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It’s often the little details that translate to the biggest benefits when it comes to taking care of your diabetes.
That was top of mind for me after trying out the Ascensia Contour Next ONE meter, the latest in the line of Contour meters from the company formerly known as Bayer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared this meter in November 2016.
This is a pretty basic but very easy-to-carry meter for those who rely on fingersticks to check their blood sugar levels.
Let’s dig into this particular meter.
The Contour Next ONE sports a sleek modern design with subtle differences from its predecessors, and it’s the first app-enabled meter Ascensia offered in its Contour line. It uses the same Contour Next test strips as others in this product line. Here are some of the main features:
While the form factor is mostly unchanged, it’s a bit thinner and sleeker in design than earlier models from then-Bayer that had three buttons on the meter face. The Contour Next ONE has now scaled down to a single circle “OK” button with up and down arrows for scrolling through commands.
This meter has a black and white LED display with icons indicating your glucose log or settings. The display does not have a built-in backlight, though you don’t need it since the screen lights up enough to use efficiently even in the dark.
Yes, you can use a port light to illuminate where the test strip is inserted. But you might not know it at first if you just looked at the meter or even if you read every piece of marketing material Ascensia includes — because, for some reason, the port light is not described as a feature. Seriously, even reading the manual cover to cover, you’ll never see a mention of the fact that you can make the port light work for up to 40 seconds before turning the meter on. You double-tap the round OK button to turn this port light on. This is a huge factor for many people with diabetes (PWDs) who enjoy movie theaters or regularly test in the middle of the night.
This is a small matter, but you have 60 seconds to apply a second drop of blood to the same strip if the first attempt wasn’t large enough. Handy for those of us who sometimes have difficulty getting “bleeders” after a finger poke and need extra time to redo the sample. This can also be very helpful for those trying to conserve test strips and not waste any due to insufficient blood droplets.
This meter embraces the industry trend of attempting to help PWDs answer the key question, “What do my blood glucose numbers mean?” Ascensia’s trademarked smartLIGHT feature lights up in these colors after the result is displayed to indicate how your blood sugar is faring:
- Green: Indicates your blood sugar is “in range,” which is the glucose targets you and your diabetes care team set.
- Dark yellow: High
- Red: Low
According to Ascensia’s internal market research, 92 percent of users surveyed on the Contour Next ONE found it quicker and easier to interpret their blood sugars using the smartLIGHT feature than those who didn’t. This
Before taking a blood sample, people can choose from one of three apple symbols on the Contour Next ONE screen:
- Before meal: If a person tests their blood glucose 1 hour or less before a meal, they should choose this symbol.
- After meal: This symbol is for testing blood glucose within 2 hours of the first bite of food from a meal.
- Fasting meal: A person should choose this symbol if they test their blood glucose 8 hours after eating.
The Contour ONE meter uses a round watch battery. I find this a downside, as I like the ability to plug and charge my meter wherever I may be, with no need to run out and buy these less-common batteries. A micro-USB pairs with the meter, but it’s not for charging. Rather, it’s designed to plug into a computer to download data and use the software. Unfortunately, you have to buy the cable separately because it’s not included in the box.
A benefit of most of the Contour Next meters is that they use the same test strips by that name.
The Contour Next ONE meter is the most accurate product Ascensia has produced.
This meter uses the Contour Next test strips, which meet the minimum accuracy requirements of the
- sleek and portable design that can easily fit into a pocket
- has a port light to make testing in dark settings much easier
- gives you 60 seconds to apply a drop of blood to the test strip, unlike other meters that shut off at 20 or 30 seconds
- connects to a mobile app on a smartphone or compatible devices
- features a color-coded “smartLIGHT” feature to help show whether your blood sugar is in range, high, or low
- includes meal markers allowing you to tag results based on whether it’s before or after eating, or within 8 hours of not eating (fasting)
- uses watch batteries instead of a rechargeable USB cable
- the port light that illuminates the test strip area is rather hidden and can be overlooked if you’re not aware of it
- users often report this meter’s results frequently differ from other meters and their continuous glucose monitors (CGMs)
- test strips are more costly than some other brands on the market
Ascensia offers its Contour Diabetes App with this particular meter, using Bluetooth to display data on compatible iOS and Android smartphones and other devices.
