Michael Kors Access Bradshaw review: Behind a first-class watch hides a second-class smartwatch

Michael Kors, whose Access series of smartwatches comprises the Dylan and Bradshaw variants (based on their analog watch namesakes). It’s the latter that we’ll be looking at here.

₹25,995

tech2 rating

2.5/5

avg. user rating

0.4/5



It’s official: Smartwatches have moved into the realm of designer accessories. This has been on the cards for a while now, with conventional watch manufacturers (ie the TAG Heuers, Tissots and the strongly-rumoured Hublot) now getting in on the smartwatch game, that until not too long ago, was mainly the preserve of smartphone makers and fitness brands.

And the Fossil Group was one of those who rolled out a series of designer smartwatches this year, across a variety of brands — including Michael Kors, whose Access series of smartwatches comprises the Dylan and Bradshaw variants (based on their analog watch namesakes). It’s the latter that we’ll be looking at here.

Build and Design: 9/10

 Michael Kors Access Bradshaw review: Behind a first-class watch hides a second-class smartwatch
Available in eight colours including black, silver, gold, navy, sable and that modern day staple of all high-end personal electronics manufacturers that is rose gold, the model we reviewed was the Navy-Tone Stainless Steel variant. One of the first things that strikes you about the Bradshaw is its weight. The whole thing (including the stainless steel link strap) weighs 145 grams — of which the actual case accounts for only 51 grams. To put it into perspective, the heaviest Apple Watch (plus strap) weighs 125 grams.

After unboxing and upon holding it in the palm of your hand for closer examination, it’s hard not to find yourself using the word ‘chunky’ in the context of the Bradshaw. And measuring 46 mm across and around 14 mm in thickness — not to mention the solid links that make up the 22 mm stainless steel strap, ‘chunky’ is definitely the most appropriate word.

Michael Kors (2)

Upon slipping it onto your wrist, however, it’s a completely different story.

The Bradshaw is perfectly balanced, sits very well on your wrist and has the feel of a premium timepiece. The generous strap — generous, because it’s likely to be loose on most wrists — is comfortable and suits the aforementioned chunkiness of the actual watch perfectly.

Michael Kors (5)

The crown is located at the traditional 3 o’clock position and serves little purpose apart from being a power button and a long press gets you to the app menu. And while it looks like it should turn, perhaps allowing you to sort through notifications or apps, it doesn’t. What it does do, on the other hand, is look very stylish, featuring the only visible branding on the body of the watch (Note: The words ‘Michael Kors’ embossed on the back are obviously invisible when the Bradshaw is worn).

In terms of colours and customisation options — that include a bejewelled gold strap, the basic black and navy versions of the Bradshaw look the most visually appealing.

Features: 5/10
A 35.5 mm screen on a 46 mm case would generally translate into wide bezels. Not this one though. With sloping bezels and a deceptively broad body — broader than you think at first sight anyway, the screen appears to be just the right size. Unfortunately, it’s when you turn on the Bradshaw that things begin to go slightly downhill.

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The 360 x 290 pixel display compares unfavourably with the likes of the Moto 360 (2nd Generation) and Samsung Gear S2, both of which sport 360 x 330 pixel displays. This isn’t a huge problem, although given the pricetag (more on this in the Verdict and Pricing section), you would have expected the display to perhaps rival the 400 x 400 pixel display of the Huawei Watch. That said, the only time you’ll actually notice the relatively-lower resolution of the Bradshaw is if you’re watching a video or using a particularly elaborate watch face.

But the problems with the screen don’t end there, because it features the infamous 'flat tyre' that does ruin the otherwise wonderful look of the watch — a problem from which the Moto 360 also suffered. The worst-affected by this feature are some of the exquisite watch faces that come bundled with the Bradshaw (more on this in the next section).

Tech specs-wise, the watch contains a Qualcomm Wear 2100 processor and has 4 GB of storage (which is an industry standard). What was curious though, was the fact that neither the literature packaged with the Bradshaw, nor the Michael Kors website or any tech website had any information about the screen’s glass. In the absence of any reliable information to the contrary, since the watch is manufactured by the Fossil Group, we’ll assume the Bradshaw also uses alkali-aluminosilicate sheet glass (which is used on the Fossil Q Marshal and Fossil Q Founder). And while it most definitely is sturdy and scratch-proof, it attracts fingerprints and all sorts of smudges like a magnet.

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Onboard the Bradshaw are also a speaker, microphone, accelerometer and gyroscope, but somewhat surprisingly — when you consider the pricing, there’s no heart rate detector. One way of looking at it is that the Bradshaw is definitely not a watch you’re likely to wear on a run or to the gym, and so you’re unlikely to be checking your heart rate on this smartwatch. Perhaps, but that seems to be a very flimsy reason not to include a feature that is de rigueur on most smartwatches today.

