The smartwatch appears to be here to stay—at least for the foreseeable future. Now that Google and Apple have entered the fray you can be sure the smartwatch won’t be going away any time soon. There are a hundred vendors out there offering devices that range in price and capabilities, but one of the names that stands out from that crowd is Omate.
Aside from Pebble, Omate was the smartwatch maker I was most familiar with prior to Google and Apple coming onto the scene. The Omate TrueSmart was an innovative device that packed a lot of features and capabilities into a wrist-borne wearable at a reasonable price. Omate has since refined the concept and now offers a variety of smartwatch options, including the Omate X.
Omate X Specs
The actual watch case of the Omate X measures 45 by 41mm, and it’s 11.2mm thick. To put that in some perspective it is slightly larger and slightly thicker than my iPod Nano when worn as a “smartwatch”, or about average for a typical men’s watch.
It has a 1.54-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 240 x 240. It has a microphone, speaker, and 3-axis accelerometer / gyroscope. The Bluetooth pairing works with iOS 7 and above or Android 4.3 and above.
Omate X Features
The Omate X I used came with a black leather strap attached, but also includes a black rubber strap in the box if you prefer. What’s even better is that the Omate X can be personalized using any standard 22mm watch strap so the options are virtually limitless.
The Omate X has a few apps by default. There is an alarm, stopwatch, and pedometer capability built in to the smartwatch. You can customize much of the smartwatch experience in the settings. You can choose from a handful of different watch faces and styles. You can also choose your alert style (ring, vibrate or both) and specify the ring tone and volume for different actions such as an incoming call or notification alert. The settings also allow you to determine the brightness of the display and the length of time the display stays active when idle.
The device pairs with an iOS or Android smartphone through the Omate app. Once paired, you can see Caller ID info for incoming calls, and receive push notifications for text messages, social media updates, reminders, and other alerts you’d normally have to pull your smartphone out to view.
The watch housing is relatively slim and lightweight. What’s most impressive about that is that it also has a battery capable of running for up to a week on a single charge. It has a charging base that connects via microUSB to a computer or power source. You just set the Omate X on the charging base to recharge it.
Overall I like the Omate X. It is light and comfortable—it doesn’t feel too bulky or obtrusive on my wrist.
The Omate X establishes a two-way Bluetooth connection with your smartphone, which enables you to make or receive calls directly from the watch. As I have mentioned in previous smartwatch reviews I don’t prefer engaging in a call using my watch as a speakerphone, but there are time when that can be convenient or even mandatory so it’s nice to have as an option. The sound quality is reasonable on both ends of the conversation.
The device has more options and flexibility when paired with an Android device. I paired the Omate X with a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and installed the Omate app. For Android devices Omate also has the Omate OStore—an app store that offers apps you can install on your smartwatch as well. I downloaded and installed a couple different apps on the Omate X. Although the apps are installed and accessible on the smartwatch, they rely on the connection with the Android smartphone for the actual data so you need to have an Android smartphone paired and connected for the apps to work.
I did have a few issues with it—more so when paired to an iPhone. The good news is that they’re the kind of issues that would be relatively simple for Omate to fix with a software update as far as I can tell.
The first issue is that the Remote Notifier function of the Omate X—the app that pushes notifications from your smartphone so you can view them on the smartwatch—maxes out at 5 notifications and doesn’t seem to differentiate between truly new alerts versus older alerts you’ve already been notified about but haven’t yet cleared out. The net result being that the Omate X almost constantly told me I have 5 notifications regardless of whether I actually had five, or 15, or 32 notifications.
A related issue is that when the Omate X loses the Bluetooth connection with the smartphone it seems to treat all existing alerts and updates as new all over again. Any time I walked out of range of my smartphone and back again the Omate X would go crazy re-sending me the same notifications I’d already seen once the connection was re-established. This behavior seemed limited to iOS, though. It did not act this way with the Android device.
That brings me to my other issue. This one is also more or less unique to the iPhone experience. I didn’t appreciate the lack of customization for which alerts and updates to push. The Android version of the Omate app offers more granular control over various notifications—text messages, reminders, Facebook updates, etc. The iOS app, however, is essentially binary. It is either on or off and there isn’t anything else you can do with it. You either get every alert and notification or none of them, and that’s a problem if you’re trying to use the smartwatch as a companion device that enables you to be more productive and efficient in managing updates from your smartphone.
The Omate X is a very good smartwatch for an Android user, but only adequate for an iPhone user. I don’t blame Omate per se—it’s as much or more a function of how little access Apple gives developers to the iOS operating system, and how Apple manages its app downloads and installs. Regardless of who is “at fault” it’s just a reality that the Omate X is a much better smartwatch when paired with an Android smartphone.
It is not the best smartwatch I’ve used. The watch itself and the leather strap are both decent, but don’t exactly ooze quality. For $130, though, the Omate X does more or less what a smartwatch should do. A smartwatch like the Samsung Gear 2 offers more, but it also costs substantially more and it only really works properly when paired with a Samsung smartphone, so you get what you pay for.
I wrote a while back about the three things I feel a smartwatch needs to have in order to succeed. A smartwatch has to provide unique value, seamless interaction, and long battery life. Setting aside its flaws, the simple truth is that the Omate X has all three—at least if you’re using it paired with an Android device. Based on that alone it seems like the Omate X is worth the $130 investment.
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