Zepp is a relative new entrant into the smartwatch field and it has sasched in with one of the most attractive earables currently on the market.
Taste is subjective but the Zepp Z, with its brushed and polished titanium body and chronograph style, has few competitors when it comes to a smartwatch that suits formal attire.
However, as with most newcomers to a market, there are some limitations and room for improvement. The question is whether this truly beautiful form trumps function.
Zepp Z: The look and comfort
So it will come as no surprise revealation that the Zepp Z is just gorgeous on the wrist.
Apparently the body is carved from a single piece of titanium and it looks worth every cent of its premium US$349 (£260) price tag.
At 46mm in diameter the watch dominates the wrist but being made from titanium it feels lightweight and comfortable.
With two buttons and a crown and five minute and seconds intervals engraved, the Zepp Z sits comfortably alongside any conventional and formal ‘dumb’ watch at the same price.
It comes with a nice brown leather stitched strap but this can be swapped for any 22mm strap – something those who want to utilise the sports and swimming functions will want to do.
Zepp Z: Tech and performance
The eye-catching feature, along with the design, is the battery performance.
Now the battery itself is 340mAh and, for comparison, the excellent Ticwatch Pro 3 is 577mAh yet it blows the competition out of the water. The Ticwatch will comfortably do two days with everything – including the screen – on: the Zepp Z watch is easily doing four days.
The manufacturer says it can hit 15 days but undoubtedly that will be making some compromises on function and four days is just phenomenal. To again put it in context, the 3rd generation Motorola which is similar in aesthetic beauty, struggles to do a day.
The 1.39 inch touchscreen is AMOLED with a resolution 454×454 and 326 ppi and again you’ll struggle to find anything superior. It pops so well that you can dial the brightness right down without struggling for it to be seen in direct sunlight.
In terms of performance there is no sign of lag and the touchscreen is responsive, although that crown is not just for show – it can be used to navigate instead of the screen, again something that is becoming almost a must these days.
Zepp is promising to bring Alexa onboard as well, but that has yet to drop as an update.
Zepp Z: Fitness and health features + the Zepp ecosystem
Usually we’d split these categories but to balance up the best and worst of the Zepp Z it is probably best to look at the health and fitness features alongside the company’s ecosystem and app.
Many of the health monitoring – heart rate, sleep, SO2 and stress – are present and very well done, wrapping nicely into what is the nicely-presented Zepp app.
Those health measurements are used to produce what Zepp calls its PAI score, with a running total of more than 100 being the indicator that you are in fine fettle. It will also give you the age matching your current fitness state, and while its probably a bit of a gimmick, it all works nicely as a motivational tool.
But the Zepp Z can be a bit stingy on the step count, routinely not logging short movements around the house or office – meaning you can be 10 per cent down on your day’s total – while tracking runs or cycle rides has a frustrating flaw.
It appears the Zepp Z needs time for its GPS to kick in before it will start logging your journey and that is not quick. When it does, it is very accurate but you do face the problem of setting off and not having those first few hundred metres – or in my case first kilometre – not being recorded.
Similarly notifications are pretty basic.
They all come through, and in good time, but there is no ability to reply to messages. It all speaks to an ecosystem that still needs a lot of development when you put it side-by-side against Wear OS or Tizen.
Zepp Z: The verdict
Really it is that final point about the Zepp ecosystem that you will need to weigh against the undoubted merits of the Z watch.
It really is, in my eyes, best in class when it comes to design and battery life, while the background health monitoring seems very on point.
But niggles like notification replies, lack of third-party apps, and limited watchface options will deter those who are looking to upgrade from their present smartwatch.
The hope, while operating systems for Android-focussed smartwatches remain so fragmented, that Zepp is able to develop an ecosystem as flawless as the Z’s hardware.
- Huami, Zepp’s parent company, provided the watch for this review but did not receive any copy approval or have any input