Imoo is not a name I had really heard of before, but at some point in time I had signed up for their email newsletter so when I was presented with the opportunity to test out a kids smartwatch, I was intrigued to take a look at it. Let’s take a deeper dive into the Imoo Z1, or to give it its full name, Imoo Watch Phone Z1.
- Fast Performance
- Limited Flexibility
- Average Camera
- No Physical Buttons
Overview & Unboxing
The Imoo What Phone Z1 came in an elongated rectangular box that had a resemblance to the Apple Watch & recent Galaxy watch boxes. The outer sleeve of the box is primarily white with splashes of colour which are more indicative of the intended target market, children. Inside this, you have an orange box that contains the watch, a user manual, SIM removal tool and user manual.
The watch comes with the straps pre-attached and with a plastic cover over the screen. This plastic screen also contains the IMEI of the device alongside the serial number and that the device was designed and assembled in China.
The power button of the device is on the back of the watch. Initially, this seemed completely bizarre to me as all other smartwatches I have seen, have their power button on the left or the right of the display or have some other sort of interaction method using a dial on the display. Although after doing some thinking, it did make sense as you likely don’t want your child to be able to turn the watch off with any sort of ease especially if you need to be able to monitor their location for their safety.
There are 4 ‘bumpers’ which are designed to look like buttons however they do not operate as such. You also have a little slogan on the left-hand side which says ‘MAKE FRIENDS’.
- IPX8 water resistance
- Spreadtrum UWS6131E CPU
- 740mAh battery
- IPS LCD Display with 240 by 210 resolution
- 4G support
- 2MP Camera
- Bluetooth 4.2
- GPS, Glonass, WiFI & LBS support
- VoLTE support
Performance & Use
When you first turn the watch, you are prompted to accept the terms and conditions, and I would say the grammar used in this is a little janky, as if somebody roughly translated the original Chinese version into English. You are then forced to put in a SIM card, you can’t use the Imoo Z1 without one. I did temporarily manage to bypass this screen for about 15 seconds, but then the SIM card message came up again.
The watch is not really designed to be used in the same way that a standalone fitness watch or smartwatch is, it can be seen more like a mini smartphone on your child’s wrist and so like smartphones of yesteryear which required a SIM card to activate, Imoo also requires this.
I know it may come across as a little critical at the start, but the initial experience can make a huge difference to somebody’s perception of a product.
Inserting the SIM card using the proprietary included tool was a fun experience as I ended up flicking the cover halfway across my room so I would recommend putting a finger over the cover before lifting it. The SIM cover has a rubber seal which allows the unit to have its IPX8 water resistance. One thing to note is that if you do end up losing the SIM removal tool, you can use a standardised SIM ejector tool that is included with modern smartphones to remove this.
The Z1’s display is of LCD technology and it’s only using about 60% of the front display area as the bezel is fairly large. The bezel around the display is also not equal on all sides with the lower bezel being larger than the top bezel.
By default, the brightness is set to 40% but I would recommend upping this to 80% or at least 60% for this to be usable. I would say it is suitable for all indoor situations and even with bright indoor lighting I was able to view the screen perfectly. I would say maybe in bright outdoor situations the image on screen likely wouldn’t be visible unless you are 100% brightness.
Imoo uses MocorOS on the Watch Phone Z1, but there is not really much information available about this. It is used on a few entry-level phones that are sold on Alibaba, but I guess it is flexible enough to be used on this.
There is tap-to-wake which is great to see as you won’t have to mess about holding and pressing any buttons, although as I have mentioned before, there aren’t any.
All of the movement around the OS is gesture-based with a swipe from the left of the display to the right which is very intuitive especially for younger users. The main homepage shows the time, battery charge and day at a glance and this can be changed by pressing and holding the watch face, you can switch between 5 different options.
The integrated apps include Chat, Add Friends, Steps, Level, Album, Take Photos, Alarm Clock, Shake, Messages, Dialing, Settings, Stopwatch and Bind Code. The Add Friend function allows you to link up with other Imoo Watch Phone users so that the kids can chat and communicate easily. The built-in pedometer under the Steps app allows you to track your movement throughout the day with a target step count of 8000.
The responsiveness of the watch was fantastic throughout, I did not find the watch to ever slow down and the Spreadtrum UWS6131E performed admirably for its task. You can receive normal text messages on the device as it is essentially a mobile phone alongside phone calls.
The voice message functionality was fairly smooth and almost instantaneous as you would expect with a standard instant messaging app. The first time I used it, the audio did cut out but I think that was because the watch’s microphone was too far away from my face so it maybe struggled to pick up the audio, but once I brought it closer, the audio came through loud and clear. So I would likely recommend telling your child to raise the watch to their face when they are sending a voice note.
You can’t actually send any written messages from the watch, neither by using text to speech nor handwriting recognition. All of the communication from the watch is voice note based which is likely due to the size of the screen, the excessive processing power needed for text to speech on device & increased data usage and latency if this is done on the cloud alongside any privacy concerns. So whilst your child will be able to read text-based messages, they can’t send any.
You can also take photos and send photos from the album directly from the messaging app alongside being able to send a few animated characters (the animations only show on the smartphone app, not on the watch).
There is an integrated dial pad on the Imoo Z1 Watch Phone which will allow your child to make outgoing calls but all incoming calls will be rejected unless they are contacts. I did not realise this initially and I thought maybe incoming calls were blocked but later digging through the settings I found this option.
