IFA 2016 – Smartwatches galore!

In the wake of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall and the impending launch of the iPhone 7 you’ll be forgiven for having missed the plethora of smartwatches announced at IFA last week.  We covered the launches of arguably the biggest two watches (or, at least, they were the biggest two launches), the Samsung Gear S3 and the Asus Zenwatch 3, but there was a veritable smorgasbord of other watches revealed to tempt anyone paying attention.  Here, then, is a brief round-up of what else was announced:

Fossil Q Marshal and Fossil Q Wander


IFA 2016   Smartwatches galore!

Sometimes I wonder whether manufacturers use computer programmes to find random words to name their devices after.  More likely they probably pay hideously over-priced salaries to marketing firms to come up with names that people will remember and want…I digress.  Hot on the heels of the catchy Fossil Q Founder comes two more Android Wear devices, the Marshal and Wander.  Having played with a number of Android Wear devices (which I find to be pretty dull as an OS, even if functional) there is little to choose between them in terms of software.  Fossil’s approach is to make the watches themselves attractive, even if there is little variation to the OS.  These watches run the standard Android Wear software but, in contrast to the earlier Q Founder, add GPS.  They also take advantage of the new Snapdragon 2100 processor, designed specifically for smartwatches and designed to prolong battery life (from 1 day to 2, in the right conditions).  In terms of the contrast between these devices, the devil is in the detail.  The watches are different colours and feature different lugs, though the straps are replaceable on both.  The specs and prices can be found here:

Q Marshal

Q Wander

Both watches start at £279 and the price increases with the straps.  Both are available now.

 

Alcatel MoveTime WiFi

IFA 2016   Smartwatches galore!

No, not something from Back to the Future, but a budget device from budget manufacturer Alcatel.  In the wake of the frankly poor Alcatel Watch comes the MoveTime.  Quite why it needs WiFi in the title is beyond me, but in the fashion of the Ronseal advert, I suppose it does what it says on the tin.  The MoveTime WiFi allows you to, wait for, move with the time using the built-in GPS.  It runs a proprietary OS and using the built-in WiFi (geddit?) the watch will track your movements and report them back to the phone; via the built-in WiFi (geddit?) you can also make and receive calls, using the built-in speaker.  Maybe they should have renamed it to the Alcatel MoveTime WiFi Speaker?  The watch itself isn’t too bad to look at, bearing quite a similarity to the LG Watch Urbane.  No pricing as yet, but it is expected to be similar to its predecessor, so around the £100 mark.

Full details here.

Garmin Forerunner 35

IFA 2016   Smartwatches galore!

In addition to the standard smartwatch fare was a slew of running watches, each with smart functionality.  As a long-term, passionate fan of the Garmin Fenix 3 watch I’m always interested to see what Garmin have to offer.  Their recent watches employ GPS sensors and provide notifications, essentially mirroring whatever notifications arrive on the watch (either iOS, Android or Windows Phone).  The 35 is a budget model which lacks the Connect IQ app store that more expensive watches have.  Actually this app store is better than you’d think, featuring a raft of watch faces and exercise-related widgets.  The 35 does, however, feature a heart-rate monitor, marking it out from a number of the other Garmin devices.  The screen is far simpler than other smartwatches, which makes it less nice to look at in many ways, but does ensure a whopping battery life in comparison.

The Forerunner 35 is available in a variety of colours for £169.99 and is on sale now.  More details are here.

TomTom Adventurer

IFA 2016   Smartwatches galore!

TomTom, of the car satnav fame, also make watches.  Learn a new thing everyday with this site!  The Adventurer is a fitness device with built-in heart rate monitor, the ability to upload routes from your phone, and 3GB onboard storage, which will broadcast via bluetooth to headphones.  This latter feature is something that Garmin still doesn’t offer, and it means you can run and listen to the Coolsmartphone podcast without taking your phone.  It has a raft of other sensors onboard and can sync wirelessly with your phone.  What it cannot do is broadcast notifications from your phone.  No release date or price yet available, but more details are here.

Withings Steel HR

IFA 2016   Smartwatches galore!

The last offering here is the Withings Steel HR.  Withings has offered a variety of fitness trackers in the past but this is the first of their devices to offer notifications.  The analogue dial has a smaller analogue step counter below it, while sitting above it is a small digital display that can show notifications, heart rate, etc etc.  The notifications are limited, but the great virtue of the Steel HR is its battery life: it can take regular heart measurements and count steps (and even tell the time!) for up to 25 days without requiring a re-charge.  Sheer genius!  It is also water resistant and will sync to the phone app.  It will be available from 1 October, though no pricing is yet available.  More details are here.

So there you have it folks.  A glut of watches with different audiences, budgets and uses in mind.  What the different devices reveal is how Android Wear really hasn’t yet caught on, with most manufacturers preferring their own proprietary OS.  The design of the watches has certainly moved towards the masculine and bulky.  Is there anything on offer to tempt our readers? Do let us know in the comments below.

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