Shaving 4mm off anything doesn’t sound like very much. Reducing the length of a car by 4mm, for example, would not make any appreciable difference. But when Casio cut it away from the WSD-F20 Pro Trek smartwatch’s case to make the WSD-F30 Pro Trek Smart, it made a considerable difference to the wearability and style, without sacrificing any technology. In fact, the watch became even more useful.
Smaller, but still large
Before we go any further, we should say that while the WSD-F30 definitely looks more at home on most wrists than the WSD-F20, it’s still a big watch. The case is 53mm wide, after all. Like many other Casio watches, the size means it’s tough, and the Pro Trek WSD-F30 meets military standards, plus it’s water resistant to 50 meters, even though it has a microphone for Google Assistant. It’s impressive. The watch’s bold design is tailored to those who embrace the outdoor lifestyle, and the new blue color looks superb — not as faceless as the black version, or as ostentatious as the orange model.
We spoke to Kayo Okada, product planner at Casio, who said the neutral blue model along with the smaller case size will help make the WSD-F30 appeal to more people, after the masculinity of the orange and black WSD-F20. We agree. The blue tone minimizes the size and striking looks, without losing the watch’s character. It’s 83 grams in weight, but does not overpower the wrist. We were genuinely impressed with the WSD-F30 Pro Trek’s wearability. Okada further explained those who buy Pro Trek watches embrace the active lifestyle, and tend to wear these watches throughout the week.
The watch’s bold design is tailored to those who embrace the outdoor lifestyle.
Putting on the Pro Trek is a joy. It’s supremely comfortable (provided you’re slightly used to wearing large watches), and the strap has more holes than previous models to fit more wrists without a problem. Not only does it feel great, we think it looks great too. The large buttons are easy to find and press, have an easy-to-locate texture, and respond quickly — and clearly marked as well. The top is for maps, and the lower is for the sensor toolkit. Other niceties that simplify a complex watch include a clear compass indicator when in battery saving mode.
Work on the WSD-F30 started straight after the launch of the F20 in 2017, according to Okada, and shrinking the watch was a considerable technical challenge. Casio followed a step-by-step process: redesigning the internals to fit the smaller case, using new components, changing the screens. The WSD-F30 has a 1.2-inch OLED for Google’s Wear OS, and a second 1.2-inch monochrome screen for the battery-saving Multi Timepiece mode. Casio would not disclose the capacity of the new battery, which is smaller, yet it should return one-and-a-half days of regular Wear OS use, Okada said. This is through some clever software management that increases the watch’s efficiency.
Casio knows the Pro Trek smartwatch will have to battle situations where power-sucking GPS is essential, potentially over long periods of time, so the company has added two special modes to lengthen battery life. Multi-Timepiece mode shuts down Wear OS and the OLED screen, turning on the monochrome LCD instead, which then shows the time and information from some sensors. It’s activated using an option under the menu, and takes a few seconds to turn on. Reverting to Wear OS involves rebooting the watch entirely, which takes a few minutes.
More interesting is Extend Mode. Here, you can schedule when the watch wakes up, at which time the Multi-Timepiece data and color maps are shown, ready to guide you along a hike. It’s a set-and-forget feature we can see being really helpful. We also like how the monochrome screen can be brought to life when viewing the sensor data, making it more readable in sunlight. Wear OS was swift and smooth in our short test, and all the sensor data appeared quickly on screen.
When the WSD-F30 launches, it will have Google’s new version of Wear OS onboard, but the version we used did not have it installed. However, we could try all the watch’s special features. Pressing the lower button scrolls through data from the various onboard sensors, while the top button brings up the maps. Google Maps is displayed when working online, while Mapbox supplies offline maps; you can download and store up to five on the watch. Range can be specified with a maximum area of around 50km. By selecting smaller areas, detail is increased.
Putting on the Pro Trek is a joy.
These features, along with the various app partners — ranging from surfing app Glassy to fishing app Fishbrain — tell you at whom the Pro Trek Smart is aimed, but does that mean outdoorsy types shouldn’t buy it? Usually, hardcore watches with specific functions appeal only to their niche; we think Casio fans generally will be tempted by the F30. It’s not as full-on rugged as the G Shock Rangeman, which Ms. Okada said is designed for extreme situations, and due to the neater style and more versatile strap, we can see the Pro Trek Smart being purchased by those with very little interest in hiking — just because they like the look.
We appreciate how focused the F30 Pro Trek is. This is a smartwatch with a clear function. It’s not just about style like a fashion smartwatch, or solely about technology either; yet it manages to straddle both worlds very effectively, and even appeal to those who aren’t into the outdoors lifestyle. Casio is a master at this. Look no further than its G Shock Gravitymaster watches for pilots, or G Shock Frogman watches, which are popular with those who never fly or dive.
If there is a problem, it’s the price. The Pro Trek WSD-F30 will cost $550, or 550 euros, when it’s released in early 2019. That’s twice the price of some simpler fashion smartwatches, and more expensive than a 4G LTE Apple Watch. It’s somewhat justified by the functionality, military spec durability, and sheer engineering involved, but it’ll be a hard sell for those who are less interested in the features and more into the style.
We have no doubt the Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30 will satisfy both the outdoors fan, and the watch fan, provided your wallet can take the strain.