Smartwatches running Android Wear generally operate with the same functions, leaving the design as the unique selling point. Apart from a slightly bloated bezel the design of the Asus ZenWatch stands out among Android watches (if you’re the rectangular type). The aesthetics are understated at the same time as emitting a touch of class, and at 9.4mm thick it’s considerably less bulky than most.
Asus ZenWatch vs Asus ZenWatch 2
The Asus ZenWatch was the 5th Android Wear smartwatch to come into existence. It was released in November 2014. The second-gen Zen was released in October 2015.
As the design of the ZenWatch was a winning feature it made sense not to change it too much. Saying that, some refinements have been made to the ZenWatch 2.
The original is avaialable in one size, whereas the ZenWatch 2 comes in His and Her’s sizes. Also new with the Zenwatch 2 are different color options: Gunmetal, Silver and Rose-Gold.
All of the watches are built with high-quality stainless steel. The ZenWatch and Men’s ZenWatch 2 have 22mm straps, the Women’s ZenWatch 2 has an 18mm strap – all have a quick-release mechanism and plenty of colors/materials to choose from.
• Asus ZenWatch WI500Q: 51 x 39.9mm x 9.4mm
• Men’s ZenWatch 2 WI501Q: 49 x 41mm x 9.4mm
• Women’s ZenWatch 2 WI502Q: 45 x 37mm x 10.4mm
New Side Button
The power button located on the back of the original Zen has morphed into a crown like affair on the side of the Zen 2. The new power/crown button can be pressed to turn the display on or off, and held down to access the apps menu.
Both the original and Men’s Zen 2 have a 1.63-inch 320 x 320 (278ppi) curved AMOLED touchscreen protected by Gorilla Glass 3.
The Women’s Zen 2 has a smaller 1.45-inch 280 x 280 (275ppi) curved AMOLED touchscreen protected by Gorilla Glass 3.
Under The Hood
What’s new inside the Asus ZenWatch 2? The new models use the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.2 GHz Quad Core processor as the original, and have the same 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage.
The original ZenWatch uses Bluetooth 4.0 to sync with devices, the ZenWatch 2 uses Bluetooth 4.1.
The 9-axis bio sensor combination found in the original has become a 6-axis senor in the Zenwatch 2, so there’s no longer heart rate monitoring. That would be a bit of a shame if the original’s BPM counting was accurate, but it isn’t particularly.
When Android Wear 1.3 rolled out with wi-fi support many AW smartwatches benefitted from being able to connect to the web smartphone-free.
Although the original Asus ZenWatch uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor which has a wi-fi chip built-in, the smartwatch lacks the necessary wi-fi antenna – so no tetherless wi-fi.
The Asus ZenWatch 2 does have a wi-fi antenna – hence tetherless wi-fi capability.
The original Asus ZenWatch does not have a built-in speaker, whereas the Asus ZenWatch 2 (men’s version) does. When the time comes that Android Wear will feature speaker support which will allow you to listen to received calls and messages on your smartwatch you’ll be missing out with the original ZenWatch.
The new ZenWatch 2 ships with the latest version of Android Wear, but updating the original ZenWatch brings it pretty much up to scratch – apart from the lack of wi-fi. Also the Wellness app has been revamped for the new models, plus a few more tweaks and colors.
All the Zens are compatible with Android 4.3 + and iOS 8.2 + (limited features with iOS).
Not a great deal of change in the battery life department. The original ZenWatch has a 368mAh battery that lasts for around 1 – 1.5 days with typical use.
The Men’s ZenWatch 2 has a 400mAh battery that should stretch to 1.5 days. It also has a 155mAh ChargeBack extended battery pack that gives it an extra half a day. The Women’s ZenWatch 2 has a 300mAh battery that lasts for around 1.5 days.
The charging experience has been adjusted with the ZenWatch 2. Unlike the original which uses a cradle the new model uses a magnetic Pogo Pin.
The original has a water-resistant rating of IP55 – which basically means “keep it the hell away from water!”
The New models are both IP67 – meaning in theory they can withstand being dunked to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes while being held absolutely still – in other words “keep them the hell away from water!”
When the 2nd-gen Zens first emerged they were actually cheaper than the original. It’s hard to gauge an accurate price as there is a wide range of deals for all the ZenWatch models. The best term to describe the price of the ZenWatches is “pretty damn cheap”.
It’s a bit of a no-brainer. The ZenWatch 2 improves on the original in several ways, apart from lacking a heart rate monitor. The new model has a crown button, wi-fi, built-in speaker, better fitness tracking, a slightly better battery life and the price isn’t much different.
• Asus Zenwatch
• Asus Zenwatch 2
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