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myFirst Fone S3 review: Slimmer and faster

myFirst Fone S3 review: Slimmer and faster

myFirst Fone S3

The myFirst Fone S3 is a 4G-capable smartwatch designed for children. It improves significantly over its predecessor, the Fone R1s. It's not just the hardware, the software powering the S3 has been rebuilt from the ground up. While this means that users of the older devices will have to start from scratch — if they want to upgrade to the S3 — it's probably for the best in the long run.

Quick specs

  • 1.4-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen
  • 2MP front camera
  • IPX8 rating (up to 2 metres)
  • Nano SIM card (bundled with 3-month 4G plan)

The Fone S3 is slimmer than myFirst's older smartwatches, though it's still thicker than mainstream smartwatches. The display is bright enough, but the watch front has acquired a few scratches after several weeks of use. Unlike the Fone R1s, which has its selfie camera at the corner, the S3's camera is in the middle. That makes it easier to take a decent photo (and video call) using the camera, but this 2MP camera doesn't offer the best quality. You'll get 4G and Wi-Fi connectivity on the S3. It comes bundled with a free 3-month 4G plan (with data roaming in several countries, including Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand), but subsequently, it's S$10 a month. So the first thing I did was to sign up and activate the SIM card at myFirst's website.

myFirst Fone S3
Credit: myFirst

The next thing I did was to sign up for a myFirst Circle account, which is basically myFirst's own social app. You don't actually need a myFirst smartwatch to use this app — it works on iPhones and Android devices. But you'll need a myFirst Circle account for the watch. The main idea here is to put a child's contacts into groups with differing tiers of access. Parents can then moderate, and approve the messages and photos posted by their child accordingly. For instance, they can set posts to be seen only by family members, but not their child's classmates. The myFirst Circle app is also used to manage the S3 after it's been paired. Parents can track the watch's location, call the watch, and even remotely start a heart rate measurement using the app.

myFirst Fone S3
After a couple of weeks of use by an active 8-year-old, the S3 has acquired a few nicks and scratches. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

In terms of features, the S3 is mostly similar to the R1s. You can do video and voice calls, but there's no keyboard input for text messages. Instead, you have to use emojis, photos and canned text phrases. The emergency SOS function, which records a 30-second clip using the built-in mic, is still present. But it's now a long press of the back button instead of the dedicated SOS button on the R1s. You can geo-fence a location, and be notified if the watch goes out of range. Besides the activity and heart rate monitoring, you'll also find a timer, alarm, and an MP3 player (up to 1,500 songs like the R1s). The S3 feels more responsive while navigating its menus than the R1s. It's not entirely bug-free, though. For example, the location tracking was sometimes inaccurate, and failed to refresh until I restarted the watch.

The myFirst Fone S3 is definitely better than its predecessors, but there's still room for improvement. Battery life, for example. You likely have to charge the S3 everyday — it drops to around 15% battery by evening on a school day. While I feel that the overall experience has improved, the FoneOS software needs more work. The myFirst Circle app interface isn't the most intuitive — some features require a few clicks to access. The app could also do with a built-in help. But if you can tolerate a few bugs, and a clunky app, the S3 is available now at S$229 from Lazada, Shopee, and Synced (use CBON5 for S$5 off with minimum S$50).

See Also
ZTE Nubia Neo 5G

Review unit provided by Oaxis.

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Better than previous models.

Available at Lazada
Buy it at Shopee
Buy it at Synced

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