the scales will recognise each individual user and send their relevant data to the app for easy tracking. It does occasionally overdo it by porting all measurements to the app, which seems overkill if you only want to, for instance, port your BMI.

True connectivity

The definitive advantage of using Withings has always been their focus on multi-connectivity. It is surprisingly difficult to find a workout or dietary service that doesn't work with Withings' systems. This means that you can port all your relevant measurements straight into the Apple Health or Myfitnesspal apps, just to name those two. We find it to be a great system as it saves you a lot of time you'd otherwise be using manually inputting data.

A premium look and feel with all you could ever need

Throughout our testing, we found the scales to measure accurately pretty much every time. Once in a blue moon, it did randomly display measurements completely off, but we found this to be corrected simply by stepping off and onto the scales again.

Picture of the white Withings Body+ on the floor

When all is said and done, the Body+ is very close to being what we'd consider the end all be all in bathroom/personal scales. It does everything you could want it to and it's easy to use. Thus, if you want diagnostic scales that measure more than you actually need, with measurements that can easily be ported into different services for your convenience, then we can only recommend the Withings Body+. It passes with flying colours.

Easy to installaccurate and reliable measurementssolid build quality
No rechargeable batterymismeasures once in a blue moon

Price Comparison

Compare all prices

Bikesy

Withings Body Smart Scale

£59.95
Wiggle Logotype

Withings Body Plus Smart Scale - One Size White | Heart Rate Monitors

£89.95
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Withings Body Plus Smart Scale - Black, Black

£89.95

2. Withings Body Cardio - BEST PREMIUM CHOICE

Withings' front runner model with more measurements than you could possibly need

Price class: Premium Measurement data: Weight, body fat, muscle mass, bone mass, water levels, pulse, PWV, and BMI Accuracy (weight): 90 grams (0,19 lb) Operating time: One year (rechargeable battery) Maximum weight: 180 kg (396 lb) Miscellaneous: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Withings Body Cardio

Withings Body Cardio is, without a doubt, the prime bathroom scales in Withings' arsenal of scales. Alongside the company's changing ownership, the top model scales have constantly received worthwhile upgrades, and as such, Withings' Body Cardio is the obvious winner of our best premium choice label.

Measurements, measurements, measurements...

If you're only looking to track your weight loss and gain, then the Body Cardio is probably not the right scales for you. This is simply because these scales track so much more than that. Now hang on, because the Body Cardio tracks weight, body fat, water levels, bone mass, muscle mass, pulse, BMI, and even your PWV. PWV is Pulse Wave Velocity, and it's a measurement of how fast blood is transported throughout the body. Neat to know, yeah?

Our point is: This badboy tracks more measurements than your average user could possibly need, and even if you do need them, we can't think of a measurement that's missing from the list. We see this level of measurement as a big plus, since if you're someone who needs these measurements, you have access to all of them in one solid package.

Yet, some of the measurements might not really be of interest for the long haul. Your bone mass doesn't really change over time, but having it tracked does help provide the full overview of your body's weight distribution. Fat and water, on the other hand, are much more relevant for those looking to track their weight changes. We are therefore also pleased to announce that the scales' ability to measure these levels is extremely accurate. So accurate in fact that not once during our testing did we receive an inaccurate reading.

When all that is said, the scales do actually make demands of you as a user, if you want to measure anything other than weight. The first couple of times we tried using it, we were puzzled as to why it would not measure anything other than weight. As it turned out, it's because we're silly. The analytical functions use a very weak electrical charge to measure the relevant data. Therefore, you can only measure all the other attributes if you have wet feet. While it does seem a tad pedantic compared to other analytical scales, there is a certain comfort to the fact that these scales only measure for utmost accuracy.

Profiles and usability

One of the lovely features of the Withings Body Cardio is the fact that it is capable of figuring out who is using it. With our testing family of four persons, the scales were always able to determine who was using them.

Of course, this only works if the various persons have added a profile in Withings' own app. Connecting the scales to your Wi-Fi and the app is about as easy as it could be though, so it's really not a hassle of any kind. Once it's done, you got all the measurements right there in the app for your convenience.

