While most smartwatches like the Pebble and the Galaxy Gear can't live up to their true potential without the assistance of a smartphone, the Omate TrueSmart is a full-fledged calling and texting machine right out of the box. We've seen a couple of other such smartwatches of course, but the TrueSmart sets itself apart with a design that's both water- and scratch-resistant, a unique UI that runs full-on Android 4.2 and most intriguing to us, a partnership with Syntellia's Fleksy keyboard so that you can actually type coherently on such a tiny screen.
We had a brief hands-on with the TrueSmart at the Glazed conference in San Francisco, and we'll admit to a bit of skepticism that we'd be able to do much with a 1.54-inch screen. However, we did manage to flip through the four-icon menu without too much trouble. The icons were large enough for us to tap, and we simply had to slide our finger to the left to go to the previous screen. It refused to recognize our swipes on occasion, but hopefully that's just due to it being a pre-production unit.
Omate TrueSmart smartwatch (hands-on)
On the right side of the device are a couple of buttons plus a tiny 5-megapixel camera, while the microSIM card slot sits on the left. We're not quite sure why the camera isn't a front-facing one for video calls, but Laurent Le Pen, Omate's CEO, tells us you could use it for GoPro-esque action shots (or sneaky spy pics, perhaps). If you unscrew the underside of the camera, you'll find a 600mAh battery that promises around 100 hours of standby time, plus a microSD card slot underneath that.
As we said earlier though, what excited us the most about the TrueSmart was its integration with the Fleksy keyboard, which is one of the most intuitive we've tried yet. During our brief time with it, we were amazed at how it managed to translate our mangled typing into coherent words and sentences. When it guesses the closest possible word, you can swipe to the right to confirm it, or toggle through a list of highlighted suggestions. We still have our doubts over reading text on the puny display, but you could probably use it for sending and reading emails in a pinch. We've included a video below of Fleksy in action on the TrueSmart.
While we're not sure if we'd want to take phone calls on our watch, you can do so with the TrueSmart as well; there's an embedded microphone plus a loudspeaker so you can chat with your buddies Dick Tracy style. Other features include a 1.3GHz dual-core Cortex A7 processor, quad-band GSM support, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, a set of pre-qualified Android apps and over-the-air firmware updates. Le Pen tells us that you can use the TrueSmart by itself or if you like, you can use it as a Bluetooth accessory with your existing phone. Even if we had our doubts over the TrueSmart, clearly many of you didn't as it earned over a million dollars in its Kickstarter campaign. It costs $249 retail for the model with 512MB of memory and 4GB on-board storage, and $299 for 1GB memory and 8GB storage. The first units from Kickstarter should start shipping in the next month. Have a peek at the gallery above for a closer look at the smartwatch that's also a phone.