Smartwatches have been around for a while now. Google has had a go at the market with Android Wear and Apple has pretty much nailed it with the Apple Watch. Now smartphone brand TCL has introduced a new wearable device in the form of the TCL Movetime. With a price of Rs 9,999 the watch competes with a few older Android Wear devices and the Pebble Time smartwatch. Is this a better buy than the established names? We try to answer that question.
TCL seems to have done its homework before manufacturing the Movetime watch as it has stuck to the popular round shape. This kind of design helped the Moto 360 gain popularity during its time since it was the only option that looked like an analogue watch. TCL has replaced the crown with a power button. The design is such that the 1.39-inch display is recessed, which should keep it relatively safe from scratches. Sporting a resolution of 400 x 400 pixels, it isn’t the most crisp display out there, and the square resolution on a round display results in text being cut off at the edges. The dial has concentric circular grooves which look good but attract a lot of grime. The watch is rated IP67 for water and dust resistance which should keep it safe during workouts and for everyday use.
TCL has paired the round watch body with an 18mm leather strap that is a bit thinner than what we’d like. A quick release knob at the back can be used to detach the band, and you You can swap it with any other standard 18mm strap of your choice. The crown button can be used to turn the display on and off, and a long-press will shut it down completely. At the back, the watch has a heart-rate sensor and pogo pin contacts for charging. There's a cutout at the top for the speaker, and microphone holes at the bottom. For connectivity there is Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi. The Movetime primarily uses Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone and pull notifications from it, while Wi-Fi is used to download software updates.
While the processor powering the watch is unknown, it runs on the very basic RTOS (Real-Time Operating System). The UI is simplistic and uses swipes and taps for navigation. We found that a lack of visual cues makes it hard to use and there is a learning curve. You can swipe down from the homescreen to access quick toggles and adjust the screen brightness and speaker volume. Swiping up gives you access to notifications, while swiping left shows the watch's features and settings. You can also long-press on the homescreen to get to a menu of different watch faces. We found that the Movetime functions primarily as a notifier, pulling alerts from your phone. You can only see the notifications; you do not have any way to respond to them. This severely limits the capabilities of the watch.
For instance, a watch powered by Android Wear offers much more functionality including the Google Assistant. Even with its limited features, the Movetime isn’t a great notifier. Once you check a notification on the smartwatch, it is dismissed for good, giving you no way to have a look at it again. This means you can't check a notification and act on it later. On the other hand, notifications that you mark as read on the Movetime are not dismissed on your paired smartphone. We also found that if the watch loses and reestablishes its connection with your phone, it will display all unread notifications one after the other. If you have a ton of unread emails, for example, it will go on buzzing till it gets through the entire list. This is highly annoying and disruptive.
Other specifications don't look all that great either. The Movetime has 16MB of RAM and 32MB of storage. This is abysmal when compared to other wearables. Android Wear devices have at least 512MB of RAM with 4GB of storage, and you can use that to download apps as well as music that you can listen to using Bluetooth headphones. The Movetime does not have this ability which makes it less versatile and less value for money.
The Movetime has a speaker and mic which allow you to take calls from your watch. You need to enable this in the quick toggles first. When talking through the watch we often got complaints of bad voice quality from the other end. The watch also rings when you get a call and its sound settings are independent from the phone forcing you to remember to set modes independently.
TCL has added a heart-rate sensor at the back. We found that it wouldn’t work all the time, and it would display a suggestion that we fasten the strap tightly so that the sensor is pressed against the wearer's skin. In the same position, a Mi Band 2 that we used for comparison could detect our pulse with no problems. You do have the option to have heart rate tracking on when working out but we weren’t happy with the results. During a run on a treadmill, the watch would show 54-60bpm while the treadmill itself displayed around 130bpm which seemed more accurate.
There is a sleep mode as well but again, we found it to be a little off. We tested it against the Mi Band 2 and while it got the total time of sleep in the same range, the stats for Deep and Light Sleep were completely off.
You get a charging pad with two pogo pins which you’ll need to carry along with you to keep the device topped up. In our experience, the watch needed to be charged every other day. Charging time depends on the adapter you use since the watch doesn’t come with one in the box. On an average we found that it would take a little over an hour to go from 0 to 100 percent.
If you are looking for a new smartwatch, your options are pretty limited. The TCL Movetime gets the design pretty much right, but struggles with software and usability. For the asking price, there are very few smartwatches with a heart-rate sensor but you will find a few that are more specialised and better at their specific functions that the Movetime. You can go for the Asus Zenwatch 2 which runs on Android Wear if you want a smartwatch, but if fitness tracking is your main priority, you might want to just buy a Mi Band 2 and call it a day.
Ratings (Out of 5)