Emporio Armani Connected review: just another pretty face
It's 2018, and fashion brands have also started manufacturing smartwatches. One of the largest manufacturers, the Fossil Group, has recently discovered the market. Almost all brands in the group now have their own models on offer, and the Emporio Armani Connected, which is one of the most beautiful new smartwatches, was launched at IFA 2018. But can the watch offer more than just good design?
- Great design
- Good workmanship
- Comfortable to wear
- Poor battery life
- Performance isn't great
A costly brand
The Emporio Armani Connected can be ordered directly from the manufacturer. The price is a steep 345 dollars, so you'll be paying for the brand name. Comparable smartwatches from Samsung and co. are much more attractive in terms of price.
Perhaps the most beautiful smartwatch available?
The selection of smartwatches was quite small just a few years ago, and now it feels like every watch manufacturer is bringing its own model to the market. Manufacturers know that they have to offer special features to stand out to customers. Emporio Armani has long been known for its normal wristwatches and hasn't changed its strategy for its new smartwatches. As always, the brand attaches great importance on design and quality.
The result is one of the most beautiful smartwatches that really doesn't feel like a smartwatch on your wrist. It's remarkably thin, which unfortunately also affects the battery performance, but more on that later. The workmanship is very good and nothing wobbles, creaks or somehow feels inferior. We tested the model with the metal wristband. The band itself cannot compete with what expensive luxury watches offer, but it's okay for this price. The integrated clasp is solid and you never get the feeling that it will accidentally open. The housing has a diameter of 43 millimeters.
The watch has three buttons: a crown and two push buttons above and below it. The crown acts as a home button, but can also be rotated to scroll through menus. That is a great idea and more and more smartwatches have adopted it, because it means you don't spend all your time swiping the display. The other two buttons can be used to open your apps.
On the lower side of the watch, there are several sensors that measure your heart rate. Thanks to Google Fit, you can continuously monitor and control your heartbeat.
The watch is also pleasantly light and isn't too thick. If you like to wear a watch with your suits and have avoided previous smartwatches because of their thick frames, you'll find what you're looking for here. The Armani watch fits practically every outfit.
A typical smartwatch display
The Emporio Armani Connected features a 1.8-inch display. The AMOLED panel is great to look at a nd easy to read, even in direct sunlight. The automatic brightness control didn't cause any problems at any time.
Wear OS 2.0, with all its advantages and disadvantages
The Emporio Armani Connected runs on Wear OS , and the software wasn't further adapted by the manufacturer. This is often the case with Android watches and isn't unusual. The manufacturer only adds a few of its own watch faces, which personally didn't impress me at all. This is, of course, a matter of taste and the watch faces fit into the Armani look, but I've seen plenty of analog models that have more beautiful faces than these.
But in the end, this of course isn't a problem, because thanks to Wear OS thousands of watch faces are available in the Play Store. You'll find some that in my opinion fit better to the restrained design of the watch.
Otherwise, the software doesn't have any other surprises in store. Shortly after Google's announcement, Wear OS 2.0 also found its way into this smartwatch. I've reported my frustrations with the operative system on many occasions, and unfortunately, most of them apply to the Emporio Armani Connected.
The performance doesn't suffice
If you want to build a smartwatch, the choice of components is still quite limited. Until recently, the Snapdragon Wear 2100 was practically the only available chip, at least if you didn't make your own chips as Samsung does. So it's not surprising that the Emporio Armani Connect still uses this old processor.
The device has 512MB of RAM inside, which is sufficient for a smartwatch, but unfortunately, the Armani watch still doesn't offer impressive performance . The processor isn't the newest, and you'll often notice this when you operate the watch. Everything takes forever, and opening apps will require long waiting times.
The Snapdragon 3100 is already available, but thus far this chip has only been used in one model, the expensive Montblanc Summit 2. It's a shame that Fossil hasn't already used the new hardware here, the Connected watch would've been great.
A watch without a battery isn't a watch
The biggest shortcoming of the Emporio Armani Connected is without question the battery life. The smartwatch is remarkably thin, which makes it pleasant to wear, but it also has ramifications for the battery life. If I leave my apartment at 9 o'clock in the morning, the watch will inevitably run out of juice between 8 and 10 in the evening.
I'm not exactly a demanding user when it comes to smartwatches. Sure, the notifications are activated and of course, I check the time every now and then, but otherwise I don't use it much. Fortunately, you can deactivate the Always-on display. For the sake of comparison, with AoD activated, the battery was at 38 percent charge at 6 o'clock in the evening. This doesn't make a huge difference, but if you're still on the road in the evening, the slightly longer running time can be decisive.
There's also the docking station, which Emporio Armani supplies for recharging. This is quite common for smartwatches, and practically all watches nowadays can't be charged with a normal Micro-USB or Type-C USB. But with such a weak battery life, this means that the watch stops working when the day is too long. The docking station can't keep up with the watch itself in terms of appearance. It's made of cheap-looking plastic, and thanks to the folding clasp on the smartwatch, the station can't be fixed to a particular spot. This means that the station is always just lying around. Samsung has found a much better solution for charging. In the end, the docking station does its job reliably, but there's another way to solve this problem.
Great design, but that's not enough
At the end of our test, the Emporio Armani Connected wasn't really all that impressive to me. It is absolutely one of the most beautiful smartwatches, without question, but the bad performance outweighs all the positive aspects of the device. And then there's the battery life, which simply isn't acceptable in 2018. With certain settings, you can extend the battery life an hour or two, but I don't like having to think about whether the watch will last the entire evening. In most cases, I'd rather go without a smartwatch and instead use my analog watch. The manufacturer obviously was looking to make a compromise between battery life and appealing design, but didn't get the job done.