Review of Elephone W2 SMARTWATCH
Often times when a new trend arrives many manufacturers will try to jump on board the bandwagon as fast as possible, churning out as many new and different products as possible. While this can be a good thing sometimes, often times these products feel half-baked and less desirable in the end. Smartwatches have been in that camp for quite some time now, and while it’s certainly a growing industry with plenty of excellent players in the game, these products are simply not made for everyone. Sometimes you just want an old-fashioned good looking watch with connected features, and that’s what Elephone is delivering with its W2 watch.
In the Box
The packaging is elegant and simple, yet includes everything you need to get started. The watch body is by itself, while your straps of choice are included right next to it. Popping these on is as using your thumb to depress the push-pin mechanism and sliding them into the grooves on either side of the watch. What’s nice here is that you can switch these out for any standard watch band that uses push-pins, however you’ll need to make sure to get one that’s straight and doesn’t have any protruding edges since the band actually connects into the body just a bit. In addition to this you’ll find a quick start guide, 2 extra coin-style lithium batteries, and a screwdriver to remove that back plate when the batteries need changing. My packaging was missing this screwdriver oddly enough, but it’s supposed to be in here.
The quick start manual does a pretty good job of letting you know what’s what and how to use the watch, however knowing how to adjust the time is conspicuously absent. I found this to be a bit funny but I suppose Elephone assumes you know how to adjust a traditional watch via the crown already, although it’s always nice to have the obvious pointed out for those of us that don’t normally use traditional watches. On the positive there’s a screen protector already installed over that sapphire glass face, which is a bit curious given how durable sapphire is, however it’s nice to at least have this on by default in case you wanted to keep it extra protected.
This is absolutely a classic watch through and through. From the styling of the body to the trim of the hands, you’d never know this was a connected watch without looking closer. The watch comes in silver and rose gold colors with a dark brown checkered leather band or a light solid color leather band. The body is all metal and looks nothing short of gorgeous, with two different trim styles to go with the colors. The silver one has flat edges around the trim with a chamfered edge to blend with the glass, while the gold one’s edges are round and smooth. The overall size, shape and design is the same between the two watches outside of the styling on the trim, including the buttons on the side.
The middle of the three protruding buttons here isn’t actually a button at all, rather a traditional crown for setting the time that pulls out, twists and pops back in to set the time. The topmost button is the power button for the Bluetooth connection function, while the bottom button is used to switch modes. The face of the watch is a slightly off-white color that contrasts well with the metal watch hands and hour markers, particularly on the gold model. Minute markers are black printed lines and an Elephone logo can be found in the middle situated near the top. Along the bottom approximately 1/5 of the face you’ll find 10 markers denoting numbers 10-100 in increments of 10, each with a blue LED right under it to show progress towards your daily step goal. There’s no backlight so there’s no actual way to see it in the dark without using an external light.
Below the leftmost 100 marker is a phone symbol which will light up if you’ve missed a call. The rightmost 10 marker has a watch icon below denoting Bluetooth connection status and will flash blue when connected, red when not. Above the Elephone logo in the top center is a power LED that will flash green, blue or red denoting different status and battery level, with red letting you know it’s in need of a new battery soon. As this is a more traditional watch it is powered by coin-sized lithium batteries which are stored under its back hatch. Using any jewelry screwdriver (or the one included in the box) you can remove the 4 screws to pop off the back. The battery and all internals are protected by a rubber ring that keeps them from getting wet, so you’ll want to make sure you securely fasten the back when after replacing the battery. The clasp on the back holds nice and tight and features a non-movable strap holster and one adjustable one for comfort. The metal on the back here was scratched pretty easily, but thankfully being on the back means not many people will see this in its state.
While this is primarily a traditional watch it does of course have Bluetooth connected features, which is likely one of the main reasons that drew you to the watch in the first place. QR codes for installing the app can be found in the back of the manual, and this download location is platform specific since the Elephone W2 supports both Android and iOS. Curiously enough the Android app isn’t on the Google Play Store, rather installed via APK download from the website. This is a silly way to deliver the app without a doubt and makes installing on phones more difficult than it should be, especially since some will be wary of installing 3rd party apps not from the official Google store.
The overall look of the app is a bit dated, and features very iOS type navigation with tabs on the bottom and even an arrow when pulling down to refresh status. The initial pairing process is pretty similar to any Bluetooth device out there, except that there’s no PIN codes needed to pair with the app. Once you follow the initial prompts the watch will sync with the app for the first time, lining up any settings you might want to change from here on out. To save on battery, the watch will only sync with the app when the app is opened, keeping this as close to that target 3-month battery life as possible. Initial setup also includes making a profile including birth date, gender, height and weight along with your name and a picture. After this the setup concludes with you deciding on daily step and sleep goals, all of which can be changed at any time via the User section on the bottom right most tab in the app.
