Casio Smart Outdoor Watch review (hands-on): The Android Wear smartwatch with month-long battery life
With so much media hype and fuss around luxury watch brands muscling into smartwatches, how refreshing that the most interesting watch launched at CES 2016 came from none other than Casio.
Yes, the company associated with utilitarian digital watches – and that 80s watch with a built-in calculator – has produced a bold, bolshy beast that takes the idea of an “outdoor” watch to the extreme.
It’s the firm’s first proper smartwatch, but unlike most Android Wear watches, the Casio Smart Outdoor Watch WSD-F10 will survive even the fiercest of conditions. To be precise, it’s compliant with the MIL-STD-810G*1 military standard, while Casio promises water resistance to 50m. It is, one might say, proper rugged.
Casio Smart Outdoor Watch review: Design and display
It’s even designed to be used with gloves, thanks to buttons on the side that, if you’re anything like me, cast your mind back to the time when digital watches seemed like a technological breakthrough. It’s chunky – at 15.7mm thick – but by no means heavy on the wrist at 93g.
Cleverly, there’s an always-on mono display that will be perfectly visible in sunny conditions. Switch everything else off and the Casio could last a whole month between charges.
In reality, though, it’s likely to be a handful of days because you won’t be able to resist switching on the colour display. This, after all, is your gateway to this watch’s smart features. The screen looks great in the flesh, too, with the circular 320 x 300 touch display a match for any smartwatch I’ve seen for crispness and rich colour.
The wow factor comes not from the crispness of the screen, however, but the content it shows. Sure, it will tell you how many steps you’ve taken, but what other watch will dynamically update your altitude as you swipe through the screens? You can also check atmospheric pressure, switch to compass modea and head over to the tide graph. This really is a watch for explorers.
Casio Smart Outdoor Watch review: A smartwatch for extreme conditions
Casio targets three particular types of people: those who trek, cycle and fish. There are real-time information updates and notifications to match, too. When you’re cycling, one screen shows your speed, the current time, how far you’ve travelled and how long you’ve been travelling for.
Trekkers and climbers will see similar information, but this time it’s their goal elevation, how many more feet they need to climb, their speed in feet-per-hour. Those who fish can see how the atmospheric pressure is changing over time as a graph, the current atmospheric pressure, and receive regular alerts showing changes.
There are 40 different actions you can choose from that will trigger notifications – Casio Moments – along with all the usual reminders and pings you receive from a watch based on Android Wear. Currently, there are three companion apps to take full advantage of, if you own an Android phone: ViewRanger (a specialist outdoor mapping tool), MyRadar (“the world’s most popular weather radar map”) and Runkeeper.
Casio Smart Outdoor Watch review: Compatibility and price
If you’re an iPhone user, you’ll have to wait until April, the scheduled launch date, to find out how compatible the Casio Watch will be. All Casio could tell me was “it will be compatible with iOS, but not fully”. The spec sheet suggests iPhone 5 models onwards will be supported, but only with “limited functionality”. We shall have to wait and see.
I also don’t yet know a UK price, but with a recommended retail price of $500 in the US, it’s safe to assume a cost of around £400. Steep? Undeniably. But if you’re a committed outdoors enthusiast then at least you can be confident of a watch that will survive a trip to Snowdonia and back.
See also: The best smartwatches of 2016 – your ultimate guide