Review : Phosphor Touch Time watch

Digital watch adds touchscreen, applications in uncomfortable platform

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Phosphor

Price: $159 as reviewed

The Good

  • Multiple functions
    - Silicone band
    - Aesthetics

The Bad

  • Uncomfortable
    - Display lag
    - Screen operation
Watches have been around far longer than any Internet denizen has been alive. First appearing in the 15th century, they have been important to functionality and timeliness of people for hundreds of years. However, watches haven't changed much -- outside of the invention of the crystal-based digital watches dating back relatively recently. Now, smart watches from companies like Samsung and (allegedly) Apple are looking to change watches again. But is there still room for advancements in standard of watches that people will widely adopt? Phosphor aims to find out with the Touch Time.

The Touch Time has a striking design, without question. The polish and solid construction of the watch aid its beautiful look. Taking the standard idea of a digital watch and improving it, the watch uses a 144x168, always-on LCD display. The "touch" in the name comes from the touch capabilities, which mimics a smartphone design and operation.

Function-wise, the watch had our reviewer thinking that the Touch Time isn't dissimilar to the old Casio calculator watches that were popular in the '80s. This isn't simply because it has the ability to use a calculator in it, but because it is more like a "watch plus" rather than trying to be a smart watch. Rather than being limited to only telling time, the Touch Time has seven other features that can be navigated via the watch face.

The additional features revolve around things that someone wearing a watch might need at a quick glance. A calendar and a reminder system are added, to keep users up-to-date. Time-related functions such as an alarm and a stopwatch bring common features found in many digital watches. There is even a world time display that shows up to three time zones set by the wearer. The current lunar cycle can even be displayed. All of these are on top of the aforementioned calculator function.

A smart feature is the requirement to unlock the watch before making any changes to what is seen on the watch. To access any changes, users need to hold a finger over the sensor on the watch for two seconds. A locking slider will appear on the screen that then must be slid up to access other screens. Sliding the screen from left to right will bring up two menus, with four icons for each page. Leaving the screen alone for 10 seconds will lock down the watch again, leaving it on the screen it was last on.

The Touch Time offers six different display options for the time. Each design is different to fit the many needs of the wearer. The background can also be changed, to either black or white, to customize the look further. Through the settings, users can set the watch to use 12 or 24-hour standards. It also has support for seven languages. An LED backlight is included, that is turned on with a double tap on the sensor. Once on, it stays lit for about two seconds. The light works much better on the white background than it does on the black one.

But what is it like to wear the Touch Time around? Bluntly, it is uncomfortable. First the shape of the watch is odd. This isn't because of the rectangular base portion. Honestly, that part isn't that bad, and would actually be fine if it wasn't for one aspect --the back of the watch. The removable back of the watch is round like a common watch, but doesn't fit flush into the base section. Instead, it sticks out of the back and sits off center.

The problem this creates is in how sits on the wrist. For people that have an ulna that sticks out a bit higher than the rest of the bones where a watch would sit, it becomes a problem. It becomes hard to find a position where the Touch Time is comfortable because the disk sticks out so far.

The disk wants to sit right on that bone at times, creating extreme discomfort. We constantly moved the wrist during the week it was worn, in an attempt to find a comfortable spot. Attempts to move it forward created problems with wrist movements, since the base and straps are so wide. This disk also cannot be removed from the design as it is, because the Touch Time runs on a coin cell battery. Phosphor states the battery should last a year before needing a replacement.

Discomfort is amplified because the Touch Time is bulky and somewhat heavy for a watch. At 1.31 x 1.87 x 0.5 inches, the watch base is quite big, and takes up significant space on the wrist. It also weighs 86.4 grams (three ounces), which makes the watch very noticeable after wearing it for hours at a time. The outer construction of the watch is made out of stainless steel, which makes up the bulk of the weight.

The silicone band on the review unit, on the other hand, was quite comfortable on its own. Rather than some bands that will cause excess sweating, skin pinching or hair pulling, the band on the Touch Time never ran into these issues. The Touch Time can also be purchased with a stainless steel band.

Practical use of the Touch Time is mixed. The display actually lags quite a bit when operating. It isn't as snappy as a smartphone would be, but that should be somewhat obvious since the same type of processor doesn't power it. Trying to touch the edges of the watch to drag the screen or select an option constantly causes issues. It either won't register the press at all, or it thinks it is only a partial move and snaps back. This becomes the most annoying thing to deal with when unlocking the phone or trying to change a setting, since most options have to be selected at the right edge of the watch.

The Phosphor Touch Time is something that is a little out of place with the way technology is heading. It doesn't need to be a smart watch, but at the same time the features it holds could just as easily be pulled up on a smartphone. That isn't to say that it is a bad device, but instead that it will only have a market for a select few. At a price of $159 dollars, the uncomfortable fit and screen problems make the Touch Time impractical for anyone other than those wishing for a great-looking watch that has other features they don't really need to use.