Best smartphones and data plans for grandparents that just want to stay in touch

Picking the right smartphone can be a tedious, and sometimes overwhelming, task. There are scores of phones to choose from at any given moment, and many of them look the same, but differ in terms of storage and performance. If you’re not a tech-savvy grandparent, or you’re shopping for a grandparent that doesn’t know or care about the differences between iOS and Android, simplicity is probably what you want the most out of a modern smartphone.

Sure, the iPhone only has a few physical buttons, but upon startup, the sheer number of icons on the home screen can be intimidating. Similarly, while you can go into the settings and customize various aspects of the device to suit anyone’s needs, navigating the back end can be frustrating when it’s unfamiliar.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves anymore than we already have. For those grandparents that aren’t in touch with their tech side, how much do you want to spend on a smartphone, if you only need one to stay in touch with family, a handful of friends, and to send pictures of your dog to your grandchildren? Or how much are you willing to spend on a phone for grandma and grandpa? Do they need data? Are they aware of what data is and what it’s for?

These are all valid questions and concerns, but we have you covered. Don’t like sifting through phones, and comparing wireless carriers and phone plans? We’ve already done the work for you. Below, you can find the best phones not just for the tech-illiterate senior citizen, but also the best phones and plans for the grandparents that know what’s what. Heads up: They’re surprisingly similar to the best phones and plans for everyone else.

Best smartphones and plans for non-techie grandparents

If you’re not worried about having the latest-and-greatest smartphone, or prefer functionality over features, you can’t go wrong with a prepaid phone. In most cases, you can still get an attractive phone, but the benefit to prepaid phones is that they’re often more affordable that going the pay-per-month route.

For starters, there’s very little chance of being hit with unexpected charges or having to deal with overages, since you pay upfront for the prepaid phone and minutes. If you’re only using the phone to call and text loved ones occasionally, you shouldn’t use more minutes than you actually have at your disposal. In the event you do run out of minutes, however, you can buy prepaid/refill cards, which are readily available at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and a number of other retailers and websites, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. Watch out, though — if you don’t buy more minutes before your current plan runs out, you can end up paying a higher rate or get hit with overage charges — conditions vary from carrier to carrier.

Here are some prepaid phones from each of the four big carriers, all of which come with the necessary prepaid cards to get you going.

ZTE Cymbal Z-320 ($30+)

Let’s break the traditional mold right out of the gate with the ZTE Cymbal from T-Mobile, a phone that looks nothing like a modern smartphone. Instead, it’s a flip-phone that has no touchscreen or digital assistant, but does offer the basics, such as the ability to make calls, send texts, and take pictures. If you’re more into functionality than other aspects, like aesthetics, the ZTE Cymbal is a good way to go if you’re looking for a straightforward phone for a grandparent. The price of the phone from T-Mobile is $63, but nabbing a SIM card and prepaid card will bring the price to $83.

Buy one now from:

T-Mobile Amazon Walmart

Samsung Galaxy Express 3 ($50+)

Now for something that resembles the norm, we have the Samsung Galaxy Express 3 from AT&T. For $50, you can have a decent smartphone that comes with a 4.5-inch HD display, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. You know, in case you have, or are, a grandparent who has their selfie game on point. Being an Android phone, a wide variety of apps are available through the Google Play Store, and it doesn’t take technical know-how to find apps such as Netflix, YouTube, and the like. Plus, if you get this particular phone by June 22 and buy a $30 prepaid card, you can get the Express 3 for a mere $20.

Buy one now from:

AT&T Best Buy Walmart Amazon Target

LG Tribute HD ($60+)

The LG Tribute may cost more than the aforementioned Galaxy Express 3, but for the additional $10, you get a better 5-inch display, a more effective pair of cameras (8-megapixel rear, 5-megapixel front), and all the power and features afforded by Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The smartphone’s 2,100mAh  battery allows for 15 hours of talk time, and the 16GB of storage with MicroSD card support means you’ll have a decent amount of space for housing personal videos and photos.

