Xplora XGO2 review

T3 reviews Xplora’s affordable smartwatch for kids that’s part phone and part activity tracker

Xplora XGO2 review
(Image credit: Xplora)
T3 Verdict

If you measure this watch simply by its features, the XGO2 is one of the leaders of the pack. It is the leader of all the kids' smartwatches and trackers we’ve tried when it comes to communication. It similarly offers more security features than its competitors. But the watch overall is a little lacklustre and joyless. It does a lot of things adequately, but little with any pizzazz.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Makes phone calls

  • +

    Camera onboard

  • +

    Tonnes of extra features

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Really bulky

  • -

    Requires a PAYG SIM

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Billed as ‘your child’s first mobile' Xplora’s XGO2 is a smartwatch with GPS tracking that lets children make and receive calls, as well as take photos and do all the usual best kids' smartwatch tasks. To make all these features possible, there’s space for a SIM card inside, but because of this, it needs a PAYG SIM, which is a big consideration. 

When it comes to features, this watch packs a punch, but what it offers in quantity, it sometimes lacks in quality, because pitched against glossier competitors, this smartwatch lacks the wow factor. The build quality is a bit plasticky and some of the features lack the excitement or visual appeal offered by rival gadgets. But, if you want a features-driven watch and aren’t too fussed about aesthetics, this one might be for you.

Xplora XGO2 review

(Image credit: Xplora)

Xplora XGO2 review: Design

First thing’s first, the XGO2 is not for wallflowers. It’s big on an adult wrist and protrudes on a child’s, and even the screen has attention-grabbing embellishments. Like most kids’ fitness trackers it comes with a rubbery strap in a choice of four bright colours. Overall, the design lacks the sleek style of a fitness tracker like the Fitbit Ace 2, or the modern finesse of Vodafone’s Neo (which is perhaps its stiffest competition) and the build quality doesn’t feel quite up to scratch either, which is a shame as this watch is £99 and close in price to the Vodafone Neo Kids Smartwatch

With all smartwatches and trackers, the design of the watch’s interface and accompanying app matters too. They are easy to navigate and everything is where you’d guess, but it lacks any flare. The calendar, for example, is a grid of tiny numbers that you can click on, and everything looks no-frills. In a nutshell, this watch does what you need it too and more, but it’s not always pretty.

Xplora XGO2 review

(Image credit: Xplora)

Xplora XGO2 review: Display

The XGO2 smartwatch has a 1.4-inch colour display. That’s a decent size to look at key statistics like the time and steps, but can still make life a bit tricky to click on the teensy-weensy numbers on the calendar, for example. That said, our mini tester (with her smaller fingers) didn’t have much trouble.

The 240 x 240 resolution isn’t too bad when it comes to looking at the colourful icons and stats, including the ‘steps walked’ section, which is really nicely laid out so that progress is really obvious, a little bit like the Apple Watch.

The resolution, however, doesn’t make the photos you take look great, though that could be more to do with the 0.3MP camera. While the resolution isn’t brilliant, the display is nice and responsive when swiping and clicking, which makes navigating the different features simple.

Last but not least, it’s worth noting that there’s a lot of plastic around the screen, which makes the watch bulky and large on little wrists.

Xplora XGO2 review

(Image credit: Xplora)

Xplora XGO2 review: Features

When it comes to features, the XGO2 pulls ahead of the smartwatch competition, in quantity at least.

Its biggest USP is the ability make calls and receive calls, as the watch has room for a SIM, giving it 4G, 3G and 2G connectivity. Like Vodafone’s Neo, this ability is limited to pre-approved contacts and we found it easy to add numbers in the app to add contacts. Apparently, there’s room for 50, although we ran out of friends before reaching capacity. The XGO2 gives wearers more freedom than other watches, allowing children write and receive texts, voice messages and emojis, instead of sending a choice of pre-approved messages, for example. This is probably good news for older children, who seem to be the watch’s target audience.

Thanks to having a SIM on-board, the watch benefits from GPS and location-based features. There’s an option to set-up ‘security zones’ around your home and school, for example. This is pretty easy to do, and you get an alert on your phone if your child leaves the area, which might be handy or slightly terrifying, depending on your parenting style. There’s also the ability for children to press the ‘SOS’ button to tell their saved emergency contacts where they are.

While all these features sound great in theory, GPS tracking isn’t for everyone. It can be inaccurate and there are always concerns about whether data could pose a danger or breach trust. But, ultimately, it’s a personal choice and can also be a powerful tool.

The watch, which runs Android 4.4 OS, also boasts fun features including a front-mounted camera, which is handy for selfies, although these are not great quality. With just a 0.3MP camera, the photos come out grainy, but our mini tester loved taking them, and flicking through the gallery on her wrist. There’s also a torch on the side, which doesn’t do a lot, but does make you feel a little bit like a secret agent, which is always good.

There are not many other fun features on the watch itself, but for the mini executive, there’s a stopwatch, calendar, calculator and recorder. There is, however, the option to join a ‘campaign’ which allows the wearer of the watch to earn Xcoins by moving around, and spend them on a ‘campaign’ game. When we gave it a try, the option was a pinball game to promote Tom & Jerry The Movie. This feature is perhaps’ most similar to the Garmin Vivo Jr 3 where users also have to wait to access a smartphone before seeing rewards, but lacks the ability to choose content or between characters.

Like with the Neo, there’s the option for parents to cut off the fun (because we’re good at that) and schedule School Mode, which means the smartwatch can only be used as a watch and won’t allow calls etc, which is good for helping kids focus in class. The app makes this simple and you can set up recurring patterns for term time, saving your own precious time – just be sure to turn these off for the holidays! 

Xplora XGO2 review

(Image credit: Xplora)

Xplora XGO2 review: Battery

We all know smartwatches don’t boast the best battery, and this one is no different. The 700 mAh battery is said to last three days on standby. For us it was more like 2 days, but that was with some fiddling with functions. 

That said, kids do tend to fiddle with gadgets quite a lot, so we could imagine having to charge this watch up every day if they are planning on using any of its features regularly. That may be a dealbreaker for some, but it’s not dissimilar to other feature-heavy watches.

While the frequency or charging might be a pain, the mechanism for doing so on the watch works really well, with a magnetic charger included in the box.

Xplora XGO2 review: Verdict

If you measure this watch simply by its features, the XGO2 is one of the leaders of the pack. It offers more flexibility than the Vodafone Neo when it comes to sending messages and making calls, making it the leader of all the kids smartwatches and trackers we’ve tried when it comes to this feature. It similarly offers more security features than its competitors.

But the watch overall is a little lacklustre and joyless. It does a lot of things adequately, but little with any pizzazz. Photos are grainy, there’s little animation on the watch face, and the extras are pretty boring, so it feels quite pricey for £99, not forgetting you’ll need to pay for a (cheap) contract or PAYG SIM too.

If calls and safety are a priority (or your kid fancies themselves as the next Alan Sugar) this watch is a good bet, but otherwise, there are more fashionable and fun options out there.

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Sarah Griffiths

A journalist with 10 years experience, Sarah specialises in Science and Technology, writing for the BBC, national papers and consumer magazines, including T3, of course. Sarah has reviewed a range of products for T3, from children’s electric toothbrushes to water bottles and photo printing services. There's nothing she can't become an expert in!