There is no shortage of smartwatch options on the market today. What once was a speculative technology is now very much a current trend in both fashion and tech. Every month there seems to be a new competitor on the market. While devices like the Apple Watch and FitBit steal the headlines, there are a wide variety of competent alternatives worth considering. The Martian Notifier is no exception.
I’ll be honest, I was a bit put off by the product name. With a name like “Martian” I was expecting something far out and maybe not ready for the market. What I found was actually a functional and stylish addition to my collection. It’s not without its flaws, but every smartwatch I’ve tested has flaws.
In the following Martian Notifier review, I’ll delve into the specifics about what this watch has to offer. First, I will discuss the key selling points for me and then I’ll go over some of the Pros and Cons I’ve noticed so far about the Notifier. Finally, I’ll give my overall recommendation and address a few similar Martian Notifier alternatives.
Key Features – Selling Points
The following are the key points that initially attracted me – and probably attract most buyers – to the Martian Notifier. Consider these the “selling points” that the company wants you to know about.
- Compatible with Apple and Android Phones: In a time when choosing between Apple (iHealth) and Android Wear devices can seem like an impossible choice, the Martian Notifier plays equally well with both operating systems. It’s compatible with the iPhone 4S and up as well as the Android OS 2.3.3 or later.
- 6 Day Battery Life: The Notifier advertises a long lasting battery that’s good for up to 6 days. At face value, this is a lot better than the popular Apple Watch (only about 2 days at most). You can further maximize battery life by turning the watch off at night with a simple click of a button. The nice thing about this is that the analog display still functions because it runs on a separate battery, you just won’t get notifications and alerts.
- Color Customization: While the base black watch is relatively muted and conservative, Martian offers a whole slew of color customization options for those who want it. Taking a page from Apple’s book, you can select from 9 different color varieties.
- Custom Vibration Patterns: Almost every smartwatch I’ve tried introduces some subtle new features. The Notifier does this by offering custom vibration patterns so that you can identify what kind of notification you are getting without even having to look at your wrist. You can customize according to your own desired specifications. For example, I set my Facebook notifications to be Long short short vibration (you can sequence it up to 4).
Pros and Cons
Unlike the key features, the following are my honest feelings towards this watch. These are the quick notes on where the Notifier excels and where it falls short.
Pros of the Notifier
- Custom Vibrations Actually Are Useful: Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out whether or not a smartwatch is actually useful. I was a bit skeptical initially about the custom vibration feature on the Notifier. It seemed almost like a gimmick to start. However, it came in handy for me when I was at the dinner table with family and friends. I received a text from a coworker, but I was able to tell by the vibrations without having to visually check my watch. I could safely ignore it, but made a mental note to check after dinner. Again, not a huge deal but the simple fact that I didn’t have to interrupt or distract my family (even by raising the watch to check) was meaningful for me.
- Stay Connected – Quietly: This brings me to another overall “pro”. What the Notifier does so well is help keep you in the loop without making a big fuss. The custom vibrations let you know when – and more importantly – when not to check your wrist or your phone. This has been a subtle, but ever present, downside of more “popular” watches like the Apple Watch. With these other watches I find myself getting random vibrations and checking my wrist, without being able to discern if it’s relevant or not. In short, the Notifier saves time!
- Battery Life IS a Plus! The separate battery for the “smartwatch” and “analog” watch is a good compromise between smartwatch technology and traditional watches. The 6 day battery life held up as advertised. I actually liked turning the “smartwatch” off and keeping just the analog battery on at night (to cut down on distractions) but still can easily check the time if I need to.
- Handy “Find Phone” Feature: If you lose your phone, your Notifier can help you find it. This was not something I was expecting from this watch, but it was a nice “surprise” feature. This isn’t really a make or break feature, but it’s VERY helpful if you do happen to misplace your phone (assuming it’s within the signal/Wifi area).
- Cross Compatibility: The Martian Notifier doesn’t play favorites. It will work with almost any recent Android OR Apple tablet/phone. I personally don’t like getting “boxed in” to a particular platform, as much as big companies like Apple or Microsoft might want that for their own purposes. If I need to change my phone system, I’d rather not have to change my smartwatch(es) too.
- No Steep Learning Curve: The Martian Notifier is a good “bridge” smartwatch. It introduces a few new smartwatch features without overwhelming users. The user interface and functionality is simple to use. There are two buttons on the left for easy navigation throughout the various functionality.
Cons of the Notifier
- Small Screen Size: This is among the smaller screens that I’ve seen for a smartwatch. The 1.7 inch round screen is just a tad bit larger than traditional analog watches. The smaller screen helps build into the subtle appeal of the Notifier, but your are not going to want to spend much time interacting with this screen face. 1.7 inches might sound small, but other similar watches like the LG Watch Urbane (reviewed here) are only 1.3 inches.
