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Abardeen F80 stand-alone detachable watch phone [custom ROM v4, TWRP]

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By DrLex, Member on 11th August 2014, 02:37 PM
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This is a relatively new model and still difficult to obtain, although availability is increasing and prices are dropping.
It is a standalone smartwatch, or watch phone as I call it. It could be compared to the Neptune Pine, but is not as bulky. It can be easily detached from its wristband and mounted into accessories like a bike handlebar mount or windshield mount. Thanks to the detachability, it is quite practical as a telephone (no Knight Rider poses or arm cramp required, just slide it from the wrist and it becomes a small handheld). Unfortunately it performs not too well as a handheld telephone due to mediocre sound quality from the microphone and subpar signal reception. A headset is recommended.

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This is made for the Chinese market, the manual and the website are in Chinese only. A factory reset sets the phone to Chinese. There seems to be a variation called “AbarGoo” that might have some extra features like limited 3G, NFC, and charging contacts on the back. However, nobody has been able to find one for sale, let alone buy one. It may only have been a prototype that was never put into production.

It looks a lot like the discontinued Motorola Motoactv. My guess is that they salvaged parts of the Motoactv manufacturing line and modified them. Aside from the scratch-resistant glass top and overall looks however, this has little in common with the Motoactv.

Specs:
  • Android 4.2.2
  • MT6572 1.2GHz Cortex A7 dual-core
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB NAND
  • 550mAh battery (built-in). Of course the sales pages mention 700mAh, which means this one has a Chinese gullibility mAh tax of 27%.
  • 5MPixel camera (which is actually true for once!)
  • GPS and compass
  • microUSB port, micro-SIM slot
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • light sensor & accelerometers
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, EDGE (no 3G though).
Despite being 100% Chinese (AFAIK), this is not the average cheap rubber-and-plastic Chinese watch phone that will fall apart after half a year of usage, at least not the watch body. The hardware is really good, which warrants its higher price tag. It looks water-resistant, but is not. I reckon it can withstand minor splashes of water or even a very short dunk, but water can get inside through a tiny gap around the display. It is possible to vastly improve water-resistance by sealing this gap.

The camera (t8ev5) is impressive: true 5MP with autofocus and macro up to 5cm (pixel-level details tend to get lost in aggressive noise reduction though). The screen is also very good, the first Chinese watch phone with perfect multi-touch that I have encountered. It is a far cry from the crappy screen on e.g. the ZGPAX S5.
Bluetooth keyboards work, which I consider a must have, especially on such small device. It is a rarity on these Chinese phones.
GPS is pretty good, better than one would expect from the typical integrated MediaTek hardware.

Overall, very nice hardware aside from lack of true water resistance, as well as not so great microphone performance during calls. If you want to be understood during calls, you either have to use a headset, or follow a specific ritual as described in my more extensive review.

The software is less impressive: it runs a rather crippled Android 4.2.2. No Play store, nerfed system settings, and a limited set of mostly custom apps. Even when set to English, there still is Chinese in many places. It has an annoying bug in its theme that causes white text on white backgrounds in many dialogs, especially important ones Other nuisances are huge fonts everywhere (makes sense, because Chinese characters require a larger font), and no clock in the status bar (hey, wasn't this supposed to be a watch?)

I made a more extensive review for those interested.

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Custom ROM (a.k.a. FrankenROM)
I solved the problems with the stock ROM by basically replacing it for the most part with another ROM. I started from a custom TrueSmart ROM by Dees_Troy, and combined it with parts from the stock system. I also fixed the layout problems that were in the dialer, etc.
The ROM includes a TWRP recovery image as well, based on the one for the Omate TrueSmart.
I fixed the most annoying problems, I even managed to add permanent tweaks for the poor audio, which makes handheld phone calls quite feasible. Overall this is a huge improvement over the stock ROM. Next to fixing the bugs, it provides a working Play store, multiple languages, and the other goodies one would expect from a proper Android system.

Download the custom ROM or update package (version 4) (released 2015/03/14, update 06/18: repartitioning)
Users of version FR3 can download an update package to be flashed through TWRP.
The latest download (since June 18th) includes the possibility to choose between 1GB, 1.5GB, or 2GB internal space for installing apps (of course, user partition will shrink accordingly). Existing users can rely on TWRP to repartition without losing their apps. See the README for instructions.

The download includes instructions in a README file. The ROM must be flashed through SP Flash Tools, because the F80 is sold with different ROMs that have different layouts, so I cannot just distribute only a TWRP partition and a system partition like I did with version 2. (Users of FR2 can upgrade by only flashing the ANDROID partition, see the README for details.)

