Alcatel's Wave Smartwatch is Sexy, Sturdy and Promising

LAS VEGAS - Is Alcatel riding the smartwatch wave? The electronics maker unveiled its Wave wristband last week at IFA Berlin, joining the likes of big boys such as Samsung, LG, ASUS, Motorola and now Apple in making a smartwatch. I spent some time with the Alcatel Wave here at CTIA and was blown away by the handsome watch's sturdy build and classy design.

I really liked the build quality of the Wave. While I couldn't put it on my wrist, since it's not a finished product, I couldn't help staring at the watch's beautiful round 1.2-inch 240 x 204 display. Its face has subtle markings along the edges like a traditional watch does, and presumably a watch face on the display will consist of hands pointing at these marks.

MORE: Best Smartwatches 2014

On the underside is the Wave's optical heart rate monitor, similar to those found on the Samsung Gear Live or Apple Watch. Combined with other sensors such as a pedometer and altimeter, the smartwatch will feed your tracked data to a linked device so you can monitor your stats over time.

The watch will run an operating system developed by Alcatel, which the company's rep said will let you receive notifications, send calls and messages and track your fitness. It links to any smartphone running Android 4.3 and later, using Bluetooth 4.0. The Wave also supports NFC to trigger the connection to a companion device. While the unit I saw wasn't functional, I did get a glimpse at the display showing the words "Alcatel OneTouch" and an error message. Lit by daylight streaming in from the suite's large windows, the Wave's screen was brilliant and clear.

A clever touch is the watch's hidden USB jack that is revealed when you flip open the end of the strap. This lets you insert the band directly into a USB port to charge the onboard 210-mAh battery, which Alcatel estimates will last 4 days on a charge. The device is also IP67 dust and water resistant.

Whether Alcatel's offering will rise above the competing devices now largely depends on what its operating system can do and how well it does that. At least on the physical front, the Wave is already ahead of chunky competitors such as the Gear Live or G Watch. I myself prefer the Alcatel's round face to Apple's squarish Watch screen.

Announced today (Sept 9), Apple's Watch has a hefty $349 price tag. That's more expensive than the $250 Motorola Moto 360, the $200 LG G Watch and other Android Wear devices. Alcatel hasn't specified a price for the Wave. But since the company has made a name for itself by offering competitively priced devices, I expect the Wave will cost a chunk less than what's on the market right now.

Staff Writer Cherlynn Low keeps losing her dumb watches. Follow her @cherlynnlow. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide on Facebook.

Cherlynn Low

Cherlynn is Deputy Editor, Reviews at Engadget and also leads the site's Google reporting. She graduated with a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University before joining Tom's Guide and its sister site LaptopMag as a staff writer, where she covered wearables, cameras, laptops, computers and smartphones, among many other subjects.