ASUS ZenWatch 3 smartwatch IFA Android Wear 2

ASUS likes to keep us guessing with the ZenWatch. When the original debuted in 2014, it stood out from the crowd with a striking, slightly curved square display. With recessed details along the sides, the wearable had a simple elegance that we loved and cutting edge internals. What we didn’t love was the 40mm screen dwarfed by the 51mm watch face. To say it had a giant bezel would be an understatement. Last Fall we had high hopes for the ZenWatch 2 and could not have been more disappointed. Instead of releasing a smartwatch that reflected an iterative improvement, addressing issues people complained about with the original, the ZenWatch 2 barely offered an update. ASUS hardly touched the aging internals and the design actually got worse. While the watch shrunk to a more reasonable size, the bezel seemed to stand out even more. And the handsome recessed line was removed and a fake “digital crown” was stuck onto the side. The result was a cheap looking wearable. The good news – the ASUS ZenWatch 2 was comparatively cheap: $150.

This year for the ZenWatch 3, ASUS finally remembered where the drawing board was and went back to it. The ZenWatch 3 is a completely new smartwatch from ASUS.  

While it is completely new and redesigned, it certainly is not unique. That is not to say it isn’t a solid smartwatch, but it has lost the distinctive charm the original had and the potential of that design.

The new ASUS ZenWatch 3 is now round. Joining the ranks of practically every other Android Wear device, the new smartwatch has dropped its square display in favor of a round screen. But it is a very nice round screen, lacking the “flat tire” of the Moto 360 2 and besting it in pixel density with 287ppi. The watch is only 9.95mm thick, thinner than both the Moto 360 2 and the Huawei Watch, and has a 45mm watch face. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of on-board storage. The 341mAh battery provides up to 2 days of power, but the big news is ASUS’ HyperCharge technology which can charge the ZenWatch 3 to 60% in 15 minutes.

Perhaps the biggest visual difference between the ASUS ZenWatch 3 and any of a score of other Android Wear smartwatches is the addition of a copper colored ring around the screen and surrounding the outside of the watch casing. While we see this being very much a love-it-or-hate-it design, it is a nice nod to the copper details of the original ZenWatch. ASUS is also including some custom watch faces and is releasing an app to assist you in designing your own.

ASUS has yet to announce a release date for the wearable, but without doubt it should roll out before the holidays. While the US pricing hasn’t been revealed, ASUS is planning on selling the watch for €229 in Europe. Expect it to be fully compatible with the soon-to-be-released massive Android Wear 2.0 update.