Now that smartphones have become extremely common, the consumer tech industry is in a mission to get on board the wrist of that very smartphone owning consumer. They want to replace Chronographs with smartwatches.
I ditched my old Casio Chronograph for a Asus ZenWatch 2 just a few days back. It happened to be only thing that complemented my other gadget, the Asus Zenbook. It was not my first time with a smartwatch or Android Wear to be specific, but this was certainly the longest I have worn an Android smartwatch.
Spoiler alert: I went back to my really old Casio without any regret.
Asus ZenWatch 2
Asus ZenWatch 2, as the name implies, is the successor to Asus ZenWatch, the smartwatch that never made it to our hands (or wrist). Asus ZenWatch 2 can be clearly mistaken for an Apple Watch and that is definitely not a nice place to be. Otherwise, not much has changed from the original ZenWatch except that it now comes in gunmetal colour apart from Silver and Rose Gold colour variants. Our review unit came in silver colour with a complementing brown rubber strap. How does it fare in real life? Here is our review.
Specs: 1.63-inch AMOLED display | 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor | 512MB RAM | 4GB internal storage | 400 mAh battery | Android Wear OS
Price: Rs 11,999
Design: Asus ZenWatch 2 comes with a square face and it really feels like a watch when strapped to your wrist. It’s not just the shape, Asus ZenWatch 2 also does not feel bulky or unwieldy. For me Asus has got the basics right, that of making a watch look like a watch.
Display: Some of the existing smartwatches in the market are smart but they just don’t always show the time. Asus ZenWatch 2 won’t give you that complaint. Asus ZenWatch 2 comes with an AMOLED display with always-on display technology, something Motorola had on its 2013 Moto X and later in first gen Moto 360 too. There is nothing innovative there, but having an always-on display itself takes a smartwatch closer to traditional analog watch. The moment you twist your arm, the display understands whether to display time or stay in low-power ambient mode.
Watch Things First: Asus has taken care of two more things in order to appeal to a watch conscious person – the strap and the crown. Let’s talk about the crown first, while it would set your time, seconds, milliseconds and anything more complex depending upon the brand and functions on a traditional watch, here the utility is very limited to activating the display and moving to menu.
The Asus ZenWatch 2 comes with option of a rubber strap or leather strap. They both are nice and would purely depend on individual choice. You can even get some totally different 22mm strap with a clasp that fits with ZenWatch 2. It would be totally cool with your smartwatch and you already know from where the inspiration is coming from, but just don’t expect an Hermes leather band to show up anytime soon.
Software: A phone with Android was deemed a smartphone, a watch with Android Wear is now called smartwatch. Asus ZenWatch 2 runs Android Wear version 1.3 and does just everything an Android smartwatch could do. It shows every other notification and even allows you to accept phone calls, but you can’t just speak from the watch. You can shout ‘OK, Google’ to activate Google Now or command to set an alarm.
If you carry Bluetooth headphones, it is really simple to call people from your watch directly. Trust me, the success rate is limited though. There is still no easy way to type on this watch so replying to a message is strictly limited to voice. Android Wear is in the same state as Android 2.1 Eclair. It’s there but you don’t really need it yet.
Zen things: Since it is Asus, there is Zen in it too. Asus has added a couple of things like ZenWatch Manager, ZenWatch Music and Wellness to the Android mix. Asus Wellness app is meant to help you with fitness things like tracking your run on a treadmill or outside. It does a pretty decent job there but it is not accurate when it comes to tracking sleep. It felt that I don’t sleep at all for nearly five days. Common Asus I am not a Zombie and hope you get that.
Asus ZenWatch Manager on the other hand does help with customising watch faces to checking for the latest watch face designs created by its user base. There is a healthy mix and I would really Hide and Seek and Voyage as two of my favourite. And there is ZenWatch Music, a neat app designed to help control your music from the watch. It lets you sync the music on your phone and then playback the same with the watch but as I mentioned before too, a Bluetooth playback device is a must for this one to work.
Battery Life: If you have never replaced that coin-like battery on your traditional watch, then this piece of thing doesn’t really interest you. Yes, Asus ZenWatch 2 like every other smartwatch in the market needs charging every 24 hours. It charges via magnetic connectors and luckily doesn’t require a cradle or charging dock. If you forget to charge the watch then it will just be a dead thing on your hand. A piece of gadgetry that neither show time nor notifications.
You can blame technology for that really lacklustre battery life, but this scenario could change drastically this year. The Samsung’s Gear S2 is already a great showcase of developing battery technology in the wearables space.
Wrap-Up: Watches are not just timekeeping machines, they extend the personality of one who wears it. Well that is really the reason why Omega Speedmaster still boasts of it being the Moonwatch.
If you want to explore smartwatches then Asus ZenWatch 2 could be a good place to start otherwise Moto 360 (2nd Gen) still stands out in the crowded Android Wear arena. If you are on iOS, there is no better option than Apple Watch but if you prefer circular dials, then Samsung Gear S2 is a pick among the best.
Smartwatches are really cool, but you don’t really need one. The platform needs to mature and sure there will be day when all of us will be wearing one like we own smartphones today. Until that day, better to stick to your traditional watch. I am gonna do just that.