The Verizon GizmoWatch Is A Great Kids Smartwatch With A Big Privacy Asterisk
Earlier this year, my son wanted to start taking the bus. We've tried it several times, once at preschool and once earlier this school year. The first time the bus didn't show up for two days straight, and the second time we tried it, it took almost two hours to get my son off. I couldn't connect with anyone on the bus company or at school, and it was one of the deepest feelings of helplessness I've ever experienced. A bus would make our lives easier, but it's not worth it.
But he wanted to give it a try, and when I got the chance to try out the Verizon GizmoWatch Disney Edition, I decided to try it again. The $200 GizmoWatch is a GPS-enabled mobile smartwatch with a very basic set of communication tools and great parental controls via the companion GizmoHub app. I was more interested in the GPS part, and luckily, while the bus was (mostly) on time, timing was crucial on cold Midwest days, saving me from having to deal with sub-zero weather. Days when the bus might be late.
But like a lot of today's technology, especially stuff that appeals to parents like me, there's a huge privacy cost that many people aren't willing to pay for, and the payoff is unclear: stop completely. "We see everything you do," says Verizon's product page. We're all used to making similar compromises for convenience offered by devices that enrich our lives, but with the GizmoWatch (and pretty much every other smartwatch for kids). More on that later; For now, let's talk about what's going on with Verizon's smartwatch for kids.
The Verizon GizmoWatch Disney Edition is a fine smartwatch for most kids if you want a very GPS controlled watch that won't distract your child while they're at school. It's a great option for young children who don't want to buy a very complicated device, but it comes with a strong data collection policy that might discourage some parents.
The GizmoWatch watch face may be similar to the Apple Watch portrait display showing the time in a picture, except the picture is one of many Disney properties, with a nice little animation in front of it. With a fixed view. Layout When a new message arrives, a small bubble appears at the top prompting you to scroll down to see what you've sent. You can also use the gesture to "check in" by sending a GizmoHub notification to your phone about your current location.
Navigating through the GizmoWatch options is easy and intuitive. Swiping left reveals the watch's menu system: multiple screens with four large grid icons, each offering basic functions such as a calculator, messaging, calls (audio and video), camera, theme selection, and to-do list, and there you have it. Even the controller-shaped icon, although I wouldn't call it "game". It's really just a grid of character icons, which make a sound when you select them. Elsa makes an icy scream, Darth Vader's lightsaber comes to life and vibrates, Grog screams… I don't know, a faint sound of wind? I'm not going to lie to you; Like all battery-powered children's toys, it's scary and small, and may ask you to turn off the sound altogether.
With the GizmoHub app, you can communicate with your child via video calls, calls and text messages. There's no way to type replies on the GizmoWatch itself, but your child can respond to your text messages with audio recordings, default messages, and emoticons—including, of course, emoji pops. Mine sent me too many jaws.
These options were enough to hold my daughter's attention for a while, but none of them seemed designed to hold her attention constantly. This is especially good for young children. It's not that you don't care , as a kid I studied Richard Scarry's garbled description of a dog driving a sports car through a street scene, but nothing. . Our minds react to many mobile games basically legal gambling for kids.
On the parent side, you get a lot of control over your GizmoWatch with the GizmoHub smartphone app. For me, the most important feature outside of GPS tracking is School Mode, which prevents your child from checking the time, sending you their location, and checking off their to-do list. You can still make an emergency call by holding down the SOS button for five seconds, although I found the touch to be foreign and requires regular practice with your child, especially if they are very young to make sure they get used to it. . How to use.
When your child calls or messages you, you'll see everything in the GizmoHub app. I was taken aback by video calling, which I expected to be nearly useless; Besides the fact that my daughter has a hard time hearing me on a noisy school bus, it's a very practical way to tease her because she calls me repeatedly as soon as I get off. Bus to school or back home.
You have complete control over your contacts on the watch, which is nice: You can set up to nine other people besides yourself to call or text, though I wish you had more emergency appointments. Relate.
Then there's GPS tracking. It's implemented very well, with a small spaced pin icon on the home screen letting you check the location of the clock throughout the day, while the icon at the bottom beeps repeatedly to see the clock move on the half hour. It's often only accurate to a block or two, but it's pretty good for blue, and you can set up location-based notifications that let you know when your child enters or exits circles you place on scratch cards. . On the GizmoHub app.
If you lose your watch, you can ping it like your Apple Watch and it will play the currently selected ringtone until you find it and press the side button. The button called "Find a Gizmo" is in an unusual place in the app, which is a shame. You know the clock is ticking and it's five or ten minutes until it's time to go to school that desperate people take notice and look for lost glove or left hand folders. journey. Tickets available today. Now is not the time to be fumbling with apps to remember where these options are.
Finally, there are nice touches like turning the watch off remotely, adjusting the volume and setting it to answer calls automatically and see what's around you if not.
Solid design and good battery life
Since it's meant to be used by a child, the GizmoWatch holds up better, and so far seems to be holding up well for my daughter (although the emotion is mostly that of a gentle soul caught breaking chalk in half). That's a good thing for me, because the AMOLED display lives beneath a glass display, which is certainly the weakest part of the build - the rest of the casing is plastic.
Unfortunately, or perhaps not, the screen scratches very easily, so Verizon may have used a softer glass composition, which should help it withstand a bit more abuse (conventional wisdom says that a screen rated higher on the Mohs hardness scale will shatter. Very easily ). . But glass is still glass, so something like a good screen protector wouldn't be such a bad idea. I haven't used it, but this one on Amazon seems like a good bet.
