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Asus ZenWatch 2 review [hands on]: the best value smartwatch yet?

zenwatch 2 ifa 2015 hands on
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The Asus ZenWatch 2 emerged within an avalanche of wearables that were unveiled at IFA 2015. Huawei, Motorola, Samsung, and even Lenovo all presented their new smartwatches, and Asus did the same, but with one monster difference: the price. The ZenWatch 2 hasn’t changed much from the previous model, but it sure delivers on value. Read all about it our hands on ZenWatch 2 review. 

Asus ZenWatch 2 release date and price

The Asus ZenWatch 2 release date is scheduled for sometime in October. The ZenWatch 2 price is really amazing: starting at 149 Euros (around US$170). We'll learn more about the US and UK pricing and availability shortly.

Asus ZenWatch 2 design and build quality

The launch of the Asus ZenWatch 2 underlines a clear trend in the wearables market: users are seeking exclusivity. Unlike what we have seen in the past, the Asus ZenWatch 2 now comes with a wealth of customization options. There are two display sizes, 1.63 inches and 1.45 inches, three body color options and 18 wristbands. However, Asus continues to pursue its square face design.

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The ZenWatch 2 comes in two sizes. / © ANDROIDPIT

Asus has taken great care with the visual design of its smartwatch, something that many have said it has failed to achieve on its Zenfone smartphone series. The ZenWatch 2 doesn’t look cheap, despite the price, and Asus has made the (good) decision to move the previously rear-mounted power button to a more convenient three o’clock position. 

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Now the physical button is located on the side of the watch. / © ANDROIDPIT

The watch has a microphone placed on the left-bottom side of the device (seen below), which can be used for voice commands. There’s little doubt that Asus has improved the visual and physical design of the second generation ZenWatch, even if only incrementally. 

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The stainless steel bracelet adds some premium quality to the ZenWatch 2 / © ANDROIDPIT

The ZenWatch 2 has IP67 certification (dust and water-resistance), and a connector for battery charging, which snaps to charge dock. The wristbands are easily removed thanks to the pin located at the top of them.

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Asus has increase the ZenWatch 2's charging speed by 35 percent by improving the connectors. / © ANDROIDPIT

Asus ZenWatch 2 display

The display quality of the larger ZenWatch 2 is the same as its predecessor, while the smaller model has a higher pixel density. Both feature AMOLED screens, the larger of which is at 1.63 inches with a 320 x 320 pixel resolution and 278 ppi. Both are protected by Gorilla Glass 3.

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The ZenWatch 2 screen responds quickly to the touch and good color and brightness. / © ANDROIDPIT

It is worth mentioning that the Android Wear brightness can be adjusted manually and the screen will always remain active unless you change this in the settings. Once the 'always on' display option is disabled you can turn it off simply resting your palm on the screen.

To reactivate it, just raise your wrist like you normally would to check the time, or press the physical button on the side of the watch. 

Asus ZenWatch 2 software

The ZenWatch 2 runs on the latest version of Android Wear and supports both Android and iOS devices. However, I wasn’t able to fully test the ZenWatch 2 software at IFA because the device was in a demo mode.

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Voice commands, such as "OK, Google", are possible thanks to the ZenWatch 2's microphone. / © ANDROIDPIT

The Android Wear operating system has improved considerably since it was first announced, and in addition to the 50 dials available for the ZenWatch 2, Asus has also developed an app that allows users to create custom watch faces themselves.

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The latest version of Android Wear is a big improvement over the last. / © ANDROIDPIT

There are a few exclusive services that Asus offers its users, such as its Smart Assistant, which prioritizes important notifications; ZenWatch Message, for exchanging short messages between ZenWatches; and Wellness Manager, a pedometer / activity tracker to monitor fitness goals. However, it won’t be until our full ZenWatch 2 review that I am able to test those properly. 

Asus ZenWatch 2 performance

The ZenWatch 2 uses the same processor as the previous model, the Snapdragon 400, and has 512 MB of RAM in addition to 4 GB of internal memory. This is probably one of the reasons why the ZenWatch 2 price is so low: little has changed between the first and second generation watch.

Given that the first ZenWatch worked fine with this hardware, we don’t foresee any performance issues with the latest watch.

Asus ZenWatch 2 battery

The ZenWatch 2 battery has a 400 mAh capacity and charges 35 percent faster than the previous ZenWatch. The ZenWatch 2 is said to reach 50 percent battery life in just 36 minutes of charging, but we’ll have to wait to get it in-house to test this for ourselves.

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The ZenWatch 2 offers considerable improvements in the battery department. / © ANDROIDPIT

Asus ZenWatch 2 technical specifications

Early Verdict

Asus might be sitting on the best value smartwatch on the market. The ZenWatch 2 has pretty much the same hardware as Moto 360 (2015), but it’s much more affordable. While the Taiwanese manufacturer’s smartphone designs leave some disappointed, the ZenWatch 2 manages to maintain the low price without sacrificing the elegant looks.

Based on my first impressions, I would say that if you plan to enter the world of wearables, the Asus ZenWatch 2 might be the best place to start.

Do you think the ZenWatch 2 might be the best value smartwatch on Android? Let us know in the comments below.

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Scott Adam Gordon

Scott Adam Gordon

Originally from the UK, Scott graduated in Popular Music Studies at Newcastle University and attributes much of his success there to his beloved Samsung Galaxy S2. His current aim is to write cool things about Android. And he loves it.

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  • Mach81 Sep 5, 2015 Link to comment

    Awesome spec.. and true value for money.. by the sounds of it.. will wait for the reviews tho..