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I tried this £69 Galaxy Watch rival and it’s seriously impressive

As a tech reviewer, I’m lucky enough to have strapped the latest Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch, and Google Pixel Watch to my wrist over the last few months.

Despite the fact smartwatches are mainstream in 2023, I still find myself ditching them and gravitating back to my normal mechanical or digital watch after a while, as I find the constant notifications and the need to charge a smartwatch every day quite distracting and inconvenient.

You feel a bit of a fool walking around with a dead smartwatch on, not even being able to tell the time because you forgot to charge it.

So when I opened up yet another smartwatch to test from UK tech startup Nothing, I was a little sceptical. But after a couple of weeks with this alarmingly affordable watch strapped to my wrist, I might have found my smartwatch sweet spot.

It turns out you can get a genuinely great smartwatch for £69, and it works with iPhone or Android. And amazingly after two weeks, I haven’t needed to charge it yet.

Nothing has only been around since 2020 and has made two great Android phones, but it has created a sub-brand called CMF to release this watch, hence the clunky name: CMF by Nothing Watch Pro. I wouldn’t call this a ‘pro’ device, though thanks to Apple the use of the word ‘pro’ doesn’t really mean anything in tech products.

Rather, this is a great fitness tracker in the body of a smartwatch, a heart rate sensor, stress and blood oxygen monitoring, and tons of watch faces. I’ve worn it to bed to track my sleep, in the shower thanks to full waterproofing, and on runs without my phone to track my route and stats thanks to the built-in GPS.

It can take and make calls through the speaker too, and it’s all in a premium-feeling aluminium alloy design that costs, unbelievably, just £69. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic that costs at least £300 more, there really isn’t much missing from the CMF Watch Pro aside from not being able to download apps. You also can’t tap it at the supermarket checkout to make contactless payments.

At first glance it looks like an Apple Watch thanks to the square design and dark grey colour (though there’s a shinier version with a bright orange strap). The 1.96-inch AMOLED display is sharp and bright with five brightness levels, though it doesn’t have auto-brightness. It’s really responsive, and I’ve never had any lag flicking through menus and screens that show the time, activity, heart rate, weather, sleep, and phone call options.

Perhaps the secret here is that the watch is simply displaying data – you can’t tap for more information or open any apps, as there aren’t any. The clever thing here is it doesn’t feel stripped back, unlike other cheap smartwatches I’ve used. Notifications (if you want them) rolled in, even though the settings are a little temperamental, and the data collected on runs from the GPS route to heart rate zones

Using the CMF by Nothing Watch Pro has left me very impressed, despite the clunky name, and wondering why anyone should spend close to or more than £400 on the latest Samsung Galaxy Watch instead. Sure, it can make contactless payments and can store music on it, but is that really worth spending hundreds of pounds more on?

The answer is no.

The CMF by Nothing Watch Pro goes on sale for £69 from Amazon on 22 December. You can also buy it from Nothing’s store at 4 Peter St, Soho, London.

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