5th May 2022
By Dr Vinay Shankar
The Renpho smart scale is a hugely popular product on Amazon. It’s an affordable option for many but does it boast the features users desire?
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the Amazon Top 100 best sellers in health and personal care list on my smartphone…Honestly, I promise I have better ways to spend a Saturday morning! I spotted the Renpho Smart Body Fat scale, admittedly, there was a deal on it, but the fact that there were 191k reviews drew me in. Now, there are 204k reviews. The price seemed amazing at £25, it looked good, and it had a companion app.
Over time we have featured various smart personal care devices, including the Withings Smart Thermometer, Withings smart blood pressure monitor and the Garmin Smart Scale. The popularity of intelligent scales has surged in recent years as consumers seek ways to get more information about their weight and health. Beyond simply measuring weight, people can also quickly see their body fat percentages, BMI, and hydration levels with these devices. This data can help people to understand their wellbeing better and make healthy decisions.
Renpho makes several health-related products, including an AI smart bike, body massagers, smart jumps ropes, and even a blood pressure machine. This scale is one of their most popular offerings.
- Sleek tempered glass design with red LED display
- Bluetooth enabled
- Companion app provides 13 body measurements, including body fat, BMI, muscle mass and much more
- Four precision sensors provide weight measurements in 0.2lb/0.05kg increments
- Unlimited number of user profiles
- Connects to Apple Health, Samsung Health, Fitbit and Google Fit
Set-up and use
The set-up is effortless. Simply insert the 3 x AAA batteries, and it’s ready to go. There was no need to calibrate the scale when it was first powered up but it’s straightforward. It’s best to avoid carpets and to place the device on a firm floor. Wake up the scale with pressure from one foot; removing the foot when digits are shown will reset the scale when “CAL” is displayed.
Without the companion app, it operates as any analogue scale (Yes, we still have those in clinic rooms). It displays the weight immediately in red. The accuracy was good enough. This competition kettlebell weighs 24kg +/- 200g, so the reported weight is reasonable. It’s worth noting, that my current bathroom scale, the Salter Ultimate Accuracy is spot on at 24kg. Therefore, those who might want exact precision might want to consider something else, although a 50g difference is merely the weight of half an apple!
To access the other detailed measurements, the app is needed. You can download the app directly from the app store or follow the QR code in the mini-manual. Email, name, height, gender and age are required as these data points are needed to calculate the metrics. Bluetooth pairing occurs once added through settings in iOS or locational data being turned on for Android users.
If you need to add other users, this can be done through the “My Account” section. Within this area and the “Settings” menu, there are options to change the units, set goals, and access video tutorials.
The Renpho App
Once the app is open, and Bluetooth enabled, stepping on the scale brings up all the readings within 10 to 15 seconds. All the various points are recorded and time-stamped. These are plotted on a graph to look for trends. As a numbers guy, this looks great and it is pretty clear on the interface.
In my opinion, linking trends for individual parameters to changes in your lifestyle such as food, sleep, exercise, and stress is one of the most valuable things about smart scales. Therefore, achieving the results you are looking for with data-driven thinking.
The silver circles on the scale allow a tiny, safe electrical current to pass into the body. How easily the current passes through the body depends on how much body fat there is, this is used to calculate all the readings. There is some debate about the accuracy and error rate of smart scales. However, most of the ones on the market use similar bio-impedance tech to estimate fat levels. In addition, the app has much more detailed information beyond body fat % – Bone mass, subcutaneous & visceral fat, body water, skeletal muscle and basal metabolic rate. Each of these factors can help understand health and fitness in different ways.
Under the “circumference” section, there is the option to add the actual measurements of the waist, arms, thighs, hips and more using a measuring tape. I presume this makes the app algorithm more accurate. This isn’t the same as traditional body fat measurement, which is calculated through a few sums and skinfold callipers.
Is the Renpho Smart Body Fat Scale worth it?
At this price point and with all the detail this device provides, it’s a pretty good option. As mentioned, the weight seemed less precise than the Salter Ultimate Accuracy Scale, so it’s not one for those looking for complete accuracy. It’s hard to find data on the specifics or validation of the exact technology for the detailed measurements such as body fat, muscle mass, bone mass etc. But, it follows a similar principle to the other smart scales on the market – The key value of these is to use the same scale and monitor trends over time. The user interface on the app is brilliant with a simple but changeable colour scheme. It’s worth noting that the same login details are required for all users on the app. The main difference with the premium version offered by Renpho is the wi-fi connectivity. Other more expensive alternative options include the Withings Body+ and Garmin Smart Scale.