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 analog 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 $250 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 $350 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 $350, 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 $230 (it’s normally $380) on Samsung’s website and the 40mm cellular Watch SE is $330. 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 $330 Fitbit Sense? But even then, the Sense also has NFC, extremely thoughtful stress tracking, passive SpO2 tracking, and FDA-cleared ECGs. 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.