We at GizChina have been following the Chinese wearables market for quite a while now but never have been blown away with the selection of interesting wearables. There have been some interesting tries, for example the WeLoop Tommy, but those devices never have been more than a nice try. We tested both the WeLoop Tommy and the Elephone W1, both of them haven’t been as useful as they could’ve been. In the end, if you planned to get a smartwatch, you had to look elsewhere. Plenty of great devices have been available on the western market, the Pebble for example or all those stunning Android Wear watches made by Motorola, LG, Asus and the likes.
But now it finally looks like Chinese smartwatches are on the rise. Out of a sudden, Chinese companies start creating well-built watches that do not only look nice but also offer better specs and look like decent alternatives to those expensive Android Wear watches and Pebbles out there. Currently there are two very important devices competing with each other. Those are the No.1 Sun S2 (currently on the way to us) and the Zeaplus Watch DM360. The latter one has been with us for a full month of testing, and now we are ready to tell you about our experience.
Zeaplus Watch DM360 Review: The Specs
The Zeaplus Watch DM360 might look like a device running Android Wear, yet it isn’t. The wearable is actually running the Mediatek Nucleus OS, which most Chinese wearables use. The chipset it is based on is a Mediatek MT2502A, which most of you probably know better as the Mediatek Aster chipset. Yes, this is the SoC they unveiled earlier this year as the world’s smallest wearable chipset, and as far as we know this title still is valid. The chipset is supported by 32MB of RAM, 128MB of memory and drives a round LCD display with 240 x 240 resolution and 1.44-inches in size. The whole thing is driven by a 320mAh battery and packed into a quality stainless steel body along various sensors including an optical heart rate sensor and one speaker.
Zeaplus Watch DM360 Review: The Unboxing
Positive surprise number one was the unboxing process. We expected some cheap paper packaging, yet have been greeted by a nice box designed in the style of a book, very similar to Meizu phone boxes. The watch is placed inside, well protected, along a magnetic charging cable and a replacement screen protector.
Zeaplus Watch DM360 Review: The Design
Believe it or not, but the Zeaplus Watch DM360 actually is a real beauty. Obviously enough you can’t expect the design of a $300+ watch but at the price of currently $79 this watch just looks and feels amazing. In addition to that the build quality is high enough to make people believe this watch is quite a bit more expensive than it actually is.
The stainless steel body of the watch is very tough and survived lots of collisions till now without showing any marks. Despite the bulgy plastic rear the watch actually looks very thin as soon as you wear it and isn’t really distinguishable from any real watch, also due to the crown-like hardware button on one side. The openings for the speaker and microphone are drilled in the body, yet so thin you almost can’t see them when looking at the watch from a normal distance.
Two flaws of the design are the watches front and the leather-strap. The front actually doesn’t feature a completely round display. The bottom of it is “cut”, like it’s the case with the Moto 360, but in a more significant way. This has been done in favor for a home button that’s been placed on there. Well, they easily could’ve left that aside since the hardware button already offers (almost) the same functionality. This just destroys the look a little.
And regarding the strap we don’t like that it can’t be replaced in an easy way. You have to take the watch apart to replace the wristband and so far we haven’t seen Zeaplus offering replacement bands. The band itself is supposed to be made from calfskin. While we cannot confirm that, we also do not want to deny it and just leave that question open. As a matter of fact: quality appears to be good and the band survived pretty much everything to date – even longer contact with water. We only spotted a few rubbing-traces from the table.
Zeaplus Watch DM360 Review: The Display
As mentioned before, the Zeaplus Watch DM360 doesn’t come with an OLED panel but a LCD screen instead. The quality of the screen is ok but not outstanding. The colors are quite OK and the brightness is extremely high, but the contrast obviously could be a little better and so could be the pixel density. Still, those flaws never make the display unusable and it actually is quite easy to read even under bright sunlight, which is important when it comes to a smartwatch. The glass apparently is some tempered one since we didn’t managed to get any huge scratches into it yet despite removing the protector from day one. There only are a few tiny scratches that are almost invisible. The touch panel works well but could be more sensitive / precise from time to time. Also it can be sensitive to water, which doesn’t make sense considering the water proofing of the watch. A few drops are OK, but larger or a huge amount of drops will cause the screen to go nuts.
Zeaplus Watch DM360: The Software
As mentioned previously, the Zeaplus Watch DM360 doesn’t run Android Wear but Nucleus OS. Still, the way you control the watch is very similar to Android Wear, so in case you already used an Android-based smartwatch you will find your way through the system immediately. The home screen consists of a watch face which you can change with several pre-installed options by holding your finger on the screen for about one second. There are both analog and digital watch faces available. If you swipe down from the top to the bottom, the quick settings menu will appear. Here you can change the speaker volume, screen brightness, enable / disable Bluetooth, quick-access your SMS inbox and see the charging level of the battery. Swiping from right to left on the watch face opens up the “app drawer” through which you can scroll using either your finger or by tilting the watch upwards or downwards.