Buy one now from:

Sprint Amazon Best Buy Walmart Target

LG Optimus Zone 3 ($30+)

The Optimus Zone 3 isn’t the most futuristic-looking phone, but that’s okay because that’s not why it’s here. The Zone 3 is here because it has a lot in common with the previous two phones, and even though it doesn’t do anything particularly better than either, you can look at it as another option that can hold its own. It has a 4.5-inch display, front and rear facing cameras, and battery life that allows for up to 11 hours of constant use. The internal storage of 8GB wouldn’t be enough for most people, but it might be enough for grandma or grandpa. If not, it still supports MicroSD cards up to 32GB, which should end up being more than enough space.

Buy one now from:

Verizon Amazon Best Buy Walmart

Other alternatives for non-techie grandparents

Getting a prepaid phone from a major carrier isn’t your only option, however, as there are multiple companies out there that dedicate themselves to giving seniors more convenient ways of buying phones, plans, and refill cards. Places such as Seniors Wireless, Greatcall, and TracFone are a few of the services that make shopping for a phone less of a hassle, and their plans are easy to sift through and compare to one another. Greatcall, specifically, has the Jitterbug smartphone and Jitterbug flip phone, both of which are designed to be simple to use and navigate thanks to their large buttons, screens, and unique emergency buttons.

Best basic pay as you go plans

Average Price Talk Text Data
AT&T (GoPhone) $45/month ($40 with AutoPay) Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited up to first 6GB, then throttled to 128Kbps
T-Mobile $43/month $3 for any combination of 30 minutes of talk or 30 texts ($0.10 per additional minute or text) $3 for any combination of 30 minutes of talk or 30 texts ($0.10 per additional minute or text) $10 for up to 1GB of 4G LTE per week
Seniors Wireless (Simplicity Plan) $20/60 Days ($10/month) 400 mins for talk, text, and internet  400 mins for talk, text, and internet  400 mins for talk, text, and internet
Greatcall (Jitterbug Flip Phone) $18/month 200 mins  300 texts  None
TracFone (basic Airtime service plan) $20/90 days (About $6.66/month) 60 mins for talk, text, and internet  60 mins for talk, text, and internet  60 mins for talk, text, and internet

Columbus welcomes urban problem solvers with new accelerator


Every American city wishes it could better support technology, entrepreneurship and infrastructure, unfortunately few actually have the resources to set truly ambitious goals into motion. But Columbus, Ohio, having secured $40 million in grants to improve access to transportation and ready itself for autonomous vehicles, is one city actually in a position to take risks. Its latest, a smart city accelerator assembled by Singularity UniversityNCT Ventures and American Electric Power (AEP), aims to simultaneously lure businesses to the region while building solutions to public sector problems.

Locally based NCT Ventures is putting up $1 million to form the new accelerator. Startups that have developed products and services that improve the operation of cities will be eligible for up to $100,000 in investment. Singularity University, the ambitious project of Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil, will offer specialized instruction and mentorship to each of the startups selected while AEP, a locally based electricity conglomerate, will be helping during the selection process, receiving its own training from Singularity and keeping an eye on startups along the way.

“Our intention is to find the best working companies, not just ideas that fit criteria,” explained Rich Langdale in an interview, managing partner at NCT Ventures.

NCT will have a financial interest in each of the startups selected, but Langdale told me that the firm aims to incubate rather than suffocate. Instead of prioritizing things like rights to follow on investment, NCT is collaborating with other Ohio investors as part of Venture Ohio, a statewide advocate for entrepreneurship. Singularity is taking a similar ideological approach, noting that it wants its relationship with startups in the cohort to last well beyond its artificial end date.

“We try to think of this as a lifetime partnership,” Nick Davis, vice president of corporate innovation for Singularity University, told me.

Columbus isn’t the first city in the United States to call a smart cities accelerator home. Washington D.C.’s Smart City Works has worked with startups like IHT and Capital Construction Solutions, companies bringing transparency to construction and enabling better monitoring of municipal water systems respectively. In New York City, Urban-X is doing much the same — supporting Envairo, a startup ensuring space is allocated optimally within large buildings and Citiesense, a startup bringing fresh data to real estate.

