I recently obtained a GV08s MediaTek smartwatch and used it for a couple of weeks. Here’s my take on the first, and probably last MediaTek smartwatch I’ll ever use.
The GV08s is an MT2502 smartwatch that does not run Android Wear. Instead, it runs MediaTek’s proprietary feature phone software, which does not support any Android apps or Android Wear apps. These smartwatches are commonly known as ‘watch phones’, as they also provide support for SIM cards and SD cards.
The watch phone came in a brown box (similar to the ones Samsung use) that contained:
- the GV08s smartwatch itself
- a USB charging cable
- Instruction manual
The watch had a particularly interesting aspect though – it had 2 strap loops instead of 1. Whether the extra was a spare is unknown.
When taking a first look at the watch, you can almost immediately notice the similarities between the GV08s and the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2, particularly in the home button’s design and placement. On top of the watch lies the in-built speaker and VGA camera (probably interpolated), in the center we have the 240×240 1.5 inch screen, and at the bottom we have the all too familiar home button, which also serves as the power button when you long press it.
Turning on the watch, we’ll see something fairly interesting. Without a SIM card plugged in, the watch says ‘Company mode’. While there is an airplane mode available, it is odd that instead of a ‘No SIM card’ message, the GV08s would show ‘Company mode’ (which in my opinion is pretty confusing).
That aside, we will also notice that the home screen has a status bar (which surprisingly can be pulled down to show notifications and quick toggles!), the time and date, and shortcuts to the call log, pedometer, and settings app (these cannot be customized although an option is provided, more details below). There is also an app drawer and a widget drawer. We’ll immediately notice that the icons are similar to those in the first version of iOS, where a glass ball effect is applied to the icon’s rounded rectangular background. The time is also not set correctly; inserting a SIM card or connecting the watch to your phone should rectify the issue.
The battery on the GV08s is actually pretty impressive. It managed to survive a couple days without charging, and the battery still seemed to be completely full (at least, according to the on-screen indicator). However, charging it seems to be a problem, as I have to leave my PC turned on and the watch plugged into it to charge it. The GV08s somehow only came with a USB cable and not a wall charger. That aside, the battery life is still impressive.
The GV08s’s camera only captures mediocre quality images. However, when directly viewed on the watch, they do seem pretty sharp and clear. It is only when transferred to a computer that the photos look off. However, at this price point, the camera really does seem to be a good feature to be included in the watch. Videos on the GV08s are also extremely laggy for some reason, so I wouldn’t recommend recording important life moments using the GV08s.
The microphone on the GV08s is pretty impressive. It managed to record clear audio, albeit a somewhat higher than average noise to sound ratio. It only lacks in the higher frequencies, but does capture everything clearly. I’d recommend using it to record voices, as it did record a lecture nice and clear, and I was able to take the file and listen to it again without any problems.
Unfortunately the GV08s only connected to my network via GSM. There is no 4G LTE, let alone 3G or HSPA+. This resulted in extremely slow connection speeds when surfing the web.
On the plus side, the Bluetooth connectivity worked fine. It was only sometimes that when using the MediaTek SmartDevice app to connect that the watch bugged and did not show the ‘Serial port connection’ message.
The watch performed well, and other than the animation lags, everything worked fine and quick. The only problem was when huge sites were loaded in the web browser, and that was when the watch would slow down and sometimes even refuse to respond. All in all, the ROM was pretty much optimized for the hardware in the watch.
The installed ROM in the watch limited pretty much everything in terms of customization (you are still able to change the background on the home screen though). While there are 2 themes available, the themes didn’t look really nice, and the icons were inconsistent. The 3 home screen shortcuts also could not be changed, as the watch would crash and reboot upon doing so. There were also no compatible apps that could be installed, other than QQ, which was already on the watch and just required a download to install.
There are also only 3 selectable watch faces for the lockscreen, and all of them are analog watch faces. The lockscreen also show no indication of how to unlock, and it took me some time to realize that you had to slowly swipe in any direction to get it unlocked (yes, slowly, the touchscreen has problems registering flings). The lockscreen also doesn’t stay on despite turning off the auto screen lock, unlike on my LG G Watch, which means on the GV08s you will have to constantly press the power button if you want to check the time.
There is also a software keyboard provided, although it was extremely tiny (I mean, what do you expect from a 1.5 inch screen?), and typing was pretty hard. Sometimes the touchscreen would also register the touch slightly to the left or right, resulting in an incorrect character typed. There is also a bug on the bottom of the touchscreen, where sometimes the touch input would be redirected to the bottom right instead of the designated spot on the screen.
After some digging around on the watch (and entering some secret codes on the dialer), I also found out that the GV08s is indeed a feature phone that has been stripped of the physical aspects of a phone, and put into a watch form factor, thus the name ‘watch phone’ (and thus the ‘Phone settings’ option in the Settings app).
While the software is not top-notch, I still must say that it was optimized well for the watch’s hardware, and as mentioned above, that helped keep the battery alive for prolonged periods of time.
The GV08s would be a smartwatch that I wouldn’t use as a daily driver, due to its limitations and lack of supported apps, unlike on my G Watch, which runs Android Wear. While it has many features I would use and like to see on future Android Wear devices, it is still not a good enough smartwatch for me to be wearing it every day. The few weeks I lived without Android Wear were a little tough, as the GV08s also did not provide remote music control, and the other value-added services provided by Google Now together with Android Wear. All in all, if you want a smartwatch and if you own an Android device, get an Android Wear device, it’s much more worth it.
You can check out the GV08s watch phone on Gearbest’s page here.
Photos taken on the Bluboo X550.