Martian Passport Smartwatch Hands-On Review

Martian Passport Smartwatch Hands-On Review

by Matthew Boston

Freedom comes in a stylish timepiece that gives a new meaning to the phrase “hands-free convenience.” At first glance the Martian Passport looks quite similar to any other watch with its retro-styled analogue dial, but it makes life on Earth a little easier than your grandfather’s watch. So does this Martian timepiece have all the features that the new generation of homo sapiens are looking for in a watch? Lets have a look.

The Martian Passport Smartwatch is definitely styled differently than the average smartwatch and you could say it has out-of-this-world technology, combining both analog and digital tech in one wristwatch – as well as something quite out of the ordinary.

Martian Passport Smartwatch

Martian Passport Smartwatch

Just like other smartwatches you just pair it with your phone(or tablet) and ‘watch’ the fun begin. You can learn what’s going on in your world without taking your phone out of your pocket or bag. When you receive a call on your smartphone your watch will display the name of the caller on a small LED display at the bottom of the watch face. All this is fairly standard for a smartwatch but unlike other Bluetooth smartphone watches with their small interactive touchscreens, the Martian Watch has taken on a different approach. It is the worlds first first Voice-Commands watch that allows you to just tap a button and start talking – a la James Bond? And whether you’re driving or in a noisy place, the speaker on the watch is loud enough for you to hear it clearly wherever you are.

So making and receiving calls, sending and receiving text messages, starting and stopping music while Alpine skiing no longer happens only in a Sci-Fi film, it’s now a reality for iPhone and Android users.

Martian Passport Smartwatch

Martian Passport Smartwatch

Just leave your smartphone in a safe place and allow the Martian watch to flash all the notifications loud and clear, allow it to read your messages out loud, take dictations from you, remind you of your appointments, take notes and a whole lot more than what a personal secretary might be willing to handle.

Martian Passport Smartwatch – Appearance (Dial, Screen, Case)

The crystal watch face with its scratch-resistant glass and the stainless steel surrounding and analog dial make the Martian Passport an attractive watch. But there is no better example that depicts how deceptive looks can be. The analog display gives it a 60’s retro look and is powered by a Japanese quartz movement, but if you don’t know what it does, that’s all there is to it – a smart looking analog watch with a standard looking crown on the right side (for time setting) and two buttons on the left side. Look for clues and the only indication that something “smart” is happening here comes from the small horizontal OLED screen sitting at the bottom of the watch face and the multicolored LED notification light, both of which largely remain hidden unless active.

Martian Passport Smartwatch

Martian Passport Smartwatch

A microphone and speaker are fitted in the watch and there are some old-style physical buttons on the sides. The watch comes in various combinations of a black face and black silicone band; a white face and white leather band or a white face and black leather band.

The casing of stainless steel measures 13.3 mm thick and might look a little awkward on a very thin wrist but it has plenty of (retro) style to compensate. The model feels very comfortable when worn and it fits snugly with the silicone band my press sample came on, as mentioned the bands come in various coloured silicon as well as leather and stainless steel.

Martian Passport Smartwatch – Notable Features of the Martian Passport

The first screen you are presented with is the “Home” screen, which looks basic and simple. All it tells you is whether your Martian Passport is connected to your smartphone or not. But this watch comes with some excellent features that make it a great smartphone watch:

  • Voice control – answer and place calls on the watch.
  • Real-time alerts and notifications on an integrated OLED display, along with a Caller ID
  • Receive notifications and alerts on the watch.
  • Filter notifications sent to the watch and access past notifications for quick review.
  • Accept or reject calls with the press of a button.
  • Gesture setting allows rejection of calls, sending them to voice mail by bending an elbow or turning a wrist.
  • Power of Siri (on iPhone) and Google Now (on Android) to place calls and for other functions.
  • Supports POP or IMAP email.
  • One charge gives 2+ hours of talk time and standby time of 7 days. The battery will last for about 2 years.
  • A noise-cancelling microphone for perfect voice clarity.
  • Docked in a speaker, the watch turns into a music-playing machine.
  • A leash mode alerts you when you leave your iOS device behind.

This Martian watch offers several other interesting features. It has a wearable microphone with a Bluetooth and a Micro-USB port, basically it’s the two-way radio wristwatch that you have always dreamt of as a kid, especially watching your favorite movie characters flaunt them.

The Martian Passport Smartwatch Functioning

The first step is to pair the phone (or tablet) with the watch and a Bluetooth 4.0 is used for this. First you need to download and install the Martian Alerts App and the you press the button at the top, a blue light then comes on indicating a connection is taking place. Once pairing has taken place you can then set up notifications, and the app comes with a link to FAQs and tutorials to fall back on for clarifying any doubts initially.

Martian Alert Application

Martian Alert Application

The Martian Passport Smartwatch vibrates when it receives a notification alert, after which the alert scrolls across the horizontal screen on the watch. The app offers the ability to customize the vibration level and the scrolling speed, based on individual needs. There is also the option to set a delay after the vibration and before the scrolling of the alert. This gives you time to finish whateever you may be doing before looking at your watch.

This watch supports Siri on iOS and Google Now on Android. If you are on an iPhone and want to know what time a movie starts or you could have Siri read and add things to your calendar while on the go, it will do just that. You can make reservations; get sports scores, check the weather, and much more. The Martian works with the iPhone 3GS and all versions after that, the Android phones that support Voice Commands, the iPod Touch fourth-gen and above and the iPad 2 and above.

Martian Passport Smartwatch – Alerts and Notifications

Alerts and notifications are one of the best perks of the Martian Passport Smartwatch.