But before Columbus’s own program opens its doors in September, it will have to prove itself adept at balancing public and private interests. On one hand, it’s important that the accelerator itself be economically viable. If NCT is able to deliver returns to its own investors, that sends a signal to other investors that Columbus is capable of incubating real businesses that serve municipalities.

But that said, startups should also be addressing specific problems that are part of Columbus’s smart city initiative and directly contribute to the city’s growth. The city has been wrangling supplementary private dollars at an impressive pace in the wake of winning the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge and there is no shortage of mobility, transportation and infrastructure startups in need of capital and strategic partners — threading the needle is well within reach.

Applications to the program will open on May 15th. Additional information for interested parties can be found at the Singularity University site.

Featured Image: Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

Electrick lets you spray touch controls onto any object or surface

The world is full of touchscreens these days, but most of them are on flat, smooth surfaces made of glass. Now researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have come up with a way to add touch controls to any object, no matter what shape or material it is. The system is called Electrick, and it uses a software algorithm to read the press of your finger by measuring changes in the flow of electricity across a conductive surface.

[embedded content]

Researchers from the Future Interfaces Group showed off a few ideas for how this technology might be used. A thin conductive material could be molded onto your smartphone like a case. Then, certain grips would automatically launch the appropriate apps. Using conductive paint, you can spray touch controls onto a guitar, embedding effect pedals right onto the body. Add the same paint to a steering wheel and it can be used to control volume on your sound system or change the radio station.

The technology also has potential for use around the home. Researchers showed off prototypes of a wall that can dim the lights when you swipe it with your hand. They also built a desk that acts as an extension of your computer keyboard. Have ideas for improving the world by making ordinary objects touch sensitive? Add some ideas in the comments, but keep it clean.

Facebook culls ‘tens of thousands’ of fake accounts ahead of UK election


Facebook has revealed that it has purged “tens of thousands” of fake accounts in the U.K. ahead of a general election next month.

The BBC reported this non-specific figure earlier today, with Facebook also saying it is monitoring the repeated posting of the same content or a sharp increase in messaging and flagging accounts displaying such activity.

Providing more detail on these measures, Facebook told us: “These changes help us detect fake accounts on our service more effectively — including ones that are hard to spot. We’ve made improvements to recognize these inauthentic accounts more easily by identifying patterns of activity — without assessing the content itself. For example, our systems may detect repeated posting of the same content, or an increase in messages sent. With these changes, we expect we will also reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts.”

Facebook has previously been accused of liberal bias by demoting conservative views in its Trending Topics feature — which likely explains why it’s so keen to specify that systems it’s built to try to suppress the spread of certain types of “inauthentic” content do not assess “the content itself.”

Another fake news-related tweak Facebook says it has brought to the U.K. to try to combat the spread of misinformation is to take note of whether people share an article they’ve read — with its rational being that if a lot of people don’t share something they’ve read it might be because the information is misleading.

“We’re always looking to improve News Feed by listening to what the community is telling us. We’ve found that if reading an article makes people significantly less likely to share it, that may be a sign that a story has misled people in some way. In December, we started to test incorporating this signal into ranking, specifically for articles that are outliers, where people who read the article are significantly less likely to share it. We’re now expanding the test to the UK,” Facebook said on this.

The company has also taken out adverts in U.K. national newspapers displaying tips to help people spot fake news — having taken similar steps in France last month prior to its presidential election.

In a statement about its approach to tackling fake news in the U.K., Facebook’s director of policy for the country, Simon Milner, claimed the company is “doing everything we can.”

“People want to see accurate information on Facebook and so do we. That is why we are doing everything we can to tackle the problem of false news,” he said. “We have developed new ways to identify and remove fake accounts that might be spreading false news so that we get to the root of the problem. To help people spot false news we are showing tips to everyone on Facebook on how to identify if something they see is false. We can’t solve this problem alone so we are supporting third party fact checkers during the election in their work with news organisations, so they can independently assess facts and stories.”

Fakebook?

A spokesperson told us that Facebook’s “how to spot” fake news ads (pictured below) are running in U.K. publications, including The Times, The Telegraph, Metro and The Guardian.

