My 9-year-old son wants a phone, but Mom and Dad aren't ready for that yet — and honestly, neither is he. However, getting him started with some tech, and teaching some responsibility, is something that we all want to explore These are some of the reasons I was exited to put together a GizmoWatch 2 review..
Learning things other than just how to use a piece of technology and taking care of his possessions are important, but so is the etiquette of communication through said technology. Thus, a smartwatch with a cellular connection is an excellent first step towards learning those lessons.
The list of excellent kids smartwatches is a short one for many reasons. But the GizmoWatch 2 has the tools I need as a parent and is simple enough to help my son learn how to begin using technology properly. Of course, while learning he also found some pure enjoyment from the watch — even if there are some downfalls.
More than just a toy
Bottom Line: The GizmoWatch 2 is a smartwatch for kids that gives them a sense of independence while providing parents peace of mind. The watch is simple to use, and the features work well, even if the design is a bit bland. The screen is colorful and bright, with large touchpoints for smaller fingers. Location tracking, geofencing, and specified guardian contacts are all welcomed safety features for the watch.
- Good call quality
- Watch software is easy to use
- Great safety features
- Bright and vibrant display
- Easy to set reminders and alarms
- Missing a Do Not Disturb mode
- Locked to Verizon
- No Wi-Fi
GizmoWatch 2: Price and availability
The GizmoWatch 2 was announced in April 2020 as an exclusive for Verizon. The smartwatch is the follow-up to the original GizmoWatch from 2018. GizmoWatch 2 launched with two color choices for the band — blue and pink. Full retail pricing for the watch is still at the $99 launch price. There are two contract options of 30 months for $3.33 per month or 24 months at $4.16 per month.
GizmoWatch 2 What's good
Whether it's watching my wife and I use our smartwatches, or it's something he sees in one of his favorite cartoons, the craving for a gadget to play with is there all the same. There are plenty of smartwatches out there for kids and some that mimic a smartwatch but aren't. If you want a device for your child that comes with safety and communication features, then let's talk about the GizmoWatch 2.
In terms of the watch's style, it is available in blue or pink — which really only changes the strap color. The strap is a nice silicone band that can be swapped out for any 20mm watch band. It has a two-tone plastic case that has held up well to my son's adventures — there's also IP7 water resistance which has come in handy.
I'm thankful there's an IP7 water-resistance rating for when out-of-the-blue water fights break out on warm spring days.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2500 makes navigating the watch a breeze, while the 1.4" display is bright with vibrant colors that really make the watch themes pop. Speaking of themes, there are seven options to choose from, ranging from colorful and fun citrus to a bold comic book style. Using the display is comfortable, and the large touchpoints in the software offer just the right amount of touch sensitivity.
While the GizmoWatch 2 isn't a phone in the traditional sense, it is fully capable of making cellular calls. My son loves being able to call Mom and Dad whenever he chooses, whether that is for help with his homework or just to tell us about something super awesome that he found outside while playing. The watch gets its connectivity via Verizon, and that is the only choice you have.
Verizon Wireless is the exclusive carrier for this smartwatch, so while you can't use your carrier of choice, at least the one you get is reliable. The watch will cost you $100 at full retail, or you can opt for monthly payments and a contract, with the data line running you $10 per month before fees and taxes.
While I'm still working on proper phone etiquette for my son, his calls to reenact something "totally awesome" he has found is a joy.
While using the watch in rural Kansas, where connectivity can be spotty at best, the GizmoWatch 2 did an admirable job keeping ahold of the signal both in and outside. Calls to the watch were clear on both ends, and the speaker on the watch side was plenty loud for my son to hear me even on a windy spring day.
Along with making phone calls, the watch can also handle messaging — both voice and text. There are preset messages on the device, with no way to add or customize; there are also emojis available to use. Your child can also send a voice message in their regular voice or use the voice changer app on the watch to pick from a few fun options like a robot, monster, squirrel, and more.
When it comes to communication, the only people who can call the watch — or be called — are those you set up in the parent companion app on your phone. The GizmoHub is used for the initial setup of the watch and to control nearly every facet of the device.
The watch can handle up to 10 total contacts, with four different levels of communication permission — guardians, caregivers, buddies, and GizmoBuddies. However, I was unable to figure out how to set someone as a GizmoBuddy. Another feature for contacts is the ability to set an emergency contact. Your child can initiate an emergency call by simply pressing and holding one of the two hard keys on the side of the watch.
|Dimensions||1.71 x 1.77 x .53 inches|
|Display||1.4 inches, 300x300, 303PP1|
|Colors||Blue or Pink|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2500 32-bit, Quad-core 1.2GHz|
|Water and Dust resistance||IPX7|
The GizmoHub app also brings you the ability to set alarms, recurring reminders with custom rewards for completing tasks, as well as keeping an eye on your child's step count. Speaking of the step count, you can set up a goal for your child as well as attach a reward for meeting that goal. For my son, the reward is a soda, which is a major treat for him and has him very active. There's also a fun app on the watch that challenges your child to jump for varying lengths of time to earn new animal sounds.
I like the ability to schedule quiet time for the watch to keep it from making noises. Aside from scheduling it, you can also manually trigger quiet mode at any point you choose via the app.
