The market is overrun with also-ran wearables, a testament to an industry’s desire to peg less of its fortunes on smartphones alone.
With Alcatel OneTouch fully entrenched in that mindset, and ecosystem, the company this week unveiled a new cross-platform smartwatch that doesn’t claim to do as much as its Android Wear and Apple Watch peers, but at $149 USD provides a good basis for message triage and a few other perks.
If you leave aside for a moment that the Watch cribs from many competitors, especially the Moto 360, it’s quite an interesting product. While the screen is a small 1.22″, and doesn’t look great at only 262,000 colours, it has excellent viewing angles and touch responsiveness.
Because the Watch runs a real-time OS (RTOS), it supports connectivity with both iOS and Android, and its low-overhead, ultra low-power STM429 microcontroller means the 210mAh battery will last two days or more. The USB charger is even built right into the strap.
Alcatel isn’t promising the world here, either: notifications, of course, from both iOS and Android; heart rate monitoring during a workout, something that Android Wear can’t claim; step and stair counting thanks to a combination of accelerometer and altimeter; a compass; alarms; music controls; remote photo shutter, and more. It’s water resistant up to one metre for 30 minutes, and there’s NFC built in for easy pairing with a compatible smartphone.
The Watch’s biggest downfall is its siloed nature. Because it’s using a proprietary OS, it’s incumbent on Alcatel, not third-party developers, to add additional features. But for the price the accessory does enough and more, and thanks to a slim, light metal design — which the company claims is more female-friendly than the majority of wearables out there — it’s comfortable enough to wear all day.
Alcatel says that the Watch will arrive in Canada sometime in Q1, with a brief delta after the US launch. Canadian pricing has not been solidified yet, either, but it’s clear it will cost less than even the cheapest Android Wear device.
At launch, the Alcatel OneTouch Watch will be available in black with red accents, and a white-on-white model will come out later this year.