This connected smartwatch allows parents and their kids to stay in sync safely.
As parents, my wife and I often straddle the line between making our children independent and keeping them safe. Some of the best smartwatches for kids can be useful tools for accomplishing these goals. In this case, T-Mobile SyncUP Kids is one of the new devices that many parents should consider.
During the last month of using the smartwatch, my 9-year-old son and I have definitely put the device through its paces. The young people in our lives have plenty of wearables to choose from, but just because it’s designed for kids doesn’t mean it’s fit for kids to wear. Thankfully, the T-Mobile SyncUP Kids watch takes kids’ privacy very seriously, as it’s COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant and has the KidSAFE seal of approval. So, how does the watch work in use? I would say fine.
T-Mobile SyncUP Kids
Bottom line: T-Mobile SyncUP Kids checks nearly every box for parents and kids. It reassures parents about the safety of their children and gives them a sense of freedom. Depending on the network coverage in your area, being locked to T-Mobile can be a disadvantage, and you’ll need to manage school mode on your watch carefully.
- Light and comfortable
- good battery life
- Geofencing available
- Tasks and alarms can be set on the watch
- Durable and waterproof
- Unable to schedule school mode
- no wifi
- Only available through T-Mobile
T-Mobile SyncUP Kids: Price and Availability
T-Mobile SyncUP Kids will be available exclusively through T-Mobile on November 5, 2021. While this watch is only available in a single color option, chalk, it comes with two coral and blue straps in the box so your kids can mix it up. At full price, the smartwatch is $174, or free when you add a new service line to your billing account. But keep in mind that to add T-Mobile SyncUP Kids to an account, the account must have at least one voice line active.
T-Mobile SyncUP Kids: what’s good
The T-Mobile SyncUP Kids is a relatively unremarkable device, with a light gray and white two-tone plastic casing, with a black surface surrounding a 1.4-inch display. There is a button on the side of the watch that activates the display, the home button when on a page other than the home screen, and turns the screen off when on the home screen. A single camera sits above the display on the watch’s bezel.
My son opted for the blue rubber strap and the unit we tested. Although there are coral options in the box too. If you or your kids want to add more personality to the look of the watch, any standard 20mm strap will work. My son found this watch to be comfortable to wear and to perform well in his adventurous outdoor activities.
In addition to the T-Mobile SyncUP Kids in the box, there’s a round pebble wall adapter, and the USB-A port is neatly placed on the bottom of the adapter. The braided white and T-Mobile magenta cables are USB-C and plug into the charging dock, using the POGO pins to power the watch. I was impressed with the quality of the smartwatch charging accessories.
|glasses||T-Mobile SyncUP Kids|
|aspect||1.65 x 1.85 x 0.57 inches|
|Waterproof and dustproof||IP68|
|Place||Global Positioning System
While charging the 510mAh battery, I downloaded the SyncUP KIDS companion app to my smartphone. The app’s login is the same as your T-Mobile account login, and you can enable biometrics if you prefer.
The app simplifies the process of adding a watch nicely. After adding your child’s information, you can enter the contacts you agree to communicate with your child. I’m also happy to see T-Mobile SyncUP Kids support geofencing in so-called virtual boundaries.
Virtual boundaries on T-Mobile SyncUP Kids give parents peace of mind.
The app will notify you when the watch enters the designated area. I set a boundary for my son’s school to let me know when he arrives and leaves. This feature can help parents relax when their children start to experience more and more away from home. Emergency contact buttons and 911 dialing are also available as additional security options.
In addition to automatic location alerts that can be set, parents can use the app to manually locate their kids and even turn on real-time tracking. This will ping the watch every 10 seconds for up to 15 minutes. However, keep in mind that using this feature can quickly reduce your watch’s battery percentage.
In terms of battery life, the watch performs well in day-to-day use without real-time tracking. Although I’m a T-Mobile subscriber, I don’t have reliable coverage in my home, but none of the carriers provide it. While the cellular strength at home isn’t as stellar, this watch does a solid job of managing its strength, and not once did it die before bed.
In the companion app, you can check your child’s activity and see their step count for the day or view their history. You can also set a step goal for your child to encourage them to keep going. The app has another feature that I use to keep my kid going, although he finds it less fun than being active.
From the SyncUP KIDS app, parents can create alerts and tasks. This helps my son with his homework and chores and reminds him when it’s time to get ready for bed. There’s no reward system like points or digital coins like the Gabb Watch, but you can send reward messages to your child’s watch when tasks are completed.