The Bradshaw’s 360 mAh battery is charged wirelessly with a magnetic disc (which you obviously have to plug into the a power socket) that for the large part, sticks efficiently to the watch. Unfortunately, charging takes a very long time — nearly five hours to go from 0 to 100 percent.

Software: 7/10
According to reports, the Bradshaw will be receiving the Android Wear 2.0 OS update, which is splendid news because the first generation of this smartwatch operating system is on its last legs. It’s not so much because of glitches and problems — of which it has a fair few, but rather because the OS looks and feels outdated.
Certainly, there are better ways to present menus and notifications — the latter seem far too clunky these days, particularly when successive OS updates for Android smartphones have focussed on developing slicker and more minimalistic of menus and notifications.

The various watchfaces on the Michael Kors Bradshaw

The various watchfaces on the Michael Kors Bradshaw

The limitations of Android Wear aren’t all that problematic for the Bradshaw — which, as noted will be receiving the next version. The good news is that the watch comes preloaded with no bloatware, only stock Android Wear and a small selection of almost completely colour-customisable Michael Kors watch faces. While some of them are as gaudy as you can possibly get, a few are as gorgeous to look at as they are functional. In fact, these watchfaces form the basis for the Bradshaw’s (and Dylan’s) marketing campaigns.

Performance and Usability: 3/10
Setup, as with most Android Wear devices, is a very simple matter — particularly if you've already got the Android Wear app installed on your phone. And for the large part, sorting through the list of which notifications you wish to receive (and which ones you don't) is equally facile. The tutorials are user-friendly and if you haven't used an Android Wear device before, they explain the full arsenal of gestures at your disposal very well.

Start using the Bradshaw and one thing quickly becomes clear: The screen isn’t very responsive. Over the two weeks during which the smartwatch was used, constant swipes across the screen went unnoticed by the Bradshaw. It took exaggerated slow swipes to actually get to what you want. Whether this is due to the type of glass used or the device’s inability to follow instructions is not known. As for the gestures, it wasn’t unusual to spend 30 or so seconds flicking the wrist back and forth to dismiss a notification.

Michael Kors (1)

Further, loading times for apps and emails are astonishingly long given the processor.

Going back to notifications, performance is inconsistent. It’s possible to go from promptly receiving WhatsApp messages on the Bradshaw to dealing with a vibrating wrist long after you’ve accepted a phone call. And why? Because the watch hasn’t worked out that you’ve already answered the call. ‘Phantom calls’ — ie the vibration and onscreen options to reject or accept a call, after the actual call has ended — were a regularly noted feature.

A positive aspect came in the form of the voice-detection mechanism. Whether while replying to a message or Googling something obscure, the mic was receptive and voice recognition was for the most part, very accurate. Another positive was the handful of well-crafted and functional Michael Kors watchfaces alluded to in the previous section.

However, all of the above was rendered fairly moot by the fact that connectivity proved to be a major problem throughout the time spent using the Bradshaw. While the watch has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, its link to the phone would very often be severed for no real reason. And despite disconnecting Bluetooth and reconnecting it repeatedly, the only thing that appeared to restore the connection was a reset of the watch — which ate into battery life.

Battery life: 3/10
This brings us neatly to a very important question: How long does the battery last?

Answer: Not very long. At all.

360 mAh should be more than enough to see you through a full 24 hours in theory. According to the Michael Kors website, users should be able to get ‘one- two days’ of battery life from a single charge. And technically, this is accurate… if you’re not wearing the watch and you keep it aside disconnected from the mobile phone.

When kept like that, you can easily extract over 30 hours of battery life from it.

The problems start when you actually wear the thing. From finding the indicator down to around 60 percent by midday (ie less than six hours after taking it off the charging disc) to watching said indicator turn red by early evening and ultimately, ending the evening with an expensive bracelet (and no more) on the wrist, the battery life is extremely disappointing. And this is with medium (very mildly verging on heavy) use.

Certainly, smartwatches with touch screens do run out of juice a lot quicker than ones without, but even so, the Bradshaw’s performance in this category leaves a lot to be desired.

Verdict and Pricing in India
From the point-of-view of aesthetics, this is one of the most attractive smartwatches you can buy. But at the princely sum of Rs 25,995, that’s really not enough to justify the Bradshaw. The poor battery life, performance issues and absence of something as commonly-found as a heart rate detector render this first-class watch a decidedly second-class smartwatch.

And despite all that, should you still be enamoured by the look of the device, you’d be better off getting hold of the analog Bradshaw watch, which is available at around $100 less than its smart counterpart.

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Micheal Kors Access Bradshaw Specifications

Display

Screen Size44.5 mm

Memory

Internal Memory4GB

General Features

OSAndroid
Bluetooth FeaturesYes

Data

WiFiYes

After Sales Service

Warranty Period2 Years

Price

Warranty Period2 Years





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