Xplora X5 Play review

The Xplora X5 is the Norwegian-based wearable maker’s latest kids smartwatch that’s that offers features that should give it appeal to parents and guardians as well.

The follow-up to the X4 once again offers features that are geared around safety, with cellular connectivity on board, letting little ones take and make calls to contacts approved by parents. It's also used to help offer real-time location tracking if you want to keep an eye on their whereabouts too.

Designed for ages 4-11, the iOS and Android-friendly watch also has a camera on board, the ability to play music and it’ll also tap into Xplora’s GoPlay platform, which is all about putting a gamification twist on keeping active.

At £159.99 though, it's a kids smartwatch that costs the same as a grown-up Fitbit Versa 2. If you like the idea of your child being connected from a watch instead of handing over a phone, the X5 Play could be an alternative to look at instead.

We enlisted a 5-year old tester to see what the Xplora X5 is made of, whether it works and whether this is a kids smartwatch to snap up.

Xplora X5 Play: Design and screen

What makes a good kids smartwatch? One that’s ideally kid-proof is a good start. With the Play, you’re getting a square smartwatch just like Xplora’s other watches that packs a 48.5mm sized case and comes in pink, black or blue looks. Measuring in at 15mm thick and weighing in at 54g, it’s slightly heavier and thicker than the Xplora’s X4 watch.

That’s partnered up with a silicone strap that can be removed but an adult will have to do it. There's one physical button on the right side of the watch case where you'll also find the SIM card compartment. It’s a chunky little thing, so does it get the kids seal of approval? Overall, yes, but there's a few things that weren't exactly loved.

The pink case was well liked, it wasn't too big or heavy to wear and the physical button was easy use and a good size to interact with. The strap was comfortable too and while it had a habit of picking up a bit of dust, it was one that was easy to wipe down and get it clean again.

Front and centre is a 1.4-inch, 240 x 240 resolution TFT touchscreen display that does include Gorilla Glass to offer some welcome extra screen protection. It’s not an always-on display, though you can adjust screen brightness from the watch settings.

It's a screen that offers good colour and brightness and it was largely a responsive screen to use. It was a bit of a struggle with grubby hands, but it worked well on the whole. There's a screen protector that sits on top of the screen that doesn't feel like the greatest quality and it ended up getting peeled off after a few week's of use.

The screen was easy to view in most conditions with the maximum brightness setting required in bright outdoor light. One aspect that did irritate was the quick screen timeout, which can thankfully be adjusted on the watch to resolve matters.

To add to its rugged credentials, you’re getting the same IP68 water resistant rating, which does mean it’s safe to submerge in water up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes.

Xplora X5 Play: Setup and software

There’s two aspects of the setup process with the X5. The first is to pair it up with your phone via Bluetooth with the Xplora companion app and it is one that works with Android and iOS devices. This testing was done using an Android phone.

The second element is to set up the cellular features. In the UK version, we were provided with a nano SIM card from network Giffgaff, which is bundled in and is slipped into the Sim card compartment on the watch. It did also require being topped up to activate and get things up and running.

This SIM card part has to be done first before you pair the watch up with your phone. Once the activation part is done, there's a QR code on the watch that's scanned by your phone to establish the connection between the two.

Once that's out of the way, you'll need to set up the watch profile and the profile for the little user. So, adding a name, nickname, a picture and there's a clear point towards the privacy policy if you're worried about data collection. It outlines that privacy policy here stating that it complies with EU GDPR as well as being CPRA and CE/FCC compliant.

Xplora X5 Play review

The other profile you'll need to create is a Campaign one and that's tied to the GoPlay platform, which is a feature firmly for the kids.

The app is largely easy to get around with dedicated areas for viewing messages, setting up safety features and letting the adults set up the approved contacts they are able to contact.

The software experience is an Android-based operating system that’s being powered by a Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear platform. In terms of performance, there’s little bit of lag swiping through screens, but no the small number of apps apps and features launch nice and quickly. There’s some similarities here with Google's Wear OS in terms of navigation. You can swipe up to view notifications and swipe to get into the app menu screens.

Here you’ll find icons dedicated to dealing with calls, texts, activating the camera, viewing photos, setting alarms, playing music, checking steps and adjusting settings. How easy is it for a child to get around and select things? Well, they had no problems getting to the features they wanted to use most, whether that was leaving voice messages or taking selfies. The app icons were recognisable with the four icons per screen easy to navigate.

