I’m Watch review
Smart watches are in vogue at the moment. At CES, a huge fuss was made over the Kickstarter-funded Pebble watch, so it’s odd that more coverage wasn’t given to the Italian-made i’m Watch.
On the face of it, it offers similar features to the Pebble. It connects to iPhone or Android smartphones over Bluetooth, allowing users to check their messages or email, and allows extensibility via apps.
There are a few key differences, however. The i’m Watch can make and receive calls on the watch itself, Knight Rider-style, as opposed to the Pebble’s ability to only notify of incoming calls. And, where the Pebble’s screen has a monochrome, electronic paper display, the i’m Watch’s 240 x 240, 1.5in display is a full-colour multitouch affair.
Navigation is achieved almost entirely by tapping the icons and swiping up and down, or left and right, as you’d expect. The only button on the watch is on the right-hand side, and this is used to navigate back one level and to turn on the watch when it’s in standby. The watch also has a 3.5mm jack in the side, allowing music playback and stereo headset connection.
The i’m Watch’s online trickery is achieved via a Bluetooth-tethered internet connection to your smartphone. The watch talks directly to the phone for the calls and text-messaging part; for everything else it hooks up to the i’m Cloud service, which passes it your Twitter, Facebook and newsfeeds, calendar notifications and a variety of other data. We were able to browse our email and text messages discreetly on the i’m Watch’s touchscreen, and were notified in a timely manner of their arrival.
However, there are flaws. We found the I’m Watch’s interface reacted sluggishly to taps and swipes. Battery life was exceedingly poor: its rechargeable, 450mAh lithium-polymer battery never gave us more than two days of use. Note, also, that for most of the time, the i’m Watch’s screen is off; rather inconveniently, you have to press the button on the side to wake up the watch if you want it to display the time.
In addition, the speakerphone mode is best avoided – in testing calls broke up badly, making carrying out a conversation impossible. We also found the Bluetooth radio exceedingly unreliable: it would frequently simply refuse to reconnect to our test handsets. Remember, too, that your phone needs to support Bluetooth tethering – which not all do – for the watch to function fully.
All in all, we like the idea of the i’m Watch, but the flaky Bluetooth, slow performance and poor battery life make it completely impractical. That, coupled with a high price, means we can’t possibly recommend it.