The calls on the phone were clearly heard from the watch, and my son said he could hear me very well through its speaker. T-Mobile SyncUP Kids can send text messages to approved contacts in the form of emojis, preset messages, video and picture messages, or use the on-screen keyboard to enter your own messages. However, it’s a bit unwieldy to keep the key not too small. So kids need to scroll left and right to access all letters.
The camera can also take silly photos that your kids can store on the watch and send as messages. Unfortunately, this watch doesn’t support video calling like TickTalk 4.
The app situation is pretty barebones too, but not bad if the goal is to reduce distractions. The apps are limited to step tracking, camera, media folders, communications, timers, calculators, and some games. The games available are few and simple: Tic Tac Toe, Puzzle, Voice Changer and Dinosaur Run.
T-Mobile SyncUP Kids: what’s bad
T-Mobile has done a good job of creating a watch with the necessary features that perform well with a companion app and safety features that parents appreciate. But technically, one important feature that T-Mobile SyncUP Kids has, but certainly doesn’t implement very well, is school mode.
This can be an essential environment for many parents and children. The purpose of this is to reduce the distraction of the child from the watch during school hours. School Mode, when enabled, disables games, cameras, sounds, alarms, and task reminders. Then the only communications available are phone calls and text messages from emergency contacts. While this is all good, the problem is that you have to manually enable it every time you want to use it.
Unfortunately, school mode cannot be scheduled on T-Mobile SyncUP Kids.
Not only do you have to turn the feature on, but remember to turn it off. This is a feature that should be able to be set up as planned. Parents don’t have to set themselves reminders to enable the feature when their kids are in school and at the end of the day.
While the watch does a good job of managing battery in areas with poor cellular coverage, it would be helpful if it had an option for Wi-Fi calling or messaging. T-Mobile SyncUP Kids doesn’t have any connectivity options other than 4G LTE. The device utilizes the cellular network to manage calls and texts sent via regular text messages, and it struggles with calls when the network connection is poor.
Network availability may also prevent potential users from using the kids smartwatch. While T-Mobile has been rapidly expanding its network, some areas may not have enough coverage to support T-Mobile SyncUP Kids. A smaller device means it will have less reception than a smartphone.
T-Mobile SyncUP Kids: competition
Don’t worry if watch capabilities or network capabilities are what put you on hold when you think about T-Mobile SyncUP Kids. There is a growing selection of connected kids smartwatches. For example, the TickTalk 4 is a great watch to check out with a lot of features that T-Mobile SyncUP Kids lacks.
First, TickTalk 4 has two cameras so your kids can take more pictures, and it supports video calling. While there aren’t any games on this watch, it does have free iHeartRadio Family music. This and many others can be restricted or turned off in the TickTalk companion app. It lacks geofencing, but offers a scheduled Do Not Disturb mode.
If you’re looking for a watch directly through your carrier, Verizon’s GizmoWatch 2 is a great option. It’s an easy-to-use wearable with no games or cameras, but plenty of features parents love. It has step tracking and location monitoring, but what’s especially nice is geofencing. However, this watch is only available on Verizon and doesn’t offer Wi-Fi.
T-Mobile SyncUP Kids: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if…
- You want a watch with long battery life.
- You want a watch with good safety features.
- You are a T-Mobile customer.
You shouldn’t buy this if…
- You want your watch to offer video calling.
- You go to school automatically.
- You live in an area with poor T-Mobile coverage.
T-Mobile SyncUP Kids isn’t a flashy device, but it isn’t. It has good battery life and a nice set of features that parents will love. Maybe, except that school mode needs to be manually enabled and disabled on a daily basis. Video calling isn’t a major blunder, but this type of communication is sometimes necessary, especially with young children.
T-Mobile has done a great job balancing software features and hardware with T-Mobile SyncUP Kids. This is a watch that most kids will pick up and use with little help. It’s a device that makes kids feel independent while being able to lend a helping hand when needed.
Parents can be confident that their children are where they should be and communicate only with approved contacts. Being asked to deal with school mode manually instead of scheduling it is a frustrating situation, but not a deal breaker. If you’re a T-Mobile customer looking to equip your kids with a connected smartwatch, this is a good option to consider.
T-Mobile SyncUP Kids
Bottom line: T-Mobile SyncUP Kids is an easy-to-use connected smartwatch that blends fun features with communication and security to keep kids and parents happy.