Not many people have heard of Taiwan’s TCL Communication (TCCLF), but the company’s Alcatel One Touch division of mobile devices is more recognizable stateside.
The One Touch line has expanded to include tablets, accessories and the subject of this review: the Alcatel One Touch Smartwatch.
Introduced at CES 2015, it was described as: “a smartwatch that puts a premium on elegant design at a very accessible price.”
Does this smartwatch achieve its goal? Read our Alcatel One Touch review to find out.
Alcatel One Touch Review: Looks and Features
Superficially, the One Touch smartwatch delivers. Its $149.99 price tag is affordable, especially when compared to what Apple (AAPL) is charging for even an entry level Apple Watch.
It offers the expected features like fitness tracking, apps, smartphone notifications and watchface customizations.
The round display and stainless steel bezel evoke images of the Moto 360 and add a premium look to this wearable.
The One Touch smartwatch can be used with both iPhones and Android smartphones — something that gives it an advantage over many smartwatches, which tend to be tied to a specific mobile platform.
Battery life is impressive for a smartwatch with a color LCD display, routinely managing two to three days between recharging.
Based on the attractive appearance, pricing and the published feature list, early Alcatel One Touch reviews were optimistic.
Alcatel One Touch Review: Fumbled Execution
This smartwatch appears to be a contender but, unfortunately, Alcatel fell short in many ways in the execution. It’s the details that start eroding the One Touch appeal.
By choosing to go its own way rather than adopt Android Wear, the One Touch has few apps and few watch face options. This means customization and extended functionality are both limited.
Notification handling isn’t as elegant as other systems, and there’s no microphone or speaker for dictation of message replies or listening to calls. Wander out of range of your smartphone and it sometimes struggles to reconnect.
Activity data is indeed collected, but the smartwatch only stores it for a day. The heart rate sensor wants you to stop moving to take a reading. The data collected is also essentially stuck in the “Alcatel” world — it doesn’t integrate with popular fitness apps.
Perhaps the strangest design choice Alcatel made was to incorporate a USB connector into the watch band. Sure, you get away from recharging dongles and cables as promised, but the stiff connector makes the band awkward to fasten. In its Alcatel One Touch review, The Verge liked the built-in recharger, but they seem to be in the minority.
The argument of awkwardness versus convenience aside, what happens if you want to replace the band? This take proprietary to a whole new level.
Alcatel One Touch Review: Specs
- 1.22-inch color display at 240 x 204 pixel resolution
- 210mAh battery rated at 2-5 days of normal use
- USB recharging via built-in wrist strap USB connector
- Heart rate sensor
- Bluetooth LE
- Compatible with iOS and Android
- Waterproof, dustproof
- 0.4-inches thick, 1.65-inch diameter
- MSRP $149.99
Alcatel One Touch Review: Conclusion
On the surface, this smartwatch seems like an affordable and stylish alternative, but design choices like that recharger/wrist band hurt it. And with first-generation Android Wear smartwatches being discounted to combat the Apple Watch, the One Touch is losing its key affordability advantage.
Google (GOOG, GOOGL) has dropped the price of the Moto 360 — a superior smartwatch in almost every way (read our review here) — to $165. With premium Android Wear smartwatches going for that price, the Alcatel One Touch is a non-starter.
Unless you must have iOS compatibility and want a round-faced smartwatch, the Alcatel One Touch isn’t a particularly compelling choice at this point in time.
If you’re still interested in one, wait a few more months. With downward price pressure from first generation smartwatches kicking in and new Android Wear models on the horizon, the One Touch should start showing up in bargain bins by that point. If Alcatel drops the price below $100, then the One Touch’s oddities can be more easily overlooked.
As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.