If there was a race to the very bottom of the smartwatch market, Lenovo now appears poised to win it with today’s announcement of Ego — a $29 smartwatch that demonstrates how the core features of a modern wearable can exist in a nearly disposable form factor. Designed with all the charm of a digital sport watch from the 1980s, Ego is unapologetically rubbery and plasticky with a thick, gear-like bezel, but inside beats the heart of a more modern beast.
Bluetooth? Check. 42mm touchscreen and vibration actuator? Check, check. iOS and Android compatibility, including notifications for phone calls, emails, texts, and social media apps? Check, check, check. It even has what’s billed as a 24-hour heart rate monitor, 50-meter water resistance, swim stroke tracking, and sleep tracking. That’s a lot of check marks, all made even more compelling by 20-day battery life between charges.
What you give up compared with Apple Watches or Galaxy Watches is a programmable color display, microphone, and fancier housing. The monochrome screen lets you see the time and status indicators, there’s still a small speaker for loud alarms, and you can tap on the touchscreen as a camera shutter trigger — if someone else is holding your phone. But you’re not going to be making phone calls, monitoring your Lyft driver, or impressing anyone with Ego; any “smart” you’ll find in this watch is strictly on the inside.
…Unless you’re trying to save every dollar, in which case Ego is about as easy on the pocketbook as a smartwatch can get. Indian Express reports that Lenovo has thus far only announced it for India, where it will sell starting tomorrow for 1,999 rupees through local retailers Flipkart and Croma.
Sigmund Freud described ego as the part of your personality responsible for realistically dealing with reality, modulating your id’s desire for instant gratification. Whether a $29 option is enough to sate anyone’s desire for a new smartwatch remains to be seen, but with Ego in the marketplace, pricing will no longer be an excuse for staying away from the technology.