Timex iConnect Active: A no-frills watch that lags behind competition

Topics Watch | smartwatches | Timex

On a positive note, you can open your phone’s camera though the iConnect Active and click a picture through its native app | Timex iConnect Active
The Timex Active may have a slight design advantage, but the cheapest smartwatch from the US watchmaker is largely outmanoeuvered by competition in terms of features and fitness tracking abilities. Activity trackers that are even cheaper, such as the Mi Band 4 (Rs 2,299), make for a better investment if the goal is to simply track movement, performance metrics and heart rate. And if one prefers maintaining the illusion of wearing an actual watch, there’s also the Noise Colorfit Pro 2 (Rs 3,499) and, more recently, the Realme Watch (Rs 3,999) to consider in the price range.

The reason why a basic watch with limited functionality warrants a full review is that many entry-level smartwatches have this annoying ability to bungle simple tasks such as tracking steps and sleep, and relaying phone notifications. So there are things to be careful about while choosing a smartwatch. Here’s how the Timex iConnect Active does — and does not — meet expectations.


Design

The 37mm plastic dial in rose gold and a purple resin strap make for a passable, Apple-esque smartwatch. It even has an almost similar — although not as comfortable —strap that loops on the inside. The watch is dressy and extremely lightweight. And if it weren’t for its thick bezels and a touch button at the bottom of the screen, it could well be mistaken for a modern and more expensive smartwatch. Unlike its competitors, this watch does not have a swipe-based touch screen and is entirely dependent on this one button for all the navigation. Not that it doesn’t work, but it’s old-school, cumbersome and belongs on a much cheaper fitness tracker. 

Performance

Besides tracking steps, calories and active minutes, the iConnect Active measures heart rate and sleep. The watch is fairly easy to pair with either an Android or an iOS phone via Bluetooth using the iConnect by Timex 2 app. The app, too, is neat, even if not visually appealing.


In terms of accuracy, the watch runs faster than you and tends to over count steps at times. On other occasions it misses some steps here and there. I allowed myself to look silly and ran with three watches on my wrist to test the iConnect Active against two extremely popular — and pricey — smartwatches, and found this review unit to be fairly inaccurate. The sleep data, too, measured against another popular smartwatch, a non-contact sleep tracker and a physical logbook, was way off the mark. While the iConnect Active does not specify the exact time range of one’s sleep, it showed that I slept for less than two hours on two consecutive nights when I had easily slept for more than four hours on each. The only thing that I found unquestionably accurate about the watch was that it does last close to five days (on minimum brightness) as claimed by the company.

In terms of accuracy, the watch runs faster than you and tends to over count steps at times
It’s not unusual for fitness trackers and smartwatches to be slightly inaccurate in counting steps. Some companies, such as Fitbit, improve the data over time by calculating and adjusting your stride length after every run with their GPS-enabled devices. But you can easily make out the accuracy of any tracker if your physical activity follows a routine. A deviation of more than 20 per cent is unacceptable. And if you are relying on data from a smartwatch to keep healthy or improve your performance, a bigger deviation could be detrimental.

On a positive note, you can open your phone’s camera though the iConnect Active and click a picture through its native app. It can also control your phone’s music (play/pause, next and previous song). But notifications again are a bit of a problem. While iOS only allows it to relay notifications for calls and texts, Android lets it send Twitter, Facebook, WeChat and WhatsApp notifications, too. Every time I got a new WhatsApp message, the watch buzzed multiple times — once for every unread WhatsApp message on my phone. I had no choice but to turn the WhatsApp notifications off. And you can’t reply to the messages from the watch. But that’s the case with almost all trackers and watches in this price range.

Verdict

The watch does not look bad, and even though it uses a single touch button for navigation and tracks your heart rate every 30 minutes — instead of 24/7, like its competitors — its biggest flaw is the unreliable sleep data and the high deviation in step count. I wouldn't recommend this watch as a fitness tracker. The Timex iConnect Active (Rs 3,996) is at best a decent-looking digital watch.



Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel