Two minute review
The Aura Strap 2 is one of the few Apple Watch smart bands in existence today and, like the first version, promises to deliver the kind of readings you would normally need to put on a smart scale to capture.
With Strap 2, Aura has changed the design of the strap and the method by which you take a measurement to monitor and analyze body composition and hydration levels. It now offers a subscription service, which unlocks additional features such as monthly reports, workout plans and recommendations to keep you fit, replacing the measurements taken by the Apple Watch itself.
The improved band is welcome and the way you take measurements has reduced the number of failures to register the measurement, although that can still happen. The Watch app is slick and well designed, while the companion phone app and compatibility with Apple HealthKit should make it more appealing to Apple Watch owners.
In addition to capturing some reliable measurements and breaking down things like fat, muscle, body water, protein, and visceral fat, you have to pay for the subscription to get potentially useful features like personalized recommendations and exercise video plans that feel like they should. are already included.
If you’d like to pay a decent amount up front for the band and then add the monthly or annual subscription, it can be a handy band to have on your wrist. Ultimately, though, it feels like a lot of money for something that will have niche appeal and means ditching your favorite watch band for life with this silicone band.
Aura Band 2: Price and Availability
The Aura Strap 2 is available through the Aura Devices website for $150, which is $50 more expensive than what you can buy the first Aura strap. To subscribe to the Aura Plus service, you have to pay $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year.
Aura Belt 2: Design and Features
- Feels comfortable to wear
- Unobtrusive sensors
- Changing, adding or removing a band is difficult
Design score: 3/5
Like the first Aura band, the second iteration mostly resembles a regular Apple Watch band and ties into the same cam design, but in the middle you have a pair of medical steel electrodes on either side of the band, which do contain nickel.
Aura has switched from the softer nylon strap it used previously to a silicone strap and it also includes extra straps in the box to make sure you get a good fit. However, getting those straps in place is a tricky business. You had to remove screws on the first strap so the process has improved but it’s still not great.
Included is a piece of plastic in the shape of a guitar pick that you use to open the case containing the electrodes, where you also release the replaceable coin cell battery that powers the smart strap and should give you a good six months of battery life, depending on how often you use it.
Swapping out those straps is frustratingly inconvenient to do and it took us a while to put a new strap into the housing to snap it back into place. It felt like it would be very easy to break that case, essentially requiring you to buy a new one.
Once you have a band that works, it’s as easy as snapping on a standard Apple Watch band. The positioning of the electrodes means you have to remove this strap by pulling it over your wrist, which can be tricky if you have big hands to stretch it over.
It is definitely more comfortable than the first strap and is also noticeably slimmer and lighter, which is good to see. We used it with an Apple Watch Series 7, but this is something that will work as far back as the Apple Watch Series 3.
In general, the design changes are welcome. It definitely feels like a better belt to wear than the first version and it’s good to see it’s one you can hold onto while swimming and showering as long as you don’t go deeper than 50m. However, changing the straps is still a pain and the build quality of the housing that holds the electrodes in place feels a bit cheap.
Aura Strap 2: Performance and Software
- More reliable measurements
- Series of workouts to follow
- Many of these features are also available on the regular Apple Watch.
Feature Score: 3/5
The operation of the Aura Strap has changed slightly. Previously, it used a microphone to transmit measurement data to the Apple Watch via sound. Aura has ditched that approach and now uses energy-efficient Bluetooth to deliver readings to the watch. It claims that this approach also improves the reliability of obtaining a successful measurement.
It still performs bioimpedance analyzes through those electrodes, transmits electrical current, and then measures resistance to body tissues.
After a 30 second reading, it can tell you your body fat percentage, muscle, body water, visceral fat, protein, lean body mass, minerals, BMI and weight in that one reading. The method by which you take that measurement has been vastly improved, not only from a process point of view, but also in the reliability of taking a measurement. It’s still not flawless, but it’s noticeably more reliable.
Once you have downloaded the Aura app on your iPhone and on the Watch app, you can launch the Watch app, watch the tutorial and take your first measurement. Place the electrodes on the outside of the band on the area just below your thumb of your other hand so that your hand is not touching your other hand and your hands are in front of your chest. During the measurement, the app reminds you what to do to ensure you get a good reading.
We experienced a few bad readings initially, but reliability is improving and it’s fun and easy to do. Part of the watch screen shows small green bubbles resembling the electrodes on the outside of the case that fill as the measurement takes place, and a successful measurement shows data in the Watch app. You will see a breakdown of your data along with a circular image indicating whether you are obese, bloated, twiggy, or have more or less water and more or less soft tissue.
Aura says the change in how data is now captured gives it 95% measurement accuracy compared to clinical-grade devices. To test the reliability of the Aura Strap 2’s data, we also took measurements on a set of smart Garmin Index scales at the same time. When we looked at the data, we found that not much information matched. Some areas such as body water, BMI and total weight were similar, but never identical based on our measurements. Data generally feels more reliable than before, but still didn’t match a range of smart scales.
Aside from those measurements, there’s a little more going on in the iPhone app than before. You can track activity, heart rate and see information such as calories burned, although the band itself doesn’t track that information, which is pulled from your Apple Watch tracking.
There is now a Aura Plus Subscription Service (opens in new tab), which you have to pay to see historical data. Without it, you can only see the last recorded measurement. With that subscription in action, you’ll see reports that break down trends in data. There are also recommendations based on the goals you outlined when you first set up the app.
Our measurements regularly told us that we were somewhat surprisingly obese despite being a relatively fit individual who runs, swims and works out most days, and suggested doing 2-3 workouts a week, cutting calories by 10-15%. reduce and add a fat burning workout. It also said we had a good balance of fat and muscle, which seemed like a more reliable insight.
That leads to another new feature, a set of workouts you can follow, which is broken down into basic workouts, focusing on arms, chest, core, and legs. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but it does mean you can start addressing some of those insights and recommendations. Without that subscription, the Aura feels very basic in terms of what you can see. While there’s a clear trend for wearables to put some features behind a subscription paywall, simple things like monthly reports feel like a feature that should be available in the free version.