Hands-on: The large Asus ZenWatch 3 adds fresh style and customization

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The brand new Asus ZenWatch 3(Credit: David Nield/New Atlas)

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New Atlas is live at IFA 2016 and we've been taking a look at Asus' brand new ZenWatch 3, following on from the ZenWatch 2 it launched last year. The upgraded model comes with a refined look, updated style choices, and plenty of customization options so you can make the smartwatch your own.

The most immediate change brought in with this year's ZenWatch is the rounded display, following the likes of Huawei, LG and Lenovo with their own Android smartwatches. To our eyes it's a welcome change, but with fewer square- or rectangle-shaped watches to choose from today, perhaps some will miss the old look.

We spent a few minutes with one of the new ZenWatch 3 models, a rose gold one with a white rubber strap. The premium materials used here – Asus says the stainless steel case is "jewelry-grade" – certainly feel great around the wrist and in terms of look and feel we'd say this is immediately one of the best smartwatches you can pick from.

It's also a welcome addition to the small number of Android Wear devices you can use with iOS, so you're not tied to an Android phone if you like the look of the ZenWatch 3.

There are three buttons on the crown, one of which can be customized(Credit: David Nield/New Atlas)

Where it does fall down slightly is the size: just one 45mm size this year, which still feels chunky around the wrist. That's not unique to the Asus ZenWatch 3, though, and it's not noticeably heavy. It's just obvious you've got a mini computer on your arm, a fate the previous two ZenWatches also suffered.

It's very comfortable to put on and wear, but people are going to be able to spot you're wearing a smartwatch from some distance.

The 1.39-inch, 400 x 400 pixel (287 ppi) display is nice and bright and sharp, though it had a rolling demo on it when we tested the watch, so we weren't able to interact with it. Also of note is the three-button configuration on the side, something we'd previously seen on the LG Urbane 2 – you can customize the third button however you like, Asus says.

There are also going to be 50 exclusive watch faces to pick from, plus plenty of widget customization options, and even a watch face maker app direct from Asus. Definitely one for those who like to tweak their devices to personalize them.

You get a choice of leather or rubber (as here) for the strap(Credit: David Nield/New Atlas)

We can't yet vouch for the battery life but Asus is promising both long life (thanks to the Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and fast charging (thanks to a proprietary tech it's calling HyperCharge). Fitness tracking accuracy has also been boosted but again we haven't been able to test that out.

Gunmetal, silver and the ubiquitous rose gold are the three colors to pick from and you can pair those with your choice of leather or rubber strap (there's no metal option straight from Asus this time).

Asus hasn't released full pricing and availability details yet, though it has confirmed a €229 price in Europe (roughly US$255), a big step up from last year's €149 starting point but significantly cheaper than its most obvious rivals, the Huawei Watch and the second generation Moto 360.

Shipping should start in the next couple of months, an Asus rep told us, though there's no official date as yet. You can check out Asus' launch promo below.

Product page: Asus

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