Casio has launched (via TechRadar) two fitness-focused G-Shock watches that blend a few simple health sensors with the brand’s iconic rugged designs. A semi-smart watch is a great idea, except that the feature-thin watches may be too niche if you’re not a runner.
The GBD200 is a hexagonal-shaped watch with an all-digital interface and costs $150. The $130 GBA900 sports a round and bulkier design with a hybrid digital and analog interface. Both watches are a bit of a mouthful to say, but they look no different from the outside than regular non-fitness-sensor-equipped versions.
Shockingly simple — They both have standard digital watch features such as an alarm, stopwatch, countdown timer, and a backlight. The GBD200 includes a world timer and vibration alerts for phone notifications. Additionally, the semi-smart watches cleverly hide a step tracking sensor and accelerometer for tracking runs. The watches connect to phones over Bluetooth, logging and analyzing data via the G-Shock Move app. While the watches don’t have onboard GPS, you can use your phone’s GPS to track runs, though the watch is supposed to track distance on its own using the accelerometer.
For runners, this watch may be just enough. It gives you the basic tracking you need to log your runs, and it looks great on the wrist. The problem is there’s no heart rate monitor for tracking non-run workouts. If you’re using a rowing machine, cycling, or lifting weights, you’re pretty much out of luck. But there is a silver lining here, as the lack of GPS and heart-rate monitor mean the battery can last up to two years. That beats the battery life of any smartwatch like the Fossil Gen 6 or Apple Watch Series 7.
If you do want a G-Shock that’s more fitness watch than step tracker, you can pick up the GBDH1000. This watch comes in some sick colors, and way more sensors such as GPS, heart rate monitor, altimeter, thermometer, and compass. It also charges via built-in solar panels. The GBDH1000 has more in common with watches from Garmin and Suunto, lacking the traditional watch face and charm of the other two underpowered watches. It’s also way more expensive at $400. And if you want a real Casio smartwatch that operates on Google’s Wear OS, there’s the G-Shock GSW-H1000.
Just what I need — As someone who’s always been on the periphery of the smartwatch market, the classic look and minimal tracking of the GBD200 and GBA900 just speak to me, especially the latter. I’ve been a fan of the round, bulky G-Shocks for a long time and have always wanted one that did a little more than tell the time.
While it is disappointing that there’s no heart rate monitor, which would have put this over the top for me, the step tracker and accelerometer are still useful for going on hikes, which I tend to do on the weekend. It’s not yet the perfect combination of smart tracking sensors and classic aesthetic, but it’s a step in the right direction. I’ll take it.