Apple Watch knockoffs hit Chinese shelves

Chinese Apple Watch lookalikes, which are mostly priced below $100, claim to offer even better functionality, including supporting independent SIM cards, memory cards, and photo taking.

If you are unable to afford a real Apple Watch, knockoffs from China are another option -- and they also claim to be more "functional" than the original ones they imitate.

One lookalike that's already for sale on Alibaba's e-commerce website, the "Airwatch A8 smart wearable watch", looks hardly any different from the Apple Watch. But its functionality is more diverse.

(Image: Screenshot by Cyrus Lee/ZDNet)

The "latest smartwatch in 2015", as described by the seller, runs Android OS, can take photos and shoot video, and uses a SIM card for independent voice calling. It also comes preinstalled with popular Chinese apps like WeChat and QQ.

The watch, which connects to iPhones as well as other Android-based smartphones via Bluetooth, is only priced at 478 yuan ($76). The official retail price for an Apple Watch Sport (38mm) is 2,588 yuan ($413) in China; five times more than the knockoff's price.

According to user comments posted on the Taobao page, most of the buyers are pretty satisfied with the knockoff. Some said the watch is "easy to use", while others complain that the battery is not long lasting; it drains in just four hours when connecting to smartphones via Bluetooth.

There are also cheaper smartwatches available. According to an Apple Daily video report, another knockoff, simply named "Smart Watch" and sold in Shenzhen, China, is priced at only 280 yuan ($45). The report described the watch as smooth to operate, but all applications are preinstalled and the user is unable to make changes.

However, the watch battery was wrecked in just a day. The seller said it was a very rare case, and promised to exchange the watch for new one, according to the video.

Another China-based company, Zeaplus, is making an aluminium-bodied smartwatch. On its official English-language website, the company describes its upcoming Zeaplus Watch as compatible with both iOS and Android, able to use a SIM card, and equipped with a pedometer and heart rate monitor.

(Image: Zeaplus)

The company did not disclose the retail price of the Zeaplus Watch. Its Zeaplus Watch G2 is currently sold starting from $69, according to the website.