The iHealth Wave is a swimming and fitness tracker which does more than monitor the metrics of performance in the pool as with many of the other trackers. The iHealth records various aspects of pool performance such as;
- Stroke type
- Number of strokes
- Amount of calories burnt
This is as an addition to the other functionalities such as sleep monitoring and step counting. All this provides an all-round look of both day and night activity.
The device is priced at $79.99 at the time of this review which is both affordable and competitive against the current competition. The immediate comparison for this device include trackers such as Moov Now and Misfit Speedo Shine. The major distinction about the Wave is that it offers the user a screen from where one can monitor progress while wearing the device on the wrist. Although there are some dedicated watches for swimming such as Poolmate Pro and Garmin Swim, they fall short in offering tracking ability for daily activities.
For a more in-depth look, let’s explore the following aspects of the Wave
- Activity tracking
- Battery life
Design of the Wave
The wave comes with a sporty look that looks and feels robust, solid and generally a well-built wear. It does not scream style or elegance but it offers a good sports feel and look. The strap is made out of silicone which is comparable to the one on Fitbit Charge and Charge HR and also a buckle that is watch-like and not too big for the wrist. The package comes with a blue and black option and switching between the two is fairly simple i.e. the strap is pulled above the screen. At the front mid-section is a mirror-like OLED touchscreen which means it is somehow difficult to view the screen outdoors but it’s perfect while underwater and indoors. The screen is large enough to present data although not all of it is utilized which can be disappointing. The device offers gesture support where you can turn display on and switch through screens by simply flicking your wrist although this need to be vigorous so as to work. The charging port is at the back of the screen and it clips at the back of the charger to secure the device. Wearing it often is not a problem as its light is not damaging and no issues of skin irritation have been reported. It’s also quite light.
The data collected by the Wave is stored in a smartphone app which is compatible with iPhone and Android, 6.0 and 4.4 and above respectively. The app enables the user to view data in progress graphs and trends while also showing a list of activities. A drop down menu at the left has vitals and a collection of readings. It also displays weight, blood pressure and allows the user set targets and alarms on top of switching to swim mode in the settings section. The app is generally slick but more integration of data as offered by other apps would be better.
Tracking of Activity
The biggest feature of the Wave is swim tracking which needs to be activated in the smartphone app. Although there is a lag of about a minute or so in detecting start of swimming, it flashes an icon on the display to indicate tracking has begun. The display only shows the duration while more data is only accessible after syncing with the app. The app then displays;
- Number of strokes
- Strokes in a minute
- Calorie burn
- Type of stroke i.e. (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and others)
Data recorded on the iHealth app varies when compared to other apps such as TomTom Spark such as stroke count in a minute, calorie burn and duration which is a direct result of the slow detection of swim activity. Despite the small inaccuracy, the device performance is above standard.
Regarding activity tracking, the Wave does a commendable job by displaying the following;
- Count of steps
- Calories burnt
- Daily target progress
The Wave has a downside in accuracy which has to do with algorithm but it is key that the swim mode is deactivated when not swimming to avoid misleading tracking. When the swim mode is left on, activities such as walking are recorded as a workout while gym workout is recorded as swimming. Despite that, the Wave offers most probably the best inactivity alarm to remind you to be active by vibrating upon prolonged inactivity.
Battery life of the Wave
The Wave can remain powered for up to two weeks which is quite impressive. However, this is dependent on how frequent the swim mode is activated and the use of inactivity and silent alarm. Swimming for an average of 45 minute regularly will reduce the span to about a week which is still impressive.
The iHealth Wave is an impressive device in all aspects of fitness tracking although not necessarily unique. The focus is however on pool tracking performance where it clearly offers more value than other devices in the same price range. Despite accuracy issues and the omission of distance recording, the iHealth Wave is a perfect companion to casual swimmers.