Martian Alpha T10 review

Martian’s Alpha T10 is a stealthy smartwatch that puts Alexa on your wrist

The Martian mVoice's reliance on voice commands works well, and opens up the watch to a different audience.
The Martian mVoice's reliance on voice commands works well, and opens up the watch to a different audience.
The Martian mVoice's reliance on voice commands works well, and opens up the watch to a different audience.

Highs

  • Attractive and comfortable watch styles
  • Access to Alexa skills
  • iOS and Android notifications
  • Multiple-day battery life
  • Easy to read OLED screen

Lows

  • Audio is hard to hear in noisy settings
  • If configured to answer the phone, your watch picks up first
  • Setup and pairing problems
  • Micro USB charging port cover isn’t secure

DT Editors' Rating

Smartwatches are fighting an uphill battle to convince us of their usefulness. Appearance, battery life, and cost are secondary to questions like, “Why should I care? What will it do for me that my phone doesn’t already do? And, oh, by the way, is it still really a watch?”

Martian’s mVoice smart analog watches take a divergent path. First off, they’re actual analog quartz watches with Miyota movements and fixed faces. We’ve been using one to see whether it can bridge the gap between the smartwatch and the analog watch.

An analog watch with smart features

If you don’t use the smartwatch features, you still have a functioning watch with a two-year rated battery. A separate rechargeable 5-day-rated lithium polymer battery powers the smartphone features. The watches are IPX4 splash resistant and come in a variety of case and band styles. Martian’s mVoice series also has its own set of small but useful utilities such as a tiny light and a stopwatch.

Unlike Android Wear or Apple smartwatches, you won’t see specifications for processors, memory, or storage with mVoice watches. The Martian watches don’t pretend to be smaller computing devices that partner with smartphones, they’re input/output devices for apps on the phone. Martian mVoice watches may not be very smart, but they are clever and useful.

Paired via Bluetooth with iOS or Android smartphones, mVoice watches can display a wide range of notifications on a small but highly visible 96 x 16-pixel OLED screen with scrolling white characters. An internal microphone and speaker enable local control of any smartphone apps that respond to voice command including phone calls, music (iOS only), and either Siri or Google Now.

Alexa is the Martian mVoice watches’ unique value-add. As long as your smartphone is running the standard Alexa app and you’re logged in to your Amazon account, the mVoice watch puts Alexa right on your wrist and she’ll respond to any of the 7,000+ Alexa Skills you activate on the phone. So Siri or Google Now and Alexa are both at your command with the mVoice smartwatch, as long as you’re in range of your smartphone.

A few design choices

Martian offers a few different color options to suit different styles. We chose the Martian Alpha T10 mVoice model to test for its in-between style. It’s not too sporty or dressy. The case measures 42mm in diameter and it’s 15mm thick. The watch comes with a 22mm dark gray silicon watchband. Other mVoice models have 20-22mm watchbands and 40-44mm diameter cases. It’s a chunky watch, but it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a small brick on your wrist (at least if you’re someone with large wrists). The silicon band is very comfortable. If this watch’s look isn’t for you, there are many different versions – some with leather bands.

Martin mVoice watches may not be very smart, but they quickly prove clever and useful.

The Alpha T10’s analog watch face has hour, minute, and second hands. There are three buttons on the right side. The center button sets the time and the other two control smartwatch functions. A Micro USB charging port with a silicon cover is on the left side at 10 o’clock. The silicon cover isn’t connected in any way and it could be very easy to lose. While it’s nice that the charging port is fairly standard, it is not the ideal option. Having a Micro USB port on the side of your watch looks awkward – just imagine if you lost the cover.

The speaker and microphone apertures at 7:30 and 4:30 aren’t visible unless you look very closely. A tiny LED light and the 96 x 16-character OLED panel only light up with notifications or to indicate show status. So as far anyone else knows, you’re wearing a normal watch. It still looks much more techy than other smart analog watches like those from Withings or Fossil.

Technical difficulties

Setup doesn’t take long, but in our case, wasn’t glitch-free. First you charge the lithium polymer battery by attaching the USB charging cable to its port and to a computer port or wall adapter (not included). The LED light turns red while the watch charges and green when fully charged, which takes about two hours. After setting the time, you download the proper app on your smartphone — and that’s where our problems began.

