Unboxing – Nubia Watch: Folding Smartwatch
I love my wearables. I’ve got a few favorites, too:
- Apple Watch Series 4
- TicWatch Pro 2020
- Galaxy Watch 2
- Moto360 Series 3
With all of the hub-bub around this year regarding flexible and foldable screens, like in the Samsung Galaxy Fold/ Fold 2, The Motorola Razr 2020 or the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, devices with bendable, foldable or movable displays are all the rage. In keeping with the folding, bending spirit, Nubia has completed and shipped their Nubia Watch, a smartwatch with a long, wrist encompancing display. Let’s take a quick look after the unboxing and see how this thing compares to the more commonplace ones available today.
Nubia Watch is a smartwatch with a 4.01″ 192×960 pixel AMOLED always on display. It wraps around your wrist and has flexible, ends where the display actually bends. It has a Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, 8GB of onboard storage and 1GB of RAM. The full specs are below.
nubia Watch specifications
|Display||4.01", 192x960 pixel AMOLED screen, Always-On Display|
|Straps||Detachable TPU/silicone straps, 20mm width, 85-100mm adjustable length|
|Operating System||Proprietary platform
(though I suspect, its Android based)
|Chipset||Snapdragon Wear 2100|
|Storage and Memory||8GB ROM; 1GB RAM|
|Features||Real-time heart rate monitor,
IP54 Dust & Water resistant,
Call and App Notification alerts,
Music Playback and Control
|Sports Modes||Outdoor Running,
|Sensors||PPG Bio-Tracking Optical Heart Rate Sensor,
3-axis geomagnetic sensor,
Compatible with Android 5.0+ and iOS 10.0+
|Dimensions||125 x 41.5 x 14.2 mm|
If there’s anyplace that the device needs help, its here. The software used by Nubia Watch has a lot of growing and improving to do. The setup experience for example needs a lot of help and work. Plugging in the device turns the device on long enough to display the device logo. If the watch has enough juice to power itself on, it will. If not, the logo simply disappears and nothing else happens. It would have been nice if a charing indicator displayed; but it didn’t… at least not for a while for me.
Downloading the device software to help you pair it with your phone and to manage notifications (remember, there’s not third party software for this device, so the usefulness of the software itself is extremely limited). To do so, the device has you scan a QRCode. Unforunately, there’s a problem with the QRCode. It doesn’t take you to the download in the iPhone app store, as you can see via the next few screen shots.
The QRCode is supposed to start the pairing process and take you to the device software in the App Store. It doesn’t.
Scanning the QRCode starts things off by opening the App Store; but it doesn’t find anything. You’ll have better luck by searching for, “nubia watch” in the iOS App Store. I did and was able to find the software. I will tell you, the device is limited in functionality.
It does notifications – occasionally. They are definitely NOT consistent and need work.
The device does fitness and heart rate monitoring. These were reasonable and ok, though I didn’t really go too deep down the fitness or heart rate monitoring with the Nubia Watch. It doesn’t have the battery life to do it for long.
The device does sleep tracking too; but I wasn’t able to get the device to last more than 8.5 to 10.0 hours before it died. Getting it to run through the night so it can track your sleep will require you to take it off and charge it at least once during the day. If you don’t go to sleep with a full charge, you’re going to have issues with sleep tracking.
There are a few other usability issues with the device. I’ve outlined some below. Please make certain that you read all the way through, if you’re curious about the device or interested in a purchase.
So, the biggest thing about Nubia Watch… the reason why anyone would buy this device… is the flexible, wrap around the whole device, screen. The screen provides a big draw for the device; but to be honest, its also the device’s biggest liability. It draws a LOT of power and its difficult to read. ITs very easy to read the bottom 1/3 and the middle of the screen, but its near impossible to read and use the top 1/3 of the screen. Anything that is displayed here isn’t likely to get read or used.
The device is also very stiff. And that’s to be expected, since the nearly the entire device – except for the very small wrist band – is screen. The only flexible or foldable part is the screen, and then the only flexible parts are the top and bottom thirds of the device. The middle is completely stiff and hard.
It’s also very thick and NOT so flexible. The device isn’t very comfortable to wear.
