Asus ZenWatch 2 review

Asus ZenWatch 2 review

Asus ZenWatch 2

From $119
Asus ZenWatch 2
7.5

Overall Rating

8/10

    Pros

    • Affordable value proposition – likely the best price-performance Android Wear smartwatch available
    • Smartly efficient Manhattan style fashion
    • Good color and contrast on display
    • Good battery life (many users are reporting 2 days)
    • Fast charging feature is a winner
    • IP67 dust and water resistance

    Cons

    • Ridiculously large bezels
    • Terrible display-to-watch size ratio
    • Very limited functionality
    • No heart rate monitor
    • Fitness tracking functions are humble and inaccurate
    • Display does not consistently respond to gestures (Android Wear issue?)
    • Vibration mechanism does not work well
    • Lack of uninstall process for unwanted native apps
    • Compatibility with iOS/iPhone is real sketchy
    • Cheap plastic back cover

    VERDICT AND RATING

    The Asus ZenWatch 2 delivers fashionably popular and stylishly smoothed rectangular good looks and a simple, capably functional lineup of entry-level smartwatch features and battery life benefits for half the price of almost all other smartwatches. This smartwatch competes very well against the Pebble.Pebble better smartwatch out for the ASUS value proposition with this puppy!

    As it stands now, the Asus ZenWatch 2 is likely the top global contender for entry-level value proposition amogst all smartwatches. It therefore earns a review rating of 7.5.

    PERFORMANCE

    By all measures and customer feedback, the ASUS ZenWatch 2 offers average performance, suffering from the occasional stutters and dropped animation frames, which are perhaps more likely Android Wear glitches. Nevertheless, don’t look for this smartwatch to be the market leader in performance.

    It also suffers from what are now fairly well known Android Wear Bluetooth connectivity drops and disconnects. The ASUS ZenWatch 2 does offer WiFi for those times when your smartphone is out of range from the ZenWatch 2, but the number of reports of drops and disconnects is disconcerting, though not overwhelming.

    Reviews Asus ZenWatch 2The ZenWatch 2 interfaces pretty seamlessly and easily with Android phones. However, perhaps again as a result of the relative immaturity of Android Wear, the Android wear UI and UX of swiping down to access quick settings and swiping left to access Android Wear cards for apps and contacts and swiping right to get rid of cards, as well as the Android Wear gesture recognition tech are not totally reliable.

    Indeed, with this smartwatch, you can use the latest Android Wear OS tech to lift your wrist and speak your command to the device, but these combo gestures + voice commands can be an all too often an iffy or bothersome delayed proposition. Just note that improvements to these techs will continue to roll out, even though they won’t solve these issues for you right this minute.

    Although the ZenWatch 2 offers and advertises Android Wear compatibility with iOS iPhones, there are lots of customer feedback reports of the ASUS ZenWatch 2 not staying paired with customer iPhones. An example of this is one customer’s comment, [the ZenWatch 2] “could never stay paired with an iPhone. As soon as it became disconnected (out of range) it would never be able to reconnect and I would be forced to factory reset it every time in order to pair again.”

    Now if ASUS and Google and its Android Wear OS team want to really take Android Wear smartwatches to the next level, seamless UX interaction with Apple iOS iPhones is critical, so they need to get this fixed in the upcoming release or, at the very latest, the release after that. Time’s a wasting on this nettlesome performance glitch!

    With the ASUS ZenWatch 2, you do get notifications, some rudimentary apps and some too often flawed, though still useful app integration via Android Wear,Asus ZenWatch 2 Reviews some voice control (though spotty sometimes), some music playing straight from the watch if & when you sync/transfer those files over to the ZenWatch 2), and some elementary level fitness tracking, which is quite inaccurate and not terribly useful, most customers are reporting.

    The following user feedback comment represents a good example of a customer assessment of the ASUS ZenWatch 2 pedometer feature — “Horribly inaccurate compared to every other wearable I’ve tried.” As such, even though the ZenWatch 2 offers up body metrics such as distance traveled, steps taken (terribly inaccurate), calories burned, and activity vs. inactivity, they are nearly as bad as this smartwatch is fashionable and affordable.

    Now, since the ASUS ZenWatch 2 ‘Wellness App’ is dependent on these inaccurate body metrics, customers are too often finding this app is “worse than the pedometer.” Even more frustrating is the fact that it can’t be uninstalled from the device.

