Asus' ZenWatch 3 looks way better than the first two

Today at IFA, Asus has announced the ZenWatch 3, a new Android Wear smartwatch. It jettisons everything that was underwhelming about the ZenWatch 2: it’s round now, seems ergonomically much nicer, and above all should have much better performance. That’s because it’s running the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 processor, which was announced earlier this year and basically seems custom-designed for devices precisely like the ZenWatch 3. Asus claims that it also allows it to charge up 60 percent in 15 minutes and lasts as many as two days on a single charge.

The ZenWatch 3 looks quite a lot like the most powerful of the last generation of Android Wear watches, the Huawei Watch. That includes a full 360-degree screen that’s about 400 x 400 pixels on a 1.39-inch AMOLED screen, which translates to a PPI that honestly should be the minimum on a smartwatch. There are extra buttons compared to the Huawei, though: the main crown button does what it normally does on Android Wear, while one is customizable and the other launches the Asus ZenFit activity tracking app.

Asus is putting the focus on that tracking, claiming that it has an "industry-leading 95 percent accuracy" for counting steps. Whether using a bespoke Asus app for your fitness tracking is a good idea or not is left as an exercise for the reader, but if nothing else improved step count accuracy should be counted as a win — we’ve seen wildly different step counts from different wearables over the years.

As for the watch hardware, as always, it’s better to leave the aesthetic judgments to you. I personally like it and don’t terribly mind the wings that shoot out for the bands to attach to — and you can use either rubber or leather straps. The Gorilla Glass face is curved, and the metal comes in either gunmetal, silver, or rose gold. The best part is that Asus managed to keep the ZenWatch 3 relatively slim, at 9.95mm thick. That’s a little bit thinner than the Apple Watch and should feel much thinner than the Huawei Watch.

It’s almost a guarantee we’re going to see a wave of new Android Wear watches in the coming months — a new version of the OS and the availability of Qualcomm’s new chipset will do that. So while the ZenWatch 3 looks much better than what came before from Asus, I’d hold off to see what the landscape looks like before spending any money. But if you can't wait, Asus says it will be available in the US and Germany in October, priced at €229 (about $255) for the latter.

Comments

Remove the "wings" and it’s pretty much perfect from a visual standpoint.

I agree with you, but it kind of gives the ZenWatch a visual distinction from the hordes of round smartwatches that already exist and that are soon to show up.
Not to start a war, but I think visual distinction is what made Apple go with such a unique shape for its watch when from almost anyone’s standpoint it should have and would have made a round smartwatch, had others not done it well before.

As an Apple Watch owner, I disagree.

This thing should’ve been round. Being different for the sake of difference is always a bad idea.

While the Apple Watch looks okay, round AW device and the Gear S2 don’t immediately draw attention to themselves.

Almost nothing you work on a smartwatch besides an imitation of analogue clock is round. This is the reason why Apple chose to make rectangular watch, rather than round one; it is not about being different for the sake of difference, it is about being more practical and providing more space for information. (Besides, the history of rectangular watches is hundreds years of old, so it is not like Apple invented some form that was never used; it is just less used than the typical round one.)

I disagree, I think the wings look great. Not to mention the fact that most watches have similar "wings" where the bands attach, these just have a different visual style to them, which is nice. And at less than a centimeter thick it’s now pretty much like most regular watches. Like Dieter suggests, I will wait for more of the next generation of smart watches to come out before starting to "shop around" for one, but I feel like this market is now properly maturing.

I hope those wings don’t mean we have to buy proprietary straps for the watch if we want to change them.

I personally wear and love the Zenwatch 2. For me to upgrade, I need a watch that has up-to-date internal components as well as it being stylish, and it has to have the ability to swap bands on the fly. Unfortunately, the Zenwatch 3 only checks one out of my 3 boxes: the updated internals. I really don’t like the huge lugs, or "wings", and no one’s talked about how to swap bands on this watch. Guess I’ll be waiting for the Google Watches later this year…

Probably the same quick release pins on your current ZW 2.

After watching the video Asus made for this watch, you can see the quick release pins. So I was correct.

What do you mean in saying it has a "360 degree screen"? Are you simply saying it’s a circle? If so, I just wanted to chime in with the fact that every shape, whether it be a circle, a triangle, a square, or an octagon, is 360 degrees. That’s just geometry.

I think it’s just to say it doesn’t have a flat tire like the Moto.

Some of the earlier smartwatches that had a circular screen, had the screen "cut off" at the bottom. So if you think of the outline of the screen as a circle being drawn then you wouldn’t draw a full 360 degree circle but rather it’d be less, say 320 degrees. Something like this

Hence the emphasis on a "full 360-degree screen".

Also, you know exactly what the article means by that, so stop being so pedantic!

The best part is that Acer managed to keep the ZenWatch 3 relatively slim, at 9.95mm thick.

I think you meant Asus. Though they do seem interchangeable at times.

My old Moto 360 is in desperate need of replacement, and this watch just jumped to the top of my list. Hopefully other manufacturers don’t wait too long to announce theirs.

Looks interesting, but I’m waiting on the rumored Google watch expected along side or right after the Google phones (formally known as Nexus) arrive in Oct/Nov.

Yea, me too. I’m just saying this model is going to be a strong contender.

Let alone the new Apple Watch.

Apple Watch still only works with one smart phone platform, so it’s not really an option for most people*

*As popular as the iPhone is, there are still more people with a phone other than an iPhone than people with iPhones.

I’m more interested to see what kind of price point Google aims for. If it’s ~$200 like this I’ll be super excited but for $300 or $350 I’ll pass and probably pick up a ZenWatch 3.

I actually liked the square shape of the 1st ZenWatch.

"..claiming that it has an "industry-leading 95 percent accuracy" for counting steps."

I love when tech companies just make up unverifiable claims!

Yeah, 68% of the tech companies don’t even do the research.

I don’t see how that is unverifiable.

You could buy an assortment of smartwatches. Wear one watch, walk 100 steps, write down what the watch says, repeat for every watch and calculate the accuracy of each.

It might not be easy to verify because you have to actually get some different watches and literally count your steps (and probably control for terrain, distance and speed). But it can be done.

Huawei Watch is still the prettiest smartwatch on the market, but nonetheless nice job here from Asus considering the price.

Huawei Watch is way to thick; if they will slim it down, then it could the best looking round watches.

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