The ATONGM W008 is an unlocked GSM phone built into a smart watch with Bluetooth 3, a 2MP camera, 350mAh rechargeable battery, 1.54″ display, FM tuner, and comes in at under $100.

ATONGM W008This review makes me sad. That’s something I wouldn’t normally say about a product review, but this is one where there’s some real potential for this to be a really good product but there are problematic obstacles to it being such at every single step.

The watch appears to be well made, speedy, and it can communicate with the phone at a reasonable distance, but getting it to do this you’ll need to figure out some things first.

First off the documentation doesn’t tell you anything useful. It’s incredibly poorly translated, and even the original language doesn’t appear complete.

If you search for ATONGM W008 on Google Play you’re not going to find anything application or driver related.

The manual tells you to scan a QR code, and it prints an absurdly tiny QR code in the booklet that’s unscannable.

What you actually have to do is power on the watch, swipe over to Notification, then a QR code pops up that’s too small to scan, tap that and it enlarges. Download a barcode scanner for your phone, scan that QR code, and you’re taken to a Chinese website that used to serve the application. Here’s the current link if you want to skip that and see what I’m talking about.

It’s possible that the manufacturer may redirect the link in the future if they release an update to the BT connect helper software, but for the moment it appears you have to sign up for drive space and have it transferred to your account.

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On the phone side there appears to be no way to download the Android communication application. There also doesn’t seem to be any way to translate the page automatically in Chrome (desktop) from what I believe is Chinese. Whatever the case there appears to be no way as of writing to download the phone connect software.

Back when I started testing this (55 days now?) I was able to download the apk, and when it was having issues with it not functioning with Lollipop I was given an alternate download for a test build they had coming up. If you want to try it, here’s a zip file containing the ATONGM W008 drivers I downloaded. It contains both the original software and the update that supposedly works with Lollipop. For me it didn’t.

As a note, I just zipped the software I had downloaded, I make no promises of anything other than that was what I downloaded on that site a month ago, and the second one is what I was told the manufacturer was considering releasing as an Lollipop update.

On Lollipop you get it set up, and then you start seeing notifications on your screen that the APK has crashed every time an event such as an email notification or text message should be pushed to your smartwatch.

What I did manage to get the Atongm W008 to do was sync with my contacts and place and receive calls. Unfortunately when paired if you get a call it comes through the smartwatch, which is terrible. You can disable this in the Bluetooth settings. There are no other areas such as the Bluetooth application to choose where you call ends up.

The watch also has a problem of losing time every time you turn it off. My guess is the assumption of the developers of this watch were that you would either have a GSM SIM in the device so it could grab network time, or a bluetooth helper app that would push time from your phone. If you don’t have either of these going on and have turned off the watch, it’s going to lose the date and time after a short duration.

The watch includes a 2mp camera which functioned reasonably well, even in bad office lighting. For a writstwatch camera phone, it’s ok.

Unfortunately even with Kit Kat, which is officially supported, it didn’t work with the device I was using. That might just be the phone, I don’t know. I’ll attempt it on yet another phone this week (second KitKat, fifth phone to try), but be aware.

Operating the Atongm W008 you’re given a constant notification to insert a SIM into the unit. It’s got a port for a SIM, also one for SD card if I remember correctly. You can use it as a phone should you have a GSM sim and want to. There’s no visible way to disable the constant “insert SIM” text. May not bug you, it does me.

The watch includes an FM radio that requires you use headphones as an antenna, a calendar that may or may not sync with yours, a calculator, ebook reader, a notification option for if you get too far away from your phone, a file manager, pedometer, sleep monitor, prolonged sitting warning, camera, photo gallery, theme chooser, internet browser (which for me claims it’s currently not available, might be with a SIM), music player, video player and recorder, sound recorder, call history, profile manager, messaging client, phonebook, and a couple of applications that either don’t work currently or require extra storage or a SIM card.

Some of the apps require the Bluetooth helper app, some of them seem to want something else. There was a review on Amazon (now removed) that included helpful links to the fitness connect software that you could use.

In short it looks like there was a lot of effort put into this, even the watchband is fairly nice. This should be a great product, but without functioning software or a means to update the watch you’re stuck with a half working device.

I went looking for help when the company that sent it to me claimed that it worked with my operating system, or that it worked with other Lollipop phones. I ended up on Amazon and found several five star reviews. All these reviews were similar to this in that all these reviewers had very fishy 1-day track records of reviewing a lot of the same family of product. Amazon doesn’t take down fake reviews unless enough people flag them, so there they stay. The only one that’s gone thus far is the one where they posted links to other party software that were supposed to work with the watch (they didn’t for me).

Wrap up

In the end, although the device is most likely capable of great things, I was unable to get it to function with any L device, and it failed on one of my Kit Kat devices (which might just be that device, I’m not going to doubt that).

Although the build quality seems really good, you’re purchasing a device that the software linked hasn’t been updated since December 2014, there is no update check in the watch that I can find for a device firmware update, there’s no usable documentation, the company or resellers appear to be reviewing their own products, and there’s no support site that I can find.

All this device needs to be a great watch is some software that works and someone to sit down and document it. Oh, and the company to hunt down whoever’s posting fake reviews.

You can purchase the Atongm W008 Smartwatch at Gearbeast for $62.34 although I would advise against it unless you’re currently running Kit Kat and have no plans to upgrade to Lollipop.

I really do hope this manufacturer gets their act together as this could be a very useful device. I’ll update my review if/when the manufacturer updates its software.