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OnePlus Watch 2 review: Finally, a Wear OS watch with staying power
7:34 pm | May 13, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

OnePlus Watch 2: One minute review

After a less-than-stellar introduction to the world of smartwatches with the original OnePlus Watch in 2021, OnePlus is back with its second effort, and it’s a different beast entirely. Rather than relying on its own software, OnePlus’ latest wearable uses Google’s Wear OS platform to deliver a comprehensive set of features that will satisfy even the most demanding user.

Anyone who’s familiar with Wear OS will know that poor battery life is its biggest hurdle, and OnePlus manages to leap right over it with an ingenious solution. This watch has two processors and two operating systems working in tandem, one handles all the basic functions like telling the time and counting steps, while the other tackles the more complex stuff. Depending on your usage, you really can achieve 100 hours on a single charge.

The OnePlus Watch 2 offers a tasteful design, but its large dimensions mean that it’s less suited to those with petite wrists. It feels quality throughout, but I can’t help but wish for a functional rotating crown. This one can be rotated, but it doesn’t do anything. It’s just a circular button.

When it comes to features and performance, I have no complaints whatsoever. Fitness tracking data seems accurate, it pairs easily and remains connected to your phone, and the Wear OS ecosystem means you can install a wide variety of applications to achieve all sorts of tasks. I managed three days on a charge with the always-on display enabled, too.

As it stands, I think it’s one of the most compelling Wear OS options available today, and certainly one of the best smartwatches outside of Apple. It’s reasonably priced, well-designed, feature-packed and lasts for a long time. What more could you need?

OnePlus Watch 2: Specifications

OnePlus Watch 2: Price and Availability

OnePlus Watch 2 worn on man's wrist

(Image credit: Luke Baker)
  • £299 in the UK
  • $299.99 in the US
  • AU$459 in Australia

The OnePlus Watch 2 is available to purchase now globally with an MSRP of $299.99 / £299 / AU$459. It originally launched in Black Steel and Radiant Steel, but a Nordic Blue variant was introduced more recently in Europe, too. The specs and features are the same across all variants, it’s only the colour of the chassis and strap that changes.

The OnePlus Watch 2 is very reasonably priced compared to its Wear OS rivals. The Pixel Watch 2, TicWatch Pro 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro are all slightly more expensive at full retail, but frequent discounts mean that they can be found at similar prices.

  •  Value score: 4/5 

OnePlus Watch 2: Design and screen

OnePlus Watch 2 worn on man's wrist

(Image credit: Luke Baker)
  • 1.43-inch AMOLED display
  • Steel chassis with sapphire crystal face
  • Black Steel, Radiant Steel and Nordic Blue options

The OnePlus Watch 2 immediately gives the impression of quality, it's dense, heavy and shiny, as you’d expect a high-end watch to be. However, the downsides to this design are immediately apparent, too: it’s a big, thick watch, and it’s only available in a single 46mm case size. This means it’s not going to be for everyone. I’m a big guy, and even on my wrists it felt a little large and heavy; I can certainly imagine it looking ridiculous on those with slim wrists.

The OnePlus Watch 2 is mostly circular, but it has a flat edge on the right-hand side. The buttons are offset at an angle, which means they’re never accidentally pressed by the back of your hand when you lean on a table. It’s a thoughtful touch.

OnePlus says the design is inspired by classic stopwatches, but it equally reminds me of the camera surround on the OnePlus 12, it’s a nice bit of design synergy if you happen to own both. On the whole, though, I think it’s lacking in personality. There’s nothing wrong with the design, it just doesn’t do much to stand out, either.

The uppermost button is circular and sticks out from the main body, like a watch crown. However, while it can be rotated, rotating it doesn’t do anything, it’s just a normal button. I found this a bit disappointing, most of the Watch 2’s competitors have functional crowns, and even the budget-oriented Huawei Watch Fit 3 manages to include one.

The display has an ample 466 x 466 resolution and it’s bright enough that I never had trouble seeing it in direct sunlight. The bezels are fairly chunky, but a selection of predominantly dark watch faces do a great job of disguising this. The screen is coated with sapphire crystal and has a hardness rating of 8+ Mohs, which essentially means that it’s highly scratch-resistant. After wearing it for a few weeks, the glass is still spotless (despite taking a few knocks).

The watch also has a MIL-STD 810H rating for durability, and it's completely waterproof up to 5ATM. So, no matter how adventurous your lifestyle may be, the OnePlus Watch 2 should be up to the task.

  • Design score: 3.5/5

OnePlus Watch 2: Features

OnePlus Watch 2 worn on man's wrist

(Image credit: Luke Baker)
  • 32GB of onboard storage
  • Great flexibility with Wear OS apps
  • Over 100 built-in exercise modes

Since the Watch 2 runs Wear OS, it integrates seamlessly with all of Google’s services like Google Calendar, Google Fit, Google Wallet, Maps and more. As someone who relies on Google for most of my digital life, it’s blissful not having to manually link any of these services.

The other big advantage of Wear OS is that it has an app store. As an example, I like to track my rides using Strava. Most watches will require a (sometimes complex) linking process to share data with Strava, but on the OnePlus Watch 2 you just tap the Play Store, install Strava, and you’re ready to track. 

It’s not just fitness stuff that you’ll find here either. You can find all manner of functionalities on Wear OS: I love having the ability to control my smart lights from my watch using Google Home or IFTTT, for example. That’s the kind of function that proprietary operating systems struggle with, but Wear OS handles like a breeze.

The downside to this system is usually the battery drain. Wear OS is a notoriously demanding smartwatch platform, and Wear OS watches with multi-day battery life are few and far between. Brands have tried various techniques to get around this, the TicWatch Pro 5’s dual-layer low-power display is a great example, but none are quite as seamless as the OnePlus Watch 2’s approach.

This watch is essentially two watches in one, and that’s probably why it’s so chunky. It has a Snapdragon W5 to run Wear OS and all the smart bits, while a low-power BES2700BP chip and RTOS system runs all the basics, like telling the time and capturing health data. The watch switches between the two systems depending on what you ask it to do, so you get all the features, without the usual battery woes. It’s a brilliant workaround.

You get 32GB of storage built in, ample space for offline Spotify listening if you want to leave the phone at home. Meanwhile, the default fitness tracking application can track over 100 different types of exercise. Of course, if your favorite is missing, you can always install a different app instead.

The watch uses the OHealth Android app to pair with your smartphone, but there’s no equivalent for iOS, so iPhone users need not apply. In the app, you can check out your fitness metrics, customize your watch face and settings, and start tracking a workout. It’s a little barebones, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It keeps everything simple, and if you want to do something more advanced, you can do that on the watch itself.

  • Features score: 4/5

OnePlus Watch 2: Performance

OnePlus Watch 2 screen

(Image credit: Luke Baker)
  • Up to 100 hours of battery life
  • Heart rate, sleep, stress and SpO2 monitoring
  • Multi-band GPS tracking

The big thing that sets this watch apart is its battery life. I like to use my smartwatches with everything enabled, and the always-on display active, essentially the worst-case scenario for battery life. Even still, I was able to manage around three days per charge when I wasn’t using GPS, and around two days when I was.

If you’re fine with raise-to-wake, and maybe disable some of your more frequent notifications, then you’ll be able to achieve much longer. Kick it into power-saving mode and you can go 12 days between charges, and you’ll still get notifications and track your steps and heart rate, too. Of course, the more advanced features are disabled in this mode.

When it’s time to charge, it's done with a magnetic puck that attaches to the watch with some pogo pins. It’s a nice, compact unit with a removable USB-C cable, I found it much nicer to travel with than a lengthy proprietary cable. Wireless charging support would have been even nicer, though.

The connection between my phone and the OnePlus Watch 2 was rock-solid throughout my testing. Notifications came through reliably and quickly, and if I left the phone somewhere and came back to it, the two devices would reconnect without any hiccups.

It’s hard to gauge the accuracy of the watch’s many fitness sensors, but the readings I got were in line with most of my other wearables. The step count was continually a little higher than my phone’s built-in pedometer, but much of that can be attributed to leaving my phone at my desk as I get up and run errands. Heart rate readings matched those that I’m used to seeing from my TicWatch Pro 5, too.

The watch can track your sleep habits, too. The metrics include everything from sleep stage breakdowns to heart rate changes and even breathing patterns. I hate sleeping in a watch, especially one as chunky as this, but I was on a couple of overnight flights during my testing and managed to capture some data. I did, in fact, not get much sleep, as the watch kindly reminded me.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

OnePlus Watch 2: Scorecard

OnePlus Watch 2: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

OnePlus Watch 2: How we tested

Our reviewer wore the OnePlus Watch 2 as his primary smartwatch for over two weeks, and it accompanied him on some international travels and during regular workouts. It was paired to a Vivo X100 Pro for the majority of the testing period but was also tried with the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra.

The tracking results were compared to historical results from the Huawei Watch Fit 3 and TicWatch Pro 5, as well as the built-in step counter on the smartphone to assess accuracy.

OnePlus Watch 2: Also consider

First reviewed: May 2024

Withings ScanWatch Nova review: analog looks with exceptional digital brains
11:28 am | April 22, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Comments: Off

Withings ScanWatch Nova: Two-minute review

Smartwatches have become ubiquitous in society. Certainly spearheaded by the arrival of the Apple Watch, you now can’t go anywhere without seeing a digital display on someone’s wrist. It could be argued that until we had the smartwatch, we didn’t know we needed it and we were perfectly content with a classic analog wrist watch to simply tell the time. 

Withings has championed a combination of past and present with all of its watch releases – something it has dubbed as a ‘hybrid’ design – and the ScanWatch Nova is the latest model (alongside the ScanWatch 2) that combines analog looks, health and fitness tracking and a few smartwatch niceties into one elegant package. 

Using the previous ScanWatch Horizon as its starting base, the ScanWatch Nova takes what we considered to be a winning formula, and makes aesthetic and technological improvements to make this one of the best smartwatches for those who prefer classic looks, but who are also intrigued by sensors to track their overall health. 

As with its predecessor, a quick glance at the ScanWatch Nova doesn’t immediately give away the fact it has digital sensors for a brain instead of a traditional watch movement. Its polished chrome body, analog hands with glow-in-the-dark LumiNova coating and rotating crown, give the impression this could be something straight out of Switzerland. 

Look a little closer though, and instead of a traditional chronometer or seconds-hand ticker, you’ll notice a small OLED display at 12 o’clock and a second dial at 6 o’clock that displays your progress towards your health goal in the form of 0 to 100%. The previous ScanWatch Horizon exhibited essentially the same design, but Withings says the resolution of the OLED display has been improved this time around and the watch itself is sleeker in design. 

