RoHS Smart Watch, Gold Edition: Move over Apple Watch
Just splashed out on a 42mm Gold Edition Apple Watch at a cool £8,000? Happy? Well, you could have had an even bigger golden beast, a monstrous 55mm of it, for a mere twenty quid. In fact, you could have 400 of them. Enter the RoHS Gold Edition direct from China. A friend in Greece ordered this at a cost of €29 plus €3 shipping. What a bargain. And, to be honest, it is quite well made and it actually works. It looks good on the right-sized wrist, which isn't my scrawny offering, and at a quick glance it could be mistaken for the real thing. A very quick glance.
The RoHS is actually quite an interesting lookalike. Not only does it have a removable battery, which is a departure from Apple's current practice on all portable devices, it features a SIM slot so you an use it as a phone. It also pairs very successfully with an iPhone and making and answering calls is an easy task although the sound is decidedly tinnier than on the Apple Watch.
What appears to be an Apple-style side button on the opposite side of the case to the crown is, in fact, a cover for the USB micro charging port. With its myriad orifices, the RoHS isn't for the beach, even in Greece.
The operating system appears to be based on Android and the default face is uncannily reminiscent of one of Apple's standard offerings. It's certainly bigger in diameter because of the much larger screen. The home screen features a circlet of apps around a small watch face—including mail, bluetooth, contacts and music.
When I heard about this 29-euro paragon I was inclined to scoff. In reality, I confess I am rather impressed. The workmanship is better than expected and the internals look anything but shoddy. The inclusion of a SIM card, to create a stand-alone wrist communicator, is an inspired feature. Some pundits suggest this idea will eventually percolate through to the Apple Watch, although at the risk of cannibalising iPhone sales.
My reservations are few. The watch is thicker than I would like, but then it does have a removable battery and SIM card to accommodate. The strap, although of acceptable-quality synthetic material, has an awkward two-prong fixing which is difficult to get just right on the wrist. And I suspect the strap would come apart easily, thus risking loss of the watch. Finally, there is the question of reliability and longevity. Here, I suspect, Apple wins.
But for £20 who cares? The amazing thing is that a factory in China can produce this device and sell it for such a low price. Wonders never cease, but I won't be swapping out my steel Apple Watch just yet.