It doesn't run Android Wear or have slick third-party apps, but it makes up for it with battery life that lasts a few days and support for both Android and iOS devices.
While the watch looks good on your wrist and is fairly comfortable, it isn't perfect. The display could be a bit sharper and the strap a bit more flexible. Still, we were impressed enough by its accessible price point, attractive appearance, and the slew of basic—but handy—apps included in the smartwatch's software to award it a 2015 CES Editor's Choice Award.
The OneTouch Watch might be cheap, but its body does a pretty good job of hiding that fact. The face is covered in glass and has nice metal accents. The rubber band is two-tone with a comfortable ribbed pattern on the inside of the band. The band is held together with a metal clasp that feels solid, but can be finicky when you're trying to get it to latch.
In fact, the biggest pain point of the watch is its strap. The end of the strap cleverly hides a usb plug to use for charging, but the stiffness of the plug makes it difficult put the end of the strap through the watch's cuff. In fact, the clasp popped open multiple times as I tried to force the strap into the cuff.
However, the watch will eventually offer an entirely different strap. The watch is currently launching with two rubber straps (black/red and white/grey), but later in the year Alcatel will offer two metal link bands in "chrome metallic" and "white metallic." A company spokesperson could not provide their price, but said OneTouch Watches with the metallic bands will cost a bit more.
As for internal hardware, the watch features a 1.22-inch 262K display, 210mAh battery, and a handful of sensors. Sensors include an accelerometer/gyroscope, altimeter, e-compass, heart rate sensor, NFC tag, and pedometer. The watch is also IP67-rated to be water resistant.
As I mentioned earlier, the OneTouch does not run Android Wear. The watch's operating system is Alcatel's own creation, and the company has not given it a name. Thanks to this new OS, the watch will work with iOS 7+ devices and Android 4.3+ devices.
Unlike Android Wear, this OS actually has app icons. It's a simple two grid panel that you swipe through left and right. It's pretty snappy in terms of scrolling and tapping, but I wouldn't mind a more pronounced home button. I spent quite a while tapping fruitlessly on the screen before an Alcatel rep explained to me that the "6" on the watchface is a capacitive home button.
Once I understood that, the OS became very easy to navigate. A swipe up from the menu or watchface reveals a notification tray. Each menu icon either toggles or opens an app with screens you can swipe through. Unfortunately, the model I was using was not connected to a smartphone, so there were no notifications and most of the apps did not work. Connecting your phone to the smartwatch should eliminate this issue.
The watch menu itself has 14 buttons, all of which either open apps or toggle settings. The menu includes a weather app, health app, heart rate app, running app, stopwatch app, music player app, compass app, camera shutter app, watchface app, phone finder app, vibrate toggle, airplane mode toggle, brightness toggle, and light/dark theme toggle.
The heart rate app seemed to work, taking about 20 seconds to determine my heart rate. As for the health app, it showed heart rate, steps, calories burned, distance traveled, time active, and sleep. The only glaring app omission is a navigation app, which would be nice for walking and public transit directions.
Overall, the Alcatel OneTouch Watch is a great smartwatch option, providing plenty of features for any smartphone owner at an unbeatable price. The watch doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of Android Wear, like a voice input or third-party apps, but the watch offers plenty of its own highly useful features.
It can still receive notifications from your phone, which at the end of the day is a major function of any modern smartwatch. It also includes all the features of fitness trackers for a price equivalent to the new Fitbit Charge HR. Regardless of its shortcomings, the OneTouch is one of the few affordable smartwatches worth buying.
Meet the tester
Former Managing Editor, News & Features@danwroc
Daniel Wroclawski is a tech-obsessed editor and reporter. In his spare time, you can probably find him hurtling through the air in a tin can-sized airplane.
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