Review: 10 euro smart watch

August 3, 2016 | 00:00
10 euro smartwatch: does it look this nice in reality?
10 euro smartwatch: does it look this nice in reality?
Smart watches keep amazing me. They are expensive, big, and, as far as I am concerned, totally useless. Browsing one of those ultra-cheap online gadget shops I came across a smart watch that was priced down 35% from just under 16 euros to slightly over 10 euros. Shipping for free, of course. The product photos looked nice enough and without looking at the specifications I decided to order one to see what a smart watch would be in reality. Would it really look that nice as the photographs promised? Would it convince me that maybe someday I should have a real, expensive one too?

Two weeks later it arrived. Inside the sturdy, unbranded cardboard box I discovered an object that resembled the product photos exactly, except that it didn’t look as smart; it had that typical plastic el-cheapo look instead. At least that answered my first question: no, it doesn’t.

The body is an almost square (4.7x4.5 cm), 11 millimeters thick plastic box with three typical Android type icons on it. On the right side is a pushbutton and on the left a micro USB connector with rubber protection, a hole and a slot-like opening. The bottom is covered with a blue metal plate with a tiny hole in it. The thick and wide (3x23 mm) wrist band is made from the same kind of elastic silicon rubber that you find in heat-resistant kitchen products like silicon cake forms. Wearing it is not uncomfortable, but will be sweaty.

Out of the box the watch did not power on so I connected a USB phone charger to it. After a few seconds the screen woke up and a large, green charging animation appeared. I left it to charge for a few hours before continuing my investigations.

First power-on

Once charged I powered it on. A short melody and a screen with three icons and a clock welcomed me. Since I hadn’t read the specifications I didn’t know that the display was touch sensitive, but I found that out quickly enough. Not only is it touch sensitive, it also handles sliding. When you slide your finger from left to right (or right to left) you can browse through several pages of icons that represent applications. The icons look like crude Gameboy icons, probably due to the fact that the screen only has 16 colors (as far as I can see).

The apps on the watch do things like giving alarms when it is time to drink or to move for people who tend to forget to do that, a sleep quality app, pedometer, barometer, altimeter, chronometer, calculator, calendar and similar things. I was actually surprised by the number of available apps, 22 in total. The settings app lets you set the time and date and choose a clock. Unfortunately the nice clock shown on the product photos was not available, only an ugly analog or digital clock.

Analog watch
Digital watch

A Bluetooth app lets you pair the watch with your phone. Again to my surprise, this worked perfectly fine and with the watch I could make a call, read text messages, play music on my phone and even take pictures. All this without installing anything on my phone. The sound quality is not so good, some might even call it awful, and so is the picture quality, but it did work.

Message received from the Android app.

Android App

According to the manual I had to install an app called Bluetooth Notifications on my phone and of which several are available in the Google Play store with slightly different names; there is also a manual APK install. The app unfortunately was unreliable and, more importantly, very crappy. Also I didn’t really trust it as suddenly all kinds of publicities started to pop up on my phone. OK, so I quickly removed this and decided to try the Mediatek app that I had seen in the Play store. Since the watch was sold as a Mediatek watch, maybe that would work too? As a matter of fact, it did, and much better than the “official” spammy malware app.

The Mediatek app is what you need.

AT commands

Just for fun I then connected the watch to my PC and, surprise!, it got detected as a virtual serial port "MediaTek USB Port". Not knowing what to do with this serial port I fired up a terminal program and send “AT” to the watch. You never know, right? Imagine my surprise when it answered with “OK”. This got me interested and I started typing in AT commands that I sort of know. Typing in “ATD” made the watch respond with “NO CARRIER”. So this probably means that it is possible to use the watch as an interface to your phone and make calls, send text messages, and use it as a modem.

It accepts AT commands, but which ones?

I then did a search on the Internet for GSM AT commands and found plenty of documents. Several listed commands worked like CGMM and CGMR, telling me that I had an MTK2 model with revision LD88MA_JMX_LCD7735xdhy_HSD_9102TM_CPT_16LANG_V1.3.3, 2016/05/31 16:16

Looking at this output, we see "LCD7735" in it. Would that be a reference to the LCD in my watch? If this is a 7735 type display it should have an 18-bit color space, so why are the graphics so bad?

Searching th eInternet a bit mor for Mediatek and AT commands we discover several groups trying to hack these MTK chipsets contained in mobile phones and also in this watch.


I also found out that this watch should support USB OTG and I happened to have an OTG cable. This is where things started to go wrong, I am afraid. When I connected the watch with the cable to my phone, a Samsung Galaxy J5 that is supposed to handle USB OTG, the watch immediately went dark and wouldn’t switch on anymore. It turned out that its battery was empty. Had my phone, thinking it was connected to a charger, sucked all the energy out of the watch’s battery? I don’t know. What I do know is that the autonomy of the watch had suddenly diminished to a few hours when before it worked for days on one charge. Did USB OTG break my watch?


Finally, after reading the specs, I discovered that the watch is supposed to be waterproof. Since I have explored its functions and decided that I will never wear it, I will now try that. Writing this review in a hotel, I have access to a pool, so off to the swimming pool it is.

The watch keeps working, even at a depth of 50 cm.

I tied the watch to a dumbbell that I got from the hotel's fitness room and placed it in the pool at about 50 cm. What do you know, it is waterproof!


Actually I am quite impressed by the value I got for my ten euros. The watch works perfectly fine stand-alone and also together with my smartphone. Without any special software on my phone most functions worked out of the box, with the Mediatek app everything worked; I could even take and view photographs with it. OK, the image quality is bad, and so is the sound quality, but it all works. The UI graphics are not very pretty, partly due to its 16-color (?) display, but it is a fully functional graphical touch screen supporting sliding and tapping. The software is a bit clumsy and inconsistent between functions, presenting menus in broken English with ridiculous long ‘Done’ timeouts when settings are changed, but it does have many features and possibilities.

Except for the style problem (even my 13-year old son thought it was too ugly to wear or even to posess), technology-wise, this watch is amazing value for money. The only question that remains is: why would you need one?

About the smart watch

U8 Bluetooth Smart Watch w/ Camera Touch Screen for Android OS Smartphone – Black
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