Asus is new to the wearables game, but it came out swinging with the Zenwatch

IFA 2014 We're live in Berlin at IFA 2014 where Asus has finally unveiled its first Android Wear smartwatch to the world. Having been teased ahead of the event, does the Zenwatch live up to the hype? We've spent a little time with the new watch and already we're impressed. It's launching in October for €199 in Europe – no word on U.S. pricing or availability right now – but you want to see it, right?

Well, here it is!

A recap on the specs, first. The Zenwatch has a 1.63-inch AMOLED display at 320x320 resolution – and as you'd expect, some really deep blacks – with the now par for the course for Android Wear 512MB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage. The band is Asus' own but it's not using any proprietary nonsense in how it attaches to the watch. That means you can swap it out, but honestly, you might not want to.

Asus Zenwatch

Asus went the leather route for its band with a quick release clasp. And it's nice. It's really nice. The tan leather on display at the event goes really nicely with the overall design and it's nice and soft on the inside, too. It's an Android Wear watch band that you'll want to wear.

The Zenwatch has a curved glass display running over the top and it actually looks pretty nice when you're wearing it. It's not the smallest thing in the world, though it's also no bigger overall than the original Pebble. The back is stainless steel and the Zenwatch charges using a cradle – which we didn't see, but think LG G Watch and you're on the right lines. On the sensor front there are 9 Axis sensors for tracking your activity – or relaxation as was highlighted in the press conference – and a built in heart rate monitor.

Asus Zenwatch

On the software front it's pretty much the same Android Wear we've seen before, though the units here were only running in the demo mode. Asus has got some custom bits on there though like the find my phone feature where you tap twice on the watch to make your lost Asus smartphone ring. That, just like the built in remote camera feature, is exclusive to Asus' own phones at this point in time.

There's also a standalone Zenwatch Manager application which helps activate another couple of features like Asus' own take on trusted Bluetooth where the watch can automatically unlock the phone. Nothing groundbreaking that we're missing out on – especially since there are ways and means to do some of these already – but we'd be lying if we didn't say we wanted Asus to share the wealth.

All in all, the Zenwatch is a really nice entry from Asus. It looks good, the display is good, the band is excellent and it's comfortable to wear. At €199 it isn't super cheap, but it also isn't pricing itself out of the market. Compared to some of the watches we've already seen, the Zenwatch could be an excellent buy for the price.

Check out some more images in the gallery below and check back later on for a hands-on video!

 

Reader comments

Hands-on with the Asus Zenwatch

87 Comments

It does. Still highly limited functionality as it's a smart watch, but at least it looks nice as compared to the Samsung and Pebble offerings out there.

I do not like the Tizen watch that was announced today (or tizen in general) but that watch was just a tad bit better looking so I gotta give it to samsung there.

So...a smart watch has limited functionality compared to...a standard wrist watch that does none of the things any smart watch does except tell you time and date?

Or are you comparing a device that rides on your wrist to a full fledged smart phone? I'm not dogging you, just saying we aren't quite to the Jetsons point with these things technology-wise just yet. I'm sure we'll get there some day, but in perspective we are just beginning with these devices, so we can't expect them to travel at warp speed yet.

I really like the look of this Asus. I would like to know if it is water resistant. I've come to want that in most of my mobile devices since getting my Sony tablet. Looking at the Z3 line as my first choice for my next phone.

So far I'm sold on the zenwatch. It's a beautiful device. But price is going to be the determining factor for me. Hoping for that rumored $150 price tag

Posted via Sony Xperia Z Ultra on Metro-PCS

The CEO of Asus already went on record saying it would be less than $199 US when it's released in the States. They reported it a little while ago on Connectedly.

Posted via the Android Central App

He is saying that they already said 199 Euro. That means that it will in no way be cheaper than that since 1 Euro is 1.32 Dollars.

LG G Watch is $229 in the US. But as always, some sellers will sell cheaper. I'm willing to bet it will be same price. But definitely not cheaper than $199. If you are going straight conversion, it should be around $259.

