Casio WSD-F20 Outdoor Smartwatch

This Wear OS smartwatch is equipped with some extra apps from Casio that could make it an excellent outdoor watch for hiking. There are some serious points to consider however.

These apps (called “Tools”) are beautifully executed and most of the time function very well. There are a lot of reviews on the internet about how to use this watch for hiking and trekking. It is important to know however that the included map app does not feature any navigation functionality. All it does is showing you where you are on a map, and where you have previously been if you enabled that. There is no way to navigate to a point that you select on the map, do backtracking, etc. Pretty useless. You need to install a separate app such as Google Maps or Viewranger if you are going to use this watch for navigation. This can be done on any smartwatch that runs Wear OS and has a GPS, so the Casio offers no advantage for navigation.

We love the tide graph tool, because we live near the sea. It works very good. The air pressure graph however is not detailed enough. It shows 12 hours of history, but the scale is not selectable. So you always see a nearly flat line. It takes a very big air pressure change to really show. It would be better if it showed 4 or 6 hours only, and the scale would adjust to the total pressure change to show it in more detail.

The “Casio Moments” app allows you to set some alerts, for when you reach certain goals or come close to certain locations for example. This is however not very flexible. There is not a lot that can be changed, and not every option is always available. For example: we would like to get a notification about air pressure changes, to alert us for upcoming weather changes. Many ABC watches offer this functionality. The Casio Moments app however only allows this while doing an activity. So you have to start an activity like hiking, to get this alert. The way the alert is displayed is also not selectable. The watch just displays the air pressure graph.

The biggest issue with this watch is battery life. Even when using this as a normal smartwatch, without tracking outdoor activities, the watch will have difficulties to run for a full day. This varies greatly. Some days it makes it only to about 10 PM, and some days it gets to the next morning. If you disable the always on display, and don’t use any GPS functions, you can even get 2 days of usage. So make sure you charge the watch fully, before going outdoors. And if you plan for a full day of hiking, take a charger with you, or better: use a Garmin Fenix or the new solar assisted Casio Rangeman to be safe.

Another serious issue has to do with the altimeter and measuring barometric pressure. Every ABC watch has some problems with that, because it has to figure out whether it is an altitude change or an air pressure change that causes the measured pressure to change. Our experience is that Casio watches in general are not very good in this. If you leave the watch a whole day at the same location without even touching it, it sometimes reports a difference in altitude of more than 200 meters during the day. We compared it to some other watches, laying them side by side in the same location, and most did not report more than 20 meters difference during the day. The Tissot T-Touch is usually our champion with a difference of only a few meters. Moving away from the location by several kilometers and coming back should result in giving us more or less the same altitude upon return, but most of the time the Casio is way off. So you will need to calibrate the altitude every time you start a hike, and verify in between at known locations, if correct altitude readings are important to you.

These are in fact the only serious issues. The rest of the watch functions as it should. It is a joy to wear and a joy to use. In fact, it is our favorite smartwatch. The “smart” part is provided by Wear OS, and that is the same as every other smartwatch running this OS. The watchfaces from Casio are truly stunning. However: the one that Casio is using on all of it marketing materials, is only visible while the location is being determined. After that, the blue lines disappear, which makes it look less spectacular. Once the always-on-display activates, the details are further reduced. Other watchfaces that come with the watch are better in that regard and look better when the always on display is activated.

So, should you buy this? Yes, if you are going to use it as a normal smartwatch and only need to use the tools and tracking for short outdoor trips. A couple of hours at most. No if you plan on very long hikes, or if your life depends on it.

Update:
Since we posted our review the watch has had some updates for the Wear OS. The watch seems to have a bit better battery life now, but has become very slow at times, and apps crash more often. We did a factory reset, but that did not help. There seem to be no reason for us to wear this watch now, so it will end up in a drawer until some more updates are available that hopefully fix these issues.

 

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