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MetaWatch Strata review

Gordon Kelly



Our Score



  • Durable construction
  • Simple setup
  • Great value for money
  • Long battery life


  • Dull design
  • Limited app support
  • Bulky

Review Price £83.00

Key Features: Smartphone notifications sent to watch screen; Rugged, water resistant, sports design; Battery life 5-7 days; Open source SDK; iPhone and Android compatible

Manufacturer: MetaWatch

What is the MetaWatch Strata?

An open source alternative to the much hyped Pebble smartwatch and much rumoured Apple iWatch. It pairs with an iPhone or Android smartphone over Bluetooth to deliver their notifications to your wrist. Like all smartwatches the theory is it will allow you to keep your phone in your pocket more often by giving you the context of received alerts. A particular benefit on the move or when exercising.

MetaWatch Strata - Design

The Strata is the thicker of two models currently offered by MetaWatch and focuses on durability and value. The more expensive ‘Frame’ is slimmer and targeted towards the fashion segment.

At first glance the Strata appears to have a face only a mother could love. The design hasn’t changed since we previewed it in September (link in the tab above this review) and the wide bezel and relatively small 1-inch, 96 x 96 pixel display are a world away from what we expect from our smartphones. But the Strata turns out to look far better on the wrist than off and we regularly received queries and compliments.

Strata 3

Furthermore the Strata’s design is carefully considered. The body is double injection moulded polyurethane giving the Strata a 5 ATM rated water resistance (verses the Frame’s 3ATM) which is enough to swim in. The downside is this is achieved by omitting a standard microUSB charge port. Instead the Strata has four metal contact points on the rear and a separate microUSB charge clip clamps to them.

On the plus side the Strata is available in multiple colours (black - aka ‘Stealth’ - is the most attractive for our money) and its construction material makes it extremely durable. The screen itself is “polymer network LCD” and made from mineral hardened, scratch resistant glass lens while a strainless steel top ring also protects the screen from impact. Despite several heart in mouth drops during our time with the Strata it remained unblemished.

As for the display itself it has an anti-glare coating and adapts to light, looking monochrome in normal conditions and becoming silver in direct sunlight. As such we found it readable in even the strongest outdoor sun and should you be in darkness it has a backlight.

Inside the Strata is battery sipping Bluetooth 4.0 and MetaWatch claims it will last up to a week on a single charge. There is also a vibrating motor to give the wearer a gentle buzz when they receive alerts…

Strata 7

MetaWatch Strata - Features

But what are these alerts? Much like the Pebble - which promised the earth but launched with limited service support - the notifications the Strata can deliver are a mixed bag.

The core supported services are accepting/rejecting incoming calls (with caller ID), SMS, emails, and calendar alerts. The handset can also display weather, replicate alarms and show routing information. In addition the Strata can play and pause music playback, which allows it to act like a remote control - useful if your handset is docked, you are swimming (or in the shower) or if your headphones lack dedicated music controls.

The caveats are there is currently no support for social media (though MetaWatch says this is in the pipeline) and to work with routing the apps need to be made compatible. In the case of routing this rules out Apple Maps and Google Maps at present (this should change with the expanded APIs of iOS7), but Telenav’s Scout app bales you out for now.

Meanwhile setup couldn’t be simpler. Since the Strata is a thin client, all management is done via official apps in the App Store and Google Play (Android version below). Install them, pair the Strata over Bluetooth and you’re ready to go. Customisation is easy. The MetaWatch has four homescreens divided into quadrants and each can be selected in the app to be filled by single, double (horizontal or vertical) and full screen widgets such as time, weather, email and so forth.

MetaWatch official app

Interestingly because MetaWatch has open sourced its code there are also third party apps available. We found the most impressive to be ‘MetaWatch Manager Community Edition’ on Android which actually has more widgets than the official app (including dividing the screen into thirds) and greater customisation options. These include the ability to customise vibration types, download new themes, choose specific calendars and more.

We would like to see the official app offer support for these third party innovations (a kind of app store within the app) over time to tap into what seems to be a thriving developer community.

