I’m so happy to have finally found an Android Wear watch I like. The ZenWatch 2 isn’t perfect, but it’s managed to fill the void until other smartwatch makers start catching on that it’s really what a watch looks like that matters most.
Android Wear is still in its infancy, but that’s okay. It’s Google’s job to work on the software and pump it up with features that users will find helpful. And as Google is busy toiling away at that, the manufacturers are taking this time to figure out how to make a beautiful watch. In Asus’s case, it was ahead of the curve with the first-generation ZenWatch, and it’s still there with the second-generation ZenWatch 2.
Pretty, pretty, pretty good
The ZenWatch 2 comes in two sizes: a 1.63-inch version with a 400mAh battery pack, and a smaller 1.45-inch version with a 300mAh battery pack. The latter is meant for ladies, though that wasn’t made explicit when I first went hands on with the device. I asked Asus if they’d send me the smaller version to review and I’ve worn this watch almost every single day since I got it.
What do I like about the ZenWatch 2? It’s stylish. And even though its chassis is a bit thicker than your average wristwatch, it gets mistaken for the Apple Watch all the time. I also love that the default band is a pinkish neutral, so it matches most of my wardrobe. When I’d wear watches like the gold-toned LG Watch Urbane or the original black-on-black Moto 360, I felt like I was wearing something I’d borrowed from my Dad. With the ZenWatch 2, I feel like I’m wearing a watch that was actually made with me in mind.
The ZenWatch 2 comes in three colors: black, silver, and gold, with various styles of bands. There are ones with milanese loops and different colored leather bands—I’ve seen most in person, though the silver one is what I’ve got on.
There’s a crown on the right-side of the chassis that mirrors traditional watches, though all it does it turn the screen on and off (or press-and-hold to launch apps). It’s not as intrusive as the Watch Urbane’s crown, which would often dig into my wrist if the watch band was loose.
Speaking of which, I found the ZenWatch 2’s default watchband to be very comfortable, though it took a while for it to loosen up. If you do want to swap out watchbands, you can do so easily with the built-in pushpin band release. You may have to grab a watch band removal tool if you plan to latch on third-party bands, however.
Inside, it’s like any other watch
The ZenWatch 2 performs like any other Android Wear watch. It runs on a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 with 512MB of RAM and features 4GB of onboard storage for music and things. It also has a built-in microphone and is IP67-rated for water resistance. It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1, too, but no heart rate monitor, so it’s not the type of watch meant for you athletic types. I’m personally okay with that, since I only use the step counter and don’t typically wear devices when hiking or practicing yoga.
Battery life is what particularly impressed me. I’d unlatch the ZenWatch 2 from its magnetic charging cord at about 8 in the morning, and when I’d return home at about 7 in the evening the watch still had about half of its battery life. Then I’d take it off my wrist, leave it on the dresser with the rest of my jewelry, and it’d still be kicking strong well into the next morning. I brought the charging cord with me to work the next morning and the ZenWatch 2 still had about 17 percent juice left by the time I clocked in at around 9:30 AM.
Since the cord is just a cord—not one of those annoying docks that bulks up your bag—it’s easy to stow. The ZenWatch 2 also supports fast charging and you can easily charge it up fully in just an hour and a half.
A word about bloatware
Back in Berlin, I complained that the ZenWatch 2 came bundled with a bunch of bloatware, like Asus’s own messaging and fitness applications. I’m happy to report that none of those apps were on the watch when I received my review unit. Instead, you can choose to download them individually from the Google Play Store.
I actually installed the ZenWatch Wellness app just to check it out. It’s not too bad. It buzzes every hour to remind you to get your butt up off your chair and around the office for a walk. (My Macworld coworkers and I found ourselves taking frequent walks together to keep our respective wearable devices from bugging us about being active.) It doesn’t intrude with any other fitness apps you might have installed and, at the very least, it reminds you to get up once in a while—which basic Android Wear and Google Fit don’t do just yet.
A better Wear watch than the rest
It’s nice to see so much variety in the Android Wear space these days—and that women are finally getting watches catered to their smaller wrists. It’s been frustrating being a diehard Android user through this wearable evolution because I’ve had trouble finding something that not only worked well, but looked good enough to wear with everything.
The ZenWatch 2 is not the best Android Wear watch on the market, but it’s definitely in second place—after the second-generation Moto 360. There are some visual refinements Asus needs to work on before it’s truly a stunner. It needs to cut away at that bezel and either make the watch a little smaller or increase the size of the display. Also, there needs to be an easier way to figure out how many styles and options Asus offers—otherwise, it’ll get eclipsed by the Moto 360 and its variety of customization options.
If you’re into the idea of a rectangular watch, you should consider the ZenWatch 2 in either size. It’s a seriously stylish Android Wear device that lasts throughout the entire workday. It also starts at $150, so it’s one of the more affordable Wear watches for those of you who aren’t completely sold on the idea of wearables just yet.
This story, "Asus ZenWatch 2 review: It convinced me to wear a smartwatch every day" was originally published by Greenbot.
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