Aside from blood sugar patterns and daily and weekly logs of glucose readings, the mobile app also allows you to add notes and record key health information such as:
- food intake
- voice notes
You can also share blood sugar results and reports with your diabetes care team.
The Next ONE meter has built-in Bluetooth and syncs data with the mobile app, though in my test run, I did find that frequently the meter didn’t automatically sync like it’s supposed to. I encountered connectivity issues. I’ve heard this complaint from other users, but to be fair, the lost connection is also a common problem with other diabetes devices that connect with companion apps.
From a UI perspective, the Contour app is user-friendly and easy to navigate. It presents you with all the features you’d expect in a diabetes logging app these days: logbook, averages, trend-tracking and meal information, photo uploading and data-sharing.
You can find the latest readings on the home screen, with the “My Readings” menu representing the traditional logbook and a 3-day overview graph always visible when scrolling through the readings. You can easily peruse averages over the past week to 3 months, and by tilting the phone to horizontal orientation, you can also get a standard day’s view or break it down for specific data over 3 to 30 days, a customized time block, or by meals or time of day. Very nice!
In particular, I like the ability to add photos within the app — whether it’s my morning Greek yogurt with blueberries that rings in at roughly 16g carbs or a picture of the meter next to my Dexcom G6 CGM.
Using what it calls a “Smart Testing” feature, this meter also allows you to set a customized alert to check your glucose during the day, remind yourself of upcoming doctor visits, or other particulars you might want to be reminded of.
Of course, you can share diabetes data through the app with your healthcare professional or anyone else you might want to share it with. The app also gives you a prompt during a critical Low to alert an emergency contact, helping to assure that you can get assistance if needed.
The meter itself goes for a suggested retail cost of $19.99, while the strips are currently priced at $41.55 for a 50-count box (roughly 83 cents per strip).
You can purchase the Ascensia Contour Next ONE meter (and other models) in mainstream chains like Costco, CVS, Kroger, Rite Aid, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart, as well as on Amazon.
As someone who has used this meter for several years, I give it 2 thumbs up.
Many people with diabetes prefer traditional fingerstick meters that they can easily carry with them, whether in a purse, pants pocket, or small carrying case. I often grab this Contour Next ONE meter on the way out the door to have with me just in case. I also use a small lancing device and a thinner container for a small amount of test strips rather than the bulkier round vial of test strips.
It’s also important to me that it has a bright display with large numbers and a light-up port for inserting a test strip. This is significant because I often need to check my blood sugars at nighttime or in darkened rooms, which can be more challenging to see and maneuver a diabetes device.
The Contour Next One on Amazon has an average customer rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. Many customers state that the device is high quality and easy to use. However, others say they had problems pairing the device with their smartphones.
Remember, Ascensia Diabetes Care has been around only since 2016. Before that, it was known as Bayer — that name has been a part of diabetes management tools since it first unveiled the Clinitest for urine glucose testing in the 1940s and ’50s and one of the first “brick-sized” home glucometers ever made available.
When Bayer became Ascensia Diabetes Care in 2016, they took up the mantle of diabetes technology, including the full line of Contour meter models currently available.
