Casio G-Shock G’MIX watch review

Casio introduced its shock resistant watch range G-Shock back in 1983. An acquired taste in design, but it inspires a certain passion amongst those who appreciate the rugged construction of a modern digital classic. Since then, there have been hundreds of iterations and since the dawn of smartwatches, it was only a matter of time (ha!) before we saw a connected G-Shock. Read on for our verdict on the Casio G-Shock G’MIX. 

Click here for our definitive list of the best full-on smartwatches if the G’MIX might not suit your needs

Casio G-Shock G’MIX review: Price and availability

The RRP for the G’MIX is £180/$262, which is fairly steep considering its limited ‘smart’ functionality. You can buy it from Watchshop here or direct from Casio here.

It's comparable, in its limited feature set, to watches like the Withings Activite, which also has one Bluetooth function (activity tracking). Just having music control on a connected watch is fairly niche thought, and we were also reminded of the Martian Notifier, which while not identical eschews full functionality for a small screen, much like the G'MIX. We’ve spent a solid two weeks wearing the watch, so we’ve seen just how it performs.

Casio G-Shock G’MIX review: Design and build

In terms of design, we are in familiar G-Shock territory. Casio has leant heavily on all the traits of its best-loved models, particularly evident in the black watch we have been using, whose model number is GBA-400-1AER. Catchy.

It’s also available in black with a gold finish and in all white, all pink, all red and all blue. We reckon the two black models are the best looking and make what is a very unsubtle watch suitable for every day wear, no matter the situation. 

The bold, iconic words ‘G-Shock Protection’ frame the bezel, which is thick and houses five buttons (clockwise from top left): Adjust, Light, an unlabelled function button, Mode and a Bluetooth on/off button. If this seems confusing, unfortunately at times it can be.

There’s also a rotary switch at the three o’clock position that is used to perform the various Bluetooth functions. Turning on and off the Bluetooth signal prompts a small silver circular dial to twist 180 degrees to either ‘on’ or ‘off’.

The strap is a hard plastic, but surprisingly comfortable as long as you’re ok with the bulk of the watch (always a given with G-Shocks) and fastens with two strap hooks.

The screen is well protected under a thick piece of glass but it is very readable, with digital and analogue clocks. If you’re looking for a bells and whistles G-Shock watch, this is a pleasingly well-made option. Add to that the fact it runs on a regular watch battery and you're looking at a claimed 2 years of use before you need to change it, which is a bonus in the world of smartwatches with two days of battery life.

Casio G-Shock G’MIX review: Features and Bluetooth control

The watch has features you’d expect from a digital watch: world time, alarm, stopwatch and a timer. The main attraction here from a techy point of view is the Bluetooth music controls. As this is the only aspect of connectivity on offer, we can’t class this as a fully fledged smartwatch, but nor do Casio claim it is one. Instead, it’s a watch with Bluetooth – and it’s that truncated feeling of the product we can’t quite shake. This works excellently as a G-Shock, but so do cheaper models without Bluetooth. We’ll go a tad in depth here about our experiences with the function, and why poor integration has led to frustration.

Much like more advanced smartwatches, you have to install an app on your iOS or Android smartphone to manage the connection. Casio has a list of compatible devices which actually appears lacking – we tested the G’MIX on a Samsung Galaxy S6 but that phone, and the more recent S7 series, is not listed. The apparent lack of support for non-Samsung Android devices is disappointing. 

The app itself, called G-SHOCK+ aims to connect you to the watch and fiddle with various settings. On first use, we found the app incredibly buggy and confusing to set up. In fact, we had to refer to an online product manual even with various on screen prompts. Manually troubleshooting (read: extreme button bashing) allowed us to connect to the smartphone on the third attempt. As an example of how frustrating maintaining the connection can be, when we innocently tapped ‘watch settings’ in the app the connection to the watch was lost. 

