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Asus Zenwatch 2 Hands-on: Square, But Still Stylish

BERLIN - This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Asus’ upcoming smartwatch, but at IFA 2015, the company is at last ready to give up the details about its second generation wrist-mounted device.

To accommodate wrists of all sizes, the Zenwatch 2 will come in two variations: a smaller model (45.2 x 37.2mm) with a 1.45-inch 280 x 280 AMOLED display, and a larger version (49.6 x 40.7mm) with a 1.63-inch screen. Behind the glass, both models feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage.

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The case will be available in three colors (silver, gunmetal and rose gold), and your choice of 18 different bands. The screen itself is made out of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3, so it should resist scratches from common items like keys and jewelry. The surrounding case is constructed from durable stainless steel.

As for longevity, Asus claims the 300-mAh battery in the smaller version will last two days in ambient mode, while the 400-mAh battery on the larger model gets an additional half day of life on top of that (Of course, under heavy use, that time will likely decrease.) When it comes time to recharge, Asus says you can get a 50 percent charge in a little over 30 minutes using the magnetic Pogo connector that attaches to the rear of the device.

Although the Zenwatch 2's looks seem aimed at luxury buyers, Asus also included a heart rate monitor for those with active lifestyles. There are also some productivity apps, such as Business Helper, which makes it easy to check agendas and emails right on the watch.

At the Asus press event at IFA, I got a chance to check out a retail-ready version of the Zenwatch 2, which should be available this October. The Zenwatch 2’s square display sets it apart from other new smartwatches such as the Moto 360, Samsung Gear S2 and the Huawei Watch, all of which have decided to follow the round bezel bandwagon. But that doesn’t make it look or feel any less stylish than its competitors.

Like an Apple Watch, the Zenwatch 2 features a crown that can be pushed in to turn the display on and off, or rotated to access apps quickly. With the upcoming version of Android Wear, which will come pre-installed on the Zenwatch 2, you'll even be able to pair it with an iOS device. The bands are even more varied than the color options, including traditional leather straps, sporty plastic bands, and the metal linked styles that I prefer.

While a US price hasn’t been revealed, the 149 Euro figure tossed out by Asus suggests a stateside number of under $200 dollars. This would make it $150 less than the least expensive watch from Huawei or Apple, which makes the Zenwatch 2 an impressive example of class without excessive cost.