In terms of safety, GizmoWatch 2 has GPS built-in for accurate location tracking and reporting. Within the GizmoHub, you can view the current location of the watch on a map — which includes a satellite mode. You can also see the location history of the watch and know where it's been throughout the day.
An optional real-time tracking feature will regularly ping the watch's location, but note that turning this mode on will drain the battery quickly. Your child can also use their watch to send you a notification with their location.
GizmoWatch 2 What's not good
For all the good things about the GizmoWatch 2, and there are plenty, it's not without its faults. Even Verizon's ubiquitous cellular network can't save the physical restrictions that a small watch is going to bring in regards to connectivity.
The watch can only have so many antennas to grab ahold of the signal due to that size, which means the battery is quickly drained at times of low or no signal. While the 500mAh cell does a fair job of making it through the day most times, there were a handful of days where it was dead before suppertime.
A helpful addition, in terms of connectivity, would be Wi-Fi. This would help to alleviate some of the signal shortcomings the watch has while indoors. Calling via Wi-Fi like some of our other top kids smartwatches such as the TickTalk4 would be helpful as well in a situation in which cellular reception was weak. This addition would not only help with connectivity issues but would also support better battery life.
I know it's just a kids smartwatch, but I wish there were an option built into the GizmoHub to see what was causing the battery drain. Was it a glitch in the messaging app? Maybe it's the cellular stand-by or the GPS pings for location? Though it's likely one of the latter, to know for sure would be nice.
The watch has a quiet mode that is set or scheduled from the parent companion app, which is nice as it sets the device to silent. However, this doesn't lock the device to keep unwanted distractions like texts, calls, or just playing around on the watch from happening. A full-on Do Not Disturb mode would be most welcomed as it could lock the watch to telling time and emergency calls.
Thankfully, Charging the GizmoWatch 2 is easy enough with its USB-A to proprietary magnetic and pogo pin dock. The device charges relatively fast, in 6-8 hours, but there were times when it got bumped on the desk during the night and slipped off the charger.
When asking my son if there was something he'd like the watch to have or be able to do, he knew right away what his answer was — a camera and a keyboard for messages.
While the screen has good brightness levels, in direct sunlight, it can be a bit dim. Though the watch can turn on or off, there is also the option of lift-to-wake the screen. The message on the device wasn't clear, though, according to my son. He's learning what a complete sentence is, and as he puts it, "I didn't know why the watch was saying 'raise wrist '... raise it for what? It wasn't a complete sentence Dad."
GizmoWatch 2 Competition
Though there are quite a few toy smartwatches available for kids, connected devices like the GizmoWatch 2 that provide communication and safety features are less common — at least trustworthy ones. One of the best out there is the TickTalk 4. Its design is a bit bulky in comparison to the GizmoWatch 2, but the watch makes great use of its boxy shape by packing in two cameras for video chats and photo sharing, Wi-Fi, GPS, along with cellular connectivity. You'll also find step tracking, free iHeart Radio Family, and many other great features.
One of the great things about this watch is that it's compatible with carriers other than just Verizon. However, one feature that is missing from the TickTalk 4 that you'll get on the GizmoWatch 2 is geofencing. While there is location tracking, the ability to set a safe zone that you can be notified of when your child enters or exits is a wonderful feature on the GizmoWatch 2.
Another watch to consider is the Xplora X5 Play. It has a more toned-down design than the TickTalk 4 but still offers plenty of durability and features. The X5 Play sits in between the GizmoWatch 2 and the TickTalk 4 in terms of features and appearance. You'll find a single camera for video calls and sharing pictures, GPS for geofencing, and the ability to use the watch with the cellular carrier of choice as long as it isn't Verizon.
The X5 Play also has a unique feature called XCoins, digital currency that your child can earn by completing tasks and challenges you set for them. These coins can then be used to purchase actual items from the Go Play store. However, the options for purchase and earning methods are a bit limited. The Xplora app isn't as reliable as the GizmoWatch 2, and step tracking is hit and miss.
GizmoWatch 2 Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a good performing, no-frills smartwatch for your kid.
- You want an easy-to-use parental companion app.
- You don't want a camera on your child's smartwatch.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You don't want to use Verizon.
- You want your child's smartwatch to have a camera.
- You need the watch to have Wi-Fi.
While you are limited to Verizon as the cellular provider, in most cases, its network strength and extensive coverage are more than sufficient. But the lack of Wi-Fi can drain the watch battery in times of poor cellular signal. The companion app is well designed and easy to use, and offers consistent performance.
Whether you have a young child that is begging for a phone, or you are just looking for a way to introduce some responsibility and basic communication etiquette, the GizmoWatch 2 is worth a look. Watching my son explore technology has been fun, and his thirst for learning is immense. Having something like the GizmoWatch 2 allows me to put gadgets as Mom and Dad have into his hands, or on his wrist, in a controlled fashion.
Letting him roam around our property and go exploring allows him to feel some independence while at the same time enabling him to call me should he need something. There are parts of the watch that both my son and I would change, but in the end, it's a great device that lets us both have fun with it while still being safe in a connected world.
Review Changelog, September 2021
This article was originally published in April 2020.
It was updated in September 2021 with the following changes.
- Updated with pricing and availability.
- Updated with competition.
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