Smartwatches are designed to provide mobile notifications and functionality without needing to reach for a smartphone. But they usually fall short of replacing your smartphone, instead requiring that a handset be in range and connected via Bluetooth. Omate has just announced its latest standalone smartwatch, the Omate TrueSmart+, which (like several other watches that attempt to replace a phone) can call, text, and email with its own wireless connection.
The TrueSmart+ is Omate's second-generation smartwatch, the follow-up to the original TrueSmart that raised over a million dollars in funding on Kickstarter two years ago. Much like its predecessor, the TrueSmart+ is designed to make/receive phone calls and browse the internet without the need of a smartphone, thanks to its SIM card capability (no word yet if it supports LTE or just 3G). The watch also has built-in GPS and Bluetooth connectivity, letting users navigate via turn-by-turn directions and wirelessly stream music to other devices.
Considering that the TrueSmart+ is, in essence, a miniature smartphone, the hardware is respectable. Underneath the smartwatch's metal casing lies a 1 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of storage space, all powered by a 600 mAh battery. The wearable also has sensors for fitness tracking and step counting.
Perhaps the biggest upgrade with the TrueSmart+ is its 1.54-inch (39-mm) curved touchscreen with fairly sharp 320 x 320 resolution (about 294 pixels per inch).
Rather than Android Wear, the TrueSmart+ is powered by Android 5.1 Lollipop underneath Omate's User Interface 3.0. There's no Google Play store installed (presumably due to Google's preference that OEMs put Android Wear on wearables); users instead use Omate's own app store to get software.
The smartwatches we've tested that run full Android have consistently provided a compromised experience. Running full apps on a watch may sound cool, but most phone apps are borderline (if not completely) unusable on these tiny, wrist-worn displays. They simply weren't designed for the form factor, and don't offer much incentive over pulling your phone out of your pocket.
Omate is also launching an entry-level sibling to the TrueSmart+, the TrueSmart-i. This smartwatch runs Android 4.4 behind a 240 x 240 resolution screen, but gains a 5 MP camera that can also record HD video in 720p at 30 fps.
The Omate TrueSmart+ and TrueSmart-i smartwatches are available for pre-order until October 31st, priced at US$169 and $149, respectively. Global shipments of pre-orders are expected to start sometime this November.