back to article Out of time: Huawei, LG unveil watches nobody wants to buy

China’s Huawei and South Korea’s LG showed off new watches in Barcelona today. The “smartwatch” is a misnomer: both will stop telling the time after a day, unless they are charged. Then they can tell you the time for another day. LG’s “Watch Urbane” is aimed at the wealthier chump. Of possible interest here is that one of the …

  1. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Battery Life

    I think the battery life thing is quite simple to solve. They should team up with the innovators at Porn hub. A proper wankers watch is what we need. Oh hang on that's coming out on the 9th of March isn't it... (Ducks.. Only joking honest).

    1. Siriuss

      Re: Battery Life

      are you wearing your watch on the right wrist ? depending if you're right-handed... anyway with the cell phones, we don't see hardly anyone with watches anymore.

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: Battery Life

        What? You mean no one ever told you the benefits of using your left hand if you're right handed?

    2. LarsG

      Re: Battery Life

      If only they could invent an battery powered auto wind watch.... Can't be too much to ask can it?

    3. robertcirca

      I almost forgot ro recharge my battery

      Thanks for reminding me. I almost forgot ro recharge my battery. And I wil have some fun recharging the battery.

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: I almost forgot ro recharge my battery

        One off the wrist for the one on your wrist. That's how they should market it.

  2. jherbert

    Same is true for the iWatch. But then, it's the iWatch. No problem there.

  3. Cirdan
    Holmes

    Dick Tracey...

    ...eat your heart out!

    Oh, wait... You had it first!

  4. Zot

    I just want...

    I just want a normal watch with a round digital face. A face that's always on, and it's design can be changed via a USB connection. Just a simple watch. Why do they always have to be 'smart,' it's stupid.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: I just want...

      Both smart and stupid? Smupid!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I just want...

      But you can turn on your Merc with your smart watch, that's a big IT category according to Cook.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I just want...

        "you can turn on your Merc with your smart watch"

        He's a very sad person, isn't he.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I just want...

      >A face that's always on, and it's design can be changed via a USB connection. Just a simple watch.

      Why would you want that?! If you want a different watch design, just put on a different watch. Seriously - accurate, reliable quartz watches are available for so little money.

      The connected part of connected watches isn't a major power draw, as Casio and Citizen have shown.

      1. Zot

        Re: I just want...

        Because designing my own watch face would be great fun, besides, nice looking watches cost a lot of money.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: I just want...

          >Because designing my own watch face would be great fun, besides, nice looking watches cost a lot of money.

          It seems to me that you'd be better off with a colour e-ink display, since they only require power when changing state. The only issue is that they only seem to boast 150 Pixels Per Inch (modern phone screens have PPI above 300). An LCD or traditional watch hands can be placed above the e-ink display.

          An illuminated LCD display would consume too much power - a Bluetooth LE chip can be powered by normal user movement. Citizen have Bluetooth watches that are powered in this way - no battery charging or battery changing required.

          1. Boothy

            Re: I just want...

            Quote: It seems to me that you'd be better off with a colour e-ink display, since they only require power when changing state.

            What, like the new Pebble Time? Link: Kickstarter

  5. Bloodbeastterror

    What am I missing?

    My Citizen EcoDrive Dumbwatch does one thing, and does it brilliantly. It cost me £239 (shortly afterwards it was £299 when they realised it was too cheap), waterproof to 200 metres, accurate to within half a second a day but automatically resets itself to atomic time in the middle of every night, "perpetual" calendar until 2099 (that'll do...), never needs a battery because it recharges on even weak light, and has a face that I'm happy with and don't want to change.

    I use my Nexus 6 as an entertainment/web/communications device, and it's no big hassle to pull it out of my pocket when it rings with a phone call or text.

    These smart watches are pointless and are simply the product of companies desperate to pull money out of gadget freaks' wallets. Me, I like gadgets (hence the Nexus 6) but I won't spend money on one that essentially serves no new purpose.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: What am I missing?

