Kate Spade Scallop Touchscreen review

Kate Spade’s Scallop smartwatch looks subtle, but knows how to make a statement

Sleek and subtle, the Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch is a perfect everyday companion
Sleek and subtle, the Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch is a perfect everyday companion
Sleek and subtle, the Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch is a perfect everyday companion

Highs

  • Beautiful design
  • Interchangeable watch straps
  • Slim, lightweight case
  • Large display
  • Durable

Lows

  • iOS capabilities are limited
  • Less than a day’s battery life
  • No NFC or GPS

Smartwatches with a full touchscreen have always had a more masculine design, and women mostly had to turn to hybrid smartwatches to find the right mix of style and tech. That’s changing with touchscreen watches from Michael Kors and Fossil, but none come close to the everyday wearability of the new Kate Spade Scallop.

Introduced at CES 2018, Kate Spade’s Scallop smartwatch is the brand’s first timepiece with a touchscreen display running Google’s Wear OS operating system. The company has already released popular hybrid smartwatches, giving it the experience and know-how to  nail the touchscreen model on the first try.

It’s priced at the upper end of the scale for Wear OS watches at $295, and truly incorporates femininity when it comes to aesthetics, functionality, and versatility. However, spending that much means it should be good enough, and stylish enough, to wear on any occasion. Is it everything we want from a touchscreen smartwatch.

Kate Spade proves less is more

As a woman, it’s tough to find a smartwatch that can be casually worn everyday. Most of the options on the market either have exaggerated designs – with bedazzled watch faces or watch straps – or they’re geared more towards fitness. Both the Michael Kors Access Sofie and Fossil Q Venture are loud and flashy, so we instantly took to the Scallop’s chic and minimalist look.

Even with the common rose gold color scheme, the Scallop’s simple design still makes a statement. Both the case and watch strap not only look high-end but feel that way too. We find ourselves wanting to wear it both day and night, and it doesn’t matter if the event is casual or fancy. It has not only become our go-to smartwatch, but also one we’re proud to show off.

With a 42mm stainless steel case that’s just 9mm thick, the Scallop doesn’t look or feel too large on the wrist. The 1.19-inch watch face is small by most smartwatch standards, but still quite large; the subtle scallop motif on the bezel cleverly stops it from overwhelming small wrists. This is the rose gold colorway with a tan leather strap, but in person the case looks more like a true gold. If it’s not for you, Kate Spade will also sell a rose gold model with a matching metal link bracelet, and a model with a standard gold case and a black leather strap.

The design of the Scallop is simple, but still makes a statement.

The watch strap has enough notches for the perfect fit, and has so far proven to be extremely durable. It’s made of Italian Vachetta leather, and has yet to become flimsy even after being broken in from wearing it everyday. It has maintained its vivid color and still looks the same as it did when we first took it out of the box. However, we did notice that wearing the light-colored watch strap with denim, there was enough color transfer to stain it slightly. The handy quick release pins make changing it out with another 16mm strap very simple.

The crown on the right side of the Scallop is a button, which opens a list of installed apps such as contacts, the weather, and the Google Play Store when pressed. Hold it down to trigger Google Assistant – which we’ll get to later.

Large and vibrant display, smooth performance

As with nearly all Wear OS smartwatches, the Scallop is powered by a Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and packs 4GB of internal storage so you can store music and play it via Bluetooth-connected earbuds.

Kate Spade Scallop Touchscreen review
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

For the most part, we didn’t have any issues with performance – scrolling through the menu felt swift and fast, as did opening a majority of apps. We did experience lag with a few apps such as the weather app and the Google Play Store – which we also encountered on the Misfit Vapor — but the overall experience felt fluid.

In terms of display, the Scallop has a 390 x 390-pixel resolution on its 1.19-inch AMOLED display. Even though it’s the same size as the Michael Kors Access Sofie, the scalloped edge was less distracting than the Sofie’s bejeweled bezel – making the screen feel larger. The AMOLED display also gets bright, which allows for its vibrant and colorful graphics to pop.

Wear OS works best with Android phones

The Kate Spade Scallop runs Google’s Wear OS 1.1 – which used to be called Android Wear. Google removed the Android name to help people better understand that these smartwatches work with iPhones too, but there are still some limitations for iOS users.

You can’t interact much with notifications. Calls can be accepted or declined, but that’s about it.

