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Alcatel WATCH hands-on review at CES 2015

Alcatel One Touch has smashed its way into the smartwatch market with an affordable Moto 360 competitor that is refreshingly dock-free and Android/iOS compatible.

From the moment you pick up the Alcatel WATCH (the rather striking and simple name of the first smartwatch from this French company), it’s hard not to think of the Moto 360. The WATCH shares the same rounded design, the same chunky finish and the same plastic build that looks metallic but sadly isn’t.

That said, at least the WATCH is quite light and not too intrusive when you strap it to your wrist, so you’ll probably forget you’re even wearing it in no time at all.

The WATCH’s main selling points are its refreshingly cheap price ($149, which we expect to translate to roughly £129 in the UK) and the fact that it’s not running Android Wear. Instead, Alcatel One Touch has gone with a proprietary OS which means that the WATCH is compatible with Android (4.3 and above) and also iOS (7 and above).

Swipe up the bright 1.22-inch screen and you’ll still be taken to your notifications, but tap the dinky display and you’ll find yourself in the apps menu. The demo unit had a fair few already pre-installed, none of which were particularly remarkable but at least the WATCH had everything you’d expect.

Alongside the obligatory fitness app which counts your steps, you’ll also find a heart rate monitor (the sensor is on the back and we were a little worried to discover our BPM was in triple figures – god bless you, Vegas). Then there’s a weather app if you can’t be bothered to look out of the window, a music app to skip or pause your tunes and a stopwatch and compass.

You can also control your phone in a number of ways. For example, you can make it buzz and ring if you’ve lost it somewhere in your house, or remotely control the camera to take a selfie without one of those godawful sticks. You can even slip it into airplane mode. Alcatel One Touch has promised a slew of new apps in the future, so at least the wearable should be well supported.

Another great feature is the way you charge the watch. We’re not exactly subtle on our complete hatred for smartwatch docks, which are just another pointless and irritating bit of gear that you have to cart around whenever you’re on the move, as most watches generally survive as long as a suicidal mayfly. But the WATCH has a built-in USB charger hidden in the strap, so you can slot it straight into your laptop or any other USB port to power it up. Just prise up one end and there it is.

We’re not sure if there’ll be a mains adapter included as the demo staff weren’t too sure themselves, but here’s hoping, otherwise you’ll have to carry your own – or a computer – around with you to keep it charged up.

It’s a shame that the Alcatel One Touch WATCH features the same annoying black bar at the bottom of the screen, another Moto 360 staple, but at this low price point we’d more or less forgive it. We’ll bring you a full review when we get our hands on one, in the next month or so.

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