Tanita BC-401 Smart Scale Review

This smart scale is compact and can be used app-free if you prefer

Tanita BC-401 Smart Scale
(Image: © Camilla Artault / Future)

Our Verdict

A smart scale with a small footprint that can be used with or without an app. It’s brought down by the fiddly weigh-in process and concerns about the accuracy of some readings.


  • Can be used without app
  • Small footprint


  • Uncomfortable for larger feet
  • Fiddly weigh-in process
  • Not the best-looking

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A Japanese firm that specialises in making scales, Tanita was the first to bring a body fat scale to the consumer market. It now sells an array of consumer and professional scales, including many body composition scales that don’t need to be used with an app.

The BC-401 is a smart scale that can be used with or without its accompanying app. One of the scale’s main selling points is its small footprint, although users who have a large footprint themselves may find it awkward to use if their feet hang over the edges of the platform (Tanita says this won’t affect readings).

The BC-401 offers the usual metrics, including visceral fat (the dangerous fat around your organs) and basal metabolic rate and metabolic age, though I wasn’t convinced about the accuracy of this last one.

Tanita BC-401 Smart Scale: Price And Availability

Tanita BC-401 Smart Scale

(Image credit: Camilla Artault / Future)

The BC-401 scale has an RRP of £72 in the UK. It’s not currently available in the US. You can buy it from third-party retailers, including Amazon, or directly from Tanita’s UK website.


At first glance, the BC-401 smart scale is different from other scales I’ve tested. For a start it’s rectangular, rather than square, with metal sensor pads, a large screen and several touch buttons in the middle. The result is less clean-looking and modern than many other smart scales on the market.

It’s considerably smaller than all the other smart scales I’ve tested (8.5in x 12.4in x 1in; 217 x 316 x 27mm), which could make it an attractive option for those with limited floor space. The scale comes in black or white and takes 3xAAA batteries, and connects via Bluetooth to the MyTanita app.

Using The Scale

Tanita BC-401 Smart Scale

(Image credit: Camilla Artault / Future)

When setting up, you can enter your details either by using the app or directly on to the scale during set-up, if you’re opting to go app-free. 

The scale offers the following metrics, which are shown on the screen of the scale itself and in the app: weight, body fat percentage, muscle mass, visceral fat, total body water, basal metabolic rate, metabolic age, physique rating, bone mass and BMI.

Physique rating is Tanita’s own way of telling you your body type, and it can flag if you have high body fat for your frame and muscle mass. You could probably tell anyway from the body fat percentage reading, though, so I’m not convinced it’s that useful. The scale remembers up to five different people, and it has an athlete mode and a guest mode and can be used for children (the metrics given are weight, BMI and fat percentage).

While you’re standing on the scale during a weigh-in, the screen shows each measurement in turn, denoted by a symbol. Unfortunately, these symbols are tiny and not always that easy to understand, though you can see in the comprehensive guide that comes with the scale what each symbol means.

Using The App

Tanita BC-401 Smart Scale

(Image credit: Camilla Artault / Future)

The MyTanita app is straightforward to navigate, with your data shown in graph form in the My Measurements section. You can swipe through the different metrics and tap the information button for a look at how you compare with other men or women in the same age bracket. You can also toggle between three tabs along the bottom Trend Chart (where the graphs are), Measurement and Results, which gives you detailed data from each weigh-in.

Frustratingly, you can’t just stand on the scale with the app open and wait for the app to record everything. You need to go to the Measurement tab and then tap Start Measurement, which seems unnecessarily fiddly. It does, however, give you the option to subtract the weight of your mobile phone or your clothes. You’ll need to enter their weight yourself, though.

According to the instructions, the scale should be able to record up to 10 sets of data without the need for the app, sending it to the app next time you open it, but this didn’t work for me. The scale showed the data when I stood on it, but that data wasn’t then sent to the app. You can feed the data through to Google Fit and Apple Health, but it’s not compatible with other apps.


I tested the scale with free weights and found it accurate, weighing in increments of 0.1kg, where other scales offer increments of 0.05kg.

I compared my results for three body composition metrics (fat percentage, bone mass and visceral fat) with those of three other scales: the Withings Body Smart, Renpho Body Fat and Xiaomi Mi Body Composition Scale 2.

The Tanita’s body fat percentage reading came out on the lower end of the scale: 24.1%, compared with 27.0%, 29.7% and 32.9% (Withings, Renpho and Xiaomi respectively). The Tanita gave my bone mass as 2.2kg compared with 3.7kg, 2.34kg and 2.05kg from the other scales. My visceral fat was logged at 3.0 compared with 1.9, 5 and 5 (all on a scale of 0-20).

Tanita BC-401 Smart Scale

(Image credit: Camilla Artault / Future)

The most wildly off-the-wall reading from the Tanita was my basal metabolic age. It had me as 26, which given I’m 41 made me laugh out loud. The other scales put me two to four years younger than my actual age.

My conclusion from these figures is that home smart scales vary in their findings. While we can’t be entirely sure how accurate any of these metrics are, as long as the scale is consistent it can become a useful tool.

The BC-401 seems consistent, although it did log changes in almost everything every day, indicating with an arrow on the scale’s screen where the result had increased or decreased. I thought it unlikely that my muscle mass had increased by a whole kilogram from one day to the next, which the scale declared it had.

Is The Tanita BC-401 Worth It?

I liked the way the Tanita BC-401 didn’t take up too much room in my bathroom, but its small size means those with larger-than-average feet may find it uncomfortable to stand on. It also looks dated and busy with all the buttons, the grey screen and the electrodes.

Stylings aside, it’s a useful scale that works well, with an app that’s easy to use and offers just the right amount of context from your data. It lost points for its slightly fiddly weigh-in process and I did have concerns about the accuracy of some of the metrics, such as basal metabolic age. 

If you’re set against having a scale that requires an app to use it, the BC-401 could be one to check out. However, Tanita makes other cheaper scales that do away with apps altogether, such as the BC-731.

If you do want to use an app for more in-depth analysis, then you have plenty of other options to choose from. I’d be tempted to pay a little more for the Withings Body Smart—it offers a seamless experience, connects via Wi-Fi and is more attractive to look at. And if you like the idea of a small scale, the Renpho Body Fat does everything the Tanita does, for around a third of the price.

Camilla Artault
Content editor

Camilla Artault is a writer and keen runner. She has covered women’s running gear – testing leggings, jackets, running bras, tops and shorts – for Coach since 2018, as well as interviewing experts and writing about a range of health and lifestyle topics.