The soft TPU band is more than big enough for most kids' wrists, and it even fits mine, though it might be too long for a little one. Luckily, it's interchangeable and doesn't use a proprietary clip, so it's very easy to find a more suitable option.
I was also impressed with the battery life, although your mileage may vary. If you regularly check GPS or use the real-time tracking function, life will tire quickly, and if your child uses the camera a lot, it will definitely be affected. Verizon promises about a day and a half of actual use and three days of standby time, and I think that's a little ambitious, but not by much. We usually end the day with about 50% battery remaining, but if he's in his backpack all day and only checking the GPS on the way out of school, it's sometimes up to 90%.
Things are not surprising here: Verizon GizmoWatch Disney Edition is getting rarer. At least once a week the GPS doesn't work and I can't pinpoint the location. I've also found that location-based notifications haven't failed. They may work, they may not, but there's no consistency that I've noticed, so sometimes I see it as a treat.
The proposed school mode options are also unreliable. I doubt the app starts the action, and my daughter's school is old, with thick brick walls, so she probably tried initiating changes a few times before giving up. Thus, after she went to school, I started checking if school mode was on and turning it on if not.
Like the Apple Watch, the GizmoWatch uses a magnetic charging ball instead of a plug connector, but it's not wireless, and that presents a few problems. First, the magnet is weak and it's very easy to remove the watch from the disc. Second, it seems hard to keep the connection even without hitting it, so sometimes it crashes when it stops loading, others crashes when it restarts, though there are times when it doesn't start, fixes fine, I kind of put the GizmoWatch on the charger but choose between the current app and the port USB-C, I'd definitely use a second one if I had one.
I don't know GizmoWatch's sales figures, but they're definitely not far off from the proliferation of wearables from major tech companies. That means there's really no third-party marketplace for screen repair, and Verizon doesn't offer that service themselves, so if your watch breaks down and you don't buy Verizon Mobile Protect's insanely high $14 per month plan (plus $29 for repairs). closed). In other words, if you own the watch for more than a year, you pay the full replacement cost of the watch, so it's still cash. If so, buy a bag.
Since the GizmoWatch Disney Edition is a Verizon product, it's no surprise that it only works on the company's own network. Shame on you if you love it but live in an area with poor coverage or don't like the company's service because it's a legitimately good product.
It's also great to fully understand the data privacy aspect of GizmoWatch. It's true that if you buy your child a GPS tracker, you'll come to terms with some privacy sacrifices, but Verizon will record everything you do on the watch, at least for now. I'm not just talking about the long list of emojis your child sends you. The company will take any information you submit about your child's name, age, photo and relationship with you. Text messages, video calls, audio recordings, pictures, and any contact information you add—all are sent to the company, and an undisclosed amount of personal information is shared with its vendors. At a minimum, Verizon says it doesn't sell this information to advertisers or use it for marketing purposes, which is not a guarantee of such a product or service.
However, this is a big data collector , and your consent, which can be revoked by sending an email to the company, is required to use the GizmoHub app, meaning you're missing out on most of the benefits the watch has to offer. Otherwise, you lose. Funnily enough, I contacted Verizon to inquire further about why the data was needed and was told it is stored on the company's servers for a certain period of time to connect to the GizmoHub app, which seems reasonable.
I would feel more comfortable if the data was just sent directly to the smartphone, but according to the company that's not possible. Verizon says the reason it stores data on its servers is to make sure all GizmoHub parent and caregiver apps are fully synced, and sending it directly to a smartphone won't work without the phone paired next to the watch. In a perfect world, data would pass through servers and be sent directly to the phone it's connected to, but the company seems to feel that storing data on its own servers is a necessary compromise.
I also asked how data was handled in transit: According to a Verizon rep, data is encrypted on GizmoWatch, servers, and apps, and the company performs regular login tests to ensure data can't be accessed. .
Taken on its own, it's understandable if you're all careful. However, note that Verizon only takes the information you provide, and there's nothing stopping you from leaving out your child's photo, real name, or other identifying information, and you can disable video calling as well.
For more information, the Verizon Gizmo Policy is available separately from other privacy statements.
All major US carriers are supported.
LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
1.81 x 1.65 x 0.59 inch
- 1.57 x 1.34 x 0.42 inch (40mm clock)
1.81 x 1.65 x 0.58 inch
|Long lasting battery|
Up to 3 days (suspended)
Up to 18 hours, 245 mAh battery
Not included, 500 mAh battery.
Up to 3.6 days, 510 mAh battery
The Verizon GizmoWatch Disney Edition, despite its obvious flaws, is a great smartwatch for most kids if you want a very easy to set up GPS watch that won't distract your child while they're at school. It's an older watch at this point—Verizon recently released the GizmoWatch 3 for $50—but with a fun Disney theme and a simple approach, it's still a great option you wouldn't want to buy for the little ones. More complicated device. .
That said, it comes with an aggressive data collection policy that could give privacy-conscious parents pause, especially with regard to young children (guidelines say the collection includes data on children under 13). While there are easy ways to control how much personally identifiable information you disclose about your child, taking these steps requires a certain level of awareness. I don't consider anything worth knowing to be a deal breaker. If nothing else, Verizon seems to be careful about giving parents this option and says it won't sell data to third parties, and that's a commendable thing! I wish I was more direct about that.