Author Topic: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...  (Read 3522 times)

So, in the various discussions about smartwatches in the last 12 months or so I have stated that I'd like my next device to feature eSIM allowing me to leave the phone at home when out for a run etc. and it will do my livetrack and allow me to make a call in an emergency or just for the hell of it.

Garmin has launched an updated Forerunner 945 with lte.  I'm thinking this is good and the next gen fenix will probably come with an lte option so, great.  But on closer inspection the future is probably not so bright, apparently.  Their lte functionality allows livetrack but doesn't include calls.  WTF ??? 

What utter mindless oaf at Garmin thinks that lte without calls is something that lots of people would seriously want to pay for?

I can see me leaving Garmin when device replacement becomes due simply because it cannot offer the functionality that I value.  As it is, Garmin Pay is all but useless in the UK but carrying a card is much easier and less bulky than carrying a phone.  However, if somebody offers a smartwatch with full functionality lte and something like Google pay or Apple Pay which are almost universally accepted, why would I stay with Garmin?

And the price of their oem straps is eye-wateringly over the top too ...

ravenbait

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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #1 on: 03 June, 2021, 01:04:27 pm »
I'm currently with Garmin after being let down by Suunto (4 replacements of the wrist unit, and every single one let water in), Polar (discontinued support for my wrist unit, rendering it unusable, and only offered a 5% discount on a brand new piece of tech).

Garmin so far has worked out of the box, integrates pretty seamlessly with everything I want it to, and if I took the protective cover off I'm fairly sure it would look brand new under there even though I've worn it near constantly for more than two years (735xt), which is more than could be said for either the Polar or the Suunto. I've got my eye on a Fenix 6 Solar, and I generally carry my phone with me anyway, so the ability to make calls isn't so much of an issue. It would be nice to do livetrack without running down my phone battery, though.

Sam
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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #2 on: 03 June, 2021, 01:26:04 pm »
I'm not sure why they think LTE without calls is useful, although I wonder if there's some app you could use to do something like whatsapp calls?

The Garmin Pay thing surprises me. I frequently use mine and it works wherever Contactless is available IME. I know it isn't open to that many banks, but it happens that all 3 banks I have cards which work on GP.

Starling &Revolut do free accounts so I guess if that's the problem, one solution is to get one of those and use it to hold a balance for Garmin Pay.
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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #3 on: 03 June, 2021, 01:35:04 pm »
Garmin aren't in the business of making phones. I'm not surprised it can't make phone calls. Adding hardware for that would increase the size and cost.

Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #4 on: 03 June, 2021, 01:53:24 pm »
I remain unconvinced that having to open yet another bank account to accommodate restrictive tech is the way to go.  It seems totally counter-intuitive to me in an "on demand" society.

I am not convinced that it is a big leap in tech to upgrade to call capability something already equipped with lte and bluetooth and that already and sends sms messages for livetrack.  The device comes with a pay per month contract for the eSIM in merkinia.

I had a 735XT.  It was great for two-and-a-squidge years but then the screen started coming away from the case.   Rather less than water resistant all of a sudden.  That's when I made a hasty (start of lockdown 1) purchase of a Fenix 6 Pro sapphire.  I bought the sapphire version because I am always knocking it against things.  I spent a small fortune on screen protectors for the 735XT.   I wonder if that contributed to my unstuck screen?

I call my Fenix the Thief of Joy (ToJ) because it insists upon telling me how unfit and useless I am though now I have 90% of the elite athlete metrics turned off.  I like what it now does for me but wish that it could do just a little bit more.

ravenbait

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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #5 on: 03 June, 2021, 02:00:40 pm »
Given how big the Fenix 6 already is, I dread to think how big it would have to be to get call functionality in there along with everything else. I'm not aware of any watch on the market that will make proper calls without being connected to a phone.

On the 735xt... I'm on my second screen protector out of a packet of 3 I bought when I first got the watch. It's cracked, but still protecting the screen and I can read through the crack. I tend not to try taking them off until they're pretty much falling off, as that can put the wrong kind of pressure on the screen underneath.

Sam
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PaulF

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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #6 on: 03 June, 2021, 02:24:02 pm »
To add phone capability they'd need to add a speaker and microphone (I assume it doesn't have either already) plus some software, which shouldn't be a big issue.

I don't think the lack of supported banks is a technology issue but more that Garmin haven't got deals with many UK banks.

