This Bluetooth-enabled smartwatch, from Style Asia—model number GM8588 (PDF user guide), is advertised as a high-quality smartwatch which is compatible with Android smartphones. And, at first glance, this device does indeed look to be of high quality. I can't say for sure, though, how smoothly it operates or how reliable it actually is. For more information, you can read about the watch's functions in its user guide (PDF).
With that said, let's tear into this fancy watch to see what we can learn!
Included with this watch is a USB-type battery-charging cable.
No Labels or Markings
The backside of the watch (see figure below) includes a simple cover with three slots for the speaker. However, something very interesting to note is that this watch has no markings on it whatsoever: no manufacturer name or logo; no part number; no UL or FCC markings. It's all a bit strange.
The watch's backside-cover is of a simple design, with no branding or any other markings.
Disassembling... Well That Was Easy!
To my surprise, disassembling this smartwatch was MUCH easier than I had anticipated. The backside cover was most effortlessly removed using nothing more than my fingernail. With the cover now out of the way, we can see the battery—which simply pops out—and four Phillips screws (see the following figure).
The watch's battery is easily accessible by merely popping off the back cover.
With the four screws extracted, and after removing some pieces (see the figure below), we begin to see the guts of the watch. Notice that the antenna (the black rectangle-shaped item sticking out from the right-side of the watch) lives in the wristband. What a novel design approach. You can see this in play in our Otium smartwatch teardown from several years ago, as well.
Only four small screws hold all these pieces together.
Taking a Closer Look
Two additional screws are used for holding the watch's electrical innards in place. But once these screws are removed, the PCB and the other electrical components can be easily separated. Surprisingly, the PCB itself is a two-layer board, and one that appears to be rather cheaply made. The following image, and subsequent list, references the primary electrical components that I've identified, along with some other observations.
Examining the smartwatch's innards.
- ARM Processor: Part marking MediaTek MT6261DA
- RF Power Amplifier: Part marking MS5525
- Unknown IC: Perhaps a voltage regulator. Part marking DY7F L0F
- Speaker: Part marking KT-0916-02
- Touch Screen IC: Part marking BF6871A1 (no datasheet could be found)
- Vibration Motor: A nice article on such devices.
- Pushbutton (Tactile Switch): Similar to these switches.
- Microphone: No part marking.
- Camera: No part marking.
- Exposed Copper: The PCB has many, many areas where the copper is exposed, meaning there exists no copper plating finish. This inferior design approach may save money in the short run (in terms of process-, materials-, and labor-associated costs), but left unprotected, the copper will eventually oxidize and deteriorate.
- No Strain Relief: It's worth noting that none of the wires soldered to the PCB have any type of wire strain relief. This substandard design approach invites the wires to simply break off during the installation process, during any repair procedures, or even during normal use. In fact, during my teardown process, two of the wires indeed broke off. And yes, I was being very gentle when handling the PCB. Two examples of inexpensive strain relief—that could've been employed—are epoxy and hot glue; I've seen both forms used in previous designs.
As has been shown via this teardown, some drastic cost-savings design measures have been employed with the design and assembly of this smartwatch. So, I think it's safe to assume that cost reduction was the primary goal of this device.
Again, for disclosure, I did not actually turn on and use this watch prior to tearing it down, so I can't speak to its functionality or reliability. What I can tell you is that, from one of its user comments pages, there are multiple usability issues with this product.
For example, one user opines that the device doesn't work at all, "Nothing! Someone help me! I'm 5hrs into this thing and I'm bout ready to throw it in the garbage disposal!! Nothing works on it."
On the other hand, another user's watch worked but with low quality (that their intended recipient doesn't seem to mind): "Adults might be frustrated by the low quality of the speaker or the quality of the touch screen (not good), but for my 10-year old it's the coolest thing around."
These kinds of reports of usability problems are likely related to the cost-saving measures I'm seeing demonstrated in its design.
Do you have any experience with this smartwatch? If so, please share your experiences in the comments section.
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