ZTE Quartz watch review: The Best Android Wear value, plain and simple

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Android Wear might not be the most powerful or versatile wearable OS, but it’s always had one big advantage over its competitors: variety. The first round of Android wearables was a diverse lot—square and round, classic and sporty, big and small—and no matter your taste, you were pretty much guaranteed to find an aesthetic that suited your wrist.

With the new crop of watches, however, variety has taken a back seat to size. Nowhere is that more evident than with the ZTE Quartz. It doesn’t have NFC, LTE, or a heart-rate monitor, but it’s just as big and bulky as its higher-priced peers that do.

Maybe it’s the beefy battery and 3G chip that makes the Quartz so big, but whatever the reason, it’s one more watch that will just be too much for most wrists. That said, its attractive price makes it an excellent entry-level watch for people who want to stay connected while leaving their phone (and charger) at home. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a first-generation Android Wear watch for this price, with or without cellular connectivity.

Go big or go home

ZTE’s first wearable device is unmistakable and unapologetically an Android Wear 2.0 watch. Its 1.4-inch AMOLED screen takes up much of the body, but its frame—while definitely noticeable, particularly in the lugs—isn’t quite as commanding as some other Android Wear 2.0 watches.

zte quartz thickness Michael Simon/IDG

The ZTE Quartz is the biggest, but it is one of the thickest Android Wear watches.

So, if you have a small wrist, you can add the ZTE Quartz to the list of Android Wear 2.0 watches that aren’t made for you. While its price is tempting, its 45mm size and 14.5mm thickness will just be too large for many people. And like other Android Wear 2.0 watches, it has a decidedly male aesthetic, with a stainless steel bezel etched with hour markings, and a default face that features digital chronographs for the day, steps and battery level.

Size aside, however, the ZTE Quartz doesn’t feel like a $192 smartwatch. Its metal case looks more luxurious than the pricier Huawei Watch, and its 3-ounce weight gives the watch some substance without weighing down your wrist. If I have any complaints, it’s that it’s kind of bland, lacking any real character or personality.

Buttoned up

The Quartz’s textured silicone strap matches nicely with the metal face, but it’s a bit stiff and tended to pinch my wrist. Add in a sweaty exercise session (or just a particularly hot day), and it gets even more uncomfortable. However, since it uses a standard 20 mm connection, you can easily swap out any band you’d like.

zte quartz button Michael Simon/IDG

With a single button and a simple design, the ZTE Quartz won’t stand out from other watches.

Unlike its peers, the Quartz features a single back/apps/Assistant button, so to restart or power down, you’ll need to head into the settings. The one-button operation is a throwback to the first-generation Wear models, and something of a step backward for Android Wear 2.0, which introduced customization and scrolling with the LG watches. For example, the LG Style Watch has a single button as well, but you can spin it to scroll through menus, and it uses short and long pressing to power down and summon Google Assistant. I’d have preferred that approach or a second button on the Quartz.

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