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Wearable Tech

​How I fell out of love with the Withings Activite Pop

In wearable tech, things break. But the shattered glass I experienced on the Pop is troubling.

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Pop, crack. Scott Stein/CNET

Editor's note: Withings has responded, and I learned why the watches were breaking. Withings says new batches of the Pop won't suffer this problem.

I woke up knowing I needed to address the Withings Activite Pop, a product that seemed great at first but customers are reporting has a shatter-prone glass crystal. I opened my bedside table drawer, and there it was: Withings Activite Pop , and a lot of broken glass.

What happened? I wasn't wearing it. I have no idea.

Things break. And wearable tech, in particular, can really break. It often does. I've had bands that have snapped, displays cracked. Jawbone bands have died. Buttons have softened and caps loosened and fallen off. Our bodies get injured but sometimes heal. Wearable tech frays and decays, some worse than others.

The Activite Pop is particularly upsetting. I've never had a regular watch, even a twenty-dollar Casio, suddenly suffer a shattered face. We're looking into the issue with Withings. I emailed the Withings customer service department via my personal email, and they agreed to swap out the watch no questions asked as long as I provided my MAC ID from the device and a picture of the damaged watch. (To be clear, the Pop in question was the Withings-supplied review sample.) I was warned to avoid touching the broken glass.

I kept the Activite Pop in a drawer with other watches, a few chargers, and some wires. The broken mineral glass is cracked in a circle, as if the dome broke and caved in. I don't know what caused it, but I know I wouldn't want anyone buying the Activite Pop and suffering a wristful or drawerful of shattered glass.

The more expensive Withings Activite is still on sale. It has a sapphire crystal that should be far more durable. But the problem is that watch is $450. I loved the Activite because, at $150, it promised a similar-looking design and function that seemed too good to be true.

Maybe it was. If the build quality of the Pop improves again, so will the review. For now, we've updated our review to reflect the problems. Once we hear back from Withings, we'll let you know.