Asus zenwatch 2 review & rating _ pcmag. com
Relatively inexpensive. Lightweight. Decent battery life.
Reflective display. Too much bezel. Bulky. Stiff leather band. Android Wear remains clumsy to navigate.
The Asus ZenWatch 2 smartwatch is more refined than its predecessor, but Android Wear continues to lag behind the competition.
By Timothy Torres
The Asus ZenWatch 2, which starts at $129, is relatively inexpensive
in the realm of Android Wear-based smartwatches. It’s a slightly more refined take on its predecessor, and could be a decent choice if you’re looking to get into the world of wearables, though some caveats apply. You must be comfortable with a small, reflective display, a much-too-large bezel, and most of all, with Android Wear’s cumbersome user interface.
Design and Availability
The Zenwatch 2 comes in two sizes. The face on the smaller 1.45-inch version measures 1.78 by 1.46 by 0.41 inches (HWD), weighs 2.12 ounces, and features 280-by-280-pixel resolution. The larger 1.63-inch version comes in at 1.96 by 1.46 by 0.37 inches (HWD), weighs 2.5 ounces, and has 320-by-320-pixel resolution.
Similar to the Motorola Moto 360 , you can choose the color of your case (which is essentially the frame for the watch face) and the type of band you want. Cases come in dark gray, rose gold, or silver, while strap options include a stainless steel link bracelet, or a leather band in blue, brown, gray, orange, or taupe. Prices vary depending on your case and strap combination. A silver case with a brown leather band will cost you $129, for instance, while a rose gold case with a taupe leather band costs $169. A dark gray case with a link bracelet costs $199. I reviewed the 1.63-inch version of the watch with a silver case and a blue leather band, which costs $129.
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The ZenWatch 2 has a similar look to the Apple Watch , with its rounded corners and metal crown. But even the larger 42mm model of the Apple Watch is less bulky, at 1.65 by 1.41 by 0.41 inches (HW) and 1.76 ounces. In terms of size, the ZenWatch 2 more closely resembles its fellow Android Wear watches, which tend to be larger. And the stiff leather band makes the case jut out, so it rarely sat right on my arm. While that’s a nuisance, you can swap out bands thanks to a quick-release mechanism.
The watch has a physical crown button at the three o’clock position. You can press it quickly to activate the watch face or hold it down to power the watch on or off. You can also hold it for a second to access Android Wear’s Settings card. You can’t turn it to make selections or set the time like you can on the Apple Watch or the Timex Metropolitan+ .
Rated IP67, the ZenWatch 2 can survive a dunk in water up to three feet for 30 minutes. You can’t take it for a swim, though, and if you get the leather band you should probably keep it out of water completely.
Display and Setup
The main reason the ZenWatch 2 is so large is due to the big, black bezel arround the display. As you can see in the pictures here, it just looks awkward.
The ZenWatch 2’s screen is bright and sharp, though it’s hampered somewhat by a very reflective surface. It was difficult to see in direct sunlight, even with the brightness set to max.
The watch can be paired with Bluetooth 4.1 devices running Android 4.3 or later, and, thanks to Android Wear’s latest updates, with Apple devices running iOS 8.2 or later. To pair it, you need to download the free Android Wear app on your mobile device, then follow the simple on-screen instructions. I paired the ZenWatch 2 with a Samsung Galaxy S6 in about five minutes.
Features and Performance
Like the Huawei Watch and the LG Watch Urbane , the Asus ZenWatch 2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, and has 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It only packs a couple of sensors in its body, including an accelerometer and a gyrometer. You won’t find a heart rate monitor or GPS here, like you will in some other Android Wear options. If you want truly worthwhile fitness tracking, though, you should go with a dedicated fitness tracker like the Fitbit Charge HR .
You get all the standard Android Wear features with the Asus ZenWatch 2, like notifications for text messages and social media, and the ability to dictate replies via voice. Since the latest software update, you can now read entire emails and and text messages rather than just snippets. You can flick your wrist to scroll through notifications or weather reports, too, although doing so isn’t very elegant.
Other than that, navigating Android Wear is the same as it has been. You slide through cards over and over via a vertical UI, which quickly grows tiresome. Personally, I prefer the interfaces on the Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear S2 . On those, you can view and select several apps at once, whereas Android Wear keeps you on a straight line most of the time.
Besides the Android Wear app, you can also use the free ZenWatch Manager app, where you can select over 50 customizable watch faces. It’s easy to use and navigate despite a somewhat busy layout, plus you can add extra information widgets to your watch face like a calendar, a calorie counter, and a weather notifier. You can also track some basic fitness stats and find your phone through the app.
Battery life is slightly better than average. During testing, the watch lasted about two days on a single charge, which isn’t bad as far as color watches go. To extend the battery life slightly, you can dim the screen by setting the watch to ambient mode.
If you like the look of the Apple Watch, but don’t want to plunk down at least $300 to get it, the Asus ZenWatch 2 is a decent alternative. The similarities, however, are only skin deep. Functionality-wise, the Asus ZenWatch 2 is about as good as other Android Wear-based alternatives, like the Motorola Moto 360 or the Huawei Watch, both of which feature more classic round designs. But I’m not a huge fan of Android Wear, due to its cumbersome user interface. Your overall best choice for smartwatches remains the Pebble family, including the Pebble Time , for its balance of apps, battery life, and price.
By Timothy Torres
Timothy Torres is a Junior Analyst on PCMag’s consumer electronics team. He covers wearables, digital home, and various cool gadgets including the occasional video game. He has written all manner of copy for Computer Shopper, The Jersey Journal, Radio One, Random House, and 2D-X. Before entering the tech world, he attended New York University and worked in education as an art instructor. In his spare time he dabbles in theater, sketches comics, eats a lot of sushi and watches too many movies.
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