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Alcatel’s $150 Watch is up for preorder — weird software, gorgeous design, and all

Alcatel’s new Watch smart watch is cheap and attractive, but it doesn’t provide the best user experience.

Alcatel OneTouch really wants you to know it exists, and what better way to get some attention than to announce a smartwatch, one of the hottest current tech trends. To make sure it’s not mistaken for anything other than a watch, it’s simply called the Watch — that’s capital W. It has a touch face, a color touch display, is compatible with Android and iOS devices, and costs just $150.

Updated on 03-31-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added news that the Watch is up for preorder.

It’s lightweight, good looking, and has an IP67 water resistant casing.

Alcatel put the Watch up for preorder in the U.S. through its newly opened online store on the last day of March. The Watch will be available officially on April 30. If you’re interested in buying one, go straight to Alcatel’s online store.

The positives continue. Alcatel hasn’t adopted a crazy wireless charging system, and has built a full size USB connector into the strap, so it can be plugged straight into your laptop or phone charger. Very helpful. It’s equipped with a decent battery that should last two or three days per charge, and comes with a step counter and heart rate sensor.

It’s lightweight, good looking, and has an IP67 water resistant casing. The circular face houses a flat-tire style, semi circular touchscreen, similar to the Moto 360. There’s a choice of two rubber strap options, with a metal band coming later in the year. A metal clasp secures it on your wrist, and operates like the Sony SmartWatch 3’s effort.

It’s not all good news

Now for the downsides. It doesn’t run Android Wear, but a Java-based proprietary OS, hence the cross-platform ability. The accompanying app lets you set up custom notifications, and see all the fitness data, including step count, calorie burn, and sleep tracking. However, the iOS app isn’s as comprehensive. Alcatel wasn’t forthcoming about the specifics, but don’t expect it to cater for all Apple’s standard apps. The option to use your own pictures as the Watch’s wallpaper is a nice touch though.

The Watch’s interface is responsive, but not as smooth as Android Wear, and the UI isn’t as intuitive. Instead of forward and backward swipes to navigate, it’s a tap. You tap an app to open it, and tap at the base of the screen to go back; except there’s no indicator on the screen, so it’s something you have to work out for yourself.

Alcatel-Watch-hands-on-9

The screen is also low resolution, and the UI is a collection of square icons where it’s not immediately  obvious what they do. A period of adjustment will be all that’s needed, but it may prove frustrating for smart watch newcomers – which is who Alcatel OneTouch is aiming the device at. The strap, due to the built-in charger, can’t be replaced, and the end cap covering the USB feels a little flimsy.

Anyone looking at the Pebble smart watch may be tempted by the Alcatel Watch. It’s priced similarly, and works with both iOS and Android. It’s better looking, and the charging system is also preferable. However, the user interface isn’t so good, and it doesn’t sound like the iOS experience will match up either.

Highs

  • Convienient charging system
  • Attractive styling
  • Low price

Lows

  • Questionable user experience