Announced last CES with availability originally slated for 2016, New Balance’s first Android Wear smartwatch has finally been made available. The fitness-focussed RunIQ sports GPS and a heart rate sensor with exercise software from Strava.
The body of the watch is very clearly made of a dull and boring plastic that likely helps with durability and sweat. However, the utilitarian design does not necessarily make for good look outside of fitness environments. Design-wise, the only redeeming feature are colorful interchangeable bands that will be sold by New Balance.
Powered by an Intel chipset, the watch is water resistant up to 5 ATM and rated for “quick swims” and other accidental encounters with water. Continuous GPS and heart rate monitoring will reduce battery life to 5 hours, but the RunIQ is otherwise rated for a full day of usage.
On the software front, New Balance worked heavily with fitness app and community Strava. Three dedicated hardware buttons on the right-hand side offer quick access to detailed exercise stats, with a customizable watchface also serving the same purpose.
In partnership with Jabra, New Balance is also selling branded wireless earbuds for $109.99.
These are the first products coming out of New Balance’s Digital Sports division and based solely on appearance looks underwhelming, especially at $299. Hopefully, the exercise features make up for the design. Early buyers will get 3 months of Strava Premium and Google Play Music, with shipments occurring before February 1st.