This week I received something interesting from our friends over at Banggood.com . The DT NO.1 F18 fitness tracker watch. That name is awfully confusing isn’t it? To be clear, the brand is “DT NO.1” and the model is “F18”. This watch comes from China and sports an insanely affordable price tag that’s around $50 (Click here for current pricing)! Seems too good to be true right? Lets take a deeper look at the DT NO.1 F18 and see what you get for your money.
Features and Specs
The DT NO.1 F18 is squarely aimed at the “outdoorsy” demographic with its bold rugged design and feature set. Here’s a basic list of specifications before we go any further:
- Case Size: 53mm Diameter x 17mm Tall
- Strap Length: 250mm
- Sensors: Compass, GPS, Beidou, Glonass
- Health and Fitness: Step Counter, Sleep Metrics, All-Day Heart Rate Sensor
- Battery: 350mAH
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
- Water Resistance: IP68 Waterproof
- Screen: 1.3″ 240×240 Full Color Touch Enabled LCD
The DT NO.1 F18 comes in an unassuming white box with the DT NO.1 logo on the front as well as various icons indicating what sports it could be used for. Once you remove the lid of the box you’re immediately greeted with the F18 smartwatch. Other than the watch, the only other accessories included are a magnetic USB charging cable and a small manual… Pretty basic stuff here.
Design, Looks, and Build Quality
The DT NO.1 F18 looks to be aimed squarely at the outdoorsy crowd in both its appearance and it’s feature set. This is a large watch with a 53mm diameter casing… People will notice it. I was actually quite surprised with how nice this watch looked given its inexpensive price tag! When put along side my $700 Garmin Fenix 5 Plus it doesn’t even look out of place! The outside casing of the watch is mainly a hard plastic with the appearance of metal. The buttons are actually real stainless steel and have a nice tactile click when pressed. The band of the watch seems to be permanently attached and non-replaceable silicone… However, it is quite comfortable. The rear of the watch is made of metal and houses a small optical heart rate sensor along with a charging port.
The display of the watch is advertised as “Sapphire” however I’m inclined to think its made of plastic. While handling the watch and taking pictures of it I managed to scratch the glass of the display pretty noticeably simply by putting it down on a hard wood surface. The display has a cool “domed” shape to it which reduces glare and has a premium look. The screen is touch-enabled and works OK for basic menu navigation.
The DT NO.1 F18 watch is advertised as IP68 “waterproof” and certainly appears to be built well enough to be submerged. I’ve worn mine in the shower and outside in the rain without any issues. The touch screen of the device does become unresponsive when wet but that is to be expected. I have yet to swim with the DT NO.1 F18 watch but I think I’d be comfortable going for a pool swim while wearing it. However, it’s definitely not designed for deep water diving.
The DT NO.1 F18 has a simple menu system that’s designed in layers. The menu can be navigated either with the buttons or with the touch screen. I found it easier to navigate using the buttons as the touch screen was a little fiddly. When you “wake up” the watch you’re greeted with a watch face that gives you the time of day, heart rate, calories burned, and steps. When you press the middle button you dive into the menu. The top level menu system consists of the following:
- Steps – Displays your steps for the day and step history
- Health – Displays your current heart rate
- Message – When paired with the phone app this displays notifications like text messages, emails, phone calls, etc…
- Compass – A simple but functional compass application. After calibrating I found it to be somewhat accurate.
- Exercise – To start an activity or “exercise” you can dive into a list of sports and options.
- Watchface – Choose from three different watch faces.
- Settings – Some basic settings including display brightness, vibration controls, and GPS sensors
Activities and Exercise Options
Within the “Exercise” menu you have the ability to start one of the pre-configured activities. Each pre-configured activity has a dedicated data screen. Some of these activities are pretty common… others not so much! The included activities are:
- Walking / Jogging
- Soccer (AKA Football)
- Badminton (yes… really)
Unfortunately there’s no way to add/remove or customize these activities. However, I think they covered a lot of bases here and this should work for most people. I would like to see a dedicated “cardio” activity that could be used for a variety of things.
Ease of Use
Other than the fiddly menu system the watch is pretty straight forward and easy to use. I found it a little annoying that the “Exercise” menu was so buried as this is something I use quite frequently. There are some strange quirks with this watch like misspelled words and less than obvious graphics that can take some getting used to.
The DT NO.1 F18 fitness watch does not have an “always on display”. This means in normal “watch” operation the watch face remains off until you flick your wrist around to look at it. This “auto-wake” function actually works quite well. I’ve seen more expensive watches with a worse response time. When paired with the “HPlus” app the watch will vibrate and display your notifications from phone calls, text messages, and emails. This worked as expected.
When running with the DT NO.1 F18 watch I found the data screens to be all I needed for a casual training run. During a run activity Elapsed time, total distance, steps, pace, heart rate, calories burned, and more are displayed. I also like that they included a heart rate zones screen within the data fields. However, the values of this screen cannot be customized. Activities can be paused and resumed by clicking the top most button.
