REVIEW – It seems that the smartwatch has become as much a fashion accessory as an intelligent wearable. While Samsung lags behind that other Fruit-flavored brand when it comes to accessories, recently third-party manufacturers are stepping up and filling in the gaps. Case in point: Pitaka, who entered the fray with a fashion-forward carbon fiber watch band that covers all models and sizes from the fourth generation through the current. Does it live up to its promise? Read on to find out…
What is it?
Pitaka has made a 1k carbon fiber watch band to fit the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and 5 – all models, from the 42mm Watch 4 and including the Classic 4 and Pro 5 with a watch size of 46 and 45mm respectively.
What’s in the box?
- Pitaka Carbon Fiber Samsung Galaxy Smart Watch Band
- A link removal tool that looks a lot like a SIM card removal tool
- A couple of one-sided spring-loaded pins used to connect the band to the watch
- A couple of pins for connecting/reconnecting links
- Note: the link does not come as an extra – it is one I removed from the band to size it to my wrist
Attaching, fitting, and wearing the watch band
The first step is to connect the two sides to the watch using the spring pin pictured above. And this was the first place I ran into trouble. On most watch bands they build a tray for the pin that gives you direct access to the tab used to pull the pin into the hold in the watch casing. Pitaka has gone in a completely different direction. Here’s the watch band ready to be attached:
What you can’t see in this picture are the latches used to pull the pin into position. That is because the latch is inside the watch band. To connect the band to the watch, you not only need to hold the band and watch in the correct position, but you also need to use the pin removal tool above to push the latch back. Most of the people I know are missing the third hand needed to get this done, so just connecting the band to the watch is a frustrating and time-consuming process. For me, getting the band securely attached took just over 20 minutes.
A while back, Samsung changed the design of the watch. The prongs which come out from the body of the watch were angled downwards and the holes that the watch band uses to secure its pins to the body moved a little towards the end of the prongs. To make up for this, most watch band manufacturers put a wedge just past the pin connectors that not only helps to hold the Pitaka Carbon Fiber Samsung Galaxy Smart Watch Band and watch together, but also provides better contact with your wrist to improve the use of the heartbeat and other health sensors. Pitaka chose not to put this piece in, and the result is (to me) an unsightly gap between the band and the watch. This picture doesn’t do the gap justice.
Assuming you have managed to attach the Pitaka Carbon Fiber Samsung Galaxy Smart Watch Band to the watch, the next step is to remove any extra links from the band to get it properly sized, something that is a necessity if you routinely use the health sensors on the back side of the watch. And once again, Pitaka has done something out of the norm. Most watch bands use a pin that goes all the way through the watch band. As you can see in the picture above, Pitaka has a pin that is slightly bigger than the tab end of the link (in the image above, the part of the link pointing to the top of the picture). In order to remove the pin, you insert the removal tool and find the push button on top of the pin to free it. It’s a lot like playing whack-a-mole while wearing a blindfold, and if you do manage to find the button, you have to figure out how to maneuver the link to detach it from the rest of the band. And that’s just getting it out – reattaching the band is an order of magnitude harder. After removing 1 link, I was unable to securely attach the two band pieces and ended up with a band that randomly disconnects at the removed link.
In this picture, you can see the twist where the link is not correctly joined. Most of the time, everything stays put. But, at the oddest times, this connection severs and my watch falls off.
Finally, I have to address the magnetic tab that closes the watch band around the wrist. These are some seriously weak magnets, and often I found myself without my watch and not only because of the link issue. I could flex my arm, raise it rapidly over my head or some other action that would cause the clasp to open silently and the watch would slip off.
What I like
- The band is one of the nicest after-market bands I have ever seen
What I’d change
- Pretty much everything else
The Pitaka Carbon Fiber Samsung Galaxy Smart Watch Band itself looks great. For the price, though, I really wish they’d stick with the universal connection styles. I think I’m a reasonably handy guy, but if I were to do this again, I would take the watch and band to a jeweler and let them handle the job. No matter, though – if you put this band on (and by you, I mean you or a watch repair professional), you are likely making a commitment given how difficult it is to get this band both on and off the watch. And that just kills the whole point of being able to change bands to match the occasion.