Is it looks, or performance, or specs on paper, or price what, really? One thing is sure, though: We could use unbiased info on all four. And that is exactly what we are going to do knock on the Sony Smartwatch 3 vs. Asus ZenWatch 3. We have learned not to praise features on paper, but let real life use make us love the product in question.
But, first, a little definition. What are these things and why should you even bother to read on either?
The Sony SmartWatch 3 is perhaps the best smartwatch Sony has ever made, well, before the Sony SmartWatch 4. Its predecessor, Sony SmartWatch 2, felt like an out-and-about rip-off, especially considering what other smartwatches, such as the Moto 360 and LG G Watch were offering then.
Here is the thing. Sony practically invented the smart watch category – in the same way Samsung invented the phablet category of phones – so we expected a little bit more. And maybe the SmartWatch 3 delivers. The Asus ZenWatch, on the other corner, was what most smart watch pundits didn’t see coming really. While Asus, the computer maker, is easily lovable, we still didn’t know exactly what to make of this premier offering from them. But, it is here now (been here for a while too), and it looks and feels like it’s worth a couple of looks. Oh, and the innards should not be disappointing either.
Introductions aside, between the Asus ZenWatch and Sony SmartWatch, which is hands down, the best smart watch to hand on your wrist?
Sony SmartWatch 3 vs. Asus ZenWatch 3: And the Best Smart Watch is…
You are walking down the tech-stores street one day and find two smart watches stocked on the main display. You know right then that one must be Beauty and the other is Beast. But you can’t immediately decipher their names, but you notice one of them is exquisitely designed—it screams “premium,” stylish,” elegant”—all those adjectives keep popping up. That one is more of a jewel than a simple watch, you think. Look closely and you might even notice the store attendant is a bit reluctant to hand it over to you for a test wear.
Even the attendant adores the darn thing. They should. Or maybe they think you’ll make a run for it with this thing. Or at the very least, thinks you are overwhelmed with the smooth sleekness that bounces off the stainless-steel build and AMOLED display of this thing. That thing is the Asus ZenWatch. “ZenWatch,” even the name screams elegant and classic. It is that mesmerizing, only reminding us of the equally handsome LG G Watch R and Urbane.
That is because the ZenWatch3 face is a rounded rectangle, with a rounded-square screen. We only wish the bezel wasn’t as large and gave up more real estate for the benefit of the actual display. But the display is a sufficient 1.63 inches, a tad of a jump over the 1.6-inch display on the Sony SmartWatch 3—which, you figure, must the Beast on the tech store counter.
While both manage to squeeze in some 320 X 320 pixels within that room, Sony’s SW3 leads by fixing more pixels (283) per inch than the ZenWatch (278). However, the AMOLED screen on the ZenWatch, reminiscent of Samsung’s Gear, trumps the LCD one on the SW3. So bright colors are vibrant, viewing angles are wider and better, and black is black on Asus’s offering—which is not exactly what we’d say of the Sony brilliant timepiece. We can all agree to disagree that viewing angles can be pretty useful in a smartwatch. And even when you will not be viewing videos with a crowd of friends around, or making video conference calls on it, you will have your wrist twisted in an awkward manner if the angle isn’t right for a glance to tell the time (at least).
The genuine leather strap on Asus’s wristwatch is comfortable to slide on, and keep on for the rest of the day. It feels comfortable and is a social butterfly that can share your good times at that bubbly social event and still rhyme up to your office attire any day and at any time. You can even swap the straps with something more appealing as far as strap material or color goes. The retro, snap-and-go clasp also goes well with the overall classic theme and secures the elegant timepiece in place. There is no losing the Asus smartwatch while feverishly flagging down a taxi or crossing the street in a hurry.
On corner two, Sony opted for rubber and glass. This gives the SW3 that characteristic sports watch look and feel. That distinctive look may not be what you’d sport for a fundraiser event or to the office, so Sony added a more premium, formal-looking stainless steel version of the SmartWatch 3, but the rubber SW3 can fit your health and fitness wear seamlessly.
In fact, rubber is the better clad here if you care that the Sony SmartWatch 3 is pretty resilient to water damage. SW3 is waterproof for up to 50 meters and is IP68-certified against the IP67-splash-proof certification for the ZenWatch 3, making the latter more water-resistant that all-out waterproof. That bit makes the SmartWatch one of only a few Google Watches you can take out for a swim, shower, or sweat on without worrying it might lose its cool factor.
That rectangular bezel and the square-with-rounded-edges screen is also how the ZenWatch looks. What the Asus ZenWatch 3 misses, however, is the better ambient light sensor on the SW3. That makes it pretty easy to read texts outdoors right off the SW3 screen without necessarily switching the backlight on. Sony calls it a transflective display, and we like it too.
Moreover, the SmartWatch display is crisp, bright and definitely usable. It is not as eye-candy as the vibrant ZenWatch’s, but it gets the job done (especially outdoors) decently. After all, the best screen resolution we’ve seen so far is the Huawei Watch’s 400 x 400 pixels display.