The biggest issue I have with this watch is the display. When indoors it’s easy to read the display and actually quite vibrant. However, when outside on a sunny day it’s nearly impossible to see anything on the screen. This is obviously due to the LCD style display used in this watch to save on cost. When compared to something like a Garmin or Suunto display there’s no contest… these are far superior. However, I do understand this was done to save on manufacturing costs.
GPS and Activity Tracking Accuracy
To test the DT NO.1 F18 fitness tracker I wore it during typical daily life to track my steps and exercise routine. During this time I went on several runs. Something unique about the DT NO.1 F18 smart watch is that it features GPS, Glonass, and BeiDuo. BeiDuo is something not typically found in North American fitness watches as it is a chinese satellite system. I’m not sure how different this is than the Russian system (Glonass) but I welcome the options! Within the settings you can choose which satellite networks you’d like to use.
I found that the watch was hit or miss at tracking a reliable GPS track from running activity. With any tree or cloud cover the DT NO.1 F18 watch appeared to struggle to obtain a signal. In some cases not beginning the “track” until halfway through the run. Below you’ll find two tracks from the same activity compared side by side. One from the DT NO.1 F18 and the other from my Garmin Fenix 5. I was wearing them on the same wrist. The DT NO.1 F18 reported nearly double the distance, but only half of the track displayed? However, when road running with an open view of the sky the DT NO.1 F18 had a much more reliable signal albeit still not perfect.
As far as Heart Rate accuracy I was very surprised! Usually these budget minded devices have pretty poor heart rate tracking accuracy but this wasn’t the case! The DT NO.1 F18 reported pretty consistent heart rate during day to day use and also during activities. The heart rate readings were inline with what I’d expect for a given effort.
The Step Counter on the DT NO.1 F18 was also quite accurate and reported results that were within 5% of my Garmin devices. The step goals can be configured within the smartphone app. The watch will buzz and let you know when you’ve hit your target goal. It will also buzz to remind you to move if you’re sitting still for too long.
IOS / Android Application – HPlus
The DT NO.1 F18 GPS watch relies on an app called “HPlus” for its communication with your phone. The included manual for the watch displays a QR code that can be scanned to quickly access it in the google play store. Setup was painless and my watch was sync’d to my Galaxy S10 Plus within a few seconds. Again, with this app there are quirks. More misspelled words and incorrect units of measure. If you can look past these quirks the app is functional enough to get by just not quite as polished as the competition.
The main “home page” offers a glance at your days steps, sleep, and all-day heart rate graph. When clicking the “activity” tab you’re given a list of all of your recent exercises including monthly statistics. The “Calendar” page gives you a months view of your activities which you can click on and take a closer detailed look at. The “Device” tab gives you an assortment of settings and metrics related to the DT NO.1 F18 watch itself. Including the following:
- Incoming call alert
- Unite of measure settings
- All Day Heart-Rate Toggle
- Screen Illumination Toggle
- Alarm Clock
- “Move” reminder
- Screen saver timer
- Firmware Update Tool
The final tab called “Mine” is your personal profile which allows you to set a step goal, sleep goal, running goals, and more. This page will also display your Body Mass Index according to your height and weight.
One obvious thing the HPlus app is lacking is any form of 3rd party social platform integration. No Strava integration here! Also as far as I can tell there is NO WAY to extract a GPX file from the DT NO.1 F18 watch either by usb or the phone application. This is pretty important for those of us who back up our activities or use 3rd party applications.
The DT NO.1 F18 features a rather large 350mAH battery which is great for battery longevity. Unfortunately the LCD back-lit display is a bit more power hungry than other transflective options. Still, I was able to get through 5-7 days of moderate use without charging the battery. In “GPS Tracking Mode” like running, walking, cycling, etc… I was impressed with battery life. I saw a drop of about 5% per hour while recording an activity which is pretty good when compared with the competition. I haven’t had the chance to use the DT NO.1 F18 for any sort of long duration event like a marathon but judging by these numbers I think it may last long enough. That is, if you can get a decent GPS signal!
OK! So whats the deal with this thing? Should you buy it? Well… that depends. Lets look at some of the pro’s and con’s.
- Nice Looking Watch!
- Accurate Pedometer
- Accurate Heart Rate Sensor
- Good Battery Life
- Poor Glass Durability
- Poor GPS Accuracy
- No GPX Export
- No Strava Integration
- Smartphone App is Lacking
I’d say if you’re looking to purchase your first fitness tracker and mainly care about step count, heart rate tracking, smartwatch functionality, and looks the DT NO.1 F18 might work for you. Particularly if you’re new to these devices and want to test the waters on a budget. You might also be interested in other DT NO.1 smartwatches… see their other devices here.
However, if you’re a more serious athlete or aspiring runner that demands lasting durability, accurate GPS Tracks, and the ability to export GPX or sync with third party apps like Strava then it may be worth spending a little more money on a slightly higher end device like the Amazfit Stratos which I’ve previously reviewed HERE.
Are you wearing the DT NO.1 F18? Let us know what you think in the comments!