I’d have to agree. Having worn both (and still owning the Horizon) the Nova’s case has more rounded edges and the lug around the crown has been reduced. When wearing the Horizon, I found it could occasionally dig into my wrist when I bent my hand, but with the Nova, that’s been resolved. The display is definitely a tad sharper as well, and scrolling text across the display moves at a readable speed and is clearly legible. 

On the rear is a quartet of sensors to track your heart rate, 24/7 temperature, ECG and blood oxygen levels. As before, interacting with the crown doesn’t adjust the time or date, but instead brings the OLED display to life, whereby you can then scroll through the various menus and data. 

In the ScanWatch Nova, Withings is once again putting a firm focus on your health. You can use it to track workouts and it will display notifications from your smartphone apps, but this is a watch that ultimately wants to keep an accurate record of how your body is performing and all data is presented in the thoughtfully designed HealthMate companion app. It can also be exported to (and imported from) your phone’s native health app. 

Battery life is once again excellent with Withings accurately claiming 30 days of use, and what I particularly love about this new model is the charger. The charger that came with the ScanWatch Horizon was terrible; it didn’t magnetically attach to the watch which meant it could easily fall off. The new charger is like a cradle you have to physically insert the ScanWatch Nova into, where it’s held in place. 

As my US colleague Lance Ulanoff said of the ScanWatch Horizon, the ScanWatch Nova is the perfect smartwatch for those who don’t want one, or who at least want to be more inconspicuous in owning one. It collects a vast amount of data with accuracy, presents it well in a companion app and lasts forever on a single charge. For me it’s the perfect smartwatch and so I encourage everyone to give it a try. 

Withings ScanWatch Nova: Price & availability

The Withings ScanWatch Nova launched on December 5, 2023 and was available from Withings in the US and UK directly on the same date for $599.95 / £549.95. It arrived in Australia in March 2024 for AU$799 at third-party retailers. 

This does make it more expensive than the Apple Watch Series 9 and not a huge amount cheaper than the Apple Watch Ultra in comparison. iPhone users will get more use from the Apple Watch and there’s a huge amount more in the way of customizing how it looks, but the Apple Watch’s battery doesn’t last nearly as long. 

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Withings ScanWatch Nova: Specifications

Withings ScanWatch Nova: Design

  • Slimmer than previous ScanWatch Horizon
  • Improved display resolution
  • Looks and feels like a traditional diver’s watch

The Withings ScanWatch Nova employs a 42mm watch face and a design reminiscent of traditional diver’s watches. If you’ve always looked at other smartwatches but haven’t admired their use of all-digital displays then a hybrid smartwatch such as the Nova is ideal. I’m personally in this camp myself. 

I used to own an Apple Watch Series 3 about five years ago, but stopped wearing it because I wasn’t using it to its full potential, and preferred to wear a traditional watch instead. Because the Withings ScanWatch Nova combines this traditional look with health-tracking capabilities, it makes it the perfect smartwatch in my opinion. 

While the Nova employs a similar design to the Horizon, Withings has made some notable improvements. It’s slimmer in the body (and 1mm narrower on the watch face) and has gone on a weight loss kick, shaving its weight down from 72g to 52.6g. This makes a huge difference for everyday wear. The ScanWatch Horizon didn’t necessarily feel heavy, but in comparison it’s like wearing an anvil tied to your wrist compared to the featherweight nature of the ScanWatch Nova. The lighter design also makes it more comfortable to wear to bed at night, which is something you should do, since it can track your sleep and present you with a sleep performance score the next morning (more on that later). 

Withings ScanWatch Nova in box with accessories

Withings shipings the ScanWatch Nova complete with a second sport strap and tools to add or remove links. (Image credit: Future)

Withings ships the ScanWatch Nova with everything you need to get the perfect fit too, including spare links for the oyster metal bracelet should you need to make it larger, and a plastic holder and metal hammer to help you in adding or removing links as required. Finding the perfect fit is paramount to ensuring the ScanWatch Nova records accurate data. When we reviewed the ScanWatch Horizon we found this tricky to do, especially with the metal bracelet. I don’t think anyone should have too much issue getting a good fit with the Nova though as you’re able to remove full-size or half-size links from the bracelet.

There’s also a fluoroelastomer sport brand included which matches the color of the dial – it’s available in black, green and blue – which is soft and flexible and should provide a more secure fit if you struggle with the oyster metal bracelet. Both wristbands have a quick release function to make switching easy, although I found them easier to remove than to put back on, since they require you to compress some tiny pins that my chubby fingers had a bit of trouble with. In the UK and US you can choose from a variety of other sports and leather wristbands when buying directly from Withings, but customers in Australia are limited to just the two that come in the box.

Withings ScanWatch Nova

(Image credit: Future)

At 12 o’clock you’ll find a 0.63-inch digital display which is the clearest indicator that this isn’t a traditional analog watch. It’s slightly larger than the Horizon’s 0.5-inch screen and Withings says it has increased the resolution to improve legibility too. I have to agree, as comparing the two side by side does reveal a clear improvement in the Nova’s display. Text is that little bit clearer, sharper and more legible. I certainly had no issues reading the display and thanks to an ambient light sensor, it will automatically adjust the brightness when required. If you want to view the display but the hands are covering it, a press of the crown will see them both immediately move out the way and settle at the 10 and 2 positions. If neither of the hands are covering the display, they’ll remain where they are when you press the crown.

The way you interact with the ScanWatch Nova is similar to how you would an Apple Watch in the fact that you scroll the crown to cycle through menus. But there’s no touchscreen option here and the menus are black and white only. I like this more basic approach, I found it to be incredibly intuitive and there’s no risk of selecting the wrong app or option.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Withings ScanWatch Nova: Features

  • Sensors to track a range of health metrics
  • Automatic sleep and workout detection
  • Single-line app notifications

There are four sensors on the back of the ScanWatch Nova for heart rate, SpO2, electrocardiogram (ECG) and a new TempTech24/7 module which is the main upgrade over the previous ScanWatch Horizon. You’ll find the same set of sensors on the recently released ScanWatch 2 as well. The main difference between the ScanWatch 2 and the ScanWatch Nova is their design, with the former taking on a more dress watch style appearance.

Using these sensors and obtaining data is incredibly easy and when you first connect the ScanWatch Nova to your phone and the companion HealthMate app, you’re presented with tutorials for each to get you up to speed. 

Your heart rate and 24/7 temperature run continuously in the background and you only need to scroll to either of them in the menu to view the current reading. For SpO2 and ECG readings, you need to cover the watch face with your other hand for 30 seconds since the watch face doubles up as a sensor. Naturally, you’re not going to be able to see when the 30 seconds is up, so the ScanWatch Nova provides a rather lovely vibration to let you know the time is up. As soon as a reading is taken, you’ll get a pop-up notification on your phone directing you to view the results. 

 

Withings ScanWatch Nova

(Image credit: Future)

I had no issues obtaining an ECG result (mine was normal) but on the first few tries the Nova wasn’t able to record an SpO2 reading. I have to put this down to me not putting my hand on the watch face correctly (somehow) as on the third try it worked fine (and I was normal, again).

The Withings ScanWatch Nova isn’t the only smartwatch to offer this functionality of course – although it is the first health wearable to offer the 24/7 temperature tracking – but it is one of the few that is clinically evaluated and developed in collaboration with doctors and health professionals (Withings does say the SpO2 sensor is non-medical grade). Withings claims the 24/7 temperature tracking, which provides “baseline fluctuations of day and night body temperature,” can help to indicate the onset of an illness or other health conditions. You can also share your health reports directly with doctors via the HealthMate app.

More features are due in 2024 including irregular heart rhythm notifications and your respiratory rate.

Data recorded is displayed clearly in the HealthMate app although it somehow recorded two sets of sleep data on the first night I wore it to bed. One gave a sleep score of 20 and the other a score of 89. I’m taking the latter as being the more accurate. The ScanWatch Nova automatically detects when you go to sleep by the way, so no need to activate any settings before you nod off.

Withings ScanWatch Nova

The Withings ScanWatch Nova's screen (top) is much clearer than the ScanWatch Horizon's screen (below) it replaces (Image credit: Future)

If you want to use the ScanWatch Nova to its full potential then it can also track a range of workouts. Your options are limited to running, walking, swimming, cycling and “other”. New for the Nova is the ability to automatically detect workouts – something the Horizon couldn’t do – but if for whatever reason it doesn’t, you’ll need to navigate to the workout type and press the crown to begin. A long press of the crown will pause the workout and a further long pause will restart, or you can scroll to the square stop icon on the screen and long press to end.

When you start a workout, you’ll also find start and stop actions, along with live data in the app. The ScanWatch Nova doesn’t have built-in GPS either, but can use the GPS capabilities of your phone to accurately track your workouts. This of course means you can’t leave your phone at home, but if you workout with music, you’ll likely have your phone with you anyway.

I don’t mind this stripped back approach, not least because I’m not exactly the workout type but because when I see other fitness trackers offering support for things like yoga and pilates, I have to wonder exactly what they’re tracking. But, it would be fair to say that the ScanWatch Nova is a health tracker first and a fitness tracker second. If you’re a triathlete or ultra marathon runner, then this likely won’t be the watch for you, although you will no doubt benefit from the accurate and insightful health data.

Finally, because it is also a smartwatch, the Withings ScanWatch Nova will display messages and notifications from apps installed on your phone. You can choose which apps you do and don’t receive notifications from within the HealthMate app. I personally just kept notifications from messaging apps turned on and everything else turned off. When I receive a message, it’s displayed on the small OLED screen, with text scrolling across in a single line.

Some people may prefer to see an entire message and also to be able to reply to messages from their watch. That’s not possible with the ScanWatch Nova, but again for me, I like it. My opinion towards smartwatches is that they’re simply an extension to a phone, not a replacement for one. If I see a message come through on my watch, my first instinct is to then get my phone out of my pocket to read it fully and respond, I’m not going to be someone who speaks into their watch to dictate a message. It could well be this interaction, or lack thereof, that will persuade someone to buy the Withings ScanWatch Nova. It is a totally different product to something like the Apple Watch, which does offer a lot more in terms of interactivity.

  • Features score: 5/5

Withings ScanWatch Nova: Performance

  • Accurate measurements from sensors
  • Impeccable battery life
  • A few niggles with automatic sleep and workout detection

In relation to its fitness tracking capabilities, the Withings ScanWatch does a very good job of recording accurate measurements when you select a workout as well as automatically recording when you go to sleep. I say very good, rather than great, because there are a couple of niggles. 

Starting with sleep, in general the Nova does indeed notice when I’ve gone into full sleep mode and the morning after it displays the various stages of sleep in the HealthMate app. However, the night before writing this section, I happened to get very lucky and fall asleep at 4.30pm. I woke up at around 12.30am before managing to get back to sleep for another few hours. Following on from my initial observations earlier, the ScanWatch Nova once again only tracked the first period of sleep but for some reason didn’t pick up the second stage. The most recent tracked sleep falls under a “Last Night” banner, as opposed to the day of the week it occurred, so I have to wonder if it only assumes there can be one period of “Last Night’s” sleep. 

