Hands on: Neptune Pine Smartwatch review

A smartwatch to replace smartphones

What is a hands on review?

Early Verdict


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    Large 2.4-inch screen

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    Front and back cameras

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    Smartphone replacement


  • -

    Sticks out like a sore thumb

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    Old Android 4.1 build

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    No Google Play Store support

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Just like there are big screen phablets, there are also big screen smartphones. Neptune's Pine Smartwatch is by far the largest wearable device we've ever slapped onto our wrists. Featuring a 2.4-inch screen, Pine has no reservations to replace smartphones.

It's big. Let's just get that out of the way. To put that in perspective, the Pine's screen is about just shy of being half the size of the iPhone 5S' screen size. It's definitely a step up from other wearable devices we've seen like the 1.63-inch screened Samsung Galaxy Gear and Pebble with a 1.26-inch screen.

The Pine smartwatch's face is about 2-inches wide on its own and the device sticks out about an inch and a half. Even the band on the back of the smartwatch gets to be about one and half inches wide.

The bulk was enough to scrunch up our sleeves and make the arm ends of our jackets look odd. But, if you're okay with all the inevitable odd looks directed to your wrist, the Pine has one of the best looking screens out of all the smartwatches.

The complete smartphone replacement

Sporting a 320 x 240 QVGA resolution screen, the Pine runs a full build of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with a slightly reduced six icon home screen.

Just as we'd expect of a miniature Android device, we could use the touchscreen to tap open applications and swipe through the Jelly Bean interface. Swiping down from the top of the screen also pulls down the settings and notifications tray.

Aside from the familiar Android OS, we were even able to type with two thumbs despite each key being a little over three-millimeters wide.

Using the Android Pine really is like popping on a half-sized Android smartphone on your wrist.

Dick Tracy called

During our few minutes using Pine, we weren't allowed to turn on the Wi-Fi to access the web or the 3G radio for calls. Neptune's reps told us, they need to do this to extend the battery life of their smartwatch demos whilst promising that they will be able to take a micro SIM for full call and data service around the world.

The fledgling smartwatch company also hopes to get Google's blessing to access the Play Store for official apps and other services like updates. However, in the interim, the company plans to build its own app store before they begin shipping in January.

Looking at the watch, it seems like device will likely be tinkered with by rooters and it also has a mini USB that could make side loading apps even easier.

What we were able to do was type up some quick notes and play a game of Angry Birds, with the ability to zoom out but not in.

The smartwatch also has a front-facing VGA camera for selfies, and better yet, mobile video chats from your wrist. The front-facing camera does not offer the best quality we've ever seen with a granny image and heavy dose of color-fringing due in part to the spotlights on the CES 2014 show floor.

Luckily, the quality of the five-megapixel camera on the back was much better. To use the back camera, the Pine can disengage from the smartwatch's band and pointed around like a point and shoot, or attached to another mount like a Go Pro action camera.

Neptune plans to start shipping the Pine Smartwatch to its Kickstarter backers by the end of the month. Meanwhile, new buyers will be able to preorder the Pine in 8, 16, 32, and 64GB varieties starting at $335.00 (about £203.23/AUS $372.41) for a March arrival.

Early verdict

At first glance it's impossible not to notice just how gargantuan the Pine Smartwatch looks on your wrist. But, it comes with the trade off of freeing up a pocket and having a completely serviceable Android smartphone just an arm-lift away.

We still have a lot of untested concerns about the Pine smartwatch between not being able to make a call, surf the web, or check out an app store of any sort. Still if the, Pine works as promised it could be just the first device in a new segment of self-sufficient smartwatches and the wearable tech space.

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.