The BP Doctor Pro can’t be faulted for being unoriginal. While simply a smartwatch on the face of it, what really sets this gadget apart from equivalent devices is its integrated blood pressure sensor.
Before going further, it’s worth pointing out that this is undoubtedly a niche product and won’t be unseating the Apple Watch or the Galaxy Watch anytime soon. But for those with specific health issues, it could be a life saver.
At first glance, the BP Doctor Pro is not the sleekest of smartwatches, with a long, rounded frame and chunky midriff. It includes a square screen housed within its oval body that sits uncomfortably and gives way to a massive, ugly bezel.
The charging port uses contact pins rather than a proper wireless charging solution like the commonly-used Qi standard. This makes its dock rather chunky and fiddly as the user needs to apply some force to clamp the watch into place so that the pins line up correctly.
The blood pressure sensor itself sits on the watch’s strap as a kind of second strap that initially seems like it may just be a protective covering when first taken out of the box.
Activating the sensor itself is an interesting but slightly uncomfortable experience. If you’ve ever had your blood pressure taken, it is the same process but it happens on the wrist instead of the upper arm. The aforementioned second strap starts inflating and continues doing so until it is uncomfortably tight around the wrist and you can viscerally feel the blood pumping through to your hand.
Now unfortunately, without access to a nurse and a blood pressure device to compare, the accuracy of the device couldn’t be ascertained. Manufacturer YHE claims it is a highly accurate sensor which is combined with advanced algorithms to make the measurements.
It’s worth pointing out that some other recent smartwatches and fitness trackers do claim to do blood pressure monitoring as well. But they do so by gathering other biological data from your body and using that to approximate your blood pressure, which can lead to relatively inaccurate readings compared to the pressure-based system on the BP Doctor Pro.
The watch features a multi-day battery with a power-sipping processor the likes of which can be found on cheaper smartwatches and fitness trackers. Carrying out a blood pressure test understandably drains its battery significantly, with a 5-10 per cent power draw seen as it pumps the strap up to attain the correct pressure. Its weak processor also means it doesn’t have a particularly impressive feature set – it can’t play music during a jog or trip to the gym, for example, and there is no app store for extra functionality.
The other baked-in features that are commonly found on fitness trackers include a heartbeat sensor, a blood oxygen monitor and a step tracker. It can also track your sleep and show you the weather but that’s about the extent of its functionality.
In some ways, with such a pared-down operating system, as well as its relatively clunky exterior, the BP Doctor Pro has a prototype feel about it. It lacks the sleek aesthetics employed by Apple and Samsung in their devices and its size is a hard pill to swallow, particularly for someone with weedy wrists (see product shot above).
Due to these factors it should really only be recommended to people who need regular access to a blood pressure monitor due to health problems. It’s worth pointing out, that with hypertension affecting over 1.1 billion people worldwide, this isn’t necessarily that niche a market. Its unique selling point certainly helps it stand out from the crowd, but lack of other features for the relatively pricey $399 (£293) means it is not for everyone.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.