After the Alpina Alpiner X Alive failure, we were very hesitant to order another Swiss smartwatch with its own operating system. We checked for reviews, but only found people demonstrating the features without much commenting about the reliability or problems. The reviews in the app store were not encouraging, but they mostly seemed about missing functionalities and not so much about connection problems or crashes. So, we took a risk and ordered one anyway. We own a previous generation T-Touch Solar, and that has always been a very good watch with very good ABC (Altimeter-Barometer-Compass) functionality. That made us take the jump.
The styling of the Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar is similar to the Alpina. Both are hybrid watches that have real hands, and a display in the bottom half of the dial for the smart functions. The Alpina looks better if you ask us, but the Tissot has the advantage of an always-on display that you can set to display whatever function you want.
The Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar is a very big watch. A bit too big to look good on the wrist, actually. The curved lugs compensate a bit for this, so the watch is not floating on your wrist as you see with some other big watches. The titanium bracelet looks good but is actually a bit cheaply made. It’s not possible to quickly swap bands as with many other smartwatches these days. A missed opportunity here for Tissot to sell extra bands and straps.
While using the Tissot, it feels as if someone at Tissot read our review of the Alpina, and decided to not make the same mistakes. Indeed: the biggest problems with the Alpina are not to be found in the Tissot:
- The hands move extremely fast, and do not move more or further than they need to, so there is no unnecessary movement. Information is displayed immediately without waiting for the hands to stop moving. So there is never a need to wait like with the Alpina. The Tissot feels very fast and fluid. The Alpina always feels a bit slow.
- The connection to the phone is very stable, and if you have been out or range (about 8 meter), the watch will reconnect by itself within a minute. You can speed this up by just unlocking your phone, and it will reconnect immediately. No need to reconnect manually a dozen times per day like you have to do with the Alpina. Note, however, that we are using the latest software version as of July 2021. The watch did have some connection problems when it was launched according to other users.
The Alpina has a much better display and some more smart functionalities like a weather widget and activity tracking. And of course a heartbeat sensor. The display on the Tissot can be compared with older Garmin smartwatches. It has muted colors, is not as sharp, but is extremely readable in bright light. And most importantly: it’s always on. The backlight functions as you would expect. It turns on automatically on incoming notifications. Lume is great also and lasts all night.
The Tissot has another strong point: solar power. This means you almost never need to charge the Tissot, while you need to be lucky to make it through the day with the Alpina because it can suddenly drain the battery when it crashes.
Charging the watch is very simple if you do need to do this. Just put it on the wireless charger. In fact: you can use any wireless charger if you can put the watch on it.
Because of the solar power, you could also compare this watch to the Casio G-Shock GBD-H1000 Smartwatch that we recently reviewed. Functionality is more or less the same: they are both solar-powered ABC watches with a connection to your smartphone for some extras. The Tissot has no heart rate sensor or GPS, however. Battery life of the Tissot seems stellar, and we think the 6 months battery life that Tissot claims will be easily achieved.
The support for notifications depends on the type of app it comes from. For example: the only information about an incoming email is the sender and the subject. There is no way to read the first couple of lines of a message like you can on many other smartwatches. The Alpina does a slightly better job here. However, other types of messages such as SMS do better and allow you to read them entirely. You also have an incoming call notification that allows you to reject or silence the call. That’s great. We really miss this on the Alpina and the Casio.
Because there is no heart rate sensor, there is also no wrist detection. So the watch will also display notifications when you are not wearing it, and it is in range of your phone. It’s not a big problem since battery life will always be great if you keep the watch in enough light.
There is no way to select which notifications to receive on the watch. In theory, every notification on your phone is sent. But it seems the app is doing some filtering and does not send things that are not so important.
For us, notifications work just fine like this, but we can understand that many people would like to select the ones to receive or see some more of the content of email messages.
Vibration and notification sounds are just noticeable enough. This watch will probably not wake you in the morning, however.
We already mentioned it in some of our other reviews: our older Tissot T-Touch Solar was a real champ when it comes to the ABC sensors. Always spot on, and the only one which seems to keep our altitude correct, even when air pressure changes. This new Connect version seems to have the same quality sensors. One of the best, that is.
This watch only has a step counter and calculates a theoretical value for burned calories. It uses the GPS from your smartphone to also calculate your traveled distance. And that’s about it. So don’t buy this watch if you need any kind of activity tracking. This is an ABC watch with support for notifications and a step counter.
Charge the watch for at least an hour and a half before trying to connect it to your smartphone for the first time. After that, connecting the watch is not that difficult, although Tissot could have provided some more explanation.
Most things are easy. But it does take some time to get used to the way the watch works. We found no real problems or bugs, except for the fact that emoticons are not displayed correctly. The different watch functions can be navigated much faster than you can with the Alpina or the Casio. You can jump from any function to any other function directly. No need to go through a sequential menu structure.
It took us some time to figure out how to set the second time to a specific city. You can easily set the second time to any time you want on the watch, but there seems to be no way to select a city on the watch itself. In the app, things are a bit confusing: it shows T1 and T2. When you tap these, the only option is to switch between the two. There is no option to change these two. You can add a city, but this appears at the bottom of the list and does not appear on the watch. A bit confusing. After a couple of days we found out by accident that it is quite simple: first, add the city in the app and then tap on it and choose to set it as the first or second time. A bit of a strange logic, but it works, and is quite handy if you need to change cities often.
A tip: you can immediately get back to normal timekeeping mode by swiping from top to bottom. Make sure you start to swipe down starting with your finger on the bezel, otherwise you just switch to the Meteo mode. You can also just press the Start button for at least 1 second when you are done.
What is missing?
Sleep tracking, a weather app, and sunrise/sunset times would have been nice.
Finally, a Swiss-made smartwatch that does what it says it will do. Although very limited in functionality compared to some other smartwatches, the functions that are there also work as expected, and the watch is very fast and reliable. This is a watch that looks and feels like a normal watch (although it is bigger than a classic watch) and is a joy to wear and use.