The clasp on Sony’s SmartWatch fits well too. Unlike the SW2 before it, it secures the hardware pretty well, and as well as the Asus ZenWatch 3 holds on to your wrist like Gollum does The Ring in the movie Lord of the Rings. We want a strap and clasp that make it pretty easy and quick to put on, adjust or just buckle and unbuckle to secure and un-secure, respectively.
Asus made sure to let you enjoy the display scratch-less, and went on ahead and smacked a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the ZenWatch face. Sony can only promise such on the upcoming Sony SmartWatch 4. Thus, if you are planning to have your Asus smart wristwatch for quite a while, and probably want to sell it at the end of your life together; the screen protection can maintain that premium feel of the watch for quite some time.
Also, you will notice that the Asus ZenWatch 3 is slimmer (9.5 mm) and lighter (70 g) than the Sony SmartWatch 3. While both are about the same size and weight, Sony managed to add a furious and large battery on this piece, bulking the SW3 quite a bit. Overall, though, the Sony smartwatch is decently comfortable to wear and operate, though the slightly curved glass display on the ZenWatch makes it a bit easier to scroll around.
If the Samsung Gear Live garage appeals to you too, you may not have trouble liking this tiny mini detail about the Asus ZenWatch display as well. The back, however, is as flat as flat can be. That is, if the area above your wrist bone is rounded, you might not be particularly comfortable to clad an Asus ZenWatch—and even Sony SmartWatch 3.
Understandably, looks matter in the smart watch category, with some brands (read Apple Watch, Huawei Watch, or Tag Heuer Connected) selling more of a handsome face than powerfully useful innards. So if your retina deliberately chooses to ignore and can’t comprehend the SW3 where the Asus ZenWatch is, you are forgiven. Absolutely.
But there is more to the Sony SmartWatch 3 that meets the eye.
Both can do almost anything a Moto 360 (2015 Edition), or LG G Watch R can do—all too well. Because all these smart watches are Google Watches, at the heart of things, they all do pretty much equal performance-wise. It can get easy to fail to stand out with an Android Watch, something we felt almost too hard during the blooming days of the Android operating system for smartphones.
ZenWatch 3 vs. Huawei Watch vs. Smartwatch 3 specs comparison
|ASUS ZenWatch 3||Huawei Watch||Sony Smartwatch 3|
|Processor||Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ Wear 2100||Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 400||Quad ARM A7, 1.2 Ghz|
|Memory||512 MB||512 MB||512 MB|
|Storage||4 GB||4 GB||4 GB|
|Display||1.39-inch 400 x 400 AMOLED||1.4-inch 400 x 400 AMOLED||1.6-inch 320 x 320 TFT LCD|
|Sensor||6-axis gyro and accelerometer||6-axis gyro and accelerometer, heart rate
|9-axis gyro and accelerometer, GPS|
|Wireless||Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi||Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi||Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi|
|Battery||340 mAh||300 mAh||420 mAh|
|Colors||Silver, Gunmetal, Rose Gold||Stainless Steel, Black, Rose Gold||Black, Lime, Stainless steel|
|Dimensions||45 x 45 x 9.95 mm||42 x 42 x 11.3 mm||36 x 10 x 51 mm|
However, the Android Wear experience is changing for better thanks to the last Android Wear 1.4 Update.
Both the Sony SmartWatch 3 and Asus ZenWatch 3 can comfortably run Android Wear version 1.4 under the hood as of 2016. Sony’s latest smartwatch came with this support at the time of launch, and the original Asus smartwatch here is upgradable. Still, you will not be able to use Android Wear 1.4 for texting, making calls, watching Netflix clips, and those smartphone-kind-of things. You can’t pinch, zoom or multi-touch on Google Watch either. What you can do, though, is pretty catalog-full and intuitively Android.
Android Wear 1.4 hallmark is in gesture control, and also, improvements made to the voice control function. We felt the OS was too reliant on voice control, which wasn’t (and still isn’t) as great as they might have you believe. So more control options are a welcome addition.
Now, you can just move your hand in varying speeds towards or away from your body, and the proximity and accelerator sensors will help pop up whichever function that attaches to such a gesture. Then there are the usual swipe, tap, social media alerts, call notifications, reminders, alarm and so on, functions also available on the most basic among Android smart watches. You will be able to reply to text messages from your SW3 or ZenWatch wrist wear (by speaking out loud to the screen), but, unfortunately, making calls is not supported by either. You will just have to look to your smartphone for that.
Both the ZenWatch and SmartWatch sports Android Wear v.1.4, so what’s different?
ZenWatch users can use their timepiece as a viewfinder for their smartphone camera. Just speak to the wristwatch “Ok Google. Start Remote Camera”, and the app launches. The speaking is well orchestrated by the Google Now-like software enhanced for smart watches in Android Wear 1.4. Also, users can also log on to Find My App to track their lost phone. And even redirect incoming calls to voicemail simply by hovering an arm up above the clean display as the call rings.