One little issue was that some apps used the physical button to close apps and others use a swipe to close. Maybe it would be more useful to apply the same method to all apps.

Xplora X5 Play: Features and performance

There's a fair bit that this watch can do and there's some things for the parents and other things for the kids.

We'll kick things off with the features that will appeal to the adults and the first is using the onboard GPS, cellular connectivity and Wi-Fi to pin-point the wearer's location in real-time. That can be viewed by the parent from inside the app.

There's also something called S-Zones. These are essentially areas you can create as safety zones or geo fenced areas that when your child moves out of will send an alert to the parent's phone that the watch was paired and set up to.

That safety zone radius must be a minimum of 500 metres from the pin point in the map and will let you name the safety zone and zoom into maps powered by Google Maps to create that area. It's straightforward to set up from the main screen on the app. When or if they move out of that designated area, the watch will send a notification to the companion app to let you know they've left the safety zone.

We found that most of those alerts came through the messaging service built into the app more than they did as phone notifications, with the latter definitely more useful to quickly see and prove more useful.

An SOS mode is also included letting the child set off an alarm and activate an emergency call mode that also sends push notification to the parent or guardian. It will call the first approved contact and will work through those contacts until someone answers. That SOS mode is enabled when the power button on the watch is held down for five seconds. It also sends location data and can produce a siren sound.

Other features include the ability to remotely shut down and restart the watch from the app and a useful school mode. This is where you can set a start and end time where notifications, alarms and calls are disabled during that time period. Parents though can still access alerts and safety zone alerts during that period.

When it's time to for the kids to have fun, this isn't a watch that's packed with games and apps, but there were some features that did still prove popular.

The 2-megapixel front-facing camera was an instant hit and easy to use and it only handles still images. Changing the watch faces was fun too and they got changed everyday including using a selfie as a watch face background.

There is a speaker onboard that's primary purpose is to handle calls and it wasn't long before voice messages were getting sent. Call quality was clear though isn't going to rival the clarity you'd get on a smartphone.

That speaker can also be used to listen to music too. To do this, you have to send files like MP3s as a message to the watch from files on your phone. Those files cannot be bigger than 5MB. That being said, it wasn't the most straightforward to actually listen to them as there doesn't seem to be dedicated music player on board here.

While theres's no real games to play on the watch itself, there is the opportunity to make use of Xplora's GoPlay platform. This is tied to the campaign profile you create in the setup and revolves around staying moving and rewarding step counts tracked using the onboard accelerometer for virtual coins that can be redeemed for services, badges, donate to charities.

It takes 1,000 steps to earn one Xcoin and parents can earn them as well and transfer over to encourage parents and children to stay active. Enough coins were earned to unlock a pinball game tied to the launch of a Tom and Jerry movie. That game is played on the phone, but much like those arcades where you walk around with streams of tickets, you need a lot of Xcoins to get the very big prizes.

There's also leaderboards and virtual badges to reward hitting step milestones with nine badges in total up for grabs to keep them motivated.

Xplora X5 Play: Battery life

The X5 packs an 800mAh capacity battery, which is the same as the X4 and it promises to deliver 72 hours of battery life, so basically a couple of days. That should also give you 5 hours of talk time too.

In terms of what it actually delivered, it was 2.5-3 days and that was based on putting most of the key features to use. Making use of the phone features and the camera seem to cause the biggest drains.

In heavy usage, using it over a weekend from midday on Saturday, it was low by Sunday evening. In general though, it lives up to those couple of days promised.

When it is time to get charging, there's a magnetic cradle that holds firm to that watch and it was easy to be clipped on by our tester themselves with no issue when it was ready to power it back up.

Xplora X5 Play By XploraThe Xplora X5 Play kids smartwatch offers a nice-looking, well-built design that crucially, was easy to use for our 5-year old tester. Chasing Xcoins proved popular as did using those phone features . Those safety ones are well designed for parents too. There are definitely some software quirks that need to be addressed and it could do with a better screen protector, but it's a kids smartwatch that parents will see the appeal of and could be one they can wear for a while before it's time to hand over a phone.