- Limited Functionality: If the Apple Watch is pushing the envelope with apps on your wrist, the Notifier is going for a more minimalist approach. The watch really is a “notifier” and is not meant – either now or in the future – to expand beyond that. You won’t have tons of Notifier apps to use, but the people who want these features are not the target audience for this watch anyway.
- Harder to Read Full Texts: Again, this is the “Notifier” after all, but I found it difficult to scroll through an entire text using just the smartwatch. The small window for reading texts and updates is nice for short messages, but can be a bit too small for my brain to scroll/process a lengthy one. Other smartwatches (like the Pebble Steel or Apple Watch) do a better job of this. Still – for a minimalist watch – you can’t have everything…
- Voice Compatibility, But Via Phone: With devices like the Apple Watch setting the bar pretty high, voice commands are becoming increasingly sought after. Technically the Notifier is voice compatible, but you will have to speak into your handheld phone/tablet to trigger. This essentially makes the feature redundant. I was hard pressed to find a situation in which this was useful. Perhaps setting an alarm on the watch before bed? Still, why not just use the phone?
- Not a Fitness Watch: This isn’t an entirely fair criticism; it’s more of a “disclaimer”. This watch doesn’t track your fitness, heart rate, etc… like the FitBit or even the Apple Watch and others. Granted, this watch would look a bit out of place in the gym anyway.
Notifier Specs at a Glance
The following is a quick look at the key specifications for the Martian Notifier.
|Screen Size||1.7 inches|
|Screen Resolution||96 x 16|
|Internal Storage||Not Provided|
|Water Resistance||1m (Splash Proof)|
|Battery Life||5-6 days (smartwatch functionality)|
|Compatibility||iPhone 4s / Android 3.0 or Higher|
|# of Apps||1000+ (notification only)|
|Voice Compatibility||Yes (but through handheld phone/tablet)|
|Warranty||1 Year Limited|
|Price||check here for live pricing data|
Alternatives to the Martian Notifier?
Pebble Smartwatch: The Pebble is one of the better known smartwatches on the market, having been one of the more successful crowd funded projects. The appeal of the Pebble is a bit different than the Martian watch. It has a more “techie” feel with its boxy design and flat-faced screen.
However, a nice compromise is the Pebble Stainless Steel watch which is a bit more appealing for style conscious wearers. The larger screen allows for a bit more functionality than the Notifier, but you will still get all the same types of notifications. You can even read email on the device itself.
There are 1000+ apps to work with like iTunes, Spotify, Pandora for radio listening. The watch battery life is about the same (for the smartwatch functionality) with about 5-7 days on one charge. It’s also waterproof up to 165 feet, which is considerable better than the splash resistant Notifier.
On the whole, you get a bit more “smart” watch for your money. There is also some fitness tracking apps which expand the appeal. However, it might be a bit too invasive or “techie” for some. Some of the features are just “me too” ones and are not as finely refined as the Notifier. The price is comparable for the base version. You can find the Pebble here for about $82 here.
LG Watch Urbane: The Urbane has a very similar design appeal to the Notifier. It offers the same type of refined appearance (like a traditional watch) without trying to do too much on the technology side. Still, I was surprised by the power of this watch.
You can read my full review here, but some of the highlights are built in continuous heart rate tracking, fitness trackers and environmental biosensors (barometric pressure, accelerometer, etc…It’s not clear that you actually need all these features, but it’s still nice to see.
Overall, the watch feels like premium traditional watch so it’s a bit odd to have all the fitness tracking features. This leads me to believe that it’s a good watch for monitoring your (and the environment’s) vitals, but not really a true fitness watch (although you could use it as one if you really wanted to).
Other than these sensors, it’s essentially a notification watch, just like the Notifier. The Urbane is considerably more expensive than both the Martian Notifier and the Pebble, but you are getting full metal body watch with a classic leather wrist band. Consider it an upscale Notifier. The Urbane will run you about $284 here, as of this writing.
Final Take – Is Martian a Legitimate Smartwatch Worth Considering?
If the Apple Watch is a bit too “techie” for you, the Martian Notifier is a great balance of style, functionality, and tradition. In fact, most people probably won’t know it’s a smartwatch until you tap the watch face.
This is a subtle smartwatch, designed for subtle people. It balances the need for staying in the loop with the need to preserve privacy, something that most smartwatches have a hard time doing.
Overall, the “Cons” of the Martian Notifier are relatively trivial. If you know what you are getting, it’s hard to find any major faults. If you do, chances are you aren’t the target customer for this type of smartwatch.
The Martian Notifier doesn’t drown you with features, but rather delivers well on a few finely executed ones. It doesn’t try to be or do too much. If you are looking for a simple alert/notification system for your wrist, this is the best watch on the market right now for that. For the latest on pricing, be sure to check out this listing.
Quality of Design8.0/10
- Simple and easy to use
- Great for quick notifications
- Appealing design
- Actually saves time!
- Excellent customized vibration settings
- Smallish screen
- Not a fitness tracker
- Not really for reading full texts