Cell Phone Watch 2017 – The Future Or Just A Passing Fad?
The best cell phone watch has to provide an experience similar or close to that of an actual full size Smartphone. It has to be user friendly, feature-packed and provide robust cellular connectivity just like a cell phone.
The smartwatch is one of the best indicators of just how much technology is advancing, and as a result, getting smaller. From landline phones and brick-size cell phones two or so decades ago to today’s ever-slimming Smartphone, the growth has been quick. And now, you can read your texts and receive calls from a cell phone watch on your wrist.
As amazing as they are, one major limitation haunts them; they are too dependent on your Smartphone to function. Many features of a smartwatch – including text alerts, messaging, fitness and entertainment, depend on staying connected to your Smartphone. This means that you cannot afford to leave your bulky Smartphone behind. When not connected, the smartwatch is just an expensive timepiece, and in the worst case scenario, a pricey paperweight.
The cell phone watch solves this dependence problem by trying as much as possible to distill the full phone experience into a watch-sized miniature phone. This has been made possible by technological components – processors, transistors, screens – that have been getting smaller by the year.
Who Are Cell Phone Watches For?
Cell phone watches are for those users who desire the functionality of a Smartphone without having to carry a relatively bulky Smartphone around. Whether you are going on a run, biking or you simply do not want a phone sticking out of your pocket, the cell phone watch is perfect for you.
It is also great for people who are interested in getting a smartwatch but are held back by the many limitations present in most Smartwatches, even those of top brands. Some smartwatch phones, such as the Samsung Gear S are both Smartwatches and Smartphones, all in one wearable.
With the following top phone watches, you no longer have to carry your phone to stay connected to the world. To qualify for our list, the wearable has to achieve basic Smartphone features independently. These include, making and receiving calls, sending and receiving texts and of course cellular connectivity.
1. Samsung Gear S
If there were an award for the best standalone smartwatch, Samsung’s Gear S would easily pick it up. The smartwatch (or rather wrist-worn Smartphone) is heads and shoulders above most cell phone watches. It is even more feature-packed than most top Smartwatches, including Apple Watch.
Samsung Gear S was released in 2014 as the first in the Gear S series. The Gear S2 was released in 2015 while the Gear S3 is expected to launch towards the end of 2016. Beyond all the cool features such as heart rate monitor and a variety of other sensors, what really matters is how well the Gear S performs as a standalone watch phone.
The watch has GSM/HSPA network capabilities. This means you can enjoy texting and call features without ever having to touch your phone. You can even leave the phone at home without worrying about staying connected to colleagues, friends and family.
There are different Gear S versions for various carrier networks:
- Verizon (N910V),
- AT&T (N910A),
- Sprint (N915P)
- and T-Mobile (N910T).
So make sure you pick one compatible with your preferred carrier.
The 2-inch display is equipped with a Super AMOLED capacitive touch screen, allowing for a smooth operation and brilliant display in all sorts of lighting. Instead of the usual Android wear used by many Smartwatches, the Gear S runs on a wearable version of Tizen.
It comes with 4GB of internal memory and 512MB of RAM. Based on average usage, the cell phone watch will run for around 4 days before needing a battery recharge.
2. Samsung Gear S2 and S3
Right on the heels of Gear S, Samsung released the Gear S2 with many improved and new features. Like the Gear S, it brought with it cellular connectivity (this is after all why it appears on this list). The 3G capability allows you to stay in touch with no need for your Smartphone. The built-in speaker on the left side allows you to make and receive calls easily. (You should note that there is also a Bluetooth-only version of the gear S2. This one requires a connection to your phone to receive calls and alerts)
Furthermore, the cell phone watch is equipped with GPS, allowing you even more connectivity as a standalone wearable. The GPS capability makes the Gear S2 perfect for those who want to track their fitness activities. You can track your routes, speed, distance and so on.
It seems Samsung is not yet done with perfecting the Gear S series because reports suggest another launch in September this year at Berlin’s IFA event. The S3 is expected to improve on various features in Gear S2, especially integrating many more apps, while retaining cellular connectivity.
The Gear S2 was (and still is) wildly popular and the Korean tech giant is hoping to replicate the success with its third generation standalone smartwatch. If they keep this up, other major brands such as Apple might also be forced to create standalone Smartwatches.
3. LG Watch Urbane LTE
LG Watch Urbane LTE is a stylish, feature-packed and completely standalone smartwatch. Unlike most tech companies, LG does not go for slim and sleek; instead, the watch adopts an urban or street design. It is unusually thick and bulky, weighing around 115 grams (for the LTE version). There are Smartwatches that weigh half this weight. It features a simple look with a metal finishing, round display and three chunky buttons on the side.
It does not run on Android Wear (like the closely related LG Watch Urbane) but instead uses webOS, a Linux-based operating system for smart devices. This however, does not mar the user experience at all. But the part we care about most is its ability to act without depending on a wireless connection to a Smartphone.
The LG Watch Urbane LTE has 3G connectivity, allowing you to make/receive calls and send/receive text messages without having to connect to your phone via Bluetooth. Another important feature that allows for cellular activity is the nano-SIM card slot.
