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Hands-on with the ASUS ZenWatch 2 at IFA 2015
Just like HUAWEI with its Watch, ASUS took its sweet time bringing the ZenWatch 2 to market, after announcing it in early June at Computex. While we’ll still have to wait another month until the ZenWatch 2 hits the shelves, we had the chance to play with the two variants of the smartwatch at IFA in Berlin, and these are our impressions.
First up, ASUS appears to have realized that one size does not fit all when it comes to wearables, as the ZenWatch 2 is available in a slightly more petite variant, featuring a 37 mm face and an 18 mm band, in addition to the familiar, 41 mm/22 mm model. It’s commendable that ASUS is trying to cater to more types of users, but I will say that the increased thickness of both ZenWatch versions is a bit of a letdown, as the slick, wrist-hugging profile was one of the best things about the original ZenWatch, in my opinion.
The specifications of the ZenWatch 2 are pretty close to what you had last year. Notable improvements include better resistance to elements (IP67) and better battery life, along a new way to charge the smartwatch using a magnetic connector, as opposed to the unwieldy cradle from before. ASUS claims you should be able to get two days of battery life out of the ZenWatch 2, especially when using the ambient mode heavily. You should also be able to fill up 50 percent of the battery in a little over half an hour, thanks to the new charging port.
All in all, this refresh is largely about the design, which is now more refined and comes with more customization options. Joining a trend that we can only salute, ASUS is making multiple color options and bands of various materials available, and that should make it easy to adapt the ZenWatch 2 to your particular style and image.
ASUS has updated the software side of the ZenWatch 2, through the inclusion of some of its own apps on the smartwatch, and a capable companion app for your smartphone, that lets you do things like pick up the right watch face for the moment.
The 41 mm ZenWatch 2 will cost around $190 when it lands next month, while the smaller model will be roughly $170.
With the new Moto 360 and especially the HUAWEI Watch, the ZenWatch 2 has some very strong competition in the Android Wear race. But ASUS’ take on the concept benefits from a lower price tag, and an aesthetic that will appeal to those who look for a non-traditionally looking smartwatch. Is that enough of a differentiator? Let us know your thoughts!