The Smart Watch Project


by Dalibor Lanik


    Since the Smart Watch craze started, I really didn't find any use for this. Of course, you never know for 100% until you try it out, but investing several hundred euros only to try something doesn't seem rational. The major things being - you have to charge it every day or every couple of days (another device to charge, cooool) and second thing - it just doesn't seem practical; what is the difference between looking at your mobile phone or at your watch?


Anyways, these devices do look cool, but that is all. Coolness factor. So after all this time, the chance had it that a friend of mine sent me a link to a chinese smart watch. Not just any smart watch, but surely the most inexpensive one. I was amazed that anyone can, not manufacture such a device for the price, but ship it from China for the price... I took a look and forgot about it for a couple of days. But couple of days later, I remembered and went back to the seller's page on ebay. It said it was a model named U8. I examined all other, more expensive watches, started reading about them, found out there is even a topic on XDA about these chinese watches and I was hooked. Since I had some money on my PayPal accound, I decided to order. The cheap one. After all, even if it doesn't work, even if it doesn't arrive, for 10$ including shipping, it was ridiculously cheap. And if it works, it would be a good introduction to Smart Watches.


The purchasing process was pretty streightforward. 10$ were taken from my PayPal account and confirmation came by mail. There was no tracking, since the package was so cheap. I believe that there is tracking only when you order over 100$ or something like that. Anyways, that was the last thing I got. And after exactly 31 days, the package arrived. No customs, no anything. It was wrapped in bubble-paper, no box... afterwards I read that some sellers ship it in a box if you pay 2$ extra. What's the box for, anyway :)

I chose red color, there are black and white variants as well.


The watch comes only with a piece of paper that is the manual in english and a short USB charging cable. Notice that this is only charging cable, there are no data wires in it  so it can be used only for charging.

The watch itself looks pretty OK, the strap is very soft rubber so it will feel pretty nice on your hand, but I believe it will not last very long. It also has strong rubber smell for the first couple of days. We'll see. But the important thing is that watch looks pretty decent and is not making funny noises when you press it etc. The only thing that looks cheap is the USB port (charging port) cover, which looks cheap plastic and is not sitting properly when you close it. Ahh, for 10 bucks, this is no issue. Even if it falls off, it is no big deal.


The watch has only 1 physical button on the right hand side, and it is used to turn the thing on and off (display). There are 3 more capacative buttons at front, which are menu, next, and back.


To my utter surprise, When I pressed the on/off button, the watch came to life and booted in couple of seconds. I immediately paired it with my phone (Android 4.4.2), and it worked without any software installed. Well. at least some things worked. For all features, software is needed. But more on that later.


The battery is not so great, after all, you can't expect such small battery to last for days, but it is enough to last you through the day, with normal usage. It charges pretty quickly, in about 1-1,5 hours. I take it off the charger at 7 am and it lasts until 9-10 pm, which is more than enough for me.


The watch has MediaTek MT6261 processor, but other than that, it is hard to say it's other specs, because the Chinese are known for publishing false specification for their devices.

This is what I was able to read from it using the MauiMETA program:

BaseBand chip version=MT6261
ECO version=
DSP firmware version=2000.00.00
DSP patch version=1.0
Software version=MAUI.11C.W13.52.MP.V5
Hardware version=EIDOLON61D_BT_11C_HW
Melody version=Unknown

You need to install the drivers, ofcourse - I tried all the drivers mentioned in thread on XDA, but the only ones that worked are the drivers for original U8 watch ( approx. 30Mb in size, try googling for it).


The watch software is pretty stable and nice. Everything is logical and pretty nice. There could be more customization options, but this is not an issue. The sounds that are used as alerts are pretty bad, though. Only the default sounds are OK, the rest is just weird.


Basicaly, you can have this functionality on U8 in connection to your phone:

You can dial numbers from dialpad. You can list phonebook and dial numbers. You can Read your SMSes (sent and received) and you can receive notifications - the same ones you get on your phone. The software on the phone can set which apps should send notifications and which shlouldn't. Also, there is a very useful option no to send notifications when the phone is unlocked.


