Nubia Watch review: a very original watch, but perfectly useless

Introduction

With its Watch, Nubia offers a connected watch that is atypical to say the least, with its screen surrounding the bracelet. A sufficient argument? This is what we will see in this complete test.

La Nubia Watch

La Nubia Watch // Source: Frandroid

After a smartphone in the form of a connected watch, the Nubia Alpha, the Chinese manufacturer returns with an equally original watch, taking up the concept of the Alpha: the Nubia Watch. This is in fact equipped with a flexible screen which partially surrounds the wrist. A sufficient argument to justify its purchase? This is what we will see in this full test.

Nubia Watch technical sheet

Model Nubia Watch
Screen size 4.01 inch
Technology AMOLED
Screen format Rectangular
Internal memory 8 GB
Random access memory (RAM) 1 GB
Dimension 41.7 mm
Weight 98 grams
Battery 425 mAh
Heart rate sensor Yes
Sleep analysis Yes
Accelerometer Yes
Ambient light sensor Unknown
Protection index IP54
Price 0 ¤
Product sheet

This watch was provided to us by Nubia.

A pretty watch, but unpleasant to wear

In February 2019, Nubia presented its Nubia Alpha , an original smartphone adopting a connected watch format with a screen partially surrounding the user’s wrist. More than a year later, a real connected watch was launched by the Chinese brand, from ZTE: the Nubia Watch.

La Nubia Watch

La Nubia Watch // Source: Frandroid

As the name suggests, the Nubia Watch is not a smartwatch-like smartphone like the Nubia Alpha was, but a real smartwatch. Here, no Android system or barely usable functionality on such an elongated screen. We are dealing with a simple watch whose screen nevertheless surrounds the wrist. And I might as well say it right away: it’s impressive.

Whether in terms of format, stiffness or weight, the Nubia Watch is a solid watch. It must be said that the beast still weighs nothing less than 98 grams on the wrist. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but compared to the 43 to 53 grams of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, for example, it does give an idea. In use, you quickly feel the Nubia Watch weighing down on your arm. And this is the case from a fatigue point of view as well as from an aesthetic point of view.

La Nubia Watch est une montre épaisse

The Nubia Watch is a thick watch // Source: Frandroid

The Nubia Watch is a massive, very massive watch. While I’m used to regret that smartwatch manufacturers often offer massive sizes, no model has filled my wrist so much so far. We can point out a thickness of 14.4 mm which may hamper some, but it is especially in terms of comfort that it blocks the most. In fact, even though the elongated watch screen is quite flexible, the strap remains partially blocked. In fact, it is impossible for it to perfectly fit the curve of your wrist and it often feels like a block encircles it, rather than a watch hanging from its top. This is awkward at first. It quickly becomes painful after several hours of use.

Also on the finish side, Nubia wanted to play on the raw aspect of her watch. If the manufacturer has integrated some rather design elements, such as a graduated ruler to the right and left of the watch, on borders between green and gold, many threads are also apparent, and this on the entire outline of the watch. watch. Enough to give the impression of a barely finished device. The button on the right side looks like it has been added on top, without any real consistency with the rest of the watch.

Les finitions de la Nubia Watch manquent de raffinement

The finishes of the Nubia Watch lack refinement // Source: Frandroid

Regarding the bracelet, as we have seen, it partly matches the flexible screen of the Nubia Watch. However, it is a simple silicone bracelet. It could however be replaced by another bracelet 22 mm wide, Nubia having chosen a standard format. However, the short size of the removable part can make its replacement quite complicated.

Finally, note that the Nubia Watch is waterproof with an IP54 certification and will therefore withstand splashing or perspiration, but not complete immersion in water.

A good quality screen… without always on mode

This is its main characteristic: the screen of the Nubia Watch is not a square screen, nor is it a round screen. It is in fact a rectangular screen, all in length, that goes around the wrist. In fact, the Nubia Watch’s display doesn’t go all the way around the wrist, but it does cover 180 degrees from its turn, with marked bends around 90 degrees.

In terms of measurements, the screen of the Nubia Watch offers a diagonal of 4.01 inches with a definition of 192 x 960 pixels. Logically, this is an Amoled display, since it is one of the few display technologies to be flexible. The other advantage of the Amoled, especially in the context of a connected watch, is its backlight … which does not exist. The light emitted is in fact that of the lit pixels and the black areas on the Nubia Watch therefore remain perfectly black.

