Smartwatch For Buttons: Unisurf U2
Regular readers of this blog will know I'm no lover of the smartwatch. It's not something which I believe anybody needs nor can the manufacturers demonstrate a valid use case for them. Which is why so many are turning into fancy fitness trackers.
What if a smartwatch was cheaper though? And I mean nearly disposable level cheap. Would that make the offering more attractive?
The Unisurf U2 is a cheap smartwatch, which works with both Android and iOS. Is it any good though?
It certainly looks the part. Featuring a curved screen of 1.5" diagonal with a faux-metal surround and a reasonably nice strap, which can be interchanged for other standard watch straps. The screen is bright and colourful, although you'll have to prod the button on the side every time you want to know the time - there's no accelerometer to tell the watch you've raised your arm and are now looking at it. Other smartwatches can't do this reliably, but the Unisurf doesn't even try.
The software is Unisurf's own, so none of the subtleties of Android Wear are here. Nor most of the features. You can configure notifications and they come through to the watch rapidly.
Battery life is claimed to be 72 hours. I must spend an awful lot of time looking at my watch - or take an excessive amount of exercise, because the Unisurf struggled to last a day. Because the U2 uses a charging cradle there's no way of boosting the charge on the go. The U1 smartwatch from the same company uses microUSB for charging, which seems to be altogether more sensible.
It did seem to do a good job of recording steps, although there's not actually any way of doing anything useful with that information. There's no sync app, although you can view some information on your connected phone.
At least connecting to the phone was straightforward. Bluetooth pairing worked first time and the app saw the watch as soon as it was launched. Once connected you can make calls through the U2. Which feels quite cool exactly once, when showing the feature off to colleagues. After that, the reality of of projecting your conversation to all and sundry takes over and you don't do it again.
Other than the limited set of watch faces and the limited number of applications available (Android owners only bizarrely) that's about all you get.
You are getting it all for under NZ$80 (around £50) which is about a quarter of the price of its mainstream smartwatch competitors. So if your requirements are low this might be the ideal smartwatch for you.
Personally it has proved to me that the problem with smartwatches is not the price. It's the whole concept end to end. I'll pass thanks...