Now, what really separates the Withings Body Cardio from other brands, such as Garmin, is the fact that it's not about the data itself, but how you can use it. From the beginning, Withings has been very open about interconnectivity between different services and apps, and as such, it is honestly harder to find a related service that the scales and app don't syncronise with, rather than opposite. It makes it super easy to connect your measurements to your preferred workout or diet app, for instance, and it just helps you see the full picture that much faster than you otherwise would.

Premium through and through

The scales feel just as premium as they look. It's a heavy and solid build, and the kicker is that the battery is built-in and rechargeable. It's operating time is just about one year, and then it's easy to just recharge the battery with a micro USB-cable. It just doesn't get easier.

Withings Body Cardio offers pretty much everything we'd ever want from bathroom scales. It's ease of use, combined with practical and thorough external connectivity options simply make for a package solution with a value proposition that is hard to deny. While not all the measurements feel really important to an everyday user, the fact that they are there is simply icing on the cake, and for the right user, this level of detail is perhaps exactly what you'd be looking for. The Body Cardio is, plain and simply, the best premium option available.

Rechargeable batterysolid build qualityvery precise measurements and valueslots of options
Pedantic analysis function

3. Garmin Index Smart Scale

Great scales for those who already use Garmin's other products

Price class: Premium Measurement data: Weight, body fat, muscle mass, bone mass Accuracy (weight): 100 grams (0,22 lb) Operating time: 9 months Maximum weight: 180 kg (396 lb) Miscellaneous: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ANT+

Garmin Index

The Garmin Index Smart Scale is a reliable set of personal scales which perfectly complements Garmin’s own heart rate monitors and activity meters. To get the most out of the scales, you also need to use Garmin's app, as there aren’t really many options for sharing data with other services.

The scales themselves, on the other hand, offer pretty much everything you could want. Using bioimpedance, the scales measure fat, muscle, water and bone mass in your body, along with your weight and BMI. These scales delivered stable measurement values throughout our test period, and almost never produced strange or erroneous measurements.

Despite measuring many values, weighing yourself is still a fairly quick process.

The scales recognise you

The scales themselves hardly stand out in terms of design, but they feel well-built and really sturdy. The screen has a fairly low resolution, but is still easy to read.

One fun feature, which certainly isn’t unique to Garmin, but facilitates use, is that the scales automatically work out who’s standing on them out of the connected users. That’s a really convenient function that makes using the scales much easier.

Connect to Garmin's services

The scales have to be connected to Garmin's app and web service, and this gives you access to a lot of information.

You make the basic settings by pairing the scales with the app through Bluetooth (which you can continue to use if you want), and you also have the opportunity to connect with Wi-Fi. Because Garmin have been making training watches for a very long time, you can also connect with ANT+. You usually find this transfer technology between a heart rate monitor and a heart rate strap, but it's fun to see the possibilities here as well. Once paired with the app, you can see all your measured values and even get graphs of them.

If you exercise with a Garmin watch, your data will be more comprehensive (particularly if you also log your diet) and this is where the scales really come into their own. Though if we disregard Garmin’s own services, this is a disadvantage and things are rather frugal as not many other services can be connected.

All in all, the Garmin Index is a really good and functional set of scales. The price is quite high, but you do get features to match – at least if you use Garmin's other products at the same time.

Stable measurement valueswell-builtgood connection
Not enough third-party serviceseasy-to-read but rather boring display

4. Garmin Index S2

A nice update if you already use Garmin products

Price class: Premium Measurement data: Weight, body fat, muscle mass, bone mass Accuracy (weight): 90 grams (0,19 lb) Operating time: One year (4xAAA batteries) Maximum weight: 180 kg (396 lb) Miscellaneous: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Garmin Index S2

Garmin's first set of personal scales was a fairly complicated story for its time, with close integration of Garmin's own ecosystem and a lot of measurements. If these original scales were compared side-by-side to the Garman Index S2, the two would very much appear similar. Yet, the S2 is not about new functions, but rather focused on a new design and a significantly improved built.

