Asus ZenWatch 2: Hands-on

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Not a lot has changed beneath the surface with Asus' second generation ZenWatch, but there's more choice on the outside(Credit: Chris Wood/Gizmag)

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Gizmag caught up with Asus at IFA 2015 to check out its upcoming ZenWatch 2 smartwatch. The first-generation ZenWatch was (at the time it launched) one of our favorite Android Wear watches, but does the new model improve on it in the right ways?

The original ZenWatch was only offered in a single variant, with a two-tone metal case and brown leather strap (though you could swap out its band yourself). This year's approach couldn't be more different, with Asus offering a wide range of different finishes on the watch, and a selection of metal, leather and rubber bands. All options feel comfortable on the wrist, and while the metal and leather are more luxurious, the rubber option (perhaps contrary to what you'd expect) feels relatively high-quality.

For this year's release, Asus is also giving customers a choice of two sizes, similar to Apple's and Motorola's approaches. The smaller version of Asus' new watch isn't necessarily aimed specifically at women, and it may be a better fit for men with smaller wrists.

You do still get a fairly wide bezel on the ZenWatch, and it does have a bit of a smartwatchy look, so its design quality hasn't moved forward nearly as much as some of its competitors have.

Another change from the first-gen ZenWatch is a more prominent crown button on the side; the original had a more discreet button on its back right edge that could be tricky to get to. The new watch also uses a magnetic clip-on charger rather than the cradle from last year's model, but you'll still find those pin connectors on the back of the case (no wireless charging here).

Like we've been seeing in the smartwatch space as a whole, there's a stronger focus on individual fashion tastes with this year's ZenWatch. On the inside, from the specs to the software, there's little difference between the new wearable and its predecessor, but depending on your choice of body finish and strap, two ZenWatch 2s can look like completely different products.

There are a couple of other big things to consider with the ZenWatch 2. First, Asus rates it for two full days of battery life, and that's with the screen always on. Second, prices start at €149 (roughly US$165), which could make it a solid budget option compared to premium rivals like the 2nd-gen Moto 360, Huawei Watch and LG Watch Urbane. The new ZenWatch will land in Europe next month.

For more on the smartwatches at IFA, you can hit up Gizmag's hands-ons with the Samsung Gear S2, Huawei Watch and 2nd-gen Moto 360.

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