With regards to workouts, the ScanWatch Nova does automatically detect when you’re performing an activity, although when I looked in the app to view data, it had detected seven cycling sessions which is strange, since I don’t even own a bike, let alone cycle. All it could show was the duration of time and the day they occurred. No distance or speed. This is, however, likely because at the time I didn’t have GPS enabled on my phone. 

The morning of writing this section of the review I decided to walk to work, since I was feeling so refreshed from the 16 hours or so of sleep from the night before. To ensure it would accurately record my walking data, I selected ‘Walking’ from the workout menu on the watch itself and enabled GPS. When you have a workout mode enabled, the screens you scroll through change from the default options. The first screen still shows the time in digital format, but underneath you’re also shown the distance travelled.

Withings HealthMate app screenshots

(Image credit: Future)

Interestingly, the map data recorded within the app showed a black screen with the route I took. Selecting it did bring up a view within Apple Maps and my walking workout data overlayed, so I'm going to put this down to an app issue. Also interestingly, walking data recorded later the same day by automatic detection didn't show any GPS map route. It seems the only time you'll see that kind of data is when you actually select a workout on the watch.

When you scroll, you can view your heart rate, pace and body temperature. Of course, on something like an Apple Watch, you can view multiple metrics of data on one screen which will undoubtedly be more useful for real fitness fanatics. But for someone like me who doesn’t pour blood, sweat and tears into keeping fit, I was still grateful for the accurate tracking.

As for health tracking, all recorded data is presented neatly and efficiently in the companion app. Understanding that the average person is unlikely to know what a good or bad ECG or oxygen saturation reading is, the app gives a green tick of approval if you’re in good shape.

Generating data is simple too, as both the watch itself and the app give you instructions for how to record an ECG and SpO2 reading. You’re required to put your hand over the watch face, since this doubles up as a sensor, and the watch will give off a vibration when the 30 second recording period is up.

Withings ScanWatch Nova

(Image credit: Future)

Along with choosing which apps you want to display notifications, you can also customize other aspects of the watch from within the app, such as the order of workout options or the order of screens that show up when you scroll through with the crown. I chose to move Walking to the top of the list, since this was the one I was going to be using the most.

The app also lets you know how much battery the ScanWatch Nova has left – after wearing it almost constantly for a week, I still have 54% at the time of writing – and you can also set an alarm to wake you up in the morning. What you can’t do with the app or the ScanWatch Nova, is activate any kind of Find My feature. This means if you lose the Nova somewhere, or simply forget where you put it at home, you can’t enable it to play any sounds to help you locate it. While it could be fair to assume that Withings expects the ScanWatch Nova will be on your wrist almost 24/7 (especially if you want to constantly track sleep) the fact remains you will likely take it off on occasion.

Finally, switching the wrist straps around is a simple affair and I did ultimately find the fluoroelastomer sport band to be the more comfortable of the two, especially for wearing to bed at night. With this strap attached, coupled with the lightweight build of the ScanWatch Nova, I barely noticed it was on my wrist, it was that comfortable.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

Withings ScanWatch Nova: Scorecard

Withings ScanWatch Nova: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Withings ScanWatch Nova: Also consider

Garmin Forerunner 165 hands-on review: the more affordable Forerunner hits its stride early
3:04 pm | February 20, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: | Comments: Off

Garmin Forerunner 165: One minute review

The Garmin Forerunner 165 fills a necessary gap in its best running watches line. The very cheap Garmin Forerunner 45 and 55 watches are getting quite old, and the next stage up, the Garmin Forerunner 265 and Garmin Forerunner 965 watches, are much more expensive. So it’s nice to have an option in between those, even though we’d like to see a cheaper Forerunner 65 appear eventually. 

Starting at $299.99 / £249.99 (with Australia pricing TBC), the Forerunner 165 is a middle-ground option that retains a lot of what makes the premium Forerunners really good training companions. It’s got the AMOLED touchscreen, the ace Morning Report feature introduced in last year’s Garmin Forerunner 955, and Nap Detection as introduced in the Garmin Venu 3. 

You can also create Courses in the Garmin Connect app and sync them directly to the watch, and you get race-adaptive training plans, which suggest workouts based on historic exercise and recovery data. The design, meanwhile, is very reminiscent of the Forerunner 265, right down to the profile and the redesigned ‘run’ button. The whole thing is very appealing, especially at a reduced price point, offering genuine value in terms of features. 

In order to achieve this, Garmin has made a few small sacrifices, such as using chemically strengthened glass for the screen instead of the 265’s stronger Gorilla Glass. The battery is a bit smaller than the 265's, and the watch has 4GB of storage instead of 8GB. It’s also missing a few features, such as the very useful Training Readiness score evolution of Garmin’s Body Battery feature, multi-band GPS (a big loss for a running watch) and compatibility with cycling power meters. 

Garmin Forerunner 165: Price and availability

Garmin Forerunner 165

(Image credit: Future)
  • $299.99 / £249.99 / AU$ TBC
  • In comparison, the Forerunner 265 is $449 / £429 / AU$770
  • Music version costs extra

The Garmin Forerunner 165 is available now, priced at $299.99 / £249.99 / AU TBC. It’s good value, considering the 265 is much more expensive at $449 / £429 / AU$770. The older 255 is available for considerably less than the 265 these days, but you don’t get the Training Readiness score, nicer AMOLED screen or redesigned chassis. 

The Garmin Forerunner 165 Music, which allows you to download and store songs and playlists from Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music, costs $349.99 / £289.99.

Garmin Forerunner 165: Design

Garmin Forerunner 165

(Image credit: Matt Evans)
  • Similar chassis as the 265
  • Light and attractive 
  • Bright screen

As mentioned, the Garmin Forerunner 165 shares a lot of DNA with the other Forerunners in the range. The classic Garmin five-button configuration is here, with the three buttons on the right-hand side used to navigate up and down, or wake the watch’s screen when its motion detector isn’t active. On the left are two more buttons: a start/stop button (labelled ‘run’ on the Forerunner series) and a back button for cancelling options or manually marking laps during a workout. It’s a tried and tested formula at this point, and Garmin isn't reinventing the wheel here. 

The 1.2-inch AMOLED display is just as vibrant and bright as it is on the premium Epix Pro, which costs more than three times as much. However, Garmins are still training tools first and smartwatches second, and as such the 165 doesn’t have the smooth refresh rate that you might expect from, for example, the best Apple Watches. Nor does it have a more expensive-feeling metal backing: it’s all plastic and silicone, with the exception of the chemically-strengthened glass screen. There's no durable but pricey Gorilla Glass here, which is one of the sacrifices made to keep the Forerunner 165 at a cheaper price point. Still, it’s light and comfortable on my wrist, and it looks and feels good. 

The user experience is the same as with most modern Garmin watches, with their list of widgets which you can easily navigate using either the touchscreen or the five-button system. It’s easily customizable, allowing you to add or reorder widgets as you see fit from Garmin’s library to tailor the watch to your own training style. 

Garmin Connect is also one of the most comprehensive companion apps in the business, with a complex design that does require scratching the surface a little, revealing a wealth of depth and potential to elevate your training. I’ll go into this more in the Features section, but nothing’s changed here: if you liked the way previous Garmin watches operate, you’ll like this watch. 

Garmin Forerunner 165: Features

Garmin Forerunner 165

(Image credit: Future)
  • Wrist-based running power
  • Morning report and Garmin Coach are great additions
  • No multi-band GPS or Training Readiness score

Garmin has added a lot of features here that I wasn’t necessarily expecting at this price point, such as wrist-based running power. ‘Power’ is an alternative method of calculating your effort that represents the total energy you’re able to put out, not just how fast your heart is beating or estimating how many calories you’ve burned. You used to need a specialist runner’s power meter measure this, as you can do for cycling, but Garmin has cracked the ability to show this number from your wrist. 

Other features include the very useful Morning Report, which tells you how well-recovered you are and recommends a workout based on this stat; Course creation; and Garmin Coach, which can generate basic training plans depending on your goals. However, there's no Training Readiness score, which more accurately tells you how well you've recovered from your last workout, and this omission casts initial doubts on the accuracy of the Morning Report. 

Another feature sorely missed here is multi-band GPS, which would have ensured greater accuracy when measuring speed and distance on runs. GPS is Garmin’s great selling point, so not providing the best is a missed opportunity, even at this price point. 

However, at this lower cost, those interested in buying the Forerunner 165 are probably enthusiast runners who don’t care about pinpoint accuracy, and just want a good estimation. If that’s you, the loss of multi-band shouldn’t worry you too much, and the 165 is still shaping up to be a great running watch.

You do have to pay a premium for the Music version, which allows you to listen to your playlists by connecting your headphones to the watch directly, without using your phone. The Music version also offers guided workouts and performance alerts right from your watch to your headphones, which is very useful for adjusting your pace en route. 

Garmin Forerunner 165: Early verdict

Garmin's latest running watch is shaping up to be a good buy. There's not much new here to critique in terms of the metrics Garmin is offering, and it is a little bit light and feels "toyish" thanks to the use of plastic instead of the tougher polymer used on more premium watches. However, it doesn't feel flimsy, and for under $300 / £250, it's a great way to grab a Forerunner at a reasonable price. 

At present, I can see it being outdone by rivals such as the Coros Pace 3, which is also a plastic watch that's full of advanced features at a similar price point, but I can’t wait to dive into testing the GPS, advanced running features and battery life to measure it against that standard.

CMF Watch Pro by Nothing review: A great value smartwatch, but not perfect
5:00 pm | January 14, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

CMF Watch Pro: One minute review

The CMF Watch Pro is astonishingly cheap, retailing for just $69 / £69 / AU$142, but despite that it looks and feels premium throughout. Moving into this watch from my (comparatively expensive) Amazfit Balance, I was worried that the experience would be laden with frustrations and limitations, but on the contrary, I’ve really enjoyed testing it.

The design, while clearly taking inspiration from Apple, is lovely. It looks great on the wrist, the materials and finish are top-notch, and Nothing’s signature design language is present across a large library of aesthetically pleasing and functional watch faces. It’s a chunky watch, but extremely lightweight, and that makes it a pleasure to wear.

Of course, at such a low price, there are plenty of features missing that have become commonplace on more expensive smartwatches. There’s no onboard Wi-Fi, no payment system and the vast majority of features will require your smartphone to be connected in order to function, but I think the Watch Pro covers the basics well enough to satisfy most users.

The frustrations arise when you realise how much effort it takes to keep the watch connected to your phone. It just seems to disconnect itself all the time, and that means you won’t be getting notifications and many functions will be unavailable until you open the smartphone app and reconnect your phone.

