It’s barely been three months since Huami launched the Zepp E smartwatch, and yet it’s already got its second Zepp smartwatch ready to go. This time, we’ve got the Zepp Z, a more classic looking watch that adds Amazon Alexa compatibility.
In terms of specs and features, there’s not that much of a difference between the Zepp E and the Zepp Z. The Zepp Z will last longer thanks to a 340 mAh battery, with an estimated 15 days on a single charge. An over-the-air update will also bring Amazon Alexa — and therefore the ability to voice control your smart home, set timers, and get the answers to random questions — to the wrist. Aside from Alexa, the Zepp Z also has a separate built-in offline voice assistant that supports 58 voice commands for moments when you might not have internet. So not one but two voice assistants — though we’ll have to see how competent the offline voice assistant is before celebrating.
The big “change” this time around seems to be the design. The Zepp Z very much looks as if it could pass for an analogue watch thanks to its round face and metal case. However, it’s a smartwatch. It’s got a 1.39-inch, always-on AMOLED display with 326ppi screen resolution and a maximum brightness of 550 nits. You’ve also got the option of choosing between 50 watch faces. It has a similar vibe to the Timex Metropolitan R, albeit with a more premium feel to the titanium alloy body.
Otherwise, the Zepp Z has a fairly standard set of features. That includes built-in GPS, push notifications, and continuous heart rate monitoring. It does, however, include some more advanced health features like abnormal heart rate alerts, stress monitoring, and the ability to spot-check your SpO2 levels. It’s likely the same features offered by the Zepp E, in which case, I found that while the SpO2 spot-checks were similar to those on the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, overall the stress tracking and blood oxygen level monitoring were a bit underbaked.
As for fitness features, the Zepp Z will come with 12 built-in sports modes and 5 ATM of water resistance. Again, this isn’t anything mind-blowing, but the 12 sports chosen are a decent selection of both outdoor and indoor activities. And seeing as this is a Huami-owned smartwatch, the Zepp Z will also make use of the PAI metric, which it took over when it acquired Mio. If you never had a Mio wearable, it’s similar to how Google uses Heart Points and Fitbit uses Active Zone Minutes to gauge whether you’ve gotten enough cardio activity during a week.
One of the issues I had with the $US250 ($342) Zepp E was that its price was baffling. That’s a decent price for a smartwatch, but compared to other watches in that range the Zepp E didn’t offer some of the features you’d expect like NFC payments or digital assistants. The Zepp Z is $US350 ($479) and it still feels like this is a smidge pricey based on the specs alone. Sure, it’s cheaper than some flagship smartwatches.
Yes, you get digital assistants this time and some advanced health features — but it’s missing NFC payments and for $US350 ($479), you can start finding some cellular connectivity. The Samsung Galaxy Active 2 and Apple Watch SE come to mind. The cellular version of the former is currently on sale for around $320 on Samsung’s website and the 40mm cellular Watch SE is closer to $450.
Both offer digital assistants, NFC payments, and cellular capability. The Galaxy Active 2 also now has FDA-cleared ECGs. Perhaps the best comparison is the $499 Fitbit Sense? But even then, the Sense also has NFC, extremely thoughtful stress tracking, passive SpO2 tracking, and FDA-cleared ECGs for U.S. customers. So again, I’m not sure which smartwatches the Zepp Z is meant to be competing with.
I’ll have to put the Zepp Z through its paces to see whether the admittedly attractive design and the addition of a voice assistant make this a worthy alternative to more expensive flagships. But if you’re already sold on the Zepp Z, it’s available starting today from Zepp’s official website.
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for Australian pricing and availability.