As a smartwatch OEM, DT NO.1 has been prolific and has steadily improved its offerings but a review of its latest model, the DT08, appears to show the company stalling in some important areas. In at least a couple of ways, primarily centered on value-added functionality and the companion app, the device feels like a step back.
With consideration for a slightly higher-than-usual price point of $39.99, that's bad news for anybody who might have been looking to buy into the DT08 as a replacement for another DT NO.1 wearable.
There are, however, many areas where the DT08 smartwatch builds on the success of its predecessors. As a result, a few of its features feel more accurate and refined. Features that didn't work in previous iterations do here. As might be given away by the price tag, there are trade-offs to be made that could make this the perfect mobile accessory for some subset of users.
At least a couple of the extras included with the watch potentially serve to bolster its overall aesthetic too. That goes beyond just the additional band that's been included. The design itself, while somewhat time-worn and maybe even a bit stale at this point, does improve in some areas as well.
Is this the watch that users should buy to keep tabs on their activity and other health metrics? Maybe. That's going to vary from user to user based on overall needs and willingness to make compromises. There are good reasons this wearable only earned a two-star rating here. Because it may or may not be worth the cost depending on individual users' needs, it's certainly worthy of a deeper look.
Hardy hardware defines the DT08 smartwatch but adds bulk
On the hardware front, there's not much different in terms of the watch casing itself, compared to the DT08's predecessors. The casing is PC with a carbon fiber texture, topped by a solid metal ring, touch sensors, and a square display in the circular frame. The stainless steel ring comes in two colors. Mine was the silver variant but there's a black version as well. The casing comes in white or black.
DT NO.1 accented the with three satisfyingly clicky physical buttons made of the same stainless steel as the casing ring and backing. The main button is textured.
On the underside, a magnetic pin-based charging port is embedded alongside a heart rate sensor. The primary watch strap, a silicon band filled thinly-spaced slots, is attached underneath via a more traditional pin link instead of quick-release pins. That's not perfect in terms of comfort but there are worst straps out there.
As might be given away by the heavy use of PC materials, this watch is made to be durable. It can survive water or dust incursion thanks to its IP67 rating. More importantly, the build quality is high enough that I wasn't concerned about wearing this under just about any circumstances.
The DT08 also has the bulk of a high-durability wearable too, unfortunately. It's over half an inch thick and two-inches wide. Now, that's not a major problem. But it does mean that consumers are going to have a harder time blending the device in with their day-to-day apparel.
The company actually includes a second strap that's styled to be a bit more understated. It aligns well with a more traditional watchband. Straps come in blue color, white, or black. The tools for swapping out bands are included in the box.
Display and performance are equally well-suited but flawed
The display on this watch, while too dim in bright sunlight to photograph properly is actually quite easy to read under a moderately bright sun. That's a good thing since the watch is really designed for use outdoors and in as an aid to those who work out or who want to track certain health and fitness metrics.
Similarly, the Nordic chipset underlying the screen is well-optimized to perform the calculations needed to display that data. There's no lag or latency here whatsoever, although graphics processing is a bit low and that means it's always a bit on the slow side.
But there are a number of flaws in the screen and in performance of the sensors underlying everything. The latter I'll get to momentarily but the biggest complaint about the screen has been the same for years. With the DT08 smartwatch, the display is square — and that posed an issue during this review.
Although it appears properly in photos, in real-world use, the display's placement and shape can be quite obvious. I noticed it several times every day during the test. Not only is the screen much smaller than the overall front face, at 1.3-inches. The display is also off-center, pushed toward the top.
That certainly makes it easier to read at an angle, due to the oversized bezel. When looked at straight on, it's noticeably asymmetrical and immediately becomes impossible to "unsee."
The use of a square screen would be acceptible if it always blended cleanly with the round touch-enhanced portion but it doesn't. Conversely, that would be true if it were at least centered and took up a higher ratio of the front. It doesn't. It sticks out and then the watch feels annoyingly cheap.
This isn't Android but its feature-packed anyway where it does work
Ordinarily, with this company's smartwatches and fitness wearables, the smartphone application is a large part of what holds the devices back. That's true here because that doesn't always sync data properly and not every feature actually works. On the latter point, that's because the app is universally used across almost all DT NO.1-branded wearables and not every watch uses the same sensors or has the same features.
In terms of syncing, the application seems to lag behind by about a day on most features. Some metrics, such as step counting, sync whenever the watch does. But even when syncing manually, sleep tracking, blood pressure data, and activity data take approximately a full 24-hours before showing up. The app also looks and feels extremely dated and certain features that should work don't.
