If you were to do an online search for kids smartwatches, you would find a lot of options. However, only the best kids smartwatches offer some form of connectivity and parental safety controls, and that's why I was interested in doing an Omate O6L Pro review. This watch has one big selling point to it, and that's it has three years of cellular service included with it via what Omate calls a virtual SIM, or vSIM.
Smartwatches aren't cheap for kids or adults, and when you factor in the cost for a data plan, it gets even more expensive. So the prospect of a device for my child that allows us to stay in contact if needed, set up safe zones, and let him track activity, all without the additional cost of cell service, interested me a lot. However, there's more to these kinds of devices than just connectivity and safety features. Everything has to mesh together into a good experience — which the Omate O6L Pro does not pull off.
OMATE O6L Pro
Bottom line: The Omate O6L Pro is a simple-looking watch with an easy-to-use interface and companion app. However, even the included cellular data plan can't overcome a buggy app and inconsistent performance.
- Includes three years of cellular service
- Good speaker and microphone quality
- Two watch bands included
- Geofencing is available
- Very buggy companion app
- Delayed notifications from the watch
- Step tracking is way off
- Proximity sensor is inconsistent
- The display doesn't get bright enough
OMATE O6L Pro: Price and availability
The new Omate O6L Pro launched in February 2021 with a price tag of $249 through the Omate website. It is available in a black watch with a black silicone band and a black nanoblock strap, or a purple watch with a purple silicone band and a white nanoblock strap.
OMATE O6L Pro: What's good
The Omate O6L Pro's design is relatively generic. The black color I have is all black with a square display with a small 2MP front-facing camera and two buttons on the side. There's no two-tone look or anything, and the included 20mm silicone strap is very basic as well. However, the watch can look a bit more dynamic when the silicone band is swapped out for the nanoblock strap.
|Category||Omate O6L Pro|
|Dimensions||1.86 x 1.61 x 0.63 inches|
|Display||1.3in • 240 x 240 px|
|Colors||Black • Purple|
|Water and Dust resistance||No official rating|
|Connectivity||4G LTE • 3G • Wi-Fi|
|Sensors||GPS • Proximity|
This watch band has easy to remove segments with a locking clasp, but the real exciting part is that it's like a wearable Lego strap. The nanoblock strap includes a bunch of different sizes and colors of blocks that your child can put on to make the ultimate custom watch band. While the blocks seem to be clip onto the strap securely, I wasn't about to let my son wear it to school — it's just asking for him to get distracted in class.
At least the watch does offer a schedulable class mode. When this is turned on, all watch features are disabled except for SOS calling and the clock. This way, there's no worry of distractions from messaging mom and dad while in class.
When the Omate O6L Pro isn't in class mode, it can send emojis and voice messages and make voice and video calls via the 2MP front-facing camera. This is thanks to the cellular data plan that is included with the purchase of the watch. The three-year data plan is provided by Skyroam, a company that primarily offers Wi-Fi hotspots.
Getting a three-year data plan included on the watch is an incredible value.
The watch only works on GSM networks, and you can put in a nano-SIM from AT&T, T-Mobile, or one of their MVNOs, but why would you? Firstly, the watch already has cell service set up on the vSIM. Secondly, using the included carrier option, the Omate O6L Pro will change carrier towers based on the stronger signal.
As for whom your child can communicate with through their watch, this is limited to whom you allow via the parental companion app on your phone. The app allows for one administrator and then 100 additional contacts that the admin must invite. So there are no worries about calls to or from strangers; there's not even a dialer pad on the watch. When I did get calls, voice or video, I thought that the quality was excellent considering the small speaker on the device.
In fact, the number of "apps" on the watch is limited to messages, video calls, voice calls, and activity tracking — that's it. Nothing extra to be distracted by. There are 16 different watch faces to choose from on the Omate O6L Pro ranging from silly characters and flowers to fun designs.
Other safety features included with the watch are location tracking and geofencing. From the companion app, you can always see where the watch is currently thanks to the built-in GPS sensor. You can also set up safe zones from within that app. This lets you set locations and a radius around that space, along with days of the week and timeframes that you want to get notified when the watch enters or leaves it.
Omate includes a unique sensor on the back of the O6L Pro — a proximity sensor. When enabled in the companion app, if the watch is removed, you will be notified on your phone. I like this feature when paired with the ability to disable the watch from being powered down by my son. Though I don't think my son would, it is good to know that he can't "accidentally" turn it off when I need to contact him.
