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Alcatel Go smartwatch review – hands on

Alcatel Go smartwatch 1

Alcatel's G-Shock style smartwatch is designed to get you active

So you’ve decided to make a sporty smartwatch. Do you come up with a sleek design, use premium materials and pack it full of features? If you’re Alcatel, you knock off Casio’s classic G-Shock vibe, build out of zany coloured plastics and port the custom OS last seen on the original Alcatel smartwatch. Based on first impressions this week at IFA, the end result won’t exactly compete with the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear S2

The front casing and bands are both swappable, giving you the opportunity to create some truly horrendous colour combinations. It looks suitably chunky on your wrist, if you like that sort of thing, but the plastics used feel very cheap. At least the rubberised strap should survive repeated dunks under water. The watch itself is dust, shock and water-proof, which could make it one of the most rugged smartwatches around.

Alcatel Go smartwatch 3

Alcatel’s own wearable OS can handle text and call notifications, display email subjects, show the weather and control music playback from a paired smartphone. However, third party app support pales in comparison to Android Wear, so right now what you see is pretty much all you get. The grid-based home screen interface seems at odd with the circular display too, although the apps themselves make better use of the space and completely fill the screen. Display quality was fine under the bright IFA show lights, but the low resolution panel undoubtedly makes text and icons look a little jagged.

The bizarre emotionpulse measurement is clearly trying to mimic the heartbeat function in the Apple Watch, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Essentially pressing the big ‘Go’ button underneath the display will create an “emotional graphic” based on measurements taken from the gyroscope, heart rate sensor and accelerometer, which can then be shared on social media or set as the watch wallpaper. A few of the generated graphics were rather risqué, but apparently Alcatel is considering taking these out in time for release in order not to alienate children as potential customers.

The Go does have a few good points, most notably cross-compatibility with iOS and Android, although now that Android Wear is available (in a limited capacity) on Apple’s smartphones, this isn’t the boon it was when Alcatel introduced its first watch. You also get a heart rate sensor, which took a reasonable amount of time to get a pulse reading when we strapped the watch on. Naturally this can be used to track your progress when out on a run, using the dedicated exercise app.

Alcatel Go smartwatch 5

The chunky design also means there’s room for a microUSB port on the underside. When you run out of juice, which according to Alcatel should be after two to three days of use, you won’t have to worry about having left a charging dock or wireless cradle at home – any microUSB cable will do the trick. 

There’s no price or release date just yet, but judging by the cheap feel, it will need to be low in order to drag people’s attention away from the rather gorgeous Samsung Gear S2. 

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