A visual makeover

We never really thought of the original Index as being an ugly unit, but when compared to the new and updated model, the old one looks almost archaeic. The shape has been rounded, it's a tad smaller, and the display has been upgraded for a vastly improved look and feel. Especially the display is a lot easier to read and supports the viewing of relevant information to a whole new extent.

Close-up shot of the Garmin Index S2 display

If we disregard the fact that the plastic feet tend to make quite some noise when dragged along the floor, then we actually have a really stable and well-built set of scales. Just like the original Index, the S2 measures your weight, body fat, muscle mass, water levels, and bone mass. Like the previous model, the Garmin S2 delivers all the results and values to the extent they are measurable.

A more stable system

If there's anything users of the first Index didn't like, it was the unstable Wi-Fi function. While we never personally experienced issues, we know for a fact that it was a topic of hot debate. This is why Garmin has specifically made strides to improve the Wi-Fi connectivity, in order to ensure a stable and reliable connection. Based on all of our testing, we are happy to announce that they succeeded, as we did not have a single Wi-Fi related issue.

One thing that is unchanged from the previous model is the fact that this is a set of Garmin scales. If you already utilise a variety of Garmin products, the Index S2 will nicely integrate through the Garmin Connect app. Oppositely, if you do not use Garmin products, you will find that the S2 struggles to communicate with other services that are not Garmin related, unfortunately.

In the end, the Garmin Index S2 is a solid choice for a set of bathroom scales if you want a solid data foundation and measurements, and if you're already using Garmin products anyway.

Accurate readingsplenty of measured valueswell designed
Could have used a rechargable batterylocked into Garmin's services

5. Omron HN-289

Stylish, convenient scales which often get the most important thing wrong

Price class: Premium Measurement data: Weight Accuracy (weight): 100 grams (0,22 lb) Operating time: 12 months Maximum weight: 180 kg (396 lb)

Omron HN-289

The Omron HN-289 is a traditional set of scales, which have been given a modern design. Essentially, these are ordinary scales with a glass sheet over the entire top part, with only the logo and a small display visible.

Our version was the silver variant, which in practice means the glass plate is frosted with a light silver tone underneath. The sturdy glass top makes the scales feel stable, even if they do rock a little when placed on the floor.

Complains about the battery

The scales are very simple. You stand on them and they show your weight in large and clear numbers. These scales don’t even pretend to offer any more than that and so they shouldn’t be compared with more expensive diagnostic scales with lots of functions.

However, even performing such a basic function, these scales don’t seem very happy with their lot. Only a few weeks after first use, you are met by the text 'Lo' on the display, which indicates a low battery level. Being delivered with poor quality batteries can happen to the best of products. However, the same thing happened again only one or two weeks later, and by the third battery change (and cleaning the battery terminals), it became apparent that these scales are just fatigued all the time. Yet, if you wait a moment, then stand on the scales again, they will show your weight without complaining about the battery... Odd.

Don’t show the correct weight

No matter how many fresh batteries we put in the scales, however, the biggest problem was that the above mentioned fatigue affected the results. Somewhere, around every tenth weigh-in or so, your readings go several kilos up or down. The solution is the same as for the batteries – get off the scales and then stand on them again, and it works fine, but this is quite a nuisance.

The Omron HN-289 is a set of small, attractive and well-built scales which, despite its simplicity, is far from trouble free. What causes the battery warnings, and the incorrect weigh-ins, is difficult to say, but both happen far too often for us to be satisfied with such basic scales.

Well-builtstylish and unobtrusive design
Often weighs incorrectlyendlessly warns about battery levels

6. Omron BF511

Plasticky and fiddly scales with functions that only work sometimes

Price class: Premium Measurement data: Weight, body fat, muscle mass, bone mass Accuracy (weight): 100 grams (0,22 lb) Operating time: 9 months Maximum weight: 180 kg (396 lb)

Omron BF511

The Omron BF511 is a set of diagnostic scales that measure your weight, BMI, fat percentage, fluid volume and muscle mass. Details for up to four users can be stored for use on the scales. Such a low number of users feels even worse when you consider that you manually have to switch the user with a button press. Scales that automatically guess who’s standing on them (and are usually right) can usually do twice as many profiles, if not more, without any issue.

