Zepp is a newcomer to the smartwatch game, but its parent company, Huami, has been producing them under the Amazfit banner for years. While Amazfit has largely focused on budget-minded offerings, Zepp is clearly targeting those who’re looking for a more premium device, as evidenced by the recently released Zepp E Circle and this, the Zepp Z.
With a number of different players currently vying for the smartwatch spotlight, the Zepp Z looks to stand out from the crowd by swinging for the fences with its build quality. Additionally, its mature aesthetic and expanded feature set puts an even stronger emphasis on the high-end vibe when compared to the E Circle.
The Zepp Z also backs up its sharp looks with some impressive specs. However, it comes at a price that puts it in direct competition with offerings from established players like Apple and Samsung. Does the Z have what it takes to lure smartwatch buyers away? Let’s find out.
Zepp Z Specifications
- 1.39″ AMOLED display
- 46.3-mm watch case
- GPS and GLONASS positioning systems
- 5 ATM Water-resistant grade
- Brown leather band with classic pin buckle
- 340 mAh battery
- Magnetic wireless charging
Luxurious Design Language
While the E Circle has a modern, minimalist style, the Z instead looks to capture the classic look and feel of a traditional timepiece. It’s hefty and feels high quality, due in no small part to the polished titanium alloy body and the large, multi-function rotatable crown. Below the crown is a quick access button, and while an identical button appears to be outfitted above the crown, it doesn’t depress or serve any practical purpose. It’s a curious design choice, as there are certainly additional functions that could be assigned to this button if it were indeed functional, but it seems to be there only for the sake of symmetry.
The underside of the watch body is covered in a translucent glossy black cover with a slightly raised center circle that contains the heart rate and blood oxygen sensors. A USB-A magnetic wireless charging puck is included in the box and attaches here, but buyers will need to have their own charging bricks. Traditional wireless charging pads work, as well.
The Z also comes fitted with a 22-mm brown leather band. It’s not the softest leather we’ve ever worn, but it’s thick, seemingly durable, and the stitching is a nice touch. Importantly, it’s also comfortable to wear. And if you’re not a fan of this particular band, the Z’s universal connector design allows it to be swapped out for a wide array of different watch bands.
Like the Amazfit smartwatches, the Zepp Z’s functions focus largely on fitness. There are apps to monitor activity goals, heart rate, PAI, and other health-related utilities, as well as widgets for weather, alarm, music and event reminders. It also boasts an integrated GPS receiver — something the E Circle lacks — which makes its activity monitoring functions much more useful.
The Z’s display is a lovely 1.39-inch 454 x 454 resolution AMOLED made from tempered glass. It’s bright, colorful and easy to read in a variety of conditions. Its touch response is also accurate enough to never distract while swiping around in the menu system. The Z also includes a variety of watch faces, with more available for download.
The smartwatch doesn’t have any accessible internal storage, so most of the data and settings can be found in its companion smartphone app, which is available for both Android and iOS. There you’ll find more detailed activity tracking data and the majority of the settings options for the watch’s behavior.
There’s also a built-in microphone for offline voice commands. This allows you to pull up various watch functions. Plus, it has Amazon Alexa support, which extends its range of voice-activated capabilities substantially.
Unrivaled Battery Performance
First and foremost, we’d be remiss if we didn’t heap praise on the Z’s battery life. Zepp claims up to 15 days of typical tracking and functionality from its 340 mAh battery. And after several days of normal use, we see little reason to doubt that’s feasible. That performance stands in stark contrast to the Apple Watch range, for example, which generally won’t last more than a day without a recharge. And you’d be lucky to get two solid days out of a Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 before running out of juice.
Your mileage may vary based on your preferred watch settings and myriad variables, but suffice to say, you won’t need to take this one off every night to charge.
Where the Zepp Z is less successful is in its integration with the iPhone 12 Pro Max we paired it with. While certain supported app notifications like Facebook Messenger and Twitter work fine, the watch didn’t acknowledge any incoming text messages from the iPhone’s native Messages app. There’s also no way to respond to notifications through voice dictation, despite the presence of a microphone. Additionally, with no third-party app support, what you see here is ostensibly what you get.
Ultimately, much of the Zepp Z’s capability is tied to what the companion smartphone app offers. Right now that’s centered on fitness data, watch settings, and little else, which limits the Zepp Z’s overall usefulness outside of looking sharp and tracking health metrics.
Should You Buy the Zepp Z Smartwatch?
The Zepp Z greatly benefits from excellent build quality, a sharp display, and fantastic battery life, but it’s hamstrung by a companion app that leaves a lot to be desired. At $349, the Zepp Z carries the same price as an Apple Watch Series 6, the latter of which offers much tighter iPhone integration and robust third party app support, along with virtually all of the fitness and health monitoring functions that the Z has.
With that in mind, the Z’s appeal — particularly for iPhone users — is going to be based more on its design than its feature set. And that, in turn, makes the Zepp Z more of a niche option rather than an outright mainstream smartwatch competitor. Still, if that criteria matches up with your priorities and price point, the Z certainly delivers on its promises.
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