More About the PineTime

Since my initial review of the PineTime 10 days ago [1] I’ve used it in more situations. My initial tests were done connecting to a Huawei Nova 7i [2], I am now using it with a Huawei Mate 10 Pro. I’ve also upgraded the PineTime from version 1.11 (from memory) of the Infinitime software that runs on the watch to version 1.13 [3]. To upgrade it I had to download the file to the Android phone and then use the File Installer option of the GadgetBridge Android app to upload it. The zip file does NOT need to be extracted first, I don’t know if GadgetBridge extracts it before upload or if the PineTime firmware has a copy of unzip, but it just works.

Version 1.13 is purported to take less battery, I haven’t directly verified this as I turned on the new feature of measuring my pulse 24*7 which significantly increases battery use. The end result is that the battery is being used up at about the same rate as before, overall adding a new battery-hungry feature while reducing battery use for other things to compensate is a good thing and strongly suggests that battery use has decreased overall.

I have noticed that now with a different phone and different version of the firmware it doesn’t reconnect as reliably. Sometimes I need to turn bluetooth on the watch off and on before it works (which indicates an issue with the firmware) and sometimes I need to turn bluetooth off and on on the phone which indicates a phone issue. Also I often unlock my phone to find the GadgetBridge notification saying that it’s disconnected and it usually connects fine, but I get the impression it’s often disconnected. Does the Mate 10 Pro have a problem that triggers a bug in the PineTime? Does the 1.13 version of InfiniTime have a problem that triggers a bug in the Mate 10 Pro? Are they both independently buggy? Is the new version of InfiniTime just disconnecting when it’s not doing stuff to save battery and triggering bugs that weren’t obvious before?

I’ve tested the media control which basically works, sometimes it gets out of sync and displays the name of the previous track which is annoying. The PineTime is IP67 rated and there are reports on Reddit of people wearing it in the shower and swimming pool. I wouldn’t recommend those things although it should work OK. It might be an option for controlling music when in the bath or when having a pool party.

When the watch is running normally and displays a new notification it’s not possible to swipe it away. You have to go to the notifications menu afterwards to swipe them which I find annoying. Also the notification of an inbound call remains in the notification list indefinitely while I think a more appropriate action is to have it disappear in an amount of time where it’s already been answered or gone to voicemail. Voicemail timeouts are as low as 15 seconds so having the notification disappear after 1 minute would be reasonable.

I have configured my PineTime to take 2 taps on the screen to wake up. I previously had it set to 1 tap and had problems with accidentally doing something it registered as a tap while in bed and waking me up. Also I found that if I want to turn the screen on when my hands are dirty so I don’t want to touch it with a finger then tapping it on my nose works well. Apparently it is programmed to ignore taps on large areas so I can’t wake it with my elbow.

I’ve setup a PineTime for an elderly relative who is greatly enjoying it. I don’t expect them to flash new firmware or do any other complex things, but they are doing well with using the device. They are considering getting a different band as they don’t like rubber. I’m sure their local jeweler has some leather and metal bands that could fit. There is a design on Thiniverse for a PineTime case [4], this could be used for making an adaptor to fit a PineTime to a greatly different type of band, an instrument console, etc.

Generally I think the PineTime is an OK smart watch for someone who’s not into FOSS for it’s own sake. My relative could have been happy with a slightly cheaper watch, but it’s still significantly cheaper than the Samsung and Apple options so it’s not particularly expensive. A benefit for them is that having the same type of SmartWatch as me they will get better tech support.

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