Bellabeat Leaf Review – Branching out with Smart Jewellery
When I was asked to review a fitness tracker, I wasn’t all that excited, to be honest. While I like the idea of fitness trackers, I’ve never particularly liked the look of any of them. To me, at 40, there’s nothing attractive about wearing a glorified rubber band around your wrist, even if it can give you all of your daily activity and sleep stats. When I first saw the Bellabeat Leaf, however, I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the look of it — somewhere between elegant and unassuming. It’s a wood and metal leaf that seemed like it would look equally good with business casual or active wear. Under the hood (or metal overlay, as it were), though, it’s a full-on fitness tracker.
Bellabeat Leaf price when reviewed: $119.99
OK, I thought. I’ll give this a shot.
Target Demographic for the Bellabeat Leaf
Obviously, the Bellabeat Leaf is designed for women and there is no Leaf equivalent for men. The Leaf and its app are also simple to use, making it seem like Bellabeat’s target demographic is first time tracker users who are interested in fitness but are not hardcore exercise fanatics. (Of course, you could say the same about devices like the Fitbit Flex or the Jawbone Up.)
The sleep tracking function makes it especially appealing to first-timers who are perhaps a bit stressed, light sleepers, or suffer from a touch of insomnia. Since all of those describe me to varying degrees, I appreciated having a visual readout of what my nights looked like.
The Biggest Pluses of Using the Leaf
By far, the best part of using the Bellabeat Leaf was that I didn’t always have to have my phone on me to track my activity. The Leaf can store up to 14 days of data before it runs out of space and needs to be synced. Sure, I often have my phone with me, but it felt very freeing to be able to disconnect for a while and just take a walk in the park.
I also really appreciated the motivation it gave me to keep moving. I had always been moderately active (daily walks or the occasional jog), but knowing I had a device to track my numbers pushed me to do more.
I know that these two pluses apply to most fitness trackers out there, and that they’re not describing anything unique to the Leaf. But remember, I wasn’t interested in wearing an ordinary fitness tracker — I wanted something that looked good and didn’t announce to the world that my activity numbers were continually being counted. These features, plus the Leaf’s attractive package, are huge advantages for me.
Battery, Breathing and Other Advantages
There are a number of other things that I liked about the Bellabeat Leaf. First, the button cell battery that powers the device eliminates the need for daily charging. Instead, you just need to spend a few quid to replace it every six months or so. All of the metal on the Leaf is hypoallergenic, which is great news for wearers with sensitive skin (like me). And for some reason, I expected there to be some noise or buzzing emitting from the Leaf, but I was pleasantly surprised (and a little relieved) to discover that it was 100% quiet.
Some other features on the Bellabeat Leaf are great additions. The breathing exercises helped me to discover that my breathing is quite shallow. I’m working on improving my technique, and as a result, I’ve noticed an improvement in my breathing when I’m doing more strenuous exercise. The reproductive health features were also useful in understanding the links between my moods and overall well being with my ovulation cycle. You can even activate a reminder to take your birth control pill.
While there were no huge deal breakers for me regarding the Bellabeat Leaf, there were a few things that irked me. For starters, I found the silent vibrating alarm to be too harsh of a wake up call. I suppose some individuals need the strong vibration to rouse them, but it was too much of a jolt for me, and there’s no way to dial down the strength. It’s also not a smart alarm, so it wakes you for the time you set, not when you’re in a light part of your sleep cycle.
The Leaf also doesn’t recognise individual activities. It tracks steps taken, active time, and calories burned, but if you do another type of activity (like Yoga), you’ll have to enter it manually. Also it is not a water resistant or waterproof Tracker, so if you’re an avid swimmer, you can still track your water workouts by simply adding that activity manually afterwards (type of sport and time), which is quick and easy and not a problem at all.
Finally, there’s no heart rate monitor on the Leaf. That’s understandable, since it’s not meant to always be worn next to the skin, but it is a drawback for individuals who want a more robust tracker.
Questions About Accuracy
Even before I started wearing the Bellabeat Leaf, I wondered about how accurate fitness trackers were. After two weeks of wearing the Leaf, I now have my answer: somewhat accurate, but maybe not entirely accurate. On the plus side, it always seemed to get my active time right; it knows when you’re moving and when you’re not. Plus, if you haven’t done any activity in a while, the app will buzz you and remind you to move a little more.
The calorie count, for starters, always seemed a little disappointing to me. It’s based on an algorithm that figures your height, weight, number of steps, and time active, which should work, but the numbers that the app would show me always felt low.
A few experiences also make me not sure about its sleep tracking accuracy. For example, two hours after I went to sleep one night, I got out of bed to use the bathroom. However, the Bellabeat Leaf didn’t register that I got out of bed. Instead, it started tracking my sleep when I got back into bed the second time, and therefore showed that I got two hours less sleep than I actually got. It also seems like the Leaf registers the time I actually fall asleep as later than I actually do.
The Leaf can be worn on the wrist like a bracelet, on a chain like a pendant, or clipped on a pocket or collar. I normally don’t wear jewellery, but I found that wearing the Bellabeat Leaf like a necklace didn’t feel heavy or get in my way too much. It sometimes got heavy toward the end of the day, but when it did, I just clipped the device to my shirt. I didn’t have the bracelet adaptor for it, but I might have preferred wearing the Leaf that way, since I’m already used to wearing a wristwatch.
I also had some concerns about wearing it to sleep — would this device get in my way when I tossed and turned? Would it fall off my pyjamas? Happily, neither of these was an issue. I didn’t notice it at all when I was sleeping, and the clip is remarkably secure. Even after rolling over at least a few times during the night, I woke up to find the Leaf in the exact same spot I clipped it before drifting off.
The Bottom Line
Now that my two weeks of testing the Bellabeat Leaf is up, I’m not sure I’m ready to take it off. It’s definitely a surprise for me, but I actually enjoy having the type of activity feedback that this device provides, and I appreciate how nice it looks with most of my outfits. No one suspects I’ve got a fitness tracker on — they just think I have a favourite new piece of jewellery.
Of course, it’s not perfect. I would love for the Leaf to include more sleep details, like REM versus non-REM sleep, or a place to add some details about how I felt when I woke up. Still, these are things that can be included in future app or firmware updates. I’d still recommend the Bellabeat Leaf as is, especially for women who have been a little sceptical of the whole fitness tracker craze, and I’d rate it about an 8.2 on a scale of 1-10.
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