Emporio Armani Connected (2018) review

Google Wear meets Italian flair

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Our Verdict

The Emporio Armani Connected 2018 is a stylish stainless steel smartwatch with a huge range of highly customizable faces, Google’s newly-updated Wear OS software, and Google Fit - plus a heart rate monitor, GPS and NFC for contactless payments. It’s a good-looking fashion smartwatch, but one which is let down by an aging chipset.

For

  • Stylish good looks
  • Heart rate monitor and GPS
  • Highly customizable watch faces

Against

  • Aging chipset can feel slow
  • Only slightly cheaper than more capable options
  • Battery life is under two days

New for 2018, this is the second generation of Emporio Armani’s Connected smartwatch. It runs Google’s Wear OS (which has just been updated to the latest version, bringing a whole host of interface changes), and includes must-have features like NFC for contactless payments and GPS for tracking walks and runs without your smartphone.

Being from the Emporio Armani stable (although produced by parent company Fossil), the Connected also boasts a stylish design with a range of straps and case colors to choose from.

These are matched with a number of varied watch faces, each of which can be configured to make your watch truly unique - and the time is permanently shown on the display, something you still don’t get from the Apple Watch 4.

Improvements over the first-generation Emporio Armani Connected include the additions of NFC, GPS and a heart rate monitor. This - paired with the included Google Fit app - makes the Connected 2018 a good option for fitness fans, although we wonder how many consumers want a stylish designer watch which doubles as a gym buddy.

Color options for the Emporio Armani Connected 2018’s stainless steel case include silver, black, blue, green and rose gold, while strap materials include stainless steel, leather and rubber. For review here we have the silver stainless steel model with matching strap.

Emporio Armani Connected 2018 price and release date

  • Priced from £329 / $345 / $AU599
  • On sale now

Emporio Armani has priced the second-generation Connected a little below the $399 / £399 / AU$599 Apple Watch 4, when comparing the respective entry-level models.

This is a sensible move, given the Italian brand’s lack of heritage in the smartwatch space compared to the world’s biggest tech companies, and makes sense considering the Connected’s aging chipset - more on this later.

This price level also fits in well with other watches sold by Emporio Armani, making the Connected an attractive proposition for consumers who have already decided they want a watch from Emporio Armani, but who could be swayed by a smartwatch with a similar design.

Design and display

  • Stylish looks
  • Water resistant to 3ATM (safe to swim with)
  • Fairly compact for a fully-fledged smartwatch

Anyone who is already a fan of Emporio Armani will immediately be drawn to the second-generation Connected smartwatch. The device seems very much at home sitting alongside other EA watches, including hybrids and traditional timepieces.

This is a smartwatch which slips onto your wrist subtly, without feeling like you are strapping on a miniature computer.

The case measures 43 x 49mm (the strap lugs account for the extra height), and is 12mm thick. Although it doesn’t quite have the slim body of an Apple Watch Series 4 (which starts at 40mm), the Emporio Armani Connected should feel comfortable on almost all wrists - once you have removed some links from the metal strap.

Speaking of straps, the Connected’s strap is fitted with regular 20mm spring bars, each with a quick-release mechanism, making it very easy to swap the strap for something else.

That said, the four quick release notches can be seen through the open gap between the watch’s case and its lugs. These are much more obvious in reality than in Emporio Armani’s promotional images, and in some they appear to have been Photoshopped out entirely.

If the notches bother you, you can of course replace the spring bars with a set without quick-release notches.

We think the rest of the Emporio Armani Connected 2018 is attractive. It passes as a regular watch at first glance - especially because the always-on displays looks a lot like a normal watch face, complete with hands, hour markers and a small Emporio Armani logo (although of course this can be customized).

The AMOLED touchscreen display measures 1.19 inches in diameter and is highly legible, even when outdoors and dealing with the glare and reflections of bright sunlight. Enabling Wear OS’s always-on setting means the time is always shown and doesn’t require a tap, button press, or flick of the wrist.

The overall look of the Armani Connected is of a smart and stylish watch which works as well with jeans and a t-shirt as it does with a suit. We’re not quite sure if it’s one to take to the gym, but a range of fitness features mean that is perfectly possible, if aesthetically jarring.

As well as tapping and swiping at the display, the watch is controlled using a pair of side buttons at the two and four o’clock positions, and a crown at three o’clock which pushes and rotates for scrolling through the user interface.

On the back of the case you will find a heart rate monitor, and the strap of this particular model locks into place with a push-button, butterfly deployment clasp.

The case is water resistant to 3ATM, which means it is safe to swim with but shouldn’t join you on your next diving adventure. Finally, there is a small hole below the two o’clock button for the Emporio Armani Connected 2018’s microphone, used to interact with the integrated Google Assistant.