Lenovo’s Watch X Is An Attractive But Terrible Smartwatch
The Lenovo Watch X is an affordable and well-equipped hybrid smartwatch. However, given its poor overall performance, your $70 would be better spent elsewhere.
High prices and a lack of compelling, unique features have meant that smartwatches never really became a mainstream product. Hybrid smartwatches have begun to fill the void, combining some of the best smart features with a traditional timepiece at a fraction of the cost. Lenovo’s latest, the Watch X, is an affordable entry in the hybrid smartwatch market. So, how does it hold up?
Read on as we take a closer look, and at the end of this review we’ve got one shiny new Lenovo Smart X watch to giveaway to one lucky reader.
- Display: 1.5 inch OLED
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
- Sensors: Optical Heart Rate, Pedometer, Sleep Tracking
- Battery: 600mAh
- Watch Casing: Zinc alloy
- Band: Stainless Steel, Milanese
- Weight: 0.0810 kg
- Dimensions: 9.65 x 1.67 x 0.48 inches
- Waterproof Rating: Unspecified
- Price at time of writing: $70 from GearBest.com
Based on initial impressions, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Watch X with a regular wristwatch. The only obvious hallmark of a smart device is the stainless steel Milanese strap with a magnetic clasp often bundled with fitness wearables. However, because the watch itself has a metal back, the strap continually gets stuck to it. This isn’t a problem when it’s actually on your wrist, but is quite annoying when attempting to store or charge the watch.
The main watch face has just four hour-markers at 2, 4, 8, and 10. There are also a few significantly smaller ones for minutes 5, 25, 35, and 55. There are no second hands to be found, with two reasonably clear hour hands. These hands are shorter than usual to make way for the OLED digital display towards the bottom of the watch face.
The grayscale digital display is minimal, with a width of just 0.5 inches. Lenovo does a reasonably good job of fitting everything into that small space. The text is readable and sits alongside easily distinguishable icons. As with many wearables, the watch has a ‘raise to wake’ feature, so moving your wrist will light up the display.
Where you’d usually find the stem of the watch (the knob on the side for adjusting the time), is where you’ll find the Watch X’s single physical button. While it might look like a stem, you can’t use it to set the time. Press the button, and the display will turn on. Multiple presses cycle through the various menu items. The rear of the watch is where you will find the charging connection and the optical heart rate sensor.
The Lenovo Watch X doesn’t have many of the features we now view as standard with smartwatches. There is no color screen, music playback, GPS, or SIM card support. But, for the price, the Watch X is well equipped. For the health-conscious, there is sleep tracking, continuous optical heart rate measurement, and a pedometer. Some of this data is accessible from the watch itself under the Activity, Heart Rate, Sleep, Alarm, and Run.
The first menu option on the Watch X gives a brief overview of your activity that day. Once you’ve selected the Activity option, the watch will begin cycling through your stats. Your total step count, kcal burnt, total active minutes, and distance are all displayed.
As a regular Fitbit user, I have a rough idea of how many steps I do on an average day. Rather than wearing the Watch X and comparison device at the same time, I gathered data with the watch over a few days and compared it to past Fitbit data. For the most part, the two correlated. The steps and distance of my regular walks were more-or-less consistent across both devices.
Optical heart rate sensors have been a standard feature on most wearable devices released in the past few years. That said, they don’t often pop up on devices as affordable as the Watch X, so it’s a welcome inclusion. Their accuracy is debatable though, and so shouldn’t be relied on for medical decisions. The heart rate sensor on the Watch X was broadly in line with my historical Fitbit data. Although there were sudden spikes in heart rate, these were caused by a chronic medical condition, rather than an error on the device.
The science of sleep is still in its infancy, so while there are many products out there that claim to aid or monitor your sleep, you shouldn’t rely on them as definitive. In this case, it does require wearing the watch to bed every night. I’ve used my Fitbit and phone-based apps to monitor my sleep for quite some time, and the data gathered by the Watch X broadly matched.
Fortunately, the alarm feature is nice and straightforward. Using the app, you can set multiple alarms on your watch. The alarm syncs to the watch via Bluetooth. When it’s time, you’ll be alerted with a pulsing vibration and the text ‘Alarm’ on the watch. You can even schedule recurring alarms for getting you out of bed in the morning. Fortunately, the Watch X performs this relatively simple task with ease.
Like many activity trackers, you can use the Watch X to track your run. However, as the watch doesn’t have in-built GPS, all it does it track your steps and place the run into a separate area in the app. Still, if monitoring your runs from one device is important to you, then the Watch X may be the hybrid for you.
