Kurio Watch review

Billing itself as the ultimate smartwatch built for kids, the Kurio Watch has a lot to live up to. It goes up against VTech’s Kiddizoom Smart Watch DX, which costs around £45, but packs in a few more features.

Kurio Watch: Price and availability

With an RRP of £79.99, but available from Amazon in blue for £59.99, the Kurio Watch isn’t quite an impulse purchase.

It comes in green and pink, too, so there’s a colour suitable for boys and girls.

It's much cheaper in the US, where the list price appears to be $59.99, but is available from Amazon for just US$39.99.

Kurio Watch: Design and features

It never ceases to amaze us how big kids smartwatches are. The Kurio is huge, even by adult standards, and on a five-year-old’s wrist it’s a bit ridiculous.

Kurio Watch review

There’s always a trade-off between screen size and overall bulk, but the big bezels and chunky design mean flops about and won’t fit easily under sleeves.

The 1.54in screen has a paltry resolution of 240x240 pixels, but we never heard any complaints about the somewhat fuzzy appearance.

A big rubbery strap has a standard buckle that’s a bit fiddly to do up, and probably something you’ll have to help with – at least for the first few times.

On the right is a power / home button and a flap that covers a microSD card slot (which lets you expand the limited 256MB of internal storage). On the left is another flap over the micro USB port which is used for charging and data transfer.

Pre-loaded is a selection of apps and games that should keep most kids busy for a good couple of weeks. There’s tic-tac-toe, snake, drawing and messaging apps, a pedometer, stopwatch, calculator, reminders app, contact list and even a music player.

Kurio Watch review

The list continues with an ICE app (emergency information) and a translation app that displays a selection of basic words in different languages.

And when you pair the watch with an iPhone or Android device, you can even stream music to the watch’s speaker, send text messages and even make phone calls (as you can on an Apple Watch).

However, while this all sounds good in theory, it doesn’t all work out in practice.

Interface

You get the first inkling that KD Interactive has tried to do too much when you first set up the watch. There’s a miniscule on-screen keyboard on which you have to type the child’s name and little dials to set their birthday and enter other information.

It’s fiddly and difficult to type without making mistakes.

Kurio Watch review

Like Android, you can swipe down from the top to bring up a control centre which features more tiny icons (one for the ICE information – it’s hard to see how anyone would find this) and a tricky-to-use volume control. It’s also where you can turn Bluetooth on and off.

Kurio Watch review

Our five-year-old tester’s smaller fingers appeared to have no real problems navigating around the interface, which is based on a 2x2 grid of icons. The only thing you’ll have to explain is the need to swipe right to go back: not intuitive but they can always use the Home button instead.

There is a bit of lag when launching apps, so you’ll also have to instruct kids to be patient and wait, not keep thumping the screen when nothing appears to be happening.

The first thing they’ll try, though, is changing the clock face and the theme. There’s plenty to choose from and bound to be something that appeals.

Camera

Like the VTech watch, the Kurio has a built-in camera. But rather than pointing away from the wearer, it’s above the screen and designed for selfies. The app lets them add overlays such as hats which proved popular.

That’s all fine until the child wants to take a photo of someone – or something else. And they quickly discover it is very difficult, which makes it frustrating.

As you might expect, photo and video quality isn’t great at all but it’s compounded by the fact it needs to be kept nice and still to avoid blurry images. And kids aren’t good at being still. At all.

Performance

As an adult, you probably think fitness-oriented apps like the pedometer and stopwatch are a good reason to buy the watch. But in our experience, certainly with a five-year-old, these were “boring” and never got more than a cursory look.

The favourite apps were tic-tac-toe and the camera, with the other games either too confusing  to understand or too “rubbish”.  Given that your kids are probably used to the high quality games (and their graphics) on your iPhone, they’re not going to be impressed with the Kurio Watch’s selection.

You can’t download and install extra apps, either.

Since a young child is unlikely to have their own phone with which to pair the watch, it’s probably best to avoid even telling them that it’s possible to send messages and make phone calls on it.

The poor-quality speaker means it’s hard to hear what the other person is saying during a call, and it ruins any music you have stored on the watch, too.

Messaging is one of the more fun aspects, but they can be sent only to another Kurio Watch (via direct Bluetooth connection), or an Android device with the Kurio Watch Messenger app installed.

Kurio Watch review

Bluetooth range is quite limited between Watch and phone, so unless you’re in the same room, we found it didn’t work. If the Watch had Wi-Fi it might be a good selling point, but in its current state, it’s not great.

Except that it is if you have two Kurio Watches (and two kids). The app lets them send not just text, but also voice recordings, drawings and emojis. Plus, a Blueooth connection between two watches also lets them play two-player tic-tac-toe and Pirates Battle. Unfortunately, we couldn’t test this as we had just one watch.

Battery life

With light use of maybe 30 minutes per day, you can expect to have to recharge the watch every few days. But a prolonged session of playing games plus taking and editing photos will see it drained in a few hours.

It’s easy to recharge thanks to microUSB, but it does take a long time: three hours.

Kurio Watch: Specs

  • 0.3Mp camera
  • Motion sensor
  • Rechargeable battery: 400mAh
  • Internal memory: 256MB
  • Micro SDHC card slot: up to 32GB of extra memory
  • Micro USB: For charge & data transfer
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Built-in speaker & microphone
  • Vibration motor
  • 0.3Mp camera
  • Motion sensor
  • Rechargeable battery: 400mAh
  • Internal memory: 256MB
  • Micro SDHC card slot: up to 32GB of extra memory
  • Micro USB: For charge & data transfer
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Built-in speaker & microphone
  • Vibration motor

OUR VERDICT

The list of features in the Kurio Watch is almost endless, but we feel it’s a case of trying to do too much rather than keeping things simple (and the price low). The camera is really only for selfies and although fun, it’s poor quality, as is the speaker for phone calls and music. The selection of apps is just enough to keep kids amused, but overall, this feels much more of a toy than a tablet such as the Amazon Fire, which is £49. VTech’s Kiddizoom isn’t really any better, which means that there’s no kids smartwatch we’d recommend at the moment.