Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30 hands-on review

Casio’s Pro Trek Smart is the outdoors smartwatch even watch fans will adore

A surprisingly wearable, feature-packed smartwatch with true watch-fan appeal
A surprisingly wearable, feature-packed smartwatch with true watch-fan appeal
A surprisingly wearable, feature-packed smartwatch with true watch-fan appeal

Highs

  • Slimmed down design is a winner
  • Blue color scheme flatters the design
  • Two battery-saving modes are innovative
  • Offline GPS

Lows

  • Price

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.

Power-saving features

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 Pro Trek WSD-F30 review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

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.

Software

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.

Expensive

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.

Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30 review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

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.

Product Review

It roasts! It grinds! It brews! But this coffee wonder has a bitter side

The all-in-one smart Bonaverde Berlin Brewing System lets you roast, grind, and brew from green coffee beans. But is all this work to make an average-tasting cup of Joe worth ditching your regular coffee maker?
Mobile

The best weather apps for the iPhone

Don't rely solely on your local meteorologist to stay up to date on the weather. Take matters into your own hands with one of these weather apps, each of which brings something unique to the table.
Product Review

It looks like a concept, but the Lexus LC500 is very much a real-life stunner

The LC500 sports car combines exotic looks, a raucous V8 engine, sumptuous interior, and responsive steering to make one of the most compelling Lexus-badged models ever and one of the sexiest vehicles on sale.
Computing

What's the best laptop? We've reviewed a lot of them, and this is our answer

The best laptop should be one that checks all the boxes: Great battery life, beautiful design, and top-notch performance. The laptops we've chosen for our best laptops you can buy do all that — and throw in some extra features while…
Outdoors

Take your workout up a notch with two new fitness watches from Polar

The new Polar Vantage V and M fitness watches include improved heart rate tracking, better battery life, onboard virtual coaching, and connectivity to allow sharing workouts through social media.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for September 2018

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Emerging Tech

Can a bracelet really let you control your dreams?

Like many tech products that emerge on crowdfunding platforms, Instadreamer is at once imaginative, intriguing, and somewhat suspect. The bracelet’s creators say their device will let users “take control of their dreams” by inducing…
Emerging Tech

Air Force goes all James Bond with tiny microphone that attaches to teeth

Like something out of Mission: Impossible, members of the U.S. Air Force will soon be able to communicate using a next-generation miniaturized microphone system that clips to their back teeth.
Wearables

Pre-orders for the Apple Watch Series 4 are officially live

Apple officially unveiled the Apple Watch Series 4. From a larger display to a built-in electrical heart sensor, the latest device brings along some notable new features. Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

Skagen’s new Falster 2 smartwatch is now available for purchase

In August, Skagen announced the launch of its new smartwatch to add to its lineup, and it's called the Falster 2. The device features a heart-rate sensor, built-in GPS, and more. It's also now available for purchase.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Self-balancing skates, tiny tripods, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Wearables

WatchOS 5 is now available -- here's everything we know so far

Months after Apple announced its latest software at WWDC, you can now download WatchOS for the Apple Watch. WatchOS 5 brings a number of new features including new watch faces and improved health tracking.
Product Review

The Suunto 9 multisport watch has the stamina to outlast even you

The Suunto 9 offers an astounding 120 hours of continuous tracking thanks to its intelligent battery modes and FusedTrack "GPS without GPS" tracking. We put the Suunto 9 through its paces to find out how well these features work.
Mobile

Withings reclaims its brand with the new Steel HR Sport hybrid watch

After repurchasing itself from Nokia, Withings is back with the new Steel HR Sport fitness tracker. The hybrid sports watch may look familiar, but any resemblances to Nokia's Steel HR are only skin-deep.