Zeblaze MiniWear kindly provided by Gearbest.com Photo © Smartwatchcity.com.
Overall impression – A nice, neat and great-value smartwatch which has all the basic functions you’d want. A perfect gift for a young or casual user, but not really one for the boardroom, nor the marina.
Pros: Does what it says on the tin. Easy setup, reliable and perfectly adequate.
Cons: Interface not very slick. Functionally a little basic on every front. But at this price you really can’t complain.
Despite a vast array of devices now on the market, at the end of the day, we still mostly use our smartwatches for just a few basic operations. There’s notifications, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, emails or texts. The more health-conscious amongst us may use them to check how far we walked and how much our heart wants to burst out of our chest after a short stroll (well, some of us anyway). What very few of us appear to be doing is using apps beyond variations of these standard functions.
Just as in the mobile phone market, a slew of new models, mainly from China, are disrupting the smartwatch market too. Although very low cost, they all appear to cover these bases that we require. So we decided to have a look at one; namely the Zeblaze Miniwear, marketed under the somewhat vainglorious slogan ‘Mini but Mighty’. Zeblaze are well known for their wide range of budget smartwatches in the market. Being one of the lowest-cost full-featured smartwatches we have come across (currently coming in at under US$40 or £30 at most retailers), let’s see what this one is all about.
A neat little steel and leather affair (faux, I think. And yes, I did have a good long sniff), this rectangular watch bears all the hallmarks of a classic timepiece with its gently curving glass, brushed steel body and prominent crown. The size is suited for any wrists, and the IP65 rating, although a little less protective than the more expensive smartwatches out there, will still protect against splashes, but not immersion. It does not specify if the glass is scratch-resistant, but it is unlikely to be ‘Gorilla’ of any variety.
Display: Square, 1.21″, IPS, 240 x 240 pixels, 280 ppi approx
The neatly proportioned rectangular watch face does mean that the display itself is a little small for comfortable reading and interaction. On the plus side, it is bright, with vibrant colours which are easily visible even in bright outdoor conditions. The pixel level (around 280 ppi unconfirmed) and range of colours are a little limited resulting in some posterization colour banding effects, especially with the otherwise very respectable remote camera function. However the interface is primarily icons and text, so this doesn’t have that much of an impact. It comes with 5 classic watchfaces which are reasonably authentic to look at, and some more modern and minimalist faces can be added via the phone software. There does not appear to be an ambient light sensor built in, however the auto screen off function works well at detecting when the watch is not being viewed.
Performance: MTK2502C ‘SiP’ processor, 128M RAM, 64M ROM
The speed of the MTK2502C chipset is not specified, however it is estimated to be between around 300-600 MHz. This, together will a comparatively small RAM and ROM capacity means that, although very versatile, it is a little lacking in power when compared to the range of smartwatches out there right now. This is, however, perfectly sufficient to deal with the limited power-requirements of this particular device. All the functions work well, with no lag or hang. Where any delay can be detected is in the jerkiness when swiping from screen to screen. After a while one does get used to this and navigation becomes easy.
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, no GPS nor NFC
A basic, standard setup using BT 4.0 to connect and push notifications through to the device. The connection is easy to setup and reliable, with no dropouts during the time that we tested it. In fact, a lot of the functions worked simply through pairing, without the need for software on the phone. Not surprisingly though, this basic device lacks any GSM, GPS, WiFi or NFC connectivity.
Battery & Charging: Decent battery life from 200mAh polymer lithium ion battery, with a ‘MagSafe-style’ charging connector which attaches magnetically to the back
Despite a relatively small 200mAh battery, the low-power CPU and small display mean that you still get a decent couple of days out of the watch with light use. The charging system is quick (around an hour to full charge) and neat. As with a lot of watches out there, the connector itself is fairly proprietary so you’ll need to carry it around if you’re likely to need a top-up when away from base.
OS and Apps: Standard Bluetooth watch interface with limited range of apps.
The watch ships with a range of standard apps such as the health and fitness range, including heart rate, pedometer, sleep monitor and a useful ‘sedentary reminder’ (which warns you if you’ve been lazing around too long for its liking). You also have notification functions which simply displays any notification from your phone in a simple text form. There is also a voice recorder, music player, remote camera function and one particularly great little feature for such a low-cost watch is the ability to make calls via the watch’s in-built mic and speakers. There is the ability to add a limited number of extra apps via the phone softwere ‘Fundo Wear’, but the memory fills quickly.
Control and interface:
The crown functions as an on-off switch as well as returning to the watchface. The watch display automatically turns on when you turn it to your face, and is very good at working out when you are and are not doing so. In terms of voice control, the watch links in to both Siri on iOS devices and with Android’s “OK Google” voice commands very well indeed. It has a good quality microphone and speaker system for both voice input and output.
Compatibility: Compatible with a wide range of both iOS and Android devices. Stated compatibility with Android version 4.44 or higher and iOS 8.0 or higher, although there is some functionality for older versions too.