ZTE isn't quite known for its wearables because it hasn't really offered any — at least, not any running Android Wear. The company is hoping to turn that around now that smartwatches and wearables have become a veritable thing in the mobile industry, and as companies of all sorts are investing in their own devices in this space, ZTE has committed to trying its hand.
ZTE's first smartwatch is the Quartz. It runs Android Wear 2.0 and features 3G connectivity, and it's nearly as polished and preened as some of the pricier fashion smartwatches available. Its main appeal, however, is its price point. When the watch launches on April 21, you can buy it at T-Mobile for $192.
Bang for the buck, but with compromises
The ZTE Quartz isn't a bells and whistles kind of Android Wear smartwatch. It's barebones packed into a pretty well-crafted metal chassis. It's up to speed with all its specifications, too, as it runs on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and 768MB of memory as the LG Watch Sport. It has 4GB of onboard storage for Google Play Music playlists on the go, as well as a built-in speaker for speakerphone, GPS, and a barometer. It's also IP67-rated for water resistance, too, and features removable watch bands — which is appreciated, considering the default silicone watch band that comes with the Quartz is stylistically limiting.
The ZTE Quartz isn't a bells and whistles kind of Android Wear smartwatch.
There is only one button on the Quartz: a ridged crown located on the left upper corner of the device. It doesn't spin and scroll like the LG Watch Style, but it is placed on a part of the chassis that's easier to access when wearing the watch.
The Quartz's most alluring feature its is comparatively huge 500mAh battery. If a long-lasting Android Wear smartwatch is on your wish list, but you don't want to spend too much, you'll want to give this wearable a look over. ZTE says the Quartz can last up to 36 hours, which is just enough to make it back home for a charge after a rowdy night on the town.
ZTE's first major smartwatch is lacking a few marquee features, though that's the compromise for its cheaper price. To keep its thickness at a minimum — for reference, it's 0.3mm thicker than the LG Watch Sport — ZTE left out a heart-rate monitor and an NFC chip, which would have enabled Android Pay. And though it's compatible with GSM networks, the Quartz is limited to 3G connectivity.
The Quartz also charges on an antiquated MicroUSB-connected dock. This decision was likely made in an effort to keep the overall cost of the Quartz as affordable as possible, but it feels like a stumble backward as the rest of the industry moves forward with USB Type-C. It's certainly not a deal breaker, but it is an annoyance.
ZTE has made its business on affordable smartphones, and now it's hedging its bets on smartwatches. The wearables market may have slowed down a bit in sales, but ZTE's is hoping its connected watch will attract any early adopters in search for a cheap entry point. For $199, the Quartz offers 3G connectivity on your wrist through T-Mobile, a longer battery life than its competitors, and a relatively abbreviated design chassis that's malleable enough for anyone to style.
The ZTE Quartz is on sale exclusively at T-Mobile on April 21. You can pre-order it starting April 14. And in the meantime, we have a review in the works, so stay tuned.
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