Casio G-Shock GBD-H1000 Smartwatch

If you are looking for a smartwatch and like the G-Shock look (big and bulky), then you probably already considered the Casio GBD-H1000.

This watch is already available for some time, and there are already a ton of reviews available showing the features. We will not repeat that here. We will limit ourselves to telling our experiences with the watch and tell you whether it does what it promises.

First of all: don’t compare this with smartwatches from Apple or Android Wear smartwatches. The idea behind this watch is completely different. This is, first of all, a G-Shock ABC-watch: Altitude, Barometer, and Compass. On top of that, Casio installed a heartbeat sensor. Therefore the watch can monitor your heartbeat and track activities because they also added a GPS sensor. In theory, that is.

The watch only supports 1 activity: running. If you need to track any other activity: you will still see your heartbeat, and you can display your route later in the app. But there are no dedicated data screens or functionalities for activities like swimming or bicycling for example. Casio markets this as a “Runners smartwatch”, but after trying it we would rather classify it as a normal G-Shock with some extra sensors.

There is also some support for notifications from your smartphone also, but it is very rudimental.

Compared to other smartwatches, the Casio GBD-H1000 is not very user-friendly. To begin with, there is no touch screen, and everything requires a lot of button pushes. That doesn’t need to be a problem. Most Garmin watches do fine with buttons only. But the Casio is not very responsive. You need to navigate slowly and patiently. And many times it requires a whole roundtrip through the menu system if you pressed a button once too many.

So why on earth would you even consider this watch? It seems it can not compete in any way with most other smartwatches out there. Even the most basic Android Wear watch is far more usable and has a lot more features.

The main reason to buy this watch is:

Battery life

But there’s a catch…

If you use this purely as a watch, with continuous heartbeat monitoring disabled, we found that the battery never really drains, even with notifications turned on. After 7 days of using it like this, the battery is still at 100%. We receive about 30 notifications per day, and we check our heart rate and barometric pressure a couple of times every day. We could even start using the watch right out of the box without ever charging it.

With continuous heartbeat monitoring and notifications on we only get about 4 to 5 days of usage, however. This is without any activity tracking. That is more than twice as much as most Android Wear and Apple Watches, but it is about ten times less as you get out of a Garmin Instinct Solar watch. Even a Garmin Fenix will have double the battery life and that one even has full mapping and navigation and a color display.

Make sure you don’t cover the watch while wearing it and put it close to a window when not wearing it, so it can charge by itself. It will depend greatly on the amount and the intensity of the light and the amount of GPS tracking you will do. Battery life will be very good nonetheless but don’t expect that you will never need to charge it if you really use all functionalities.

There are two other reasons to buy it: it is nearly indestructible and it looks very cool, but the latter depends on your personal taste. A Garmin Fenix is strong enough for most people but also costs a lot more.

So, is this watch usable as a day-to-day smartwatch?

Yes, if you can get used to the quirky way of using the watch and get used to the connection problems that we will detail further on.

First of all: the display is wonderful. It is extremely bright and also sharp enough. It is a monochrome display, but we don’t mind that. Visibility in daylight is the best out there. Even better than a Garmin Fenix. But here we also find the first typical Casio quirk: it has the same backlight problem as almost all other Casio watches: the light only stays on for 1,5 or 3 seconds, even if you are pushing the buttons to do something. Worse, actually: the light goes off each time you push a button. That means: you can check the watch in the dark, but trying to use it in the dark is a very frustrating job because you will need to keep pressing the light button every second or every 3 seconds, depending on how you set it, or after each button press. We wonder why Casio never fixed this. Thousands of people are complaining about it. The watch is quite simply impossible to use in the dark.

Another thing that so many people complain about is the date format. It only supports Year/Month/Day and you can not change that. How long will Casio keep ignoring the fact that most people in the world use another format? You would expect that this would be very easy to implement on a smartwatch, but nope: no setting for that.

