Asus ZenWatch 3 hands-on review: Asus switched gears at IFA 2016, when it unveiled its stylish new smartwatch, the ZenWatch 3.
Asus ZenWatch 3: Specs at a glance
|OS||Android Wear 2.0|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100|
|Extras||NFC, HyperCharge, External battery pack, activity tracking|
Asus ZenWatch 3: Hands-on review
Asus has already firmly made its mark as one of the larger players in the Android Wearable space, striking a balance of design and affordability with its first two ZenWatches and offering almost an Apple Watch-level of customisation and personalisation with the size, body and strap combinations it included alongside 2015’s model.
Now the company is back and the third-generation Android Wear smartwatch takes on a distinctly different design, captured most prominently by its new, round display. Unlike the previous two generations, Asus has opted for a 1.39-inch fully circular screen this time around (no Moto 360-style ‘flat tyre’ here). The 400×400 resolution AMOLED panel actually gives it a higher pixel density and as such, a sharper display than the current front-runner in the Android Wear crowd, the Huawei Watch, and in the flesh it is beautifully crisp and colourful.
The casing design comes in three colours: silver, rose gold and gunmetal grey, although all three feature a rose gold surround on the bezel, which divides opinion with regards to whether or not it enhances or detracts from watch’s overall aesthetic.
At launch, Asus has paired the ZenWatch 3 with rubber and stitched leather bands that appear to utilise a proprietary design, based on the way they attach to the brushed metal ‘shoulders’ of the watch’s 316L stainless steel body. There are also talks of bringing out metal band options too, but it’s unclear whether they’d adopt a conventional link or mesh design. On the software side, the ZenWatch Manager app will also let you completely customise your watch face, that is, assuming the five pre-loaded options don’t do it for you.
Whilst there’s no inbuilt GPS or heart rate sensor, Asus says the ZenWatch 3’s fitness tracking abilities have been markedly improved (by up to 95 per cent greater accuracy) over its predecessors and the ZenFit app can now track new exercises including push-ups and other callisthenics.
Another key customisation is the ZenWatch 3’s three-button design. In place of the singular crown button that most Android Wearables offer, Asus has added two additional keys above and below, which are programmable, letting you quick-launch watch apps with a single button press, instead of having to swipe through menus to access the same function. It’s a simple but important addition that’ll help the ZenWatch 3 standout in the increasingly crowded smartwatch market.
Powering all of this is Qualcomm’s new wearable-centric Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, backed up by 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage and a 341mAh battery, which the company quotes at offering up to two days of use on a single charge, which sounds wholly respectable if it lives up to such claims. Despite the promise of decent longevity from the ZenWatch 3’s internal cell, however, Asus also includes an additional battery back that magnetically attaches to the back of the watch’s body and offers an extra 40 per cent charge in one hour, pushing for an extra day’s use without visiting a plug point.
If that wasn’t enough, the ZenWatch 3 is also one of the first wearables that we’ve encountered to offer some form of fast-charging, or as Asus calls it “HyperCharge” which equates to 60 per cent of a full charge after just 15 minutes giving you enough battery for another day’s use in a pinch.
With European pricing of €229 and UK pricing expected to be around about the same, the ZenWatch 3 looks as though it offers a lot of bang for your buck versus stiff competition from the likes of Apple, Samsung and Fossil. We’ll know more when it officially launches sometime in October. Stay tuned for a full review.
Watch our full hands-on review of the Asus ZenWatch 3 here: