We’ve reviewed plenty of smartwatches here on GSMArena and a couple of thousand phones, even a couple of watch phones, but none quite like this one. As my daughter started attending pre-school this year I went searching for a solution that will give her the piece of mind of being able to reach us any time without proving much of distraction to her or anyone around her.
My search brought me to the imoo Watch Phone Z6 and, having already put it to use for a full month, this review was born. The short version is that it’s a great purchase although its software has a lot of room for improvement. Read on for the details.
imoo is a company started in 2012 and has focused on kids’ watches for the past five years. The Watch Phone Z6 is their fifth generation product, sticking to the usual practice of Chinese companies skipping the number 4.
A key contributor to me deciding to go with them is that they are actually officially represented in the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore having their own stores, support and service centers instead of relying on a third party reseller as most of their rivals are around these parts. The compliance with EU’s GDPR is prominently featured on imoo’s website although every other product officially sold in Europe (including those imported by resellers) can match that.
Moving on to the actual product at hand – it comes alongside a proprietary charger that ends in a USB-A port that you can stick into any charger. You need to flip the Watch Phone Z6 open to charge it, since the pins are on its underside, but the magnetic attachment snaps easily and securely in place.
There’s no spare band as the supplied one has a wide adjustment range that will fit any kid’s wrist. Because of the bracked used to allow the Watch Phone Z6 to also stand upright, they are not easily replaceable, but on the upside they fit well and provide excellent comfort in addition to being rugged enough so odds are you won’t need to.
The color options are green, which has two different green shades on the body of the Watch Phone and purple, which has pink as its accent color. In both cases the strap is predominantly black on the outside though.
Design and operation
The imoo Watch Phone Z6 is built around a 1.41” AMOLED touchscreen display with a resolution of 320×360 pixels. It’s bright enough to be used in any lighting and reasonably responsive so it’s not bothersome.
There’s a sheet of unspecified Corning Gorilla Glass on top along with a pre-applied screen protector. The latter certainly comes in handy as kids are bound to subject the Watch Phone to more than the usual amount of abuse as they get used to carrying something on their wrist. At that point I peeled a heavily scratched protector and was left with a pristine screen, which lasted pretty well to date.
There single button on the side of the Watch Phone Z6 is a power key so you can use it to wake the watch phone or turn off its screen.
The UI is thus almost entirely navigated by touch plus the familiar swipe from the side gesture for back.
On the top is the release button that lets you flip the watch upright and either have a more comfortable position for video calls or use the rear camera. It also makes it possible for the kid to show you stuff using said rear camera and that’s really one of the cleverest bits about the Phone Z6.
The rear camera has an 8MP sensor, compared to the 5MP one inside the front-facing one and while neither is amazing by smartphone standards they are miles ahead of anything other smartwatches can offer.
Below it is the microSIM card slot, which is rather easy to operate even without the special tool, although that makes little difference as you normally only access it once. Further down are the pins for the charger.
This is the Watch Phone Z6’s forte – it lets you use its companion app to set what numbers your kid can dial and even attach photos to them in case the kid can’t read yet. The process of adding the photos themselves is a bit cumbersome, but since you only need to do it once it’s no big deal.
You can prevent people outside the contacts list from reaching the number or let all calls and messages go through. There’s also an optional class mode, which will reject all calls and messages in certain times of the day with an extra toggle that would still enable parents to be able to reach the kid.
And while these are somewhat standard among Kids’ watches the option to do video calls over a data connection is somewhat of a standout feature. In most countries these days unlimited voice calls are the norm with data plans also fairly accessible, but native 3G video calls are still a paid service.
The Watch Phone Z6 on the other hand does video calls over its proprietary app, similar to a messaging client, saving you a pretty penny in the process. The kid can toggle between the two cameras so you can either see them or their surroundings.