    On the plus side of the software performance environment is the focus ASUS invested in a pleasant suite of watch faces, which complements nicely the entry level fashion design of the product.

    As for battery performance, its apparently first in its class. Users are almost universally reporting 2 days of battery life with the screen always son. And the ASUS ZenWatch 2 charging mechanism appears to be a big winner with their global customer base,as it is highly functional and gets you a 60% charge in just 15 minutes. If that’s not an industry best, I’d like to see the truly best-in-class.

    DESIGN

    Bezel, bezel, bezel. Almost every ASUS ZenWatch 2 customer has an opinion on it, most uncomplimentary, to say the least. The global marketplace is speaking volumes about it.

    Asus ZenWatch 2 ReviewsThe ridiculously large internal bezel inside the display housing and underneath the display Gorilla Glass 3 layer of the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is one of the three resounding comments the customers of the ASUS ZenWatch 2 are issuing to ASUS and the global marketplace.

    The other two resounding opinions are how smartly fashionable the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is and what an affordable price-performance value proposition this product offers for lots of prospective entry level smartwatch customers.

    On all three accounts, the user community is absolutely correct.

    The ASUS smartwatch user community does understand how a company can make a watch fashionably attractive. And they truly appreciate a company making a reasonably functional smartwatch that is often one-half the price of most other smartwatches on the market. The ASUS ZenWatch 2 is indeed one of the leaders in high fashion smartwatches and it is arguably the absolute world leader in entry-level affordability and price-performance value for your hard earned money.

    Contrast this, however, with the overwhelming fact that the ASUS smartwatch customer base rather unanimously does not comprehend why the internal bezel is so obscenely, so ridiculously large – why it stands out as a sort of anti-fashion statement amongst the rest of global smartwatch world of industrial design and engineering.

    None of the product reviews out there can explain it to the ASUS smartwatch user community. Nobody is calling out the correct answer.

    Why the cognitive dissonance thrown the users’ way, ASUS?

    Why make a beautifully efficient smartwatch housing design, with a Moto 360 2nd Gen-ish type of attractively thin housing or case bezel on the product’s exterior, an exterior bezel that looks Manhattan fashion smart, and then mar the product with a grossly oversized and elementary school looking internal bezel frame underneath the Gorilla Glass that puts a disappointing damper on the overall artistic design?Asus Smartwatch Reviews | Wearable Technology Reviews

    Note for needed emphasis, we’re not talking about the relatively thin bezel of the stainless steel casing or housing of the entire watch, which actually is a rather attractively thin bezel. The confusion on which bezel people are talking about here knows no bounds.

    No, we’re talking about that square, dark, artfully painted, cardboard picture-frame-ish looking internal bezel that surrounds the rather nice, but small and rather square 1.63-inch diagonal AMOLED display.

    Let me break it down for you – to let the ASUS ZenWatch 2 user community understand why that dumb looking internal bezel is so large.

    All things considered, there can be only one logical reason for this bezel. Battery life!

    It is the industrial product design anomaly that sticks out like a combination sore thumb and beautiful thumb.

    Battery life, you say? What does that have to do with an internal bezel? That’s a good, rational question.

    Asus ZenWatch 2 ReviewsBattery life for a smartwatch is largely determined by three things: 1) the size and technology of the display, which consumes energy, 2) the energy consumed by the internal chipsets, which also consume a lot of energy, especially the wireless chips, and 3) the size and technology choice of battery module housed in the smartwatch.

    The design engineers at ASUS smartly chose to bring a compellingly affordable, yet fashionable entry-level product to the global smartwatch marketplace. To do just that, they chose to maximize the product differentiation of their ASUS brand smartwatch on extended duration battery life, a feature desired by, oh, perhaps 95% of the entire global smartwatch swath of existing and potential customers.

    OK Google, at least some smartwatch executives “get it.” Good job, ASUS execs! You differentiated your smartwatch “smartly.”

    A smartwatch that most ASUS customers are claiming gets two (2) full days of mixed use battery life certainly stands out in a singular way from almost all other smartwatches on the market, save for the Pebble perhaps. That said, the difference between the fashion offered by the ASUS versus the Pebble is like comparing high fashion in Manhattan to that of Cleveland. There’s very little comparison.

    Focusing on two-day battery life was a truly inspired and wise product design choice by ASUS executives! Well done.