For example, it's not possible to set temperature measurements and others to imperial. They're stuck on metric even after changing it in-app.
Moving to the device, all of the usual metric-tracking for fitness is in place and then some.
The watch tracks users' heart-rate, calculates calorie burn, and works out step counts and distance traveled. It also uses its sensors to do that for activities from walking, running, and cycling to football (soccer) badminton, and basketball. In each case, DT NO.1 DT08 smartwatch seemed to be very accurate throughout my review.
A proprietary OS is used with almost all DT NO.1 watches. Despite not being Android-based, that's packed with several features we'll explore deeper a bit further down. The software and hardware work well together, with either taps or swipes on the screen being utilized to navigate. The side buttons can be used to interact too and are easy enough to figure out.
The DT08 smartwatch is more than just fitness tracking
Of all the tracking mechanisms in place on the DT NO.1 DT08 smartwatch, the only one that never worked at all during my review was the PPG+HRV measurement feature. Heart rate monitoring and even blood pressure measurements appeared to be within a point or two of accuracy. That can make a difference for those with severe health problems but is accurate enough for day to day monitoring.
Stepping past the complete lack of real watch face customizations, aside from a few basic faces included by default, health isn't the only thing this wearable can track. It also isn't limited to reading notifications from a connected iOS or Android smartphone or to the standard compass found on nearly every connected wearable.
Those are useful tools to have access to, even if this watch won't be used for keeping tabs on a workout.
Appropriate sensors for measuring altitude, barometric pressure, and temperature are built right into the DT08. That means it's possible to monitor environmental conditions in real-time. For the avid adventurer or outdoors enthusiast, that includes getting a handle on changing weather conditions.
Better still, those are spot on in terms of accuracy. Combined with mountaineering-specific activity tracking and long battery life, this watch is nearly better-suited to spending time outdoors than anything else.
Battery life to match
The best way to test the longevity of the DT08 smartwatch battery or that in any review is by simply using the device. To do that, I actually turned on all of the extras from smartphone notifications across the board to all-day heart rate monitoring. Sleep tracking was active every night. Screen brightness was set all the way up and it turned on whenever I turned my wrist.
With all of the bells and whistles for this watch activated, multiple daily blood pressure measurements, and a thorough test of other sensors and equipment, this watch lasted quite some time. In fact, it lasted four days and six hours.
That places it around the middle in terms of battery life, as compared to the rest of the wearable market. There are better smartwatches and fitness wearables available on that front. But it's important to remember that I had every extra setting active. That's a serious battery drain and this watch will definitely last longer with those turned off.
Because the watch lasted so long, I half expected it would take quite a long time to charge too. That wasn't the case — at least not comparatively speaking.
Going from completely dead to a full charge here took just over two-and-a-half hours. In a pinch, that means a full day or more of charge from just 20-minutes or so of charging.
The primary caveat I found in the battery comes back to the charging setup. The magnetic charger seems to be improved over older DT NO.1 watches, snapping into place without much trouble. But it doesn't align with the pins correctly every time because the magnets allow the charger to be put on backward by mistake. There's no wall adapter included alongside the super-short charging cable either.
Is it worth buying a smartwatch that's not WearOS?
Battery life, build quality, and overall functionality. Those are the areas where DT NO.1 proves it's pretty good at building smartwatches. In the case of the DT08 smartwatch, as this review shows, that is only marred by continued issues in terms of the display and in the app department.
DT NO.1 could trim back on its wearable in terms of bulk too. This watch is quite a bit thicker than competing devices. But it really is the connected experience and display that continue to hold back these wearables.
Under the surface, this DT08 smartwatch review proves its maker can make a wearable. It could easily be on par with offerings from OEMs like Xiaomi or Fitbit. But the recording delays and the above-mentioned problems with the app and display take away from the ability to accurately track metrics.
The use of a square display that isn't centered properly on a round face steals from the otherwise great build quality.
Conversely, the build quality of this watch can be fairly described as brilliant at its sub-$40 price point. It's mostly accurate blood pressure measurements and the inclusion of many other built-in sensors work to its advantage too. Step tracking, sleep tracking, and most other tracking seem to be accurate too. That makes it a bargain, despite its drawbacks.
If aspects this smartwatch falls short on are important, this just isn't going to be the one to buy. DT NO.1 has plenty it can improve in its next fitness wearable and the things that are utterly broken earn its low rating. However, DT NO.1 has built a wearable that's easy to recommend where it does work properly. Whether or not it's worth the money is something that will need to be determined on an individual basis.