Zepp Z smartwatch review: Premium hardware, advanced health tracking, and GPS

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  • Editors' rating
    8.2 Excellent

Pros

  • Comfortable, solid design
  • Bright OLED display
  • Advanced health tracking capabilities
  • Long battery life
  • Integrated GPS receiver

Cons

  • Limited apps
  • No support for calls on the watch
  • Awkward health key
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While the world continues to battle the global coronavirus pandemic, wearable makers provide more advanced devices to help us measure advanced health and fitness metrics in order to maintain our fitness levels and track indicators of possible health issues. Zepp's newest entry to the wearable market is the Zepp Z smartwatch and I've spent a couple of weeks running, sleeping, walking, and living with one on my wrist.

The Zepp Z smartwatch has a classic round watch design with three buttons on the right, including a rotating crown, and leather band. The watch body is constructed of a single piece of polished titanium alloy so it is very light weight while also having a battery that lasts for a couple of weeks. It's a very capable wearable, but at the $349.99 price it is facing stiff competition from Apple, Mobvoi, Samsung, and others.

Specifications

  • Display: 1.39-inch 454x454 pixels resolution AMOLED
  • Materials: Tempered glass display, titanium alloy and plastic casing
  • Water resistance: 5 ATM
  • Connectivity and sensors: Bluetooth 5.0, GPS/GLONASS, optical HR, acceleration sensor, air pressure sensor, geomagnetic sensor, ambient light sensor
  • Bands: Standard 22mm quick release
  • Battery: 340 mAh, rated at up to 15 days in typical tracking usage and 15 days in basic watch mode
  • Dimensions: 45.9 x 45.9 x 10.75mm and 45 grams

The Zepp Z comes with a brown leather band, but I swapped out and wore a black silicone one for running. A microphone is included for voice commands, with Alexa coming soon, but there is no speaker for phone calls.

Also: Best smartwatches in 2020: Apple and Samsung battle for a spot on your wrist

Hardware

The Zepp Z appears most similar to the Galaxy Watch 3 or a traditional watch. The display is set down away from the time scale bezel, which helps to protect the glass from bumps. The AMOLED display looks fantastic and most of the time the auto-brightness was kept below 50% while providing complete viewability in various lighting environments.

The right side has three buttons with the center button also serving as a rotating crown for scrolling through lists and then selecting items by pressing it in. The upper right button does not press in like the middle and lower buttons. It works only when the display is on and you are on the home screen and then requires that you place your finger on it and hold it there for a couple of seconds. I've had intermittent success with this "button" and thought at first that it was a defective sample due to the lack of any movement or response most of the time.

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The titanium casing is lovely and helps make the watch very light when compared to other smartwatches of this size. The back is composed of glossy black plastic with a subtle central heart rate sensor. This sensor also measures blood oxygen levels.

A standard 22mm leather band is included with quick release pins available to let you quickly switch out bands. 22mm bands can be found on Amazon for reasonable prices so you can completely outfit your new watch with styles that match your needs.

Zepp advertises a 15-day battery life and even with two to three outdoor runs a week I was able to go between charges for more than a week. Battery life was so good that I didn't even think about it and wore the watch 24/7 to track sleep, stress, running outside, and more.

Also: Amazfit PowerBuds review: Heart rate sensor, innovative ear hooks, and long battery life

Watch software

The watch is very easy to use. Swipe down from the top to quickly view the date, day of the week, weather, and seven quick control buttons. These buttons include battery saver, flashlight, do not disturb, theater mode, find my phone, and more.

Swipe up from the bottom to view your notifications. Press and hold on the watch face to customize or change your watch face. Swipes to the left and right take you through the various screens. These screens include activity goal, heart rate, music, weather, and PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence). You can go into the settings to select other apps with a limit of up to five of these quick access apps active at one time.