For people on Android, the watch is extremely simple to use even if you’ve never owned a Wear OS smartwatch. Swipe up to view your notifications, swipe down to access your settings, and swipe to the left or right to change your watch face. You can also swipe left or right to clear specific notifications. You can type replies to messages, or use quick responses without having to use the fiddly keyboard, and it closely replicates much of what happens on your phone (you can also swipe type, or use your voice to reply). However, while it’s simple, Wear OS is also frustrating, and it isn’t as intuitive or as fast to use as Apple’s Watch OS on the Apple Watch.

Connected to an iPhone, Wear OS is a little more limited. Like on Android, you’re required to download the Wear OS app but you’ll have to keep it running in the background at all times. Otherwise, you won’t receive notifications to your smartwatch and will have to reconnect the watch to the app every time. You can’t interact with notifications either. Calls can be accepted or declined, but that’s about it.

The Scallop uses Google Fit to track steps, distance traveled, and calories burned; but the watch doesn’t have GPS or a heart rate sensor to help track exercise further. Google Assistant is called up by holding down the crown button, and you can ask it to set reminders, send messages, and provide weather updates — it’s going to get even better in some upcoming updates.

We did experience lag with a few apps … but the overall experience felt fluid.

The pre-installed watch faces are our favorite part, and where the brand found a way to inject the quirky personality it’s known for. We especially loved the animated ones – such as a taxi that drives on and off the watch face, a daisy which loses its petals as you reach closer to your step goal, and a winking eye that winks when you receive a notification. You can also customize parts of them to save for later use.

There’s also a Choose Your Look micro app installed that generates watch faces for you based on the color of your clothes, accessories, and handbag. We’re happy about this feature because it’s the first of its kind on a women’s smartwatch – and more proof the Scallop brings something new to the table in comparison to other options on the market.

Kate Spade Scallop Touchscreen review
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Choose Your Look is unique, easy to use, and perfect for when we were in a hurry. It takes just a few moments to customize the watch face’s look. However, when we had more time, it was fun to customize the existing watch faces a little more deeply.

Standard one-day battery life

The Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch has a 300mAh battery that supposedly returns 24-hours of use. We found that in reality, after taking it off the charger at 100 percent at 8:30 AM, it’d be down to about 5 percent by 11:30 PM – and that’s with all notifications on and an animated watch face displayed.

The watch face makes a surprising amount of difference to the battery life. We often used the Balloon Digital watch face and even though the balloons move, it’s not as animated as the other options and didn’t cause the battery to suffer as much. However, use the static Core Digital watch face we found that after putting it on at around 8 a.m., it still had 13 percent battery left at 2 a.m.. We were also receiving the same amount of notifications as we normally would.

While the animated watch faces are definitely fun to use, they have an adverse effect on the battery. Our battery life tests were made when the Scallop was connected to an iPhone, and may differ with Android.

Warranty information

The Kate Spade Scallop costs $295 with a leather strap, or $325 for the model with the metal bracelet. It can be purchased through Kate Spade’s website along other retailers such as Macy’s and Dillards.

Kate Spade offers a limited two-year warranty that covers manufacturing defects, but it doesn’t cover accidental damage to the case or watch strap.

Our Take

The Kate Spade Scallop looks beautiful on the wrist, and has a large, vibrant display to easily view all of your notifications. Yes, it’s more expensive than others, but its chic, understated, and easy to personalize look means it’s the ideal everyday smartwatch regardless of the time, location, or event.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes. If you’re looking for a smartwatch that’s less expensive but still versatile, the Fossil Q Venture is a great choice. Starting at $255, it includes the same specifications – a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip along with a 1.2-inch AMOLED display, and 4GB of storage. While we weren’t fans of the rose gold gemstone variant we tested out, there are plenty of more casual options to choose from as well.

If you’re looking for an even larger watch face, the Misfit Vapor features a 1.39-inch display. Aside from a built-in heart rate sensor, the highlight of the Vapor is its touch-sensitive bezel, which allows you to browse through menus and notifications by brushing your finger along the black edges of the watch. It’s also not as expensive, with a price tag of $200.

If you prefer a more feature-rich smartwatch, the Samsung Gear Sport has GPS, a heart-rate sensor, and the Tizen operating system, which is very intuitive. For iOS users wanting to take advantage of all the features on a smartwatch, we recommend the Apple Watch Series 3.

How long will it last?

The Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch should last you beyond the two-year limited warranty. But the battery will deplete overtime, and it’s unclear  how long it will receive software updates. The smartwatch has an IP67 water resistance rating, so you can take it underwater up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. You probably won’t, but this does mean it’ll survive a shower or accidental plunge into the bath.

Should you buy it?

Yes. While it’s more expensive than other women’s smartwatches, you’ll get your money’s worth. The Kate Spade Scallop is a fashion-forward timepiece with a versatile look you can wear for any occasion.

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