Note that there are two versions of the watch; the lighter one (45 grams) that is 3G-capable only and the much heavier one (115 grams) that has both 3G and 4G capabilities.
The watch has 4GB of internal memory and 1GB of RAM. Other specs include IP67 dust and water rating, display size of 1.3 inches, multi-touch capabilities, heart rate sensor (and a variety of other sensors), voice commands and a 2-day mixed usage battery life.
5. QOne Cell Phone Watch
This is another smartwatch that’s more of a phone than watch. Despite its small size, it is packed full of features that essentially turn it into a miniature phone. It starts out with a 1.54-inch touch screen with 240X240 pixels resolution. That’s a bit small so expect some frustrations when typing out your messages.
For cellular connectivity, it uses 2G. This is a bit unfortunate since almost all cellular Smartwatches have at least 3G capability. 2G at this point feels too slow and outdated. With 2G, it of course means that you can make calls and send text messages as you would on your phone. You can even receive and reply to emails, making it a great device for business on the go. Once you plug in the right SIM, you are good to go. The watch comes unlocked so it should work with a wide range of carriers.
The watch supports an external memory card, up to 8GB in capacity. This means that you can pack your playlist and listen to it with the USB stereo earphones included. It runs a proprietary operating system, do not expect much from it in terms of additional features and apps.
6. Omate TrueSmart
This is another little-known brand that packs plenty of features in a compact device. It comes with 3G connectivity, allowing to function completely as a standalone gadget with no need of tethering to your Smartphone.
But 3G is not the only connectivity it boats of; it also includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. In regards to memory, it has 1GB RAM and 8GB internal memory with a Cortex Dual-core processor.
A Few Others and Honorable Mentions
The creators define it as the all-in-one smartwatch. The Canadian made, kickstarter funded smartwatch comes with GPS, a full keyboard, voice calls, video chats and a micro SIM card slot. It might not make much sense to try typing on a tiny smartwatch screen but Pine’s display is not exactly tiny. Quite the opposite: it’s HUGE.
It sports a display size of 2.4 inches, much bigger than the display of most Smartwatches that ranges between 1 and 2 inches. Of course, this means that, as a watch, the large size makes for a bit of an awkward style. But if you are looking for a great cell phone watch, this might or might not be a small sacrifice for the wonder that the Neptune Pine is.
The built-in GPS is a great feature for those who want to track their daily activities and do some fitness tracking. It helps in tracking your steps, distance, speed and other fitness metrics. The added heart rate sensor gives you an even deeper understanding of your fitness, including number of calories burned. Because it is equipped with Bluetooth, you can connect other fitness devices and sensor for an even more comprehensive fitness-tracking platform.
The real surprise hits you when you notice the camera on the front. The front-facing VGA camera comes in handy during video chats. An LED light provides additional illumination when necessary. As if that is not enough, there is a second camera on the back. The 5MP rear camera comes with flash and can take photos and capture HD videos.
Evidence that Neptune Pine is a Smartphone – not a watch – is in the fact that it runs Android jelly Bean rather than the wearable-specific Android Wear. Because of the relatively large screen size and type of OS, you can use thousands of Android apps on the Neptune Pine.
The watch runs on a 1.2Ghz Snapdragon dual-core processor. It comes with 16GB or 32GB of internal memory, built-in Wi-Fi, IP67 water and dust protection rating and up to 8 hours of talk time.
In many ways, Neptune Pine is the perfect definition of a cell phone watch. It is small enough be deemed a watch but it packs everything you would expect in an average Smartphone. If you do not mind that it is a bit too big for a watch, this is definitely one cell phone watch to check out.
The developers are working on new and improved smartwatch solutions, you can check out their work on getneptune.com.
There are many more cell phone watches not mentioned in this list. Google, for example, is reported to be working on to Smartwatches to be released sometime in the near future. One of the watches is expected to have LTE functionality, making it capable of independent action.
There are also several little-known brands we have not mentioned including BURG Neon and KeldD. Then there is the usual “treasure” trove from China where you can get a Smartphone watch for as little as $20. Here, the brands are too many and obscure to mention.
Cellphone Watches: The Future or Just a Passing Fad?
Sometimes a technology comes along and it changes human life. It persists for decades and centuries. Other times, new technology dies as quickly as it arose, what you would call a fad. Where does the smartwatch phone fall?
On one hand, this is a great idea companies are trying out. It saves us from phone-tethered watches, allowing much more functionality on the go. On the other hand, not many tech players are getting on board this idea. It seems too that the market is not exactly super excited about having a Smartphone on their wrists. Current Smartwatches, limitations and all, seem to be good enough.
You could say the future is mixed. Big brands like Samsung could make a lot of money from these devices while smaller names fade into obscurity. The biggest challenge here is getting people to want to text and call on their Smartwatches. I have a feeling that even decades down the line, people will still want to tap onto their full size Smartphones most of the time. But again, a new technology like VR (virtual reality) could upend everything about screened devices.
We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, which of the above phone watches do you want on your wrist?
See recommended smartwatches on Amazon
Sony SmartWatch 3
Apple Watch Series 2