Press the side button to view the included apps. Apps are available for stress, PAI, heart rate, SpO2, workout, activities, activity goal, weather, music, alarm, events, widgets, and settings. You can scroll through these with swipes on the display or spinning the center crown button.

Selecting any of these provides more detail on that topic. There is no offline music supports so this music app is a controller for music playing on your phone. If you select widgets, then compass, timer, countdown, and find mobile are available options.

A simple, always-on watch face also appears when the display times out. You have control over this in the basic settings area. Settings include watch face settings, auto screen off, always on mode, long press the side button, and quick access app.

Press the lower right button to launch the Workout utility and then scroll to find your preferred workout. 12 sport modes are available, including outdoor running, walking, outdoor cycling, treadmill, open water swimming (the watch is rated for 5 ATM), elliptical, trail running, skiing, and more.

The top button is the health key and in the settings you can choose to have it measure heart rate, blood oxygen, or stress.

Also: Best GPS sports watches in 2020: Coros, Garmin, Polar, and other smartwatches

Smartphone software

In order to connect your phone and experience everything there is to offer with the Zepp Z smartwatch, download and install the Zepp app to your phone. The Zepp app is a very comprehensive application that supports connecting and managing all of your Amazfit products. It is used for various earbuds, like the PowerBuds I recently reviewed, and other products.

The application launches with a summary page that shows your daily steps status, calories burned, sleep, sleep score, heart rate history, PAI, goal tracker, and more. The other two main screens are labeled Enjoy and Profile.

The Enjoy tab/display shows options for the alarm clock, schedule, find a device, watch face, notification manager, and more. It is updated to reflect the functions of the currently connected device with a long list of other functions that are grayed out since they do not work with the Zepp Z. There is a tutorial for the offline voice commands so check that out to see what commands are available before the Amazon Alexa update.

The Profile screen is where you see the status of your devices and can also control and completely manage the specific devices. Your goals, records, friends, third party connected accounts (We Chat, Google Fit, Strava, and Relive), and other settings are present here.

There is a watch face store with a large number of available faces for you to download and use on the Zepp Z so you won't be lacking for watch face options and can truly make it your own.

Back on the main smartphone display, tap the four leaf icon in the upper right corner to view All Data. Here you can see categories for exercise data, status data, health sign, body measurements, and body composition. Much of this data is entered manually as the wearables don't track all of this and I personally don't feel comfortable entering all of these personal details here.

There are some health tips and summary reports, including charts, for the exercise and health data that are interesting and helpful to understand your health and wellness. You can use some of the tips for motivation to improve your health and it is a comprehensive application.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

If you have an Android smartphone and don't have the option to buy an Apple Watch then you may want to consider the Zepp Z as an alternative to a Samsung or Google Wear OS watch. Also, if you do own an iPhone and want a watch that you don't have to charge daily then you may want to consider the Zepp Z.

The strengths of this new smartwatch clearly lies in the health tracking capability and long battery life. It has the ability to measure your blood oxygen, stress, heart rate, sleep, calories burned, steps, and more.

The GPS performance was solid and closely matched the performance on GPS sports watches that I also ran with as I was testing the Zepp Z. There isn't as much customization of the data you see on the watch while you run, but it gets the job done for casual athletes.

The watch is very light and is comfortable for 24/7 wear on the wrist. The leather band is nice for daily wear, but I recommend a standard 22mm silicone band for working out. You can quickly switch watch faces for going out, heading to the office, or working out in the rain.

The Zepp smartphone app contains a vast amount of data and it does take some time to figure out how to best navigate around and find the information you want to see. Explore all of the various options, settings, and widgets available in the app and on the watch.

While the Zepp Z is a rather elegant smartwatch, $349.99 is a bit high when there are no third party apps, you cannot receive or initiate phone calls from the watch, and wireless payment systems are not supported. If you are looking for a traditional watch design that has GPS, long battery life, and enhanced health tracking features then you may want to consider the Zepp Z smartwatch.

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