Tips the company is promoting include being skeptical of headlines; checking URLs to view the source of the information; asking whether photos look like they have been manipulated; and cross-referencing with other news sources to try to verify whether a report has multiple sources publishing it.

Facebook does not appear to be running these ads in U.K. newspapers with the largest readerships, such as The Sun and The Daily Mail, which suggests the exercise is mostly a PR drive by the company to try to be seen to be taking some very public steps to fight the fake news political hot potato.

The political temperature on this issue is not letting up for Facebook. Last month, for example, a U.K. parliamentary committee said the company must do more to combat fake news — criticizing it for not responding fast enough to complaints.

“They can spot quite quickly when something goes viral. They should then be able to check whether that story is true or not and, if it is fake, blocking it or alerting people to the fact that it is disputed. It can’t just be users referring the validity of the story. They have to make a judgment about whether a story is fake or not,” argued select committee chairman Damian Collins.

Facebook has also been under growing pressure in the U.K. for not swiftly handling complaints about the spread of hate speech, extremist and illegal content on its platform — and earlier this month another parliamentary committee urged the government to consider imposing fines on it and other major social platforms for content moderation failures in a bid to impose better moderation standards.

Add to that Facebook’s specific role in influencing the elections, which again will be facing scrutiny later today when the BBC’s Panorama program screens an investigation of how content spread via Facebook during the U.S. election and the U.K.’s Brexit referendum — including considering how much money the social networking giant makes from fake news.

The BBC is already teasing this spectacularly awkward clip of Milner being interviewed for the program, where he is repeatedly asked how much money the company makes from fake news — and repeatedly fails to provide a specific answer.

Facebook declined to respond on this when we asked for comment on the program’s claims.

Safe to say, there are some very awkward questions for Facebook here (as there has been for Google too, recently, relating to ads being served alongside extremist content on YouTube). And while Milner says the company aspires to reduce “to zero” the money it makes from fake news, it’s clearly not yet in a position to say it does not financially benefit from the spread of misinformation.

And while it’s also true that some traditional media outlets have or can benefit from spreading falsity — earlier this year, for example, The Daily Mail was itself effectively branded a source of fake news by Wikipedia editors who voted to exclude it as a source for the website on the grounds that the information it contains is “generally unreliable” — the issue with Facebook goes beyond having an individually skewed editorial agenda. It’s about a massively scalable distribution technology whose core philosophy is to operate without any preemptive editorial checks and balances at all.

The point is, Facebook’s staggering size, combined with the algorithmic hierarchy of its News Feed, which can create feedback loops of popularity, means its product can act as an amplification platform for fake news. And for all The Daily Mail’s evident divisiveness, it does not control a global distribution platform that’s pushing close to two billion active users.

So, really, it’s Facebook’s unprecedented reach and power that is the core of the issue here when you’re considering whether technology might be undermining democracy.

No other media outlet has ever come close to such scale. And that’s why this issue is intrinsically bound up with Facebook — because it foregrounds the vast power the platform wields, and the commensurate lack of regulation in how it applies that power.

Ads in national newspapers are therefore really best viewed as Facebook trying to influence politicians, as lawmakers wake up to the power of Facebook. So maybe there should be an eleventh tip in Facebook’s false news advert: Consider the underlying agenda.

In the U.K., Facebook says that it is working with local third-party fact-checking organization Full Fact, and with the Google News Lab-backed First Draft organization, to work with “major newsrooms to address rumors and misinformation spreading online during the UK general election” — echoing the approach it announced in Germany in January, ahead of German elections this September… although the effectiveness of that approach has already been questioned.

Facebook says full details of the U.K. initiative will be announced “in due course.” The U.K.’s surprise General Election — called by Prime Minister Theresa May late last month, despite her previously stated intent not to call an election before 2020 — presumably caught the company on the hop.

With just one month to go until polling day in the U.K. it remains to be seen whether May’s election U-turn also caught the fake political news spreaders on the hop.

Featured Image: TechCrunch

Harman Kardon’s Cortana-powered speaker leaks ahead of launch


Microsoft wants in on the Google Home and Amazon Echo party. This Echo-lookalike is made by Harman Kardon and it’s powered by Microsoft’s Cortana voice platform. The device apparently launches this fall and could be officially revealed later this week.