For all the hype around the Watch X—it reportedly sold out within 15 seconds—its specifications are incredibly tough to nail down definitively. Every site says something slightly different, and the watch itself only comes with a small leaflet, all in Chinese. It’s seemingly just there to encourage you to scan a QR code to download the companion Android or iOS app. Incidentally, the site linked to the QR code failed to load, so I had to find the correct app from the Google Play Store manually.
Unlike many gadgets which are pre-charged to a point, the Watch X arrives with no charge. With no instructions on how to use the watch, it wasn’t clear if I hadn’t turned it on, it wasn’t charged, or didn’t work. After charging for three and a half hours, the watch was fully charged. Following some experimentation, pressing down and holding the stem button turns the watch on.
After powering on, the watch didn’t display the correct time. As you’re not able to manually set this on the device, you have to turn to the app. The app’s calibration settings state “When the hands stop rotating, please enter current time to calibrate.” Not only did the hands not rotate, but entering the current time did absolutely nothing.
After multiple attempts and some online research, it turns out that you don’t enter the current time. Instead, you enter the incorrect time currently displayed on the watch itself. Counter-intuitively, the watch then syncs to the correct time. It’s so obvious! Fortunately, you don’t have to set the watch up more than once. But the initial experience of the watch is less than ideal. In many ways, it is the absolute antithesis of Apple’s “it just works” philosophy.
Lenovo Watch App
The companion app is undoubtedly the weakest part of the Watch X experience. Even once you’ve managed to find and download the correct app, the on-boarding and initial setup is a mess. Every time you open the app, a full-screen advert for the Watch X Plus (a pricier edition of the watch with barometric pressure sensors and Roman numerals) displays for five seconds. A smaller banner ad is permanently placed inside the app too.
You’d expect an app named Lenovo Watch to deal exclusively with features and data generated by the watch. Instead, the app is a fitness tracking app, which also happens to include watch data. But that’s not made clear anywhere, with the Workout section prominently displayed on the first screen. Workout options include run, climb, ride, and something called Details but with a swimming icon. Run data can be generated by the watch, while the swim data is only for the Watch X Plus. The other two options are phone-only.
Under the watch settings, there is a section named Funny Function. Included under that banner are: remote shutter, heart rate, smart alarm, and smart reminder. Smart alarm is the previously mentioned recurring alarms function. The Smart reminder feature is actually about receiving notifications on your Watch X. There are options for both call and message reminders. Despite many attempts, I could get neither to work.
The most confusing options are remote shutter and heart rate. Remote shutter supposedly allows you to operate your phone’s camera from the watch, but also never worked. You’d expect the heart rate option to allow you to access the heart rate data from the watch. Instead, it activates your phone’s flash and asks you to place your finger over the light to measure your heart rate. This didn’t work either.
The Watch X is apparently waterproof, but after some research, I found that it is variously listed as: waterproof, not waterproof, waterproof up to 8ATM, and potentially IP68 rated. With no clear answer, I wore the watch in the shower to put it to the test. After total immersion, it had no apparent damage and still functioned as expected. The Q&A section on the Gearbest website even suggests the Watch X is suitable for swimming, contradicting the in-app statement that swimming data is only available on the Watch X Plus. Or perhaps it’s safe for swimming, but you won’t get any data out of it? Who knows.
Similarly, the battery specifications of the Watch X are up for debate. While some say that it includes a CR2302 watch battery, the fact that you have to charge it suggests otherwise. It’s possible that the watch battery would provide backup power to time-keeping part of the watch. However, when it was initially out of power, the watch hands didn’t move either.
Lenovo claims 45 days standby time on a full charge, but you’re likely to get closer to five days real world usage. This isn’t terrible and is a far cry from charging it every night. However, the Ticwatch S —a fully featured Wear OS device—lasts a full two days too.
Is The Lenovo Watch X The Hybrid Smartwatch For You?
On paper, the Lenovo Watch X is an intriguing device. Hybrid smartwatches dial down the tech, but bring affordability to a mostly high-price market. The Watch X is waterproof and can theoretically replace your fitness tracker with its inbuilt heart rate monitor and pedometer. Even more surprisingly the Watch X actually looks stylish. You can’t ask more of a smartwatch that only costs $70.
However, the great design is let down by infuriating and, at times, downright sloppy software. Most of the Watch X’s features are found on equally affordable fitness trackers. Until Lenovo addresses the app’s shortcomings, you are probably better off avoiding the Watch X and opting for a straight up budget fitness tracker like the Mi Band 3 . That is unless you like the Watch X’s timepiece design. In which case, save yourself the hassle and just buy a normal watch.