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Dyal Swap Signature review: Dyal Swap Signature

You'd be hard-pressed to find a gadget that makes you feel more like a secret agent than the Swap Signature, a watch that doubles as a mobile phone and camera. Its interface is disappointing and it's expensive, but its call quality and photos are surprisingly good

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Luke Westaway
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Luke Westaway

Senior editor

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

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As tech fans, we're duty-bound to investigate any gadget that promises Bond-style functionality, and the Dyal Swap Signature is one such piece of kit. A chunky wristwatch that doubles as a mobile phone, camera and media centre, you'd be hard-pressed to find a gadget that makes you feel more like a secret agent. Acquiring that feeling will cost you dearly, however. With a price tag of around £345, you may not have much change left over for a vodka martini, and the Swap is riddled with design flaws that would test the patience of even a hardened sleuth.

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4.5

Dyal Swap Signature

The Good

Admirable range of features; comfortable to wear.

The Bad

Unresponsive touchscreen; clunky and unattractive user interface; very expensive.

The Bottom Line

The Dyal Swap Signature packs a huge range of features into a very small package. Unfortunately, a frustrating interface and unresponsive touchscreen mean it's difficult to enjoy any of those features, and it simply doesn't do enough to justify its price tag

Heavy metal
The Swap is a chunky, metal affair, with a perforated leather strap and an adjustable metal clasp to keep it securely on your wrist. It's comfortable enough to wear, although slightly heavy.

On one side of the watch, you'll find two fake dials, one of which conceals a 1.3-megapixel camera. The other side features two buttons used for menu navigation, and a sliding panel that grants access to a proprietary socket, into which you can plug the included headphones, or a USB cable for charging purposes.

Lack of response
The Swap's various menus are navigated via the 38mm (1.5-inch) resistive touchscreen. Unfortunately, we found the touchscreen to be unresponsive, and often inaccurate. The Swap comes packaged with a metal stylus that slides into the watch casing, but, while it does help with navigation, we can't imagine sliding it out whenever we wanted to make a quick call. Also, if you're one of the many people who wears a watch on their dominant hand, you might find using the stylus just as fiddly as using your fingers.

The difficulty of navigating the extensive menus is the Swap's downfall. The interface is incredibly dense, with many lists of options extending over several pages, and titles giving little clue as to where they'll take you next. Unattractive and slow, the interface also features a huge amount of on-screen buttons. While that's not a problem in itself, hitting the right key on such a small screen is almost impossible, and a crucial icon will often measure only a few millimetres across.

Tiny keys coupled with a temperamental touchscreen make typing on the Swap unbearably fiddly. To send text messages, you'll have to enter letters one at a time, using the handwriting-recognition feature, which didn't do a great job of figuring out which letters we were aiming for. It would perhaps have been a better idea to rely on an on-screen alphanumeric keypad for typing purposes.

Secret agent man
The 1.3-megapixel camera is a definite plus point, taking surprisingly good pictures. But your sneaky spy snaps will be hampered by slow menu navigation and fiddly options once you've opened the camera application. Also bear in mind that the camera points at a right angle to your wrist, so, if you want to take a profile shot of someone, you'll have to put your arm up at a rather ungainly and conspicuous angle.

There's also the option to shoot video. Footage is of a surprisingly high quality, but it's a nightmare to control the video feature via the Swap's interface. Video playback suffers from stutter, even when viewing the movie trailers that come pre-loaded on the Swap's internal memory of 128GB (the Swap can also accommodate a microSD card of up to 8GB). The video capability is a good feature to have included, but, practically, it's not much use.

Similarly, the audio player supports all major formats, but, since you're forced to use the included headphones, which are of a poor quality and not particularly comfortable, its appeal is limited.

The real kicker is that the Swap doesn't work particularly well as a watch. In an effort to save battery life, the screen goes dim when not in use, so, if you want to check the time, you'll have to give the display a quick tap first to bring everything back to life. Furthermore, the digital watch face is partially obscured by phone-related icons, which can make figuring out the time rather frustrating. 

Time to talk
Using the Swap as a phone isn't too painful an experience. Even though searching through contacts is a laborious and irksome process, the call quality is good. You'll definitely want to use a Bluetooth headset, unless you fancy trying to hold your mouth and ear to your wrist at the same time, but, fortunately, the Swap comes packaged with just such an accessory.

Connecting the Swap to your computer is pleasingly simple -- plug it in via the USB charging cable, choose 'mass storage' from the on-screen options, and then you're able to access the watch in an Explorer window. We like that there's no cumbersome software, and adding music or movies to the Swap is as simple as dragging and dropping.

Conclusion
The Dyal Swap Signature is a jack of all trades but master of none. The attempt to pack every feature under the sun into a tiny device compromises the quality and usability of each individual element, so that it's impossible to recommend the Swap as a good-quality phone, camera or even watch.

If the price tag weren't so high, this all-in-one device might make a decent gift, but, as it is, we think you should give it a miss. If you simply must own a watch phone, though, you should also consider the LG Watch Phone GD910 before laying down your cash.

Edited by Charles Kloet 

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