We are seeing a wave of new smart watches designed for children coming to the market, but the DokiPal claims to be superior as the first to support 4G LTE and an integrated voice assistant. The good idea behind the emergence of smart watches for children is that they act as a basic phone for young people who are not yet ready for a suitable phone. Parents can track the location of their children and call them or send them a message and because the watch is tied to their wrist, which means there is less risk of it being lost. The DokiPal also offers basic fitness tracking, geofencing, a camera and a photo editor, and IP68 water resistance.
The DokiPal is one of the most expensive smart watches for children on the market with $ 179 and, if you want to use 4G only for Doki SIM LTE data, you're looking to pay $ 10 per month over. Doki Technologies, based in Hong Kong, recommends DokiPal for children five years and older. I tried it with my son Malcolm, 10, to see how well it works.
The DokiPal comes in the usual unimaginative option of blue or pink, although the green or purple notches on the strap add a bit of visual style. It is a thick plastic smart watch and inevitably looks pretty big on a child's wrist. It doesn't weigh too much around 50 grams and Malcolm said he found it "medium" convenient to carry.
The body of the DokiPal is made of smooth plastic and there is Gorilla Glass on the 1.4-inch color TFT touch screen. The strap has a feeling of grip and soft touch and is attached with traditional pins, so you can change it if necessary: many smart watches for children are molded together, so the strap is often impossible or, at least, very hard to replace.
The SIM tray slides on the left side and on the right side there is a power button and an SOS button below, which also functions as a backup Button for the navigation. Pleasantly, the DokiPal has an IP68 rating, so rain, showers and even bathrooms are not a cause for concern. Our review unit went through the shower and came out unscathed.
While the screen is quite sharp and bright, the glass is quite reflective and can be difficult to read in direct sunlight. There is a large bezel around the screen and a 2 megapixel camera above.
Using the application and calls
The DokiPal is unlocked so you can insert any nano-SIM card and use it for calls and messages. It will work with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Cricket Wireless in the US. UU., And you can also use the Doki SIM, which is a data-only SIM that supports LTE in 50 countries through a partnership with Telefónica. It will cost you $ 10 per month for unlimited data, although I am sure there will be a "fair use" limit to exceed that limit. I tried with the Doki SIM.
To configure the DokiPal smartwatch you need to install the Doki application for Android or iOS. The watch itself shows a QR code that you can scan from the application on your phone, but you will also have to activate the SIM and create an account with your phone number. There really isn't a layer of sugar in this: the application is a disaster. I tried a Pixel 3 e, even with instructions, it took much longer than it should have to connect the watch and the phone and activate the SIM. You also have the option to connect the DokiPal to Wi-Fi networks.
In the first configuration, nothing worked for us. The calls could not pass, the messages did not work, the clock was terribly delayed, it got very hot and used up the battery so fast that I could see the percentage going down. I tried to restart several times without success, then I looked for factory reset instructions, but I couldn't find any. I turned off the DokiPal and let it fully charge before trying again and this time it worked, sometimes.
The confusing design application opens to show the location of the DokiPal on a map. I will get to that soon. At the bottom, you have the Add clock tab, which allows you to scan the QR code and add a clock. Here there is support for multiple watches. Then there are Contacts, who will have your child on the list after adding the application. To call them or send them a message, you must touch Contacts, then touch their name and you will get the messaging application where you can send text messages, emojis and GIFs. If you want to make a call, you must touch the phone icon at the top and select video call, phone call or VoIP call. This route and the same options are reflected in the DokiPal watch for your child.
I tried to initiate a call from my phone and from the DokiPal watch, but I received a blocked call message. It turns out that this is because the SIM is data only, so we had to make a VoIP call. The fact that the call option still appears and that the error message that triggers does not really explain what the problem is highlights the lack of ease of use in the software.
I also tried video calls, VoIP calls and sent some text messages back and forth. During a week of testing, it became clear that nothing works particularly well. Each option is accompanied by a delay long enough to make you think it has been locked. There were some occasions when the VoIP call worked reasonably well and we could hear each other, we also had a video call that worked, although very late, but most of the attempts failed before connecting or were so slow that any conversation was impossible.
