The Alcatel Onetouch Watch is not snazzy-beautiful, and it is not packed with features. However at only $150, it is one of the cheapest smartwatches you should buy—and that may seal the deal if you are merely smartwatch-curious instead of smartwatch-confirmed.
It is kind of like a clip-on tie, or a Barbie bike with training wheels. Think about it Child’s First Smartwatch, a disposable buy that may that give you a style of what a $350 Apple Watch or $300 Android watch is like to use. Do you even need smartphone notifications in your wrist? What about easy activity monitoring? The Alcatel Watch—which pairs with any iPhone from 4S to 6 Plus, and any Android phone working 4.3 and later—can put you within the smartwatch game with no major investment.
Alcatel’s steel case is unremarkable however inoffensive, and from 10 ft away, its round design doesn’t read “nerd” as loudly as the square-shaped Apple Watch. However when you get up shut and see Alcatel’s cheapo rubber band, the design belies its price tag.
You can not swap in your personal substitute band, as a result of Alcatel integrates its charging level directly into the strap. On the plus side, the watch powers up through a standard USB connector, so you will never want to fret about proprietary charging cradles. Alcatel claims between two and 5 days of battery life, and I found the watch lasted effectively into three days at its medium brightness setting.
Underbaked apps and notifications
Smartwatch displays are simply too small and fiddly to comfortably support lots of options. Samsung tried to pack too much into its unique Galaxy Gear, and I worry Apple is following that very same over-ambitious path with its watch. After which you’ve the Alcatel Watch, which does not run any third-party watch apps, and presents very, very little when it comes to smart options.
You get notifications for a small set of smartphone apps (e.g., Twitter, Fb, e-mail and messaging); caller ID with name accept and decline capabilities; entry-level activity-tracking options; and a small set-of built-in apps which are basically table stakes within the smartwatch game. I dig smartwatch simplicity, however Alcatel’s approach feels underbaked, particularly because trivial, light-weight utilities like a brightness selector and airplane mode change are given just as a lot user interface. weight as built-in climate and activity-tracking apps.
Alcatel’s notification engine gives solely a bare minimum of utility. Text messages render in full, however you can not reply to them from the this watch, even with a canned, pre-formatted message. Fb notifications merely report the highest-level activities (e.g., a friend has commented in your status), and e mail notifications solely render subject traces once you have just a few stacked up. And you can not tap a notification to spawn extra information in your phone. Bummer.
The activity monitoring options key into the watch’s built-in accelerometer. The system tracks steps taken, calories burned, miles walked, minutes active and hours slept. You may set goals for all these actions, and the info appears sufficiently correct for a $150 watch that is not being marketed as a health and wellness platform. Simply do not expect lots of information. Again, Alcatel opted for a simple, bare-bones strategy, and the sum-total vibe it exudes is, “Yeah, it could do activity monitoring too,” instead of, “We will present you every nook and cranny of your quantified self.”
Different built-in applications include climate (which shares a simple five-day forecast); a heart rate monitor (good for only moment-in-time spot checks); a stopwatch (meh); and remote controls for your smartphone’s music player and camera shutter (meh and meh). Your granddad might imagine all of that is magic. However your granddad was additionally the last man on earth who still shopped at RadioShack, so think about the source. Indeed, the Alcatel Watch often feels just like the $19.99 remote-control car of the smartwatch scene.
The watch’s 1.22-inch display is vivid enough in direct daylight, but has a “dead” space on the bottom, identical to you will find within the Moto 360. It makes for an inelegant presentation, however Alcatel uses the dead spot for a again button, which you will must exit the notifications display screen, in addition to built-in apps. The user interface responds quickly sufficient, and it is comparatively intuitive—because it does not have a lot to do.
Swipe upward to see notifications. Tap the center of the display screen to launch the application menu. Tap the back button to exit out of something you have entered. It is all easy to master, however I never found a way to dismiss particular notifications completely. They only disappear on their own after some time, and if there is a method to manually management dismissal, it is not shared within the Android and iOS app help menus.
Alcatel’s “turn wrist to wake” motion performed inconsistently, forcing me to wake the show with a press of the watch’s physical power key. However that is an issue with many smartwatches. I was extra disappointed in Alcatel’s watchface customization. You get to choose from just three dial layouts (all unremarkable), and a collection of cheesy wallpapers. The aesthetic vibe is miles behind Android Wear, and light years behind what we’ve seen from Apple.
A smartwatch entry-point at best
After 5 days of testing, I found myself appreciating Alcatel’s battery life, but not a lot else. I much prefer Android Wear’s sturdy notification engine, and while I am involved Apple’s approach can be too busy and complex, I’m excited to check out all its surprise-and-delight Digital Touch options.
With entry charges for the Android Wear membership now hitting $165 for the Moto 360, I can not suggest the Alcatel Watch for Android phone users, until they are completely sure they want nothing to do with Google’s always-connected vision. However the Alcatel is likely to be an interesting choice for iPhone customers who need a low-commitment taste of what smartwatch notifications are all about.
And who is aware of, if the Alcatel Watch drops below $100, it might be just too cheap to pass up—assuming aesthetics and deep functionality simply are not your thing.