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Image credit: Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Kate Spade's second Wear OS watch gets a serious tech upgrade

The Scallop Smartwatch 2 is water-resistant and has a built-in heart rate monitor, NFC and GPS.
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Fashion brand Kate Spade has made a second smartwatch and this year's offering comes with a serious tech upgrade. The Scallop Smartwatch 2 packs GPS, NFC and heart rate sensors onboard -- all things its predecessor didn't have. But it still retains the scalloped edging around the face like before, and further incorporated the pattern to the edges of this generation's straps. I wasn't sure I'd like the new design from the press pictures Kate Spade provided, but after seeing the watch in person, I actually think it's nice.

In addition to the cosmetic tweaks, the Scallop Smartwatch 2 also features a heart rate monitor on its underside, and you can tap the spade icon at the top of the watch face to get a pulse reading whenever you want. When I did that, the spade dropped down and replicated to fill up the screen, before forming a heart shape. It's cute, but after about 15 or so times I can see this getting a little annoying. The good news is, that isn't the only way for you to measure your pulse -- a watch face complication lets you keep tabs and updates every twenty minutes. You could also go check it via Google Fit.

Gallery: Kate Spade Scallop Smartwatch 2 hands-on | 7 Photos

Also inside the Scallop Smartwatch 2 is a GPS sensor, so you can take it on runs without your phone and still be able to map your route. Plus, it's water-resistant (up to 3 ATM) so it will survive if you get caught in the rain.

Kate Spade also added a few custom designed watch faces this year that reflect a new design aesthetic from the company's collaboration with its creative director Nicola Glass. They're pretty, and fans of the brand will recognize familiar motifs like the spade and scallop patterns, similar to on the previous watch.

The rest of the watch is pretty standard for a Wear OS device. Swipe left to see your progress towards Google Fit goals, swipe right to see your Assistant feed. You can twist the dial on the right to scroll through apps or notifications, though I found the one on my preview unit a little over sensitive.

Gallery: Kate Spade Scallop Smartwatch 2 press images | 6 Photos

Instead of using a new Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset, the Scallop Smartwatch 2 is powered by the older Wear 2100, so you won't get new features like a richer ambient watch face or extended battery modes. Kate Spade CMO Mary Beech told Engadget that the company opted for the Wear 2100 because "We looked at what we wanted the watch to do and realized the 2100 platform supports all the functionality without added risk or cost."

Frankly, that's not a huge loss -- my experience with Wear 3100 watches so far hasn't shown much of a difference. You may just miss a few extra hours of battery a day. Kate Spade says the Scallop Smartwatch 2 will last about one to two days per charge, which is in line with other Wear OS devices. If you or a loved one is a huge Kate Spade fan and wants a more advanced Android-friendly smartwatch, the Scallop 2 is a promising option. It'll be available in stores on Jan. 28th starting at $295, and you can already pre-order it now on the Kate Spade website .

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