On paper, you might think that the Nubia Watch’s display is a good idea to enjoy a large display on your wrist and not just a small pebble. However, in use, it turns out to be quite unnecessary. You only use the portion of the screen at the top of your wrist anyway, and possibly the lower portion of the display when not rotating the screen towards your face. In other words, you will never use the entire screen at the same time. The feeling of grandeur is there, however, especially when you access certain menus rich in entries and scroll through them one by one and endlessly from one end of the screen to the other. This is the case, for example, to modify the dial. In the majority of cases however, the menus are not particularly long and only the main part of the display will be used.

L'écran incurvé de la Nubia Watch

The curved screen of the Nubia Watch // Source: Frandroid

When it comes to screen brightness, this is where the shoe pinches. It must be said that the Nubia Watch does not have a light sensor. You will therefore have to manually juggle between the five levels of brightness offered. While the maximum level is sufficient to view the watch in direct sunlight, the minimum level will tend to dazzle you in “complete darkness.” At night, we recommend that you activate the “do not disturb” mode to prevent the screen from turning on as soon as you move.

Other screen issues include the lack of always on mode. This is already disturbing on some watches in a more discreet format. It’s even more so on the Nubia Watch. When the screen is off, you have no choice but to have a huge black band on your wrist that is more reminiscent of a 1.5 cm thick force bracelet than a real watch watch. A mode does exist, allowing the time to be shown as soon as the screen turns on, but this is by no means a classic always on display, but rather more discreet dials.

La Nubia Watch ne propose aucun mode always on

The Nubia Watch does not offer any always on mode // Source: Frandroid

As for the dials, note that thirty are available directly on the Nubia Watch. In addition, you can configure your own dial, called “panoramic dial” from the Nubia Smart Wear application using your own photos.

Extremely limited functions

To navigate the interface of the watch, no surprise, it is mainly done using the touch screen. Several gestures are thus offered by the Nubia Watch. By sliding your finger upwards, you open the list of notifications. Dragging it down takes you to a list of eight quick settings for putting the watch in do not disturb mode, changing the brightness, switching to power saving mode, or activating location.

A swipe to the left or to the right of the screen will allow access to the list of installed applications. To turn off the screen, a pinch has been configured by Nubia and, finally, a long press will change the dial. Overall, with the exception of turning off the screen – for which most watches require you to put your palm on the display – most of these gestures are pretty intuitive.

As for the watch itself, the Nubia Watch is equipped with the Nubia Alpha OS system. It is also equipped with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage, with the chip Snapdragon Wear 2100 . And the least we can say is that this processor is clearly outdated. It is indeed an SoC launched in 2016 by Qualcomm. Since then, two generations of chips have been launched by the equipment manufacturer, each time with not only a gain in power, but above all in energy performance.

In use, however, the Nubia Watch remains fluid. It must be said that the possible interactions are quite limited. It is content with the minimum. There is a button on the side of the watch, but it will simply be used to go back – like sliding to the left – or to turn off the watch in the event of a long press. There are thus no shortcuts to the different application screens as is the case on Wear OS or Tizen for example, and to find your health data, you will need necessarily go into each application.

On the application side, note that the Nubia Watch does not allow you to install more than those already configured on the watch. In addition to applications related to health or sport – which we will come back to later – the watch also allows you to consult its notifications, but not to respond to them, to consult items in your schedule, to listen to music, to start a countdown or stopwatch or use a function called barrage that will launch animations on the screen, without tail or head. This seems to be primarily a demo feature, or a way to quickly drain the watch’s battery.

La Nubia Watch

La Nubia Watch // Source: Frandroid

The Nubia Watch can also be used to make calls and there, you might as well say it right away, it’s a disaster. The watch has a built-in speaker with very low volume, so much so that you won’t hear anything the other party is saying. At the end of the line, the person you are talking to may be embarrassed by certain echoes, but it is really on your end that the experience will be the most embarrassing. Even without any surrounding noise, you can’t tell what someone is telling you unless you stick the watch to your ear, and then again. This is all the more annoying as the Nubia Watch automatically configures itself as a Bluetooth device for calls. We therefore recommend that you deactivate this option as soon as possible in the Bluetooth settings of your smartphone.