Next page


September 13, 2012, 12:59 pm

i have followed metawatch for a long time, not least because of the open support for any OS platform a developer may want to make metawatch work with.

likewise, i am delighted they have finally got to consumer level products following generations of developer/hacker hardware.

looking forward to a consumer analogue metawatch in the same vein as the original developer version.


September 17, 2012, 9:16 pm

Very interesting to know Jedibeeftrix. I think it has the potential to open up a whole new segment of watches as smartphone accessories. With that in mind I'm amazed Apple moved away from the Nano 'watch' design - it seemed an ideal candidate to go down this route.

Then again I'm sure the likes of MetaWatch breathed a sigh of relief. Though of course Apple could simple have changed the Nano as it want to distant it from a future iPhone watch companion product to be introduced at a later date...


October 6, 2012, 1:53 pm

Metawatch is OK, although I will not buy as it doesn't have a color screen and the design is horrible - it's got "cheap" all written over the materials choice. But this is the segment they're reaching for. I don't want the Pebble either. A slightly smaller MotoACTV with a vibration alert would get my attention though.

As for Apple stepping away from the watch format I agree it's odd. Even if they choose to introduce a BT watch (at least their "watch" aspect of the Nano got massive attention), why increase the size of the Nano? Better have similar specs utilise the volume gathered.


January 7, 2013, 10:17 am

I have owned the generation 1 Metawatch in analogue and digital form factors for the last year running the Metawatch Manager Community Edition on Android Samaung Galaxy Note1.

I now own the Strata Stealth and while the function by comparison to earlier models is a work in progress, it shows great promise with a significant advance in design and performance; substantially improved battery life, light, comfortable fit, promising user interface on android phone (now compatible with iOS), easy setup.

Awaiting; more function beyond sms and phone call notifications, next calendar appointment, need a variation of widgets that allow four full screens of information, operating music controller, 3rd party application connection to get the ball rolling. All of this is available on the generation 1 platform after a year of volunteer community development.

Summary; Love that watch!

Gordon Kelly

January 8, 2013, 1:03 pm

Very interesting to hear your comments Mike. I collected our MetaWatch review sample just a few days ago now the company deems it close to an official launch. We are awaiting a couple of software updates before the review (email and more robust music control are central) but so far the experience has been very interesting indeed.

I suspect this could be the year the wristwatch makes a return, whether it be an Apple iWatch or various Android pairing watches but either way the multi-platform functionality of the MetaWatch makes it a potentially major player.

Jussi Wacklin

June 17, 2013, 9:33 pm

I'm a Metawatch fanboy, so treat my comments with a caveat. The latest software they released is delivering stable features and Strata price is very affordable. While some dislike the design and the screen, I find the Frame design very durable and smart unlike some other plastic watches out there.


August 16, 2013, 4:57 pm

Metawatch isn't going to be a player and the company seems to be in trouble. I was super-enthusiastic about their product early on, but they are suffering from hardware and software problems that they don't seem to be able to get their heads around.

The last device they shipped to me was DOA, and I had to open a PayPal dispute just to get them to return the defective device. (They are still fighting it, claiming I was just "evaluating" the device.)

At this point, my hopes are on Samsung.


September 10, 2013, 2:00 am

I just received mine today and so far with initial tests, i am extremely pleased. It does simply what it set out to do. I am enjoying the widgets that are out there. I can't wait to get the firmware updated and take it on the road. Being able to see my sms texts as they come in as well as note my phone calls will be very satisfying. Lets see after a few weeks of serious workout will it perform as well as it does currently. Texts and call info are extremely responses to my android phone.


November 5, 2013, 2:57 am

I had a metawatch for 16 hours. It's no worth owning. Galaxy gear has it correct. 1 text out of 50 came through to my watch from my I phone. The apps are so limited that on my four screens a had to double up on the apps because there are not enough choices. It looks nice but that's about it. You can't respond with it,no emails. I'm waiting it out for I phone to come through with there own watch.

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