From the Editor's Desk: Is that a phone on your wrist or are you just happy to see me?

By Adam Zeis on 10 Feb 2014 03:35 pm

So as we get more and more into all of the smartwatches that will soon be trickling out to the public, I think we have to pay attention to the separation between the smartwatch and the "phone on your wrist" watch. Already we know that there are quite a few watches due out soon that aren't simply just watches, yet they are full-feature phones slimmed down to fit in a watch-sized package on your wrist. I haven't gone head-first into any of these phone watches yet and while they do intrigue me, it's hard for me to say that they'll find a good home in the mainstream smartwatch space. 

I'm not sure that consumers will be actively seeking a device that is packing a huge processor, an SD card slot, SIM card slot, camera or other hardware that they can get in a phone

Today when I think smartwatch, I think accessory for your phone — not an actual phone (albeit a smaller phone). I think Pebble, Galaxy Gear, MetaWatch, Sony Smartwatch ... you get the idea. Of course because of what I do, I know that watches like the Omate TrueSmart and Neptune Pine exist, but for the average consumer they are scary. Why? Because the specs lists are a mile long and people won't know what to do with them. Nor will they need a watch with such specs. Anyone that is going to buy a smartwatch most likely just wants an extension of their phone and some sort of notifications on their wrist — maybe voice calling or some other added goodies. They'll buy one because they want to own a smartwatch or because they've seen and heard things about a certain device. I'm not sure that consumers will be actively seeking a device that is packing a huge processor, an SD card slot, SIM card slot, camera or other hardware that they can get in a phone. Not to mention shelling out hundreds of dollars more for a smartwatch with these specs when they can buy a phone for the same price — or even less in some cases. Some people will I'm sure, but for the most part they'll be left to the tech-savy crowd.

I think it's too early to tell just how well any of these "phone watches" will do

I think it's too early to tell just how well any of these "phone watches" will do when the hit the market. We can see already from the likes of the Galaxy Gear and Pebble that smartwatches in general do have a place in the tech space, but whether or not bigger, more action-packed devices will be able to compete is hard to say.

I'm still not sure that I'm ready for a phone watch myself either. Of course I'll pick up the devices and give them a good workout, but I don't see them replacing any of my more simpler watches — or more importantly — my phone. I already have two active phones and umpteen spares, so seeing the immediate need for another phone just isn't in my forecast for now. I do like what the devices can do however, but the need for sending an email or text from a 1.5" screen on my wrist escapes me.

I hope that devices like the TrueSmart, Neptune Pine, A.I Watch and others do find their place in the smartwatch community, but I'm not so sure that they'll venture too far outside those lines. I don't see any of these being sold at retailers like Best Buy or other electronics stores and as I said earlier, your average Joe who is looking for a simple smartwatch isn't going to buy one of these devices. There is just too much to them for the average person to dive into. Just like people flock to what they know with phones — iPhone 5s, 5c, Samsung Galaxy S4 or Note 3 — they'll move in much the same manner to smartwatches. Names they know for devices they've heard of that just plain work. No fuss, no mess. Not to mention having a phone watch would mean having another phone line hence spending more money on a monthly basis.

So what say you? Do you think that "phone watches" will hold their own in the consumer smartwatch space? Or are they merely for the geeks among us? Sound off in the comments!


Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Is that a phone on your wrist or are you just happy to see me?


I can definitely see myself buying a Neptune pine. I think the ability to unclip it from the watchband and throw it in your pocket will help it to succeed more than a phone watch that may only be worn on your wrist. I'm just trying to figure out a way to convince my fiancé that I "need" one...

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App!

Absolutely no interest from me in these smart phone like watches. I've found that the Pebble is exactly what I want. I enjoy the simplicity yet usefulness of the Pebble. I see no need for a touchscreen or even a bright led type display; at least not from me. I just want the time and some notifications and I'm good!

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App!

I am enjoying the Omate TrueSmart. It is great to have the ability to leave the phone behind. The Omate is a reasonable sized package for this capability. Full Android means you're pretty much unlimited in what you can do with it. A few software improvements will make it perfect for me.

When I have my phone with me Pebble does do everything that I need, but for other times there's Omate TrueSmart.

Blimey! A jump the shark moment already for smart watch fans. Not a good sign!!!

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App!

Pebble is perfect for me... I consider myself tech savvy but the main reason I bought it was for my workouts. I loved the idea of runkeeper stats and controlling music on my wrist rather than having to reach around my armband to skip a track. Since then, new apps have really made the watch great. I love pebble notifier, pebble lock, and music boss. I'm not sure Smart watches will be mainstream, but there is definitely a niche for tech savy and the health conscious...

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App!

I can see having the ability to call on your watch, while jogging as being a benefit. It would be nice not to have to carry a smartphone for emergency calls.

In the long run I think you're wrong, and that the smartphone itself will become redundant. In my Brave New World scenario, the smartwatch will be the essential communication device that takes a SIM and handles all phone calls / SMS text messages / emails when on the move. You won't lose it (because it's always on your wrist, or on a neck chain) and you won't have to keep removing it from your pocket or bag. If every you need to do some "real work" or "real play" you will use the watch as a Wi-Fi hotspot for a bigger laptop PC or tablet to use the same 3G / 4G connection... or you will be able to somehow project the display onto a bigger dumb screen. In this scenario, where is the need for a not-quite-small-enough yet not-quite-big-enough smartphone? I stated this case originally at

But like you, I also watch (no pun intended) the "companion" smart watches like the Pebble, SONY, and Samsung with interest.

When I was researching which smartwatch to purchase I found myself avoiding the watches with standalone phone features. I've got a phone already. I just want a smartwatch that makes certain aspects easier. Might just be me as I often visit another (apple based) forum and the general feeling there is that they scoff at smart watches that need to link to a phone!!!