To pair the watch with your phone you first need to install the app. For this you need to head towards the app drawer and look for the QR code icon. Once you open it up, the watch will display a QR code. Scan this with your phone and you can download the APK file. After you installed it, make sure to enable Bluetooth on both the watch and your phone. You then will be able to pair the watch directly from within the app. Your phone needs to support Bluetooth 4.0 to do so. Support for Bluetooth LE is even better since this cuts down on energy consumption.
Once the watch is paired you can easily set applications that are allowed to push notifications to the watch from within the app. You also can keep track of the pedometer, your sleeping cycles and your heart frequency. There also is an option to enable an alert in case the connection to the watch is lost, preventing you from losing either the watch or phone.
The Zeaplus Watch DM360 itself offers a large amount of features which you probably wouldn’t expect from a cheap wearable like this. You can access your contacts directly from the watch and even call them without taking your phone out of the pocket, and you can dial phone numbers directly from the watch. In case you receive a phone call, you can accept or deny it directly from the watch. You can talk directly through the watch, again without having to take the phone out of the pocket, which works fairly well. Just make sure to talk directly into the watch, since you might be hard to understand otherwise. Another very handy feature is the possibility of accessing your SMS inbox. You can read the whole text messages and even reply to them directly from the watch thanks to a set of quick replies available. Application notifications are also pushed directly onto the watch. You see a list of notifications with the app-icon next to them and if you click on them you see a quick intro what it is about. In case some application bugs you all the time, you can even block this app directly from the watch with a single tap.
Three more main features are the pedometer, heart rate sensor and sleep tracker. The pedometer works very well and is extremely precise. It displays the taken steps, the moved distance and your burned calories. To enhance precision you can enter your size and weight inside the watch settings. There also is an option to set a daily target for the taken steps. The heart rate sensor is a nice gimmick but not working so well. It often has a hard time deciding about the actual heart rate. If it works, it is fairly precise, but since it isn’t very reliable we never really used it. Maybe this can be improved with a future firmware update. The sleep tracker is a better working feature again. Enable it before you go to sleep and the watch will display you for how long you slept and even tracks your deep-sleep time, indicating your sleep quality. This works very well and again very precise, though we have no idea how that stuff is actually being tracked.
Besides of those main features there are tons of more options embedded. The watch gives you detailed settings to configure its behavior and look of the UI to your likings. You even are able to select from a large amount of languages, including English, German and Italian. There also are some apps available like alarm, a calendar, a calculator, a stopwatch and an audio recorder. The recordings you created with the latter one can be transferred to your PC through the USB charging cable.
Zeaplus Watch DM360 Review: The Bugs
Overall, the watch works just like it should and we didn’t find a lot of bugs within the firmware itself. The only significant bugs are some translation mistakes, the buggy heart rate sensor and the calendar app, which needs to be improved since the month-view isn’t working properly and you don’t see an indicator showing your upcoming appointments yet. The application running on the phone however has to be improved. Right now it isn’t compatible with some Android custom ROMs like ColorOS, and we also had some issues with the notifications using Android 5.0 Lollipop where most notifications didn’t arrive at the watch. Right now the Zeaplus Watch DM360 works best with Android KitKat vanilla ROMs. Something we’d wish to see as well is support for Google Fit. It really is a pity that you can not sync the data of the pedometer with your Google Fit account.
Zeaplus Watch DM360 Review: The Audio Quality
We’ve been very impressed with the audio quality of the smartwatch. In such a small device you wouldn’t expect to find a good speaker, yet this is exactly what Zeaplus built inside of it. It is very loud, doesn’t distort up until about 90% of the maximum volume and offers an insane amount of bass. Believe it or not, but you can actually use the watch as a decent Bluetooth speaker for sport activities or under the shower.
Zeaplus Watch DM360 Review: The Battery Life
The Zeaplus Watch DM360 is advertised to come with a 320mAh battery, which obviously doesn’t sound like a lot, but actually is enough for a smartwatch like this. The battery life depends on how often you use the watch, how many notifications arrive and how bright you set the screen. The maximum we got out of the battery is 4 days, which is quite impressive. The average with normal usage has been 2 days. Compared to some Android Wear watches, which you have to charge on a daily basis, this is more than acceptable and far away from anything we would complain about. Charging the battery takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Zeaplus Watch DM360 Review: The Verdict
After the letdown with the WeLoop Tommy we have been pleasantly surprised while using the Zeaplus Watch DM360 which is the proof that finally Chinese smartwatches grow up. The build quality is perfect for the price tag, and the large amount of features makes the watch a really useful gadget we didn’t want to miss anymore after a few days. Despite regular contact with water and a few drops, the watch still works perfectly after a month of usage and doesn’t show any significant traces of usage on the body and strap. Yes, there are some bugs left, but those are not an issue for everyone and are likely to be fixed, since both the watch app and the firmware can be updated. Putting all that together we recommend you to have a very close look at the Zeaplus Watch DM360 in case you look for an affordable smartwatch from China. The next watch we will review is the No.1 Sun S2, stay tuned!
Thanks to Zeaplus for providing us with the review sample.