Update: Microsoft and Harman Kardon have now confirmed this. The device will go on sale in the fall of 2017.

Called the Invoke, the product page for the unannounced product was discovered by Thurrott.com before it was pulled. According to Thurrott’s report the cylinder speaker has a light ring on top, 360 degree sound and supports Skype calling and the ability to ask Cortana questions.

If the device launches as advertised, Skype calling could be Microsoft’s big ticket. Neither the Google Home or Amazon Echo currently supports voice calls in any fashion though there have been rumors that the Echo would eventually gain the ability.

It’s highly likely that Microsoft will reveal the full feature set of this platform later this week at its developer’s conference, Build. There’s also a good chance that other hardware partners are on board and the Invoke will launch alongside other Cortana-powered speakers later this year.

HTC’s upcoming flagship phone leaks in gorgeous red

Is red color a new trend in smartphones? It definitely seems like it’s catching on; months after Apple launched a special edition (RED) iPhone, a new leak shows a red variant of HTC’s upcoming flagship, the HTC U.

The phone, which is slated for a May 16 launch, was so far only seen in blue. And the photo, coming from an official HTC teaser video, wasn’t the highest quality.

The new leaks, courtesy of (usually pretty reliable) Onleaks (the actual source seems to be 91mobiles), show the phone from all sides and in higher resolution. 

The phone, seen in a render allegedly based on factory CAD drawings, looks pretty common for today’s standards — curved edges but a flat screen, with a home button below the screen and a single camera on the back. 

According to previous leaks and hints from HTC itself, the phone will respond to squeezes — you’ll be able to perform actions by squeezing its sides. We’re looking forward to see how this new approach works in practice. 

As far as rest of the specs go, the phone is rumored to have a 12-megapixel camera, a 3,000mAh battery, 4/6GB of RAM and 64/128 GB of storage. 

Check out the rest of the pics, and a 360 video, here

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2017%2f5%2f21ce5896 1cba b1b2%2fthumb%2f00001

For the love of God, stop clicking on shady emails already

I know, I know. By now, we all pretty much know better than to click on links in sketchy-looking emails. Except, obviously, we don’t.

That was more than evident last week when a phishing scam that spoofed Google Docs invites began spreading like wildfire.

The phishing emails were slightly more convincing than some phishing attempts but they weren’t really that good. As we pointed out at the time, looking at the email address details for about 10 seconds should have quickly raised a whole lot of red flags. That so many people were willing to blindly click on something so easily shows an astounding lack of common sense. We can all do better.

Most importantly, as Wired astutely pointed out last week: one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself (and the rest of your address book) is to resist the urge to click on everything that shows up in your inbox. Look, I get it. Curiosity kills. You get an email saying someone you know has shared something with you, your first instinct is to see what it is! We’ve all been there.

But just stop it already. Please, for the love of God, take a few seconds to think before you click.

Take a few seconds to think before you click

Is the email from someone you communicate with regularly? If not, give it a hard look before you touch anything. Look carefully at the sender information; was it sent directly by them directly to you? Are there other addresses you don’t recognize? What about the subject line; does it sound like something they’d write? All of these are easily detectable red flags that take only a few seconds to check. 

Look at the body of the email. While scammers are getting more sophisticated at copying parts of popular services, they rarely get it completely right. Instead they rely on getting it just close enough to fool people not paying attention. Don’t be one of those people.

This is NOT what emails from Google Docs look like.

This is NOT what emails from Google Docs look like.

In the case of the Google Docs scam, they spoofed the “open in docs” button but little else of what actual Google Docs invites are supposed to look like. And if you’re not sure what these are supposed to look like, it’s easily revealed by a simple Google search. 

Next, what is the email actually asking you to do? Is it directing you to another site that immediately asks for login credentials? Is it just a link and no text? More red flags.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: when in doubt, assume every odd-looking email is suspicious and delete often. Paranoid? Maybe, but better to be paranoid than hacked. 

