Asus ZenWatch 3 review

The ZenWatch rubs shoulders with the stylish competition

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Battery life

  • Decent battery life by Android Wear standards
  • Charges quickly

With the ZenWatch 3 sporting Qualcomm’s latest wearable chip, battery life has noticeably improved over older Android Wear smartwatches that barely lasted through a day of use.

The Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip, combined with a 341mAh battery, means you can expect nearly two days of use with the always-on feature turned off. We had no problem getting the ZenWatch to survive a day and a half.

However, once you turn on the always-on screen, battery life drops dramatically. We struggled to get the ZenWatch 3 to last a day with its always-on screen, with the watch begging for the charger by 9PM. 

No, the ZenWatch 3 won’t last as long as the Pebble Time, but this is about as good as it gets with Android Wear right now. The good news is that Asus has built in fast charging into the ZenWatch 3, allowing it to go from 0-60% in just 15 minutes. It’s seriously quick to charge.

If you’re a heavy user, expect to carry around the charging dock with you. Alternatively, you can buy the optional battery pack that gets you an extra 200mAh of charge and is slim enough to sit under the ZenWatch 3. 

We liked

The Asus ZenWatch 3 is beautifully designed with its stainless steel case and rose gold accents. It looks more like a traditional watch than a piece of technology, which couldn’t be said about the previous ZenWatch generations. Its display is gorgeous, with colors that pop and a high enough resolution that you won’t notice individual pixels. 

The faux-chronograph buttons are excellent for assigning to frequently used apps and ZenFit is actually worth using over Google Fit. Its battery will last you comfortably throughout the day and can even go two days of light use.

We disliked

The ZenWatch 3 is a big watch so persons with small wrists won’t like its fit. We wish Asus came out with a smaller version like it did with the ZenWatch 2. The included strap is stiff and not as nice as the Horween leather found on the Moto 360. 

Fitness buffs will likely be disappointed by the ZenWatch 3’s lack of GPS, LTE and heart rate monitor. Those on the fence about smartwatches won’t be swayed by the ZenWatch 3 as Android Wear, even with the update to version 2, hasn’t changed dramatically since its launch. 

Final verdict

If you’re in the market for an Android Wear smartwatch, the Asus ZenWatch 3 should be at the top of your list. It has a great display, useful hardware buttons and good battery life. Its styling might not be for everyone but Asus did a commendable job designing a watch that looks more like a premium watch than a piece of lifeless technology.

It’s not cheap, but the ZenWatch 2 should last you a while, especially since its update to Android Wear 2.0 has injected new life into it. But for those not convinced that they need a smartwatch, the ZenWatch 3 does little to convince non-believers to join the smartwatch bandwagon.

The ZenWatch 3 is a strong smartwatch, but it's not alone. The following three options might suit you just as well or better.

LG Watch Style

The LG Watch Style is a newer watch at a similar price and with an arguably more stylish build than the Asus ZenWatch 3. It’s also a lot slimmer and lighter, making it a better fit for small wrists.

It has a circular screen like the Asus, along with a similar assortment of specs, including a Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset and Android Wear 2.0.

However, it also has many of the same omissions, as there’s no GPS or heart rate monitor to be found. And the ZenWatch 3 has the edge when it comes to battery life.

Huawei Watch 2

The Asus ZenWatch 3 arguably puts form over function, which is not something you could accuse the Huawei Watch 2 of.

Huawei’s latest Android Wear flagship is packed full of features, including GPS, NFC, a heart rate monitor and optionally even 4G.

As a result, it’s also more expensive than the ZenWatch 3 and not a total success – we noted sometimes sluggish performance and a slightly lacking design in our review. But if you want an abundance of features to go with your circular screen it’s an appealing option.

Samsung Gear S3

If you’re not set on Android Wear you might want to consider the Samsung Gear S3. This watch runs Tizen, which means there are fewer apps available, but it has an intuitive interface and plenty of other things going for it.

Once again you get a circular screen, and like the Huawei Watch 2 (but unlike the Asus ZenWatch 3) you get GPS, a heart rate monitor, NFC and optionally even LTE.

Despite launching at a high price, the Gear S3 also isn’t much more expensive than the ZenWatch 3 these days. It doesn’t really have a USP, but it’s a better all-rounder than the Asus.

Lewis Leong
Lewis Leong is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He has an unhealthy obsession with headphones and can identify cars simply by listening to their exhaust notes.