The main dashboard shows your daily steps, and a flick to the left will switch over to last night’s sleep quality. Clicking the large circle on either the step or sleep screen will move into a more detailed view of your information with an hourly breakdown of activity. This graph is annoying though as it feels like it’s giving you more detailed data, however there’s no way to actually zoom into or view a specific moment’s data, only look at a general graph of when you moved throughout the day or night. The night mode graph is at least colored in different grayscale elements with dark gray denoting deep sleep, light gray showing light sleep, and white showing awake time. Night mode is activated automatically so you don’t have to worry about switching between modes (or forgetting to) before going to sleep or waking up for the day.
Additional grouping of the data is done into week, month and year on the details tab at the bottom, and it’s here that some really interesting information is found. Averages and totals for each time period are located below the graph, and specific days can be selected on the graph timeline, while the yearly graph is broken down by months instead. For step data you’ll find total estimated distance walked, total steps taken, total estimated calories burned, average distance walked, average steps taken and average calories burned. For sleep data you’ll find average sleep overall, average deep, average light sleep, average bedtime, average wake up time and even average time you’ve stayed awake when you should be sleeping. This is the data that’s really going to be useful over the long haul, and it’s presented in a very easy to see way. As there is no heart rate sensor here you’re going to find that this may be slightly inaccurate, but these types of devices are only meant to get general averages anyway, not to be medical grade accurate.
On the device tab at the bottom you’ll find last time the watch synced with the app, firmware version and even estimated battery level. The first option is the call alert which will vibrate the watch and light up the small blue LED labeled phone on the watch after you’ve missed a call. Since this won’t actually vibrate during a call it’s not going to help you from missing the call, rather the setting here can be used to remind you that you’ve missed a call after a set number of seconds. There’s no notification alerts here and this is all done in the name of saving battery life since this is designed to be a watch and fitness tracker first and foremost.
Sedentary alerts can be toggled to let you know you’ve been sitting for too long and need to take a walk. Customizable parameters include days of the week to remind you, hours during the day to monitor lack of movement, and even the amount of time to vibrate after detecting no big movement. Since this is a traditional/digital hybrid watch alarms can be added for use, although it has to be done fully through the app since the watch has no digital display. These alarms can be used for more than just letting you know to wake up or take a lunch break, and there’s not only set categories for alerting you but also a custom category section for noting others.
One rather interesting feature of the watch is acting as a remote shutter for the phone’s camera, a feature that’s only mildly useful given the camera quality in the app. Clicking the camera option within the app will take you into a normal looking viewfinder for the camera, however the lower resolution of the app’s built-in camera software will likely be pretty noticeable right away. You can take the shot either from within the viewfinder on the phone or by pressing the lower button on the watch. This is most useful for group shots that need to be lined up far away, and works very well for what it is. I would love to see this feature extended to the built-in camera app on the phone or just a higher quality camera app in general though, because as it is I know I definitely wouldn’t be getting prints of these low-quality pictures or anything like that.
Funny enough there’s a find phone feature within the app that implies you can ring the phone from the watch in order to find it. As far as I can tell there’s no way to actually do this; the manual doesn’t cover this feature at all, and there’s no explanation for it in the app. This would be a nice feature to have for sure, but without a proper explanation or an obvious way to call up the feature it’s essentially useless.
A gorgeous watch available in two colors that uses standard sized bands, costing $80 and featuring fitness tracking and a connected app that collects and stores this data? There’s almost nothing to dislike about this watch if that’s all you’re looking for. At this price that’s just fine, though, as similarly priced full-on smartwatches often have to sacrifice too much to actually be good. Couple these great features with the fact that this one isn’t just multi-platform and fully supports both iOS and Android, but also has a 3-month battery life using standard lithium coin-sized batteries, and you’ve got a winner. Having a rechargeable battery would have been nice, but at least coin batteries are cheap and you’ll only have to replace them 4 times per year on average. There’s also no backlight here, so there’s no real way to see it in the dark, a problem that you might run across often enough to become annoying. Check out the GearBest link below to pick yours up, and remember that both silver and gold have different style bodies, so if you really like the way it looks and works you just might want to pick up two.
More exciting news will be coming soon: www.elephone.hk