Everywhere you look, smart watches are cropping up. The incoming Android-powered watches (and the long-rumored iWatch) of course take the lion’s share of the attention. While those high-tech devices are attention-grabbers, for sure, to focus only on them ignores a whole other slice of the smart watch segment. Today, we’ll be taking a look at one of those, the MOTA SmartWatch G2.
It’s in this second camp of watches (with simpler displays and operating systems) that the vast majority of the current crop of smart watches reside. They basically function as an extension of your phone, allowing it to stay tucked away in a bag or pocket, while giving you relevant information on your wrist.
With the G2, this takes the form of a bangle bracelet. This was a bit odd, as I’m not used to wearing something of this style. I’m guessing this was done to keep a consistent (and sleek) shape to the device while cramming in the electronics that are needed. On the reverse (ie, against your wrist) it’s a padded material, so you do have some comfort. And, aside from the weird-feeling fit inherent to this sort of a design, it was comfortable enough.
The G2 connects to your phone via Bluetooth (v3.0, for those interested), which makes pairing pretty much snap with a modern phone (or, even a not-so-modern phone as I have). Once I had it paired to my Galaxy S (the original one), I got my first surprise – it didn’t automatically pull the time over. This is weird, and it’s not a bug – the instruction manual for the phone tells you how to set the time using the pushers on the watch.
Next up, it was time to test how it notified on a call coming through. For this, you have the option of an audible notification, or a silent vibration. Since I don’t need more noise in the office, I opted for the vibration, and that worked like a champ. It’s rather noticeable, both when a call comes in or you wander out of bluetooth range of your phone. This was by far my favorite feature of the watch. This is because I many times will not feel my phone vibrate when it’s in a pocket, and I’ll miss texts or notifications. With the vibration happening on the wrist, though, not so easy to miss.
Well, I should clarify – you won’t miss any incoming calls. That’s because the G2 doesn’t actually let you know about text messages (or any other notifications) – just phone calls. So, now you’ve got a call coming in, time to dig the phone out, right? Not necessarily – the G2 has both a mic and speakers built in, so you’ve essentially got a speakerphone on your wrist that can answer (and hangup) your phone.
This has a caveat, however. If your G2 is in silent mode (as I kept it most of the time), this means the mic on the G2 will work, but the speaker will not (so the caller will hear you, but you won’t hear them). If you decide you want to just talk on your handset, or even use a wired headset? You’ll have to manually switch (when the call comes in) what device the phone is putting the audio out to.
I tried various ways of playing with the settings (with the help of a Mota engineer), but it was to no avail. I even tried turning off bluetooth audio on the phone, but that even took away the notifications that were being pushed to the G2. Realistically, this means for the G2 to be its most useful, you’ll want to keep it out of silent mode.
That wasn’t workable for me, but if it is for you, you’ll pick up some additional benefits. You’ll be able to use the voice-activated features of your phone (be it Siri or Google Now), and you’ll also be able to play your music through the band – perhaps handy for an impromptu deck party, say.
Frankly, when the G2 came in, I really wanted to like it. Given my own particular use case, however (wanting it to be silent, and talking on the handset or via a wired headset), it ended up becoming a glorified incoming call notification system for my wrist that (a) needed to be charged and (b) made answering the phone more difficult. Â Lastly, it uses a proprietary charging port (not micro-USB), so it’s one more adapter to keep track of.
While I’m guessing there’s an audience out there for the Mota Smartwatch G2 (especially at $80), it wasn’t for me. Perhaps it works as a consumer electronics device on some level – it’s certainly no replacement for a good watch. Â mota.com
- Brand & Model: Mota Smartwatch G2
- Price: $79.99
- Who’s it for?: Someone looking for a lightweight speaker that happens to fit onto their wrist
- Would I wear it?: In the end, no – it didn’t offer enough functionality in my own usage pattern
- What I’d change: Updated firmware to allow the G2 to pull time, text, and system notifications from the phone; allow you to use the handset to talk without jumping through extra hoops
- The best thing about it: The silent vibration alarm works well.