It takes some time to learn to navigate the watch and to know where everything is. There aren’t a lot of customization options available. You can not set the order of the functions, for example. Getting to the notifications takes 7 button presses, and there is no way to set this as the first function. If you need the notification list more often than, for example, the stopwatch (which only takes 3 presses): you can’t switch that. In daily use, this does not bother us too much because of the way we use notifications. More on that in a moment.

Heart rate monitor

A lot of people claim that the Casio GBD-H1000 does not track the heartbeat very well. They report serious errors. We have tested this, both by comparing it to our Garmin Fenix Pro watches and by counting our heartbeat ourselves. We found that the reported heartbeat is always spot on when in rest. But we wear the watch as shown in the Casio instructions. That is: a bit higher up the wrist than most people would probably prefer.

Casio recommends wearing the watch a bit higher up the wrist.

We do see strange peak values displayed now and then, but they always come back to normal within 15 seconds or so. These always occur when you move your arm. This might impact accuracy while running, so this is probably why so many people report errors.

The biggest problem occurs when you actually do some activity. After doing a high-intensity workout, my heartbeat was almost at 200bpm, but the Casio kept showing 65 bpm. Simply not acceptable.

If you take the watch off your wrist, it will still show a heartbeat. Eventually, this will stop. A bit strange, but nothing to worry about. There seems to be a delay in the measurements. A change in heartbeat is only detected after about 30 seconds or so.

You can check your current, your maximum, and your minimum heart rate on the watch and also see a graph with a history of the current day. But that’s about it. And you need to have continuous heart rate monitoring on for that, of course. No “Resting Heart rate” statistics, for example, or stress indication. The app does not offer any detail or history from the continuous monitoring. The only heartbeat history it will show is your heartbeat during a logged activity. Very limited compared to some other activity-oriented smartwatches, but it might be enough for you.

Our conclusion about the heart rate monitor is that it is only truly reliable if you wear it correctly and if you don’t move your arm while measuring and wait at least a full minute. We would not trust it while tracking activities.

ABC Functions

Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass seem to work comparable to other Casio watches. The barometer is usually spot on when we compare it to the reports of the nearest weather station. It’s possible to see a 72-hour graph with history, and you can get alerts for sudden pressure changes, but you need to reactivate these alerts every 24 hours. This is the so-called “Barometer information” option in the settings menu. There is also a thermometer, but that will only show a correct reading if you take the watch off your wrist for at least 20 minutes.

Measuring the correct altitude is a mixed bag. But this is a problem with most smartwatches. The algorithms that need to determine whether a pressure change is coming from a weather change or from an altitude change are never perfect. Only our Tissot T-Touch seems to have figured this out. If you need perfect altitude readings on a trip, make sure to calibrate the altimeter at the start of your trip and check again on known points.

Compass readings on our Casio watches have always been the best of all our ABC and smartwatches. The Casio GBD-H1000 is no exception to this. You do need to calibrate it from time to time.

GPS

The GPS needs a long time to get a fix in city environments with big building all around you. In open spaces, it can still take up to a minute. Once it has a fix, it keeps the fix. Accuracy is good outside of the city. Inside the city, it can easily drift 50 meters or more sometimes. It does what it needs to do, however. There is no navigation or backtrack option on this watch. The GPS is only used so you can see your course in the app on your phone and calculate things like distance and speed metrics. Because it uses the GPS for many activity stats, the watch is not suitable for indoor running on a treadmill.

Notifications

This watch handles notifications as the least important functionality it has. But they do work. And for us, it’s more than enough. We do not need interactivity with notifications on our watch. A lot of smartwatches allow this, but more often than not, you need to use your smartphone anyway to take action on a notification.

When a notification comes in, the Casio GBD-H1000 displays the name of the app and the sender for a decent amount of time on the screen. It can also beep and vibrate on top of that. So you will never miss one. For me, personally, this is enough. I know whether I need to take action or not. And when I do need to take action, I just grab my smartphone. No need to bother to try to read the notification on the watch.

