Hands-on: Qualcomm Toq review

Qualcomm's new Toq smartwatch is now a reality, and Pocket-lint managed to get some hands-on time with the watch at Qualcomm's Uplinq conference in San Diego to find out whether this is the time keeper you want to own.

Costing around $300 (£190) when it becomes available in Q4 in the US, the watch features what we believe is a 1.6-inch Mirasol display (Qualcomm hasn't confirmed the exact size yet), that means you can use the watch out and about including in bright sunshine.

In our play, which included in a bright sunlit room, the screen is clear and crisp and posed no problems in seeing what was going on on the screen - something we can't say for the Sony Smartwatch 2, for example.

Interesting, because of the Mirasol technology the screen is always on and that means that there are no hardware buttons on the device whatsoever to turn it off.

Mirasol is Qualcomm's own screen technology developed originally for eBook readers. The need for a colour eBook reader never really arose following the birth of the tablet, but now Qualcomm is hoping to salvage its screen efforts here.

If you are panicking that the screen being on all the time will result in a battery life that lasts seconds rather than hours, don't be. Because of the way the Mirasol technology works Qualcomm says that in internal testing so far they are anecdotally getting around three days of battery life from a single charge even with heavy use.

To make charging easier, the Qualcomm Toq smart watch comes with a wireless charging pad, that also doubles as the case, and this means when you do come to charge the new watch it should be fairly simple.

With no buttons and an always-on display control is managed via a touchscreen interface on the screen itself. To lock the screen to prevent accidental touches in daily wear the strap actually includes a hidden touch sensitive button to lock screen and turn on a front light if needed. It's a clever idea, and one that we could see easily working in our demo.

As for the interface it's a dedicated software Qualcomm has developed itself and not in any way based on Android although it will talk to Android devices for notifications such as tapping into your calendar, your messages and emails.

We saw a number of different watch faces including analogue and digital designs. Two interesting approaches included featuring the weather next to the time and your next meeting next to the time. If you're a heavy meeting-goer that's going to save a lot of time trying to look at your phone for what's happening next.

The interface itself then doesn't have to follow any of the usual protocols that Android brings, and therefore looks very different from the Android powered smartphones we've seen on the market. In places it's very Windows Phone with square icons and simple iconography to tell you what's happening.

Qualcomm says there is nothing stopping Windows Phone or the iPhone supporting the watch, but that it won't at launch.

The big question though is could we see ourselves wearing one?

The Qualcomm Toq is a big device and you'll need a biggish wrist to get away with it based on the clasp Qualcomm has included.

For average-sized men we saw wearing it, it looks okay. It's on the large size, but not overly so. It's certainly a masculine design. For women however it's a different situation. As some of our pictures show, if you've got thin wrists this isn't going to be for you.

First impressions

Qualcomm says it developed the Toq because the company's CEO wanted something on his wrist to help him remember stuff. This certainly fills that brief and from what we've seen the approach here is certainly good enough to warrant getting one if you're looking for a smartwatch and don't particularly need Android.

It does mean however that apps might be slow to appear, especially as this is more a developer concept Qualcomm is selling to the public - very much like Google Glass, rather than someone like Apple with a proven background in selling consumer devices to consumers.

What's interesting however is that Qualcomm execs have told Pocket-lint that this isn't about Qualcomm becoming a consumer electronics company, but showing other companies what is possible, and hoping that they will take its lead to create bigger and better devices for the future.

One for the early adopters then.



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