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2017%2f5%2ff00b853a 26b8 4a9b%2fthumb%2f00001

Facebook means business with its upcoming Workplace updates

Why it matters to you

With these updates, Facebook’s productivity solution is growing into a compelling alternative to Slack and other competitors.

Facebook has made a big push into the corporate space with Workplace, its business-oriented social and productivity platform that looks and feels an awful lot like regular Facebook, but is geared toward productivity. The social networking pioneer announced a variety of new features for Workplace, including support for various file-sharing services, task automation “bots,” and more, at its annual F8 developer conference.

Box, Microsoft, Dropbox, and Salesforce, which owns productivity software creator Quip, are all supported by Workplace from this point forward — a boon to businesses that already rely on those services, and could benefit from Facebook’s up-and-coming Slack competitor. Deeper integration means you’ll now be able to seamlessly move from Workplace into these third-party apps, with the help of rich, detailed thumbnails in messages and posts.

Bots will be another major part of Workplace in the future, as they can be summoned in direct or group conversations to quickly solve issues. For example, an employee could notify a repair bot of an equipment failure, which would in turn create an IT ticket or immediately attempt to find someone who could fix the issue.

Simon Cross, Workplace’s product manager, said that bots will “help people weave Workplace into their daily workflow,” and that developers have already created hundreds of powerful custom bots built to handle a wide variety of tasks, from streamlining tech support to organizing a food run.

Facebook Live is also making its way to Workplace — allowing colleagues to communicate from anywhere at anytime — and the company has doubled down on live-streaming by adding compatibility for professional audio and video equipment.

Finally, Facebook says it is shoring up Workplace’s cooperation with compliance and regulatory systems already in place at many businesses. These efforts should aid in securely exporting documents, especially in cases relating to legal proceedings, and ensuring that only the relevant parties receive pertinent information.

Many enterprises would scoff at new or unfamiliar productivity solutions that weren’t developed with these serious concerns in mind, and in recognizing that, Facebook has lent Workplace some much-needed credibility among professional clients.

According to Facebook, Workplace has already been put to use at more than 14,000 organizations, including such Fortune 500 names as Starbucks, and currently boasts a combined 400,000 groups.

Article originally published on 4/18/2017 by Adam Ismail. Updated on 4/19/2017: Added Dropbox to supported services.

Spotify Codes makes it even easier to share your favorite tunes

Why it matters to you

Music is meant to be shared, and this latest feature is another easy way to send your favorite tracks to friends.

Spotify recently rolled out a new feature that makes it easier for users to share music via the app.

“Spotify Codes” lets you scan a bar code on a friend’s handset that takes you direct to the linked song, artist, or playlist.

So if, say, a friend plays you a new song they really love and you find that you also think that it’s pretty darn good, you can simply scan the song’s code to launch it in the Spotify app on your own phone. With such an action only taking a split second, that certainly beats firing up a messaging app to send the link or taking down the track’s details to conduct a manual search.

It’s easy to locate a Spotify Code. When you’re playing a track, simply tap the three dots in the top right of the display to make the unique code appear.

Alternatively, if you want to scan a code, tap the search button at the bottom of your screen and then hit the camera icon at the top right. You might have to give Spotify permission to access your phone’s camera, but once you’ve done so, it’s just a case of pointing your camera at the code. It will only take your app a split second to recognize the code, at which point it’ll automatically pull up the linked track.

Of course, you don’t just have to be in the same room as someone to share music using Spotify Codes. You might want to post screenshots of codes on your favorite social media sites so other users can scan them off a PC screen or tablet display — or by getting the scanner to read the code off a saved image on your camera roll. Print publications can make use of them, too, while the artists themselves might choose to incorporate them into merchandise.

While it’s unlikely to be the must-have feature for new users looking for the best music streaming site, Spotify Codes is a useful addition to the service that music fans will take little time to make itself useful.

Huawei Watch 2: Everything you need to know

The Huawei Watch 2 has the tech that lets you ditch your phone, but loses the swish suitable-for-all style of the original

The Huawei Watch was a breath of fresh air when it was released. Not only was it easily the most stylish Android Wear watch (and some may some smartwatch in general) out at the time, but it was also styled so it was suitable for all wrist sizes.

