Wearables

Asus ZenWatch 2: Good-looking and affordable to boot

This $229 Android Wear smartwatch is comfortable to wear. It is also responsive to wrist gestures.
This $229 Android Wear smartwatch is comfortable to wear. It is also responsive to wrist gestures.PHOTO: ASUS

If you have been putting off getting a smartwatch because of the cost, the new Asus ZenWatch 2 might just make you change your mind.

This $229 Android Wear smartwatch is one of the more affordable ones in the market. However, it looks anything but cheap.

It comes in two display sizes: 1.63 inches (320 x 320 pixels) and 1.45 inches (280 x 280 pixels), with the latter targeted at women.

I reviewed the bigger model in gunmetal finish (it looked black to me, though) with a dark blue leather wrist strap. The watch is also available in silver and rose gold finishes.

One plus point of the ZenWatch 2 is that it uses 22mm (for 1.63-inch model) or 18mm (for 1.45-inch model) watch straps that are readily available in stores. So it is easy to get a replacement strap.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $229

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    COMPATIBILITY: Android smartphones running on Android 4.3 or higher and iPhones running iOS 8.2 or higher

    WEIGHT: 60g


    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The ZenWatch 2 is quite a beauty. It has a square watch face with a rather thick bezel. But it has a stainless case with rounded corners and smooth curvy Gorilla Glass to protect the display.

It has only one crown button, on the right, that works as a power and reset button. Pity it cannot be rotated to trigger more functions.

The sleek design of the watch drew praises from my friends and colleagues. Many even mistook it for an Apple Watch.

When you consider its price, being mistaken for the Apple Watch (which will set you back at least $518) is a good thing.

It feels light and comfortable to wear. It is also responsive to wrist gestures, such as twisting your wrist to wake up the display.

The display is bright and crisp, as well as sensitive to touch. I was able to easily swipe through notifications and e-mails.

It is IP67 water-resistant, which means you can wear it while washing hands. But don't swim with it.

Running on Android Wear 1.3, the ZenWatch 2 can be used with both Android smartphones and iOS devices.

However, there is less functionality on iOS, such as third-party app integration. For example, you cannot use it with the Asus ZenWatch Manager, which is available only on Android.

The ZenWatch Manager offers options such as muting calls by covering the watch face, and unlocking the phone by touching the watch face.

You can also customise the watch face. The smartwatch comes with more than 50 watch faces but you can download FaceDesigner to create your own. I had plenty of fun creating my own.

Asus claims the battery life is more than two days. I found the review unit going flat by the evening of the second day after a full charge.

On the downside, the ZenWatch 2 does not have a heart-rate monitor like in Samsung's Gear S2 and the Apple Watch.

Also, you cannot use it to do a Dick Tracy and speak into the watch during calls. But that's nitpicking for such an affordable smartwatch.

• Verdict: For those who are looking to get a smartwatch that will not burn a hole in their pocket, the Asus ZenWatch 2 is a decent and very affordable smartwatch.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2015, with the headline 'Good-looking and affordable to boot'. Print Edition | Subscribe