Because it's probably not coming to the US. This show should've been called the "Fall Electronics Show For All, Except the US".

199 euros converted to $ it's 260 $. Disappointed by Asus. And why smartwatchs are costing so much if they are suposed to be an add on to our smartwatch?

It's less overpriced when you subtract the roughly 20% sales tax. It'll be $199+tax in the US, possibly less.

It is too much moneys for me.

Posted via Android Central App

I'm portuguese so i don't care with the dolar price, but i think that he still overpriced like hell. And adding the 23,5 of taxes per product of my country plus the new piracy tax it will cost the same as one galaxy s3 here in Portugal :)

Wait, if you don't care then why did you do the conversion? You're paying Euros anyway!

You may not have realised it, but you're just spreading misinformation!

Posted via Android Central App

To see how it costs in dolares. Because i saw a new saying that this smartwatch will cost less that 199 dolares, i totaly fforgot the taxes :s

Haha fair enough, I agree though. I reckon it'll be about £160-£180 (about €200-€225) here in the UK, I'm out at that price.

Posted via Android Central App

Yea me too, i thought that would cost less than 150 dolares and now is this? --' F**k Asus, f**k my thief government.

Holy crap, where do you live where your sales tax is 20%?! I live in a state that has one of the highest sales tax rates, and it's only 8.2%. Some cities/counties at another 0.1% on occasion, but that's it. If you're paying 20% in sales tax, I truly feel for you!

EDIT: Oh, I see from some other comments, you're in the UK.

No, the roughly 20% tax which is already added to the price in Europe is why it SEEMS more expensive when compared to US pricing.

Also, what new technology? A smartwatch is mostly off the shelf components in a different package...

Posted via Android Central App

I probably pay a lot more for health coverage than you do. I'd rather pay higher sales tax and not have to worry if my insurance is going to cover the cost of my medicine.

posted via my Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5

Much more beautiful watch than LG G watch or Gear Live...but what surprises me most is that it's only IP55 protected while LG G and Gear Live are both IP67...this could be a deal breaker for me.

what exactly is the difference? I did a little searching and found the wiki page but it didn't help much.

I'm not planning on going swimming (on purpose) with a smart watch but I would like the typical rain showers/washing hands to be acceptable.

IP55 is dust protected and can withstand low-pressure splashes from any direction (rain and hand washing are probably okay, but a shower is not). IP67 is dust tight and can withstand immersion in 1m of still water for at least 30 minutes.

I personally wouldn't go swimming with anything less than IP68.

Another non standard charging method. I'll Pass..... I'm not going to carry another charging dock. Make it micro USB or Qi or my money stays in my pocket.

Posted via a beautiful Ebony backed Moto X on Verizon or the amazing Nexus 10 using the Android Central App

Evilnut, I completely agree 100%. Just another charging unit to lose or carry around and find a plug for. MicroUSB is a standard.....why are all of them refusing to use it? My current (analog) watch requires a new battery every 5 years......this requires charging every night. I just don't see the benefit yet now that Google Now can work on my phone from the lockscreen.

A microusb port makes it pretty much impossible to waterproof to any of the standards watches are held to. People expect to be able to shower or swim with a watch on. Not so a smartphone.

MicroUSB requires a big open hole on the side of the device, which tends to be a problem for making it as waterproof/resistant as people are expecting.

Have you seen the Sony Smartwatch 3? Everything you're asking for is in that watch. Charging via MicroUsb.... ip68 waterproof. Only needs to be charged every 2 - 5 days depending in usage.

What's with the rather huge gap between the band and the watch casing? Maybe a minor detail but now its a major eyesore to me.

Posted via Android Central App

Yep, I saw that immediately, too. Doesn't make much sense why they would do that, as it's really unattractive.

Strap good. Rest of watch does nothing for me. Many years have passed, and all these ginormous watches look as stupid as when people were strapping iPods to their wrists.

If it were not for the large bezels, this watch would be extremely attractive. Maybe it is just the perspective of the pictures, but the screen looks tiny compared to the overall size.

