It's tough to traipse past even a single blackjack table here in Las Vegas without someone trying to pitch you on a new sort of smartwatch. But one of the more interesting ones we've seen here at CES 2015 is the Alcatel smartwatch — proper name: WATCH, which we'll use just this one time in all caps. And that what piques our interest is that this one isn't just another Android notifications pusher — it picks up where Pebble started and works with iOS devices as well.
Will the Alcatel watch make the same sort of dent as Pebble or be as prevalent with the Android faithful as Android Wear is?
First things first. The Alcatel watch works with anything running Android 4.3 and up. (Alcatel will happy name-drop its own new crop of phones, but if you're on Jelly Bean, you're good.) And it runs with iOS 7 and up.
This smartwatch isn't running Android Wear. Fact is we don't really know what to say it's running, other than some sort of proprietary OS from Alcatel. The main screen is a series of icons that Alcatel says is easier to use than the drill-down system of Android Wear. And we're mostly inclined to agree, but it's not at all intuitive that the 6 on the watch face doubles as a home button to get you to those icons, and then you have to understand what each icon is for.
Different? Yes. Easier? Remains to be seen.
The watch's band is standard 22mm, but it's fixed to the body because the electronics run through there. In fact, there's a hidden USB plug at one end — you plug it into something to charge the watch. (As opposed to using a dock or microUSB like just about every other smartwatch we've seen.) The 1.22-inch display puts plenty of pixels on display. That is, you can see them individually pretty easily. So no awards for density there. It's also got the same "flat tire" thing as the Moto 360, where a few rows of pixels are missing from the bottom. So if that's a non-starter for you, so be it.
Where Alcatel really intends this thing to stand out is on price. It'll run $149, undercutting the least expensive Android Wear offering by $50, and the Apple Watch by what we can safely assume will be a country mile.
Our quick take it this: It doesn't look horrible. It's nicely put together and the band is decent, but not great. The display is passable. We'll need more time with it to really see how functional the thing is, and whether it's worth saving $50.
Alcatel Watch specs
|Design||Thickness of watch face: 10.5 mm|
|Row 1 - Cell 0||Diameter of watch face: 41.8 mm|
|Row 2 - Cell 0||Thickness of wristband: 3.5 mm|
|Row 3 - Cell 0||Width of wristband: 20 mm|
|Features||Accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, heart-rate sensor, e-compass, NFC, vibration motor|
|Compatibility||Android 4.3 and up, iOS 7 and up|
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Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days.