The documentation says to download the Martian app from the App Store for iOS or Google Play Store for Android smartphones. However, we soon learned that’s the wrong app and it doesn’t work properly.

The right app is “mVoice.” In it, you can select notifications settings, language, date, vibration patterns, call features, silent alarms, weather location, leash function, gesture control, and more.

Next, pair the watch with your smartphone. Activate Bluetooth on your phone, press the upper right watch button until you see Pairing on the OLED screen, select Martian Watch on your phone, and then click Pair if numeric codes that display on both match.

At that point, the mVoice watch is paired with your phone and all functions are available except Alexa. You are asked to allow the watch to access your contacts, messages, and calls in separate phone messages. Click the “Don’t ask again” box, or you’ll get the same pop-ups every time the phone and watch come into Bluetooth range.

Alexa is the Martian mVoice watches’ unique value-add.

With the mVoice app you can set up silent alarms that will vibrate the watch according selected pattern. You can choose the alerts you’d like to enable on the watch, including calendar events, incoming calls, missed calls, text messages, email, Facebook, low battery, and Google Hangouts. Any app on your phone can be selected, but we quickly disabled most alerts.

The last setup step is to click the Alexa tab in the mVoice app and log in. Even without the watch, you can access Alexa with the mVoice app by tapping a blue circle in the middle of the screen.

This was the point where we originally had installation problems. The watch wouldn’t connect. We often found that even with the two devices paired pressing the upper watch button to invoke Alexa on the watch returned the message, “Network not available.” It turned out our original test watch was faulty. After we received a replacement, we never saw the network availability error message again, but the difficulties weren’t over.

Martian Alpha T10
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

During the day, all connections were fine. but the Bluetooth connection between the devices would drop overnight and then they wouldn’t pair up again, even though we were careful to leave the devices next to each other.

After further inquiry and troubleshooting with Martian, we downloaded an updated version of the mVoice app. Since then, the connections work, and if the devices are out of Bluetooth range, they automatically reconnect when they come back in range. Many others have had the same issue, but hopefully the updated app has resolved any lingering problems.

A few good features

There are several handy utilities in the watch, accessed with a menu on the OLED screen, including Light, Do Not Disturb, Camera Mode, Stopwatch, and Find Phone. Press “Light,” and the tiny LED on the watch face glows white. We found the camera mode feature very convenient for group shots when a selfie just wasn’t enough.

Setup doesn’t take long, but in our case, wasn’t glitch-free.

Meanwhile, selecting “Find phone” on the watch menu plays an eight note scale. A comparable Find Watch feature in the mVoice app plays a scale on the watch. If you select Leash mode in the watch’s setup menu, the watch vibrates each time you leave or enter Bluetooth range with your paired phone.

You can receive and make phone calls with your smartphone and the mVoice watch just as you’d do with a Bluetooth headset. The watch has four volume settings, from 0 to 3. Even at level 3, you need to be in a quiet setting to hear phone calls. When we tested that feature riding in a car people on the other end of the call said they could barely hear us.

Also, when connected to the phone, the watch picks calls first unless you quickly press the upper button. Otherwise, you need to turn on your phone’s speakerphone mode to take back the call on your phone. The sole function of the mVoice gesture control is to dismiss calls — just stretch and twist your arm. During a call you can hang up by pressing the lower watch button.

When calls or texts came in, the caller’s name or phone number scrolled across the OLED screen. Text messages were also displayed. We found these features convenient when both phone and watch muted. The name was displayed instead of the phone number only if the person was in our phone contact list and we had allowed access to the list. One very practical experience while shopping was getting a text message on the watch for an addition to the grocery list.

Chatting with Alexa

To access Alexa on the mVoice watch, hold and press the upper watch button until the LED blinks white. The OLED reads, “Listening.” When you’re done speaking, the display shifts to “Thinking” for a few seconds and then to “Speaking.” There is greater latency between the request and the response than with Echo or Dot. You don’t need to say “Alexa,” either.

