The dawn of wearable smart technology is upon us and as usual Chinese tech start ups are jumping on board. Here our review of one of the first pieces of wearable tech, the Geak W1 smartwatch.
Chinese tech start-up Geak launched a range of cool devices earlier this year including a Mediatek phone, Snapdragon 600 phone, NFC ring (for unlocking their phones) and the Geak W1 smartwatch which we are reviewing here.
Since it’s launch the Geak smartwatch has gone on to sell pretty well with the company reporting that more than 100,000 units have gone to customers across China. The success of the device has been so great that they are planing to launch colourful options.
Geak W1 Smartwatch Specifications
The Geak W1 is built around a ultra-low power 1Ghz MIPS processor with 512mb RAM and 4GB of non expandable memory. The display measures in at 1.55-inches with a resolution of 240 x 240 giving a nice crisp reading surface.
The W1 is a companion device rather thane a ‘true’ smartwatch so there is no built-in support for GSM, WCDMA or LTE, but there is WIFI 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, FM radio, GPS and other sensors to help you keep up with you lifestyle activities.
Bluetooth is the most important piece of the W1 as it allows you to sync to your Android smartphone (iOS support is coming) via the Geak app. Other details include a 320mAh battery, Android 4.1.1 and a fully waterproof body.
Geak W1 design
Just looking at the stylish design and rather luxurious leather-look of the packaging the Geak W1 comes in it is evident that they believe this to be a premium product.
Inside the box is the watch itself plus a small bag and a the wire used for charging and transferring data. As the phone is small there isn’t only enough space for a 3.5mm headphone jack, using the included wire you can also transfer data and charge the watch through this too. Oddly when connecting my Mac to charge my desktop would freeze, I’m not sure if this is also a problem on Windows systems or not.
The 1.55-inch display sits the rubber wrist strap via the silver plastic body. The body is a simple square design with rounded corners and two buttons on the right hand side. These buttons are made of the same plastic as the body and don’t fit quite as nicely as the stylish body might have you believe they should.
The high quality silicon rubber strap fastens to your wrist the same was as any other standard watch should.
Geak W1 Features
Geak designed the W1 as a companion device to work with your smartphone. Turning the watch on for the first time (and changing the language though the clumsy on screen menus) you can go through the set up procedure. Following the steps on screen will first have you scan a QR code with your phone to download the Geak app, but in actual fact you should turn bluetooth on via the standard Android settings.
Once the App is installed and the your phone and watch have connected via bluetooth (this took a few attempts to get right) you can then give your watch a name and set up your profile. This can be done via the onscreen keyboard on the watch, if you have extremely narrow finger tips and excellent perseverance, if not you should do this all through your phone.
Now you the Geak W1 will have access to your phones contacts and will be able to sync SMS messages and emails from your phone. You can read those messages and also reply with a simple pre-written message you can choose from a list of options.
In theory you should also be able to answer phone calls via the watch, but I could never get this to work with my Xiaomi Mi2. Another useful feature that wouldn’t work is the remote camera control, a shame as this would be a very handy feature to have.
Geak W1 Conclusion
The Geak W1 is a first generation Android smartwatch, and there is much room for improvement. Other than the fact that answering calls and the camera app would not work, there is also no option for connection to popular social networking apps. Checking Twitter, Facebook or Weibo would be a great feature to have in certain situations.
Another huge issue is the fact that you can only connect to the standard SMS app on your Android phone. I’m not sure about everyone reading this review but here in China most phone users use Wechat instead of SMS messages (and I believe it is a similar situation for international phone users and Whatsapp), to not have support for these 3rd party messaging systems I really struggled to find a use for the Geak throughout our review!
Then there is the question of price. Geak sell the W1 for 2000 Yuan ($320) in China which is a lot for a smartwatch without 3G support and lacks any way to install 3rd party applications, especially when there will soon be options from GooPhone and Omate on the market which offer these features.
In conclusion the W1 is a bold move, but as it stands it isn’t a device we can get behind and recommend anyone to buy. If it was half the price and had better support for 3rd party apps the W1 would be a winner, but as it is it needs some development still.