Hopefully, this is something that will be improved as the software matures, and in fairness, there have been multiple updates pushed over the few weeks I’ve been wearing it. As it stands, it’s still a great-looking smartwatch at a bargain price, but there are definitely some refinements to be made.

CMF Watch Pro: Specifications

CMF Watch Pro

(Image credit: Luke Baker)

CMF Watch Pro: Price and availability

CMF Watch Pro

(Image credit: Luke Baker)
  • £69 in the UK
  • $69 in the US
  • AU$131 in Australia

The biggest draw of the CMF Watch Pro is its low asking price. While it may look a lot like an Apple Watch, its pricing puts it in closer competition with devices like the Xiaomi Smart Band 8, Fitbit Inspire 3 and the Amazfit Bip 5. All great watches in their own right, but none have quite the same premium allure as the CMF option.

It launched in September 2023 as a debut product for the CMF by Nothing brand, alongside some earbuds and a wall charger.

It’s available to purchase now from Nothing directly and via various authorised resellers in the UK. In the US, it can be found on Amazon and in Australia it’s available via AliExpress.

  • Value score: 5/5

CMF Watch Pro: Design and screen

CMF Watch Pro

(Image credit: Luke Baker)
  • 1.96-inch AMOLED display
  • Dark Grey and Metallic Grey options
  • Replaceable 22mm silicon wrist strap

The CMF Watch Pro is quite a sizable watch, and while I think it looks great on my wrist, it’s worth noting that I am male and over 6 feet tall – it’s likely to look more out of place on petite wrists. 

This watch is only a few millimeters smaller than the Apple Watch Ultra, so it’s quite chunky, but it wears it well. It’s also extremely lightweight, coming in under 50 grams including the silicon wrist strap, so you’ll barely feel it on your wrist – but you’ll see it.

I was sent the Dark Grey variant for testing and I think it’s the better-looking of the two finishes. The Metallic Grey option has a polished, almost mirror finish on its frame, a bit like the Google Pixel Watch 2, and while it does look nice I know I would be concerned about scratches and blemishes. The Dark Grey option is anodized with a more rugged-looking matte finish, and comes paired with either an ash gray or dark gray sports strap, the flashier orange strap is only supplied with the metallic version.

On the right-hand side, there’s a push button and a speaker, while all the other sides are blank and minimalistic. On the base, you’ll find an array of four optical sensors for fitness tracking and two pogo-pin pads that attach to the magnetic charging puck.

The screen is large, sharp and bright and it’s extremely responsive to touch input. There are large bezels on all sides, but for the most part, you’d never know. The UI has a black background throughout, and the majority of watch faces are dark, too. This means you rarely see these chunky bezels unless you’re really looking for them.

My biggest gripe with the screen isn’t the fault of the screen itself, it’s just that the watch doesn’t have an ambient light sensor. This means that on many occasions, the display is inappropriately bright or dim. Thankfully, it only takes a couple of taps to adjust the brightness, but it’s a hassle that you won’t experience with the more expensive watches on the market.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

CMF Watch Pro: Features

CMF Watch Pro

(Image credit: Luke Baker)
  • 110 sport tracking modes
  • CMF Watch companion app for Android and iOS
  • Bluetooth calling with AI noise reduction

As you might expect with a watch at this price point, the functionality is quite limited compared to a Wear OS device or an Apple Watch. There’s no app store, everything that you can use comes preinstalled and ready to go out of the box. That said, the most commonly used smartwatch features are present here, and there’s more than enough for most people's needs.

There’s also no Wi-Fi onboard, so for any feature that requires internet access, like weather info, you’ll need to be paired to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The CMF Watch app is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store and it makes it as simple as can be to get up and running.

Most of the CMF Watch Pro’s features are accessed by tapping the button on the right-hand side. In the resulting menu, you’ll find everything from timers and alarms to music controls, phone calls and fitness tracking. When you open the Exercise app, you’ll find a comprehensive list of 110 different activities to choose between. I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of my more unusual hobbies, like inline skating and snowboarding, were represented here – so there’s a good chance that your sport of choice will be on the list.

Most of the tracking works similarly, measuring your heart rate, workout duration and location data (where applicable). It’s enough information for the casual user, but it might be a little lacking for true fitness buffs. You can’t use the watch to track your reps while strength training, for example. 

The CMF Watch Pro can also check your stress level and blood oxygen levels, and it can monitor them 24/7 if you want it to, though that will cost you some battery life. Personally, I chose to keep the 24/7 heart rate monitoring active, which is the default, and activated the other sensors manually.

You can make and answer phone calls directly from the watch, so long as you are connected to your phone, and the function works quite well. My friends told me that my voice came through clean and clear, and the surprisingly loud built-in speaker meant that I could hear them well, too. The only frustration is that you have to manually add contacts to the watch, they won’t appear by default, so you’ll need to do a bit of set-up before you can call people on a whim.

One feature that I found quite appealing was the camera remote, which allows you to trigger a photo or start a timer using your watch. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work with my Vivo X100 Pro, and the literature says it won't work with an iPhone, either. Still, I've seen it demonstrated with other Android devices, and if yours happens to work, it could be handy.

  • Features score: 3/5 

CMF Watch Pro: Performance

CMF Watch Pro

(Image credit: Luke Baker)
  • Up to 13 days of battery life
  • Heart rate, sleep, stress and SpO2 monitoring
  • Built-in multi-system GPS

The CMF Watch Pro is advertised as having up to 13 days of battery life on a charge, but of course, that all depends on how you use it. Personally, I used it with the always-on display active, 24/7 heart rate monitoring and notifications enabled for all of my most-used applications. With this configuration, you can expect to be charging it every five days or so.

When it's time to charge, you do so with the proprietary magnetic charging puck that comes included in the box. It's a bit of a flimsy connector and I think it could benefit from some stronger magnets or a ridge to lock into as it's very easy to accidentally disconnect it. That said, it gets the job done well enough, and it'll juice you back up to full battery in under 2 hours.

Nothing hasn't provided any information about the processor powering this watch, nor is there much information about its operating system, but what I can tell you is that it feels snappy and responsive in use and I haven't experienced any freeze-ups or stutters in my usage. In terms of fitness tracking, it’s hard to gauge exactly how accurate the measurements are, but my step count always came close to the figures I’m used to seeing on my other devices, and my average and maximum heart rates were very similar to the readings I got with my Amazfit Balance, too. The only oddity was that sometimes it would think I was asleep when I was relaxing and watching TV, so the sleep data might not be the most reliable out there.

Otherwise, the only real performance issue I experienced was the connection between the CMF Watch Pro and my phone. Unless I had recently used the CMF Watch app, the Bluetooth connection would just randomly drop, and that means no more notifications until you reopen the app, which seems to bump start the connection.

This happened every day without fail, and no matter how many permissions I gave the CMF Watch app, it didn’t seem to change. I tried pairing the watch with a couple of different phones, and the results were always the same, so it’s not an isolated problem, either. On the plus side, there has been at least one firmware update a week since I have been testing, so Nothing is actively working to make the experience better. Fingers crossed one of these updates brings with it better Bluetooth connection stability.

  • Performance score: 3/5 

CMF Watch Pro: Scorecard

CMF Watch Pro: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

CMF Watch Pro: Also consider

CMF Watch Pro: How I tested

Our reviewer wore the CMF Watch Pro as his primary smartwatch for over two weeks, and it accompanied him in travelling, commuting and during regular workouts. It was paired to a Vivo X100 Pro for the majority of the testing period, but was also tried with an Honor smartphone and a Google Pixel to compare.

The tracking results were compared to historical results from the Amazfit Balance and TicWatch Pro 5, as well as the built-in step counter on the smartphone and the Strava app for GPS accuracy.

Polar Vantage V3 review: This incredible GPS watch would have been 2023’s best all-round fitness watch, beating Garmin and Apple, if it wasn’t for one small detail
6:30 pm | December 16, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Polar Vantage V3: One minute review

The Polar Vantage V3 is the update to Polar’s flagship premium multisports watch, which launched back in 2020. So we’ve waited a few years for its successor and Polar has rewarded that wait with some big features.

The headline addition might be the new AMOLED screen, but Polar has also introduced its new Elixir biosensor that can now deliver blood oxygen, skin temperature and heart rate via ECG to arm you with more metrics. It’s also adding offline maps and dual-frequency GPS to deliver more accurate outdoor data.

While the Vantage V2 was a solid offering from Polar, the Vantage V3 sees things step up a notch and it now feels like a better match for the competition. It's meriting an inclusion in our best running watch guide. 

I’m still not entirely convinced its core heart rate powers are the best, but the Vantage V3 is definitely a multisports watch that stands out for all the right reasons.

Polar Vantage V3: Specifications

Polar Vantage V3: Price and availability

Polar Vantage V3

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
  • $599.90 in the US
  • £519 in the UK
  • $899 in Australia

The Polar Vantage V3 was announced in October 2023 and is available to buy now directly from Polar and a small collection of retailers currently. It has a current RRP of £519 in the UK, $599.90 in the US and $899 when purchasing it in Australia, around the same asking price as the Garmin Forerunner 965.

  • Value score: 4/5

Polar Vantage V3: Design and screen

  • New AMOLED touchscreen
  • Heavier than Vantage V2
  • Nicely textured buttons

The Vantage V3 is Polar’s performance watch, so unlike its Grit series, it’s offering high grade materials, all while keeping things relatively light and comfortable to wear day and night.

It still measures in with a 47mm case like the V2 but is now thicker at 14.5mm compared to the 13mm thick case on the Vantage V2. It’s also got heavier, jumping from 52g to 57g. Those changes ultimately don’t alter the experience of strapping the V3 on. It’s still a pretty sleek-looking watch with aluminium in the case and the bezel to give it an attractive metallic frame.

The strap attached to that case is a workout-friendly silicone one, though you wouldn’t think it at first glance as Polar has clearly tried to give it the appearance of a traditional watch strap. I’m not sure I entirely love the feel of it though as it sits very snug towards and can pull at hairs. Both strap and watch case are waterproof up to 50 metres depth, which does mean you can use it in water but is a downgrade on the stronger 100 metre waterproofing available on the V2.

Around that aluminium case lies five physical buttons and they still have that nicely textured finish that makes them nice to press, even with sweaty or wet fingers. That surrounds a 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 resolution AMOLED touchscreen with Gorilla Glass on top to protect it against scratches. Along with the added pop of colour it’s a bigger display, and while there is a thin black bezel around the edge it’s well hidden by Polar’s predominantly black coloured watch faces.

It's a great AMOLED panel, with deep blacks, good max brightness and I’ve had no issues viewing it indoors, outdoors or in a swimming pool. The screen can be kept always-on with the raise to wake gesture support not as responsive as I’d have liked. What is nicely responsive is the software running on the V3. It’s slick, doesn’t lag and is a massive improvement on the experience of interacting with its predecessor.