Incoming e-mail: the Casio GBD-H1000 shows the name of the app, and shows part of the sender name.

Connection with the smartphone is mostly stable, and it will automatically reconnect if you went out of range most of the time. Occasionally you will have to reconnect yourself and that can be a bit cumbersome. We have to do this about once or twice per day. It happens mostly when our phone has been connected to another device such as the handsfree in our car. We found that force-closing the app on your phone is the quickest way to reconnect.

If you need anything more regarding notifications, this watch is not for you. For example: you can not open a notification to read it completely when it comes in like you can on any other smartwatch. The name of the app, together with the sender name, needs to be enough information for you to know if you need to take action or not. The only way to read the entire notification is to navigate to the list with notifications. That takes 7 button presses. And make sure you do not press 8 times by accident, or you have to start all over again. Once there, you are presented with a list of the last 10 notifications, but you can no longer see the sender or any other information. This is truly horrible. Only the name of the app and the date and time are shown. Often with the wrong symbol. Things like SMS and Telegram messages are displayed with an e-mail icon, for example. You then need to open them one by one to know which is which. I just take my smartphone if I really need more details. Way faster.

The list with notifications. Not enough information to know what is what, and no read/unread indicator.

Also, keep in mind that the watch will show every notification on your phone. There is no way to select which ones you want or block specific ones.

So although notification functionality is very limited, it functions fine for me because that is how I always use notifications with a smartwatch. They just need to alert me when my phone is not in sight. My only problem is the connection that is not entirely reliable.

Update: Today we lost connectivity with the smartphone completely. Whatever we did, the watch would not reconnect. We removed the paring, removed the app, and started all over: no use. The app sees the watch, but pairing fails. In the end, we had to reset the watch completely and after that, we could pair it again. We hope this is not going to happen often. And even though you need to log in to a Casio website to use the app and watch, most of your data is lost when you do this, so there is no more step-counting or activity history on the watch. Only saved activities will show in the app.

Activity tracking

Based on other reviews and user comments we would not recommend this watch if activity tracking is really important to you. The watch will show your route, and some metrics like distance will be correct. According to our tests, heartbeat will be way off. So things like VO2 max and recovery time will also be way off. A Garmin Instinct would be a far better choice if you are serious about tracking activities. We did use it to track some walking, and it seemed to do fine for that. You need to use it outdoors because a lot of the metrics are based on the GPS.

What is missing?

Apart from what we already mentioned above, there are some things missing that most other smartwatches have: there is no sleep tracking, no weather app, no sunrise/sunset, and no tides app. No heart-related statistics such as average resting heart rate or heart rate variability (stress). There is also no way of using any kind of navigation with the GPS.

All these things could have easily been included. The fact that it also only supports 1 activity is a bit strange in these days where even the most basic smartwatch supports at least a dozen.

Conclusion

This could have been a great smartwatch if Casio had made some small modifications to the software, and if the heart rate sensor would be reliable.

Unfortunately, the Casio GBD-H1000 has very limited functionality, customization is very limited, is not very user-friendly, and has some irritating quirks and problems.

But G-Shock fans will love it. It looks cool and has a truly great display.

The main selling points are battery life and ruggedness, although there are better ones out there. If you are fine with the design and the limitations and problems: the Casio GBD-H1000 will be a trusted friend.

For everybody else: the Garmin Instinct Solar would be a much better choice

We consider the Casio GBD-H1000 to be a G-Shock ABC watch first, with the added benefits of an HR monitor and alerts for notifications on your phone. We would not consider this to be a fully functional smartwatch or activity tracker even though Casio markets it this way. We hope that Casio will address some of the limitations with a software update. Don’t count on it, however, because Casio almost never does that. The watch is available for over a year now, and no significant updates have been released.

ONLY RECOMMENDED FOR G-SHOCK FANS

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