Nubia Watch Smartwatch Review: The successor of the "smartphone on the wrist" under test
Case and equipment - Flexible display remains an eye-catcher
The flexible display of the Nubia Watch catches the eye and you immediately ask yourself how much it can take. A lot - we couldn't even touch it with the tip of a pair of scissors, at least not without using force: Nubia protects the display reliably with Schott-Glass.
Our intro picture shows Samsung's Galaxy Gear S in the background, which at that time also attracted attention with an unusually large display. But the screen of the Nubia Watch is even bigger: With a length of 12.5 cm, it wraps around half of the wrist and inevitably merges with thestrap attachment at the sides. The bracelet itself is therefore shorter, standard bracelets do not fit. For wrists of different strengths Nubia includes the bracelet in two lengths. On the test device they are made of silicone. According to the Kickstarter campaign, leather straps will also be available as an alternative. The housing is only partially protected against dust and splash water according to IP54 and is not suitable for swimming.
The hardware is almost identical to that of Nubia alpha: 1 GB RAM, 8 GB data storage in total; 4.1 GB of which is free for photos and music, which can be transferred to the watch via the app. Nubia could have upgraded the SoC, a Snapdragon Wear 2100: The Qualcomm SoC already has two successors.
The Nubia alpha's eSIM no longer has the Nubia Watch, but in addition to Bluetooth, it still has WLAN: It gets updates directly from the network. But you can't use it to browse the Internet or stream music, because there are no apps that can be retrofitted. Music can be played via the integrated player.
The Watch comes with GPS and a PPG sensor to measure heart rate, but no light sensor.
To set up the Nubia Watch and connect it to your smartphone, you need the app of the same name for the iPhone or the app Nubia Smart Wear from Google's Play Store. For later analyses of health and fitness, the app wants to know gender, height, weight and date of birth, but without the need or possibility of setting up an account.
The app controls which notifications the smartphone forwards to the watch, transfers music tracks and optionally appointments and contacts, and can change the dial and personalize it with my photo from the smartphone's photo gallery.
Under the menu item Info, a user manual explains in detail howto use the watch, albeit only in English. All texts of the app and on the watch are also in English. Although there is a menu item Language on the Watch, there is no alternative language, at least during the test period.
Operation - Touch screen with two finger gesture
The Nubia Watch is operated via the touch display and a button on the side. The Nubia Watch does not have a shortcut for an individually assigned app or function, as is sometimes the case with other watches with a second button. Gestures open the app list, notifications and a access menu, where you can change the brightness and deactivate GPS to save battery power.
The unusually long display left the following impressions in the test: The dial is definitely an eye-catcher. Those who like it especially eye-catching activate an animated display or a ticker with their own text. Buttons and menu items are displayed comparatively large. Those who find the display on conventional watches too small will find it pleasant.
Text, the Nubia Watch displays better than other watches in terms of length, although the font is barely larger. In addition, the display extends over three sides, so you either have to turn your wrist to read longer texts, or wipe and scroll with your finger like other wearables. Nevertheless it has an overall advantage here.
Depending on how you set the display, when you raise your arm, it activates either the full-size, imposing dial or a reduced time display, for which several designs are also available. In the second case, press the button to switch to the normal display.
There is no always-on display, which in a reduced mode always shows the time even when the arm is hanging down. If you want the display to stay on permanently, set the lighting duration so that it does not switch off after 5, 10 or 30 seconds, but stays on permanently.
In this case, however, the full-surface dial remains active, and not the reduced one, and consumes significantly more energy. Pulling two fingers together on the display temporarily deactivates the permanent display.
Notifications and telephony
The Watch receives notifications and displays SMS in full. When a WhatsApp message was received, it only informed in the test, but did not display the message itself.
Nubia uses Samsung sound-on-display technology. However, the volume is far too low, so you had to press your ear against the clock to hear the person you were talking to; what they actually said was already unintelligible. Nubia confirmed the problem. So one can hope that there will be an update that fixes this problem. Possibly the problem is bigger with the phone interface, because in the test nothing came up even on a Bluetooth headset. We have also passed this on to the developers.
In contrast, the music player plays the music titles stored on the Wearable over the headset without any problems.
Health and Fitness
The Nubia Watch counts the steps and creates a sleep log when you wear the watch at night. This gave a good indication of the actual time you fell asleep and woke up in the test, but remains inaccurate for the sleep phases. The recording does not keep up with that of a Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
or the Wearables from Huawei. The Nubia Watch does not measure blood oxygen saturation. The heart rate does, but not continuously, which is why it is missing in the sleep log. The heart rate diagram shown here was created by manual measurement.
The manual recording of the resting heart rate during the day turned out to be precise in several measurements. The maximum deviation was 2 beats compared to the recording with the chest strap. If a slight delay is taken into account, which is normal for optical measurements compared to those with a chest strap, we can speak of high accuracy.
As the power increases, the measurement by the Nubia Watch remains precise, the deviation never exceeded more than 4 beats per minute in the test. If you record a workout in a gym or fitness center, you can therefore rely on a comparatively accurate recording of your heart rate even there.
However, the almost 100 g Nubia Watch is the opposite of a light fitness band, which is hardly noticeable during exercise. With only four sports (indoor running, outdoor running, outdoor walking and free workout), it also lags behind others. Nubia of course still recommends the Watch (also) for sports and even integrates GPS for route recording when running or walking. At least cycling would be a useful addition here, which can of course still come with a software update.
In the test, however, it still hadn't found the GPS signal after 8 minutes, at a point that doesn't cause any problems in other tests, and where the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 found the signal simultaneously within a few seconds.
It apparently needed another good kilometer, because instead of the approximately 4.84 km, the Nubia Watch only logged 3.25 km and an average speed of 7'55" instead of 6'45" as determined in parallel by Samsung. The route was visible directly after the training on the Watch, but later it was not. Also the smartphone app does not show it and moreover only a minimum of information, as the following screen shows.
Nubia has lowered the battery by 75 mAh to 425 mAh. The Nubia Watch does not need to maintain a mobile phone connection.
The running time varies with settings such as brightness and illumination time of the display. More than one and a half days are hardly ever in it, so that one must charge the Nubia Watch at the latest every second evening.
If you forget that once and still want to wear the watch the next day, you can activate the power save mode, which still displays an attractive dial with date, time and battery status. If you only use the watch in power save mode, the battery will last up to seven days, according to Nubia.
The charger for the Nubia Watch is powered by a micro-USB cable. In the test, it allowed itself 3 hours for charging. That's long, but only plays a minor role when charging at night.
If you choose the Nubia Watch, you probably do so because of its fancy look. Functionally the Smartwatch remains below its capabilities, for example a browser would be a useful application for the long display. Also GPS is usually a plus, but the route, if the Watch records it from the beginning, can't be seen later. Neither on the watch nor in the app, which not only displays the training data but also other analyses like the sleep log, is comparatively poorly prepared.
The look of the Nubia Watch is impressive. Functionally it does not convince in the test.
Even if we assume that Nubia can solve the problem with the telephone interface, there are weaknesses in the software, such as the lack of detail in WhatsApp. The visualization of health data and training logs is also poor.
We liked the display itself very much in the test, which is also due to the numerous visually impressive designs. The Nubia Watch costs 219 euros.If you look for the unusual and if the manufacturer improves the software, the price is okay. Otherwise, it is cheaper to drive with watches like the HuaweiWatch GT 2 or the Honor Magic Watch 2, which now only cost 179 Euro and perform better.