      This possibility from Gurgle; http://www.google.com/patents/US20040180691 a phone hat!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: What am I missing?

      Neither am I, but when they make a hologram video-phone watch, I'll be in line early.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: What am I missing?

      >essentially serves no new purpose.

      You see no benefit that is worth the cost (cost being daily charging, bulky size, and money etc). So we're looking at a cost benefit analysis.

      What if someone could offer you an EcoDrive watch that was the same as yours, but just had a button to help you find your phone? Citizen do:

      Introducing Proximity, a perpetual calendar chronograph with second time zone, 12/24 hour time, power reserve, sporty leather strap with a nylon backing, 46mm case & 100M WR. This timepiece is Bluetooth 4.0 compatible and just like the watch this low energy Bluetooth is powered by Eco-Drive technology. Through the Bluetooth 4.0 connection with your iPhone®, you can be alerted to incoming calls, emails, messages, reminders, and alerts.

      - http://www.citizenwatch.com/en-us/watches/watch-detail/?model=AT7030-05E

    4. king of foo

      Re: What am I missing?

      "OK google, what time is it"

      "Beep, hammer time"

      Works through jeans, suits, shorts etc.

    5. LarsG

      Re: What am I missing?

      I like the fact that I have to adjust the time once or twice a month with my Sinn U2 auto winder, nothing to do with Bono here, I can relax in the knowledge that it needs no recharging or batteries and that if I fall overboard and drown in 2000 meters of water it will still be working. It's pretty much indestructible and you can beat a mugger to death with it if they try and rob you. Ok so it's over engineered but if regularly serviced I expect one of my great great great great great grandchildren will probably have it on their wrist in say 240 years time. Smart watches on the other hand will be confined to a foot note in history just like the 3D tv's they hyped on about.

    6. Hud Dunlap
      Boffin

      Re: What am I missing?

      You hope it resets to the time. I had one of the early "Atomic Clocks". Every time a massive front came down past Colorado the time would jump. The bigger the time jump the bigger the storms. I got three days warning of massive thunderstorms. Much better than the Weather service.

      1. Bloodbeastterror

        Re: What am I missing?

        Hud, it really does reset. It has a "success/fail" function which shows that the reset is successful 95% of the time, and it's exact to the split second with my phone and other clocks in my house, all of which are radio-controlled to sync with the atomic signal.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trevor Baylis (RIP)

    Perhaps all smartwatch manufacturers will one day incorporate some kind of wind-up charger technology in the device.

  7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Battery life

    Less than a year? Sorry, but no.

    I genuinely cannot see a real use case for a battery sucking smart watch. Maybe others do, but not me.

    And if costs more than a 100 quid it'd better look like quality and not some cheap bit of tat with a plastic strap or plated metal that wears off.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Battery life

      > battery sucking smart watch... ...not some cheap bit of tat with a plastic strap or plated metal that wears off.

      A Bluetooth watch that never needs a new battery or charging, has a leather strap and stainless steel case:

      http://www.citizenwatch.com/en-us/watches/watch-detail/?model=AT7035-01E

      1. dogged

        Re: Battery life

        @Dave 126

        I would totally get one of those. IF and only IF it wasn't iPhone only.

  8. Robredz

    Autowind mechanical does the job, you can get them from China foir a tenner if you are a skinflint.

  9. JDX Gold badge

    It's the unbiased reporting that keeps me coming back to El Reg

    One feels some of the reporters would feel more at home in the comments section :)

  10. JDC

    After a month with a Sony Smartwatch 3

    ... it came "free" with a phone upgrade, not something I bought separately. So after a month, my impressions.