Even sending GIFs in the messaging application often took a long time. The service may be irregular in the place where we live, so your mileage will vary according to your local area, but I tried another child's smart watch in 3G recently and it worked well for calls. I also tried the DokiPal with Wi-Fi enabled to see if it would work better, and it didn't seem to make a difference.
The Doki application also has a Discover tab that shows nothing the first 10 times I touched it. Finally I was able to load it, but it turned out that I wasn't missing much, since it only includes links to the Doki website. The last option is a profile where you can enter some personal data. You will want to change your name to Dad, or whatever you want to show on your child's watch here, otherwise he will show you your full name. Some of the other options, such as SIM Administration, were not loading or always showed me error messages. I also found that the application made my phone vibrate a few times, but for no obvious reason.
The voice assistant
Doki also boasts that the DokiPal has an integrated voice assistant that works with the COPPA (Children & # 39; s Online Privacy Protection Rule)) Kidsense service. You touch and hold the microphone to make a query. We tried it several times and mostly hung up indefinitely in "Processing" or said: "I didn't understand that." I got him to tell me what the weather was like once, but he told me about the weather. in Kingston, which is not near where we live.
To rub salt on the wound of our disastrous experience, the fitness function did not work properly either. He is supposed to track the steps, the calories burned and the distance traveled, but the maximum he could detect on a given day was 15 steps, which was obviously incorrect. When I tried to access the physical state data in the application, it simply stopped loading.
An interesting feature in the application that is a smart idea is the programmer. You can create reminders for regular events, so that your child receives an alarm to wake them up, remind them that they have a club or tell them it's time to read a book. You can set reminders for whatever you want. You can also configure unique events. The first time I tried this, the event activated a ringtone on Malcolm's clock at the right time with a pop-up message on the screen. The problem is that nothing he did stopped the ringtone; He knocked, opened the information, knocked well, slipped, everything was in vain, we had to turn off the clock to stop it. When we tried again, a simple touch was enough to ignore the alert.
The DokiPal has Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 chipset inside, so the hardware should be able to improve. Initial problems with new devices are common, but a look at the reviews on the Play Store and App Store shows that my experience is quite typical. The software needs a lot more work.
Tracking your children
The DokiPal uses GPS and Wi-Fi to track your child's location. Most of the time it will depend on cell towers and GPS. It seemed reasonably accurate, but it was not uncommon for it to be a distance of up to a hundred meters. He routinely showed Malcolm as if he were in one of our neighbors' houses, but this is normal for the course with follow-up and counts with other devices I've tried.
You can configure a geofence area in a circle of 50 meters up to 500 meters around a specific location and there is the option to program it for different times of the day, so you could, for example, configure it to notify you if your son leaves school during school hours. We tried this and it worked as expected.
There is also an SOS button that will activate an alert if it is held down, will send you a location update and record 60 seconds of sound. It worked when we tried it, although I couldn't make the recording load on my phone.
Battery and camera life
The DokiPal has an 800 mAh battery, which Doki suggests will provide up to 48 hours of normal use. Our DokiPal never managed to spend a day without running out of energy, even when Malcolm was barely using it. The charging cable is standard USB-A at one end and a magnetic base at the other that easily fits the pins on the back of the DokiPal. This is one of the few good elements, as it is easy enough for young children to connect and much better than a Micro USB port.
The 2 megapixel camera is another highlight since most smart watches for children have a VGA camera. The quality is reasonable, although obviously it is very far even from a cheap phone. Malcolm also enjoyed photo editing, which allowed him to give me small glasses and a silly mustache through stickers.
"To be honest, I don't think it's great."
Although these smartwatches are usually described as suitable for children ages 5 to 12, I think at 10 years old, DokiPal is already a bit young for him. He liked the camera and photo editing and thought the video call was great when it worked, but rarely did. He also liked the idea of the voice assistant and fitness tracking, but none worked correctly.
Is it worth buying?
No. In its current state, it is impossible to recommend DokiPal and it does not work well enough to provide peace of mind. I recently tried the Xplora 3S and it has most of the same features, it costs much less around $ 125 and works reasonably well. You can also pick up a phone like the Moto G7 Play for $ 200 and it would be a much better purchase for older children. If I had paid $ 179 for the DokiPal, I would be demanding a refund.