Hands-on: The ZenWatch 2 almost convinces me to wear a smartwatch every day

It'd be nearly perfect if it weren't for the Asus bloatware.

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It’s been tough being a small-wristed Android Wear user since the platform was first announced last year. Even when I found a smartwatch that looked great on my wrist, it was still too big to comfortably wear on a day-to-day basis.

But, today’s the day that I’ve finally found an Android Wear smartwatch that fits me. It’s the smaller variant of the Asus ZenWatch 2 and it is one of the most comfortable Android wear watches I’ve worn yet.

One watch, many flavors

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The ZenWatch 2 comes in a variety of sizes and flavors. 

The ZenWatch 2 comes in two sizes: a 1.63-inch version with a 400mAh battery pack, and a smaller, 1.45-inch version with a 300mAh battery pack. The latter is the one that looks the best on my dainty wrists, though unlike Motorola’s smaller Moto 360, it’s not specifically advertised to the female crowd. It also comes in 18 different style combinations. You can choose from a variety of watch bands with either a gold, stainless steel, or gunmetal watch body. I liked all three varieties, though was particularly attracted to the leather and gold chainlink ones. I tried on the baby-blue-hued Swarovski crystal variant and it felt less like a “techy” watch and more like a regular one. This is a watch I could see myself wearing every day. 

I know there are diehard Android Wear users who swear by the circular watch face, but it’s not necessary here. I like the square shape the ZenWatch 2 has going for it. It’s not as boxy as the first generation of Android Wear devices, though Asus could stand to shrink the bezel a bit.

Android Wear with a spin

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Asus very much added its own touch to the watch faces it bundled with the ZenWatch 2.

Asus didn’t change the interface on the ZenWatch 2. It’s the same, standard Android Wear interface, though it does feature a massive variety of watch faces. They are seriously cool and you’re bound to find something you like among the 50 different choices.

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But did I really need another fitness app?

My annoyance is more directed at Asus’ insistence on bundling in wearable applications that duplicate already existing apps, like Smart Assistance, which syncs notifications, and ZenWatch Message, which offers direct watch-to-watch communication. These aren’t apps worth buying the watch for. What’s worse, they also bundled in a proprietary fitness app, as well as a note-taking and tasks application. It’s all redundant. I just want a good looking wearable that offers the basics; I'll download my own apps for other features. Smartwatch makers are going to have to be more creative if they want to reel people in with their additions to Android wear.

It’s pretty Zen

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Sigh. Still. It’s a really pretty watch. 

I know I’ve gone on about how great the ZenWatch 2 looks and how I’d pair it with every outfit in my closet, but that wasn’t my favorite part of the device. My favorite part is its fast charging capabilities. Since reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S6, I no longer have the patience to wait for a phone to charge. Fast charging is a necessity with the way smartwatch batteries act these days, and though they’re getting better over time, it’s nice to have the option to charge the device enough to give it a bump halfway through the day. I’m just hoping the existence of this particular feature doesn’t keep Asus, or other manufacturers, from improving watch battery efficiency. 

I still need to experience what the ZenWatch 2 feels like to wear for a week before settling on my opinion of it. I tend to fall in love with a smartwatch the minute I lay eyes on it and then change my mind about it after wearing it for a while. (That’s how I do clothes shopping, too. I am the worst.) I’m not an every day watch-wearer, so I need to be convinced that an Android Wear device is worth donning on my wrist every day. Maybe the ZenWatch 2 can convince me of that.

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