    In order to accomplish that, there was and is currently only one realistic industrial design and engineering choice. One needs to make the overall dimensions of the smartwatch casing (or housing) large, while making the energy consuming display relatively small. This allows a relatively large battery to be housed in the casing that powers a relatively small display.

    Indeed, we see that the ASUS ZenWatch 2 sports a 42.5% screen-to-body ration. This is quite likely the singularly lowest or next to lowest screen-to-body ration in the entire global smartwatch industry. If you focus on that issue, it’s quite disappointing, in fact.Asus ZenWatch 2 Review

    However, this presents a great counter benefit – extended battery life, due to the simple fact that there is less display to power, especially if and when one leaves the energy efficient AMOLED display on for two working days.

    So if you, the ASUS ZenWatch 2 user or prospective buyer are extolling the customer satisfying virtues of this smartwatch’s great battery life and premium looking stainless steel housing while you are simultaneously decrying the ridiculously large internal bezel, well, at least now you know why you have unresolved until now cognitive fashion sense dissonance.

    Now if you still have a cognitive dissonance headache on the ASUS ZenWatch 2 freakishly large bezel issue, there’s just one thing to do. Go see a doctor and let him or her know that you have “sustained bezel syndrome.” Your physician may or may not prescribe the proverbial, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”

    Either way, you have your bezel answer, ASUS ZenWatch 2 customers. Finally!

    WHO IS ASUS? The vast majority of the consumer smartwatch market does not know who ASUS is.

    Well, ASUS is based in Taipei, Taiwan. It is the global market share leader (40%) in the manufacturing of motherboards.

    As such, in the considered opinion of this review, their desire to get into the smartwatch business is simply a logical move to cost effectively extend their motherboard manufacturing business into yet another type of computing platform, motherboards for the wrist instead of the desktop, per se. They likely also see the wearables motherboard market exploding as well. ASUS certainly didn’t get to where they are now by being myopic to massive market trends in computing and consumer electronics.

    That ASUS appears to have nearly copied the basic Apple Watch design except for a thinner metallic watch housing bezel (exterior), four (4) protruding lugs to hold the watch bands, larger diameter radius corner curves on their rectangular format, and a flatter & flush and eminently more elegant front surface to their device versus the Apple Watch is no surprise either given the global climate of intellectual property and a typically pragmatic business decision from ASUS in Taiwan, following Apple’s early customer adoption and market share success with this form factor.

    Actually the flat and flush surface is more appealing than the Apple Watch design, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. Let’s get to the specs, shall we?

    SPECS

    Asus Zenwatch 2 Specs

    THE SEVEN(7) BATTLEFRONTS OF THE SMARTWATCH WAR

    Battlefront # 1: User Experience (UX)

    The user experience of the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is a mixed bag, but generally hangs in the balance on satisfying the most elementary of smartwatch customer needs and desires – extended battery life and a quick and efficient charging mechanism that gives the customer a super efficient and rather seamless, 24/7 use of a smartwatch.Best Asus ZenWatch 2 Reviews

    However, the addition of smart, crisp, Manhattan style design that largely mimics the Apple Watch design and the limited functionality of this smartwatch’s operations and apps and glitch prone integration with Android Wear and the Apple iPhone iOS generally indicate that you can expect an ultra pragmatic approach to value proposition from ASUS and not a focus on Apple like or Samsung like maxing out on high level user experience (UX).

    The message here is do not look for ASUS to win battlefront # 1 on the UX issue.

    Battlefront # 2: Mobile Payments (UX).

    There is no NFC or EMV Tap-to-Pay or other mobile payments enabling technology built-in the ASUS ZenWatch 2. Given this lack of product feature focus on such a monumental upcoming battle in the smartwatch space, look for ASUS to rectify this miss in the nexgen of the ZenWatch. However, don’t look for ASUS to all of a sudden become the global leader in smartwatch enabled mobile payments, let alone eventually win this battlefront of the smartwatch war. They won’t.

    They are already too far behind to win.

    Battlefront # 3: Untethered Phone Calls (UX).

    It’s quite likely the case that the only chance ASUS has of winning the untethered phone call battlefront of the smartwatch war is to go for the long bomb pass in football. If they devote an overly disproportionate amount of internal smartwatch division resources on a chipset, hardware, and firmware engineering solution to 4G or 5G wireless phone calls in a smartwatch format, tiny motherboard,then they have a real chance.

    This is perhaps their next big chance to ramp up their global market share in the smartwatch space. Are they going to do just that?

