If your kids are demanding an Apple Watch but you're not willing to pay that much for a child's watch, you might like the new NickWatch. Available now from Argos in the UK (and coming to Currys shortly) it's a Nickelodeon-branded smartwatch designed specifically for kids, and in addition to its entertainment features you can also use it to call, message and track your child's location.
The NickWatch is £159 and includes a year's subscription to NickWatch Caretaker, a safety and security app whose tracking features work globally: global network roaming is included in the price, so you can use the watch on holiday too.
The app enables you to make calls and send messages to and from the watch, and there is a good set of parental controls enabling you to do things such as mute the device during school hours, deciding who can and can't contact your child and what features your child can use. There's no access to social media apps and the selection of games will be expanded every few months alongside new stickers, voice filters and other fun things.
How does the NickWatch compare to the Apple Watch?
The cheapest current Apple watch is the Apple Watch SE, which is considerably more expensive at £259 and which doesn't have global roaming. That's a lot of money for a watch, especially a child's one, and in my own case I wasn't willing to get one for my youngest despite months of demands. What I did instead was buy them a child-specific smartwatch, the Vodafone Neo. That launched in 2021 but appears to have been discontinued: all the product videos on the official product page now say the account has been closed.
I think the Neo has/had a lot in common with the NickWatch: it too was branded, in Vodafone's case with Disney characters, and it too had location tracking, built-in games and a walled garden of apps. And my kid lost interest in it after about a fortnight, leaving me with a year's subscription to keep paying for; me, I hated the app and often missed notifications of messages and calls because the app didn't send me them.
That makes me wary of any kids' smartwatch, although I had much more success with a Fitbit Ace – which is the device that currently tops our guide to the best smartwatches for kids. Part of that was because of the battery life, which gets a week out of each charge; smartwatches like the Neo and the NickWatch need charged every second day, which is something you'll need to stay on top of because your kids won't.