Elephone W2 Review: It’s Time For The Mi Band To Step Down
The Elephone W2 smartwatch was launched last month in a format that we haven’t really seen much of. The device packs in all the features of the original Xiaomi Mi Band with the added bonus of having a sleek analogue watch as well. Of course being simply as good as a previous product, isn’t enough and Elephone have outdone expectations by managing to stretch out the battery life to a full 3 years of day to day usage, eliminating the need for a charging port and bringing waterproofing to 30 meters. We have now been trialing it for just over two weeks so let’s take a look!
|Dial Size||41 mm|
|Case Colour||Rose Gold or Original Steel|
|Strap Size||201mm * 20mm * 3mm|
|Movement||Swiss Ronda 762|
|Battery||Maxcell 2032 button cell (210mAh)|
|Battery Life||3 Years (low usage) 3 Months (high usage, apparently we don’t see any way you could run it low this fast)|
|Features||pedometer, sleep monitor, call reminder, sedentary reminder, alarm and remote camera|
The watch comes in two variants, “Rose Gold” with a curved edge, aimed at women and an “Original Steel” with a straighter but marginally smaller Moto 360 feel to it aimed at men. We opted for the latter and were not disappointed. The watch gives the same solid construction however, the buttons have a firm springy feel and an almost inaudible click when pressed quite dissimilar to the 1st gen 360’s less tactile button. The device itself ships with a genuine leather two part strap, that can be easily swapped out by a tiny spring-loaded catch at the ends, a tiny screwdriver for removing the back and changing batteries, 3 x 210mAh button cell batteries and a quick start guide.
The Watch’s companion app (sorry folks, there is no option to connect this to other services and apps at the moment) can be found at the Play Store and requires a quick set up, asking for details such as gender, height, weight and your preferred daily goals for steps and sleep. Once chosen you’re good to go and the watch will happily tick away in the background tracking your steps, a quick press of the 4 O’clock button and the 10 tiny LEDs on the lower half of the watch face light up to show you to 10% how close you are to meeting your daily goal.
When it comes to sleep tracking holding the 4 O’clock for three seconds will switch the device to sleep mode where it will divide the following time into awake, light and deep sleep until the same button is pressed for a further three seconds. The status of the unit can be seen by pressing the 2 O’clock button, whereby the LED at the top of the watch face will display green for step monitoring and blue for sleep. It is also worth noting that the watch’s hands are faintly luminous meaning that they can be seen faintly in the dark.
During my time with the watch I have found both steps and sleep to be accurate, sleep impressively so, counting steps I found that on occasion the watch may miss one or add extra but not sufficiently to make any real difference to a day.
The companion app is also where the watch’s additional features are set-up, you can set the watch to vibrate upon receiving a call or with an alarm, after not moving for a specified amount of time and even use the apps integrated camera functionality to take photos with any of the buttons on the watch, you can see the camera apps UI below (far right). An interesting option was a toggle to enable “Find Phone”, a feature that I alas could not figure out how to instigate, an issue I know other users of the watch have also faced. It is possible that this is a placeholder for a future update.
Don’t worry about the apparent missing data from the screenshots above, it’s not that the watch didn’t gather data on these days but rather that I failed to sleep.
Something that has always kept me from using wearables in the long run has always been battery life. On a notification heavy day I have always found my Moto 360 to die mid-afternoon, to the extent where I just stopped using it. The W2 has a stunning battery life, I tend not to use the alarm and as I have my phone in my pocket or on my desk have no need for the call alert functions, meaning I can disconnect it when not syncing. This has the added bonus of meaning that I am now over two weeks in and the battery is still at 100%. This certainly appears to show that Elephone’s expected battery life of 3 years (meaning we are 19 days into an advertised 1095) is not outside the realm of plausibility.
My Xiaomi Mi Band was the first wearable I really loved, it filled my sole requirements for accurate activity and sleep monitoring however, I felt it lacking in the design department. It looked discrete which I can only presume as a fitness band was a design goal and entirely intentional, and it looked cheap. Both things for which I forgave it given its exceptional value (seriously, at $15 they still remain the perfect bargain gift). The W2 goes much of the way to filling the design void here and gives the function of a fitness band in the body of a classic watch, as you can probably tell from the above screenshots I don’t participate in much sport and so I do not need a discreet device. Do I consider the W2 worth the $79 it costs? Undoubtedly, in the upcoming world of wearables, this is a solid mid-range device at a price point that is perfectly reasonable for the quality and design.
What would your perfect activity tracker/smartwatch look like? Leave a comment below!