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ASUS' ZenWatch 3 brings fast charging to your wrist

Engadget Engadget 31/08/2016 James Trew
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If there was ever any doubt about Asus' commitment to Android Wear, squash it now. Earlier today the company peeled the shrink wrap off its third ZenWatch (that's the ZenWatch 3, if you weren't sure), and it's the maturest timepiece from the company yet. The first thing you'll notice is that ASUS has dropped the squircle design that the first two watches have, opting for the ever-popular round display. It's not just about cosmetic appeal (though there is plenty of that going on). The ZenWatch 3 has solid fitness credentials -- claiming some of the highest accuracy on the market -- and there are some important power saving features which aim to solve one of the biggest anxieties faced by smartwatch owners -- battery drain.

Stop me if you've heard this before, but ASUS thinks customizing your smartwatch is the key to your heart. To wriggle its way into your affection/wardrobe, the ZenWatch 3 will be available in three familiar colors: rose gold, gunmetal and silver. So, it's fair to say the company is hoping to mop up a few iPhone users, along with the Android faithful.

Whichever color you go for, it'll come with a rose gold bezel which, in marketing speak, is inspired by the annular solar eclipse. I'm not sure that's what I first thought of, but it looks pretty enough. All three hues look nice enough, and the round display is definitely going to win favor with those less fond of the original blocky design of previous ASUS smartwatches. That display has a 400 by 400 resolution, about 287ppi if you're keeping count, and at first glance, it's going to be nice, bright and vivid. You'll also get a choice of leather or rubber straps. I tried the rubber one on, and it didn't feel all that great, but durable and no sign of itchiness. The rubber will be the better choice for sporty types no doubt.

That's a pertinent point, too, as ASUS made the bold claim that the ZenWatch 3 has "market leading" fitness tracking abilities, including sport-specific activities. So, if running's not your thing, but you bang out 100 situps every morning, the ZenWatch 3 will log that for you (if you're not bragging about it already). We'll have to wait and see how well that actually works when we review it. Which should give us a little time to dust off the ab cruncher.

While I can tell you how smart it looked (fairly smart), and how comfortable it was (go for the leather strap), we weren't able to try out the app that lets you customize the watch faces, or take it for a run, or jump in the shower (it's waterproof) or give it a good old battery run down test. But, it what ASUS claims is true, that last point should be worth waiting for.

The ZenWatch 3 sports the latest Snapdragon 2100 Wear processor, which promises a 25 percent efficiency boost. There's fast charging, ASUS's calling it "HyperCharge" and it's no joke. The claim is that 15 minutes of charge will give you 60 percent battery... or about enough for a whole day. Not bad. If that's true, then you won't need to rely on overnight charges. If you do, the magnetic cable will make that less painful, and there's even a (slightly goofy) battery pack accessory that will give you an on-the-go 40 percent top up. We're not sure how practical that is, but full marks for effort.

Over all, the ZenWatch 3 seems to be a worthy successor to the previous, generally well received Android Wear watch family from ASUS. If this has piqued your interest, you'll be able to pick one up for 229 euros (expect a similar dollar price, or £200) when it becomes available this fall.

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