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InWatch Z – we test out the smallest coolest Android KitKat phone (watch) in the world [Review]

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Yeah, so we all know that phones are getting thinner and lighter, but what about actual size? Mostly they’re staying that same slab shape, which is fine, but sometimes all you need is a phone which is ultraportable and which you can carry around with you without fear of losing it or forgetting it on a train. Well here’s an interesting alternative for you gadget freaks which should give you exactly what you need.

The InWatch Z is a full blown Android 4.4.2 KitKat phone built inside a watch sized format. No, it’s not a smartwatch, which has to pair with your existing phone, this is a complete self-contained cell phone with a SIM card slot, but in a watch. Now watch phones are nothing new, but in the past they’ve been large, klunky and seriously under-powered. That is no longer the case, folks.

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First impressions
The phone watch ships in a nice solid box, along with a flat ribbon micro USB cable, a SIM card prong (for removing the micro SIM slot) and a small microUSB adapter which slots into the wristband to let you charge up the phone using any standard microUSB cable or the supplied one. It’s a little fiddly to connect up, but once you get the hang of clipping it on, it’s OK.

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The one thing which is a bit unfortunate is the user manual. Probably because we received an early KitKat model, the manual in English turns out to be some photocopied A4 paper sheets, which although adequate are not exactly the most professional thing we’ve seen. Luckily there’s not a lot of explanation needed since the Android implementation is pretty easy to understand if you’re familiar with it, but it’s a shame. We assume that later production models will come with proper printed documentation. Anyway, check out our video below to get a feel for how the phone watch operates in real life.

In use
The first surprise is how useable the product is, which is a testament to its solid specs. The phone features a 1.3GHz dual core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of on-board storage, a 1.63 inch capacitive display (240×240 resolution, with a sapphire crystal screen) and a 580mAh battery. The handset also sports full GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi functionality, along with accelerometer, gravity and gyroscopic sensors, so it’s fully loaded in that department too. In fact the only thing missing is the fact that it’s an EDGE phone only, so no 3G. You’ll be able to do data stuff, but slower, which is not so bad since you’re not going to want to do much browsing on that tiny screen anyway.

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The watch band has a 5 megapixel camera embedded in it, and while it takes adequate photos, you’re not going to want to rely on it for your mainstream photo journal. But strangely enough the video capture is really good, and will give most standard phone video recorders a run for their money. Go figure. The camera interface is pretty simple too, just point and touch the screen to grab an image.

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The standout feature for us though is the easy access navigation. You get four home screen swipe options which open up the messaging app, the camera, the app drawer and something else which we can’t really work out. It looks like a barcode, but the documentation doesn’t explain what it’s for. But that apart, getting to most of the functionality of the phone is just a few quick swipes, although for some reason they didn’t include making calls as a home screen function.

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The phone is fully compatible with Google Play store, so we were able to download and install some apps and a Solitaire game, but a couple of times we tried to download and run apps which clearly weren’t happy with the small screen or some other part of the architecture. We did manage to get OSMand maps onto the phone which is amazing, because it gives you a GPS enabled map on your wrist.

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One of the very coolest things about this product is the inclusion of a bone conducting speaker, which effectively turns most flat surfaces into a speaker. Just place the wristband against the surface and it resonates, with the result that the sound becomes magnified and much more audible. It’s great for quick listens, although if you’re going to do a lot of audio work, then you’ll probably prefer to pair up a Bluetooth headset or speaker to get the best reproduction. But it’s definitely a really fun and interesting feature.

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There are probably two areas which will drive people with unrealistic expectations nuts. The first is the on-screen keyboard. It really takes a bit of getting used to before you can start hitting the keys properly first time without miscues, and even then you’re going to make mistakes, simply because of the various wrist angles you adopt when using the device. Live with it, or buy a small tipped stylus and use that. The second point is, of course, the battery life. This tiny battery will drain super quick if you do anything remotely heavy on the phone, so don’t expect anything like a normal smartphone drain cycle. We’re guessing you’ll get a day out of it at most, probably more like 3/4 of a day before it needs a charge, but the good news is the charge is very fast, normally around 30 minutes or so to top up.

