As I have already taken a “First Look” at the A28 I knew somewhat to expect. That is I mean aside from it looking suspiciously like an Asus Zen watch. Which frankly I think is a good thing, not least of which because I’m already convinced that if you’re going to have a smart watch, displaying text, then you should put it on a rectangular screen. There is a good reason we don’t make round books people! The fact is writing doesn’t do well on a round screen so I’m really hoping this is the cure to the greatest issue with the Sun S2, which I reviewed back in August 2015.
The box; it’s typically watch shaped, squarish and in that raw card “natural” which is kinda nice. The inside though is nothing fancy. You get the watch situated as you would expect and then under there are the charging cradle thingy and a cable. The cradle is pretty good, it holds the watch firmly in place and leaves no doubt it’s actually on charge. Still Qi would have been preferable. No comment on Micro USB or not, it’s ugly for sure to have but then you have cables everywhere, you don’t have multiple cradles.
Brand: OUKITEL, Built-in chip type: MTK2502, Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 4.0, RAM: 128M, ROM: 32M, Waterproof Rating: Life water resistance, Bluetooth calling: Phonebook, Call log sync, Phone call reminder, Answering, Dialing Messaging: Message reminder, Message checking, Health tracker: Sleep monitor, Pedometer, Sedentary reminder, Heart rate monitor, Remote control: Camera remote, Music remote, Notification: Yes, Find phone: Yes, Other functions: Alarm, Calculator, Calender, Voice recorder, Groups of alarm: 5 sets, Alert type: Ring, Vibration, Locking screen : 4 kinds, Screen: IPS, Screen resolution: 240 x 240 px, Screen size: 1.54 inch, Battery type: Li-polymer battery, Battery capacity: 250mAh, Standby time: About 100 hours
They do give you far more specs of the thing but there is a limit to what’s useful. It’s nice though that you get every detail imaginable.
Was there anything that stood out there? Not especially, I did like the “Life Water Resistance” as I’ve no idea what that’s supposed to mean. I am presuming its fine for the rain, washing your hands but do not go swimming. Also I didn’t mention the straps, I got the black strapped silver faces one but as they use standard watch strap fittings, you can whip it off and change it to anything you fancy (hear that Motorola, Sony, standard watch strap fitting!!!)
Praise be its square. You really don’t grasp how much the display of text benefits from a square screen. Shape aside though the screen is otherwise nothing terribly special. It’s nice, reasonably bright, colours look rather natural for me. I’d have preferred bumped up colour saturation for icons but I can’t say being natural is a flaw. Viewing angles, in short are perfect. Turn it far as you like and it doesn’t colour distort so big kudos there. Then double kudos as it’s perfectly usable in its lowest power state and its super bright at its highest power state. For a dirt cheap product you expect a crap screen but it’s really quite good.
Well I’ve long said, China and most of the Far East in general (Sony is the exception) that companies can nail the hardware but they just can’t do software. The UI here is pretty reasonable and obvious. Still there are some oddities, I mean do we really need a file manager? On the whole however it’s pretty innocuous, it’s got the obvious things clearly tagged and sensibly located. It could do with more than 3 themes though and it sure as hell could be with more fascias. It numbers only 4 and frankly, I don’t like any of them. Not only don’t I like them but they are just plain and simply pointless. They fail stylistically, making no use of anything, like giving the pretend red LED one faint traces of the LED’s that are pretending to be there but not lit up. Why? The mostly black face with the faux greyed bits of background? Why would you do this? It looks terrible and it’s just plain pointless. Then we come to the one that has a couple of buttons, its thumbnail looks nothing like its actual fascia once selected. It gives you the time, date and call and phonebook button. Useful, right? Then it slaps above it “Company mode” why would you do this? It looks terrible. It does to me anyway. The fascia options are a real disappointment to me.
It’s got pretty much all the “smart watch” things you would expect to be there. Pedometer, sleep monitor, heart rate monitor, call and message notifier, an audio control app. The couple I think are more unexpected are the camera control app, whereby you can take photos on your phone but you use the watch as the viewfinder. Now be warned the picture quality is rubbish and its frame rate is terrible. It’s having to stream video over its Bluetooth connection which it’s just not meant for. Still it’s an interesting feature even if I don’t know why you would use it. I mean maybe if you were pairing it up to a great camera, on a tripod but for your phone? What’s more curious still is I like it, not that I’d ever use it but it is just plain cool that you can. The other nifty thing is that you can make and take call on it. It’s got a little built-in mic and speaker. As features go I recognise that it’s silly, that it’s more convenient to hold the phone to your face than to hold your wrist up nearing your face. That may be useful on TV shows where you need the audience to hear both sides of the call but in real life? Do I see myself ever using this feature? No, no I do not. However the 10 year in me just loves that you can make a phone call from your watch however impractical it may be.
