PROS / The ASUS ZenWatch 3 is one of the most well-designed smartwatches; it looks like a traditional timepiece, not a geeky gadget.
CONS / This watch still lacks GPS and a heart-rate monitor, and its bands aren’t easily swappable.
VERDICT / The ASUS ZenWatch 3 has strong battery life, a great display and powerful processor. It will look great on your wrist.
After scaling back and creating a budget smartwatch, ASUS decided to release a refined smartwatch that is on par with other Android Wear watches like the Huawei Watch and the Moto 360.
This new timepiece, which works with both Android and iOS devices, is the first ASUS smartwatch to have a round display. Fortunately, it doesn’t have the dreaded flat-tire effect either, like the Fossil Q Founder and Moto 360 do, where a chunk of pixels are missing from the bottom of the screen that houses the sensors. Previously, we criticized the ZenWatch 2 for its incredibly thick bezel, which looked obnoxious, especially when using round watch faces on a rectangular display. We are really happy with this newer model’s 1.39-inch, 400 x 400-pixel AMOLED screen. It’s bright, sharp and looks more like a traditional timepiece.
The watch is made from stainless steel and has a brass finish. It comes in silver, gunmetal or rose gold designs. We tested the gunmetal model with the brown leather strap. We really like the crown and buttons on the watch. They are dramatic, but in a good way. The leather band is attractive, but because of its large lugs it isn’t as easy to find swappable bands for the watch. We did get some compliments while wearing the watch. It is slightly masculine looking but still fits nicely on smaller wrists.
The ZenWatch 3 includes an ambient light sensor within the watch, so it will automatically adjust brightness based on the conditions you are in. The watch still lacks GPS and a heart-rate monitor. These aren’t huge turn-offs, but they would be nice additions and would greatly add to the watch's fitness tracking abilities. We used the watch’s ZenFit app to track a workout at the gym. It can track your walks, runs and cycling as well as counting push-ups and sit-ups. You can easily set goals for your various workouts such as a target number of calories to burn, or a distance or time you wish to achieve.
Like the Apple Watch, the ZenWatch reminds you to stand if you've been sitting too long. The watch is also water-resistant and can survive 30 minutes in up to 1 meter of water, but because of its leather band we wouldn't recommend swimming with it.
Both performance and battery life for the ZenWatch have greatly improved in this version. The watch is outfitted with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and 512MB of RAM. The interface seemed quicker and we were able to get 1.75 days of use out of the battery, while most other smartwatches last a little over a day. Your best bet is to charge the watch every night though.
The ASUS ZenWatch 3 is one of the best Android Wear smartwatches. It has an impressive, eye-catching design, strong battery life, a great display and a powerful processor. It does lack a GPS chip and heart-rate monitor, but it's still worth your consideration if you can live without these features.