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Michael Kors Access Grayson review

The most stylish Wear OS watch?

Specs

  • Snapdragon Wear 2100 CPU with 512MB RAM par for the course
  • Originally had Android Wear 2.0 software, now Wear OS
  • Lack of fitness and LTE understandable, NFC not so much

The Michael Kors Access Grayson runs on a Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. This means that it’s mostly spec'd like most other recent Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches, such as the Huawei Watch 2 and the LG Watch Style.

However, there are several key supplementary components missing here in keeping with the watch’s fashion focus. Plus it's worth noting the software on the watch is now called Wear OS, but works in a similar way to Android Wear 2.0.

Read more: Apple Watch 4 review

There’s no heart rate sensor, NFC, GPS or LTE. We’ll discuss a few of these omissions more in the fitness section, but essentially it means that the Michael Kors Access Grayson isn’t at all suited to those seeking a more active smartwatch.

In a way that’s fine. You really wouldn’t want to take such a hefty, dressy watch out on a run through the woods. 

Once again, Michael Kors has targeted its latest watch at a very specific segment of the market, and as a result it’s no all-singing, all-dancing hybrid in the mold of, say, the Apple Watch 3.

However, if we were to home in on one particularly disappointing omission here, it’s the lack of NFC. This means you can’t use the Michael Kors Access Grayson for Android Pay payments.

While the lack of GPS and a heart rate monitor makes a certain amount of sense, being able to buy goods from shops with a flourish of your wrist would seem to go hand-in-hand with this device’s more urbane trappings. It’s a shame.

As for the lack of a 4G LTE, it’s one of those dropped features that looks bad on a checklist but doesn’t prove that much of a big deal in practice. You’re not going to want to make any phone-free calls from your surfboard with this glorious paper weight on your wrist.

The vast majority of Grayson users will almost always have their smartphone within a matter of meters from their watch - whether those devices are on their person or not.

Performance and interface

  • Solid general performance but slow apps
  • Google Assistant works well
  • Included apps are inessential

General performance here is decent, as you’d expect from a watch running on Snapdragon Wear 2100. This chip has been custom-made for smartwatches, and the benefits have been clear to see in the smooth running of the LG Watch Style and the Asus ZenWatch 3.

Wear OS has taken more of the load off your smartphone and placed it on the watch, and the Snapdragon Wear 2100 generally copes with the added load well - particularly when it comes to navigating through watch faces, bringing up notifications, and moving between menus.

But this is Wear OS we’re talking about here, and it still doesn’t feel like a fully optimized OS with all the kinks ironed out.

Navigating through the core menus and notifications on the Michael Kors Access Grayson is speedy enough, but accessing native apps still takes an age. Most of the time, you’ll probably just pull out your phone to start a music track or get directions rather than navigating to the option through Google’s own native apps.

One effective sticking plaster over Android Wear 2.0’s sluggish app performance and the limitations inherent with the smartwatch form factor is Android Assistant. It’s arguably more useful on here than Android proper.

Why struggle with the Google Play app (or rummage around for your phone) when you can just bark "play some Bicep" at your wrist?

It feels very well integrated on the Michael Kors Access Grayson too. Pressing and holding the prominent crown button accesses Google’s voice-activated tool, while the watch’s built-in mic is capable of picking up your voice even when speaking relatively quietly - always handy when you’re talking to your wrist in public.

As mentioned, there’s a button dedicated to jumping you to a small suite of custom Michael Kors apps, which are stylishly presented (of course) but inessential.

My Social lets you link in your Instagram and Facebook accounts, granting direct access to any images you have on there for custom watch face purposes.

My Looks breaks down your watch faces by color, where you can then set about customizing the various elements. My Modes lets the watch switch between different watch faces depending on whether it’s day or night. All pretty inessential stuff.

Fitness

  • This isn’t a fitness watch by any stretch
  • Basic Google Fit compatibility is good for casual step-tracking

As already stated, the Michael Kors Access Grayson is not a smartwatch for fitness fanatics. In fact, it’s not even a smartwatch for fitness part-timers.

That’s a combined result of the Grayson’s hefty, dressy design and its lack of GPS and heart rate sensor. Needless to say there’s also no barometer like the one found in the LG Watch Sport.

What you do have is the standard accelerometer setup, which enables the Grayson to carry off basic step-counting tasks. This means you can still make use of Google Fit’s entry-level fitness programs, such as being active for 30 minutes per day or going for a run three times per week.

On the one hand it would be churlish and faintly absurd to criticize a fashion watch for failing as a fitness tracker. On the other hand, there are good-looking smartwatches out there that contain some combination of these missing functions - the Apple Watch 3 and the Samsung Gear S3, most notably.

The Access Grayson slots neatly into the current Wear OS scene, which seems split down the middle between multi-functional sports watches (the LG Watch Sport, the Huawei Watch 2) and more fashion-forward fare like the Asus ZenWatch 3 and the LG Watch Style.

Some Wear OS fans might pine for a proper Apple Watch equivalent - a dress watch and a fitness watch in one - but at least the Google ecosystem gives you options.