ZenWatch 2 (Hardware) Review

Prior to my review of the Asus ZenWatch 2, I had very limited experience with smart watches.  I tried out a few here and there and messed around with friend’s devices whenever they had one, but for the most part they always felt like a needless accessory to me.  Now that I’ve had about three weeks with one, I can say without hesitation I want to own a smart watch of my own—but not necessarily the ZenWatch2. That isn’t to say this is a bad device, for what it is, it’s fine. But when it’s compared to its peers, it doesn’t quite stack up.

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You get what you pay for with the ZenWatch 2. It’s priced a little over $220 (depending on where you look), and in many ways it shows. But that doesn’t come at the expense of build quality. The bracelet itself is made of a sturdy stainless steel metal, or at least it’s plated. While it gives the watch a strong built feel, for someone like me who has an allergy to certain metals, it meant I had a wrist rash that hasn’t really gone away. The bracelet is interchangeable however, so if I really wanted to change it, I could.  It also comes in two different sizes and three colours. So there’s some room for customization.  On top of that, the interface is rather customizable with tons of different backgrounds to choose from.

That is just an exterior to an otherwise useful device. It works like most other smart watches I’ve messed around with, and it’s not entirely different from the original ZenWatch.  Underneath the hood, it rocks a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 Processor and 512 MB of ram.   There are some pretty interesting features implemented here as well.  To start, the watch can be charged fully in about 45 minutes, making it less of a pain when you’ve got places to be. They’ve also implemented some gestures to make everything more efficient. Flicking your wrist certain ways can let you scroll pages or open other sections of the phone. It’s a cool idea in theory, but when you think about how many times you move your hand, or crack your wrist throughout the day, it adds up. I was constantly opening things without realizing it. However, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t recall it ever being a big issue.

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While it’s easy to ignore problems on optional features, I did encounter some constant annoyances. The biggest problem I had was how it handled multiple messages. If I got multiple texts or messages on Facebook, I had to actually use my phone.  The watch told me I had messages, but it wouldn’t let me open them.. At that point, my smart watch felt like a glorified pager with a giant touch screen.

That being said, I still enjoyed my time with the ZenWatch 2. While it’s nowhere near the best in its field, it’s still a very decent device with a good build quality. Yes it has its flaws, but it’s amazingly priced and incredibly convenient. It’s rather barebones when you think about it, but it gets the job done. If you really want a smart watch without dropping too much cash the ZenWatch 2 is a very stylish and affordable option.