Hands-on review: Xplora XGO3 child’s GPS smartwatch
Image credit: Xplora
The smarter smartwatch for your child.
We previously reviewed Xplora's XGO2 GPS smartwatch for children, as well as its more grown-up oriented stablemate, the XMOVE activity tracker. Both are great products for their respective target markets.
Now the XGO3 is here to kick things up a notch on the wrists of the children in your life.
The core features and funtionality of the XGO3 have been carried over from the XGO2 – phone, messages, voice messages, GPS, SOS and safety zone, school mode, step counter, stopwatch, alarm, camera, photo gallery, emojis etc – but there are also obvious, headline improvements.
Primarily, the screen is now larger with thinner bezels for the watch face and a less obvious camera 'eye' at the top. These improvements all help make the XGO3 look more high-end – more like Mum or Dad's adult smartwatch, for example. This should help pique and keep a child's interest, as it means they won't get tired of the style or feel embarrassed wearing a "kid's watch" as they get older.
The XGO3 still has the rugged, sporty construction of the XGO2 – with the same sensible engineering approach and build quality, accounting for the rough and tumble of a child's daily life – only again, with a more refined all-round look and feel.
It comes in five colours – black, blue, green, orange and pink – and is shipped with a magnetic-flap-closure recycled cardboard case for storage. The colour of the watch is an outer upper ring around the black central body of the watch itself, plus the back of the watch and the matching rubber strap. It's nicely done and feels solid – and attractive. On catching sight of it, children will want it!
In terms of size, for reference the main body itself is slightly larger than an Apple Watch Series 1 42mm and a few millimetres taller/thicker. Naturally, this looks even bigger on a child's wrist, but the dimensions are appropriate for their imprecise jabbing fingers.
The XGO3 also brings a better camera, greater water resistance (IP68) and a longer-lasting battery, all of which are big pluses for a child's watch. The XGO3 means more fun, in more situations, for longer.
The XGO3 camera is now a 2-megapixel affair, where the XGO2's was only 0.3 megapixel. Given the size and resolution of the watch screen, this wasn't necessarily a dealbreaker for any budding David Bailey's, but the higher quality of the XGO3 camera definitely translates.
The parental control and security features of the XGO2 are of course still present on the XGO3, such as the GPS tracking and location features. This does require a pay-as-you-go 4G SIM card, which can either be ordered direct from Xplora at time of purchase or sourced from elsewhere. For example, Xplora offers a 'Connect Flex' SIM package, which includes unlimited calls and unlimited data, with no minimum contract term for £7.99 a month.
With the GPS enabled, parents can check the location of their child (or at least the watch) via the Xplora app in real time. Parents also have control over what the watch will do, including who the wearer can contact and the specific settings for location functions, such as school mode. There's also an easy SOS button which the child can hit in the event of any unwelcome attention or danger, which will then immediately send a message notifying a chosen emergency contact of the child's location.
In terms of privacy and safety, all communication is encrypted – with secure encrypted communication between the watch, the cloud server and the parental app. Additionally, the watch is never connected to the internet and has been designed with security measures to protect it from hacking or cyber bullying. Data storage has also been carefully designed according to the GDPR regulations. The idea for Xplora as a company was started by a father who lost sight of his own child in a shopping mall for half an hour, so its products come from a place of real understanding.
The XGO3 is also part of Xplora's GOPLAY ecosystem, where the more active a child is, the more rewards they can earn to rise up the online leaderboard, ultimately competing for real-world prizes. It's the gamification of keeping active, but if it helps winkle your reluctant offspring out of a darkened bedroom for a few hours a day, that can only be a good thing.
The XGO2 is still available, retailing for just under £100, and is still a good choice for a child's first 'serious' tech toy, but it's fair to say that the XGO3 is an upgrade on its predecessor in every way that counts. Better screen, better camera, better battery life, better waterproofing, yet slimmer and lighter overall – yes, please.
The Xplora proprietary charger, which connects magnetically to the watch, is still a bit of a drag, as it's not like any other charger you'll have available at home, so you'll have to keep a close eye on this accessory. At least with the improved battery life (850mAh, up from the XGO2's 700mAh) the watch will stay active with the wearer for longer. A full charge should get them through a couple of days, if not more.
With an RRP of approximately £140 (plus the rolling monthly SIM charge), the XGO3 is not going to be an impulsive purchase, but if your little one is pestering you for an internet-connected smartphone or tablet and you are, understandably, reluctant to unleash the full force of the world wide web upon them just yet, an appealing bridging solution such as the XGO3 smartwatch could well satisfy both parties.
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