Qualcomm’s Toq may be a limited-edition item, but this smartwatch features the kind of instinctive, clever display and power-saving technology that we’re sure to see on e-readers and other wearables in the near future.
A veritable contender in the Android smartwatch arena, the Qualcomm Toq is big without being bulky, quick without devouring battery life and packed with features without weighing heavily on your wrist. Better known as a wireless component manufacturer, Qualcomm packs its technological expertise into its first - and possibly only - smartwatch. Like the Samsung Gear and the Sony Smartwatch ranges, the Toq is compatible with Android devices (for now - tech rumours indicate that iOS compatibility is in the pipeline).
What really sets the Toq apart is that instead of an OLED or LED screen, the Toq uses Qualcomm’s Mirasol display technology. Usually typical in e-readers, this puts almost zero pressure on the battery since it uses ambient light to keep the screen lit. This gives you an expected battery life of up to two days - impressive for an always-on device.
No matter how amazing a smartwatch might be in terms of performance and features, no one’s going to wear it if it’s ugly. The Toq covers all bases with an elegant wrist piece that’s simpler and certainly more minimalist in its design than its counterparts. The all-black frame allows the Mirasol colour screen to pop, and although it houses the battery in the strap’s buckle, it doesn’t look or feel at all clunky on your wrist. If you need a backlight, simply tap on the top of the band and switch it on. Besides the Mirasol technology, the Toq boasts another feature from the Qualcomm stable called WiPower for when charging time eventually rolls around. The standing case acts as its charger, and thanks to the Mirasol display saving on battery time, you’ll only be using it every two or so days.
- The Mirasol display is great for saving battery life, but clarity isn’t as sharp as you’d find on LED or OLED screens.
- Keen on buying a Toq? The strap has to be customised to the user’s wrist. The Toq’s kit includes a set of springs, but you’ll have to supply the scissors.
How does it work?
The Toq is compatible with Android devices via ThreadX technology, a fast-response real-time operating system specifically designed for deeply embedded messaging applications. Essentially, the Toq works just like other smartwatches in that it keeps your connected to your smartphone with update notifications from your SMS inbox, social-media applications, weather and emails.
Connect your smartphone and the Toq via Bluetooth, and start downloading and installing apps. You can also use the Toq as a remote for playing music on your smartphone. The Toq’s processor is relatively low-power compared to those of its competitors. Coupled with the display featuring Qualcomm’s Mirasol technology, this helps extend battery life even further. Recharging is easy: simply plug the Toq’s standing case into a micro-USB port.
- While charging via the included standing case is convenient, it does mean that you have carry the case around all the time.
- The Toq has no speakers for music playback, so it’s basically a wrist-bound remote for playing music on your phone.
To buy or not to buy?
If you’re a brand-name fiend, you’re probably not convinced by this unknown, especially with Samsung and Sony’s smartwatch offerings in the same category. Don’t get side-tracked by its relative anonymity though: the Toq may be different, but it’s different in great ways. Among those wearing smartwatches, chances are you’re the only one sporting the limited-edition Toq.
The only smartwatch produced by a company specialising in wireless communication and developing clear, low-power displays, the Toq takes smartwatch technology in a different direction. Not only that, but it might well be the way forward in smartwatch design and software development.