Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30 first look review: Outdoor smartwatch slims down

IFA 2018: Casio's back – and this time it's serious

Casio is back for a third crack at its outdoor smartwatch with the Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30. It’s safe to say the previous generations haven’t hit home, and we’ve been critical of the unmanageable size, bugginess of apps and general experience. But with the WSD-F30, Casio might have finally got the formula right.

The Pro Trek WSD-F30 has been slimmed down just a tad, while managing to keep the same military grade toughness (MIL-STD-810G) of its predecessors. The company has managed to up battery life, too – and is finally getting some help from Google, with its rapidly-improving (and newly renamed) Wear OS.

Essential reading: Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20 review

We got some hands on time at IFA 2018 to find out what the Pro Trek WSD-F30 Wear OS smartwatch is all about.

Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30: Features and build

First look: Casio ProTrek WSD-F30 review

Take a quick look at the Pro Trek WSD-F30’s images and you’d be forgiven for thinking little had changed. At first glance it appears the design language hasn’t altered one iota. But on handling and wearing Casio’s new offering, it’s clear the marginal improvements have tamed this smartwatch goliath.

Casio says that its trimmed just 0.4mm and 0.39 mm off the thickness and diameter of the new Pro Trek – but the crazy thing is that it seems to have made a real difference. Now, it’s still far from svelte – but it puts the WSD-F30 into the same general area as a Suunto 9 or Garmin Fenix 5X Plus outdoor sports watch. And while it’s still a beefy old watch, it’s a heck of a lot more wearable than the F10 or F20.

The 1.2-inch OLED screen tech has been upped to 390 x 390, and you still get the dual-layer display with the monochrome LCD, which puts the watch into a power saving mode (shown below). This means the overall screen quality isn’t amazing, and certainly in line with the older F20, from our quick side-by-side comparisons.

First look: Casio ProTrek WSD-F30 review

ProTrek F20 (left) and new F30 (right)

The new Extend Mode is accessed via the Wear OS menu, and from here you can set up your own power mix – a recipe of what you’re willing to sacrifice to eke out extra battery. This means that while Extend can power your watch for up to three days, you don’t have to suffer such an extreme impact on the experience, and you can just tone things down a bit.

General battery life in normal use is still 1.5 days, which isn’t that inspiring. Given the size of the watch, and the use of the monochrome display, it’s still surprising that it offers such a short general battery life. However, it will last a month when you opt to use Multi-timepiece mode, which uses only the monochrome display, but which can now display sensor data.

In terms of sensors, it’s still a decent line-up, with on-board barometer and altimeter. There’s no heart rate sensor, however – which may put off ultra-runners.

The Pro Trek WSD-F30 is available in orange, blue and plain black.

Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30: New features

First look: Casio ProTrek WSD-F30 review

Most of the new innovation here is around power consumption – and making it last longer in the outdoors has certainly been a focus. The Pro Trek can still offer offline maps, as long as you download the area you’re visiting before you go. That’s been added to the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus now, without the need to download, which does make the offering a little less special. But Casio is rolling out app partners, which is where Wear OS can really out-muscle Garmin.

A lot of what Casio is promising is around the apps – and at IFA it had plenty of partners on stage to explain the virtues of Casio’s new Pro Trek. The truth is though that these apps are available for any Wear OS device – and don’t offer exclusive features.

It’s easy to forget that it’s only Nixon and Casio that have married this level of water resistance and GPS from the Wear OS gang. And that enables it to leverage apps for sports like fishing, surfing and swimming which other smartwatches can technically run, but can’t follow through thanks to a lack of waterproofing.

First look: Casio ProTrek WSD-F30 review

In our past testing of Casio Pro Trek watches, the experience of using these apps has left a lot to be desired – and we’ll only be able to properly gauge this during review. However, demos of the surf app Glassy show a far better experience than you get on, say, a Garmin Fenix 5, and this is where the Pro Trek represents a unique opportunity for outdoor types.

And it’s Wear OS that’s driving this experience. With new restrictions and improvements around apps, and the new handling of notifications, it feels like a new OS – and that’s what smartwatches such as the Casio really need.

Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30: Early verdict

It’s amazing what a millimeter can offer in smartwatches, and the new Pro Trek is a more attractive prospect now that it has slimmed down. The feature set is still strong and the new battery life helps this compete with Garmin – but it’s the tantalizing prospect of better Wear OS apps that could mean it’s third time lucky for Casio and its Google-running smartwatch.

What do you think?

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  • Skyhawk·

    Unfortunately, since Casio doesn't honor it's warranties and they have knowingly sold defective products, you're taking a $650+ gamble if you buy one.

  • yogibimbi·

    There is one thing you are completely ignoring, or am I hallucinating / succumbing to my wishful thinking: NO FLAT TYRE???