We previously connected Google calendar to Alexa to use with an Echo Dot. Checking and adding appointments with the mVoice watch worked like a charm. We also used the Alexa feature to set timers and alarms, ask for the weather and news, and access some less important Alexa skills like “play air horn.”

martian alpha t10 mvoice watch alexa review 1
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

In addition to Alexa, you can also access your phone’s voice assistant Siri or Google Now with mVoice. If you press and release the watch’s top button quickly, the LED blinks green, and you’re ready to speak to Siri or Google Now. There was less latency when conversing with the phone’s voice assistant than with Alexa.

We quickly became enamored of the ability to access both Google Now and Alexa from our test watch. Martian mVoice watches don’t run apps, but they act as voice control for your smartphone.

Warranty information

Martian watches have a one year limited warranty to the first retail purchaser. If the watch or any part proves defective in workmanship or materials, Martian will repair, replace, or issue a credit for the watch at its option.

Our Take

The Martian mVoice smartwatch has good battery life, a lower than average price for a smartwatch, and access to two valuable voice assistants. If you want a smartwatch to run the same apps as on your smartphone, look elsewhere, but if you want a watch that works well with call, text, and app notifications and gives you voice control of your smartphone’s features and apps, the mVoice is a fine choice.

Is there a better alternative?

Martian mVoice watches aren’t true smartwatches, but they have great features. If you want access to both Alexa and either Siri or Google Now in a conventional-looking watch that can also receive push notifications and take phone calls, no other smartwatch on the market currently fills the bill. At $195, the mVoice smartwatch is also one half to two thirds the cost of “conventional” smartwatches.

However, if you don’t care about voice assistants and just want notifications on a smart analog watch, Fossil and Withings both make more stylish options with the Fossil Q Crewmaster and the Withings Activite Steel HR. If you do want a full smartwatch, go get an Apple Watch Series 2, Samsung Gear S3, or Huawei Watch 2 instead.

How long will it last?

The Martian mVoice watch feels sturdy and well-built with a resin case, stainless steel caseback, and anti-scratch glass crystal. The two-year analog watch battery means even if you get tired of connecting to your smartphone, you’ll have a watch that doesn’t require recharging every day, just so you can see what time it is.

Should you buy it?

Maybe, but it depends. Buy it if you’d like a traditional-looking watch that connects to Alexa and your smartphone voice assistant, receives easy-to-read notifications, and lets you make and take calls with your watch. Don’t buy it if you want a smartwatch that runs smartphone apps and doubles as a fitness tracker. Don’t buy it if you don’t like talking to voice assistants on your wrist and just want a stylish smart analog watch.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for December 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Smart Home

Knock, knock. Who's there? With a video doorbell, you'll never have to guess

When it comes to knowing who's at your door before you actually open it, there's nothing better than a video doorbell. Plus, you can "answer" the door even if you're not home. Here are some of our favorites.
Deals

Best deals for smart home plugs that control your lights and appliances

Smart hubs and speakers play central communication and management roles in your home, but smart plugs let you add lights and appliances to your system. Any smart plug you buy must support one feature or anything you plug in stays dumb.
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Outdoors

Conquer the cold season with the best heated clothing and outdoor apparel

If you're thinking about going outside this winter, heated apparel is a must. Luckily, we've rounded up some of the best heated clothing, whether you're looking for battery-powered gloves or heated insoles.
Deals

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.
Outdoors

Crush your next workout with the best Fitbit for every activity

Fitbits are amazingly helpful tools for setting fitness goals and tracking progress. However, different activities require different metrics. We've gathered a list of the best Fitbits for running, swimming, biking, and other activities.
Mobile

Google Fit app finally gets a widget, among other new features

Google Fit hasn't received any new features since its redesign. This week, the company is rolling some new tools; users will be able to add a widget to their Android home screen, adjust the intensity of their workouts, and more.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Mobile

New Apple Watch begins saving lives one week after getting EKG feature

The Apple Watch Series 4 was updated almost a week ago with a new feature that allows users to take electrocardiogram tests -- and already it seems like the new feature is saving lives.
Wearables

How to use the ECG app, set up irregular rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch iPhone owners can own, and it just got even better with the addition of the ECG app and ability to identify irregular heart rhythms. Here's how to set it all up.
Home Theater

Common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.
Mobile

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.