I like it. The strap they say is real leather which it may be, but I’m not wild about it. I just don’t like that faux crocodile pattern it’s had embossed on it. A plain simple flat strap would have appealed more to me. Still if you don’t like the strap you can just remove it and put on any normal watch strap. The watch bit though is really nice. It’s all metal and glass, it feels lovely and far beyond its itty bitty price tag. (Much nicer that the Sun S2 in my opinion.)
Tied so much to the UI but its square screen makes it really easy to touch things and what’s more its touch screen is nicely accurate. That the screen is out there in front, no big bezel sticking out to get in your fingers way it’s just so easy to hit what you want. Then to swipe, again with no bezel sticking up your finger can slide from side to side just as easy as you like. Firing up the camera remote control worked great, the call making option worked perfectly (though scrolling through your address book on a tiny screen isn’t a joyful experience.) It’s amazing just how much of a difference the square and flat screen of the A28 makes to usability. It’s a pleasure to use. Oh and I must also mention its vibrator, it’s really good, very noticeable when it shakes your wrist to notify you. That is what I most want a connected watch for too.
They claim it as 100 hours. So that’s 4 days, which seems a reasonable claim to make. The thing is if you have that screen powered up a lot then it will eat through that battery much quicker so don’t just assume you’re going to get 4 days, i.e. check your battery levels. This however, sadly, is a bit of a chore. For some reason that utterly escapes me the front fascia’s do not display the battery life. If you want to see it you have to go into the app drawer. I know it’s not that hard but it’s a stupid annoyance that just emphasises how rubbish the facia options are. So I would say if you’re not planning to use the sleep monitor function, then just charge the thing every night. If you miss a night you’ll be fine but just get into the habit of charging when you sleep.
Bluetooth 4.0. So that’s the low powered one, so as long as your phone supports it you’re good. In terms of keeping connected, the A28 was pretty good with the Moto G. I did try it initially with the Huawei P8 but it has documented Bluetooth “issues” and they regularly stopped talking. It’s ridiculous that this is an issue but it’s one I’m squarely laying at the feet of Huawei. The G though worked great. The Fundo app Oukitel suggest though didn’t always connect to the watch. The phone was, calls and the handy “Find my phone” app without fail worked every time. The Fundo app though would fail to sync randomly for no reason that I could discern. Curiously Gearbest (where I bought it from) seem to suggest using the Meditek SmartDevice app. However as the features I cared about (call notification mostly) worked great without it I declined to wrestle with it or the potential 40 other apps that claim to work.
Well I don’t think there is any way to claim it as anything other than awesome value. Sure it’s not a perfect device but if this has better fascia’s and a nicer strap it would be pretty much exactly what I want from a “smart watch.” By that I mean as a call and message notifying device. It does that very well. It’s vibrate is good, powerful and its call handling abilities are great. It normally goes for £37 ish but with the discount code (A28) we got it brings it down to under £33. That’s delivered too!!! Is it as fancy as a proper Android Wear watch or Apple watch? Obviously it’s not but its so very cheap. Side by side with the Sun 2 I’d pick the A28 every time with no hesitation.
I like the A28. It’s got a stupid name but I really do like it. I like how it looks, I like how vigorous its vibrate notifier is, I like pretty much everything about it. Okay I don’t love the strap but that I can change. Then the big one, the fascia’s. They are the single greatest detractor of the A28 as they frankly are just meh, at best. It’s something that I hope will be fixed, it’s not like they can’t update the facia options but I won’t hold my breath. Still I don’t hate the black one. I don’t like it but I don’t hate it, I can live with it. It tells me the time and actually most of the time when I look at the thing it’s to see the notification displayed and not to check the time. I simply don’t see the watch face that often for it to really upset me.
Compared with the other “wearables” I have here I find that the A28 is the one I like second best. The fact is it’s a nice object, it’s nice to look at and it’s nice to the touch. It’s a nice object to have strapped to you.
Would I get one, well I did. If you don’t need the variety of Android Wear apps and just want notifications stuff then the A28 works great and its silly cheap, honestly if they would just change those fascias. Its maddening that such a silly little thing spoils such an overall great little bundle. Seriously Oukitel get it fixed!!! I mean how hard is it to make a not ugly facia and include a battery notification on that facia? Still for less than £33 delivered to anywhere in the world I feel like I’m being unjust to criticise what is otherwise such a fantastic wee gadget. I have a feeling one may feature in the nephews Christmas.