It’s been awhile since I reviewed a smartwatch as Huawei, Motorola, and a few others didn’t bring anything to the market for 2016. For 2017, many of these companies are at it again and for me, I’m hoping they bring some excitement back to the smartwatch category. Today, we’re looking at the Asus Zenwatch 3, I personally paid for this at the retail price of $229. A bit cheaper than the flagships today, like the Apple Watch Series 2 and Samsung Gear S3, and comparing to Amazon prices, the ZenWatch is cheaper than the Huawei and Moto 360 2nd gen as of this review. As always, I’ll place my links above, click on my links, and they’ll give you the most updated prices in real-time.
Going over the physical features starting with it’s construction and build, it does look quite exquisite. The version I have here is gunmetal yet two other versions, rose gold and silver are available. In my experience, it’s been a very comfortable watch and surprisingly, the buttons on the side don’t dig into your skin and I haven’t had it get caught on anything. The ZenWatch thankfully has zero scratches whatsoever during the time of me testing, more importantly, no scratches on the metal buckle after numerous days of having my arms rest and slide on the table at the office, being out at lunch, simply normal everyday use. Keep in mind, most watches uses the same stainless steel that Asus is using here, that’s 316 L, and if you’ve owned a watch before, you know stainless steel usually will have some signs of wear over time.
The factory leather strap provided is genuine leather, but doesn’t feel quite as premium, supple, or provided any texture when you rub it in between your fingers. It is better quality than the Moto 360 2nd gen, but doesn’t feel as good as options provided by Samsung, Apple and again Huawei. After the video finishes, in the comments section below, let me know what you think of the looks and if this is something you might get yourself. I’m curious to know. But when you’re not comparing the leather strap to the competition, it still functions perfectly fine, looks good on the wrist, and has the much praised tool less removal option for swapping out bands in the future.
The watch itself is IP67 certified meaning it can be submerged for up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes at a time, of course I don’t recommend wearing this for swimming, but during my test of dropping this in water, the SmartWatch has no issues whatsoever. Compared to the competition, this is comparable with the other smartwatches on the market. (Moto 360, Apple Watch, Samsung, Huawei)
Moving to the buttons, some might like this look while others may not. The crown doesn’t rotate or pull out for any various functions, but in general, all the buttons are tactile and doesn’t feel loose and cheap despite the buttons sticking out quite a bit. What I’m saying, you don’t feel a little wiggle when you press the buttons down. From the factory, the top bottom opens up Zen Fit, which is the Asus fitness app which I’ll show later. The bottom activates Eco mode, perfect for extending battery life as it turns off all notifications and you intend on using this literally as just a watch. The middle button works as the back button, holding it down brings up all of your apps to scroll through.
HEARTRATE TRACKING & BATTERY LIFE
Taking a look at the rear, there’s surprisingly no optical heart-rate tracking considering heart rate tracking has been a big selling point of most wearables these days. However, you’ll see the contact points for the supplied wall charger. I didn’t see the claimed battery life on Asus’s website, nor did I find it in their user manual, but on GSM Arena, they suggested upto 2-days worth of use. For the time I’ve had the ZenWatch, taking the watch off the charger around 7 in the morning, by 10:30 at night, About 15.5 to 16hrs of use basically, I still have 35% battery life on average remaining… By the next morning, it’s definitely in need of a recharge. In conclusion, at least from my experience, I’m only getting a day’s worth of life. With that being said, the Zenwatch 3 does have quick charging, 15-minutes on the charger, I have confirmed gives you 60% battery life back immediately. That does help tremendously.
So, right before I go into my experience with the operating software and features, the only two areas that I noticed Asus doesn’t have is again, the heartrate tracker, but as important, GPS is also missing. Granted, the Moto360 and Huawei doesn’t have GPS either and as stated earlier in this video, the price that the ZenWatch starts a bit lower, it somewhat justifies the matter. You can be the judge. The other matter was the vibrations for alerts is quite tame. I hear the thing buzzing but there’s been several times where I don’t notice it vibrating my arm at all. A more powerful motor would have helped, at maybe the cost of more battery life.
But let’s take a look at how this functions and what features this has that might or might not… seal the deal. The screen is possibly one of the best on the market being super bright outdoors, even in direct sunlight, my camera here isn’t doing the most justice. The screen has one of the highest pixel densities on a smartwatch currently at 287 pixels per inch, and it’s noticeable. I don’t see jagged lines or pixelated text.