When you need to charge it Polar includes a proprietary charging cable that clips into the port just below that new sensor array. It’s not the most secure of charging setups, and you just need to be mindful it’s out of the way of anything that might knock it out of place.

  •  Design score: 4.5/5 

Polar Vantage V3: Features

Polar Vantage V3

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
  • Dual-frequency GPS
  • Free offline maps
  • Elixir sensor array

The Vantage V3 takes everything that was good on the V2 and aims to make improvements in some pretty important departments.

On the tracking front, Polar’s introduced dual-frequency GPS to enhance outdoor tracking accuracy for activities like running, when using the watch near tall buildings, in bad weather or densely forested areas. It’s now also adding free offline maps to join the existing turn-by-turn guidance offered by the Komoot app support.

There’s still over 150 sports profiles offered and Polar is bolstering one sport in particular, promising additional swim metrics including automatically detecting swimming style.

Around the back of the watch is where you’ll find Polar’s new Elixir sensor array, which sees a change in the design of the optical setup that’s now capable of capturing blood oxygen, skin temperature, take ECG heart rate measurements, with the upgraded Gen 4 version of Polar’s optical heart rate sensor also in tow.

Polar continues to offer rich sleep and training features, so you’re still getting access to its Training Load Pro and Recovery Pro insights, with Polar’s FitSpark suggested daily workouts and FuelWise fueling reminders for endurance athletes also still on board. It’s added the voice guidance support from the Ignite 3 along with the Work-Rest-Guide, which uses heart rate data to dictate when you should rest between workout sets.

On the smartwatch front, Polar still keeps things simple once again, offering the ability to view your notifications, change watch faces and control music playback on your paired smartphone. The added AMOLED screen and boost in CPU performance certainly makes these features much nicer to use day-to-day.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Polar Vantage V3: Performance

Polar Vantage V3

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
  • Welcome dual-frequency GPS accuracy boost
  • Heart rate still so-so
  • Delivers good battery life and overall performance

The V3 is Polar’s premium multisports watch, so it’s giving you the best the company has to offer in watch features. It’s bringing in the dual-band GPS support it debuted on the Polar Ignite 3, it’s boosting the mapping and navigation features it introduced on its Grit outdoor watch and the new Elixir sensor aims to offer boost in accuracy to improve the reliability of sports, wellness and sleep tracking.

Polar’s dual frequency GPS, which like Apple, Garmin and Suunto among others, means the V3 can use the L1 and L5 frequency bands to enhance positioning tracking accuracy. I wasn’t massively impressed with it on the Ignite 3 where Polar first introduced it, but it’s certainly more reliable here on the V3. I’ve been using it alongside Garmin and Suunto’s similar modes and while just slightly off on the distance tracking compared to the Garmin and Suunto, it wasn’t enough to cause any concern. Mapped routes inside the Polar Flow app didn’t raise any alarms either.

Polar says it’s also boosted the swimming metrics on offer, so I hit the pool along with the Form Swim Goggles and Garmin Forerunner 965, two swim trackers I know deliver good tracking accuracy in the water. Despite delivering good core swim data, I can’t say I saw anything particularly groundbreaking here. You’ll get quickest pace and average pace stats along with average and max cadence metrics and that’s really about it.

Then there’s the reliability of that new Elixir sensor, which promises an upgraded optical heart rate sensor, though I can’t say the accuracy has been massively upgraded for me. Even on steady paced workouts I found the optical heart rate sensor tended to report lower average heart rate readings and maximum heart rate readings seemed higher against a heart rate monitor chest strap. It’s not a terrible performer, but it’s also not the best performance I’ve seen from a wrist-based heart rate monitor. If in doubt, pair up an external heart rate monitor.

Polar’s Elixr sensor array also brings new blood oxygen tracking, skin temperature tracking at night, and ECG measurements when you hold your finger on the top physical button for 30 seconds. All of these new metrics place the onus on your simply tracking and analyzing trends, which can help you decide whether you should be taking it easy or you’re in good shape to have a strenuous day. 

That insight also works in tandem with Polar’s rich sleep tracking, something that does separate it from the sports watch competition. Along with core sleep tracking stats, it’s offering you nightly recharge measurements, nightly skin temperature and the boost from sleep insights, which feels similar to Garmin’s Body Battery energy monitor. Crucially, the sleep data is some of the most reliable I’ve come across on a watch and it held up well against the Oura Ring Gen 3’s great sleep tracking.

Another big positive is that unlike previous Polar watches, comprehensive sleep tracking doesn't show a huge drain on battery, which on the whole, is a big improvement on the Vantage V2. There’s now a bigger 488mAh capacity battery, which Polar says can last for up to 12 days in its daily watch mode and 61 hours in training mode, up from 40 hours. I found the Vantage V3 could last a week with regular tracking using the top GPS accuracy mode. When you opt to keep the screen set to always-on, you’re going to get less than 5 days, and using features like GPS will see a further dent too.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

Polar Vantage V3: Scorecard

Polar Vantage V3: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Garmin Forerunner 965

Garmin's top-tier running watch, now with an AMOLED screen.

Read our Garmin Forerunner 965 review hereView Deal

Apple Watch Ultra 2

The best running and adventuring watch for Apple users and weekend warriors.

Read our Apple Watch Ultra 2 review hereView Deal

Garmin Forerunner 965 review: That AMOLED screen brings it all together –watch out Apple
6:00 pm | October 29, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Garmin Forerunner 965: One minute review

This is the watch that takes one of the best Apple watch features and adds it to Garmin – that stunning AMOLED display. Yet, this manages to offer at least five days more battery life than almost any of the other competition with the same display.

To be clear, this model comes as a screen upgrade following the release of the very similar Forerunner 955, nine months before. So while the upgrades from that to this aren't huge, it's worth noting that the model was a near-perfect jump forward anyway. Add this screen and it's a real heavy hitter. Garmin also released the Forerunner 265 alongside this model, also packing an AMOLED screen but at a lower price point.

For anyone who wants one of the best multisport watches you can buy, the 965 is – as you can see from the star rating – where it's at. As such the price is representative of what you get, meaning it's high.

For what you get this justifies that cost, as this review will clarify. In short, it's got astonishing battery performance, a beautiful display, super accurate location and heart rate tracking plus lots of other smart metrics including new running dynamics without the need for an extra sensor. This is one of the best Garmin watches, so is this the ultimate sports watch?

Garmin Forerunner 965: Specifications

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Garmin Forerunner 965

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Garmin Forerunner 965

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Garmin Forerunner 965: Price and Availability

  • £600 in the UK 
  • $600 in the US
  • AU$999 in Australia

The Garmin Forerunner 965 is definitely one of the more expensive options from the company but that's because it comes packing all the best features rolled into one wonder device. As such you're looking at a price of US$600 / £600 / AU$999.

Of course these are the at-launch prices, so you can expect these to drop as new models come out. It's also worth taking sales into consideration as you can often find deals on even the best Garmin models during these times.

That said, you may find that the Garmin Forerunner 955, which is nearly identical aside from that screen upgrade, can be had at a cheaper price. And if you go for the 955 Solar you'll get a bit more out of your battery performance too.

  •  Value score: 4/5 

Garmin Forerunner 965: Design and screen

Garmin Forerunner 965

(Image credit: Future)
  • 1.4-inch AMOLED display
  • Titanium bezel
  • Comfy silicone strap, 22mm QuickFit compatible

The Garmin Forerunner 965 is all about that superb 1.4-inch AMOLED display which looks superb. It's not only rich with colors and crisp definition between light and dark, but it also has a fantastic 454 x 454-pixel resolution, plus it's super bright. 

All that equates to a screen you can read in any light or situation – including underwater – with lots of data at a glance. You can also activate the always-on display and since this is super low energy consuming that won't even affect battery life much.

Plus it's all coated in a Gorilla Glass DX outer layer which should mean it stays scratch-free too. In our months of using this, including throwing it in bags, there's not a mark on it.

Upgraded from the previous generation is the bezel too, which is now made of lightweight and hardy titanium. This is the metal they put in your body if you have an operation – as it's so nonreactive and won't be affected by moisture – meaning this should stay in perfect condition longer than you're alive.

The strap comes in three options Amp Yellow/Black, Black/Powder Grey, or Whitestone/Powder Grey. In all cases, there is a double clasp, malleable and comfy silicone strap and it can be swapped out as it uses the Garmin 22mm QuickFit system. 

Since everything is waterproof to 50 meters it's also super simple to give it a clean by washing under the tap or in the shower – which in reviewing for months was found to keep it looking as good as new.

  • Design score: 5/5

Garmin Forerunner 965: Features

Garmin Forerunner 965

(Image credit: Future)
  • Offline maps
  • Heart Rate Variability
  • Contactless payments

The Garmin Forerunner 965 crams in nearly all the best features developed over the years, making this a powerhouse of a sports watch. That means it'll track most sports, with over 30 including triathlon and multisport-specific tracking with one-touch transitions. But it does all this with lots and lots of data.

Of course, you have the ever-impressive accuracy of the Garmin when it comes to multi-GNSS GPS but this also packs in heart rate monitoring which offers Heart Rate Variability, VO2 Max, stress tracking, sleep tracking, all-day HR tracking, and more. 

All that means lots of data to work with, not only while training, but also to help advise when you need to rest and even make suggestions on workouts to hit goals. This includes last year's Training Readiness score, recovery times, workload readouts, race predictions (a nifty running feature that uses your training to predict what time you'll get during a marathon, half-marathon, 10k etc), and more. 

That's a whole list of features and it can seem overwhelming, but the watch and Garmin Connect app do feed it to you in a way that is helpful. You can then decide to add more data or strip it back as needed to suit your workout style and goals.

You also have some great day-to-day functionality with contactless pay, onboard Spotify music, offline maps, find my phone, flashlight screen feature, sleep tracking, step tracking and plenty more to be found in the IQ App Store. This isn't comparable to Apple or Android app stores, so don't expect full smartwatch functionality. But it's enough to keep you focused while also being alerted when needed.

Everything can be organized well, and that means moving icons about on your watch or using folders, but also in data screens when training. Everything can be made bespoke, even the clock face, to suit what data you need to see. Plus you've now got more data options than ever, but more on that in the next section.

  • Features score: 5/5

Garmin Forerunner 965: Performance

Garmin Forerunner 965

(Image credit: Future)
  • Accurate heart rate data
  • Superb running metrics
  • Useful VO2 data

The Garmin Forerunner 965 sounds fantastic when you look at the specs but did that actually translate into real-world performance experience? The short answer is yes. As you can expect from Garmin, the GPS accuracy was fantastic as was acquisition – in fact, this would find satellites and be ready to go in just a few seconds. This was tested all over the country, and in one rural area, it found GPS and was ready to go in just two seconds. 