    First, the good bits: It's quite a nice watch, certainly more stylish than the 15€ Decathlon digital thingy I usually wear. It doesn't look too cheap, and it's comfortable. As an IT worker it's got a certain geeky charm. It needs charging every 3 days or so, which isn't too onerous. (It's also worth pointing out that discovering the charge is running low isn't anything like as irritating as discovering your phone is about to die). It's waterproof. The vibrate notifications are quite handy if, like me, you prefer not to irritate your coworkers with endless beeping whatsapp notifications - it's always 100% something's happened, which isn't always the case with a phone set to vibrate and sitting in a pocket or bag. It makes a reasonable remote for your (phone) music player.

    The not-sure bits. It's got a GPS and you can use it for navigation. Obviously not much use when you're driving, but could be good when walking. I haven't tried it, though. Not sure about battery life with the GPS activated, either.

    The bad bits. Except they aren't really bad, more just a reflection of the pointlessness and limitations of the watch. Reading messages is a trip down memory lane: it's just like trying to read stuff on a Nokia candybar phone. It has a certain nostalgic charm, but it's still crap. You can apparently talk to your watch and get it to do things, but you look like a twat. You can open apps on your phone from your watch - but why would you when you still have to use the phone to actually do anything with the app? 3 day battery life is OK for a smartwatch, pretty crap for any other of watch. The UI is confusing, sometimes you swipe down, sometimes you tap it, sometimes swipe to the side.

    TL;DR: it's quite nice, but ultimately pointless. It was free, so I use it. I wouldn't spend 200€ on one, though.

  11. BenR

    Smartwatches

    Other wearable tech I'm not so fussed with, but for a smartwatch, i want it to do a few key things, and not much else:

    1) it has to tell the time.

    2) the battery has to last a couple of days at least, if not a week.

    3) i want to be able to pair it with my phone to display notifications.

    4) It has to look like a decently-classy watch (not bling-tastic, and not too non-normal) and provide 'normal' functionality (i.e. decently waterproof to a sensible level - say 25m - so it can survive doing the washing up or not being taken off in the bath / shower)

    That's it. Doesn't need to do more than that. I don't need to be able to make calls on it, or read messages, or use it as sat-nav, or anything like that. I want it effectively as a second-screen that will buzz when I get a message, as if my phone is in my pocket i often don't feel or hear it.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    Dropping the level of functionality would help the battery life a lot i suspect. A quad-core Snapdragon 400 in a watch seems like total overkill!

    Even the Pebble tries to do too much, and I'm not sure I like the look of it. The Qualcomm TOQ looks like the right kind of thing, but looks awful! Quite like the Asus Smartwatch, but they need some development and the battery life isn't great. Some of these new watches from LG and Huawei look the part, but have so much kit in them that they don't need really... LTE on a watch?!? What's the point if you (as everyone does) ALREADY HAVE A PHONE!!

    Also - I saw an idea about batteries being put in the strap of the watch - either a flexible cell, or metal links with a small 50 mAh battery in each link that connect together. I'm amazed someone hasn't developed this further.

    1. garden-snail
      Thumb Up

      Re: Smartwatches

      You almost just described the LG G Watch R. I've just bought one, and it seems to satisfy all of your criteria.

      1) It tells the time;

      2) The battery lasts a couple of days (maybe longer if you dim the screen and turn off auto-wake, but charging it with the included dock is as simple is taking the watch off and putting it on the bedside table at night - something I would do with a regular watch anyway);

      3) It pairs with your phone to display notifications;

      4) It looks like a normal watch, and is water-resistant to 1 m. Which is fine, unless you do your washing up at 25 m.

      Yes, you can also read your messages or get directions with it, although in both cases it's just acting as a second screen for your phone, so there's no point removing those features. The watch doesn't have its own LTE radio or GPS receiver.

      Mine cost £190 from Amazon, which for me is worth it. It's especially reasonable considering we're still in the "early adopter" period.

      1. dogged

        Re: Smartwatches

        is that another Android-only "Android Wear" device?

        If so, no sale.

        Thing is, you see, the important thing is....

        I like watches. I like my watch to last for at least ten years. If it's a really nice watch, I'd like it to be working well long after my own ticker has stopped forever so that my sons can fight over it.