Regarding how fluid the watch is, I do admit, during the first three days or so, there has been times I’ve noticed the watch would stutter, essentially not smooth changes in menu scrolling and display changes, but after the third day and even after a week of use, I haven’t noticed any issues, and it’s been fluid enough for an Android Wear device. Comparing to Tizen, which is Samsung’s operating system or Apple’s Smartwatch, those two other in-house experiences are smoother and at least feels faster.
There is an abundant amount of watch faces available. After I downloaded the Asus ZenWatch App, I found there were 62 different watch faces available on the smartwatch itself for use. I’ll continue to show more watch faces in the video for your convenience.
For those who are unfamiliar with smartwatches, I still believe if you’ve never owned a smartwatch before, once you give it a try, there is some gratification when you don’t need to pull out your phone, and you can see right on your wrist who’s calling, you see text messages come in, see push-notifications from apps, in my case, a notification of when my home alarm is disabled, or if there’s any movement, my Smart Security Camera also alerts me right on the wrist. In addition, have a reminder pop-up from a calendar event, use it as an alarm next to your bedside, control volume and skip songs off of your wrist, etc. and those are just some of the basics that every smartwatch offers.
The more unique features in today’s smartwatches, with the ZenWatch you can take phone calls with this. Oddly, Asus didn’t seem to promote this at all, but if you go into the App, make sure you turn the Remote Call Control to on, and via Bluetooth, you can use your watch as a speakerphone. Like most other smartwatches that does offer this feature, the speaker is great in quiet environments, but for busier areas, the tiny speaker is still somewhat hard to hear. The microphone picks up my voice as well as the other smartwatches on the market. * DEMO? * It’s perfect when I’m working and have my hands tied up and my phone is in my pocket, to times my phone is simply in the room next to me. I can literally pick up right then and there. Again, this is completely subjective. The other feature is the SOS function. In an event of an emergency, you can activate this, and your preferred contact will receive a text message immediately indicating you’re in need of help, and a second text message provides a link to Google Maps showing where you are with latitude and longitude coordinates as a backup. I’ve seen this on the Apple SmartWatch and Samsung Gear S3 so far. It’s perfect for piece of mind when you have no idea where you are. Keep in mind, you still need your phone near you for this to work.
Moving onto fitness. This works with several third party apps, like Strava, Runkeeper, MapMyRun, of course Google Fit, but Asus does provide one themselves which monitors all day tracking. Keep in mind, the watch doesn’t have GPS nor HeartRate tracking, so it’s not too serious for fitness enthusiasts. With some watch faces, you can see your steps count for that day and from the watch, you can Open Zen Fit and start a walk, run, have the watch count and keep a log of your pushups or situps. The app does great at keeping track and displaying your data in a very easy to read manner, but it is not a jack of all trades multi-featured app. As stated, it’s great for general all day tracking and record keeping for exercises you perform, and if that’s all you need, it works fine. Another feature, again, not sure why Asus doesn’t promote this, via the Play Music App on the watch, choose sync music, and songs on your phone will copy itself onto the Zenwatch. Wear some bluetooth earphones for your run or at the gym and you can leave your phone behind in the car or in the locker. There’s 4 gigs of internal memory storage.
So at the end of the day, Asus provides a good set of features, and features that I wished Asus did a better job promoting. In the first several days of use, it felt really generic, but as I dug more into using it and seeing what features this has, which I tried to highlight in this video, it’s quite robust with an emphasis on it’s retail price. The physical issues, such as my desire for a more supple and more luxury feeling leather band can be swapped out, and again, the price does somewhat justify the lack of GPS and Heartrate tracking… it’s simply a watch not intended for fitness enthusiasts, not everyone’s a runner so why pay for it when you don’t need it. On the software issues, I do acknowledge, I wished the frame rate was a bit better, but again, this is really inherent on android wear, the operating system. With Android Wear 2.0 right around the corner, the update will hopefully fix that, and also, we’re getting a revamped look that will make reading the screen easier and soon, typing and writing on the smartwatch screen a possibility, just like Tizen for Samsung and again, the Apple Watch. Keep in mind, the quality of the display, specifically the resolution is one of its best highlights too and something to keep in mind if you’re intending on purchasing any other smartwatch on the market. Guys, if you can, leave a comment down below, let me know what you think. As always, be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already, be sure to Follow me on Facebook, twitter and/or Instagram. You guys take care, I’ll see you on the next one.