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The $20 Wyze Watch: A 2014 experience in 2021

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Wyze is known for its low-cost devices such as webcams, a connected scale, and a smart thermostat, to name a few. So when the company launched the $ 20 (plus shipping) Wyze Watch, I ordered one. I wanted to see how well it worked as a health tracker and smart home controller. After nearly two weeks of wearing the Wyze Watch, I can tell you I’m generally disappointed with it.

To be clear, I wear an Apple Watch 6 daily. It is definitely not a $ 20 watch. It cost me around 20 times more than the Wyze Watch.

But I’ve also used lower-priced devices similar to Wyze’s wearable over the years. I’ve had at least four Fitbits, two Garmin watches, a Polar smartwatch, a few Android Wear (now called WearOS) watches, and even a Microsoft Band. So I’m trying to temper my disappointment based on those experiences and the higher prices of competing wearables.

To that end, the Wyze Watch is worth the price you pay. Even with an aluminum alloy frame, It feels like and behaves like a low-cost knockoff or a child’s smartwatch to me.

Still, there are some good features and for a very particular subset of smart home users, it might be worth the money. I’ll explain that after sharing the good and the bad of my Wyze Watch experience.

On the plus side

If you like the Apple Watch design, you’ll probably like that of the Wyze Watch. At a glance, the two look very similar and Wyze’s product is generally comfortable to wear. A silicone wristband is included and Wyze sells optional bands if you like to change them up.

I bought the larger model with a 1.75-inch, 320×385 TFT LCD touchscreen. It’s definitely bright enough indoors but a little washed out in full sunlight.

The touch interface is relatively simple, although a bit laggy when scrolling: From the main display, you swipe left to see your health data. A right swipe from the time shows you app shortcuts for the preinstalled software. Swiping down shows phone notifications, while swiping up displays a few key settings: screen brightness, battery life, a do-not-disturb button, and a way to ring your phone. Because the Wyze Watch relies on Bluetooth, it requires your phone to be nearby and connected wirelessly for data synchronization and notifications.

Underneath the watch base are a few sensors. These are used to track your heart rate and blood oxygen level. Inside is an accelerometer for step and exercise tracking. I’d say all of the “table stakes” sensors are here. The watch is also IP68 rated and can withstand water of up to 2 meters for 30 minutes. Yes, you can go out on a rainy day with this and not worry about destroying your wearable.

The range of included apps is a little light but again, the basics are here: The aforementioned heart rate and blood oxygen tracking, an exercise app for moving around, an alarm, timer, and local weather. Also included is an app that you can fill with smart home shortcuts (think automations) for Wyze products; these worked well with my Wyze bulbs. You can also use to app to share your health data with Apple Health, which worked well in my testing.

Wyze uses a 350mAh battery inside the larger watch I bought. And I have to say battery life is stellar. Based on my usage, a two-hour recharge is only needed once a week to restore the battery level from nearly empty to full. The proprietary charging cable uses magnetic pins, so you don’t want to lose it.

Now for the not so good

Let me start with the battery life I just mentioned because although it’s fantastic, it shows the limitations Wyze imposes that allow for just one recharge every seven days or so. By keeping features to a bare minimum, Wyze keeps battery usage low.

For example, there’s no speaker or microphone, meaning no digital assistant, voice responses to incoming texts, or music playback that would eat up the battery. You’re limited to Bluetooth as there’s no Wi-Fi radio to free you from your phone around the house. By default, the screen display doesn’t stay on very long, although you can configure this at the cost of battery life. And there’s no GPS radio for tracking distance: Step counts and computed distance are all you get.

I’ve had basic health trackers and smartwatches in the past like this. Some of them are relatively accurate when computing distance based on step counts. The Wyze Watch? It’s average at that computation. And the step count. And for the other metric tracking too, for that matter.

Wearing both the Apple Watch 6 with its GPS radio, a two-mile walk turned into just 1.89 miles of distance on the Wyze Watch, for example. Sleep tracking between the two devices varied even more: The Wyze Watch generally counts all of my time in bed as “sleep” with various times of light and deep sleep. By comparison, my Apple Watch only captures my actual sleep time; not the total time I was in bed. It also shows much more awake time and I know this because I’m often awake for an hour or two in the middle of every night.

The story is the same with step counts, heart rate, and blood oxygen here. They just aren’t nearly as accurate on the Wyze Watch as another device. I tested it against a pulse oximeter and saw nearly an 8 percent difference. I wore a Garmin smartwatch along with the Apple Watch and Wyze Watch during a step count test walk. The former two devices showed fairly close results while the Wyze Watch shortchanged me more than 15 percent.

Perhaps these results can be addressed by software updates, perhaps not. For now, I wouldn’t rely on the Wyze Watch health data for realistic numbers. It’s best suited for data trends at this point.

It’s also best suited for people who are entirely invested in Wyze smart home products. You can’t control any other connected device brands with the watch. That’s why I said earlier that the Wyze Watch is best suited “for a very particular subset of smart home users”.

Even if you’re in that camp, there are other reasons to be wary. While you can mirror notifications from your phone, you can’t interact with them much. And even when you get them, they can be truncated and not appear properly: Here’s a text message from my son with an example of both.

What’s with the spaces after the single quotes?

I understand that I’m a bit spoiled by a watch that cost $ 400. The Wyze strategy is to keep prices low and keep products simple. And if that’s the bar to measure it by, the Wyze Watch does the job.

However, the experience and feature set is like a smartwatch from 2014, not from 2021. I think most people would be better served by a sub-$ 100 Fitbit tracker or its equivalent if they want health tracking. No, those products don’t offer smart home controls, but the Wyze Watch only works with… well, Wyze devices.

For me, the Wyze Watch is a no-go. It’s too limiting from a smart home perspective, isn’t accurate enough to meet my health tracking needs, and simply isn’t polished enough to stand out from the competition. Unless you only have $ 20 to spend on a wearable that is. Even if that were the case, I’d still be on the fence at best.

 

The post The $ 20 Wyze Watch: A 2014 experience in 2021 appeared first on Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis


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