I’ve been living with the Elephone W2 smartwatch now for just over a week, so what do I make of this wearable? Find out in our full Elephone W2 review.
The wearable market is still in its infancy and Chinese mobile brands are still trying to figure out which way the market will go. The current crop of wearables range from fully functioning connected watches with Android OS, Android Wear devices, wearables with limited features, and then more basic devices that simply send you notifications and keep track of your sports activities. The Elephone W2 falls in to this last category, so lets see what this simple smartwatch can do and how well it does it.
Elephone W2 Review – Hands on
Elephone W2 Review – Design
The Elephone W2 is the second wearable from Elephone and by far the best looking. The original W1 was a gaudy bracelet, where as the W2 is a rather classy looking watch with stainless steel body and leather strap.
Functionally the Elephone W2 offers similar features to the Xiaomi Mi Band, but with the rather useful addition of actually being able to tell the wearer the time. Elephone have managed this by building a traditional analogue watch and adding a Bluetooth module, a few discreet LED lights and sensors for tracking movement/sleep. There is even a tiny motor inside the watch for vibration alerts.
When unboxing the Elephone W2 I was surprised how thick the body of the watch was, but in reality the watch body only looks big because the straps aren’t connected when you open the packing. Once the included strap is connected the W2’s proportions are spot on.
What really strikes me about the W2 isn’t just how well the watch is made, but how good it looks too. There has been a lot of thought put in to the design of the watch and the result is something that looks extremely stylish and classy. I’ve seen similar products from Chinese brands but Elephone have really outdone themselves and created a product that looks the part while adding actual useful features.
Construction and materials is surprisingly good. The main stainless steel body of our test sample is finished in silver and features three physical controls and a glass face. The metal body is simple and elegant with a neat 45 degree cut around the front where the metal meets the glass face.
A larger bevel on the rear keeps the watch comfortable on the wrist be eliminating any sharp edges.
There are 4 screws on the rear of the watch which can be removed with the included screwdriver to gain access to the removable battery. Unsurprisingly these screws are very small and I managed to lose one when removing the back.
A leather strap comes include with the watch and simply snaps in to place with stainless steel fixings. The very simple lever mechanism on the straps means you can easily swap from strap to strap as you feel or to match your clothing.
As well as using a traditional watch mechanism, another detail which is different on the W2 compared to other wearables is the use of a standard watch battery. This means that you need to replace the battery every 3 months or so, but also means there are no charging docks, cables, or plugs to deal with. Elephone have been good enough to supply 3 batteries with the W2, 1 already installed and 2 additional batteries.
Elephone W2 Controls
As the Elephone W2 is designed around mechanical movements to create a traditionally styled time piece there is no touch screen and no operations system, so you are limited to the physical buttons on the body, LED notification lights on the face and a application on your phone (Android or iOS) to set the watch up and check your sleep and exercise progress.
The top button is used to turn Bluetooth on or off on the watch. Press it once and a small LED above the ELE logo will flash for a second then go out. With Bluetooth on you can connect to the companion application (more on that below).
The next physical control is the dial for adjusting the hands on the watch. This works just like a regular watch, simply pull the knob out slightly adjust the time and click it back in place.
Finally we have another button which will give you a rough idea of your steps progress. This works in a similar way to the 3 LED lights on the Xiaomi Mi Band, in this case though you have 10 LED lights which represent 10% of your progress. If you need more detailed information of your current step count, you need to check the application.
Elephone W2 Review – Functions
This being a more basic wearable, there are fewer features on the W2, what’s good about this is all the features work perfectly well with no issues. The Elephone W2’s features include;
Time: Telling the time seems like the most basic feature a wearable should offer, still some devices don’t offer this (Xiaomi Mi Band for one). The W2 handles time through Swiss sourced movements and uses hands to display the time, although there is no second hand.
Notifications: This is the standard feature of most wearables. A simple vibration and flash of the LED’s to let you know of incoming calls or other notifications.
Fitness Tracking: This feature is split between counting steps throughout the day and number of hours slept at night. As mentioned above, you can see a rough idea of how much of your goal is completed through the LED’s on the watch face, but more detailed information is available through the W2’s companion application.
You will need to manually switch between sleep and excercise mode. To do this hold button 3 (the button below the dial) down for a few seconds until you feel the watch vibrate and the LED flash blue. To go back to steps mode do the same until the LED flashes green.
Obviously, how good a fitness tracker is really depends on how accurate it is and I have to admit that I was impressed once again. I tested the W2’s accuracy by walking 300 steps stopping and checking the count and repeated. Now and then there are differences, but usually the W2 adds a few extra steps (stumbling, jumping or moving your arm too much might cause this) but it never missed a step! Good stuff!
Remote Camera: I’ve seen this feature on wearables before, and although it works perfectly well, I don’t ever see myself using this as a practical feature. Using the feature requires you to open the application on your phone then Device > Camera. This will bring up a full screen camera app on your phone with options to turn the flash on, or switch cameras (front or rear on your phone). On your W2 you can then use the 3rd control (lower button) to control the shutter.
Sedentary alert: This feature actually sends a reminder to the watch if it hasn’t sensed movement after a set number of minutes. A neat way to remind you to get up and walk around.
Alarm: A simple alarm option. You can add a few different alarms from within the application.
Find Phone: This is a simple way of getting your phone to sound a notification so you can find it. The instructions that come with the Elephone W2 don’t mention the feature, but the setting for it is in the application. I wasn’t able to figure out how to use this feature, and am not sure it’s currently supported in this firmware version.
OTA: Just like your phone, the W2 will receive updates over the air via the application. During my time reviewing the watch I didn’t receive an update.
Elephone W2 Review – Application
I only tested the application on Android, but I assume the app on iOS is the same. Elephone have published the Elephone W2 app on Google Play so its easy to find and download.
Once installed you will be asked a few details such as your Sex, Weight, Height ETC. You will also be able to set a total number of steps for your daily goal, by default you will find it set to 10,000.
From the menus on the application you have steps shown in numbers, press on the icon and you will get a graph to show your weekly progress. Swipe to the left and you will have your sleep stats. Pull down from the top of the screen to manually update and sync. From the main page you can also see other details like how far you have moved, the number of calories you have burned off and if you feel like boasting you can even share your stats on social networks too.
Other items in the application include ‘details’ for seeing your weekly/monthly/yearly stats. The Device settings for setting alarms, using the remote camera etc. and a user profile.
Just as I was surprised by the design, build and materials of the watch itself, the W2 application is also surprisingly well designed and quite polished. The application is much nicer to use than I had expected it would be with simple menus and nice animations.
The whole app is in English, although there are a few Chinese characters left over on some of the switches (they simple mean on or off).
Elephone W2 Review: Gallery
Elephone W2 review: Conclusion
I’ve dabbled in the use of wearables for a few years now. I own a couple of Android Wear devices, and tested a few Chinese watches, but the only wearable I’ve been actually happy to keep using is the Xiaomi Mi Band.
The Mi Band always won my wrist because of its super long battery life, there really is nothing more annoying than waking to find your Android Wear device is out of juice and you have no time to charge it.
However in the future, I might just reach for the Elephone W2 instead. Not only does it offer better battery life, 3 months per battery vs the Xiaomi’s 30 day, but it looks way better, and I can actually check the time too.
The W2 does exactly what you expect it too, and with the added benefit of a well made application and built-in notification lights its a simple product to live with.
Its an impressive and simple product, and by far the best thing to come out of the Elephone offices to date. Pricing is around $80 at the moment, which is more than the Mi Band but you get more features a better looking product and higher quality materials.