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Conclusion
This is a really surprising product. We expected to review a weak, underpowered compromise of a thing, which looked decent but was really unusable. Instead what we found was a very intelligent and well implemented Android system sitting on top of a phone which could do all the basic functions very well. It’s not going to beat any speed records, and you’re definitely not going to get the gaming, satnav, camera or other equivalent smartphone performance out of it, but it’s still very very good for what it is. If you’re looking for an ultra portable, impossible to lose, and very functional cell phone to keep with you at all times, then this is probably the droid you are looking for. Oh and did we mention it supports Google voice commands? Very cool indeed!

Price
$292.17 / £183.84

Samples
inwatchsample1 inwatchsample3

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Specifications

General
OS Version: 4.2
CPU: MTK6572 Dual Core
Processor Speed (max): 1.3GHz
RAM: 1GB
Internal Memory 8GB
Display Size: 1.63 Inch
Display Resolution: 240 x 240
Touch Screen: Support Capacitive
Multi-touch: Support 1 Point
Band: 2G: GSM 850,900,1800,1900MHz
GPS
Bluetooth 4.0
Google Play
Sensors: Magnetic field, Accelerometer, Gravity, Gyroscope, Linear acceleration
Mic and Speaker
Bone Conduction Speaker
Battery Size: 580mAh
Usage Time: Up To 5 Hours
Battery Standby: 200 Hours
Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n
5 Megapixel Camera
Video Resolution: 640×480
Ports
Micro USB
Micro SIM Card Slot (GSM)
Dimensions
Main Product Dimensions: 60 x40 x 12 mm (L x W x D) Excluding Strap
Inner strap length using last hole: 175mm
Inner strap length using last hole: 145mm
Main Product Weight: 95 g

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


42 Comments

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

    • Absolutely. It’s the ultimate Dick Tracy watch. At last.

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

  • What about using it as a phone? Can you use it like Dick Tracy?

    • Absolutely. It’s the ultimate Dick Tracy watch. At last.

  • Cool but don’t like the charger.

    • It’s fiddly, but it’s definitely a space issue thing.

  • Cool but don’t like the charger.

    • It’s fiddly, but it’s definitely a space issue thing.

  • The camera may not be that good but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you so it’ll be better than not having a camera at all

    • That’s exactly my thoughts. A wearable smartphone has got to be valuable in the right circumstances.

  • The camera may not be that good but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you so it’ll be better than not having a camera at all

  • The camera may not be that good but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you so it’ll be better than not having a camera at all

  • The camera may not be that good but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you so it’ll be better than not having a camera at all

  • The camera may not be that good but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you so it’ll be better than not having a camera at all

  • The camera may not be that good but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you so it’ll be better than not having a camera at all

  • The camera may not be that good but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you so it’ll be better than not having a camera at all

  • The camera may not be that good but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you so it’ll be better than not having a camera at all

  • The camera may not be that good but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you so it’ll be better than not having a camera at all

  • The camera may not be that good but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you so it’ll be better than not having a camera at all

    • That’s exactly my thoughts. A wearable smartphone has got to be valuable in the right circumstances.

  • Hi, has this watch come with 4.4.2?

    • Yes.

    • Do you have experience with dumping a ROM for the MTK devices? Maybe you may to dump yours ROM and share it with xda-developers guys.

    • I’m happy to help the development community if one of them wants to get in touch with me.

    • Nigel, it would be very nice if you upload an dump of your ROM. If your device is rooted then you will be able to make a backup with MTK Droidtools.
      Sadly, the kernel source code for the Inwatch Z isn’t availble. I’m working on building a kernel wihthout success since weeks. Would be nice to have a working 4.4 kernel and also the complete ROM.

  • Could you please say what Build version do you have in Settings?

  • Gearbest provides a coupon code inWatchZ at $244.99 by sharing their site http://www.gearbest.com/cell-phones/pp_70817.html

  • whatsaap video call work and does support bluetooth headset ?

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