A little over two months ago Qualcomm unveiled their smartwatch known as the Toq. Pre-orders are now being accepted, and Toq will begin shipping in the next 1-3 weeks. I’ve been tracking the Toq closely since its announcement, and looking at its core feature set and components, it appears to me that Qualcomm has built a smartwatch that strikes a balance between power and simplicity that will deliver precisely the experience that most smartwatch users would want out of their device. We’ll share our full impressions of the Toq once we have had some time with it, but for now we wanted to let you know what we find compelling about the concept of the Toq.
1. Mirasol Display
Qualcomm has been showing off devices with Mirasol displays for a few years now, including Mirasol-based e-readers at their CES booths. Without diving too deeply into the tech (check that out here if you are interested), the appeal of Mirasol is that it’s a color display that reflects light rather than transmitting it, similar to e-ink. This makes it easier on the eyes than an LCD or OLED and also means that it is easily viewable in sunlight. The Mirasol tech is a great fit for a smartwatch because it delivers an always-on color display with long battery life.
2. Always On
Speaking of an always-on display, that is the second feature of the Toq that has me really excited. Perhaps I get excited about weird things, but I don’t want to have to wake my watch up to find out what time it is. The entire purpose of wearing a smartwatch is to make accessing basic information and notifications as simple as glancing at my wrist. Because the Toq’s Mirasol display reflects light, you will need to activate its built-in light to see the screen in the dark, but that seems like an easy tradeoff for not having to push any buttons in brighter environments.
3. Battery Life
The Toq’s battery life can be measured in days rather than hours, and for a smartwatch that is a huge advantage. I don’t want to take my watch off the charger in the morning and end up nervously watching its battery meter tick down to 0 near the end of the day. Having a device that requires charging only once every 2-3 days is a very different proposition than doing so every night.
4. Wireless Charging
The other piece of the power puzzle is charging your Toq. With its wireless charging capabilities, I think Qualcomm has selected the right tool for the job. Having to fumble around with a port on a device the size of a smartwatch seems awkward and will likely lead to drops and scratches. So long as you have a nightstand or a table in your bedroom, simply placing the Toq onto its dock would have very little effect on your routine. Plus, the optional wireless stereo headset uses the very same dock, making your Toq charging experience even easier.
Toq will work with any Android phone running 4.0.3 or higher. At last count, that represents about 72% of all Android devices. While this does leave some people out, the reality is that almost anyone using a device that’s not running Android 4.0.3 or higher is unlikely to be interested in a Toq anyway.
This may be subjective, but I think Qualcomm has done an excellent job with the look of the Toq. The battery is built into the band, keeping the body of the watch thin so you might look like something out of sci-fi movie. Everything is controlled by the touchscreen, and because the Toq’s wireless charging eliminates the need for a port of any kind, the device is completely seamless.
7. Bluetooth Stereo Headset
The stereo headset is optional, so it may be a bit of a rogue entry in my list. If you do add one, though, you gain the ability to control your phone’s audio or take a call through Toq. As someone that commutes to work by bike, this is a tremendously compelling feature. We are rapidly approaching winter here in Wisconsin, and so the prospect of not having to dig my phone out of my pocket is increasingly compelling as the temperature drops. And as I mentioned before, the headset can even charge wirelessly using the same dock as the Toq.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, what makes the Toq so appealing to me is that while there may be a lot of innovative technology in it, the concept that Qualcomm is delivering is very minimalistic. From its design to its functionality, the Toq is a companion to your smartphone, eliminating the need to constantly get a phone out of your bag or pocket. The Toq screen is always on and ready to display whatever notification you need in an instant. A smartwatch should be about putting information in front of you as quickly as possible. If it can’t, there is no reason why you wouldn’t just reach into your pocket for your phone. It appears that Qualcomm had this kind of frictionless experience in mind while designing the Toq, and based on everything we’ve seen so far, they appear to have nailed it.
Sponsored by Qualcomm(R) Toq(TM) — The smartwatch that’s always on, active and visible in any light.