Category Archives: smart watch

Pre-Orders Open for OnePlus Watch



OnePlus’ partnership with Hasselblad has produced two very well-received devices in the shape of the 9 and 9 Pro smartphones. I’ve been using the OnePlus 9 for a couple of weeks now and it’s a lovely phone that takes great pictures…but we’re not here to talk about the phones but rather the new OnePlus Watch.

A Black Smart WatchThe OnePlus Watch is the company’s first global foray into wearables (ignoring the OnePlus Band which was only available in India) and pre-orders open on Wednesday 14th April for the two new smartwatches. Priced at GB£149/US$159/€159, it’s competitive against similar smartwatches from Fitbit, Samsung and Huawei. Deliveries are expected at the end of the month and the Watch goes on general sale on 30th April.

Two models are expected to up for pre-order, Moonlight Silver and Midnight Black, with the announced Cobalt Limited Edition coming later. With a 46 mm case, it might be a minimalist design but it’s a big watch that’s not going to be missed on anyone’s wrist. The Watch supports over 110 activities including swimming which is possible due to the IP68 water resistance rating. There’s built-in GPS so no need to carry your phone on a run.

The round display is a 1.39″ AMOLED display at 326 ppi and is protected by a sapphire glass crystal which provides good protection against scratches. Handily, the Watch takes standard watch straps so it’s easy to switch them out for something more personal.

Battery life is rated at over 2 weeks (yep, two weeks) and even the most active athlete will get over a week. The Watch uses Warp Charging and about 40 minutes will get it charged up from flat.

I’m looking forward to buying one for myself: I really need to lose a few pounds after lockdown but I think I’m going to wait for the Cobalt LE.

Pre-orders open Wednesday at OnePlus.com and Amazon.co.uk for £149.


OnePlus 9 Series Launches Tomorrow To No-one’s Surprise



OnePlus‘ spring event usually heralds the launch of the company’s products for the year, with a further hardware refresh in the autumn – the xT models. This past year’s been a bit different on two fronts, and not just because of a global pandemic. To start with, the Nord series of mid-range phones was announced at a summer event and secondly, the CEO of OnePlus, Pete Lau, seems to have given away all the surprises in advance of the main event. For sure, OnePlus always did drop a few heavy hints as part of the publicity run-up, but this time I think they’ve outdone themselves. Maybe there will be a “one more thing” but who knows?

Here’s what we do know already.

  • There will be three phones, the OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro and OnePlus 9R for India. Colours are “Morning Mist”, “Pine Green” for the 9 Pro and “Winter Mist” for the 9 but I imagine there will be others. The camera array has moved to the top left and appears to be coloured as the back of the phone.
  • The display is LTPO, QHD+, smart 120Hz refresh, native 10-bit color depth (1.07 billion colors), 1300 nits brightness, MEMC and HDR10+.
  • The phones will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chipset.
  • There will be a 4500 mAh battery with Wireless Warp Charge 50 giving 50 W of wireless charging that will go from 0% to 100% in 43 minutes. Using the cable will take 29 minutes.
  • There’s a strong partnership between OnePlus and Hasselblad to co-produce the imaging on the 9 series with a focus on Natural Colour Calibration. The cameras will use the Sony IMX789 and IMX766 sensors. The latter is used with the ultra-wide lens for 50 MP images. There will be a new tilt-shift feature for that miniature model world look.
    From the pictures, it appears that the 9 will have three lenses with four on the 9 Pro.
  • There might be some interesting cases.
  • A OnePlus Watch will be announced with 110 workout modes. It’s going to have a round dial.

So, if after all that, you still want to watch the launch event, you can follow along at www.oneplus.com/launch with the event kicking off on 23 March at 10:00 am EDT / 14:00 GMT / 15:00 CET / 7:30 pm IST.


Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2020



At today’s Galaxy Unpacked 2020 online event, the South Korean firm unveiled updates to Samsung Mobile’s tech product line. Broadcasting live from Korea, the event showcased new Samsung smartphones, tablets, earbuds and smartwatch devices.