Here is a look at those current fingerstick meters:
|Contour Next ONE||Contour Next||Contour Next EZ||Contour Next Link 2.4|
(slim with 1 circle button)
|vertical orientation (resembles Simon game)||vertical orientation (simple, black-on-gray)||horizontal orientation (slim, white-on-black with color icons)|
|Port light for test strips||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|2nd sample||60 seconds||30 seconds||20 seconds||30 seconds|
|Readings||800 results||800 results||480 results||1,000 results|
|Averages||7, 14, 30, 90 days||7, 14, 30, 90 days||7, 14, 30 days||7, 14, 30, 90 days|
coin cell batteries
|two 3-volt coin cell batteries||built-in USB charging + cable option|
|Bluetooth||yes||no||no||wireless beaming to Medtronic Minimed pumps|
|Connectivity||Contour Diabetes app, 3rd party platforms||Contour Diabetes app, 3rd party platforms (using connection cable)||Contour Diabetes app,|
3rd party platforms (using connection cable)
|Links to Medtronic Minimed 630/670 insulin pumps; includes USB connector|
Fortunately, all of these models use the same Contour Next test strips, so you don’t have to worry about finding different types of strips for each meter. You can also use the Ascensia-manufactured Microlet lancing device and universal lancet needles with these meters.
You can find these meters in most retail U.S. pharmacies and online shopping sites, and the Ascensia Diabetes Care website has more info on each device.
Dozens of different fingerstick meters exist beyond just the Contour NEXT models. While many poke their fingers for blood sugar readings, many people with diabetes use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). These are more expensive diabetes devices that have evolved since the first model in 2004. They measure glucose levels differently than a traditional fingerstick meter. Instead of checking glucose levels in a drop of blood, a CGM analyses interstitial fluid beneath the top layer of skin to generate a glucose level reading. Depending on the particular CGM device, results are generated every 1 to 5 minutes and are displayed on a separate handheld receiver or smartphone app.
Experts in the diabetes field often describe a fingerstick meter’s blood sugar result as a snapshot of a moment in time, whereas a CGM offers a complete picture of one’s glucose trends.
When to talk with your doctor about blood sugars?
You can talk with your doctor and diabetes care team about your personal goals for glucose levels. Talking with your diabetes care team and endocrinologist and diabetes care team may be especially helpful if you’re experiencing any trends in higher or lower glucose levels, particularly if you experience any hyperglycemia symptoms that might signal dangerous diabetes ketoacidosis.
What’s the difference between Ascensia and Bayer?
Bayer became Ascensia Diabetes Care in 2016, taking over all its diabetes products, including the full line of Contour Next meter models. Bayer had manufactured diabetes management tools since the 1940s and 50s, including the Clinitest for urine glucose testing and the “brick-sized” home glucometers first available in the 1980s.
How accurate is the Contour Next ONE?
The Contour Next ONE is the most accurate blood sugar meter Ascensia has available. Clinical data shows the Ascensia Contour Next ONE meter using Contour Next test strips meets the Food and Drug Administration’s tightened accuracy requirements and that 95 percent of the time, it has the smallest error range within 8.4 mg/dL of reference results, whether the test result is above or below 100 mg/dL.
Does the Contour Next ONE have more features than the Contour Next?
Yes, the Contour Next ONE is considered a “smart” meter with built-in Bluetooth and uses color coding to help people with diabetes better understand their blood sugars in the context of target glucose ranges.
What meters work with the Contour Next strips?
Four fingerstick meters made by Ascensia Diabetes Care work with these test strips: Contour Next ONE, Contour Next, Contour Next EZ, and Contour Next Link 2.4.
Can the Contour Next ONE help lower my blood sugar?
Checking glucose levels is one important part of diabetes management. While each person’s blood sugar management differs, clinical research and healthcare professionals note that those who are more active in their daily management and glucose monitoring do see improvements in their diabetes care.
Overall, the Contour Next ONE is a nice little meter. It displays clean, clear, easy-to-see results in any dark or sunlit setting inside or outside. It is the most full-featured product in the Contour Next glucose meter lineup. The color coding for results is an especially nice way to call your attention to where your blood glucose levels stand.
This meter can be a great choice for those who might want an aesthetic, accurate little meter with some strong data-tracking tools.