GearBest has sent me another smartwatch to review. This is the Haier G6. Not to be confused with the Haier Watch announced during MWC 2016, the Haier G6 runs on the same Mediatek MTK2502C chipset as Zeblaze Crystal which I have previously reviewed.
Design wise, the Haier G6 resembles the first generation Moto 360 albeit smaller, and since Motorola has moved on to the 2nd generation, I must say the G6 design looks out-of-fashion. The gold bezel casing may look flashy for the discreet wearer, but if you can carry it off, it actually looks rather attractive. I find the capacitive button at the 6 o’clock position rather redundant, preferring Haier to build a full circular display instead of a “flat tyre”.
The Haier G6 has all the bells and whistles of a Mediatek chipset-based smartwatch. Here’s a list:
- Access phone book, call log and messages in your smartphone
- Remote dialing to your smartphone
- Answer calls via the built-in speaker and microphone. No need to pick up your phone. Speaker is audible in office but might be hard to hear in shopping malls. The speaker tends to crack up at loud volumes.
- Supports gesture like shake to answer calls
- Stream music stored in your smartphone to the watch speaker
- Change watch face and limited availability of watch faces to download via Fundo Wear smartphone app
- Remote camera capture. Android devices allow live preview on the watch. iOS devices will only trigger shutter via the watch.
- Remote notification. The improved version now lets you respond to the message, either open from your phone to read more, or delete, or reply from your phone.
- 5 “themes” that are essentially menu background wallpapers to choose from
- Sleep monitor
- Sedentary reminder
- Heart rate sensor. You can monitor per event or continuously.
- Sound recorder
- File manager
- Find my device
Though most of the functions are similar to Zeblaze Crystal, the UI has been refined. Now I can choose whether to display the menu in 4 icons or 1 icon. The sub menus look cleaner with larger fonts for ease of selection. Navigating the menus is also intuitive: tap to select, swipe right to go back. If you are already familiar with Android Wear, the Haier G6 is right at home.
I have to say that the connectivity has improved enough for me to use it as a mainstream smartwatch. Earlier smartwatches on Mediatek chipset had connectivity issues that made notification a hit-and-miss affair. Not anymore with Haier G6, although it still disconnects occasionally and reconnects within moments. I like how the watch now shows longer message length, somewhat similar to Android Wear. There are also contextual menu for me to respond to the message with Open, Delete, Reply, Block, again inspired by Android Wear.
A small drawback: on Android, if you miss the message after a while, it disappears from the watch, unlike Android Wear which persists until you swipe it away. If you only need the watch as a gentle notifier of incoming messages, the Haier G6 should work satisfactorily. On iOS however, the notification mirrors your phone, so it will appear under the “Remote Notifier” menu as long as the notification remains in your phone.
The Fundo Wear app works more reliably now on Android, and you don’t have to pair twice. iOS users still have to do another pairing in the Fundo Wear app like I explained in my Zeblaze Crystal review. The app captures step count recorded via the watch and plots an hourly chart. The sleep monitoring data appears to be inaccurate. The chart shows the number of hours slept but the light-deep sleep summary data is off the chart. Both the pedometer and sleep monitoring must be started before the watch can track and sync to the Fundo Wear app. If you are not interested in tracking them, you can turned off, which saves battery.
The watch only shows battery capacity in a small battery bar icon, but the smartphone notification drawer displays the battery capacity, though only in intervals of 70%, 30% and 0%. Despite showing 0%, I managed to use the watch for about 2 hours before it auto shuts down. With the pedometer activated and sleep monitor turned on while I sleep, the watch lasts less than a day, which is disappointing. Charging takes about an hour via a magnetic port attached to the back of the watch.
There are a few bugs when I reviewed the G6. The wake-up gesture using gyroscope seems to be out of alignment. At times, the watch display would wake up after I lift the wrist, and auto sleeps after I put the wrist done. Other times, it worked the other way around, where the display lights up when I put the hand down, and turns off when I lift the watch up. It got so frustrating that I turned it off.
The other bug is the regular disconnects even though the watch is just next to the phone. However, the devices get reconnected almost instantaneously.
The Haier G6 is an inexpensive and comfortable smartwatch with a lengthy list of functions, including heart rate sensor, pedometer and sleep tracker, hands-free speaker, smartphone notification. I thought the handsfree call management is useful in making or answering calls via the watch without having to take out the phone, which was not the case for Android Wear. Mediatek-chip smartwatches have been improving on the UI and functions over the years, unlike Android Wear where it appears to be stagnant. The biggest drawback is the battery life, but the design might be too hard to resist for some.
GearBest is selling at its online store for US$47.41, and shipping is free. Colour choices include black, silver and gold (my review unit).