The Galaxy Note devices have always been big and the new phones don’t disappoint. With 4G and 5G variants, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 has a 6.7″ screen and the Note 20 Ultra has a whopping 6.9″ screen. Both have 120 Hz refresh screen and use the fastest processors in the Galaxy line-up. The S-Pen defines the Notes and the handwriting experience has been improved by reducing the latency between the pen moving and the line appearing on the screen to just 9 ms. The phones meet the usual expectations for high end devices in terms of cameras (12 MP ultrawide, 108 MP standard, 12 MP telephoto, 10 MP selfie) and charging – 50% in 30 mins. Pre-orders are open and prices begin at £849 for 4G and £949 for 5G.

Everything now matches in the Galaxy world and there’s three standard colours. Mystic Black, Mystic White and Mystic Bronze, which Samsung is clearly trying grab as “their” colour. The Note phones come in some extra colours too, Mystic Green and Mystic Grey.

Samsung’s tablets are some of the best Android tablets and the range has been updated with the new Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+ tablets. The S7 has an 11″ LCD screen and the S7+ is a 12.4″ AMOLED screen with the same 120 Hz refresh rate of the Note 20. The S-Pen works on the tablets with similar low latency and the Tab S7s come with three apps that are designed to maximise use of the S Pen. The note taking app looks impressive and has some great features. It works with the Note smartphone too. Prices begin at GB£799 for the S7+ and GB£619 for the S7. That’s the same price as the current S6. I’m currently in the market for a new tablet….hmm.

Working with Microsoft, Samsung now synchronises with Office tools like OneNote, To Do and Teams. There’s integration between Windows 10 and the Galaxy devices so that you can use the Android apps on the PC. Samsung DeX now works wirelessly, so there’s not need for a dock, and the smartphone can still do phone things when in DeX mode. It all looks pretty slick. It’s not all about the office though as XBox Game Pass is coming to the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 from 21st August. This brings cloud gaming to the phones for gaming on the go.

The new Galaxy Buds Live are bean-shaped wireless earbuds intended for all day use. Resting lightly in the ear and come in the new standard colours of Mystic Bronze, White and Black to  match the phones and tablets. The Buds come with active noise cancellation. Battery life is 6 hours and the case can recharge the earbuds for a total of 21 hours listening time. GB£179.

The new Galaxy Watch 3 comes in two sizes (45 mm and 41 mm), and you guessed it, three colours. There’s a high-end titanium version too. The watch comes with health monitoring blood pressure, ECG and blood oxygen level once regulatory approvals have been gained in each country. As you’d expect, the Watch 3 provides activity tracking for walking, running and other sports. There are over 120 fitness programmes that work with the Watch 3 and Samsung smart TVs. Watch 3 prices begin at GB£399.

And finally….The Galaxy Z Fold2 opens up from clamshell to a tablet. Thinner that the Fold, it has a 6.2″ exterior screen but once opened up it’s 7.6″ inside. The hinge has been analysed and improved. Regrettably, it’s only available in Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze. What no Mystic White…? Pre-orders begin on 1st September but price wasn’t announced.


Did Swatch Kill The iWatch?



iswatchIn news reported by the BBC, it seems that Swatch‘s opposition to Apple‘s application for an iWatch trademark in the UK resulted Apple’s smartwatch simply being branded “Apple Watch”.  Overall, the ruling from the UK’s Intellectual Property Office upheld Swatch’s complaint that iWatch was too similar to iSwatch and Swatch, and shouldn’t be used for watches. Although we can’t be privy to the internal thinking of Apple, one could infer that the inability to claim the iWatch trademark in key markets back in 2014 killed iWatch in favour of Apple Watch when announced in 2015.

The whole ruling is here, but aside from the trademark evidence, decision-making and ruling, there’s some interesting commentary on the use of shell company registrants, in this case BrightFlash USA LLC to hide the actions of Apple. If I read the judgement correctly (and I’m certainly not a lawyer), Swatch had tried to accuse Apple of “bad faith” by using BrightFlash to register the trademark, but the registrar dismisses the complaint and Swatch has to to pay Apple GB£2,767 on balance. You win some, you lose some.


Fitbit Refreshes Flex 2 and Charge 2



Fitbit LogoFitbit has continued the refresh of its fitness tracker range with new iterations of the Flex and Charge HR models. The Flex 2 is a direct replacement for the original Flex and the Charge 2 takes over from the Charge HR. If you were wondering, the Alta took over from the standard Charge.

Fitbit Flex 2As with the original the Flex, the Flex 2 comprises a small capsule tracker fitted into a range of bands, bangles and pendants to suit the activity. The key point about the Flex range is that its swim-proof, making it the essential tracker for the swimmer. As with the first one, the Flex 2 uses the same LED dots to denote steps taken, albeit in a different orientation. The new tracker auto recognises exercise and notifies on calls or texts coming into your mobile phone.  As before, the Flex 2 shows steps taken, calories burned and records sleep. I’m slightly disappointed that the wristband (available in four colours for now) doesn’t have a standard buckle to avoid loss, but it does appear to have been re-designed. Pre-order in the UK for just under GB£80. Expected to ship in October.

Fitbit Charge 2The new Charge 2 falls into FitBit’s Active Fitness range and takes the fitness tracker to the next level, with multisport tracking, cardio fitness level and guided breathing sessions. Of course it measures paces, steps, calories, steps, sleep and heart rate as the original Charge HR  (although the HR moniker has been dropped) and it now has connected GPS, which means that the Charge 2 can use the paired phone’s GPS to track routes. The Charge 2’s screen is customisable and there’s a choice of clock faces.

Leather BandAn improvement on the original is that the wristbands can be switched out, with a tasty looking leather band available (at GB£59.99 mind you!) The screen’s bigger as well and can show calendar alerts in addition to calls and texts. If the Charge 2 appeals, it can be pre-ordered for GB£129.99 for delivery in 2-3 weeks.

I’m currently testing the Charge HR, courtesy of Fitbit, and I’ll be reporting on my impressions of that soon.


3 new Pebble watches hit Kickstarter



Pebble_Family_Blue_CropDespite the introduction of Apple Watch and the lineup of Android Wear watches, Pebble remains, somewhat at least, the darling of the market. While not the first smartwatch, it was the first to make an impact on the market.

Since the days of its debut, the company has released other models like Pebble Time, which brought a color screen and more features.

The watch maker has launched three new models on Kickstarter now. The Pebble 2 is an updated version of the original model, adding a heart rate monitor and activity tracking. It’s selling for $99.

The Pebble Time 2 “delivers the ultimate pro smartwatch with a larger, color e-paper screen and heart rate monitoring”. It will be selling for $169.

The Pebble Core isn’t a watch, but it promises phone-free fitness tracking along with GPS and music for only $69.

“Bringing delightful, affordable wearable technology to the world is the puzzle Pebble lives to solve. Our latest vision for the future is almost complete. We’re back on Kickstarter for the most important piece…You”, the company concludes.

You can find all three devices here.


MainTool Smart Strap at Wearable Tech Show



Maintool logoUndoubtedly smart watches have their place but few watch aficionados are going to replace their Swiss timepiece with a mass-produced device of limited lifespan. MainTool have a potential answer for those who want both the horology and the smarts. Andrew finds out more from Asier.

The MainTool’s concept is simple. Instead of building the sensors into the watch, put the electronics into the leather strap. Brilliant! Like many activity trackers, the MainTool smart strap measures steps, heart rate, sleep and temperature. For smartphone owners, the strap provides alarms and call notifications passed from the phone via Bluetooth. Calls can be rejected from the MainTool strap too. As expected, there’s a complementary smartphone app.

On the practical side, the MainTool smart strap is waterproof and has around 2-3 weeks of battery life. The picture shows the naked electronics before it’s put inside the leather strap.

Aimed at the B2B market, expect to see this coming to market within the next few months.

Maintool Smart Strap