Smartwatches are still seen by many as a niche product. Which is why many smartwatches don’t sell all that well. Then there’s also the case for these smartwatches being pretty large, compared to traditional watches, not to mention the battery life. Up until this year, many traditional watch makers hadn’t jumped into the smartwatch space. However this year, Fossil, TAG Heuer and now Michael Kors have launched their own Android Wear-powered smartwatches. Michael Kors has two smartwatches available that run on Android Wear, the Bradshaw and Dylan, these start at $350. That’s a bit lower than what the Moto 360, and Huawei Watch were priced at, when they launched last year. Does that mean the Bradshaw is a better smartwatch? Let’s find out.
The specs of Bradshaw are about what you’d expect from a smartwatch, and line up pretty similarly to other Android Wear smartwatches available right now. It’s sporting the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor (which as you can tell by the name, is made specifically for wearables), and that is paired with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It does include an accelerometer and gyroscope for sensors, and for connectivity we have WiFi b/g/n, and Bluetooth 4.1.
Where things are a bit different is in the size of the watch. The case size here is 44.5mm and stainless steel. That makes the Bradshaw a bit smaller than some other smartwatches on the market, and in between the two Moto 360 sizes (42mm and 46mm) that Lenovo offers. The Bradshaw does support changing out the straps, and any standard 22mm strap will work with the Bradshaw.
When it comes to the Michael Kors Access Bradshaw, there are many different styles available. There are nine options available, right now. Of those nine, about 6 are with metal bands. We are reviewing the MKT5003, which is gold with a brownish stripe down the center of the strap. It’s a nice look smartwatch, although I’d personally prefer the MKT5000 which has a silver casing and a white strap. Remember that if you pick up the Bradshaw and don’t like the strap, any other 22mm strap will work just fine.
The build quality of the Bradshaw is definitely top notch. Of course, coming from Michael Kors, that’s what you would expect. It does, unfortunately, have that “flat-tire” look that Motorola made popular with the Moto 360 smartwatches. I don’t so much mind the look, but I don’t like the fact that it is the same color as the watch casing. For example, we have a gold casing here, and the flat tire is colored in gold. Making it stand out a bit more. It would have been better to be in black, where it would blend in with the watch face a bit more (especially in standby since it goes to black anyways). But that is how they were able to give us a great looking watch without it being super large on our wrist. So corners did have to be cut somewhere.
Michael Kors did keep the button (or the watch crown) at the 3 o’clock position. As opposed to where Huawei and Lenovo put it on their latest smartwatches, which has it at the 2 o’clock position. It doesn’t really make a big difference for usability, but it is a bit more comfortable when it’s sitting at the 2 o’clock position. The watch crown doesn’t do anything special, that it doesn’t already do on other Android Wear smartwatches. Press it and it lights up the display, or it’ll take you back home. Pretty simple. On the opposite side, near the 9 o’clock position, is a set of microphones. That is not a speaker, as one would expect, but a set of microphones making it easier to use Google Now voice actions. And having multiple microphones there should make it easier for Google Now to understand you, especially in noisy environments.
Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly depending on how you look at it, there’s no heart rate monitor available on the Michael Kors Access Bradshaw. Now this isn’t a big deal to us, because the heart rate sensor on the backside of other smartwatches running Android Wear have not been all that accurate. Which does also mean that Google Fit is a little less useful than with other Android Wear smartwatches. But Google Fit does still work here, it’s just a bit tougher to automatically detect some of your workouts. There’s nothing on the backside of the watch, besides some FCC information and such. There’s also a “Michael Kors” logo on the backside which looks pretty nice to be honest.
Bradshaw is a big watch, even though it’s sort of being marketed as a “women’s” smartwatch. It’s big and it’s heavy. You definitely won’t forget that it is on your wrist. It’s there to be noticed, and not to be missed, like the Moto 360 is, in some respects. But it does scream quality. So if you’re looking for a smartwatch that looks great, and is top-notch in the quality department, then this is a good one to take a look at.
We do have something new here in Bradshaw and that’s Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor. This processor was announced earlier this year, but not available in any consumer-facing products until this Fall. The big customers of this processor are Fossil and Michael Kors – interestingly enough, Fossil makes all of Michael Kors watches including the Bradshaw. So here we have a drastically improved processor over the Snapdragon 400 that has been in many of the other smartwatches that have come to market. The big differences in the Snapdragon Wear 2100 versus the Snapdragon 400 is that the processor is smaller, allowing OEM’s to fit more battery in or make their watches smaller. But it also reduces power consumption, it’s more efficient and has more sensor support. All of which are key to the future of smartwatches.
Now the big question is, how does that Snapdragon Wear 2100 perform? To be honest, it doesn’t seem to be much different than the Snapdragon 400. The Snapdragon 400 was already a pretty good chip. For the most part it didn’t have any issues with Android Wear – except for with a few smartwatches. The Snapdragon Wear 2100 is nice and snappy in the Bradshaw, thanks to its 512MB of RAM that’s included. Battery life does seem to be improved, but then again that is apples to oranges, considering other smartwatches we’ve reviewed had different screen sizes, pixel density and even a different battery size. But there were no instances of lag whatsoever with the Snapdragon Wear 2100. Which is nice to see with a smartwatch
When it comes to battery life, it can get you through a day, and that’s about it. As is the case with most other smartwatches running Android Wear. We typically unplugged around 7am, and put it back on the charger at about 11pm or midnight. That’s around 17 hours of usage, and it would typically have around 30-45% left on its charge. So it could likely get you a full 24 hours, but I wouldn’t count on it lasting a full two days, unless you don’t have it syncing with your smartphone.
