An Affordable ELE Watch Could Change the Android Wear Market
Could this offering from the fledgling Chinese OEM change the way Android Wear smartwatches are designed in the future?
Unfortunately at this point, smartwatches are a premium product. Their general demographic is limited to enthusiasts, developers, and those with disposable income, and the reasons behind this currently are their limited uses combined with their price-tag
But all that could change, now that their initial path to the market has been carved. Earlier today, online retailer GearBest put up a product page as an ‘Arrival Notice’ for this currently unannounced smartwatch, citing what look like accurate specs and showing off pictures of the round device, but most importantly advertising its excellent $115 price. For the full list of specs see the table below (complete with typos and dodgy phrasing), but in summary, we’re looking at typical 2015 smartwatch internals with a few important points. Typically for Elephone, a MediaTek SOC is present; the new MTK2601 which translates to a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A7 CPU and Mali-400 MP GPU. This will be one of the first times we’ll see this package in action, and we’re very curious to see how it fares, as it has been specifically designed for use in wearable devices.
Most other smartwatches feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 but with a number of their 4 cores disabled to improve battery life, so the performance gap between these chips would hopefully be infinitesimal. The ROM and rooting community won’t be over the moon to see a MediaTek chip used in what could have been a very developer friendly smartwatch option, which is a shame, although realistically this is a smaller number of users even within the XDA community compared to most handset releases. Besides, Wear is not a haven for XDA development anyway.
|Features||Phone call assistant: Manage and answer phone calls wherever you go|
Heart rate monitoring: Monitor your heart rate, take care of your health
Music will accompany with you: Sync, control and wear your music with the music player in the smart watch
Stunning Display: 1.5 inch capacitive touch screen for extra responsiveness
Changeable watchband: The band of the smart watch is changeable, you can make your favorite matching
IP67 waterproof: Convenient for your daily life, everything will be better
WIFI: IEEE802.11 a/b/g/n
Built-in chip type: MTK2601
Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 4.0
Waterproof Rating: IP67
|Functions||Bluetooth calling: Answering, Dialing|
Health tracker: Heart rate monitor
Remote control: Music remote
Other functions: Alarm, Calender, Gyroscope, Calculator
Screen resolution: 320 x 320 px
Screen size: 1.5 inch
|Battery||Battery type: Polymer battery|
Battery capacity: 4.3V / 400mAh
Standby time: About 80 hours
|General||People: Unisex watch|
|Dial and Band||Shape of the dial: Round|
Case material: Metal
Band material: Metal
|Features||Compatible OS: Android|
Compatability: Android system
Language: English, Thai, German, Simplified / TraditionalChinese, Malay, Italian, French, Malay, Arabic, Spanish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Turkish, Portuguese
Available color: Silver
|Weight and Size||Package size (L x W x H): 12 x 10 x 8 cm / 4.72 x 3.93 x 3.14 inches|
Product weight: 0.060 kg
Package weight: 0.25 kg
Highlights of the ELE include its decent 400mAh battery, heart-rate monitor, IP67 rated water/dust resistance, metal build and support for swappable wrist bands, which we’re hoping entails compatibility with normal watch bands as opposed to the implementation of some proprietary connection. The RAM/ROM specifications seem to be the only glaring error (unfortunately), but previous leaks have suggested typical 512MB/4GB values. In fact, the only thing that seems to have been missed is the size and weight of the watch itself. It looks sleek and well designed, but its dimensions will make a large difference to how it feels on the wrist – watches are meant to be fashionable, after all.
If all is as it seems and the ELE watch performs well and feels good, it could seriously disrupt the still-nascent wearables market as it stands now. For smartwatches to become truly prevalent they need to be put onto the wrists of more people; people that can devise new and useful ways for which they can be used, and people that can make those features real. For this purpose, the ELE watch seems well suited, providing great value at its diminutive price-point, combined with aesthetics that shouldn’t put many off. This is important when it comes to Android, as few companies can get by selling purely premium products, whereas many succeed when it comes to the low-end segment, and for smartwatches this area is still relatively unexplored.
Realistically however, the ELE probably won’t sell very well in Western markets, damned as it will be by lack of availability and the complete absence of any public marketing clout, but equally it may not need to. GearBest and other similar Chinese online stores ship worldwide, and those in the know will be pleased to pick up a great bargain. Once again, if this is recognised by app developers as the opportunity it can be, it could make a difference to the entire Wear platform as a whole, as more will have the tools to test and debug their apps.
Elephone are a young company and aren’t yet held in high regard, although their mobile efforts have been well received, mainly due to their bang-for-buck nature. Giants like Samsung and Motorola will always be in the limelight, and even those that can create compelling offerings like the Huawei Watch will receive more attention, but the budget-smartwatch market is up for grabs, and Elephone’s first offering could pave the way and benefit everyone.