Vodafone V-Kids Watch (Ireland) Review

I have 8 year old twins. They get lost…

By lost I mean they are nearby, but they are hiding from us – like silent Ninjas. They are up a tree, sitting in a car reading a book, pondering unicorns under a bed somewhere, in the shed building a rocket. By lost I also mean walking out of school so slowly that even Sloths look at them and say to themselves “Wow, those kids are SLOOOOOW – I wonder if their parents know where they are while they amble out of school”

I need to send my kids a message, but I have absolutely no interest in a phone for a set of 8 year old. Step up a kids smartwatch.

We have looked for months at various different devices available on the market. The SpaceTalk watch is excellent, but lacks any real water protection. The Xplora 3S is a 2G network only device so will need a more expensive plan in Ireland, and will have not-great GPS tracking ability. We therefore settled on the Vodafone Ireland V-Kids Watch, which is a TCLMove watch with Vodafone Branding. (Note I see on their site a 4G new version coming soon).

All in all these watches are impressive and “fit the requirement” for a 8 – 10 year old kid. The TCL Move app allows the parent to send emoji messages, see the childs location, set safe zones, set school hours, limit contacts. The parent and the child can send 30 second recordings to one another over the 3G network. The child has an SOS button they can press and hold so send an emergency message to all the adults in the family. Its all quite impressive.

But there is always an issue, and for me that issue is this….

I am a techie and I like to think I know my stuff. But this setup almost killed me. Lets put it this way….. I now know the main tech in the “V” data team by name now 🙂 Here is the reason why….

The Vodafone shop staff have not been well enough trained on the product and its setup. Its actually quite simple when you figure it out, but I was unlucky at a few steps. Some hints for you all below:

  1. The V-Sim app system is completely separate registration to the TCLMove app registration. i.e you have one app for the SIM card management and one app for the Watch registration.
  2. If you have a “business” account with Vodafone, like I do, the master phone which you setup the sim card plan on will not work. But worse, it will completely crap out and you will have to go get another V-sim from Vodafone.
  3. If you have a business account, you will need a Ready to Go sim from Vodafone shop that you will top up to pay for the €2.99 subscription on. However! don’t let the shop make the same mistake as they did for me (training on the product) and setup that Pay as you go as a call and data plan. You only need a Pay as you go Call sim which means that the credit you put on it is ONLY for the 2.99 a month.
  4. You can still, with a business mobile, have the Pay as you go number registered on your business phone. But you will need a security code that is sent to the sim card for the PAYG account once
  5. If you are super unlucky like me, you could end up with a watch that for some reason shows as already registered to another account. (This happened unbelievably) and if that is the case Vodafone can take 5 days to undo that mess, so we went back and got another watch that was not unpacked before.

Its worth noting that this week they reduced the price from 130 to 100 Euro, I can only assume because a new model is on the way. Ciara O’Brien wrote a review for the Irish Times a while back and gave this a 4 out of 5. I would agree, but those lads in Vodafone need to seriously improve the onboarding experience for the parents 🙂

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