Fi­now X5

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS -

The Fi­now X5 is an An­droid smart­watch that ac­cepts a 3G SIM to make calls, send texts and get on­line in­de­pen­dently of your phone. You can buy it from GearBest.com where, at the time of writ­ing, it costs £100 with free ship­ping to the UK. How­ever, note that you may have to pay im­port duty on goods sent from China to the UK.

The ‘smart­phone’ watch

The Fi­now X5 is more ‘smart­phone watch’ than ‘smart­watch’ and can be used in­de­pen­dently of your phone to get on­line and send and re­ceive calls and texts, al­beit us­ing a very small and fid­dly key­pad or au­di­ble in­struc­tion. This is made pos­si­ble by adding a Nano-SIM card.

The X5 also has Wi-Fi con­nec­tiv­ity, which you can use to browse the web. We weren’t able to use the in­ter­net con­nec­tion of a paired Sam­sung Gal­axy S6, de­spite an op­tion in the watch set­tings mak­ing it look as though this is pos­si­ble.

Be­fore you start us­ing the Fi­now X5 you should down­load the free Watch Helper app, which pairs to a smart­phone and can be con­fig­ured to de­liver no­ti­fi­ca­tions from any app in­stalled on your phone, and to push mu­sic-, im­age- and other files from phone to watch and vice versa. By de­fault, you will see no­ti­fi­ca­tions for calls and texts, and we also man­aged to set up Watch Helper to de­liver What­sApp, Gmail and Face­book no­ti­fi­ca­tions. Frus­trat­ingly, you see only the mes­sage sub­ject line for email no­ti­fi­ca­tions, and once you’ve read the no­ti­fi­ca­tion it’s gone from the watch.

Worse still, we found the X5 would lose the Blue­tooth con­nec­tion if it had been idle for a while. This might help bat­tery life, but it pre­vents you from re­ceiv­ing any no­ti­fi­ca­tions un­til you phys­i­cally re­con­nect it to the phone. And that makes this smart­watch pretty dumb.

To get more func­tion­al­ity, then, you re­ally need to add a SIM to the Fi­now X5. The SIM slot is ac­ces­si­ble by un­screw­ing the rear panel (a screw­driver is sup­plied in the box), but un­for­tu­nately this means the de­vice does not have a wa­ter­proof seal and rules out its use as a true sports watch, de­spite the built-in heart-rate mon­i­tor and pe­dome­ter.

The need to use a screw­driver ev­ery time you want to swap SIMs be­tween phone and watch makes you much less likely to do so. With your SIM in the watch you won’t re­ceive email-, What­sApp- or other no­ti­fi­ca­tions, so ide­ally you need to keep the SIM in your phone at all times, or have one SIM in your phone and one in the watch.

And herein lies the ma­jor lim­i­ta­tion for UK users: it isn’t pos­si­ble to have two SIMs for the same phone num­ber. Else­where in the world this is pos­si­ble, and in some Euro­pean coun­tries you are able to make use of a paid-for ser­vice such as Prox­imus to clone a phone num­ber on to a sec­ond SIM. You could try us­ing a sec­ond SIM with a sec­ond num­ber, but you won’t re­ceive any no­ti­fi­ca­tions from your pri­mary num­ber, and your com­mu­ni­ca­tion will come from a num­ber your con­tacts don’t recog­nise.

Apps are the sec­ond big­gest lim­i­ta­tion: the Fi­now X5, as we tested it, runs a ver­sion of An­droid 4.4 KitKat with no ac­cess to Google Play, and that’s how we have re­viewed it here. We have read on­line that oth­ers have been able to up­date the firmware or root the smart­watch in or­der to get Google Play in­stalled and work­ing, turn­ing this Fi­now X5 into a proper An­droid Wear watch – the Blue­tooth cutouts would still be an issue un­less you used it in place of your smart­phone, of course. GearBest tells us that it’s pos­si­ble to in­stall Google Play with­out root­ing

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