The ZenWatch 2 is a competent but unexciting smartwatch that lacks the smooth performance and stylish looks of its mainstream peers. Nonetheless, it deserves at least a little attention thanks to its fair price and a battery that effortlessly lasts for days.
Long battery life, slim case, affordable, works with Android and iOS smartphones
Questionable performance, limited fitness features, gigantic bezels
Display: 1.6in, 320x320 at 278ppi
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi 801.11b/g/n
Operating system: Android Wear
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
Storage: 4GB eMMC flash
Asus wasted no time in developing a follow-up after the rather unspectacular release of the rather unspectacular ZenWatch. This fairly quick turnaround means that the ZenWatch 2 has much in common with its precursor. The display and SoC specs are the same, it has a similar shape, and they're both priced to undercut rivals like the Apple Watch and Moto 360. But the Taiwanese firm will hope that the upgraded battery and new crown button make a stronger impression.
We've been wearing the ZenWatch 2 for a few days now, and can confirm that it's a successful reworking. But it still doesn't do enough to stand out against more premium-minded rivals.
Getting the ZenWatch 2 set up and synced is pleasingly idiot-proof. It requires the Android Wear app to be downloaded onto the paired smartphone, but establishing a Bluetooth connection via the app is extremely quick. After a single tap to confirm that the same code appears on the watch and smartphone screens, it's ready to sync.
The nine-part syncing process takes several minutes, much longer than it takes to install and run the pairing app, but at least it doesn't require any further input and the ZenWatch 2 is ready to use once it's complete.
This is one of the slimmer smartwatches around at 50x41x10.9mm. Sadly it also looks and feels a few millimetres too tall, almost completely spanning the wrist of more slimly-built wearers. We're inclined to blame the huge upper and lower bezels, an old-fashioned touch that's incongruous with the ZenWatch 2's otherwise sleek design.
The stainless steel case, for instance, is thin but incredibly strong, and the glossy Gorilla Glass 3 screen can resist scratches with the best of them. The ZenWatch 2 is also dust- and water-resistant to the IP67 standard. We ran it under a tap and left it in a full cup of water with no adverse effects, so it will easily endure rain or the occasional splash.
There's no heartbeat monitor, and the crown button is limited to acting as a shortcut for the watch face and apps list, but there are neat touches to make up for these shortcomings, like the tiny latches on the straps that make them fast and easy to remove and replace.
The ZenWatch 2, then, has the enviable quality of feeling higher-end than it actually is, even with that tall rectangular shape which, it should be said, remains fairly comfortable on the wrist.
Next: Display, operating system and software