OMATE O6L Pro: What's not good
As I said at the start of this review, everything has to mesh together for a good experience, and, unfortunately, that doesn't happen here. The Omate O6L Pro works well, but the display and step-tracking features are pretty lackluster.
In normal lighting, the screen has decent colors, and the brightness is acceptable. However, when in brightly lit areas or outdoors in the sun, it's almost impossible to see the display. There's no way to change the brightness manually, and the default brightness level is not even close to bright enough to use the watch in the sunlight.
According to the step tracking on the Omate O6L Pro, my son averages about 18 miles a day.
The other issue on the watch is the step tracking accuracy. Now, my son is a very active child, running, skipping, and jumping, all over the place, seemingly all the time. However, the watch thinks, even on school days, that he is talking about 42,000 steps. We had him wear the Omate O6L Pro and another tracker, and the Omate wasn't even remotely close. While he was super proud of the number watch said, it was way too high.
The bulk of the issues lie with the companion app — it has far too many bugs. If the app isn't open on my screen, notifications can be severely delayed. Yes, I ensured that my phone wasn't "optimizing" the app in the background to save battery. We tested these delays with messages, geofencing, watch removal, and even calls.
I can't say for sure that delays in proximity notifications are due to the sensor or the app, but it's slow.
When I say delayed, I mean sometimes it would be by hours. If a call was coming in and the app was closed, sometimes I wouldn't be notified at all. Other times, if I had the app open in the background, my phone would ring, and even after answering the call, it would continue to ring. This is more than just annoying, and these delays negate the watch's point as a communication and a safety device.
When setting up a safety zone, it has to be done twice because it fails the first time — every time. When entering the info the second time, the app crashes, but it saves the information for the zone. Once the geofence areas are created, again, notifications to the app are delayed. Sometimes it's by a few minutes, which I could deal with, but other times it's by hours — that I can't handle.
I reached out to Omate about these issues and to see if there's a fix on the horizon. If the companion app improves its reliability, I'll reevaluate the score given above. But as it stands, this product is basically unusable as it is.
OMATE O6L Pro: Competition
There are many options out there when looking for a connected smartwatch for your child, although none have cellular service included. One of the best on the market is TickTalk 4. While its design may not be for everyone, it makes up for that bulk with a lot of really great features — included excellent connectivity on GSM network carriers.
The TickTalk 4 has a front-facing camera for video calls, plus a second camera for taking pictures. Though it doesn't have any data plans included, it does include iHeartRadio Family for free, kid-friendly music to stream through the very good speaker. The TickTalk companion app is packed with great features for parents. The only caveat is there is no geofencing feature, but there is location tracking.
If you'd prefer a watch without a camera and that works with Verizon, then the GizmoWatch 2 is for you. The design is more on the understated side like the Omate O6L Pro, but it offers many of the same features. Calling and messaging work wonderfully on the GizmoWatch 2, as does location tracking and geofencing.
In terms of the companion app, it works just as great as the watch itself. Everything works quickly and as expected, from navigating the app to getting notifications from the smartwatch. You won't find a proximity sensor on the watch to notify you if it's taken off or be able to have video calls with your child, but for what the GizmoWatch 2 can do — it does very well.
OMATE O6L Pro: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want to save money on a cellular data plan.
- You want a watch that has a camera.
- You want a smartwatch that comes with two watch bands.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want fast and reliable notifications.
- You need the safety features to work without issue.
- The watch will be worn in brightly lit areas.
The Omate O6L Pro has a lot of potential, and perhaps, the company can hopefully fix some of these issues with software updates. I love that the watch comes with a data plan that's good for three years, that it has a sensor to notify me that the smartwatch has been taken off, that it has a simple interface. However, none of that matters if I can't trust that I'll be notified when I need to be. The dim display can't be solved with software updates like the app issues can — whether they will or not is unknown.
I really wanted to like the Omate O6L Pro. While the basic hardware is, well, basic, it can be spiced up with the fun nanoblock watch band. This is the first kid smartwatch I have seen that has a proximity sensor to notify me if it has been removed, and it has the other safety features that I want as a parent. Then, of course, there's the included data plan for three years.
In the end, I just can't get on board with the Omate O6L Pro with the litany of issues that plague the companion app. Aside from wanting for my child and myself to be able to communicate with each other when needed, I need to be able to rely on the advertised safety features to work. If I can't be notified of location changes, watch removal, or messages, then what's the point? Perhaps the issues can be fixed in a software patch, but I can't recommend it until then.