Asus ZenWatch Review: The Smart Watch For The Spy

The Asus ZenWatch is out now for £199.99.


  • 1.63-inch AMOLED Display
  • 4GB Storage
  • Android Wear
  • Water-resistant
  • Heart-rate Sensor

The verdict:

Bond was tired. The flight over had been long, and while the magazine in his seat pocket had been mildly diverting, he found his fellow passengers lacking in almost every quality except the one they shared. Which is that they were boring.

He looked down at his watch. It blinked gently, strolling through the dark light into his retina with a lazy amble that made it almost impossible to focus on. He swiped through a few news articles, some were interesting, others possibly even relevant to the chaos he'd left behind him in Rio. Mostly however it was nonsense. And weather updates.

He swiped down, placed his hand over the watch face and silenced its gentle gaze.

I get the impression that when Asus started brainstorming the advert for the ZenWatch, that is where they started. If you watch the final advert (see top of article) you'll see they didn't do much more thinking after that.

Asus wants this to be the smart watch James Bond -- and by extension, all you millionaires reading this -- would buy. Why else would the advert suggest that the people who'll buy it own yachts, classic cars and have perfect hair?

It's an attractive piece of technology, in fact I'd go as far as to say it's as good-looking as the Moto 360. Not in the same minimalist way, but in that it somehow blends technology with fashion without screaming: LOOK I'M WEARING THE FUTURE ON MY WRIST.

That's a good thing, because if there's one thing people hate it's overt displays of just how futureproof you are, especially if you're trying to conceal it from a man who's seconds away from removing three of your essential organs with a giant laser beam.

A gently curved metallic body is then paired with a brown leather strap that can be swapped for any standard strap or indeed any strap that Q branch supplies. Gorilla Glass 3 has been used for the screen so reflections are low and sturdiness is high. We won't say bulletproof because well, it isn't. But it'll certainly survive the stares from a high-stakes poker game.

The ZenWatch then is a winner in the looks department. When it comes to software it runs Android Wear - there aren't too many surprises there. But luckily it's also not bad when it comes to specs.

With a 1.63-inch OLED display it's certainly not the largest, and it's definitely not the most high-resolution Wear watch around. That said, it's a bright little display, and although future devices will outclass it soon, it's compares well to its peers.

There's a heart-rate sensor too - but as a spy the last thing you'll want to do is reveal your own inner weakness, plus it isn't particularly accurate so we'd just steer clear.

Bluetooth 4.0 means easy connection to wireless headsets and to your phone while minimising battery drain, particularly useful for car chases over an hour that require constant communication between you and you're expendable army of support agents.

The remote shutter app is great for two things, seeing how impressed your wife is when she finds you've laid the table for dinner (see advert) and possibly for snapping secret meetings while praying you turned the flash off on the phone.

If you didn't turn the flash off then don't panic, because the ZenWatch also comes with a nifty feature that locks the phone if the watch isn't within a set distance.

It works incredibly well, so much so that I walked away the first time -- forgetting we'd set a backup passcode -- and found myself humiliatingly locked out of my own phone.

As a point of reference it might be handy to write the code down somewhere or at least try and memorise it. There's nothing worse than a planned escape from a hollowed-out dread volcano being hindered because some goon decided to nab your watch.

Over the course of a week it becomes clear that this is not the watch that'll cut through handcuffs or launch small missiles out of your belt buckle. This is Bond's weekend watch, the one he'll wear because a) it looks good and b) there's an advertising clause which demands something good-looking and vaguely futuristic.

That's not to say you shouldn't buy it, indeed unless you're planning to take on the modern Blofeld then actually this is one of the best Android Wear watches you can buy. The battery life isn't great, and the screen could be bigger, but when considered with the rest of the pile -- they all suffer from these problems -- it's certainly the one we'd choose to go to the opera with.