Dual displays give this clever Android watch amazing battery life
By far the biggest downside of the modern smartwatch is their lousy battery life. If you’re lucky, you’ll get around two days of use in between charges from an Android Wear device, but the vast majority require top-ups every night. There is one, however, that promises to last a week, thanks to its clever use of not one but two displays.
With more than $7 billion worth of wearables expected to be sold in 2015, consumer technology makers are now scrambling to bring their best smartwatch efforts to market and beat out the competition. None of the devices we’ve seen so far have been anything close to perfect, but there are a few that outshine their rivals — and Geak Watch 2 could be one of them.
Built by Shanghai-based gadget maker Shanda, the device has both an high-definition LCD display and an e-ink one — like those that are found in the Pebble smartwatch and Amazon’s Kindle e-readers. The latter is what you’ll see when the watch is in “standby mode,” but the LCD takes over when you actually start using it.
The current crop of Android Wear watches use just an LCD display, and it’s the component that’s most responsible for eating battery life. Have it on all the time in “ambient” mode and you’ll need to charge your watch every night, but turn it off and use it only when you need it and you’re likely to get two days of use before its battery dies.
The problem with this approach is that it means you need to wake your watch every time you want to check the time or take a glance at your notifications, which requires a flick of the wrist or a tap on the display. Geak Watch 2’s e-ink display is on all the time, eliminating that issue — and making it usable in direct sunlight.
There are two Geak Watch 2 models — one of which is made out of plastic and costs 1,999 yuan ($327), and another made out of metal that costs 2,499 yuan ($409). The former promises six days of “normal” use on a single charge, or up to 15 days when the device is restricted to standby mode. The Pro model, which also has a heart rate monitor, will deliver 7 days of normal use, and up to 18 on standby.
Both devices have 1.3-inch circular displays with 254 pixels-per-inch — providing roughly the same resolution as LG’s new G Watch R. They run the Geak Watch OS, a proprietary platform that’s essentially a skinned version of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, which boasts its own custom app store.
Geak Watch OS is an attractive alternative to Android Wear in China, where Google Now is blocked. The Geak Watch 2 is available there now, but it’s unlikely you’ll see it in Western markets anytime soon.