Charging the Bradshaw turned out to be a bit of an annoyance. It does charge wirelessly (although it doesn’t appear to be Qi wireless charging compatible), using the included white cable with a small disc attached at the end. You sit the watch on that disc and it will charge. However, there’s no way to keep it on that disc, unfortunately. With other smartwatches that charge wirelessly, like the Gear S2, Gear S3 and the Moto 360, they use a dock, basically, which keeps the watch in place while it charges. Something that Michael Kors should use for this smartwatch so that it will stay on its charger throughout the night. I had very little issues with it charging, after the first few days. But it can be a bit of annoyance. Imagine plugging the Bradshaw in the night before, only to wake up to a dead watch. Not a fun thing.
When it comes to software, there’s not much new here with Bradshaw. But that won’t be the story for much longer. At Google I/O in May, the search giant unveiled Android Wear 2.0. Which is expected to make its way to smartwatches beginning this fall. While Michael Kors hasn’t announced that their two smartwatches will get the update, it’s very likely that they will. Having said that, the model that we have been reviewing is running Android 1.5 which is based off of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and that is build MWE26B.
Android Wear is basically what you would expect on Bradshaw. You have your app drawer to the right of the watch face, with your most recently used apps at the top. If you continue to swipe over, you can jump into your contacts and then once again for voice commands. The contacts panel is quite useful, as you are able to choose a contact and then send them a message or even call them (although the Bradshaw does not have a speaker, which means you will need to use your smartphone to actually make the call). Swiping up from the bottom of the watch will reveal your notifications from the connected smartwatch. These have their own actions – which are different for each app – and ultimately can be dismissed. If you swipe down from the top, you’ll reveal the battery percentage and date. But you can also see a slew of quick settings. The first one is for Do Not Disturb, followed by Sound and Theater Mode, Brightness Boost and Settings round out the five settings here. Theater Mode is one my favorites, as you can easily set the watch to not light up every time you get a notification, so it doesn’t bother others in the movie theater, or wherever you might be. The Brightness Boost is another good one for while you’re outdoors and are in direct sunlight. It makes the display much easier to read.
There’s another component to the software here though, and that’s the Android Wear companion app that lives on your Android smartphone. With the Android Wear app, you can choose from a slew of different watch faces that are available, and there are plenty of Michael Kors’ exclusive watch faces available here. The app also has a slew of settings available, some of which are accessible on the watch, but being able to change them on a smartphone is a bit easier, given the much larger display. From here you can do things like adjust actions (whether to use Google Maps for navigation and such), as well as check the watch’s battery and storage. You can also mute phone alerts and calls when your watch is connected. So that way only the watch will make noise for a notification and not the phone too. There is also a shortcut to the Android Wear compatible app section in Google Play. So that you are able to head into Google Play and download some new apps for your watch.
All in all, the software on Bradshaw isn’t anything special. It’s largely the same as any other smartwatch available, that’s running on Android Wear. Like I mentioned before, that will change soon with the big Android Wear 2.0 overhaul that’s coming pretty soon. What’s important here is that Android Wear runs really well on this new Michael Kors smartwatch, and that’s what everyone should expect, especially with a brand new processor here.
While you can get notifications from any app on your smartphone, onto your wrist with Android Wear, there are many other apps available for your wrist. There’s a slew of watch face apps, which we count down the top 10 best each and every month. But some of the other important apps that are available include Wunderlist, Trello, Todoist, Google Keep, and IF. Google Keep is a great app for taking notes on the go. Need to make a note about doing something a bit later on today? No problem, just tell your watch to remind you later today with Google Keep, or even later on in the future.
There are also plenty of apps for tracking your activity. Throughout this review, we’ve been using Google Fit, as well as Water Drink Reminder. This app essentially reminds you to drink water throughout the day. Now this is important no matter if the weather is hot or cold, as everyone needs to stay hydrated each and every day. Google Fit is a great app to track your activity, as it will track your steps, calories burned and your active time. By default, it wants you to be active for about 60 minutes a day and take around 10,000 steps a day. Both goals are pretty easy to achieve. The app will also tell you when you took your steps and how many you took. You can change the timeline to a week view or even month view to see how you stack up over time. Google Fit does also keep track of your personal records for longest run, farthest run, longest bike ride and farthest bike ride. So you can keep up with yourself and get better over time, and in exchange you’ll probably drop some weight and become a bit more healthy.
There are many apps already available for Android Wear, with more and more coming every week. If you are just using Android Wear for notifications from your smartphone, you aren’t using the platform to its full potential. So it’s definitely worth checking out the Android Wear section on Google Play to see what else is there.
Michael Kors is one of the few luxury watch makers that have jumped on the Android Wear bandwagon, and we’re definitely glad that they did. The Bradshaw is a great looking smartwatch, but there’s no doubt that it is definitely a big smartwatch. If the size doesn’t both you, then it’s definitely worth taking a look at. There are many different styles available and it starts at just $350, which is actually a pretty good price for a smartwatch, especially one of this kind of build quality. If you are waiting to see if Bradshaw will get Android Wear 2.0, you may be waiting a few more weeks, but it should definitely get the update, seeing as older smartwatches with older internals are getting the update.
The Michael Kors Bradshaw Android Wear smartwatch is available on Amazon right now, with all 9 styles available as well.