The only issue noticed was at the start of the Great North Run annual race, where my data was different to others running right next to me, but that could be down to their older watches versus this more accurate one.

Heart rate tracking was as impressive. When tested against a dedicated chest strap (Wahoo Tickr) it was found to keep up accurately, although, of course, there was a little more lag in sudden HR changes, since this is on your wrist not right by your heart. Even while swimming this offered excellent heart rate tracking which could actually be used thanks to that easy-to-glance-at display.

So a very accurate GPS and a reliable HR monitor all make for lots of data that can then be used with Garmin algorithms to work out more useful metrics. As such this watch offers Heart Rate Variability, so you can see how your actual cardiovascular fitness is changing as you train. There's a VO2 Max measurement to assess how well you can perform under strain. 

Plus, you have acute load measured to assess the impact on your muscles as you work. All that means the watch will let you know when to rest, and what training you need (cardio versus weights, for example) so you get to where you need.

Battery life is also worth a mention as this offers a massive 23 days on standby, 31 hours in GPS mode, and 10.5 hours with GPS and music playing. All that translates to a charge very rarely, even if you train a lot. So you won't need to take a charger if going away for a race weekend, for example. Plus it charges ridiculously fast, up to a percentage a minute.

This could go on for thousands of words, such is the depth of this watch. But just to mention this model adds in running dynamics without the need for an extra sensor. So you can now check your vertical oscillation, cadence, stride length, ground contact time, and more to improve running in a really effective way. Sleep tracking worked relatively well although its accuracy wasn't always spot on, but enough so as to help track if you're recovered and ready to workout again.

You also get smartphone notifications for WhatsApp, calls, messages, emails, calendar, Ring doorbell, and plenty more to make it a smartwatch of sorts, only kept to a minimum so you're not too distracted from its primary use as a training tool.

  • Performance score: 5/5

Garmin Forerunner 965: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Garmin Forerunner 965: How we tested

We wore the Garmin Forerunner 965 on one wrist, connected to an Android device, for months. This came on half marathons, long bike rides, swims, surfs, walks, yoga classes, weights sessions, paddle boarding and more.

The contactless payment features and wireless offline Spotify were both used plenty as was sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring in cold water baths, notifications from the phone and more.

In short this was lived with 24/7 for months to truly test how you would use the watch, and all its features.

Garmin Forerunner 965: Also consider

First reviewed: October 2023

Huawei Watch GT 4 review: Huawei’s best smartwatch yet could use third-party support
7:22 pm | October 20, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Smartwatches | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Huawei Watch GT 4: One minute review

I really like the Huawei Watch GT 4. It’s an impressive-looking device with a wide variety of materials and colorways available, and every one of these iterations looks fantastic. The big AMOLED screen’s refresh rate is nice and smooth, colors pop, and the speaker is loud – embarrassingly loud, if you leave workout notifications on during a class. 

It’s functional too, with highly accurate metrics. TruSleep tracking was accurate and the metrics in the Huawei Health app were pleasantly detailed, although I was missing some actionable advice on that front. Huawei’s TruSeen 5.5+ algorithm offers great heart rate tracking that extends to workout tracking, too, and the GPS was comparable to the best smartwatches (we tested it against an Apple Watch Ultra 2), so you’ll get great results on runs and rides. 

Having said all that, I won’t be using it again. Under normal circumstances, I’d be giving such a watch a glowing review, perhaps even full marks, but it’s languishing on 80% here. The watch itself is fantastic, but it’s impossible to ignore the frustrations that come with it being saddled with Huawei’s baggage. 

The limits imposed by the US and every smartphone manufacturer, and Huawei’s refusal to abandon its AppGallery store, which most phones will only support in-browser, means you have a watch that can’t interface with lots of popular apps. Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Spotify, and more are on the no-go list, although others like Strava were fine. 

However, if you can get over these flaws, you’ll find a gorgeous watch waiting to be loved. If you already have a Huawei phone and are used to a few workarounds, it’s probably the best smartwatch for you. 

Huawei Watch GT 4: Specifications

Huawei Watch GT 4: Price and availability

Huawei Watch GT 4

(Image credit: Future)
  • From £229.99 in the UK
  • From €249.90 euros in the EU 
  • Unavailable in the US and AU

For starters, let’s address the elephant in the room: Huawei technology is unavailable in the US or Australia, due to ongoing disputes with the Chinese telecoms manufacturer (and the Chinese government) over security concerns. 

The UK has removed Huawei devices from its 5G network but hasn’t banned the sale of these devices entirely. The EU still allows Huawei devices to be sold. While UK and European fans can access Huawei tech, some functionality, such as NFC contactless payments, is limited. 

It’s a shame because the Watch is terrific value. Both the 46mm with silicone black strap and the 41mm with silicone white strap cost just £229.99 in the UK and €249.90 in the EU, which is a great price for a chunky fitness watch with a stainless steel case. Prices rise with a variety of different options, including a rose gold version with Milanese straps or leather straps on the 46mm. 

The most expensive is the 41mm steel-and-gold edition watch, which costs £349.99 / €399.90 euros, followed by the stainless steel 46mm with stainless steel strap, which costs £299.99 / €369.90 euros. It’s a very well-priced watch that looks gorgeous and could be an absolute powerhouse with the right support; it’s just a shame about the lack of availability. Unless you’re an existing Huawei user, there’s almost always a better option.

  • Value score: 3/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Design

Huawei Watch GT 4

(Image credit: Future)
  • Seven different looks
  • Beautiful, premium designs belying price
  • OS is simple enough to use

From an external style standpoint, Huawei watches as a whole have virtually no consistency. When comparing the Watch GT 4 models to the thick, boxy, plastic cases on the gimmicky Huawei Watch Buds and Huawei Watch D, it’s like night and day. Whereas the Watch D and Watch Buds were quirky at best and unsightly at worst, Huawei Watch GT 4 models look fantastic, with in-built microphones and speakers allowing you to take and receive calls on-wrist. 

These watches evoke different styles of traditional watches, from delicate circular fashion and dress watches to field and diving units. The unit I tested, the 46mm with stainless steel strap, looked very much like an analog dive watch when I picked the right face. Like all the GT 4 models, it has a circular digital crown on the top right and a secondary button on the bottom right, which combined with the very responsive touch-screen, made it easy to navigate around the watch. It was a pleasure to use. 

The screen gets a lot of real estate, and it’s a fantastic screen on both sizes of the watch. The full-color AMOLED screen offers a fantastic refresh rate, ensuring a smooth swiping action, and pops with color. The AMOLED screen was better than many Garmins (although not quite up to Apple’s Retina Display) and output around 600 nits of brightness. This is enough for most people, though it’s a far cry from the Apple Watch Series 9, which can output an impressive 2,000 nits. 

Some watch faces (the free ones, at least) are pretty dross, but I found one I liked that echoed an analog watch face and carried several on-face complications, including step count, the moon’s current phase, and a calendar. It echoed a classic chronograph and complemented the stainless steel aesthetic. 

Speaking of the stainless steel, I have to share a grievance about changing the band. It might be because of my short nails, but after removing the silicone band, applying the stainless steel band to the watch took 15 minutes of effort, accompanied by lots of grunting and profanity. It was not a painless experience, but the watch looks ace with it on. 

  • Design score: 5/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Features

Huawei Watch GT 4

(Image credit: Future)
  • Lots of workout profiles
  • Lacking payments in many regions
  • Forced to sideload apps

The Huawei Watch GT 4 is entirely dependent on the Huawei Health app, which isn’t available on the iOS or Google Play store, but can be easily downloaded via your browser and the QR code provided. From there, you can customize your watch faces, toggle various notifications streams on and off, and view all your health data in greater detail. The Huawei Health app is excellent at what it does, showing you comprehensive information and offering actionable advice on your workout and sleep.

For example, I am a light sleeper, so Huawei Health recommended I cut out caffeine in the evening before bedtime – not groundbreaking advice, but nice to have. The Watch GT 4 has a load of workout profiles, from outdoor and indoor cycles to pool and open-water swims that count your strokes and lengths as you go. 

The workout profiles interact with Huawei Health nicely and offer bonus features like AI-generated plans to help you train for specific goals in common exercises such as running, which you can follow along on your watch. TruSleep and TruSeen 5.5+ sensors offer advanced heart rate monitoring and ECG functionalities. A temperature sensor, blood oxygen measurement, and a stress metric round up the useful suite of health features on offer here.

All the Huawei-native stuff is great: it’s the lack of compatibility with other phones and operating systems that’s the problem. You can get WhatsApp and email notifications, but not respond to them, and good luck trying to use apps like Gmail without considerable sideloading jiggery pokery. Want Google or Apple Maps on your watch? Tough, you’re stuck with Huawei’s own Petal Maps. Unless you live in a country that supports Huawei NFC payments, you won’t be able to use contactless cards on your watch either. As I used the watch, I noticed more and more features either missing or not gelling, and while getting a Huawei phone would go some way towards solving this (if you don’t live in the US or Australia), in the UK you can’t use Huawei telecoms devices on a 5G network, so the phone won’t live up to its potential. 

  • Features score: 3/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Performance

Huawei Watch GT 4 vs Apple Watch Ultra 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Great battery life
  • Excellent sleep/workout metrics
  • GPS matched an Apple Watch Ultra 2 for accuracy

During my time testing the Huawei Watch GT 4, the battery life performed as expected. I tested it over five days, and each day the watch depleted between five and 10 percent, depending on GPS usage. I’m very satisfied the watch lives up to its bold claims of up to 14 days, and I can see the average user getting 10 days out of the watch with a few GPS workouts thrown in. 

Sleep and workout metrics held up very well, and I was happy with the results I got. Running Ability index, Training Load and Training index metrics take a lot of your stats (if you’re a runner, of course) and boil them down into simple numbers. Running Ability will tell you if you’re running, for example, 44% better than users of a similar age, gender, height, and weight. Huawei is good at condensing complex statistics into easily accessible nuggets of information – it’s reminiscent of the best Fitbit watches in this way.

When I tested the GPS tracking against an Apple Watch Ultra 2, the main noticeable difference was that the Huawei Watch GT 4 took far, far longer to connect to a network. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 was almost instantaneous, while the GT 4 took at least two and a half minutes, during which it encouraged me to be in an open area, probably at the place the workout is starting. It doesn’t sound like much to ask, but you either stand stationary for around 150 seconds in front of your house before you start running, or you just run and the watch starts tracking you halfway through your first kilometer. 

Other than that, the Watch GT 4 matched the Ultra 2 closely in terms of both heart rate and distance covered when I wore them simultaneously, so I’m satisfied with the watch’s accuracy.   

  • Performance score: 4/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Garmin Venu 3 review: A perfect balance of smartwatch and health tracker
7:10 pm | October 16, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Garmin Venu 3: One minute review

The Garmin Venu 3 is the third in a trilogy of watches which – unlike most movie trilogies – as the third is actually the best of the bunch. In fact, this is one of the best Garmin watches outright. 