There is also media player control and sound redirection. This is standard Bluetooth functionality. The downside to this is that once you do it, all sounds are played on your watch. Press "clicks" etc. Everything. This is quite annoying and can drain your battery pretty fast, but it is not something the makers of the watch screwed, but simlply a bad concept in Bluetooth and Android. It just works this way.


Then you can redirect your calls. All calls will be redirected to your watch, and there you can take calls or drop them, and call audio is redirected to your watch. The volume is OK for quiet environments, that means if you're in the office or at home it is OK. But there is no chance to hear anything if there's any noise around. Again, the bad thing is that once you connect your watch to your phone via Bluetooth, all call audo is redirected, there is no way for you to choose whether to answer the call on the watch or the phone. You can only turn this redirection off or on, but once the phone is ringing, there is no way to select. Again, this is standard Android/Bluetooth functionality - after all, this was invented for handsfree sets or headsets and there it makes sense. I am now trying to find a solution to this problem by using Tasker, and will post here if I discover something. EDIT: I have managed to solve this, and you can read all about it here.

One cool feature (but totaly useless) is ability to shoot the camera from your watch. You see the camera display of your phone on your watch and you can take a picture. For this, either media sound or call sound must be redirected.

The AntiLost function alerts you if your phone gets disconnected so you don't forget it somewhere, which can be pretty useful.

Some other things on the watch are calculator, calendar, alarm, pedometer, reminders for sleep and water drinking (hmm, they needed to increase number of functions so they added these last two)...

There are 7 steps for volume intensity and 5 levels for screen brightness. There is also power-saving mode, but IMHO, it does nothing else then reduce screen brightness to a minimum. You can also turn off Bluetooth completely and use only standard watch functions to save battery even more.

There are 3 clock faces to chose from, 1 digital and 2 analog, as you can see on the photos.


There is a bit of mess concerning notification software to be installed on your phone. At least, their recomended software didn't work 100% for me. It might work for you. I don't know. There are several programs (apps) that basically do the same thing, but only one worked for me 100%. It is their default software, but not the version that was on the Google Play store, but some newer version which I found somewhere on the forums. You have to try and see for yourself. This software is run when it detects connection to your phone and it is visible in the notification area. If the phone is disconnected, there is no notification, so it is pretty easy to see if it is running/connected or not.


All in all, you just specify which apps should send notifications to the watch and whether they should send 'em when the phone is unlocked. If you have this watch and have problems, drop me a mail and I'll give you the link to the software that works for me.

Reading the forums, I found the driver for the PC, you just have to use another USB cable, and it connects to the PC just fine. There is a software that can read your configuration - that is how I know the model of the CPU used. There also is software for flashing, but since there are no ROMs for this thing, there is no point. Well, maybe in the future someone can modify the software, just the basic things like change the rigtones, alerts, icons, etc. Also, you can make backup of your ROM with this software (reported by other people, but I didn't manage to connect this software to the watch).


What can this do for you and is it useful? I think in some situations, yes. I still believe that for most people most of the time, this is just a gadget to show off, there is no real value in it. But sometimes it could come in handy. Example; When I'm in the office I keep my phone often connected to charger. Then when people start texting me, or sending me things on Viber, etc, I have to disconnect the phone, unlock it, open notifications and press the message, read it and then close the app, connect the phone back to charger. Also for instance, in crowded bus or metro, it is easier to glance at the watch than to hunt for your phone in your pockets atc. Of course, this is only sometimes. So it is not a really a necessary gadget.


Few things that might not be obvious or that you can't read in the manual:

* to turn on silent mode, hold the # key. It will toggle between "silent mode activated" and "general mode activated". Useful if you don't want notifications for a period of time but don't want to disconnect the watch.

* If you type *#1234# - it will toggle between 'A2DP PST Mode' and 'A2DP Normal Mode' whatever that means :)


All in all - it works. Exactly as advertized. All the things that are not perfect (redirection of sound) are not the fault of the watch but of Android and the way Bluetooth works. I am really satisfied with it so far. The only other question is quality, and how long it will work. But for 10$, it is a great way to find out something about this technology and have fun.

Ah, and after reading the forum on XDA - I found out that this watch is a copy (or a clone) of U8! The "real" U8 costs 2-3 times the price. But since it works, who cares :)

Solving problem with calls