Garmin Bounce Review: Connected Smartwatch for Kids
The Garmin Bounce smartwatch offers LTE connectivity, allowing for phone-free texts, voice messages, and safety and tracking features. The watch debuted one year ago and offers a connected smartwatch solution for parents to communicate with their kids.
The Bounce doesn’t require a change in your cellphone plan provider, as the paid subscription is managed directly by Garmin with its unnamed cellular parter. This feature enables parents to delay the purchase of a first smartphone for their children while still maintaining communication and tracking capabilities.
When we first tested the Garmin Bounce at launch, software issues resulted in notifications not working on the iPhone in iOS 16, but since then all issues have been resolved. Nearly one year later, the Bounce remains as popular as ever over here and is a great way for parents to communicate and keep track of their kids. The watch has held up to school, sports activities, swimming and more, without skipping a beat.
Real-Time Location and Messaging
The Garmin Jr. app provides real-time location tracking of their child wearing the smartwatch. Parents can set up geofenced areas and receive notifications when the child enters or leaves these zones. The app also supports two-way text and voice messaging, allowing parents and children to communicate directly through the device.
Does little Timmy O’Toole take the bus to school or walk by himself? The Bounce allows parents to keep track throughout the day. Kids can send voice messages back (along with emojis and pre-populated messages) and can only communicate with approved contacts that have the Garmin Jr. app. If you’re late picking up your kid, you can let them know by sending a message. You have to use the Garmin Jr. app to communicate with the watch.
Garmin’s LTE plan costs $14.99 per month, or $149.99 per year ($12.50/month) in Canada. A smartwatch plan with most carriers cost $10 per month. But the issue is whether you want little Billy to have a full-fledged Apple Watch LTE while in elementary school, with full texting and calling capabilities.
The cellular connection can be spotty in basements or areas with thick concrete walls. Sometimes the location is a bit buggy showing movement history to a nearby location when it didn’t really happen.
Battery Life and Durability
The smartwatch boasts up to two days of battery life, although this can vary depending on the usage of connected features and LTE network conditions. In our experience the watch lasts fine on a full charge for one day, but will need a nightly charge or it won’t make it through a second day.
The Bounce is also swim-friendly and features a color display, making it suitable for various activities including swimming and playground use. The software and UI and display looks pretty ancient and clunky compared to watchOS and an Apple Watch of course, but to kids, they don’t really care too much if this is their first smartwatch.
As for the watch itself, the design is chunkier than an Apple Watch. But kids will enjoy this watch regardless as one of their first ‘tech’ devices they can take on the go.
An Assistance feature is included for emergency situations. When activated, it sends a message with a LiveTrack link to the child’s live location to family contacts. Parents can manage up to 20 contacts through the Garmin Jr. app, assigning permissions for communication, location tracking, and device management.
Also, the Garmin Jr. app will send you notifications when the Bounce smartwatch is powered on or off, plus also let you know when it has been plugged in to charge and when recharge levels reach 100%. You also get low battery level alerts as well. It does give some extra piece of mind if you’re ever wondering if your kid’s smartwatch has been turned off.
Activity Tracking and Games
The Garmin Bounce comes preloaded with sports apps that use built-in GPS for activity tracking, including running, walking, and biking. It also includes fun games and educational adventures that are unlocked through physical activity. These features aim to encourage children to stay active while learning.
The Garmin Jr. app allows parents to monitor their child’s activities, set chores, and assign rewards. It also includes a Kid Mode, giving children limited access to monitor their own chores and view their latest missions. Parents can set up friendly reminders for chores and schedule alerts directly to the smartwatch.
For those with a budget that allows for it, the Garmin Bounce offers a comprehensive set of features aimed at both child safety and activity tracking. With its LTE connectivity and robust Garmin Jr. app, it serves as a reliable communication and monitoring tool for parents. The cellular subscription works great in Canada and the USA in our tests, and is another reason to get one if you’re travelling down south.
One gripe is the proprietary charging cable for the Garmin Bounce. Instead of micro USB or USB-C, the Bounce uses Garmin’s own connector. The charging cable (USB-A) is also quite short as well. So don’t lose the cable or you’ll have to buy a replacement.
The Garmin Bounce is available exclusively through the company’s website for purchase at $199.99 CAD. It’s a great way for parents to communicate with their kids before they make the jump into their own iPhone or other smartphones in their middle and teenage years, and become addicted to their devices.