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Practical review: Xplora XGO2 smartwatch for children

Locks get easier, summer is coming: let your kids roam free in the open, with smart new wearable technology for them and peace of mind for you.

Children are excellent little mimics. Whatever mom or dad has, they want the same thing. Smartphones, tablets, fitness bands, smart watches.

Of course, when they see a parent playing with something, they want something similar from themselves.

The Norwegian company Xplora has been developing child-specific wearables for years. We took a look (with a little help from a little friend) at the company’s latest smartwatch, the XGO2.

This is basically a GPS smartwatch and it is that aspect that enables the most important safety functions for parents/children.

That’s why you need to insert a pay-as-you-go SIM card to allow your mini-me to get the most out of it. The GPS enables tracking and location function so that a parent can always see where their child is via the free Xplora app.

The watch wearer can also press an SOS button at any time to immediately notify the chosen emergency contacts of their location.

The XGO2 actually combines multiple services (GPS, Wi-Fi and location-based services) to identify the location as accurately as possible.

Further parental controls in the app include optional ‘safety zones’ around important locations such as home and school, where the watch automatically sends an alert if the child leaves these areas, and ‘school mode’, which limits watch functionality to, well, just a watch with all calls and messages temporarily interrupted.

This mode can be scheduled in advance to reflect school times. View location pings and the SOS function will remain active regardless of security. In terms of data processing and privacy, the XGO2 is also fully GDPR compliant.

What appeal does the XGO2 have for our little darlings? After all, they are the ones who will be wearing the watch. Does it provide enough to get them excited? Running on Android 4.4, the XGo2 has a 1.4in.

capacitive color LCD touch screen display, with a resolution of 240px x 240px. Powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core ARM Cortex A7 frequency, 512MB RAM and Spreadtrum SC9820E chipset, the watch is snappy and responsive, with no discouraging lag in response to prying taps and swipes.

The 700 mAh battery offers a claimed 72-hour standby battery life, but once this watch is on an excited child’s wrist, you can expect battery life to be a little over half that at real world use.

In our testing period, charging every other day was an easy, reliable cartridge to lapse into. The XGO2 comes with a Pogo Pin contactless magnetic charger, just like an Apple Watch.

Fun. The XGO2 features Wi-Fi and 4G, 3G and 2G connectivity and is also IP67 water resistant (fine for rainy days and messy play, but not for swimming).

With a SIM card installed, the wearer can make and receive voice calls – and talking on a wristwatch still feels wonderfully futuristic – using only pre-stored numbers, specified and managed by a parent in the app.

There are no unsolicited spam calls coming in. Text messages, including text, emojis, images, and voice messages, can also be sent and received.

There is a 0.3 megapixel camera on the front of the watch face and 4 GB of internal memory, so plenty of room to store photos.

Of course, with that resolution, the quality of the images won’t be great from an adult perspective, but it’s something most kids don’t care about.

They are more excited about being able to do this kind of thing at all, and the thrill of seeing their own face / cat / daddy’s nose on the watch screen makes them dizzy with pleasure.

The fact that their first smartwatch can also be their first digital camera is doubly awesome. A huge positive for many parents is that the XGO2 has no social media and none can be installed, which will no doubt be a blissful relief.

Additional features on the XGO2 include a flashlight, calendar, alarm and stopwatch. Some early reviews of the XGO2 capitalized on the thick nature of the watch’s case.

It is a pretty sturdy piece of plastic indeed. In our opinion, this is actually a boon for a children’s watch and presumably a deliberate design choice from Xplora.

Anything designed specifically for a child typically exhibits a robust build quality to withstand the kinds of everyday knocks and bumps it can expect, given the carefree, effervescent way most kids tend to get through their days.

Children are not ready for the fear of worrying about handling gadgets with the utmost care. They want their new digital friend to guide them through every adventure without complaint.

Kids aren’t too impressed with the small and sleek, which is usually a style more appealing to adults. For kids, chunky is funky. The final attraction with the XGO2 is the reward-controlled pedometer and activity monitor.

To encourage children to exercise more and lounge less, the watch has a pedometer that tracks daily progress, with clear visual feedback in the familiar “ring” style of the Apple Watch “Activity” app.

The bearer is awarded “Xplora Coins” for every 1000 steps taken, which can then be “spent” on the Goplay gaming platform.

It’s harmless fun and good motivation for any child who likes to combine hard work with reward.

Merchandise and games featuring kids’ favorites like Peter Rabbit, Dr Who and Tom & Jerry (a T&J pinball machine is an example of a reward available) await the more animated active contestants.

Competitive youngsters can also compete for pole position on the app’s activity rankings – competing against other carriers around the world – and a top three placement can earn a decent tech prize, such as Bluetooth speakers, kids’ tablets, instant cameras and drones.

Not too shabby – and it all helps keep your child active. All in all, the XGO2 is a solid smartwatch choice for kids up to the ‘big school’ age and also a neat response from parents to getting tricky having their own phone.

A smartphone handset poses far more privacy and price concerns – and is eminently more lossable than a wrist-worn device.

The XGO2 offers a sensible yet fun technological first step for the child, with discreet yet reassuring safety and security controls for the parent. Win win. The Xplora XGO2 is available in black, blue, green or pink. £ 99.99