Handle with a cord

The Omron BF511 is a rather strange device, especially if you’re used to ordinary scales that you more or less just stand on. The scales themselves are quite large and heavy. They are also made of very creaky plastic, which doesn’t exactly make you feel confident.

On the scales, there are four metal plates that are used for half of the measurement. The idea is that you can disconnect the entire front part of the scales – the handle. The handle is attached with a pull-out cord and consists of two grips with metal parts for measurement as well as a display and buttons.

Getting started with this requires you to study the manual to set the basic settings for different users. In other words, none of it is very logical. At each weigh-in, you have to manually set who’s standing on the scales.

Even more so, for everything to work properly, you also have to make sure you follow the checklist below. Stand barefoot directly on the metal plates. Your feet mustn’t be too wet (like just out of the shower, for instance), the handles should also be held in a special way, your arms at a particular angle and so on. It’s all very serious, which is reassuring in a way… but also quite fiddly to use.

All sorts of measurements

In addition to displaying all the measurements, you can also compare these, in a very simplistic way, with previous results. Once again, however, navigating your way around is totally illogical, which means you don’t really feel inclined to use this function.

Wi-Fi or any other sort of connection to the outside world is lacking which, to be fair, isn’t Omron's intention here. At the same time, connectivity would make your history much easier to follow.

With all that said, are the readings at least any good? For the most part, measurements all stay within reasonable values. At the same time, it’s important that you have some idea of what these should be right from the start. This is because the scales very often give completely misleading values, even when our testers follow all the instructions.

If you stand on the scales five times in a row, the weight, fat or water values are totally wrong at least once or twice, while the scales show the correct result the rest of the time, and when the scales get it wrong, they really get it wrong, with a 10-20% higher fat percentage than what's actually the case. Of course, such measurements are then also saved, which messes up your history completely.

The idea behind the Omron BF511 is very good, but the extremely cheap construction, combined with a fiddly interface and incorrect readings mean this simply isn’t a very good product.

The hand grips create a serious impressionmeasures lots of different values
Plastickydifficult to usemis-measures oftenallows few users

Scales

Bathroom scales, or simply just scales, are a type of product found in more or less every home. A set of scales is a helpful device that quickly and easily shows whether you’re gaining or losing weight, whether fast food is taking its toll and whether your gym membership is paying dividends.

Essentially, a set of scales is a very simple device. You stand on the scale and it tells you your weight. Whether or not you write that measurement down is up to you. If you do keep a note of your weight in a diary or via an exercise app, there are several ways to make the weigh-in more interesting.

More than just weight

Although you can pay just for design, sometimes there are extra features which may make a set of scales cost more:

BMI:

The most basic feature is BMI (Body Mass Index) calculation, which is an approximate and simple way to see whether you’re overweight or underweight.

Fat measurement:

Another feature is fat measurement, something that takes place via what's known as bioimpedance. A weak electric current is sent through your body, and by examining how long it takes for the current to travel through the body, the amount of fat can be calculated (because fat, muscle, water and bone have different densities and conduct the current differently). This is one of the most common methods of measuring fat, and also the simplest. While medical tools or a caliper can provide more accurate readings, scales with fat measurement often provide a useful figure too. It’s worth remembering that factors such as exercise or dehydration can easily affect this type of measurement, so it’s important to be consider when you use it.

Bioimpedance:

The next step is to use bioimpedance to measure more values in the body, such as how much the body’s bones, muscles, and water content weigh. In addition to the amount of water, there are values that either change slowly (muscles) or not at all (bones), but which can still be interesting to keep track of if you’re logging your body values.

Intelligence

Another feature that has been added to scales in recent years is smartness – in other words, whether or not the scales are connected. Smart scales can send all data, either by Bluetooth to an app on your mobile, or by Wi-Fi, to a service on the internet. This way, you don’t have to remember or write down the numbers yourself and you also get nice graphs of how your values have changed – or not – over time.

It’s worth mentioning that some manufacturers like to lock you into their own app and their own service, and if you already use an app to log your diet or exercise, it may be worth checking to see which scales can communicate with it.

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