Sounds like an Apple Watch would do what you want. It works with most banks, I believe you can make calls without your phone and it has fitness tracking. Maybe not as much as a sports watch but it sounds like you don't need the detailed fitness capabilities.

Feanor

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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #7 on: 03 June, 2021, 02:34:35 pm »
To add phone capability they'd need to add a speaker and microphone (I assume it doesn't have either already) plus some software, which shouldn't be a big issue.

I suppose they could require the user to have bluetooth audio for voice calls.
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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #8 on: 03 June, 2021, 02:45:08 pm »
phones need antennas.
Blipping location data (which is a tiny amount of data, less than a tweet), can be done with a very basic antenna, which is only turned on at intervals. Boost power briefly, blip data, turn off.

Sustaining that for a phone call duration? You either need a bit antenna (less power), or a lot of power. How big is the battery in a watch?
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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #9 on: 03 June, 2021, 03:07:04 pm »
Mrs Nutty has a garmin watch.

I now have to phrase my texts to her carefully as she takes the easy "yes/no" option on reply so a question such as "will you be home in time for the school run or shall I do it?" confuses me when I get "yes" in reply.

She has had no issues with the garmin pay option, other than when she's forgotten to wear the watch when out  :facepalm:    She's got so used to the watch just doing everything that a handbag and purse is a thing of the past.

Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #10 on: 03 June, 2021, 03:17:12 pm »
Given how big the Fenix 6 already is, I dread to think how big it would have to be to get call functionality in there along with everything else. I'm not aware of any watch on the market that will make proper calls without being connected to a phone.

On the 735xt... I'm on my second screen protector out of a packet of 3 I bought when I first got the watch. It's cracked, but still protecting the screen and I can read through the crack. I tend not to try taking them off until they're pretty much falling off, as that can put the wrong kind of pressure on the screen underneath.

Sam

As far as I am aware Apple and Samsung already do lte watches with call capability.  The Pro version being bigger you'd imagine that there is space to mimick what Appke and Samsung already do.

Re the screen protectors:  my experiences were very similar. 

Kim

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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #11 on: 03 June, 2021, 07:50:12 pm »
I'm betting they're using some super-low-power LTE chipset intended for SCADA type applications that simply doesn't have call capability.

Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #12 on: 03 June, 2021, 08:26:15 pm »
You are probably close to the mark there Kim. 

Why would anybody buy a device that still requires them to carry a separate phone with them for emergencies yet also needs to pay for a separate "airtime" contract for said device?  It offers no new advantages to their current situation and costs more money monthly.  Just bizarre. 

I am not impressed but more importantly, I am slightly bewildered by the rather naff offering.

ravenbait

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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #13 on: 03 June, 2021, 08:29:50 pm »

As far as I am aware Apple and Samsung already do lte watches with call capability.  The Pro version being bigger you'd imagine that there is space to mimick what Appke and Samsung already do.

Re the screen protectors:  my experiences were very similar.

The Fenix 6X (the Pro refers to additional features, not size) is hecking ginormerous. I wanted one, until I realised it literally would not fit on my wrist. My wrists are not especially small. I am not a petite sort. Even the standard Fenix is 5mm larger in diameter than the Oreo-sized 735xt and would only just be wearable. That extra space is taken up by additional memory and battery, so you get a longer battery life.

The point of the Fenix 6 series is largely to compete with Suunto for the ultra market, where battery life becomes important. So I doubt they would sacrifice battery for call handling. That said, if you are especially flush, they may introduce it to their Marq range (which I had lined up as my one lottery frivolity, should my numbers ever come through, until I realised the Fenix 6 Solar Pro is probably a better watch for the kind of extreme sports I dream of regaining enough health to put back on my to-do list {I had intended to segue from triathlon into adventure racing}).

Sam
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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #14 on: 03 June, 2021, 08:44:16 pm »
Yeah, I expressed that badly.  I meant to express that in temrs of the Fenix 6 Pro being bigger than other models such as the 735 and the 945. 

Garmin seems to have too many models.  The "new" Enduro seems to me to be little more than a long range Fenix.  I have not even looked at the Marqrange but you have grabbed my curiosity now. 

Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #15 on: 03 June, 2021, 08:51:38 pm »
Hmmm, interesting.  Have you seen the Tag Heuer Connected?  Frivolity with a potentially classier brand name.   

Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #16 on: 04 June, 2021, 09:40:04 am »
I have a colleague who had an earlier Tag smartwatch. Massively overpriced.


I cannot think of any situation where I would want to make or receive a phone call from my wrist.

Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #17 on: 04 June, 2021, 10:01:42 am »

Why would anybody buy a device that still requires them to carry a separate phone with them for emergencies yet also needs to pay for a separate "airtime" contract for said device?  It offers no new advantages to their current situation and costs more money monthly.  Just bizarre. 


Whilst I'm not about to buy one, I certainly can see why I might find it useful.

Your assertion is based on the idea that you already carry a phone and want to replace it with the same functionality in your watch. Personally, I just about never carry a phone - and particularly not on a bike - but there *are* a few occasions when I would like the capability of being externally tracked. Consequently, if my navigation/tracking device, which I always wear when cycling, and which is a watch, could provide that function, I'd find it useful on occasion and might well be willing to pay for it being available.


I cannot think of any situation where I would want to make or receive a phone call from my wrist.


Do you never hold a phone near your ear when making a call? If you do, what is the difference if that device near your ear is a watch attached to your wrist rather than a slab of plastic you have to actually hold there?

Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #18 on: 04 June, 2021, 10:20:31 am »
I have a colleague who had an earlier Tag smartwatch. Massively overpriced.


I cannot think of any situation where I would want to make or receive a phone call from my wrist.

I agree.  The Tag is hugely overpriced.

I am very much thinking of emergencies and bluetooth earphones.
I have some Aftershokz which I really get on with.  When I broke my leg in 1998 my mobile was back at base.  D'oh !!!   :hand:   Fortunately I was not alone and one of my mates went for help.  When I had a fall more recently I was alone but had my phone and was able to summon assistance.  I wouldn't expect to make or receive many calls at all but as a "summon assistance" device a smartwatch with eSIM and calling capabilities enables me to carry fewer items yet stay connected just in case. 

ravenbait

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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #19 on: 04 June, 2021, 11:17:51 am »
Just as a thought -- if the emergency scenario is the only one that bothers you, maybe they will use it to enable their impact detection alert system even without a phone? I can see them being able to trigger a pre-set SMS or email alert configured online or in the app before you leave.

Sam
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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #20 on: 04 June, 2021, 11:23:33 am »
Do you never hold a phone near your ear when making a call? If you do, what is the difference if that device near your ear is a watch attached to your wrist rather than a slab of plastic you have to actually hold there?

In the age of mobile phones I've never wanted to make a call and not had my mobile with me. I guess this is because I'm not a runner? Even when I did run, I took the phone with me.


Kim

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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #21 on: 04 June, 2021, 11:24:20 am »
Just as a thought -- if the emergency scenario is the only one that bothers you, maybe they will use it to enable their impact detection alert system even without a phone? I can see them being able to trigger a pre-set SMS or email alert configured online or in the app before you leave.

Ah, but does it support What3Words?   :demon:

Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #22 on: 04 June, 2021, 11:29:36 am »
If the only scenario is to be tracked, weren't there (many years ago) tracking devices that could be bought to locate pet dogs and which some cyclists used?   I seem to recall watching online as some forummers did long audaxes on forums that went before this one.

ravenbait

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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #23 on: 04 June, 2021, 12:16:25 pm »
Ah, but does it support What3Words?   :demon:

 :demon:

Sam
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ravenbait

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Re: A new Garmin smartwatch with eSIM: hooray!!! Or maybe not ...
« Reply #24 on: 04 June, 2021, 12:20:55 pm »
If the only scenario is to be tracked, weren't there (many years ago) tracking devices that could be bought to locate pet dogs and which some cyclists used?   I seem to recall watching online as some forummers did long audaxes on forums that went before this one.

The watch already does this, but currently does it via the app on your phone, which obviously is dependent on your phone having batteries. As I said upthread, Garmin are looking to move into the ultra-marathon/ultra-rail/adventure racing market currently dominated by Suunto. The major advantage Suunto has over Garmin is battery life.

The Fenix 6 has been given more features that appeal to the ultra endurance athlete as well as a massively increased battery life -- even more so with the Solar. This new feature that started the thread is to permit LiveTrack in the absence of a phone -- pretty much what those tracking devices do. The Fenix 6 definitely has incident detection.

Sam
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"Created something? Hah! But that would be irresponsible! And unethical! I would never, ever make... more than one."