Users on the other end of a phone call found the audio to be loud and clear, whereas I found the audio on the Watch Phone Z1 a little tinny, however it was fairly loud. Incoming calls were fairly loud so I would definitely recommend switching the class mode on to ensure that this doesn’t start going off in a lesson.
In order to communicate with your child, you will need to use the Imoo app. The app allows you to call, message, video call and track via GPS.
The Google Play Store shows that the app has over 1 million downloads which is impressive as I personally didn’t realise the brand was that big. I do think some of these may be linked to the fact that there is an application called Imo which is an instant message app and between the standard app and the HD version sits at over 510 million downloads.
The Apple App Store app is a little more indicative of where I thought it might be. This has only 12 ratings. But it also has a 17+ age rating due to infrequent gambling and intense contests which was quite amusing to me. The inclusion of a single mini-game (in which you shake the watch once) on the watch counts as gambling supposedly.
The app is designed so that multiple family members, teachers and other trusted individuals can download it and be linked to a single watch. You can create group chats on this so all members of the family can be on a single chat.
Within the settings app of the watch, you have the ability to manage the firmware, bind the watch to family members devices without the watch being present, add contacts to the watch, manage the shake game, pedometer, dial pad and quick calling on the watch. Set up class mode so that functionality can be limited when your child is at school, auto-schedule power on and power off so that the watch turns off at your child’s bedtime and auto wakes before they do so that the alarm can go off.
There are quite a few other features and customisations through the app and it just goes to show how important the companion app is to the overall usage of the watch.
You can use the built-in GPS tracking in the Imoo app which uses Google Maps to allow you to monitor the location of your child. I actually appreciate Google Maps being used over a third party maps firm such as HERE Maps because Google, in my opinion, has the most accurate maps which is due to the sheer number of users contributing to the accuracy of the data.
The Imoo Watch Phone Z1 features a 2MP wide-angle camera on the front which is encased in its own plastic housing which likely helps the overall durability. This is primarily designed for you to be able to have HD video calls with your child as 2MP is the equivalent of 1600 x 1200 pixels which is a little shy of full HD video.
I took a few random shots with this as it could be used in an emergency especially as this will likely be the only device your child has that is capable of taking photos on them. Actually, on the display of the watch, the photos don’t look half bad and the live preview is incredibly responsive.
There is a 3-second timer when taking the photos and I couldn’t find a way of disabling this so there likely won’t be any sports photography happening.
On the smartphone app, you can view the current location of your child in a Google Maps window alongside being able to use both of your cameras. The watch itself only allows you to end the call which is a little restrictive but for a child, I probably wouldn’t expect them to mute the call or change the settings.
There are 4 pogo pins on the rear however Imoo has not made these reversible as there are three pins in a cluster with the 4th on the left. This means you will have to ensure you sit the charger properly on the rear as the magnetic pins will adhere onto the rear, but you end up with an uncharged watch. Especially as your child will likely want to charge it themselves, it is something to keep an eye out for.
The Imoo logo on the rear of the charger appears upside down when looking straight down which is even stranger and I am surprised nobody in Imoo realised this. The cable is flat which means that you don’t have to worry about it tangling up which is handy, and it is using a USB A which is still more universal than Type C especially on the wall side.
When the battery is completely flat and you go to charge it up, you are presented with a charging symbol and then shortly after the battery fill up a little, you are presented with the current time and the battery percentage.
The Z1’s battery took 15 minutes for 17%, 26 minutes for 28%, 48 minutes to charge up to 50%, an hour and 15 minutes for 76% and an hour and 43 minutes for a full 100% charge. This is based on a 1A charger as the max the device can accept is 1.2A.
The watch did not get excessively hot at any point which is good to know as it will mean that your child will not burn themselves on an overly warm charger or watch.
I couldn’t find any official claims of battery life from Imoo in regards to the Z1, just “Imoo Watch Phone Z1 has longer battery life under the same battery weight & volume category.” which doesn’t really give me much to work from.
On average the battery lasts around 2 days of mixed usage made up of video calling, messaging, a few photos, GPS tracking and a constant 4G/3G connection. This is fairly impressive considering the cellular Apple Watches only last a day on their independent network connection, however, they also benefit from being able to receive notifications from your phone, whereas this is limited to communication with parents/guardians using the Imoo app.
The mint green and black strap seems flexible but at the same time robust. There is a leatherette finish to the top of the black strap but I feel like the intricacy is almost wasted on this and a smooth finish would probably be more apt for the younger target audience.
There are plenty of strap holes for you to be able to find a comfortable fit on your child’s hand, although users under the 5-year mark may find it a little loose. I was even able to wear this on my wrist with a few holes leftover so unless your child has wrists that are either fairly large or fairly small then they will be fine. On an 11-year-olds wrist this also fit fairly well without the risk of it falling off or being too tight.
Overall Imoo has made a good go of this. The Imoo Z1 is impressive in some regards but the market for such a product is fairly niche especially as children tend to have smartphones at a younger age nowadays with the quality of the hand me downs being better. I would say definitely for the UK market a few changes such as the removal of the ‘MAKE FRIENDS’ and ensuring that the English used on the watch is up to scratch.
But at the price compared to a standard smartwatch and smartphone combination, this is a no brainer and definitely could be seen as the perfect Christmas present if you don’t trust your child with a smartphone but need them to be contactable.
You can purchase this in both the Bamboo Green colour shown in this review and an additional Grapefruit Red colour from Imoo’s official website here for £99.00