There’s also a chat option, where you can exchange audio messages with the usual press to talk UI or send small gifs from what is admittedly a limited selection. There’s no keyboard on the watch, but you can send text from the phone to the Watch Phone Z6 if you wish. Finally you can also exchange images, which is very convenient for when showing each other something.
Of course chats and video calls require each of the contacts to have the imoo companion app installed. The contacts without it are limited to regular calls and SMS.
Software and companion app
The Watch Phone Z6 has a simple UI with an optional lockscreen that you swipe up to dismiss. Alternatively you can disable it and wake straight on the watchface, which has several options to pick from – nothing too fancy but you get to put a custom image if you want to. One the left are the contacts for quick calling by either voice or video, while on the right are the apps, including chat, step tracking, gallery and steps.
There’s are a bunch of other apps that have limited to no use at it only works if you have more than one imoo Watch at hand. Seeing how providing as little distractions possible was a key factor when looking for the watch in the first place I can’t say I was too disappointed. Better yet, you get to completely remove them from the companion app so they don’t get in the way.
While it does run full Android, the lack of more apps to download from the app store and the lack of option to sideload any means that you are only getting the communication features and a step tracker. That was exactly what I was looking for, but if you are looking to get something with more functionality to suit a bigger kid it’s probably not going to be your thing.
On the upside the stripped down Android runs well enough on the decidedly low-power Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100. It’s not super smooth or lightning fast by any means, but it’s not bothersome, which can’t be said for many of its lower cost rivals. It was also stable enough with no freezes, random reboots or anything.
The companion app for your phone is rather poor, however, with a UI that leaves a lot to be desired. A lot of the texts are poorly translated and you don’t get a proper timestamp for some of the messages you receive, which makes you wonder if they were just received or if they’re from some time ago.
It does serve its purpose allowing you to adjust most of the Watch Phone Z6’s settings and you get used to its idiosyncrasies, but it’s certainly in need of a lot of work and better English translation.
Also, one of the otherwise useful features it offers is dubbed security guard and it sends a notification when your kid leaves a designated location. You can even set it to only work in certainly hours, which would make it great for informing you that you kid has left school when it shouldn’t have. However the only way to define a location is the by Wi-Fi networks. This made it completely useless to me as my daughter’s pre-school doesn’t have a publicly available Wi-Fi.
The silver lining is that the app ran trouble free on a number of phones I tried it – a bunch of Samsung Galaxies, including the problematic for many apps Z Fold2, a two-year old Xiaomi Mi 8 SE and an iPhone 11. It didn’t have an impact on battery life on any of them even though it’s always on so you can receive the messages so the back end seems great. Hopefully imoo addresses the UI deficiencies and makes the whole thing less of a chore to use.
When I first strapped the Watch Phone Z6 to the wrist of my daughter it only lasted a single day with her being overly excited about the fact that she has cameras to play around with and photographed every single item around the house repeatedly.
Once that faded, the Z6 started consistently lasting three days on a charge – which is very good when you consider that it runs full Android and maintains constant data connection.
Strangely enough the only way to see an accurate percentage reading of the available charge is by placing the Watch Phone on the charger with both its display and the companion app showing basic graphics with bars, but it’s hardly a major thing. As long as you remember to put it on the charger at the end of day three odds are it won’t die.
Charging the 680 mAh battery itself takes just under two hours. You get a notification on the companion app that charging is complete just like you do on most smartbands these days.
The imoo Watch Phone Z6 is overall a very good product that seemingly excellently positioned. Its package of communication flexibility with free video and audio messages over data connection, distraction-free experience and solid battery life is way better than what cheaper alternatives can offer.
And if you want to get a more polished software package that would mean going for an eSIM-packing Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch, which cost magnitudes more and don’t nearly provide the same rugged bodies suitable for kids’ wrists.
If imoo fixes the companion app it would provide a unique package at what is already an unrivaled price point. It will also be in great position to gain big in western markets where it’s running virtually unopposed in its niche.