Hands on: Qualcomm Toq review

Qualcomm's take on the smartwatch is here

What is a hands on review?

Early Verdict


  • +

    Simple to use

  • +

    Clever screen

  • +

    Wireless charging


  • -

    Small display

  • -

    Clunky strap

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What's this, another smartwatch is entering the fray? Yep, the Qualcomm Toq was a rather surprise announcement at the firm's annual Uplinq conference in San Diego this week, following swiftly in the footsteps of the Samsung Galaxy Gear.

Before you get too excited though we will start with the bad news. The Toq will only be available in the US, and Qualcomm is limiting the run to "tens of thousands" with the smartwatch only being sold via online marketplaces.

Qualcomm tells us the Toq will go on sale during the fourth quarter of the year and will retail somewhere between $300 and $350 (around £190-£225, AU$330-$380).

It will however work in any country round the world, so if you're really keen to get your hands on one you're not completely out of luck.

Sporting what is believed to be a 1.6-inch display, the Toq has a unique Mirasol screen which doesn't feature a back light, instead it harnesses the ambient light in its environment.

This means that even in direct sunlight you can see the display without issue, something which is almost impossible on many smartphones and other back-lit devices such as the Sony Smart Watch 2.

The colour display never switches off either, so you can quickly glance down and see what's on screen without having to wake the Toq or click a button.

Even though the screen never switches off Qualcomm claims you'll be able to get "days" of battery life from the Toq, depending on your usage patterns.

If you're struggling to see the screen on the Qualcomm Toq at night there is a front light which you can stick on to aid you.

The screen has a pretty low resolution, but that's not a huge issue as it is clear and it's not like you're going to be watching movies or viewing pictures on the Toq.

It's predominantly a text based display, with messages, call information, emails and calendar appointments front and centre.

We did find the Toq's screen looked washed out at times, and if you're not looking front on you will struggle a little to see what's being displayed.

The screen is responsive to the touch, although you won't be blown away by speed with an off-the-shelf 200MHz Cortex M3 processor stuck inside the Toq instead of one of Qualcomm's Snapdragon offerings - but it's not much of an issue.

We weren't left waiting long when we fired up the weather app or dived into the calendar, and the ability to select a custom homescreen on the Toq allows you to have the information most important to you front and centre.

You can have just a clock, the time and date or even your next calendar appointment or the weather on the homescreen. It's up to you.

The stocks and shares app will be handy for anyone business minded considering splashing out on the Toq, although everything requires a great deal of scrolling due to the tiny nature of the display - but that's hardly surprising.

A handy feature is the music player which gives you basic on screen controls allowing you to manipulate your tunes as the Toq streams them to the Bluetooth ear buds which come bundled in the box.

The ear pieces are both completely wireless, but have the unfortunate design which is very similar to a hearing aid, so they aren't exactly the coolest buds about.

Sadly they weren't available to get hands on (or should that be ears on?) with at Uplinq so apart from the look there's little else we can say about them for now.

The watch itself is relatively lightweight and it's pretty large, but certainly not as chunky as the Samsung Galaxy Gear, and there's no physical buttons present allowing for a clean design.

There's a touch sensitive button hidden in the strap below the screen though, allowing you to lock the Toq to avoid any unwanted presses and also toggle the front light if it's just too dark to see.

Qualcomm has managed to keep the size of the watch down by moving the battery for the unit into the clasp, allowing it to sit relatively flush to your wrist.

The clasp itself is a little clunky, the fastening mechanism doesn't feel overly robust and we can see it breaking if you're not careful with the Toq.

Rather frustratingly there's no easy way to adjust the strap on the Qualcomm Toq to fit the more dainty of wrists. You actually have to cut the strap to make it smaller - there's no links to remove or a range of holes for you to slip a peg into here.

The Qualcomm Toq smartwatch is compatible with handsets running Android 4.0.3 or higher, which pretty much covers the majority of the Android devices out there now. Obviously Bluetooth is also required to pair your phone with the Toq.

Qualcomm hopes app developers will get behind the Toq and update their applications to work with the smartwatch, plus the software is upgradeable so we could see new features in the future.

Another selling point for the Qualcomm Toq is that it's the first smartwatch to support fully wireless charging. You get a special charging tray for the watch as well as the two headphones, although you'll still need to plug that into a wall.

Early verdict

We quite like the Qualcomm Toq. It knows what it's doing and does it well. It's not trying to pull out all the stops with over the top functionality or gimmicky features, it's purely an aid to let you quickly check a notification or skip that One Direction track you've been meaning to remove from your playlist but haven't yet.

The small, low res screen can irk at times and the strap adjustment issue will cause some people grief, but if you're looking for simple companion device which saves you having to dig your smartphone out of your bag or pocket every two seconds then the Toq may well suit.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site. 

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.