Z1 Android 2.2 Smart Watch Phone

There’s currently a lot of articles about Apple, Samsung, and Google smart watches rumors in the blogosphere. I’ve written about other smartwatches in the past with products such as the Pebble or Wime Nanowatch, but those are based on low-end hardware that do not run Android directly, but instead communicate with your Android or iOS device via Bluetooth. The only watch I know that runs (a customized version of) Android is the “I’m Watch“. You’ll need relatively deep pockets to purchase it as price starts at 249 Euros / $349 US and goes up to $19,999 if you purchase the version with white gold and diamonds. So I decided to have a look if there are lower cost Chinese Android smartwatches around. The Z1 Android Smart Watch Phone showed up everywhere in my searches. The product is not new, as Charbax first discovered it in January 2012 and it was showcased by “Phaeton DVIP” at CES 2012.

Z1 Android Smart Watch Phone

Here are the specifications of the device:

  • Processor – Mediatek MT6516 ARM9 processor @ 426 Mhz
  • Memory – 256 MB RAM
  • Storage – 300 MB internal memory and up to 8GB via microSD card
  • Display – 2.0″ Capacitive Touch Screen (320×240)
  • Connectivity:
    • WiFi – 802.11 b/g/n
    • Bluetooth 2.0
  • Ports/slot/external sensors
    • 1 SIM card slots
    • Micro SD card slot
    • Microphone + Speaker
    • 2.0 MP Camera
  • Network – GSM frequencies 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz
  • Battery – 800 mAh – Standby-time: 36hrs /  Talk-time: 4hrs
  • Dimensions – H: 58 mm, W: 45 mm, D: 13 mm

The watch comes with a 800mAh Battery,  a USB Cable, a charger and a user’s manuel in English, Russian, Spanish and German. The Z1 runs a barely modified version of Android 2.2 operating systems, and thanks to the internal SIM card slot, you can just insert a SIM and start to make and receive phone calls via your watch.

There are several reviews of this phone watch, including a three videos by mistasawedoff, where he has a closer look at the device. to summarize he feels the device is innovative, call quality with the provided headset is pretty, but the sluggishness of the device if unbearable, Google Play does not work (there’s an alternative store though), and overall he cannot recommend the device. I’ve embed the first video below if you want to know more.

YouTube video player

Z1 smart phone watch is available from $209 on online stores such Pandawill and Aliexpress. Back in January 2012, the company had plans to design and manufacture an upgraded version of the watch with MT6573 (ARM11 @ 650 MHz) and Android 4.0, but it looks like the device never saw the light of the day. I could not find other companies selling new smart watches either, and I would assume it’s because there’s not enough demand for this type of device. We’ll have to see if large companies such as Google and Samsung can make smart watches successful.

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10 Replies to “Z1 Android 2.2 Smart Watch Phone”

  1. @onebir
    That’s the one I mentioned at the top of the article: http://www.cnx-software.com/2013/01/28/99-wime-nanowatch-is-both-a-massive-watch-and-a-tiny-phone/ It’s running (embedded) Linux.

    I’m a bit surprised they went to Indiegogo. It seems more and more Chinese manufacturers go to Indiegogo to promote and sell their products. To me that goes a bit against the principle of Indiegogo or other kickstarter sites, where individuals/companies who do not have enough capital for manufacturing look for crowd sourcing.

    From their site:
    “WiMe is the brand name of WirelessMe Limited, a subsidiary of WiMe Group, a Taiwanese company specializing in wireless products and mobile accessories. WirelessMe employs approximately 25 people across Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China, and generated an annual revenue of $2.8 million USD in 2011.”

    So I suppose they already have $30,000 to start mass-production, but they use Indiegogo as a “free” advertising and ordering platform.

  2. @cnxsoft
    Thought it seemed familiar!
    I see what you mean – $30k doesn’t sound like much for a company like that. But on the other hand, perhaps if established companies can use crowdsourcing sites as a kind of testbed for less usual products, that will also be good for innovation? Or is there a risk they crowd out the startups these sites were intended for?

    Anyway, WiMe doesn’t seem to be getting far with this campaign – or sham-paign 🙂

  3. Unfortunately most companies doesn’t have what it takes to actually push a product like this, only to follow. It’s how it was with tablets. They existed long before the iPad but no one gave damn. As soon as the iPad came out every Chinese company was making tablets.
    There’s pretty much one exception I can think of, Android mini TV sticks.
    If Apple or Samsung launch a smart watch the Chinese will probably have their own designs soon after.

  4. I have both this watch-phone (the Z1 Android 2.2 watch phone) and the WiME NanoSmart. Both can function as standalone phones, but theZ1 is far more capable. The WiME is very limited in it’s phone capabilities.

    This Z1 phone, however, is a full-blown but somewhat dated, Android phone. It does have all the features listed. (WiFi, GPS, etc..) The thing is, it is using Android 2.2. It can be frustrating to use. No gestural scaling on the screen. The fonts are very small. (nearly microscopic) They can be scaled up only on certain portions of the interface. The WiFi is very slow. I can’t seem to get much out of it at all. I have ended up using my service provider (Fido) for data access. (their rates in Canada are pure robbery!)

    The manufacturer (Guangdong Appscomm Co) has opted for a ‘capacitive’ touchscreen on the Z1, rather than a ‘resistive’ touchscreen like most other watch-phone and smartwatch manufacturers (WiME included) have chosen. Their reasoning is, that the capacitive screens have a much longer lifetime. As much as I respect their intent to provide a product that is long wearing, I have found the capacitive screen to be very unresponsive and somewhat difficult to use, compared to a similarly-sized resistive screen. Also, the capacitive screens rely on ‘skin-capacitance’, so they must have contact with bare skin to work properly. A resistive screen can be used with any sort of pointer. (fingers, plastic, wood, a pencil or pen) I had hoped the Z2(the Z1’s hard-to-find successor) would have a resistive screen, but no, still capacitive. Hopefully the ZGPAX S5 will have a better screen. (I think it is their latest-generation watch-phone)

    I have been finding it easier than expected to download Android apps on the Z1. It comes loaded with Aptoid, so that is the default apllication for downloading and installing apps. I have not tried to get it to work directly through Google Play, but other users have said it can be done.

    Suggestions to those interested in purchasing the Z1:

    First: They can be had, brand new, for much less than the suggested retail price. I was able to get mine for $140 USD on ebay. (shipping included) I do not suggest paying much more than $150, being as the Z2 is already out on the market (though hard-to-find) and the ZGPAX S5 is also out and seems to sell for about $170 to $200 USD.

    Second: Remember that this phone is not waterproof. Take it off when you’re washing hands (or dishes) and put it safely away in a dry pocket or waterproof bag if you are in a rainstorm. Appscomm really should try to make these things waterproof, but I guess the technology is still not far enough along for such features.

    Third: Keep a backup phone handy. The Z1 has probably the best battery life of any watch-phone I have ever tried, (I have 4 different watch-phones) but it still has a pretty tiny battery compared to a normal large-brick smartphone. Also, keeping WiFi switched off is a good idea. I’m also avoiding Bluetooth, as that is a real battery-sucker, but the Z1 doesn’t have the loudest speaker out there, even when switched to ‘speakerphone’ setting. I tried a volume-boosting app but it made very little difference.

    All told, the Z1 is fun. I don’t regret getting one. I hate carrying a huge brick in my pocket, so I’m not a fan of the current state of smartphones. I really like the idea of having a self-contained smartphone on my wrist, but the Z1 is not mature technology, It’s a cool novelty, but don’t pay a fortune for one and don’t expect it to behave as nicely as your Galaxy or whatever. It can’t.

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