Cheap smartwatches: Smart buy or a waste of money?

3 days ago 3
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Jack Wallen enactment a sub-$60 dollar smartwatch to the trial and was amazed astatine the results. Find retired if this fund instrumentality is worthy of your wrist.


Image: iStock/Ridofranz

I beryllium connected my smartwatch. I usage it to way my exercise, I usage it to drawback telephone calls and messages I mightiness different miss, I usage it for alarms, and adjacent to way my bosom complaint (which becomes much and much important with age). Oh, I besides usage it to support way of the clip (imagine a ticker doing thing truthful simple). 

My smartwatch of prime for the past twelvemonth has been the Samsung Galaxy Active2. So acold it's been the astir dependable and accurate. It's not perfect, but it does a good occupation of handling the tasks I propulsion astatine it. That ticker sells for astir $220.

So, erstwhile I was approached by a institution called Cubot to reappraisal a smartwatch that retailed for $59, you tin stake I was curious. I've utilized smartwatches by companies similar Amazefit that seemed a bully bargain astatine archetypal but ne'er failed to, well, neglect me. What could a portion of tech astatine that terms constituent person to offer?

As you mightiness expect, I was skeptical. At a 4th of the price, I assumed you'd get a 4th of the reliability and usability.

I was wrong. 

At slightest connected definite levels.

SEE: Samsung Galaxy S21 Series: A cheat expanse (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

When the Cubot ID206 arrived, I pulled it retired of the container and my contiguous absorption was, "Oh look, an Apple Watch clone." The instrumentality looked similar an Apple Watch knockoff, but I knew the truth. This was a knock-off Android device, and expecting the aforesaid level of functionality and craftsmanship would beryllium a mistake.

To that, I was inactive (mostly) wrong.

After wearing the Cubot ticker for a week (along with my Samsung watch—yes, it was a spot awkward astatine times), I've drawn immoderate astonishing conclusions.

TL:DR—if you're connected a choky budget, you could bash a batch worse than the Cubot ID206.

Let maine explain.

First, the aesthetics.

The look and consciousness of the Cubot

As I said, the Cubot looks precise overmuch similar an Apple Watch (Figure A). No, it's not arsenic refined, and you tin instantly archer that corners were chopped (the strap unsocial feels precise overmuch similar a $50 ticker strap should). But the Cubot does consciousness rugged, arsenic though it could spell the region and basal up to immoderate you propulsion astatine it. Did I propulsion it to the limits? No. I did, however, bash my accustomed runs with the watch, which is wherever the rubber, rather literally, meets the road.

Figure A


The Cubot ID206 is connected the left. On the close is my Samsung Active2.

How does it compare?

The archetypal happening I did (after mounting up the Cubot) was spell for my accustomed play run. This is simply a shorter route, astatine 7 miles. I cognize this tally is 7 miles due to the fact that I've checked it with galore sources. I wore some watches and started their tally timers astatine the aforesaid time. At the extremity of the run, the Samsung ticker clocked the tally astatine 7.1 miles. The Cubot clocked the tally astatine 5.59 miles. So I knew, close retired of the gate, that the Cubot mightiness not beryllium the champion acceptable for those who intended the ticker for close workout tracking.

However, it's not each that achromatic and white. 

On the days that I bash not run, I astir often usage a rowing machine. When comparing the Samsung vs. the Cubot, the results were rather similar. Calories burned were close, steps taken were close, and bosom complaint was astir dormant on. Because of this, I decided to constitute the inconsistency of the tally tracking to GPS issues.

SEE: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G: A cheat expanse (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The adjacent measurement successful checking the accuracy was to tally with the telephone on with the watch. When I tally I usage my regular operator Pixel 5 for music. That telephone is besides associated with my Galaxy watch. I connected the Cubot ticker to my Pixel 4 (because that's what I astir often trial with). Carrying 2 phones during a tally isn't my thought of a bully time, truthful I opted to lone transportation one. For my adjacent play run, I took the Pixel 4 with maine and, you shouldn't beryllium amazed by the results, the Cubot tracked the tally astatine 7.2 miles and the Samsung ticker clocked the tally astatine 5.8 miles.

Lesson learned. Smartwatches are lone arsenic astute arsenic the phones they are connected to. Separate them and the watches go little accurate.

Features present and features there

To my surprise, the Cubot ticker includes astir of the features I request (such arsenic alarms, bosom rate, humor oxygen, slumber tracking, weather). The lone quality is that the Samsung Galaxy ticker UI is simply a spot easier to navigate. It should be, astatine 4 times the cost. But erstwhile you get utilized to however the Cubot interface functions, it's conscionable arsenic casual to enactment with.

So, arsenic acold arsenic features are concerned, determination isn't a marked quality betwixt the two.

Battery life

Honestly, the Samsung Active2 artillery has ne'er been good. Because I usage it heavy for exercise, I'm fortunate to get 2 days retired of the battery. Much to my surprise, the Cubot is getting astir doubly that from the battery. That's important. And getting considerably longer artillery beingness from a considerably cheaper ticker could beryllium a existent woody shaper for some.

The conclusion

The holidays are accelerated approaching, and you're astir apt going to see purchasing smartwatches for those connected your list. You'd beryllium astute to spell the Samsung oregon Apple route. But if your fund is tighter, don't place the cheaper options. The Cubot ID206 mightiness not beryllium the champion ticker connected the market, but it goes a agelong mode to beryllium that terms tin sometimes beryllium deceiving.

If the Cubot ID206 was the lone smartwatch I owned, I honestly don't deliberation I could complain. It mightiness not consciousness rather arsenic comfy arsenic the Samsung, and the UI mightiness not beryllium arsenic efficient, but astatine the extremity of the day, it works and works well. 

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