NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's not a typo. The MiFone W15 smartwatch from China sells for a penny less than $30. It won't replace the Apple (AAPL) - Get ReportWatch or Motorola's (LNVGY) new Moto 360 from your holiday wish list. But, for very basic smartwatch functions, it is actually worth the asking price.
The MiFone W15 2.5D is a unisex, Bluetooth 3.0-connected smartwatch that that connects and syncs with Google (GOOG) - Get Report Android or Apple iOS devices (smartphones, tablets, etc). No special app is needed.
Once you're wirelessly connected (for me, that took two tries the first time) the MiFone tells you the time, measures your steps, tells you of incoming calls, lets you dial outgoing calls, allows you to control music playback on your phone, and has standard watch, alarm, stopwatch and timer functions.
The watch is rectangular and made from stainless steel. The band comes in a number of attractive colors and is designed from TPSiV, a textured thermoplastic polymer. Together, the watch and band weigh less than an ounce and a half. It's very, very comfortable to wear. The sapphire glass touchscreen measures 1.44 inches diagonally and produces technicolor-blue tinged simple images and letters on a dark black background.
Inside there's a processor of unannounced origin mated to only 64 MB (not GB) of RAM and 128 MB of storage. The 405 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery charges via a Micro USB connection located on the back side of the watch. It provides approximately two full days (and more than 400 hours of standby) on a full charge. The watch can display information in 10 languages.
The MiFone W15 delivers exactly what is says it can -- and not much else. That means it will sync with your smartphone or tablet and tell you the time, visually announce who is calling (if the person's in your phonebook contacts), remind you of appointments and count the steps you take.
But don't expect much more.
The on-screen graphics are quite basic. Ugly, actually. No matter what color band you choose the display is blue-on-black. That super-bright, blue-on-black display can appear somewhat harsh at times. Time is displayed as a 24-hour value and the date is in the non-U.S. "year-month-day" format. The letters, numbers and standard font displayed on the screen are quite small and ordinary.
While the touchscreen and time functions work as advertised, some menu items are buried an extra layer down. Finding them is sometimes difficult and time consuming. Plus, you have to manually clear the pedometer settings each day. MiFone is capable of playing music from its internal memory, but the watch has very, very limited storage space. Audio quality is passable at best.
But again, this is a $30 smartwatch. For the most part, does exactly what it says it does, and does it pretty well. It's not the equivalent of any of the premium smartwatches on the market today. Then again it doesn't try to be. And it doesn't cost $300, $400, $500 or $10,000. The MiFone W15 sells for only $29.99 and shipping from China is free, The watch comes with a one-year waranty and 45-day money-back guarantee
As an inexpensive smartwatch for first-time users, the MiFone is actually a pretty good deal. And, at its current $30 selling price, it could make a great holiday stocking-stuffer.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.