YHE's BP Doctor Smart Watch measures your blood pressure with an inflatable wrist band [Review]

Although my Apple Watch is capable of doing a lot of things, such as delivering messages and letting me reply to them, reporting on the weather, and controlling my music, it’s the many health functions I get the most from.

BP Doctor Smart Watch is much more affordable alternative to the Apple Watch that offers a wealth of similar health monitoring tricks, including recording your heart rate and blood oxygen levels, sleep time and HRV (Sleeping Heart Rate Variability), activity (outdoor walking, and indoor or outdoor running) and calories burned. It also has another impressive ability, and one that gives the device its name -- it can record your blood pressure.

Despite being sporty and eating well I do suffer from raised blood pressure, so regularly measure my BP at home with a traditional oscillometric device with a cuff that inflates around the upper arm. I’ve found recordings with that tend to be accurate and on a par with those recorded by doctors, so I was intrigued as to how the BP Doctor Smart Watch recordings -- achieved with an inflatable wrist strap -- might compare. Before we get to that though, I should tell you more about the watch itself.

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BP Doctor Smart Watch measures in at 54x38x12.9mm and weighs 80g. It features a 1.41 inch lozenge-shaped AMOLED touch screen with a 320x360 resolution. The device is powered by a 208MHz MTK processor and sports 256MB RAM and a 170mAh Li battery which I’ve found tends to deliver 2-3 days battery life, depending on how much you use it. If that sounds impressive it’s because for the most part you’ll only be using it to see the time or run a health test. Although it can display message notifications, alarms and the weather, the primary focus is on the medical side of things.

There are two buttons on the side -- the power button and the Home button. Press the latter and the functions appear so you can select one. You can also swipe left from the main panel to gain quick access to the blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen panels, or swipe right to view step count, calories and so on.

Tapping one of the buttons will launch that function. If it's blood oxygen or heart rate it will start measuring immediately.

Blood Pressure Measuring

This brings us to the BP monitoring. Tap the button for this, get into position (the manual explains how to ensure measurements are as accurate as possible), and press Start. The wrist cuff will start to inflate and the recording will begin. When it finishes, the cuff will deflate and the blood pressure results and BPM will be displayed on screen. You can flick through past tests on the watch to see how they compare.

The manual explains that the BP monitor uses the oscillometic method of blood pressure measurement. "As the band inflates, the monitor senses the pressure pulsations of the artery beneath the band. These pulses are called oscillometric pulses. The electronic pressure sensor then displays the digital reading of the blood pressure on the display screen."

I must admit I was rather dubious about how the watch would fare when compared to my Omron blood pressure monitor but the results were always very close and occasionally identical. It’s probably not something you should rely on solely if you have very high or very low blood pressure, but for a quick spot check from anywhere it’s great. I’ve certainly monitored my BP a lot more than previously as a result. Occasionally measurements fail, but shifting your position a bit and trying again usually solves this.

The watch Settings let you adjust how long the screen stays on for (by default this is just five seconds, which I found was nowhere near enough), the brightness, and dial theme. From here you can also enable raise to wake or set the watch to be always on, although that drains the battery in a matter of hours. You can also enable alerts for Apnea and Move It.

The BPDoctor companion app on your Android or iOS phone will show you the battery life and all data recorded by the watch, so you can view your blood pressure recordings, blood oxygen level, heart rate, step count and so on, over time. You can also schedule an alarm on the app.

The Profile section of the app is where things get interesting. From here you can access the Dial Theme Market and install more watch faces. The watch only comes with three watch faces by default, but there are an additional seven available to add. Tap one and it will be immediately installed, provided your watch is in range. Long pressing and swiping on the watch face will let you choose the one to display.

Notifications

You can also access the My Watch setting in Profile and sync the time, look for -- and action -- an OTA update, and open the Notification Management section. This will let you enable on-watch notifications for your phone and third-party services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. It won't display emails though. Once enabled, notifications flash up on the screen as soon as messages arrive. The notifications don’t tend to be formatted brilliantly, but that’s a bit of a nitpick. You can’t reply from the watch, unfortunately, but I don't think that's too big a deal.

The device comes with its own charging cradle, and I’ve found it to be a bit of a fight to slot the watch into this, which is a pain. It does get easier over time though.

Summary

Overall, I was impressed by the BP Doctor Smart Watch. It looks good and its health functionality is impressive. It matched Apple Watch for heart rate and blood oxygen levels, and the blood pressure monitoring -- which I confess I thought would be something of a gimmick -- turned out to be very good.

The device, which was originally crowdfunded on Indiegogo last year, is now available to buy through yhetechs.com, where it usually retails for an affordable $399/ £287.60/ €339.18.

At the moment you can get $100 off that price using coupon code YHEWELCOME. This will bring the price down to just $299/ £215/ €252, with free shipping worldwide.

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