Finally, note that, to synchronize the data from the Nubia Watch to your smartphone, you will need to use the Nubia Wear application on Android or iOS. This will allow you to find certain health data, but also to manage the applications that can send notifications to the watch, to synchronize your contacts or your calendar or to send music to the watch. Overall, if the application is essential to retrieve your various sports data, it does not make you want to dwell on it for too long as it is full of translation errors such as “Management of devices”, “Personal information ”,“ Regarding ”or“ Push notification. ”. However, we cannot say that the number of parameters or menus is particularly numerous, and that is all the more unfortunate.

A sporting follow-up without more

Regarding sports, health or activity monitoring, the Nubia Watch is equipped, like all watches or bracelets on the market, with an accelerometer and a gyroscope which will allow the number of steps in the body to be measured. day.

The watch also has a heart rate sensor, accessible from the application “Heart Rate” … and that’s it. There is no question here of measuring SpO2, VO2max, let alone an electrocardiogram . In fact, by way of measures, the nubia Watch is limited to the current strict minimum on the market and therefore offers the same measures as a connected bracelet launched for less than 50 euros.

We will still be able to launch training sessions on the Nubia Watch, thanks to the “Sport” application. However, this only includes four activities: free workout, outdoor walking, indoor running (indoor running) and outdoor running (outdoor running). For cycling enthusiasts, for example, you will therefore necessarily need to start the default mode, free workout, even if your hands will remain fixed, especially for the indoor bike. However, the watch has the merit of integrating a GPS, which is very useful for finding the precise length of your walking or running training outdoors. However, to take advantage of it, you will need to activate geolocation in the quick settings of the Nubia Watch. However, the GPS can take a long time to fix the geolocation, and it will take more than a minute. In addition, the track on a map is not indicated in the application and therefore impossible to verify the accuracy of the GPS.

Once the training is done, the various data can be found within the Nubia Wear application. This is where we will find the number of steps taken during the day, the evolution of the heart rate – with a measurement every five minutes – or the time of sleep with the light and deep phases. Overall, here too the Nubia Watch clearly lacks precision, ensuring that I fell asleep at 3.51am, when I was already asleep at 2.30am.

A little over a day’s autonomy

Regarding autonomy, the Nubia Watch has a 425 mAh battery. Enough to allow it, according to the manufacturer, to operate for 36 hours in conventional mode of use and up to seven days in energy saving mode.

For my part, the autonomy of the watch will have lasted even less. However, over the first 25 hours, the Nubia Watch was able to conserve 50% of its battery. It must be said that by staying indoors, I had kept the screen with a fairly low light. As soon as I got out to do some shopping, however, I had to crank the screen up to maximum so I could see it. However, in the absence of automatic brightness, I did not think of reducing the brightness of the screen again. As a result, in five hours, the watch went from 50 to 0% battery power, for a total autonomy of 30 hours.

For charging, Nubia provides a USB to micro-USB cable – we would have preferred USB-C – as well as a magnetic charging cradle on which to plug the micro-USB plug. However, the Chinese manufacturer does not provide a mains charger.

If the brand communicates on a full charge in 85 minutes, it will have been much longer on my end, however. The watch has indeed gone from 0 to 74% battery in 43 minutes, then to 90% in 85 minutes and it will have been necessary to wait 2:30, or 150 minutes before a full recharge.

Nubia Watch Network and Communication

The Nubia Watch is compatible with Bluetooth 4.1 for connection with the smartphone. Too bad, we would have preferred the watch to have Bluetooth version 5.0 on board, for a more stable connection, including at a distance from the smartphone. As we have seen, Bluetooth is used both to connect with the smartphone, but also to connect a headset or headphones and to make voice calls.

To compensate, the Nubia Watch does take advantage of a Wi-Fi connection, however, so you don’t always have your smartphone nearby … as long as you are close to a Wi-Fi network.

The watch is finally compatible with GPS, Glonass or Beidou satellite positioning. However, it does not embed an NFC chip for contactless payment.

Price and availability of the Nubia Watch

The Nubia Watch is available on the Nubia website. It is available in three colors: black, red or green, the model we were able to test. The watch is available at a price of 219 euros.

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