When it comes to smartwatches, there are really only a few mainstream options and being blunt, this isn’t one of them. The V-Fitness Smartwatch is an interesting proposition in that it’s not WearOS, it’s not Garmin or Fitbit but it does offer some pretty good value if you’re starting your fitness journey or looking for some basic “smart” functions.
I’m cautious with calling this “smart” though, as there are a few dumb characteristics about it and I’d rather call it a fitness tracking watch with notifications. You don’t really have any options for input, just to read and dismiss notifications and that’s generally okay by me.
More often than not, I find myself checking notifications and either pulling out my phone to taking action or dismissing it with the intent to deal with it later. But there is a bit of an issue – if you don’t dismiss it from the watch, there doesn’t seem to be any synchronisation with your phone. This leaves the potential for hours, or days old and already-actioned notifications on your watch that simply no longer exist in your phone.
The specs aren’t what you’d call clear or well defined when you look at their website either. They really only offer details of some of the enclosed hardware. The battery is a 260mAh option that (thanks to some solid optimisation) lasts well through a fortnight of use, provided you’re not exercising daily. I found with each hour of exercise the battery life of the watch was reduced by about a day. Charging in theory takes between two and four hours, depending on how much charge you start with but I ended up plugging it in on Friday afternoon after lunch and never needed to urgently chase charge.
The watch itself is a fully sealed, IP68 unit that comes with three different — each to change — coloured, rubber straps in the box. The bands are really very easy to change, it takes less than two minutes. There’s no reason to be worried about the lack of specs though because this is a $99 device and for what it’s intended to do, it performs well.
While you could change bands to make it more “professional” looking, there’s no mistaking that this is a “sports watch” as soon as you look at it. It’s fairly striking and reminds me a lot of the old G Shock watches in the design and feel, with a few similarities in the look. Personally, I like the orange wrist band which makes the watch look reasonably sporty.
There is a number of watch faces you can easily (similar to WearOS) change between in second. As earlier mentioned the physical design reminds me a bit of the old G Shock watches in the lines and general “chunkiness” of it. With that in mind, I’m not sure that its something I’d recommend for women simply because of the physical size of the face on a petite wrist.
Like other areas of the V-Fitness Smartwatch, the specs aren’t easy to find. So to identify the resolution of the screen is near impossible. What I can tell you is that it displays clear, easy to read (even for folk like me with really poor eyesight) details in either watch mode or while conducting fitness activities.
The brightness is really good and quite responsive to the environment making it very easy to read inside or out. On top of how easy it is to read, the touch response is excellent. Honestly, I’ve reviewed far more expensive and “full-featured” devices that didn’t have the ease of reading and touch response. This… is an absolute highlight of this device for me.
There are only two buttons the watch but they serve multiple functions within the software.
Software and other features
During setup, there were a couple of moments that clearly highlighted that the software design is not done by a local team. There were a couple of other little niggles with the software that would cause concern for a complete novice or aggravation to an experienced user. One of these that amused me was the watch not detecting that it’s not on my wrist and telling me to move while it was on the desk charging.
Day to day, the app reminds me of the Xiaomi app for their MiBand. There’s very little input you need to make and it’s essentially for data viewing and analysis. If you choose to wear the watch at night, you’ll get not just your daily activities but also you sleep patterns and monitoring of your heart rate.
There are only a couple of pretty basic watch faces built into the software. They’re simple, they’re functional and they give you some reasonable information about your day. There’s not a lot more you could realistically want aside from different aesthetics.
If you’re looking for complex features, you should probably move on. The buttons, which have a great feel to them trigger a cycle through features (top button), selected by tapping on the screen and the bottom button operates as a back button.
As mentioned earlier, the feature set is pretty simple as is the fitness tracking capacity with the following on offer:
- Outdoor run
- Indoor run
- Outdoor Cycle
- Indoor Cycle
- Outdoor walk
If you cycle through past the exercise tracking you’ll get heart rate monitoring, a weather display and a timer/stopwatch.
Activity tracking experience
Side by side with my Fitbit — in fairness, a much better recognised and far more expensive device — when activity tracking is turned on the data produced by the two devices is pretty comparable. They both piggyback off of the phone GPS and both have their own on-wrist optical HR sensor which grabs a reasonably accurate reading.
The lack of incidental tracking will frustrate users who want to keep an eye on their general activities. Likewise, the lack of features will make this a no-deal for serious athletes or fitness fanatics. Some users may also like more by way of control over their notifications and some “smart” functions ie. the ability to reply to messages etc from the device.
That being said, day to day it works perfectly well as a watch but let’s be brutally honest, that’s not hard. There’s a lot to like about the simplicity of the V Fitness watch, and if you’re looking for a simple activity tracker that can provide you with some notifications: This is the device for you.
The screen is really impressive with great touch response, you can choose some notifications to come through from your phone and the AU$99.00 price makes this a pretty attractive option for people starting out on the fitness tracker journey. You can buy online at https://vfitness.com.au/ or your local Big W store.