I lean towards the all in one type of device that can also sync and work with other devices if present. Redundancy is not a bad thing. So to me having a fully functional device on my wrist, in my pocket and in my glasses would not seem farfetched. Ready access to information is key to older folks like me to keep up with the younger crowd. With the speed that technology and its influence on other fields changing so rapidly, one cannot rely on prior experience and knowledge alone.

I don't understand the lack of desire to have a functioning phone on your wrist. I also do not understand why so many people have two separate active phones now. That is so inconvenient an fraught with risk of loss of an expensive device and simply looks ridiculous. I have never gotten why anyone would do that, especially since with any modern device, you can keep your work and personal accounts/data totally separate on one device. To me, I am interested in device like Neptune Pine and Omate TrueSmart (I am a frustrated backer awaiting his device) because such devices could serve as a back up to my regular phone. There are times I leave my phone at home or in my office when running a quick errand or exercising and having that extra capability would be handy, not to mention those few times I have trouble with actual phone. And because these devices also pari with smartphones, they can serv a true dual purpose. I love my Pebble, but am really looking forward to more functionality on my wrist

I get what you're saying, but doesn't the fact that you'd be paying month-to-month for an extra line and data plan for your phone watch come into play at all? (Just arguing both sides)

Hi Adam,
First, thank you for the article and for this smartwatchfan site. I’ve been following/trolling for a while now. Keep up the good work.
As for the phone watch, being a ‘techno-geek’, I am very interested. Both the Omate TrueSmart and the Neptune Pine are both intriguing. I especially like the Neptune because, as mentioned by an earlier commenter, of the clip feature in addition to the watch band. However, what keeps me from ordering is because both of these phone watches lack LTE support. My initial thoughts were to have the phone watch act as a wifi hotspot that I could connect to with a wifi-only tablet but with no LTE support I believe the performance would not meet my desired result. So, I rethought my strategy and instead bought a phone that supports LTE (my prior phone did not). In fact, I bought what is currently being called a phablet, in my case the Sony Xperia Z Ultra GPe (in the process going from a very small screen to a very big screen). In addition, I also bought the Sony SBH52 bluetooth headset/handset. Now, my ZUGPe can stay in my bag until I want that larger screen. Finally, I’m considering the Sony Smartwatch 2 (years ago I had the Sony Liveview watch). While the SBH52 gets me notifications, and allows me to take and make calls, it only allows me to make calls to the numbers listed in the call log on the phone. I believe with the Smartwatch 2 I will be able to dial numbers or use the contact list on the phone, while still using the SBH52 as the handset. I'll still keep 'watching' to see what new wearable technologies get announced.
Thanks again.

Hi Adam, I think that you are correct in that most people are not interested in wearing their phone on other wrist. Like you, I can't see the practicality of trying to read an email on a 1.5" screen, much less compose anything on it. There are some where that works just fine because all they use it for is a watch and a phone.

It's interesting though when you start moving up and down the scale size of the form factor and think about the practicality implications. I would expect that the common size we see today will likely stick for the next many years. We have seen small-sized phones come and go, but around the size of an iPhone to Z10 is the most typical size. A phablet works if you want a big screen and bluetooth your headset to it. Likewise I would think that a wristphone works if you do the same. The trade-off with a phablet is that you have a great viewing screen, but it's a large device to lug around. I have a Z30 and I find it to be at the limits of practical carry-with-me-all-the-time size. At the other end, a wristphone is nice and easy to carry around, but I can't see it being practical as anything but a combination phone and watch. Both need accessories. The phablet would be improved with a bluetooth headset (and a backpack?). The wristphone would be improved with a dumbscreen that can increase the viewing area.

Without making this an even longer post (trust me, I could go on for PAGES), I think that the current standard form factor size will dominate and people will accessorize as they need to improve the utility of their phone. Personally, I would like a smartwatch companion for notifications and a dumbscreen for a better view (and in that order) for my Z30.

There is so much going on in the mobile device space that I really feel what we are seeing is the leading edge of a huge change, just as the first smartphones (Handspring Visor, Treo, Windows CE) sort of stumbled a bit out the gate before becoming social changers (BlackBerry, iPhone), these new devices will probably take some time to find their footing and relevance. As this all progresses, it will change and morph into the next step.

Now, let's grab some popcorn and watch the fun!

Good article. Absolutely agree. I wouldn't use voice commands in public for the looks you get so holding a watch and speaking to it would be a step too far. As others have said I already have a phone which works well and fits in my pocket no problem. Stopped using my Pebble in favour of the SmartQ Zwatch which is excellent especially for the price. I can't understand why Omate don't release a watch without the phone features for a more affordable price - I'd go for one of them - but at the price they are asking and with so many watches coming on the market it's too costly as a try out. Best wait for the Google watch and see what that does.

I backed the Omate Truesmart. Voice control is the way these wearables will go. Ppl get worried about talking to there wrist. I'm sure this same conversation was had when cell phones were first introduced. " I can't talk on the phone in public" now look where we are, most own a cell phone and using it in public is no big deal. Wearables will go the same way I believe

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App!

I think "phone watches" will not get a lot of market share. The problem is that not many people will be having a second phone line/number just for such a watch and neither will a watch phone be able to replace a true smartphone. Then it adds the massive pricing which per se is okay since you get a miniture phone but in addition to a phone you already have it's too much.

I think trends will rather go the Gear/pebble way: an extension to the smartphone. Which doesn't mean that there won't be any new features. For example I like the idea of using the smartwatch ass "headset", meaning you can place phone calls with it (like the HOT watch). I have ordered a pebble steel as my first sw, didn't receive it yet. Maybe if I could get the toq in my country I would have bought that one but can't get it here..