A few days ago I tested the UMIDIGI Uwatch3 smartwatch and was deeply impressed by it. It was by far the best sports smartwatch I had ever used priced at less than £50 and in some respects was better than the Polar Ignite I use for running. I was keen to see if this new similarly priced watch from UMIDIGI could match it.
In the box are the watch, silicon strap, charging cable and a User Guide. Build quality seems fine with nothing looking like to fail anytime soon. The standard size watch strap is easy to fit and is both robust and comfortable, the magnetic charger features a non-standard interface, so take care not to lose it. The user guide is well written, in colour, and more comprehensive than others I have seen from high-end rivals.
The watch monitors these parameters: Steps. Distance, Calories, Sleep, Heart Rate, Blood Oxygen, Blood Pressure, GPS route tracking. It also shows weather, phone notifications, sedentary reminder, phone music controls, compass, camera shutter release, find phone, timer and even has a mini flashlight mode.
When set to max the screen is bright and easy to read with large and distinctive icons. There are two large buttons on the right side, one for power, Up, back and system access, the other for Down and quick access to exercise and other screens. The touch screen is fast, responsive and vastly better than on any other budget smartwatch I have used. Swipe left to get the current status, swipe right for the heart screen, up for information, swipe down to access the shortcuts screen.
All the key features work, although some better than others. The data is all stored and processed within the ‘Paiactive’ app to which the watch is linked over Bluetooth. This is not the same app used by the Uwatch3 and although perhaps more comprehensive is more confusing to use. The time and date and other data sync automatically in the background but a manual sync option is available within the app.
Binding the phone to the watch, in theory, is simple enough although it took me a few attempts to make it work and for a while, I did lose connection a few times. It seems OK now and the issues are as likely to have been caused by my phone as the watch.
Let’s look in more detail at watch the watch can do
Steps – Step counter works but with results different from my Polar running watch – but this is to be expected, so I would say this feature works.
Distance – slightly different again from the Polar which also uses its internal GPS to for speed and location tracking, but even high-end watch will vary slightly in this. To my surprise, after an exercise session, the full animated GPS track is shown in the app along with calories used, pace, heart rate graph etc. I checked the GPS track on the onscreen map and it seems just as accurate as any other I have used. More detailed metrics are given in this app than with the ‘VeryFitPro app used by the Uwatch3 . I was very pleased to see that activity metrics can be exported automatically to Google Fit and Strava, so yes, this budget watch can be used for serious training. I am a runner myself, and this watch comes close to satisfying all I need from a training watch. It is also waterproof to 5 ATMs and can be used for swimming, although it does not track swimming metrics.
Calories – The app calculates this and is probably no more accurate or otherwise than any other, as I have doubts about them all. However, it does seem consistent and is probably good for showing a day on daily usage.
Sleep – This seems to work and mirrors pretty much the same feature on my Polar watch although in less (unneeded) detail.
Heart Rate –The heart rate monitor reads 24/7, and can give you a real-time reading as well as accumulated daily readings both on the phone and in the app. It also shows average, resting and peak readings but I am not sure if this is just from within the exercise sessions or not. The user guide does not really go into enough detail for this. When tested directly against my other heartrate tracking watches all three show very similar readings, so count this as a Pass.
Blood Oxygen (SP02) – This appears to work but gives me a slightly different reading from that on my fingertip reader, but this seems to vary, so perhaps the jury is out on this one.
Blood Pressure – It is necessary first to configure the watch using your own external blood pressure monitor, a feature I have never found on any other watch, that done I found the results to be surprisingly accurate.
Music Controls – Yes, this works but only for selected apps. You cannot store music on the watch itself but only control playback from the attached phone.
Phone Notifications – These worked well and can be selected and configured using the app. The text can be hard to read but that is to be expected. The notifications are one way only. You cannot answer or initiate a call or message from the watch.
Lost Phone Alert – Yes, this works with an icon in the quick access screen and audible alerts from the phone.
Do Not Disturb – You can define a start and stop time and it works just fine.
Sedentary Reminder – yes, this seems to work.
Weather – Yes, this works too and although fairly basic tells you all you need to know.
Watch Faces – A small selection can be installed using the app or the watch, a quick and simple process. The selection is limited but the screens are all well designed, easy to read and informative.
Several things impressed me straight away about this watch. Firstly the build quality, which is excellent with one of the most responsive touch screens I have ever used (better, for example than my far more costly Polar Ignite and Nubia watches). Secondly, as soon as I connected it, it downloaded a system update, a good sign that the watch is still being supported and developed. Thirdly the Paiactive app, although not without some annoying issues, in general, worked well with no freezes, crashes or broken screens. All the data was well displayed and updated quickly.
This and the other from UMIDIGI are the only sub £50 watches I have ever tried that I would consider using to track my running. Although there is no online interface it can export metrics to Google Fit and Strava which can then sync to a whole range of online exercise websites.
What does it lack? Not much really. It would be nice to be able to initiate and respond to calls, SMS and social media messages from the watch and nice too if a few dedicated apps were included – Facebook, Instagram etc. The app needs more development as it can be confusing at times.
This is no Apple Watch, but it is certainly no cheap throwaway item. It looks good, works well and does pretty much everything it claims to do. Almost everything I want from a smartwatch is here.
This is a fantastic buy for the price. If you need a well made, and easy to use a smartwatch, that performs all the key features perfectly, then this is for you. If you want a reasonably well-specified sports tracking watch then this is for you too. I defy you to find a better from either viewpoint for twice the price.
Which is better, the UMIDIGI Uwatch3 or this one? The first watch has fewer features but is easier to use with a better designed app. This one has more features, including more detailed sporting metrics, but is harder to navigate and with a slightly less well thought out app.
For less than £50 get them while you can.