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Spice Smart Pulse unboxing and first impressions: a smartwatch and a phone rolled into one

|July 8 2014 |Wearables, Smartwatch, Spice Mobiles

“We bring you the unboxing and our first impressions of the first smartwatch from an Indian company, the Spice Smart Pulse”

Only time will tell whether wearables are just a fad or whether the segment will eventually turn into a trend. But at the moment, every other company is betting heavily on this arena. Some companies like Sony (SmartWatch 2) and Samsung (Gear 2) are going solo on this journey by developing their own platforms, while others like LG (G Watch) and Motorola (Moto 360) are making use of the recently-introduced Android’s wearable-friendly build (although Samsung has also launched a device running Android Wear, the Gear Live). However, none of the Indian manufacturers jumped on this opportunity, until today. Spice Mobility has become the first Indian company to launch a wearable device. Dubbed as the Spice Smart Pulse M-9010, the device comes across as an interesting proposition, which also differentiates it from other options available in the market. We have the device with us for review, and here's a look at the box contents along with our first impressions.

Spice Smart Pulse 01

Before we go any further, let’s first discuss how the Spice Smart Pulse is positioned differently from other offerings. Unlike other smartwatches that merely act as an extension of your smartphone, the Smart Pulse can also work as a standalone phone, apart from offering the functionalities of a smartwatch. Yes, much like the oft-rumoured Gear Solo from Samsung, the wearable from Spice accepts SIM cards, and allow you to make and receive calls, and read and respond to SMSes. What’s even more interesting is that it supports not one, but two SIM cards (it has a full SIM card slot, while the other is a micro-SIM slot). Going a step further, the 2G connectivity also comes with support for internet browsing via GPRS or EDGE.

Spice Smart Pulse 09

As far as the specs go, the device features a 4cm display, which is roughly equivalent to the 1.6-inch screen size available on the Samsung Gear smartwatches (review). The display supports a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. The company didn’t provide any details on the underlying processor or RAM, though that isn’t much of a concern as the device isn’t supposed to be used like a regular smartphone. While the internal storage is almost nil, you get the option to add up to 8GB of storage via a microSD card slot. The Spice Smart Pulse is fuelled by a removable 420mAh battery, that promises to keep it alive for almost a day if used with the SIM cards and as a phone. Needless to say, you can get more juice if you use it only as a smartwatch, essentially acting as a second screen for your mobile device.

Without further ado, let’s start the unboxing process of the Spice Smart Pulse.

The device is offered in a compact cardboard box. Opening the box, you’ll see colourful straps in blue and yellow hues, alongside the Spice Smart Pulse in full glory. Also included are the earphones (with micro-USB port), a 0.5mAh travel adapter, a USB cable for charging  or data transfers, another USB cable for charging the Bluetooth headset, and a 420mAh battery. Sweetening the deal further and making the device a complete package, the company has also bundled a Bluetooth headset. The wristband straps are bundled as a freebie, although you can’t change the straps yourself without the right tools. It'd be easier to visit the neighbourhood watch shop to get them changed. But you do get a few screws for those additional straps. Apart from these accessories, the box also contains a manual, warranty card and a list of Spice service centres.

Spice Smart Pulse 03

Coming to the watch itself, it feels good in on the wrist and at 52.5g, it’s quite lightweight as well. The touchscreen display is surrounded by a metallic frame with four screws at the corners. The design is reminiscent of the first generation Samsung Galaxy Gear. The straps are made of flexible rubber, while the watch body is fashioned out of plastic. This becomes a bit problematic as the plastic back will become slippery when your wrist is sweaty. At the front of the Smart Pulse, you get a speaker and a microphone so you can use it to make or receive calls. In case you feel awkward doing so, you can also make use of the included earphones or the Bluetooth headset to handle calls. We are yet to test this thoroughly, but during one or two calls we received on the device, we noticed very low sound output.

Spice Smart Pulse 10 Spice Smart Pulse 06

Below the display, you’ll see a row of touch-sensitive buttons much like regular Android devices. They also function in a similar manner with the first key offering an options menu, while the center key is for accessing the home screen, while the third is for returning to the previous screen. The left edge of the device features a micro-USB port and the power button. On the right side, you get a VGA camera along with an LED flash. The back of the device is removable housing the battery, along with the SIM cards and microSD card.

Spice Smart Pulse 05 Spice Smart Pulse 07 Spice Smart Pulse 08

Using the Spice Smart Pulse independently with the SIM card(s) inserted, you can make and receive calls, or send and receive messages. The device runs on Spice’s proprietary OS, which is most probably based on Java. It also offers audio and video players natively, along with an FM radio for multimedia consumption. You can also make use of the camera to shoot, though there’s hardly anything that you’d like to capture with a VGA camera, unless it’s an emergency. But pair the smartwatch with a compatible Android device (supports 4.3 Jelly Bean and above) via Bluetooth and the list of possibilities are endless. To connect the smartwatch with your device, you first need to download the MediaTek SmartDevice app from the Play Store. The watch mirrors all your notifications on the Android device and you can select the apps from which you want notifications. It also allows you to receive calls, access the call log, read and reply to messages on the connected device. You can also stream music from the connected device or use the Smart Pulse to control its camera remotely.

We really applaud Spice for taking a different approach with the Smart Pulse, making it much more than a simple lifestyle accessory. At first glance, it definitely looks like an attractive package. Add to it the fact that the device is priced affordably at Rs 3,999, makes it even spicier.

We have connected the Spice Smart Pulse with our Android 4.3-based device and we’ll be bringing you more on the device. So watch this space!

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