sWaP Active Watch Phone in-depth review -

Look and feel

A bulky watch, the straps and back are made of rubber, helping it remain water resistant, while the face is decorated with a metallic trim

Ease of use

The watch face is too small to cope with the fiddly menu and virtual QWERTY keyboard

Features

A music player, internet browser, FM radio, camera and video camera make up the feature set

Performance

Despite the array of features, none of them blew us away, though the call quality was of a decent standard

Battery life

A below average battery life of 180 minutes talktime and 100 hours standby

 sWaP Active Watch Phone Review -
2

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:58:51 PM

4

out of 10

Performance

4

out of 5

Look and feel

4

out of 5

Ease of use

6

out of 5

Features

4

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

This is the most feature heavy watch phone available

Cons:

The touch-screen is too temperamental and fiddly, leaving a bad taste in your mouth

This time last year, if someone had told me about a watch that could make and receive calls, I would have resembled something akin to a fat kid at a cake sale. Then I got my hands on LG’s GD910 Watch Phone and, although no disaster, I realised I was no longer a ten year-old boy and felt slightly self-conscious talking into my wrist in public. So it was with a degree of scepticism that I tackled the sWaP Active Watch Phone.

Look and feel

The sWaP Active looks very much the sporting accessory, which is precisely the audience they are targeting. The fitness freak that wants to stay in touch with the office, friends or family at all times. In comparison to your average watch, the face is a hefty old thing, with equally cumbersome straps. Apart from the face, it’s primarily made from rubber, with a water resistant back panel. While it doesn’t feel the most secure, simply clipping into the back of the watch, it survived the “splash” treatment, though this is not to be confused with fully submerging the watch into a pool of water.

Touch-screen

Barring two buttons on the left hand side of the sWaP Active (the on/off and exit key, and the menu/select button), the watch is operated by touch-screen. Although the face was bigger than on your average timepiece, it’s still too small for you to be able to prod around with your fingers and thumbs. SWaP has recognised this by including a small stylus tucked away in the strap. Unfortunately this doesn’t solve the issue, with the menu system and icons still too fiddly to master. There’s even a full QWERTY keyboard when entering text, but even with the stylus, you’ll need the steadiest of hands and errors will be the norm rather than the exception. There is a handwriting recognition mode, though you have to enter one letter at a time, and the fact that you have to pause for each character to be recognised makes it somewhat redundant.

The call quality is actually pretty good, with the recipient seemingly able to hear us clearly on a busy street despite the fact that we had to hold the watch to our ear. SWaP should be applauded for including a smart looking Bluetooth headset that was our preferred option for making and receiving calls. The other option is a handsfree kit that plugs into the watch’s USB port that also enables you to listen to any tunes you have saved on the accompanying 2GB microSD card. However, this means that you’ll have a wire attached from your wrist to your ears, something that not only looks ridiculous, but also lacks practicality.

Feature heavy

Whereas LG’s watch phone concentrated on calls, texts and video calls, sWaP’s offering, as well as the music player, also sports a camera, FM radio and browser. Unfortunately, none of these additions impressed. The camera is placed on the right hand side of the phone and subsequently we found the back of our hand often blocked any potential shots. We only achieved average pics when we took the watch off our wrist and pointed it at our intended target. Likewise the FM radio, which although it achieved a decent enough signal reception, as soon as we moved our hand we’d often encounter static or the volume would randomly increase.

As for the browser, while there’s an undeniable novelty factor of surfing the web on your watch, not only is the screen so small that you’ll have to revert back to that tedious scrolling tactic, but pages were slow to load and would occasionally crash.

Conclusion

While we remain unconvinced by the mass appeal of a watch phone, sWaP should have simply concentrated on producing a timepiece that did the basics. The call quality is admirable, but the user interface proves too tricky to master, making texting and even navigating to the various features a tedious process.

Danny Brogan