Like the rest of the Venu series, this is a pretty balanced blend of smartwatch and health tracker. Primarily, that means the Garmin Venu 3 looks great with a rich and colorful AMOLED screen, that gives some of the best Apple watches a run for their money. Unlike Apple Watches, which can only go a scant 18 or 36 hours without a recharge, this watch can last for up to two weeks.

What you don't get here is some of the more premium running features like the Training Readiness score, or Race Predictor, like you would get on the Garmin Forerunner 265 for example. But you do get advanced sleep tracking and suggestions, an evening report, unique wheelchair user-specific training metrics, and more health insights.

This watch also features a speaker and microphone meaning you can take calls from a connected phone, right there on your wrist. It also means the meditation training is more immersive with audio guidance, music, and more.

So while this is on the expensive side for a Garmin watch without premium training features, this does manage to offer lots of smartwatch-style capabilities – like GPS tracking, offline Spotify, and contactless pay – while also focusing on lifestyle tracking, all day and all night.

Garmin Venu 3: Specifications

Garmin Venu 3: Price and Availability

Garmin Venu 3

(Image credit: Future)
  • £450 in the UK 
  • $450 in the US
  • AU$749 in Australia

The Garmin Venu 3 is a relatively high price compared to other Garmin watches and contemporaries like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, but it costs only slightly more than an Apple Watch and does a bit of everything (and it does it very well) while looking premium to boot. So you're looking at a price of US$450 / £450 / AU$749, slightly higher than most smartwatches, but still quite representative of what you're getting at this stage. 

Of course, these are the launch prices, so you can expect these to drop over time. You can often find great deals on Garmins, and we're betting the Garmin Venu 3 is no exception. Check out our Black Friday Garmin deals page for more information.

  •  Value score: 4/5 

Garmin Venu 3: Design and screen

Garmin Venu 3

(Image credit: Future)
  • 1.4-inch AMOLED display
  • Stainless steel bezel
  • Comfy silicone strap, 22mm QuickFit compatible

The Garmin Venu 3 is undeniably an attractive smartwatch that can be used as a fitness tracker and as a fashionable day-to-day wearable. The silicone strap is comfy, waterproof, and minimal in its design. That stainless steel bezel also gives it a premium finish, which other curved-screen wearables like Apple Watches and the Google Pixel Watch 2 are missing. 

But it's only when that screen lights up you really see the quality. This watch boasts a gorgeous 1.4-inch AMOLED display with a high 454 x 454 pixel resolution. This super-bright and colorful screen makes all your metrics show up clearly and attractively, no matter the lighting conditions. 

The Venu 3 works well with a touchscreen that not only makes menu scrolling easy but features lovely graphical transitions that create an intuitive way to explore the menus. It's all encased in Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to make sure it stays scratch-free – which was the case throughout our frankly harsh testing. 50-meter waterproofing does set your mind at ease: you can use it anywhere, including underwater, and it's dustproof to boot.

You also have three buttons to help menu interactions which are utilized well. For example, if you want to discard a workout you hit the red cross on the screen but then have to confirm using one of the buttons.

The Venu 3 comes in two sizes: 41mm (known as the Venu 3S) and the larger 45mm, just known as the Venu 3. Colorways for the Venu 3 include white, black, or black with a leather strap. Go for the Venu 3S and there are even more choices including soft gold, rose pink, sage gray, and others.

  • Design score: 5/5

Garmin Venu 3: Features

Garmin Venu 3

(Image credit: Future)
  • Pre-loaded guided meditation content
  • Wheelchair user specific tracking
  • Smarter sleep tracking

The Garmin Venu 3 is packed full of health, lifestyle, and fitness tracking features while offering some genuinely useful smartwatch apps from the Connect IQ store. One standout feature was the fact this AMOLED screen is taken advantage of when linked to the Ring doorbell app, showing a screenshot of who's there when you get an alert on your wrist. 

The return of Venu 2's speaker and microphone means you can get audio alerts and even take calls natively on the watch. It's not quite well refined enough to let you talk back using the Ring app, for example, but it's no surprise the mainly third-party apps aren't going to be as good as on other platforms – Garmin has never pushed too hard in that area, largely because it focuses on fitness training, and it's done that well here.

You can expect a plethora of tracking and training options including all-day heart rate tracking, deep sleep tracking with guidance, stress scores, HRV measurements, respiration tracking, and plenty more. All that equates to a clear overall picture of your health. As we've come to expect from a good Garmin watch, you can also track nearly any exercise you can think of too, including swimming and golf. Garmin has a dedicated Garmin Golf app available on your phone, which you can sync to the Venu 3. Garmin consistently makes some of its best golf watches around, and it's nice to see some of those features available here, such as downloadable courses and shot analysis.

The meditation content is worth mentioning as this is specifically tailored to this watch, offering audio and visual guidance without the need to connect headphones. That means guided meditations that track your respiration rate and heart rate so you can see the effects directly.

The wheelchair user-specific tracking is a fantastic option that lets you setup in that mode, right from the outset. This will then be able to track pushes as well as offer a selection of wheelchair-specific sports tracking.

You also have a selection of useful features day-to-day like contactless payments, Bluetooth headphone connectivity, offline Spotify playlists, and a handy flashlight mode that you genuinely do use when pottering about in the dark.

  • Features score: 5/5

Garmin Venu 3: Performance

Garmin Venu 3

(Image credit: Future)
  • Accurate heart rate data
  • Superb sleep support
  • Still Garmin setup issues

The Garmin Venu 3, like most Garmins these days, performed very well in practice. That means it had near faultless GPS acquisition, was fast, and offered accurate measurements. It also meant heart rate data was accurate when compared with a chest strap test.

How all that data is used is what makes the Venu 3 special. Sleep tracking, for example, is far more advanced here than in many of the more sports-specific Garmin watches. This watch not only offers you a Morning Report of how you've slept and recovered, but also an Evening Report, helping you consider ways to make that night's sleep the best it can be. All that equates to checking in more with your habits and adjusting accordingly – part of what makes this watch supportive of change. This even has nap detection for the first time, allowing you to pop this on to get a power nap where your recommended sleep duration that night is taken into account.

It was a surprise to find the speaker and mic weren't just a fad but proved genuinely useful. There was enough clarity to follow guided meditations, take phone calls, and even appreciate music. The microphone worked well too; if you think this feature might be appealing, perhaps as a busy parent in the kitchen who still needs to be connected while hearing what's going on in the room, this is a top solution.

So why bother going for a sports-specific watch over this? Well, you'll find the Venu 3 can track a lot of sports – over 30 – but it might not do so in quite as much depth as some sports-specific wearables. Running, for example, tracks speed, pace, HR and even has maps, but you won't get more complex metrics from running dynamics like ground contact time or race predictors, which are available for the best running watches.

This would be a five-star section, but phone connection and setup was a nightmare. Having reviewed Garmins for over a decade, using various Android phones, this has always been an issue. A recent Forerunner 965 review was so faultless in the setup that it seemed Garmin had fixed it, then this Venu 3 connection was plagued with issues involving restarting the phone, the watch, the app, factory resets, and more. It might not be an issue on your phone but it's an unfixed Garmin trend, and cannot go unmarked.

  • Performance score: 4/5

Garmin Venu 3: Scorecard

Garmin Venu 3: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Garmin Venu 3: How we tested

We wore the Garmin Venu 3 on one wrist, connected to an Android device, for months. This came on runs, bike rides, swims, walks, yoga classes, weights sessions, paddle boarding and more.

The contactless payment features and wireless offline Spotify were both used as was sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring in cold water baths, notifications from the phone and more.

In short this was lived with 24/7 to truly test how you would use the watch, and all its features.

Garmin Venu 3: Also consider

First reviewed: October 2023

Google Pixel Watch 2 review: lighter, faster, and maybe better
6:20 pm | October 4, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Google Pixel Watch 2: One-minute preview

Google Pixel Watch 2 essentially steers the same course as its well-received first version, and that's mostly a good thing.

At a glance, the new smartwatch's design is unchanged. Google did redesign the digital crown a bit to enhance ease of use. Otherwise, the screen and dimensions are the same as they were on the original Google Pixel Watch. However, looks can be a bit deceiving. The cover glass is thinner (Google insists it's just as strong) and the body is now made of lightweight, recycled aluminum. Together, they decrease the weight by what Google insists is a noticeable amount.

More importantly (and maybe more noticeably) this watch has new components and a major platform update. It has a new quad-core processor and Wear OS 4.0, making it probably the best Wear OS watch around right now, if not one of the best smartwatches period.

There are critical new features like the new Personal Safety Check, and, finally, auto-recognition of when you start and stop working out. Google Pixel Watch 2 might also do a better job of recognizing your workout performance thanks to the watch's new multi-path heart rate sensor on the back.

This is just our first impressions of the Google Pixel Watch 2. If you want more from this year's October Made by Google Event, you can check out our early Google Pixel 8 review and our early Google Pixel 8 Pro review.

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The display still has that too-large black bezel around its bright 320ppi face, but the screen is now running in Always On mode by default, while still maintaining 24-hour battery life (according to Google).

If you're up for sleeping with the watch (remember it's lighter for more bedtime comfort), you may appreciate that it can charge a lot faster now thanks to four physical charging pins on the back, which is a switch from the induction charging found on the last model.

Google claims you can get a 50% charge in less than 30 minutes, which means if you want a quick charge before bedtime and maybe don't want to charge up again when you wake up and head out to work, it's possible with the Pixel Watch 2.

Also, if you're looking for more sleep data, the Pixel Watch 2 has you covered with a new skin temperature sensor. And for when you're awake, the new continuous electrodermal activity (CEDA) sensor could help detect signs of stress

Overall this looks like a smart, albeit safe update. Google didn't attempt a wholesale redesign but they've basically changed almost everything else, from the CPU to most of the key sensors and even the charging methodology. With Wear OS 4.0, safety enhancements, and some new Fitbit capabilities, this may be the smartwatch update to watch.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Specifications

Google Pixel Watch 2: Price and availability

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Starts from $349 (WiFi) $399 (LTE)
  • Prices £349 and £399 in the UK, AU$549 and AU$649 in AU
  • One size: 41mm

Google unveiled the new Google Pixel Watch 2, along with the new Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, on October 4. 

The Google Pixel Watch 2 starts at $349 in the US, £349 in the UK and AU$549 in Australia for the WiFi-only model. With LTE connectivity, it costs $399 / £399 / AU$649. 