Why can't any of these companies get things RIGHT with their Android Wear watches? Sony nailed it with their Smartwatch 2:

- Always on display like Pebble, but full color and touch screen.
- 4 day battery life.
- Micro USB charge port.

These OLED displays, 1-day battery, and proprietary chargers just defeat the purpose for me.

.... magic? I've had a Sony Smartwatch 2 since Christmas. The display is 100% visible in direct sun. The time is always displayed, no need to interact with the watch to display the time. The screen is full color and capacitive touch. It consistently gets 4 days of battery life. It has a sealed micro usb charge port and is water resistant to 2 meters.

No magic here sir, and no good reason why every smart watch since has been a step backwards in one or more of these areas.

It looks great.... until the screen lights up. The screen looks tiny in comparison to the watch body. I realize there are hardware limitations with this type of device right now, but this is a big compromise IMO. A comparison comes to mind: back in the day, I had a Canon 20D camera and it had the tiniest little LCD screen on the back because LCD screens weren't mature yet. Now, even the cheapest cameras have large hi-res displays. I think these Smartwatches are going to need the same kind of advancement to really make an impression. I am not at all impressed by this large watch face where the screen is a relatively small rectangle in the center of the body. It just doesn't look right and this limitation will look dated very quickly in a year or two - maybe even 6 months from now.

I really like it. I can't wait for AC's smartwatch roundup review like they did with chromebooks!

Posted via Android Central App

A very handsome watch....the issues are with the display and android wear in general, not to beat a very dead horse but, visibility in the day is just plain awful I have a gear live and in the outdoors its 90% worthless even with the brightness maxed...and then the battery dies quicker so catch 22 here....I have tried different watch faces to compensate but no luck.
and lastly i understand there will be some android wear updates soon, one as early as this week, that will help mitigate some issues, but I hope they will include being able to go back to view previous texts or messages...and fix the swipe to delete forever function...I dont know how many times I had accidentally swiped the wrong way and have the card I needed gone forever...user error yes but still its annoying to not be able to go back....

These are the sorts of issues you're going to face when you try to out a mini smartphone on your wrist. Screen readability in daylight is always going to be a factor. They're damn sexy devices but ultimately smart watches will be a niche product that fades away like so many fads.

You're probably correct unless, as rumored, the iWatch has NFC for payments. If smart watches become an easy way to pay, then they will likely become more popular than the phones themselves - maybe.

I like the thin strap, but I think it might be too big and unattractive on my small wrist, like most smartwatches.

Posted via AC App on HTC One

I think the display is a little on the small side relative to the entire watchface, but Asus definitely nailed this design-wise. I would give serious consideration to buying this watch, because I think it's elegant and functional.

It honestly looks cheap. The band, bezel, and multiple pieces of the body look like an unfinished product when put together the way they do. Hopefully they make some improvements before release, or add different colour/band options.

Looks alright IMO, less boring than the first LG/Samsung watches... Dat bezel tho, meh. So much for all the rumors and reading between the lines after they said it'd be under 200 Euro, ended up being more of the same. Color me whelmed... Ball is in your court Moto!

The real question here is: when is this kid going to get over himself and change his picture that makes him look like a tool?

Phil and the English editorialist should be your examples of professionalism. I read their articles with interest. I hit the back arrow when I see your proud picture.

I don't mean to bust your "blls." I like the site and reviews. I have always cringed at your smug looking picture. Perhaps I'm reading it wrong.

I like this one the best so far. Certainly beats what Samsung launched today. Did you see that gaudy thing?? Where was Samsung's taste in coming up with that thing?

Looks nice, but It won't work for me because I have a nickel allergy (though I haven't work a watch with metal in years).

I like the relatively simple uncomplicated look. It's not perfect, but I prefer it to the other square style watches. I am not sure whether the round LG R and Moto 360 are overly thick.
I think I'll wait till I can see them IRL, probably when colleagues buy them, and then decide.

The band looks nice but the watch face doesn't look appealing at all. Moto 360 is the only one I would be interested in just based off the design alone.