The LES1 is a $100 Android 5.1 smartwatch by LEMFO. It has the full list of smartwatch features and even has a built-in 2MP HD720P camera with decent image quality (for a smartwatch). There is also a slightly different version of the LES1 which is marketed as the LES2 and is available at about the same price.
Both the LES1 and LES2 are very similar to each other and only a few key differences set them apart. The LES2 has a larger 450mAh battery while the LES1 has just 350mAh. The LES2 features a polished 416L stainless steel body while the LES1 has an anodized aluminum body. The LES2 also lacks a camera and has a lower screen resolution compared to the LES1. Those who are familiar with Chinese smartwatches will know that the LES1 is also very similar to the Zeblaze Thor.
Being an Android 5.1 device, the LES1 is essentially a very small Android device that is worn on the wrist. With that said, it can handle almost any Android app that you can find at the Play Store. Bear in mind that since the LES1 features a small circular display, some apps can be a bit difficult to use.
- Android 5.1
- MTK6580 Quad Core 1.0GHz
- 1GB RAM / 16GB ROM
- 1.39″ display (400 x 400p)
- 350mAh battery
- 2MP HD 720P camera
- GPS navigation
- Nano SIM ready
- GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
- WCDMA: 850/2100MHz
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi
- Optical heart rate sensor
- Metal body with silicone straps
Build Quality and Comfort
Overall build quality of the LES1 is excellent although I’m not a fan of its fixed silicone straps. Since the straps do not have hinges, they cannot be replaced if they get damaged. The lack of a hinge also means the straps have a fixed position and don’t really adapt very well to wrists that are too thick or too thin for the LES1. However, this problem with fitting is minor and when worn properly, the LES1 feels reasonably comfortable.
There is a single red power button that functions very well and has excellent tactile feel when pressed. The LES1 also has a speaker located at the side which works quite well. Audio quality is loud and clear enough for a smartwatch. At the back is a small slot for installing a Nano SIM card and four contact points that connect with the four pogo pins on the supplied magnetic charging dock. The charging dock attaches itself to the smartwatch via a magnet and I feel it is the biggest flaw of the LES1.
The magnet in the dock appears to be weak and does a bad job at firmly securing the watch. This means when the LES1 is charging, the charging pins can be easily disconnected by a slight push or nudge. In the past, I have left my LES1 to charge only to come back an hour later to discover that no charging took place because of this problem, although the smartwatch appears to be attached to the dock.
Due to this flaw, it is almost impossible to charge your LES1 in a backpack or handbag when you’re on the move as even the slightest movement can cause the charger to disconnect. This is a pity because the LES1 costs $100 and you’d expect it to come with a well-designed dock. I’ve used cheaper fitness trackers such as the S928 which has a magnetic dock that does not get disconnected so easily.
When plugged to a PC’s USB port, the dock (with LES1 attached) can act as a storage device. This means you can move files from your smartwatch to your PC and vice versa. In terms of waterproofing, the LES1 features IP55 waterproofing which means it can withstand light showers and splashes but cannot be fully immersed in water.
Camera and Hardware Performance
The LES1 features a 2MP HD 720P camera at the side of its body and I was pleased to discover that image quality on the camera is impressive for such a small device. This is not surprising because the camera features 6 optical elements which help provide decent image quality. Image quality may not be as good as most smartphones today but it is quite good for a smartwatch.
Below is a sample HD video taken with the LES1 worn on my wrist.
And here is a gallery of sample images taken in different lighting conditions. Click on the image to view it in full size.
At the heart of the LES1 is an MTK6580 quad core processor with 1GB RAM and 16GB ROM. These specs may not seem much for today’s smartphones or tablets but for a small device such as a smartwatch, it is reasonably powerful. I do not feel any lag at all when using the LES1. It is very responsive and apps run smoothly. With 16GB ROM, there is also ample space for storing videos, photos and a long list of apps.
One of the best features of the LES1 is its brilliant 1.39″ AMOLED display with a resolution of 400 x 400p. Contrast, color saturation and color accuracy on the screen is great and it can also be viewed clearly under direct sunlight if you bump the brightness up to 100%. Touchscreen sensitivity is also good and comparable to any decent smartphone or tablet.
The LES1 comes with some preloaded watch faces and you can also add more by downloading additional faces for free. One neat feature on the LES1 is its Gesture mode which allows you to turn on the watch screen by merely lifting your arm so the display is facing up. With Gesture mode, you don’t need to press the power button to activate the screen when you want to check the time.
GPS and Connectivity
The LES1 features WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity. With its Nano SIM card slot, you can even use it as a stand-alone micro smartphone although this is not compulsory because the LES1 can still connect to your conventional smartphone via Bluetooth or WiFi. With a Nano SIM card installed, the LES1 can make and receive phone calls as well as messages like any other ordinary smartphone. GPS reception on the LES1 is also good and comparable to other GPS devices in terms of accuracy.
There is also a notification feature that lets the LES1 pull notifiations from your smartphone and alert you. For example, when you receive a Whatsapp message on your smartphone, the LES1 will alert you and display a summary of the message.
With Bluetooth, you can use the LES1 to function as a remote shutter for your smartphone’s camera. It can also be used to locate your smartphone as long as it is within Bluetooth range.
Battery life on the LES1 is rather poor. With very light screen and pedometer use, GPS turned off and with all wireless features such as Bluetooth and WiFi turned off, the LES1 can last for about 12 to 15 hours. With heavy wireless use and GPS turned on, it can last only 5 to 7 hours. With battery life that is below average, expect to charge the LES1 at least once a day, if not twice.
Those who want better battery life should go for the LES2 instead which features a larger 450mAh battery (the LES1 features 350mAh). With the LES2, LEMFO has decided not to include a camera to free up some space so a larger battery can fit in.
Health and Fitness Features
The LES1 features an optical heart rate sensor with genuine real-time heart rate readings. This means the heart rate (HR) reading has a refresh rate of two to three seconds. This is a better way to monitor HR compared to cheaper fitness trackers that feature a refresh rate of a few minutes.
Since the LES1 is worn on the wrist, there are limitations to its HR reading accuracy. HR reading is accurate if you’re performing exercises that do not require vigorous movement of your arms. This includes riding on a stationary cycle, yoga or lifting weights. With such exercises, HR accuracy is within 3 to 5 bpm of HR monitors that use ECG belts.
When performing exercises that involve some impact or regular swinging of the arms such as running, the accuracy can drop to between 20 to 50bpm which is a lot. This problem is common to all fitness trackers that use optical HR sensors on the wrist. If you need accurate HR readings, it is better to rely on a device that uses an ECG belt. The pedometer on the LES1 is quite accurate and I’ve not had any issues with it. With that said, users who have demanding needs when it comes to HR readings such as serious athletes should just get a Polar or Garmin instead.