About my 'smart' G-Shock


About two weeks ago, I got myself my very first G-Shock. My entry ticket to the #CasioCult! Since I didn't want to miss out on any fitness features, I went with the G-Shock GW-H5600, which comes with heart rate monitoring, step tracking and some other nice to have features.

A G-Shock DW-H5600

Having read every review I could find, I knew that the watch had some quirks, but I ultimately loved the look of it. But two weeks later, I'm forced to return the watch. Let me first go over what I liked and dislike about this watch.


It's a G-Shock

I love the look and feel of a G-Shock and other Casio watches. This is my first G-Shock, but I've had an eye on this brand for quite some time. It's tough, sturdy, waterproof and probably also bullet proof.

The display

Oh, the display! It's gorgeous. Many people are complaining why this MIP display hasn't found its way to the rest of the G-Shock lineup. But I'm sure they will retrofit other models soon.

Proper paper manual

My first impression after the unboxing was "holy sheers, the manual is a book"! And I mean that in the best way possible. Every little feature of the watch is explained in extreme detail in the manual. You rarely see this in other watches or gadgets these days.


Questionable UI and UX decisions

G-Shocks are known for user interfaces that "just work". In this watch however, there are a few things that really make the watch frustrating to operate. Just to name a few quirks:

  • There's only "forward". If you scrolled passed something, you have to go aaaaall the way through the menu.
  • The timer can only be increased in 30 second steps. The UI is quite laggy, so setting a 10 minute timer takes about 1 minute of mashing buttons. There's also no press and hold.
  • The stopwatch only counts in seconds. No milliseconds.
  • You're locked to one task at a time. If you have a timer running, you can't go out of the menu. If you're recording a workout, you can't change the settings. And my favorite: You have to be on the home screen to sync settings from your phone to your watch. Just ... why?!
  • With a more or less recent update, the light now always turns on when you press any button. This makes the "light" button on the top right completely obsolete.
  • Unspecific battery indicator. You have four bars in the battery icon, that's it. The watch is solar powered, but it's to top up the battery at best. Don't expect to run fully off solar with this watch.

A bit thick

Below the already thick bezel of the G-Shock sits the heart rate monitor, which is obnoxiously huge. I personally didn't feel like it irritated my skin, but it does add to the thickness.

Fitness Features

This is a two-edged sword. I originally wanted to list this as a pro. Features like run tracking, cardio status and sleep analysis are there, and they work fine. The step tracking and heart rate monitoring can be a bit off from time to time, but it's fine for the occasional run.

What's really bothering me is the mediocre implementation. There's no workout detection, the autopause feature barely works and you're limited to running, walking, gym workout and interval training. I also want to log my bike rides, which will always show up as a running activity in my app.

They recently added Strava integration, which sort of works. The data is all there, but for some reason the pace and moving time that Strava computes are completely off. For example, I ran 55 minutes straight with an average pace of 9 minutes / km. But with the data the watch sends, Strava thinks I only moved for 26 minutes with a pace of 4 minutes / km. If that were true, I could compete in the olympics! 😅

Notifications barely work

During the time I owned the watch, there was only one random day where the watch received notifications from my phone. I can't explain why, but I just didn't get this to work properly.

Case is not screwed in. Could fall off

This is just a minor thing if you really care about durability. All G-Shock squares so far had screwed in bezels. On this model, you can pull off the bezel with enough force. I've never done it, but losing the bezel might be a concern.

What's next?

I enjoyed my time with this watch, but I filed a return. As pretty as the watch is, it is just too frustrating to use. Smart watches aren't a core part of Casio's business, and you can feel that in the lack of quality of the software. The app was likely developed as a one-off contract by some random agency, and once the contract ends, the watch won't ever be improved again.

I've now ordered the Garmin Instinct 2S Solar, which is very similar in terms of specs. MIP display, top-up solar charging, long-lasting battery and fitness features. But on top of that, it has features like music control, GPS, contactless payment and a compass. Contrary to Casio, Smartwatches are a core part of Garmin's business, which makes me believe that they go out of their way to develop the best possible watch they can. I will likely follow up with how this new watch compares to my G-Shock.

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