Android and iOS app alerts – the Android app pushes all Android phone notifications to the watch, vibrating the wrist. There is also the option of choosing specific apps to receive alerts from. The iOS app on the other hand is currently limited to sending calls, text messages, Twitter and Facebook messages, (non-push) emails, reminders and calendar alerts to the watch. For push emails, iPhone users can set up an IMAP or POP account within the Martian Alerts app, and this allows checking for new emails every three minutes or as desired, but only one email can be attached for notifications. But Martian says that a future update will expand that to all iPhone’s alerts, just like the Android version.

Martian Passport Smartwatch

Martian Passport Smartwatch

Text-to-speech – If the text-to-speech is enabled, the Martian will read out the alerts and using Siri makes it easy. However, it is probably best to avoid this in public places, as others will be able to hear your messages too!

SMS – The name of the SMS sender and their number appears on the watch screen, along with the message. But only the first 40 characters of the message are displayed. The reason given by the brand for the 40-character limit despite the actual SMS format carrying a 160-character limit is that they are worried that longer messages may cause people to look at their watches longer, which can lead to an increase in accidents, if the users do this while they are driving. But many users can’t help wondering if this makes sense as 40 characters can also prove to be dangerous for people who are not careful. Perhaps they will consider increasing this character limit in the future.

Facebook and Twitter – Facebook Messages and Twitter Mentions can be sent to the phone. Twitter does not offer alerts for direct messages. The login information is taken from the Facebook and Twitter apps already installed on the phone. The user will need to login to the Facebook and Twitter apps, to be able to receive alerts on the Passport. The same character limit of 40 also applies to both the Facebook and Twitter alerts.

Email – This is not as efficient as it should be. The emails only show the unread messages in the Gmail box. Email alerts do not work with other accounts, nor do they show individual message information.

Calendar – These alerts are good and are based on the Google calendar events.

Martian Passport Smartwatch – Receiving, Making and Rejecting Calls

The button at the top of the watch not only links the Bluetooth to the phone but also functions as an answer/end call button, as well as for enabling voice-activated services.

An incoming call causes a vibration of the watch and the number is displayed on the LED screen. Just as in the phone, if the caller’s name is in the address list, the name appears on the screen and not the number. Calls can be answered by pressing the top button and speaking into the watch. Hitting the top button again will disconnect the call. Rejection of calls can also be done using the rather cool ‘gesture control’, by bending the elbow or moving the wrist in different directions (using the accelerometer). Doing this diverts the call to voicemail.

Martian Passport Smartwatch

Martian Passport Smartwatch

Audio quality was good for both sending and receiving calls. The lower button on the watch allows the volume to be turned up or down. The voice command option only allows one party to speak at one time – This may or may not be considered a drawback. Other than that, everything else about the calls is great, and shaking the wrist to reject calls is certainly useful in various situations, such as during business meetings or at the movie theatre.

Martian Passport Smartwatch – Camera for Pictures and Video

The Martian Passport comes with the option of activating the camera on your phone(or tablet). By clicking the bottom button and selecting the camera option that launches the camera app on the phone. A picture or a video can then be shot remotely by pressing the top button on the watch. This works well for taking pictures of yourself from a distance or for other applications. This facility is available on both the iOS and Android phones.

Martian Passport Smartwatch - Wristshot

Martian Passport Smartwatch – Wristshot

The watch does not however have the option of switching between the back and front cameras so this has to be done from the phone/tablet. This may bother some people who wish to quickly change to the front-facing camera for self-portraits. Another slight quibble is that the watch seeks permission to turn on the camera app every time you want to use the camera. But once you “allow” and give permission, then there is no restriction to the number of photos you can take.

Martian Passport Smartwatch – Battery Life

The battery life for this watch was very good and it offers about 2 ½ hours of talk time and about a week of standby time. The analog part of the watch can function for about 30 days without needing a charge. Even with Bluetooth usage, the watch gives excellent battery life, however one precaution that users will need to take is to not keep the watch connected all the time, as this will most likely reduce the battery power.

Martian Passport Smartwatch – Final thoughts…

Stylish but inconspicuous, the Martian Passport does not scream “smartwatch” but actions speak louder and it comes with many excellent features in a very discreet and stylish package. It is easily paired with a phone (I also easily paired it with my Ipad) and works very well even at the lowest level of vibration for calls and alerts. It makes perfect ‘office wear’ or as an ‘on-the-move’ watch that alerts users to their emails and text messages without the need to take the phone out of their bag or pocket. The voice control aspect of this watch is really very cool and something that sets it apart I think, and who knows it could well be the way of the future for smartwatches since there is such limited screen spaceon the wrist.

Costing $299 and coming with a combination of wristband colors in silicone as well as straps made from leather and stainless steel the price tag seems to be well-worth it, even if you take into consideration the minor flaws. The watch offers the services of a speakerphone, text message reader and a caller ID device to mention just a few of its cool features. The voice control enables Siri on iOS and voice control on Android devices. Looking for a hands-free option for receiving or making calls, and for messages? The Martian Passport Smartwatch is the way to go and it does it with a touch of class.

    Author Bio

    Articles by Matthew Boston


    Matthew Boston has worked in the computer graphics industry for 17 years in various parts of the world, currently residing back home in the UK. His interest in watches was first piqued as a youngster when he was fascinated by a Seiko digital watch he received. He's also founder of UniqueWatchGuide which is dedicated to sharing the news about timepieces that are unusual, unconventional and more often than not unobtainable.