        A watch which is crippled if you don't buy $PARTICULAR_PHONE_OS is useless to me because I might want to change my phone OS in the next year or so while I buy a watch to actually last.

      2. BenR

        Re: Smartwatches

        Yes. Just a shame there's all the additional bollocks on there doing things that one doesn't need, sucking up battery power the whole time.

        i don't want a quad-core mini-puter on my wrist - I already have a perfectly serviceable, better-spec'd one in my pocket.

        I don't want it monitoring my heart-rate - i take my watch etc. off when i go to the gym anyway.

        i don't want to talk to my watch - i can already talk to various bits of tech on my person anyway, and while it's novel, the novelty value wears off quickly, and after that isn't really useful and makes you look a bit of a tit.

        It doesn't need a touchscreen - the entire thing can be controlled with three simple buttons like the Pebble.

        It doesn't need complex apps, or its own storage, or GPS, or anything else. These are all just fripperies that suck up power and take away from its primary function.

        Just a screen, a battery, a vibration motor and a small speaker, a Bluetooth 4LE connection to my phone, and enough processing umph to display a text message / call notification, and the facility to control the playing of music.

        Anything else is - to my mind at least - a waste. Make them cheap, simple and usable and you might get people buying them. As it stands, they'll go the way of the 3D TV.

        If Pebble made a circular version of the Pebble Steel in a choice of black or chrome, that fit a standard 22mm watch strap, and included wireless charging, and nothing else, they'd have my money just as quickly as i could type my card details into the website.

        i wish i had the technological and manufacturing wherewithal - I'd Kickstarter such a device right this second.

  12. robertcirca

    This s like a car that has to be refilled every 20 miles

    This is like a car that has to be refilled every 20 miles. Nobody wants to have it. Oh, did I say nobody? The number of stupid people seems to increase every day.

  13. Olley102

    Nobody wants to buy. Are you serious?

    Of course people want to buy them. They are smartwatches and there is a whole market out there for them. Over 50 million units of smartwatches have been sold since they started trend. It is expected (by BI Intelligence) that over the next four years, 148 million units will have been sold - a tenth of the smartphone industry. Not only are they smartwatches but they are huge steps forward in technology. Their design and build quality is what LG and Huawei have been focussing on, making smartwatches no longer an alien thing to the world but something that fits in normal circumstances. When you talk about battery life, these smartwatches have perfectly decent battery life. I am myself an owner of a smartwatch - the LG G Watch R - and the battery life on that lasts me a bit more than 24 hours. That is enough for me because I use it as a normal watch as well as moderately utilising the innovative features of its OS. I can just charge it through the night, or even in the morning before I commute. Battery is not as big a problem as what it sounds like from the outside. And this is what this article is about - the outside view, unfortunately.

  14. Ossi

    A Smartwatch makes some kind of sense, but...

    If you're happy to wear something in your wrist that's of very limited functionality - it can tell you the time and date only - then it's not illogical to wear something that can do more. From a purely functional point of view, wearing a smartwatch makes sense even if it can't do much more than a normal wristwatch; the point is that it can do more.

    But I own a smartwatch (an LG G-Watch) and I don't often wear it. It has all the usual limitations - short battery life (not something that bothers me), bulky size (I'm pretty small - have smartphone manufacturers heard of "women"?) and crap UI.

    But none of these are the reason I don't wear it. The reason is that it feels so conspicuous. Looking at your wrist all the time is just as noticeable as looking at your phone all the time, and as for talking to the damned thing, forget it. You also - and I didn't think about this - either have to keep tapping it to see the time or get a glow-in-the-dark wrist. E-ink is such an obvious choice for a smartwatch, but only one company's gone with it. I don't get that.

    So, here's my advice to smartwatch manufacturers - make your devices more subtle, smaller, and cheaper - basically start to use E-ink - and then the fact that they don't do much will matter less because the alternative that everyone happily wears does very little at all. Pebble are the only guys who get this.

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