    Battlefront # 4: Apps (UX).

    ASUS is the global leader in computer and electronics motherboard manufacturing. They are nowhere listed on the leaderboard for software innovation.

    ASUS has no chance of wining the apps battlefront of the smartwatch war unless they secretly develop a team of several thousand software programmers, which is exceedingly unlikely. The humble nature of the ASUS designed and engineered apps on the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is stark testimony to this eventual fate.

    Battlefront # 5: Battery Life (UX).

    ASUS has already played their extended battery life card from the deck of smartwatch industrial design and engineering cards. It’s unlikely they can continue to play the same large watch & battery housing v small display format ratio game as the rest of the industry improves on battery and display technologies. The only chance ASUS has of winning the battery life war is to focus intensely on low energy chipsets and ultra energy efficient motherboards, which is exactly what I expect their executives are planning.

    Will ASUS extend their current battery life lead to become the eventual battery life winner in the smartwatch war. That’s unlikely, as they will be forced by the market to eventually rid the ASUS ZenWatch brand of the ridiculously large and elementary looking internal bezel — which is the very feature, by artificially constraining the size of the energy consuming display – that gave ASUS the current market lead in smartwatch battery life. 

    Battlefront # 6: Waterproof Wearables (UX).

    Asus ZenWatch 2 ReviewsThe current ASUS ZenWatch 2 has a humble plastic backplate that is screwed into place in the four corners of the device. It is rated IP67 dust and water resistant at this time.

    Will the ASUS ZenWatch 3 or 4 get to IP68 or better yet, 5 ATM waterproof, as in a good number of the waterproof leading Garmin smartwatches?

    This is highly unlikely, as waterproof technologies are not an ASUS core competence and they showed little industrial design expertise with the first or second gens of the ZenWatch in this area.

    There are indeed a number of waterproof technology cards that can be played for the Gen 3 or Gen 4 of the ASUS ZenWatch, but I am not betting the house on that outcome.

    A vastly wetter and more extreme rainstorm dangerous global climate change environment is mounting and woe be those smartwatch users who do not purchase and use 5 ATM waterproof smartwatches.

    Word to the wise for all smartwatch industrial designers and manufacturers!

    Battlefront # 7: NexGen Form & Function (UX).

    The ASUS executive team smartly and pragmatically maximized their chosen product differentiator – extended battery life – for this round of the ZenWatch 2 battle with the smartwatch behemoths.

    However, the overall form & function of the ASUS ZenWatch 2 represents no major innovation at all that foreshadows any type of breakthrough thinking in nexgen smartwatch technologies, forms, or function.

    Combine this cold hard, objective assessment with a savvy analysis of the bio briefs of the smartly pragmatic, risk averse electrical engineering and manufacturing oriented and contemporary customer demand foci of the entire ASUS executive team, and it becomes obvious that one should not bet the farm on ASUS breaking the bank by investing in and brining to market a truly market splitting innovation in the future form and function of smartwatches.

    In this review’s assessment, ASUS is extremely unlikely to win battlefront # 7 of the smartwatch war.

    PRICING AND GENERAL AVAILABILITY 

    The lowest price ASUS ZenWatch 2 (silver case and brown band) is MSRP priced at $129.00 silver or gunmetal case with metal band).

    The ZenWatch 2 lets you try out Android Wear at an exceedingly reasonable price and its generally available now for a great entry-level smartwatch value proposition.

    CONCLUSION

    The ASUS ZentWatch 2 has a few quirks and glitches – disconnects, poor loudspeaker sound, the seemingly inevitable Android Wear related crashes until Android Wear matures. It also suffers a great deal by limited functionality compared to smartwatches such as the Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear S2 and the Moto 360 Gen 2 and a host of others.

    What the ZenWatch 2 does offer, though, is quite likely the absolute best affordability and the best price-performance value proposition of any smartwatch for prospective and existing customers for entry-level smartwatches.

    So if you are a newbie to or have a peaking, though somewhat apprehensive and cost-efficient interest in entering the smartwatch game, you’d do well to pick up a ZenWatch 2 and enter the shallow end of the smartwatch pool.

    Alternatively, if you are battery-life fixated smart devices power user who merely needs the basics of social media notifications and alerts and some other rudimentary Android Wear smartwatch type functionality, then extend your battery life, say I. Stylishly go for it and get an ASUS ZenWatch 2 and ride the onrushing Android Wear tidal bore of inbound wearables.


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