Casio’s all-metal G-Shock uses its smart tech carefully, and for best effect

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Pro Trek range may be Casio’s most complete smartwatch endeavor, but it continues to add Bluetooth to other high-end models in its G-Shock line-up too, providing various helpful features that simplify everyday use of the device. We’ve been wearing one of the latest, the G-Shock G-Steel GST-B100XA-1A, to see if the Bluetooth connection really is helpful, or a feature you can do without.

These Bluetooth connected G-Shocks aren’t smartwatches, or even hybrids. They’re connected watches, with all the benefits of a regular G-Shock, plus a small amount of carefully implemented technology. To interact with the watch using Bluetooth, you need to install Casio’s G-Shock app on your phone. This is the first piece of good news, as it’s not only beautifully designed, but it works without fault.

App and functionality

To link the watch to the app, it’s a long press of the Connect button. The process takes around 30 seconds, and unlike some non-smart Bluetooth watches, has always worked without fault for us. The app also remembers previously linked watches, so if you have a collection of connected Casio watches, they’re all logged in the app for use later on. The interface is the same for all, with only the features changing.

The design is excellent. Representations of the watch and its functionality — both smart and otherwise — are clearly shown, with a guide providing step-by-step instructions on how to use the watch. The red-on-black color scheme looks modern and classy, plus it’s easy to read. Through the app you can change the world time, add an alarm, or start a timer. While these functions can all happen on the watch itself, it’s much easier to do through the app.

With a full charge it’ll last 22 months before needing a trip outside.

For example, to change the world time on the watch you unscrew the crown — it’s a screw-down crown to maintain water resistance — and press the Connect button briefly. Then you manually adjust the World Time complication. That’s provided you know the exact time at your destination. Alternatively, connect the GST-B100XA-1A to the Casio app, tap the World Time option and search for the city where you’ll be staying, and that’s it. No fiddling with the crown — it’s tightly screwed in for a reason, and you wouldn’t want to forget it.

The G-Steel watch doesn’t track steps, or deliver notifications, therefore it has very modest power needs that are met using Casio’s robust solar cells. The only charging the G Steel needs is to see some sun rays on a semi-regular basis. With a full charge it’ll last 22 months before needing a trip outside too, so it’s almost never going to be a mission to keep it topped up. The app provides an indication of the solar cell status, or a short press of the Find button uses the fan-like complication on the face to show the remaining charge. Finally, there is a phone finder feature activated using the Find button on the watch.

Design

Casio’s G-Steel watches are recognizably G-Shocks, but have a more mature look than a GBA-800, less utilitarian than a Rangeman, and considerably more wearable than a Frogman or Gravitymaster. None of the toughness that sets a G-Shock apart from the crowd has been lost though. The GST-B100XA-1A has a bezel made from Toray Industries Torayca carbon fiber and its Nanoalloy resin for ultimate strength, which surrounds a sapphire glass crystal over the face. The stainless steel body contains a frame made from four stainless steel tubes to keep the bezel body and case back together, while providing further shock resistance. Finally, the G-Steel GST-B100 is water resistant to 200 meters.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The resin band on our model is black with a blue underside, with contrasting blue elements on the face. The carbon fiber looks fantastic, catching light in a unique way, while the sapphire crystal is so perfectly clear, it’s easy to forget it’s there at all. At 14mm thick this isn’t a slim watch, but the use of carbon fiber and resin keeps the weight down, making it easy to wear on a daily basis. This is a very tough-looking watch though, and is unlikely to be the choice of those with small wrists. We like the design, and find it goes with more outfits than other G-Shocks, meaning we have picked it up to wear more often than some of the other models.

Is it worth it?

Is a Bluetooth-connected watch worth it without notifications? Yes, but it’s important not to think of the G-Steel — or any connected G-Shock — as a smartwatch. It’s a watch first and foremost, and not a cheap one. The GST-B100XA-1A is $600 or 650 British pounds. The Apple Watch Series 4, our favorite smartwatch available right now, is cheaper, and it’s not often you can say that about an Apple product.

However to compare the two is missing the point. Those who want a smartwatch of the Apple Watch’s caliber won’t consider the G-Steel, and those into the G-Shock range will be less likely to be looking at Apple’s Watch as an alternative. This is a watch you buy for the look, the toughness, the materials, and the design technology, and not the amount of smart features it has. These complement the watch, and make it easier to use. They don’t transform its functionality.

We like that Casio doesn’t treat connecting its watches to your phone like blasphemy — which some traditional makers do — and embraces just the right amount of smart tech not to emulate watches like the Apple Watch or Samsung’s Galaxy Watch, but to make use of modern methods that save us time and frustration when altering basic functions, all through a well-designed and reliable app. Something to be applauded, and the G-Steel GST-B100XA-1A is another connected G-Shock we’re happy to recommend because of it.

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