Dust and Water Resistance
From a water and dust resistance perspective, the device comes with an IP54 rating. To get a better understanding of what that means, please see the chart, below.
IP ratings are broken down into two categories, dust and water resistance. The first number addresses dust. The second addresses water. As you can see from the chart, with an IP54 rating, the device has sufficient protection from entry of dust that could interfere with equipment operation (the first number in the rating of 54, or the “5”).
The second number shows that the device is protected from water ingress when sprayed with water from any “angle,” meaning any angle from the top down. It won’t handle water UNDER the device well. So if you are wearing the watch while you work out, and you sweat a lot, your body’s perspiration may damage the device. This is not very good for a device that is also meant to be a fitness tracker.
To say that this is a disappointment is a bit of an understatement. The device is meant to be used all day and in all activities (as is any smartwatch, today), and is meant to be used as a fitness tracker. The device sits snug against your wrist, and comes with a silicone band. You’re going to sweat when you wear it. Which means you’re likely to sweat a lot under it when you have it on while working out. with only a level 4 protection on water ingress (the iPhone 12 has an iP68 rating, the Apple Watch has an IP 67 rating and comes with a way of dispelling water from its casing after swimming with it on), the device’s usefulness as a fitness tracker and out in any weather is greatly reduced.
This was a huge disappointment.
The device didn’t last me the entire day. I had minimal notifications turned on (not all of them worked as expected or configured, either), and the device died before dinner, not lasting even 10 hours. For a wearable in today’s market, that’s unacceptable.
The screen is great, but its clear that its the biggest battery drain on the device. However, the screen turns off after about 10-15 seconds. Which should have been great for battery conservation; but when the device can’t even last a full 12 hours, its going to have a hard time being of use during the day.
You’re going to need to keep the charger handy if you get one of these. You’re going to need to take the watch off at some point to recharge it. With the device only having a heart rate sensor and a sleep monitor, its usefulness is reduced. This also means that it doesn’t have a lot of functionality to push with its battery. The battery either isn’t big enough or doesn’t handle the power it can hold, efficiently. Anyway you slice it, its problematic.
The Nubia Watch is a first of its kind. It has a flexible AMOLED screen. Unfortunately, the uniqueness and the fun stops there. The screen is difficult to read, especially the top 1/3 or more. Its hard to turn your wrist all the way over so you can see the top of the device screen. The battery life is horrible. I can’t even last you through the day on a single charge. Notifications are spotty, despite having them setup correctly on your smartphone and in the app. The app itself is OK. Its not great; and still has localization issues with dialog boxes and system messages that are in Chinese.
The device itself is plastic and aluminum and only carries an IP54 rating. That’s enough protection to keep the rain out of it, and that’s about it. If you wear it while working out and sweat a lot, you may risk causing water damage to the device. Be aware and only wear it for light work outs. Anything else may have you permanently damaging or even destroying the device.
The device runs a custom OS, and though it feels like Android, there’s no way to get to the device itself via cable or other interface that I can see. This means that there’s no app library to choose from. You get whats on board or what content you can get to it via copying from your phone (and then you MUST setup your phone as a hot spot and have the app on your phone send content through the WiFi connection you set up between it and the watch to get content there. There’s simply no other way to get ANYTHING else to the watch at this time. Its also likely NOT going to gain a great deal of enthusiast following outside of China (where it is native). So any kind of enthusiast support is unlikely as well
Nubia itself is going to be difficult to work with. They are half way around the world from me and haven’t treated their Kickstarter Backers very well. at least 1/2 of them are screaming for tracking codes that work so they can track the shipment of their campaign reward(s). The other 1/2 is screaming for a refund, thinking they’ve gotten scammed.
To be honest, with such a closed system and no enthusiast or app support of ANY kind, the excitement over the screen died for me shortly after I found all the watch screens on the device. They aren’t that good, and to be honest, neither is the device. Its great for telling time, and perhaps fielding whatever notifications the app decides to send over when it feels like it; but from a CONSUMER point of view, without apps or a ton of software options, the device is going to be a huge dud anywhere outside of China (where it may gain a bigger following, and therefore have a better opportunity for support).
Nubia Watch is currently $219 and available in either black or green directly from Nubia.
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