Finding a feature-loaded Android Wear smartwatch under $200 is getting more difficult with each new product release. For example, there’s the $349 LG Watch Sport, equipped with LTE and Android Pay compatibility.

There’s also the $369 Huawei Watch 2 that offers excellent battery life but lacks any cellular connectivity. Or for a little less, you can pick up the fitness-focussed Polar M600 smartwatch for $329.

It seems manufacturers have settled on pricing devices over $300, well, expect for ZTE. The company is known for making low-end and mid-range smartphones that work but priced well below the rest of its competitors.

With the ZTE Quartz smartwatch, the company’s approach is no different: Load it up with features and specs at an affordable price.

The end result? You can walk out of any T-Mobile store with a 3G-connected Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch for $192.

On paper, the Quartz smartwatch is just as capable as any other smartwatch double its price. And for the most part, that’s true. Well, save for battery life. It’s horrible.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Dimensions: 1.8-inches in diameter, 0.57-inch height
  • Weight: 3.14 oz.
  • Water/Dust rating: IP67 Certified
  • Operating System: Android Wear 2.0
  • Processor: 1.1 GHz Quad-Core MSM8909w Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100
  • Battery: 500-milliamp-hour
  • Memory: 768MB RAM
  • Storage: 4GB ROM
  • Connectivity: GSM/EDGE 850/1900 HSPA 850/1900/AWS, Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz, GPS/aGPS/SUPL
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope & Barometer

DESIGN

By no means is the ZTE Quartz a small watch.


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

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I’ve only used two smartwatches with cellular connectivity: The LG Watch Sport, and the ZTE Quartz. Both devices, due to the added components, are big. Actually, make that huge. They are thick and bulky and take time adjusting to when you first start wearing it.

After a few days of wearing the Quartz, I barely noticed the overall size on my wrist. Other people did notice, however, often asking me about the watch and why it was so big.

The Quartz’s watchband is interchangeable with any 22mm band. Which is a good thing, because the included strap isn’t the most elegant or comfortable.

A single button on the right side of the watch housing is how you access installed apps or summon Google Assistant. I missed the rotating crown found on the LG Watch Sport when using the Quartz, as it makes navigating the Android Wear interface easier.

PERFORMANCE

Over the course of a week, I never felt as if the Quartz was underpowered or struggled to handle a task. Google Assistant launches without delay, scrolling is smooth, and touch response was a non-issue.

Where I found a fault is when leaving the cellular connection enabled for the watch. The added connection strained the battery, and instead of lasting all day as it did with just W-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, the Quartz’s battery would struggle to make it 10 full hours.

Again, when the cellular feature was turned off, battery life was more than enough to get through a full day’s use. You will need to charge it nightly, but that’s better than having to remember to charge during your lunch hour.

Two notable features missing from the watch include NFC for Android Pay and a heart rate sensor. At the sub-$200 price tag, some concessions have to be made, and in this instance, mobile payments and heart rate tracking are it.

VALUE

Battery life aside, the ZTE Quartz is worth every penny if you don’t plan on using the cellular portion of the watch. The lack of NFC and a heart rate sensor are enough to force fitness enthusiasts and mobile payment fans to look elsewhere.

However, for those who could care less about either missing feature, but want an Android Wear device that gets the job done without emptying your wallet, the Quartz is a worthy option.

I suggest going into a T-Mobile store and trying one on instead of clicking the purchase button online. It’s a big watch, and you’ll want to make sure it looks and feels right on your wrist.



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