When you’re a technology blogger / vlogger with children, I quite often get press releases about smart watches designed for kids. Honestly, I mostly ignore them – however, when kids TV behemoth Nickelodeon announced the NickWatch – a smart watch designed for children – I listened. I’m so glad I did!
To celebrate the launch of the NickWatch, James and I were invited to the Birmingham Hippodrome to enjoy the launch event. As part of the event, as well as James being gifted a NickWatch, we got to watch The SpongeBob Musical afterwards. NickWatch are official sponsors of the musical, so it seemed fitting!
What is the NickWatch ?
It’s a smart watch designed in conjunction with Nickelodeon. It’s aimed at children between 5-10 years old. It’s unlike most smart watches, because it doesn’t need the child to have their own phone. Once you’ve purchased the watch, you can subscribe on a monthly, yearly or two yearly plan which will allow the watch to be connected to a 4G network. This allows the operate independently of a phone – so kids can message, call, and share their location, wherever they are.
However although the NickWatch is ‘online’ – it’s uses a walled garden approach. The only people that can message / call the child are those who have been allowed to in the accompanying NickWatch App (Available on iPhone and Android). So your child won’t be getting random spam texts, or sales calls – it’s a very clever system.
How much does the NickWatch cost?
The NickWatch retails at £159.95 – although it’s currently £79.95 as a launch offer. As well as the cost of the watch itself, you have to note there is a subscription cost you need to pay. Otherwise the watch will just be a simple watch, showing nothing but the time. You can either pay monthly, with no commitment for £14.95 per month. You can pay for a years subscription for £89.95 (which equates to £7.50 per month), or two years for £149.95 (£6.25 per month).
When you are paying full price, and a two subscription, you’re heading into Apple Watch SE territory. But this is a watch designed for children aged 5-10 – with features and connectivity designed for that age range. Plus we were told at the launch, the subscription pays for the connectivity, and also means that there are a stream of updates and games heading to the NickWatch in the future.
What do you get for your money?
Included in the funky box, you get the following..
- Simple Strap – A grey velcro strap
- Snazzy Strap – Covered with Nick Characters
- Connect-o Cable – USB A Magnetic Charging Dock
The watch itself runs on Android, rather than a bespoke operating system – it’s obviously heavily ‘skinned’ to make it more child friendly. For those who are interested in techy stuff, here are the tech specs –
Display 1.3” AMOLED, 326 ppi (retina), 416×416 pixels
Camera 2 MP, Front Facing
OS Android 8.1
Active Battery Life Using mobile data: ~30 hours, Using Wi-Fi data: ~30 hours, Listening to music with Bluetooth headset: ~2-3 hours,
Battery Type 470 mAh
Memory RAM: 2 GB, Storage: 16 GB
Processor Unisoc SL8541E, Quad A53 @ 1.4 GHz, GPS/Glonass
Network Built-in sim, LTE Cat 4
Charger Magnetic two pin USB
Additional Sensors Accelerometer, Gyro
Frequency Bands 2G/3G/4G, EU: 1/3/4/5/7/8/20/28/38/40/41, NA: 2/4/5/12/13/17/25/261
It’s very well specced – I love that it is designed to work across mobile networks around the world – so even if you’re on holiday it can still be used. Plus the screen, and audio quality is incredibly good – I’ve not heard a watch with such good sound quality. You might be shocked at the volume from such a small unit at times – it’s very impressive.
What’s the NickWatch software like?
It’s good – it’s designed to be simple to use. James was whizzing around the interface within a few minutes of opening the box. I didn’t need to help or intervene – it’s been designed really well. You access the watches features through an on-screen ‘wheel’ with icons and bold text that keep everything in easy reach.
Some of the main areas of the watch are –
Play – Run through the sewer tunnels with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, learn Morse code with Lincoln Loud and practice balance with Spongebob Squarepants.
Create – Sound effects, voice modulators, musical instruments and story prompts set the stage for infinite self-expression.
Capture – Kids can take pictures and add silly stickers, which save directly to the caregiver’s cloud for easy monitoring.
Design – Choose from a selection of watch faces and notification sounds to give NickWatch a personal flair.
Move – Track steps, set goals and reward achievements!
Communicate – Flexible call and chat functions, including poll and timer messages, integrate smoothly into your routine. Caregiver-approved contacts and emergency numbers only.
I think what I really like about the ‘Play’ section, is that the games aren’t like normal games – where you’ll find the kids are head down, buried into the screen. They encourage movement and activity – I spent the drive back from Birmingham trying to avoid James’ flailing arms as he was karate chopping for a game! I much prefer that than him being glued into Minecraft.
I really love the ‘walled-garden’ approach they’ve made to communications within the watch. Your child can’t make or receive calls or texts to/from anyone who isn’t specifically in the ‘Family Ring’. The internet is a big and sometimes scary place and having a system, built from the ground up, designed to protect them is a very good thing.
The GPS connectivity in the watch allows you to keep an eye on your child’s location too. It updates at semi regular intervals, or you can set it to ‘Live View’ which gives real-time updates. You can also set ‘Saved Places’ – so places like, ‘Home’, ‘School’, ‘Park’ and receive notifications when they enter, or leave those places. It’s really smart.
Final thoughts on the NickWatch
James has had his NickWatch and is really enjoying it – we might do a little video review on my YouTube channel in the future to go over it. It does have a few niggles – the ‘pedometer’ function, is a little.. inconsistent – James accrued 1000 extra steps as we drove somewhere. Plus the battery life has been a little on the poor side. I’ve found the App sometimes closes itself, so if James has messaged me via his watch, I don’t see it until I’ve re-opened the app.
However, I feel these could probably be software issues, rather than hardware things. The watch has already had a software update in the two weeks we’ve had it – so it’s nice to see NickWatch are working on things.
It’s not cheap – BUT – you’re paying for a good quality product, that’s well supported, with specifically designed software for children and caregivers. Not to mention the fact you’re getting a 4G connected device that can make and receive calls, and send and receive texts. Something that you’d have to do anyway if you gave them their own phone, instead of a NickWatch.
I feel like the NickWatch is quite a fascinating product. It’s more than a toy, it’s more than a watch, and it gives parents and caregivers peace of mind. Their child is ‘connected’ but safe. If they iron out some of the bugs I’ve mentioned – this really could be a revolution for smart devices for children.
Disclaimer – Whilst we were gifted a NickWatch and tickets to The SpongeBob Musical – all these thoughts are my own, and there has been no editorialising by NickWatch, Nick or their marketing partners.
Event Photography by Vivienne Bailey Photography