The problems continue when we walked out of range of our phone, which of course we all do on a daily basis. This cuts the Bluetooth connection and when back in range, the G’MIX didn’t reliably reconnect – after several tests we had to conclude that automatic reconnection isn’t actually a feature. You have to go back into the G-SHOCK+ app and manually connect again. Bear in mind that this is all before we have tried the music controls.

The disappointment that ensues is sad to admit when we had high expectations for this watch. You have to download another app, which is called G’MIX. At this stage, we can’t ignore that this is unusual – the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S2, for example only require one. These and other smartwatches interact with other, non-Apple and Samsung apps, such as Spotify, and integrate well into the operating system. For the G’MIX to do one thing – music control – and need two apps to set it up (and struggle to do so!) is a flaw. 

If you are a user of a streaming service such as Spotify, Apple Music or Google Music, the watch is limited to simply volume control via the rotary switch. If you want to use the watch to change tracks, change the EQ and view scrolling track names, you have to use the G’MIX player app. This requires you to store music on the phone’s internal memory as this is the only way for the app to play back music; it won't pull in your Spotify playlists or anything like that. If you’re into your streaming, this immediately limits the watch’s functionality.

It’s also worth noting that when you’re in music control mode, you lose all the regular watch functions such as the stopwatch until Bluetooth is disconnected. Another annoying flaw.

The final feature worthy of mention is the Shazam-esque SoundHound. When the watch is paired with your smartphone, it can quickly and accurately detect which song is playing with the tap of a button. There’s a lot to like about the G-Shcok G’MIX – it’s just very frustrating to use the one feature it differentiates itself on.

Casio G-Shock G’MIX: Specs

  • • Shock Resistant • 200-meter water resistance • Case / bezel material: Resin • Resin Band • LED light (Super Illuminator) • Flash alert Flashes with buzzer that sounds for alarms, hourly time signal • Hand shift feature (Hands move out of the way to provide an unobstructed view of digital display contents • Mobile link (Linking with a Bluetooth® SMART device over a wireless connection) • World time 35 time zones (100 cities + coordinated universal time), daylight saving on/off • 1/100-second stopwatch • Countdown timer • 5 daily alarms or one-time alarms (with 1 snooze alarm) • Hourly time signal • Full auto-calendar (to year 2099) • 12/24-hour format • Button operation tone on/off • Analog: 2 hands (hour, minute (hand moves every 20 seconds)) Digital: Hour, minute, second, pm, month, date, day • Approx. battery operating time: 2 years on SR927W × 2 (Mobile Link used 2 hours a day.) • Size of case:?55?×?51.9?×?18.3?mm • Total weight: 66 g
  • • Shock Resistant • 200-meter water resistance • Case / bezel material: Resin • Resin Band • LED light (Super Illuminator) • Flash alert Flashes with buzzer that sounds for alarms, hourly time signal • Hand shift feature (Hands move out of the way to provide an unobstructed view of digital display contents • Mobile link (Linking with a Bluetooth® SMART device over a wireless connection) • World time 35 time zones (100 cities + coordinated universal time), daylight saving on/off • 1/100-second stopwatch • Countdown timer • 5 daily alarms or one-time alarms (with 1 snooze alarm) • Hourly time signal • Full auto-calendar (to year 2099) • 12/24-hour format • Button operation tone on/off • Analog: 2 hands (hour, minute (hand moves every 20 seconds)) Digital: Hour, minute, second, pm, month, date, day • Approx. battery operating time: 2 years on SR927W × 2 (Mobile Link used 2 hours a day.) • Size of case:?55?×?51.9?×?18.3?mm • Total weight: 66 g

OUR VERDICT

The G-Shock G’MIX is at times excellent but can be frustrating. The inability to reconnect automatically to your phone is a flaw in design, and unless you store all your tracks on your device, you lose most of the only Bluetooth features on offer. Despite all that, if you are after a classic looking G-Shock and don’t stream your tunes, this is worth a look – but it is, in our experience, unforgivably buggy. We recommend checking that your phone is compatible with the exact model you’re buying to avoid disappointment.

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