Nubia WatchSource: Nubia

What you need to know

  • Nubia announced and launched the Nubia Watch back in October after an earlier Kickstarter campaign.
  • But backers complained about what they said was an unfair campaign. Earlier adopters had paid more money for the Watch than it ultimately retailed for, some have yet to receive their product.
  • The company this week claimed the delays were down to logistical issues and plans to compensate early adopters with free accessories.

Earlier this year, ZTE subsidiary Nubia announced the eponymous Nubia Watch, a flexible smartwatch that tackled everything we'd expect from a smartwatch. It had customizable watch faces, handled notifications, tracked your health, offered music streaming via Bluetooth, and would last for up to a week if handled with care.

The Watch hit the market in October after a brisk and successful Kickstarter campaign. The company reached its funding goal and subsequently launched the device globally for $219.

Zte Nubia WatchSource: Nubia

While that's all well and good, but backers who had supported the original Kickstarter felt slighted. For them, the product had been hit with repeated delays, and the final pricing had been revised downwards from what some backers had paid originally — $399. In fact, many had commented on being able to find the watch on alternate shopping platforms like noon or AliExpress with faster delivery for less money.

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When reached for comment, a Nubia spokesperson confirmed that its shipping issues were mostly logistical and had been resolved broadly, sharing:

As mentioned to our backers in the update #11 on November 4, our products were expected to arrive in the US by November 9 to be dispatched as forecasted in the previous update. The delays in shipment were mostly due to the slow approval of the distribution documents, as a consequence of the logistics restrictions with the pandemic (see update #10). Products are being dispatched within the US.

As for the payments, the Nubia spokesperson added that it had been a victim of its own success:

Regarding pricing, we started planning for the launch of the Kickstarter campaign for the nubia WATCH in late May. At that time, the initial price for the nubia Watch had been set similarly to its predecessor, the nubia Alpha at 449 USD / 449 EUR for global markets. Consequently, when starting the campaign in August, we calculated Kickstarter offers based on this initial plan. With the unprecedented success of the nubia WATCH on Kickstarter at the end of September, the team revised the price for official channels to make it more appealing for both new users and tech enthusiasts. When the nubia WATCH launched on its official channels mid-October, the new MSRP was USD 219, which remained higher than most of the early birds from Kickstarter. We understand the disappointment the delays in shipment caused among our community of backers. We are reaching out to them via email to clarify it and will come up with a solution to show our gratitude to our early supporters.

Kickstarters are always fraught with uncertainty. Even after funding comes through, unforeseen circumstances (or even deliberate dishonesty) may lead to products that never end up shipping. Nubia watch backers are likely in no danger of that, the company isn't a small start-up that could go bankrupt anytime (it still remains tied to the giant ZTE after all), and it has promised to reward early backers with free accessories. Their responses are not winning everyone over, but that's the risk you run with crowdfunded projects.