The Secure Communicator smartwatch runs Android, doesn't require a phone (hands-on)

Make calls, answer emails and download apps from the Google Play store without a smartphone.

Dan Graziano Associate Editor / How To
Dan Graziano is an associate editor for CNET. His work has appeared on BGR, Fox News, Fox Business, and Yahoo News, among other publications. When he isn't tinkering with the latest gadgets and gizmos, he can be found enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City.
Dan Graziano
2 min read

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LAS VEGAS -- Smartwatches really aren't all that smart. With the exception of a select few , almost all of the smartwatches on the market require a constant connection to a smartphone to display notifications and run apps. All of this functionality goes out the door when the watch and smartphone become disconnected. Security firm GoldKey is the latest company to take a swing at a true smartwatch.

The company is showcasing the Secure Communicator at the 2015 International CES trade show. This Android-powered smartwatch can surf the Web, make calls and download apps from the Google Play store. The watch includes a SIM card slot, meaning you can do all of this without being connected to a smartphone. The Secure Communicator supports SIM cards from AT&T, T-Mobile and other GSM carriers.

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The watch is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and Android 4.4. KitKat. It includes an internal speaker for playing music and answering calls, a MicroUSB port for charging, GPS, Bluetooth, a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot and 8GB of internal storage. There's also a 5-megapixel camera that can be used to snap photos and record HD video.

It's a true Dick Tracy watch, but what helps the Communicator stand out is its secure element. The watch includes access to GoldKey's encrypted cloud storage and dual-factor authentication for accessing email. There's even Gold Pay, a secure payment platform that's similar to Apply Pay.

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All of these features sound nice on paper, but I was left underwhelmed after playing with the Secure Communicator for a short time. The watch isn't nearly as slim or stylish as the Samsung Gear S or even the original Galaxy Gear . The screen is also incredibly small (1.54-inches with a pixel resolution 240x240 to be exact), which made it difficult to use apps (which were designed for Android smartphones) from the Play store.

The GoldKey Secure Communicator is available now for $400 (converted to about £260 and AU$500), or $200 with a monthly fee of $20 for access to the company's premium security services.

See all of CNET's complete CES 2015 coverage here.