February 16, 2017
Share

The Asus ZenWatch 3 Review: A Marriage of Style and Futurism

The Asus ZenWatch 3 has shown us how smartwatches have come far since the original LG G Watch and the first Moto 360. Of course, there’s still so much the technology could improve upon with the release of the Android Wear 2.0 update in the horizon. But is the Asus ZenWatch 3 worth getting?

Now, you maybe thinking, with the Android Wear 2.0 coming this year and the subsequent release of wearable devices with it, why get this one when you can wait? You don’t have to worry, the ZenWatch will get a software update soon if you want to get the watch anyway.

Inside Image_ZenWatch3_2

Design

With the new ZenWatch, Asus ditches their rectangular design and goes for the simple elegance of a round display. It measures 45 mm (1.39 in) in diameter and 9.95 mm thick. It’s not small, but it’s thin enough to have a streamlined, un-bulky feel. It’s also is available in three colors: Rose Gold, Silver, and Gunmetal.

It has a vibrant 400×400-pixel circular AMOLED display and three chronograph buttons on its right side. If you’ve seen the Moto 360 before, you’ll remember its round display with the irritating missing chunk of display (the black thing at the bottom. With the ZenWatch 3, it’s a full screen all-‘round. It has an ambient light sensor for automatic brightness so you won’t have to constantly adjust the brightness manually every time, although sometimes the how it adjusts can be a hit or miss.

By default, the top button is set to the Asus Zenfit and the bottom button is used to torn on/off its Eco Mode (which is really Airplane mode) but as always, you can assign different functions on these buttons. Unfortunately, the rotating middle button /dial doesn’t function as a scroll key like the one on the Apple watch, but it serves as the back button.

Its elegant stainless steel body gives it a classy look, and improved upon by its leather wrist straps. Their attachment mechanism is a breeze to use with a quick release pin, but it’s unique enough that it doesn’t allow any other third party replacement bands. Why replace them with lower quality bands anyway when the ones it came with are already comfortable and stylish. We warn you, though, to try out the device on your wrists if you’re thinking of buying them so they can adjust for your wrist-size.

Features

The Asus ZenWatch 3 comes with Android Wear (and one day, Android Wear 2.0) but no NFC so when it updates to Wear 2.0, it won’t support Android Pay. Two of the notable features missing from this wearable device is a heart rate monitor and GPS so if you’re looking for a fitness device, the ZenWatch 3 isn’t for you. With no GPS, the ZenWatch 3 measure distance via movement sensors so it isn’t very reliable when it comes to tracking your route. It’s more of a classy smartwatch for less-physical activities.

Though it’s severely lacking in the fitness department, the ZenFit app running in the background tracks your movement while it’s on. It even has Google Fit integration. It’s accurate as far as step counting is concerned and you can use it for runs, walks, sit-ups, and push-ups. You can swap the leather band for a sports band so be sure you change them before you exercise.

The ZenWatch 3 has some useful apps like Asus Weather, Remote Link, and a flashlight app that you can all install through the Manager app.

The device currently has 55 watch faces available for download through the ZenWatch Manager app—which you also have to download from the Play Store. You can even customize clock face options like hand motion, screen dim timeout, and even create your own clock face through the FaceDesigner app.

Essentials

The ZenWatch 3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip which, while not exactly making it the slowest wearable device, slows down a bit when the device gets a lot of notifications. Then again, this is a problem with Android Wear and should be improved once Wear 2.0 comes along.

It has a 4GB of internal storage which you can load up with music and pair with Bluetooth headphones. It also has IP67 certification, meaning it’s dustproof and waterproof but only up to a certain point: one meter under water for 30 minutes. So don’t get it too wet.

Though it’s missing GPS and NFC, it has Bluetooth 4.1 that lets you connect the device to your phone and Bluetooth headphones/earphones. It also has a microphone and a speaker so you can take calls from the watch itself.

It has an intuitive interface and very easy to use. The clock face is its home screen and you simply have to swipe up to access the different cards, like text message notifications and other updates.

Inside Image_ZenWatch3

Performance

It’s actually a right fit on a wearable device and is kinder on the battery, with 512 MB of RAM (an Android Wear smartwatch standard). With just the right amount of apps turned on, swiping between cards is a smooth experience with no lag while navigating the interface.

Its 340mAh battery is competitive by smartwatch standards. You can use it for two days with minimal use and around a day with intensive use. Plus, it’s easy to charge. You can have it at 60% charge with 15 minutes’ worth of fast charging and a full charge in 30-45 minutes. Keep in mind though that its charging cable is only about a meter long so leave it alone while it charges.

The ZenWatch 3 is compatible with Android 4.3 and higher, and iOS 8.2 and higher, with some differences per platform. Its price range from between $225 and $229, making it a well-rounded smartwatch in terms of features, performance, and price compared to other brands.

Verdict

Though it’s sorely lacking in key features that are vital in smartwatch technology, it’s a solid smartwatch that’s stylish, classy, and convenient for a techy professional living in the city. It performs well and has decent battery life while being easy on the eyes. (We can’t stress that enough.) It’s a beautiful piece of technology that brings us closer to the future.

Essentials
3.8 out of 5
Design
4.5 out of 5
Special Features
3.5 out of 5
Performance
4 out of 5
Overall

The Asus ZenWatch 3 is a decent piece of tech that’s both stylish and convenient. What it lacks in some features that we feel are important in a wearable device, it performs well enough and is chock full of other features to compensate for its shortcomings

3.95

Good
3.95 out of 5