I reckon this ROM will also work fine with the ‘AbarGoo’ version of this phone if it exists at all, but 3G capability will most likely be lost when flashing this ROM. After opening up the F80 however and seeing empty soldering pads, it seems very likely that the F80 was originally intended to be the AbarGoo, but it was too ambitious and they had to omit the 3G parts because they did not work. I do not think we'll see the AbarGoo anytime soon.

Many thanks to Dees_Troy, Lokifish Marz, AdamOutler, toastcfh, and kuronosan, who worked directly or indirectly on the TrueSmart ROM that I used as a basis for this ‘FrankenROM’.
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11th August 2014, 04:08 PM |#2  
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I love the way it's detachable from the strap but still looks good. Waiting for a clone to buy
13th August 2014, 03:44 PM |#3  
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WHAT!?!?!??!?! :0
This is almost the exact copy of motorola MOTOACTV!!!!
Wtf
13th August 2014, 09:46 PM |#4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hackerse7en

WHAT!?!?!??!?! :0
This is almost the exact copy of motorola MOTOACTV!!!!
Wtf

Yes indeed! The Chinese have done it again.
Only, this is different hardware with better specs all across the board. It is a bit bulkier (13mm thick instead of 9.6mm), but for that you get a 5MP camera and full standalone ability with a pretty good built-in speaker and mic. The only thing that seems identical is the glass top, which they probably took from the discontinued Motoactv manufacturing line. It is not a coincidence that this showed up not too long after the Motoactv was discontinued…

What is without any doubt worse though, is the software it ships with. Anyone looking for a finished ready-to-use product like the Motoactv should not buy this. But once it is flashed with a better ROM, it becomes a very capable tiny wearable smartwatch.
13th August 2014, 10:25 PM |#5  
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$299 dollars on aliexpress

all these chinese watches kinda suck....

edit: this one is also standalone and costs 1/10th

big watch
13th August 2014, 11:18 PM |#6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JarlSX

edit: this one is also standalone and costs 1/10th

Funny that you picked that one, because it was the first watch phone I had… six years ago. People had no idea what it was back then and were pretty surprised when I told it was a telephone. Was actually pretty decent as a phone, but a thick lump when worn on the wrist, and had a prehistoric operating system.
19th August 2014, 04:57 AM |#7  
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Where did you buy it?
Where did you buy this?
19th August 2014, 07:22 AM |#8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KOAO

Where did you buy this?

You can get this on Taobao, or try searching the keyword abardeen on Aliexpress, the price should be around $230 or $180 ( )
2nd September 2014, 12:16 PM |#9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KOAO

Where did you buy this?

Got this on AliExpress indeed, had to nag the reseller because availability seemed low at the moment. Availability seems better now. Try combinations of "F80", "watch", "abardeen", and "abargoo". There appear to be two variations, one with the "Abardeen" logo and one with "AbarGoo", the latter might have some extras like NFC, charging contacts at the rear, and limited 3G.
2nd September 2014, 08:41 PM |#10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrLex

Got this on AliExpress indeed, had to nag the reseller because availability seemed low at the moment. Availability seems better now. Try combinations of "F80", "watch", "abardeen", and "abargoo". There appear to be two variations, one with the "Abardeen" logo and one with "AbarGoo", the latter might have some extras like NFC, charging contacts at the rear, and limited 3G.

Dr. Lex i find this watch in Aliexpress for 179.00. In description, says that this watch can be used like a companion watch. Its true in your watch?
2nd September 2014, 08:50 PM |#11  
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Interesting, good review. I would like to see a comparison to a real sports watch, but that only makes sense when BTLE is supported, which requires Android 4.3 or later. KitKat is expected for MT6572 soon, maybe MediaTek has made a better job and maybe even releases sources?
Hopefully the MT watches can cooperate, as DrLex started here.

It has some extras like FM and wired headphone I could live without. My use case is as a sports watch replacing a Garmin. I miss vibration, IP67 (even if it seems decent) and a barometer, NFC (as in the AbarGoo) and ANT+ would be a big bonus too.
A Sport Watch must be possible to operate without the screen, this at least has 4 buttons. That works OK with IpBike and an adapted Xposed Additions module: I can get multi and combo actions. (A link in Omate TrueSmart thread)

I consider giving up on my Omate TrueSmart, GPS broken which is a key feature for me.
Hm, should I wait for something better or get a TomTom with barometer instead?
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