Preorders started on October 4 and the watch ships on Oct. 12.  It's available in four color combinations: Polished Silver/Bay, Polished Silver/Porcelain, Matte Black/Obsidian, and Champagne Gold/Hazel.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Design

Google Pixel Watch 2 HANDS ON

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Maintains elegance of original design
  • Lighter aluminum body
  • Redesigned digital crown 

Google's original Pixel Watch was one of the best-looking smartwatches on the market and its successor, the Google Pixel Watch 2, measures up to that standard.

The newly thinner glass cover and recycled aluminum body still look like they were poured out together. Its gumdrop shape looks and generally feels good. While lowering the overall weight by about 10%, Google didn't touch the dimensions of the one-size-fits-all 41mm watch.

There is one change that does incrementally improve the aesthetic appeal: Google redesigned the digital crown, mostly by changing the stem that leads to it, to give it a more watch-like look and more importantly make it easier to use it.

Google didn't make any changes to the sometimes challenging band attachment system, but there are some new bands, including six fitness bands. I didn't get to wear them but I can report that the material felt nice.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Features

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • New Safety features
  • Skin temperature sensing
  • New watch faces and complications
  • Better heart rate sensor

While I didn't get to spend much time with the new Pixel Watch 2, it's safe to assume that the new quad-core processor should result in smoother operation. However, some of the biggest changes will surely come from the new Wear OS 4.0.

The system change will bring new core apps like Calendar, Gmai, and an updated Google Assistant.

On the Health and Fitness front, the Pixel Watch 2 will match the Apple Watch Series 9 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 to automatically recognize when you start and stop working out. it's one of my favorite Apple Watch features and I'm happy to see it here.

There's a new heart rate zone for runners that can help with pace coaching and alert you when you drop in and out of your personal zone.

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Speaking of heart, the new multi-path heart rate sensor is actually multiple sensors that, according to Google, can much more accurately track your heart rate during more vigorous workouts (Google claims it's up to 40% more accurate than the original Pixel Watch's optical heart rate sensor, just like the Fitbit Charge 6's 60% improvement on the Charge 5). It does this by taking the single-point sensor contact of the original Google Pixel Watch and multiplying it into four points of wrist contact.

There's also a new sweat detector (the CEDA) that the watch can use to measure your stress level.

In addition to all these health and activity adjustments, the Google Pixel Watch 2 now includes Personal Safety features. With Safety Check, you set a timer and if you have not responded by the end of it, the watch can automatically send a message to your emergency contact with your real-time location.

Normally, this feature would require not only an LTE version of the Pixel Watch 2 but a monthly carrier contract, as well. Google will be offering it, though, as a free feature for Fitbit Premium customers. Naturally, Fitbit Premium is not free – it normally costs $9.99 / £7.99 / AU$15.49 a month. However, all new Pixel Watch 2 customers get six months of Fitbit Premium for free.

I got a walkthrough of the new Safety Features and thought they looked clear, concise, and useful.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Early verdict

Having only spent a couple of hours with the new Google Pixel Watch 2, it's way too soon to offer a verdict. 

Still, I'm generally pleased with the look, feel, and function of Google's new smartwatch.

While I wish Google had enlarged the display, the new watch faces are packed full of information and much of the interface appeared clean and responsive.

I'm a little surprised that Google chose to swap out inductive charging capability for four physical pins, but the reasoning is sound. Who wouldn't want faster charging so they can get back to bed with their smartwatch for accurate sleep and temperature tracking?

The new quad-core processor and updated Wear OS 4.0 should make it a more responsive and easier-to-use wearable.

Google held the line on pricing though I can't help but think that the Pixel Watch 2 could be a best-seller if it drops the WiFi model price to $299.

More to come in our full review.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review: the smartwatch world’s best screen ever
2:47 pm | September 22, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Comments: Off

Apple Watch Ultra 2: One minute review

The original Apple Watch Ultra was the most radical redesign to the watch that Apple has ever attempted. It was something entirely new, a great innovation, one that was celebrated, and the best Apple Watch we'd ever seen. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is also very good, because it’s mostly the same watch. 

It has a brighter screen (Apple’s brightest screen ever, in fact) but Apple’s new S9 SiP chip and the watchOS 10 operating system are what’s bringing most of the changes. The S9 chip, just like it does on the Apple Watch Series 9, allows for a selection of new features such as the impressive hands-free Double Tap control. This innovative new gesture allows you to start workouts, dismiss timers, answer calls and more, all hands-free. 

A smattering of other features, including Siri, no longer needed to connect to the cloud, while a couple of alterations to the Depth app round out the changes. It’s also stepped up its eco credentials, with recycled materials both inside and outside the watch. New bands also share this ethos, with an increased emphasis on sustainability fostering new design.

However, when it comes to the Apple Watch Ultra 2’s core mission - an Apple Watch to take with you into the wilderness and under the sea - very little has changed. There has been no battery life extension, new workout functionalities, or navigation innovations you can’t also get on the original Ultra thanks to watchOS 10. It’s still an amazing Apple Watch - probably the best, in fact, from a specifications perspective, and a definite contender for our best smartwatch guide - but it’s falling into the same cycle of small annual updates as the standard Apple Watch models.

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Specifications

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Price and availability

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • $799 / £799 / AU$1,399
  • Only one model
  • Available now

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is available now. Your purchasing journey is pretty straightforward, this time: while the Apple Watch Series 9 comes with a whole host of choice attached to it (which color? Which size? Which band? GPS or cellular?) there’s just a single Apple Watch Ultra 2 to choose from. 

You get one size, 49mm, and one color, its standard Titanium, despite the rumors we’d be seeing a Black or Midnight version this year. It packs LTE cellular connectivity as standard. The only meaningful choice you need to make while buying it is which band it comes with, but we’ll get to those in more detail in the Design section below. 

If the $799 / £799 / AU$1,399 price for the Watch Ultra 2 is too high, or you don't need the extra adventure-focused features, you can of course look at the Apple Watch 9 range instead. Read more about that in our hands-on Apple Watch 9 review.

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Design

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • Recycled Titanium casing
  • 3,000 nit Retina Display screen
  • Otherwise identical

At first glance, just like the Series 9, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is more or less identical to its predecessor. Both share the same solid titanium body, the protruding casing housing the digital crown and the side button, and the now-iconic orange Action button. Microphone and speaker placement also match the original exactly. 

The key differences to look out for concern the screen and the bands. First off, the screen is even more beautiful than on the first version, capable of putting out an impressive 3,000 nits of brightness at full blast. It’s Apple’s brightest screen ever, the refresh rate is like water falling off a duck’s back, and it’s definitely Apple at its peak. It’s probably the best smartwatch screen I’ve ever seen in person from a purely technical standpoint. 

This world-beating screen is brought to life with a new customizable Ultra-exclusive watch face, showing the seconds ticking away around the screen in a very clever fashion. Meanwhile, your favorite complications - for instance movement rings, a weather widget, temperature, and a compass setting - can be mixed-and-matched to display on the watch face itself. It’s a smart alternative to the Wayfinder watch face from last year, and looks particularly great in Night Mode - although, if I had to make a choice right now, the Wayfinder still looks better. 

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)

However, that’s pretty much everything we can say from a software design perspective, as most of the innovations present here are part of watchOS 10, which is also available on other Apple Watches. It’s a shame there’s nothing new or unique about what you can do with watchOS 10 and the Ultra 2’s Action button: it’s still programmable, able to map to different functions, but there’s no exciting new feature using the button this time.

The bands are driven by the same environmentally friendly message that dominated this year’s Apple releases. Like the original, three straps are available for the Ultra 2: Alpine, with a g-hook fastening, a nylon Trail strap, and a flouroelastomer Ocean band for dives.

I got to handle the Trail strap, and the design has been slightly tweaked, with a more rounded, clean end to it. Like the Series 9’s sport loops, the nylon band is made with some recycled wool now. The Alpine and Trail bands are emblazoned with a circle of green leaves on the packaging, signifying they’re part of Apple’s carbon neutral scheme, and this will also be made clear online. The watch’s titanium casing is also made from 95% recycled titanium, an impressive number if nothing else.

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Features

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • Last year's excellent adventuring suite
  • New Double Tap gesture
  • Night Mode switches on automatically

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 still has the same stand-out adventuring features its predecessor did, such as next-level GPS tracking, using the Action button to emit a warning siren for assistance, durability in high and low temperatures, and the Oceanic+ app, which turns the watch into a working dive computer. If you want to check that one out, we had a real diving instructor test the Apple Watch Ultra to see how it did. 

The Depth app, which is different from the Oceanic+ as it’s Apple’s in-house dive function, allows you to access logs of previous dives more easily on the watch now. It also supports free diving, although I’m unlikely to give that a serious go before I fully review the watch. The original Ultra’s slick, infrared-looking Night Mode had to be switched on manually with the digital crown, but it now turns on automatically thanks to ambient light sensors under the screen.

That’s it for adventuring gear, but in terms of other new features, the Double Tap gesture is the big winner here. Although it’s not available until October and I wasn’t able to try it on the Apple Watch Ultra 2, I was able to have a go with the feature on the Apple Watch Series 9, which uses the same chipset and sensor array. 

For those not in the know, by raising the watch as if you’re going to check the time and pinching your fingers twice, you can activate whatever widget or app you have open at any given time. If you’ve got a workout loaded up, you can start or finish it, for example. I tried answering a phone call, dismissing a timer, and scrolling through the new watchOS 10 widget stack using the feature, and it’s very impressive and easy to get to grips with. This could easily have been a useless gimmick, but Apple has made this a feature you’ll probably use daily. 

Other new stuff involves the S9’s use of its Ultra Wideband technology to improve the Find Devices functionality. If you use an iPhone 15, which is also equipped with Ultra Wideband, you can see not only the direction of your phone, but also how far away it is from you in feet. My live demonstration was great, but of course at the moment it’s predicated on you having access to both new devices. Ultra Wideband can also be used to control music on your Apple HomePod if you’re nearby, which is useful, I guess - but this isn’t a watch for staying at home. This is a watch for the great outdoors, and I would have liked to see more innovation here. 

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Early verdict

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)

I've not tested the Apple Watch Ultra 2 in full yet, but from what I've seen of it it's still the best Apple Watch. In fact, it’s still up there with the best smartwatches ever. But while the S9 chip’s new functionalities have made the watch even better, this is ultimately a very iterative update, and it can’t be judged in the same way as its predecessor because it’s no longer a category-breaking shock to the system. 

Apple has already got an excellent suite of fitness features, and watchOS 10’s improved cycling metrics means this could be a must-have device for triathletes. It won’t do for all adventurous types, though: I’d have loved to see a bigger battery to solidify it as a top choice for wilderness weekends, but 36 hours of stamina won't be enough for me to pick it over a Garmin if I'm going to be without power for long stretches. 

I’ll look forward to testing it extensively to see if that 3,000-nit screen has a big effect on the battery, but for now, we’ll have to leave it at this: the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is technically the best Apple Watch ever, but it’s a small update. And that means it's only for people who don’t have the original model.

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