Hands on: Asus ZenWatch 3 review

The ZenWatch rubs shoulders with the stylish competition

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The ZenWatch 3 is a well built, premium Android Wear watch. The design may be a little too flashy for some, but the fast charging and optional power pack takes some of the pain out of the charging ritual.

For

  • Premium design
  • Fast charging
  • Customizable buttons

Against

  • No heart rate monitor
  • Too flashy for some

The Asus ZenWatch 3 marks a change in direction for the Taiwanese firm and its smartwatch line, bringing in the much preferred circular display and a more premium design than its predecessors.

In terms of the Asus ZenWatch 3 price you're looking at €229 (around £190, $250, AU$340) if you opt for a rubber strap, while the leather strap variant will set you back €249 (around £210, $280, AU$370).

Having stuck with a square display for both the ZenWatch and ZenWatch 2, this new wearable from Asus gives you a fully circular 1.39-inch AMOLED display with a 400 x 400 resolution. What that means is the screen is bright, crisp and clear.

Asus ZenWatch 3 review

You will want to crank brightness up to max when you're outside on a really sunny day, and even then it can be a little tricky to see what's going on without cupping your hand round the watch. That's an issue with all smartwatches though, so the ZenWatch 3 shouldn't lose marks here.

Slipping it on the wrist and the premium stainless steel body looks and feels great, and it's also relatively lightweight.

It's available in three colors, rose gold, silver and grey, although some may find the finish a little too shiny – it's one of the less subtle smartwatches on the wrist.

Asus ZenWatch 3 review

At 9.95mm thick it's not the slimmest smartwatch around, but it's no bulkier than a traditional time piece. There are three buttons on the right which protrude quite a distance from the watch face, which is a little off putting and could have a tendency to catch on a shirt sleeve or other garments.

The central button controls power and will return you to the main watch display, while the other two keys can be programmed to launch the apps of your choosing for fast access to your favorites.

Asus ZenWatch 3 review

Performance is pretty slick as the ZenWatch 3 packs Qualcomm's new dedicated wearable processor, the Snapdragon 2100.

The experience on screen though, apart from the slight speed boost, is identical to any other Android Wear watch. More and more applications are being made available for Android Wear, although Asus has opted against including a heart rate monitor in its latest ZenWatch – so you won't be able to track your beats per minute.

Another advantage of the Snapdragon 2100 chip is fast charging, and the ZenWatch 3 can regain 60% of its life in 15 minutes with HyperCharge.

Asus ZenWatch 3 review

For heavy users, there's an optional battery pack (price TBC) which clings on to the rear of the ZenWatch 3, providing 40% extra power. You can wear the watch with the battery pack attached, but you'll draw some odd looks, and it's not overly comfortable.

You can attach the charger to the back of the battery pack while it's on the watch, allowing you to charge both simultaneously – which is handy.

The Asus ZenWatch 3 will go on sale later this year, but the exact release date is yet to be announced.

Asus ZenWatch 3 review

Early verdict

The Asus ZenWatch 3 is a well built, premium Android Wear watch. The design may be a little too flashy for some, but the fast charging and optional power pack takes some of the pain out of the charging ritual.

Whether it will stand out enough against the Samsung Gear S3 and new Fossil Q Marshal and Q Wander remains to be seen, as the Android Wear market continues to stutter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phones and Tablets Deputy Editor

John (Twitter, Google+) got his first phone aged 12 and since then he's been fixated on all things mobile, churning his way through a multitude of handsets, tablets and operating systems. Signalling his arrival at TechRadar by becoming a Guinness World Record holder in his first week (for the highest score on Super Mario Bros using a giant controller), John hasn't looked back since.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.

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