Nubia Watch is a flexible OLED glass smartwatch that is one of the coolest looking smartwatches out there. The watch wraps a massive 4.01” OLED screen around your wrist with a surprisingly natural and comfortable fit. The whole screen is silky smooth glass with responsive touch. It has pretty much all the features you’d expect from a smartwatch, but the execution is lacking.
Nubia Watch looks like a wide bracelet from the top, but actually tapers into a normal-looking watch with a regular silicon band in the back. It’s not waterproof, but it’s IP54 dust and water-resistant. It comes with two different bands and while it’s a big watch, it doesn’t look chunky or outlandish even on smaller wrists.
First, let’s cover what Nubia Watch does. Like any good smartwatch, it’s an extension of your phone. It works on Android and iPhone. It can receive notifications, make phone calls, and sync information. It pairs via Bluetooth, but packs it’s own WiFi and GPS for standalone capabilities. The most fundamental feature is the watch and ability to tell time. It does so beautifully with a variety of watch faces, and there’s plenty of fun animated watch faces that play off the tall screen. The default face can also display steps and heart rate. There’s a sports tracker app, health/sleep tracker, a music player, a stop watch, and a few other “apps”. The OLED screen is beautiful with a solid resolution of 960×192. Touch is silky smooth and navigation feels like you’re controlling a smartphone. It technically has just about every feature you’d want in a smartwatch.
Now, the stuff it doesn’t do… well. While the UI is smooth and relatively intuitive, it’s very basic (think early iOS or Android). The settings are limited and so is the extensibility. There’s no way to add apps. The battery life is supposed to be 7 days, but we barely get one day. Our display is set to the brightest level just to look good in all situations. The front of the face is easy to see, as is the bottom, but the top of the screen requires some awkward wrist-twisting to see. The heart rate monitor barely worked for us, it takes a read sporadically throughout the day, and never seems to work when you want it to. Syncing with iOS worked fine, but then had to be reset/repaired almost every other day. If I tried to take phone calls while paired to the watch I can’t hear my callers. As far as I can tell there’s no speaker and no way to access your phone’s voice assistant.
Notifications are my biggest gripe and I’ve found no solution — the watch vibrates when you get a notification, but if you want to see the notification you have to turn the screen on, swipe down for notifications, swipe to the bottom of the list, and tap it. It’s easier and quicker to just check the notification on my phone. This is the most important feature and keeps the watch from being convenient.
All in all, we really wanted to love Nubia Watch. The hardware, comfort, and aesthetics are beautiful and unique. For techies like us, it’s hard not to love a curved OLED around our wrist. Unfortunately, the software’s usability and practicality falls short in almost every area. There are too many other smartwatches on the market that have these features perfected. You can’t even tap the screen to wake the watch! We’d hold out for version 2 or 3 of Nubia Watch, or at least a big firmware update. The hardware is great, so it really has potential.
The Nubia Watch is currently available for pre-order as a Kickstarter project. Pricing begins at $199 and the estimated delivery is October of 2020.