G-Shock watches have been a classic timepiece for years now. They’re renowned for their durability and capability, especially in extreme sports. This year G-Shock had two big announcements, the first, a metal version of the iconic design, the next was the one that caught our attention: bluetooth. There’s now a version of G-Shock’s 6900 that features the low-power Bluetooth 4.0 specification, the GBX6900B. In addition to the standard G-Shock features you’ll also get incoming notifications, music controls, a phone finder, and more. Is this Casio’s reply to the outcry for smart watches?
There’s no surprises with the design. The 6900 has been a classic G-Shock design for almost 20 years. There’s a rubberized band and a heavy duty plastic build that can withstand just about any natural force. There’s two buttons on each side and a button on the front for illuminating the face. The face is a bit larger and chunkier than the regular 6900 model. It’s a big watch for a small wrist, but it’s comfortable and lightweight.
The face is portioned into three displays: small, medium, and large. They make the most of the space and the default view clearly displays the date, time, day of week, bluetooth connection, and more. The middle sized screen has the highest level of detail (it’s still pretty low); it can scroll text and fits about 4 or 5 letters at a time.
The bluetooth functionality on GBX6900B is pretty basic, and maybe for the best. Casio is able to squeeze two years out of battery life, assuming bluetooth is used up to 12 hours/day. Compare that with the Galaxy Gear Smartwatch’s 1-day battery life. Of course, there’s a lot less bluetooth features on G-Shock.
This isn’t quite a “smart watch”, but a nice in-between. The greatest feature of any connected watch is notifications, the ability to see a phone call, email, calendar event, or message without taking your phone out of your pocket. GBX6900B does this, for the most part. The watch will alert you any time you get a phone call or update on Mail, Twitter, Facebook, Weibo, or Calendar. With exception to phone and calendar, these accounts all need to be manually set up in the G-Shock app. Most of the time there’s no details on the watch other than the alert, i.e. no sender or message snippet, but this depends on the notification type and the phone.
Alerts are customizable and you can set up different vibration patterns or chimes for your phone. The GBX6900B will also vibrate when you lose connection with your phone—this is a nice reminder that you may have left your phone behind. Alternatively, if both your watch and phone are in range and you can’t find one, you can use the other to send out an alert.
One of the neat features is music control. You can play, pause, skip, or replay music tracks directly from the watch buttons. This is especially convenient in transit or when your phone is not easily accessible. On iPhone, it only controls the iTunes app and won’t work with Spotify or Pandora.
The GBX6900B pulls the date/time from your phone, which is generally the most accurate. This is great for travelers who bounce between time zones. You can also use your phone to set alarms and timers on the G-Shock.
In addition to all of these bluetooth features, the GBX6900B still features incredible shock resistance, 200 meter water resistance, an Auto LED backlight, 35 time zone world time, 5 daily alarms, a hourly time signal, 1/100 second stopwatch, and a low battery warning.
If you’re already a fan of G-Shock, then you’ll love this update for the 6900 lineup. But those itching for a Smart watch might be a bit disappointed with the basic features, but it’s a really nice intermediary while we wait for an Apple Smart watch or something even better. Getting alerts on your phone is great, though we want more room/resolution for detailed notifications. The G-Shock app isn’t the best, but that should be improved over time (at least it’s iOS and Android compatible). It’s the little features that will make you love the GBX6900B, like the automatic time syncing, or the alert when you walk away without your phone. Also, good luck finding another connected watch with a 2-year battery lifetime! The $200 price tag is not bad at all considering the 6900 lineup starts at $100 and can get a lot pricier. The Casio G-Shock GBX6900B Bluetooth Watch is currently available in a few fun color schemes. It can be found for as low as $185.50 on Amazon.
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Compatibility: iPhone 5/5S/5C, iPhone 4S, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4, or G’zOne Commando
The Good: 2 Year Battery, Alert Notifications, Vibration & Chime customization, Shock Resistant, 200M Water Resistant, Music controls, Fun animations, Same classic design, Time syncing, Phone finder function, Backlight, Comfortable
The Bad: Only compatible with certain iOS and Android devices, Limited bluetooth functionality, G-Shock app needs improvements, Watch displays are very low resolution