Pricing and Availability

Huawei officially launched the Watch 2 with prices in euros. The Sport costs 330 euros or 380 euros with 4G, and the Classic costs 400 euros. Huawei will only sell the Watch 2 Classic in the U.S., priced $300 at Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg, B&H Photo Video, Jet, Kohls, Target, and Walmart. It’ll come in two colors, black and grey.

The Watch 2 launches in the U.K. in retail stores on May 17, but online orders at Amazon start May 3. The carbon black Sport model is 330 British pounds, the 4G Sport is 380 British pounds, and the Classic in titanium grey is 410 British pounds.

A masculine aesthetic

Over time, Huawei enhanced the Huawei Watch range with straps that appealed to both men and women, increasing its pull and making it stand apart from the competition. All this makes the sequel highly anticipated, because the wearable industry — despite the prompting from Huawei — hasn’t changed much, and is still driven by a masculine style.

Unfortunately, Huawei may have led the pack in that respect before, but with the Huawei Watch 2, it has joined makers in producing larger, tougher-looking smartwatches. There are two versions, the Huawei Watch 2 Classic, and the Watch 2 Sport, and the pair differ greatly in style and functionality. However, neither are for the daintily wristed. The IP68 water-resistant body measures 45mm, up from the 42mm on the original. It may not sound much, but it makes a big difference when that device in on your wrist.

The body may be larger, but the screen is smaller. An odd decision, but Huawei has shrunk the 1.4-inch screen down to 1.2-inches for the Watch 2. It notices too. It doesn’t look bizarre, but it’s obvious there’s a lot more body around the screen than before. The Watch 2 is very lightweight, and both versions are comfortable to wear, with the Classic being the standout in this respect. The reason is its strap, which is made from leather with a silicone layer next to your skin. We’ve tried something like this on the Apple Watch (Native Union uses the same technique for their leather band), and it effectively reduces sweat and discomfort during exercise, while maintain an all-business look.

Watch 2 Sport doesn’t need a phone

While the stainless steel Watch 2 Classic wins the prize in the looks department, it doesn’t in the features department. Huawei has thrown everything at the Watch 2 Sport, which has a ceramic bezel, and silicone straps in either black, green, or incredibly bright orange. The reason for the ceramic case is due to the 4G LTE support. That’s right, the Watch 2 Sport works as a standalone device, so you can leave your phone at home without losing contact with the world. The antenna array includes a special double version for 4G, plus GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. It has a noise reducing microphone and a speaker, ready for calls.

Android Wear 2.0 is installed on the Watch 2, which along with the interface and feature improvements, also adds a dedicated app store, Google Assistant, and Android Pay. The Watch 2 Classic and Sport both have large bezels, and it cries out to be twisted and turned to scroll through the revised Android Wear 2.0 menus, like you would on the Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S3. However, the Watch 2 is a touchscreen only device. A Snapdragon chipset drives the Watch 2 models, and there’s 2GB of internal memory space for your music.

This is an important part of Huawei’s fitness focus with the Watch 2 Sport. Load your music, and it’s another job taken away from your phone. The Watch 2 has special software for fitness fans, including workout plans and guidance. This includes feedback from the heart rate sensor in real-time, plus data on steps, calorie burn, step frequency, speed, your VO2 Max, and even estimated recovery times post-workout.

Battery life doesn’t suffer

If the thought of 4G LTE, GPS, and a heart rate monitor on a smartwatch makes you fear for the battery, don’t worry too much. Huawei says the 4G Watch 2 Sport will give two days use from the battery, or three days for the Classic. Use the 4G version with the heart rate monitor and GPS active continuously, and it’ll still return an estimated 11 hours. There’s even a power-saving mode that turns off all the smart features to show only the time and a step count, which extends the battery life to 26 days.

There’s even a power-saving mode that turns off all the smart features.

Highs

  • 4G LTE on the Watch 2 Sport
  • IP68 water resistance
  • Android Wear 2.0

Lows

  • Large body won’t suit all wrists
  • Limited availability

Article originally published in February. Updated on 05-08-2017 by Andy Boxall: Added U.K price and availability.