Sony’s innards shine brightest here. The SW 3 has NFC, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. If you have waited long to have GPS mapping function at the tap of your wrist, the SmartWatch 3 delivers as well. That effectively doubles Sony’s watch as the multi-tasking smart watch and sports watch. Because unlike the sloppy fitness tracking capability of the Asus ZenWatch 3, the SW3 will rival a FitBit Flex for activity tracker of the year, though it still needs work. The GPS signal is like any other on a sports watch—quick to pinpoint your position in an open area, and downright archaic at the same task in a build up area. However, when it nails your position, the GPS function is great for users who want a smart watch that can double up as a fitness tracker.
Even more so, the SmartWatch has a pretty useful accompanying app to help you decipher your fitness plan progress—if you are interested. You can find details such as steps taken and calories burned here and on the watch display, together with time and battery life level. Both smartwatches are always-on enabled, so grasping these things will not be a lengthy ceremony, and especially when right in the spur of a workout moment.
Admittedly, though, SW3 nails the fitness bit much much better than the ZenWatch. From the rubbery cover, GPS integration, accompanying fitness-orientated app, to the overall look and feel of the Sony smart watch, it is evident that the designers of the SW3 had “fitness monitoring” in mind when concocting and crafting the best Sony SmartWatch yet.
Unfortunately, and this could change your perception of the SW3, Sony thought a heart rate monitor was unnecessary for the third-generation SmartWatch. Why? We don’t know. What we do know is the Asus ZenWatch could prove more useful to some people with its heart rate sensor. However, instead of hosting the green lights on the back cover, you know, such is what we are used to for most other heart rate sensors, Asus smacked it on the bronze sides. To use it, you will need to make a peace sign gesture on both sides for activation.
Nonetheless, we can’t say the heart rate monitor is poor at performance only because it is uniquely placed. In fact, it works pretty fine from there. Instead, we are wondering what could have become of the current version of Sony SmartWatch if only someone hinted for the inclusion of a heart rate sensor. Surely, the SW3 would have been the complete, go-to smart watch/sports watch hybrid to buy. And to buy most people would have—there is a widening niche for such a device.
If you want high-speed wireless connectivity for listening to music through Bluetooth headphones, the SW3 is your best bet. And that’s not all. You can link up to other Android peripheral and connect to share data seamlessly with either smart watch, but obviously, the SW3 offers more options there.
Both Sony and Asus slotted some 4GB of internal memory to cater to your storage needs. So if you ever feel like wearing your favorite playlists up on your wrists, your wish is granted. If the memory capacity becomes choke-full in either watch case, simply port it to your computer via a USB cord with a micro end and transfer the contents over. If that feels pretty old-fashioned, use the WI-FI and Bluetooth connectivity options available with the SW3—sorry ZenWatchers, you might have to consider getting the Asus ZenWatch 2 instead.
To power, all these, both the ZenWatch and SmartWatch come incorporated with a 512 MB RAM and decently powerful Quad processors clocked at 1.2 GHz. But, while the Sony one runs on ARM’s A7 chip, Asus chose to go with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 series chip, although both watches function almost similarly and each as fast and fluidly as the other.
On top of its remarkable innards and smooth operation, Sony’s SW3 hosts the largest battery we have witnessed on an Android Wear smartwatch. The power plant gates some 430mAh of power, easily spanking dead the Asus battery capacity of 360mAh. This means the SW3 can comfortably hit two days of regular use against the Asus watch’s one. And even with GPS enabled for runners, for example, you can still siphon a day out of the SmartWatch.
To its rescue, the Asus contender utilizes the energy-efficient AMOLED screen to save on battery use. Still, Sony’s daring timepiece is still smarter. Despite being always-on, SW3 dims when not in use and lights up when tapped. If you ever feel the need to save drastically on power, say, when the battery is about to die, you can deactivate the feature in settings and have the watch turn off the display completely until you press it on to check the time may be. Asus could take a few cues here, as ZenWatch keeps awake all day long without offering the option to dim down things from time to time.
As of this writing, the Asus ZenWatch is still one of the most tempting offers out there. Despite its above-average performance and incredible looks, the stainless steel version is selling under $200. Keep in mind that you can search the web for a bit while and grab a better deal, too. Sony’s SmartWatch 3 also carries a friendlier price tag of about $186 on Amazon, for example.
As with anything else, the choice between Sony SmartWatch 3 vs. Asus ZenWatch is absolutely yours to make. There is no stopping the attractive and decent performance features of the ZenWatch, particularly if looks and a great price tag are a deal maker or breaker for you. But if you want a well equipped, long-life smart watch, then the Sony SmartWatch 3 is the “It” you have been looking for.
Also, if you are into outdoor sports, where you feel the need for taking your pulse rate and keeping tabs on how fast you are pushing that 10k, the ZenWatch is, without a doubt, the zenith watch to get yourself, compared to the SmartWatch from Sony. The heart rate monitor on this thing, though a little clunky to operate, works decently, nevertheless.
On the other hand, if you care that much about a smart watch that can convert to a smart sports watch in no time, get Sony SmartWatch 3. You will be able to activate GPS to map your running routes, collect, record, and analyze the health data from your app by wirelessly transferring it to the accompanying app on your mobile device. You will also have the best battery longevity you can have on an Android Watch at this time in history.