The scale is one of those household appliances most people seem to love to hate. It’s useful, but it’s sort of like Schroedinger’s scale: it can boost your ego or break your heart every time you step onto it. Nokia wants to make the scale a bit more useful and helpful, even if it can’t always give good news!
First, let’s talk about the design of the Nokia Body Scale. It looks really nice-it is a solid black with a screen that blends in when it is off, with a shiny surface that makes it easy to keep clean (key, if it lives in a bathroom!). There are no buttons or switches on the front, and the only button and access to the batteries are both on the bottom. Basically, the scale is almost too pretty to keep hidden away, which is helpful since you obviously own the scale for a reason and should at least try to use it!
Using it is pretty simple. This is a WiFi scale, so first, you download the Nokia Health app to get the scale connected. I had a weird issue with it not connecting to my WiFi for a while, but it’s hard to say if it was user error or an issue with the scale, but a few reboots of the scale seemed to fix it. Once it was connected, I set up a profile and entered my height, which allowed the scale to calculate my BMI every time I used it (more on BMI below). After the initial setup, every time I used the scale it was able to tell me my current weight/BMI, and then it would also helpfully share the day’s weather with me. I thought the weather thing was a bit of a gimmick since approximately 25,000 apps on my phone could tell me the weather, but I actually found it very helpful. Four mornings a week I try to get up to go to the gym, so hopping on the scale as I get ready to go also helped me figure out whether to wear pants or shorts, as well as help me figure out how guilty I would feel if I cut any workouts short that day. All jokes aside, weighing yourself daily has been linked to long-term weight loss success, so having a scale that painlessly tracks those numbers daily makes that a relatively easy goal!
The other half of the Nokia Body scale is the Nokia Health app itself. It does a lot more than just helpfully chart your BMI and weight; it can track steps as well as manually accept logged activities, plus it can measure your heart rate. Nokia recently bought Withings, so there’s a slew of trackers and other devices that can also interface with the app, from step counters to blood pressure cuffs. The app is great, with a simple interface but a great deal of detail available if you want it. Nokia also helpfully tracks a summary of your week, with your average weight and the number of weekly steps you took, so you can determine how active you are in aggregate. I think this is actually pretty smart because it can be unrealistic to hit the exact amount of steps needed every day, but you may have days that are more active than others to balance it out. Looking at it from a weekly standpoint can help give you a clearer view of your activity. It’s also extraordinarily helpful with tracking your weight for the same reason; you may have slight fluctuations up or down over the course of a week, but the app will tell you if the overall trend is up or down, making daily fluctuations less stressful.
Now, coming back to BMI for a moment. It’s a well-known and easy shorthand measurement for overall health, but it’s actually not that accurate or that helpful. Numerous doctors and scientists have pointed out that BMI doesn’t properly take into account muscle tone or bone structure. This is important because (in theory) you could be classified as “overweight” but have very little body fat and just have a fair amount of muscle. Likewise, you can be what’s sometimes called “skinny fat”, and be thin but with no muscle tone, which isn’t healthy either, even if it gives you a “normal” BMI. Having said that, discounting BMI doesn’t mean it can’t be useful, it just means that it’s not always a perfect and realistic goal. It’s probably best to use BMI as one tool, along with physical body measurements and just plain old “how well do my clothes fit?” My experience over the last month or so is a good example. I need to lose fat, and so my BMI is higher than I would like. I’m also spending a lot of time lifting weights. Currently, my BMI has only gone down slightly, but my thighs, waist, and arms have changed for the better. Over time, it’s likely my BMI will catch up with my measurements, because I definitely have more fat I want to lose, but if I allowed myself to measure solely by BMI I would feel pretty discouraged right now. Coming back to the Nokia Body, I have some concerns about putting BMI front and center because of the legitimate criticisms of the standard. Personally, I would rather just get my weight and have the app prompt me to take measurements of my body weekly. [For more on BMI, check out these two articles from NPR and TIME.]
Overall, I really like the Nokia Body scale. It’s attractive, reasonably priced at $59.95, works well with the excellent Nokia Health app, has an established ecosystem of fitness products around it, and makes daily weight tracking nearly painless. The weather report is a nice touch too! If you’re looking for a simple WiFi scale, Nokia Body should be high on your list!
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
What I Liked: Affordable; health app has an established and useful ecosystem of features and devices; scale is responsive; design is attractive
What Needs Improvement: Too much focus on BMI; had some WiFi connection issues during setup