Over the last month or so we've been using the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3 for this review. Seeing how it stacks up against other smartwatches.
First things first, Emporio Armani isn't really a technology brand. Not in the way you probably think about technology. It's most certainly not a smartwatch brand.
And that really hasn't changed since it didn't really make the Smartwatch 3. It does come with the Emporio Armani name, but it's a Fossil Group smartwatch, just like the ones from Tommy Hilfiger, DIESEL, PUMA, Michael Kors and others.
More or less, Fossil made the watch, and Emporio Armani helped design it. That being said, The Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3 is a nice looking Wear OS smartwatch. One of the better designed ones really. So I jumped at the chance to review the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3 and wear it on my wrist for a time.
In the amount of time that I've been using it I've come to realize a few things. One, is that I miss having a stylish watch on my wrist as there are many days in which I don't wear one. Another is that Wear OS still has (in my personal opinion) a lot of improvements to make.
The software on the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3 during our review was sluggish
I'd like to start things off by jumping right to something that made the Smartwatch 3 feel less than adequate. The user experience from the software.
Whether it's Wear OS in general or just the implementation of it on the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3, using this watch was a slow, rather sluggish experience. Not all of the time, but much of the time.
A little bit of lag now and then is understandable. What's not is lag most of the time. No matter how much battery was left, no matter if I hadn't used the watch for days and was turning it back on for the first time in a while, moving through UI was slow.
Slow enough to make using it the opposite of enjoyable. Sometimes things wouldn't work at all.
A couple of weekends back, I went out for a run and was out for a little over two and half hours before coming back home. The first thing I did was add the Google Fit tile.
Tile added. Great, right? Not so much. Because immediately after, I tried to add the weather tile so I could more easily check the temp.
I was going out for a run at the start of the afternoon after all and I wanted to gauge my time coming back based on the temperature. It wasn't too hot when I started, but I knew it would probably warm up.
For whatever reason the watch wouldn't let me add that second tile. And after 35 minutes or so of messing with it I just gave up. It wasn't until I got back home and restarted the watch that I was able to add it.
Overall, the user experience was not as smooth as I would have expected, which is a shame.
One of the best designs of any Wear OS watch
If there's one thing and one thing only that the watch got right, it's the design. This is a fairly stylish Wear OS smartwatch and dare I say it, one of the best. Especially compared to other recent options.
While this won't be to everyone's taste, most would probably find it striking enough to pick up. That is if style on a smartwatch is a factor you consider.
From the lugs to the various color options to the silicone band, the entire look is great. And whenever I wore it I thought I found myself staring at it often just because of how good it looks.
The better part really is the amount of color options you have. Emporio Armani gives you six different colors to choose from.
This includes Orange, Yellow, Blue, Black, Green, and Black Stainless Steel, so there's a color that should appeal to everyone. They all come with the same color and type of strap (except for the stainless steel option), though you can easily swap these out for something else if you prefer.
Whatever your color preference, all of them will look great with the included silicone strap or something made of leather or cloth.
The watch is also unisex, so it really fits both men and women. Which isn't something that every smartwatch does. In not so many words, the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3 looks pretty damn good and others would surely take notice.
The screen could be better
The more I used this watch the more it felt like it was taking one step forward and then two steps back. For every one good thing I found about the watch I was finding a couple of other not so good things that needed significant improvements.
Case in point, the screen. Even at the absolute highest brightness level it was nearly impossible to see anything of value when outside in direct sunlight.
I either had to squint or place my hand over the display in such a way to create a sun shield so the glare wasn't blocking everything. If you live in an area where it isn't exceedingly sunny and bright outside all of the time, this probably won't be an issue for you.
That being said, this isn't a problem you'll find on something like the Galaxy Watch Active 2. Which has a screen that's visible no matter how bright it is outside.
This was my main complaint with the screen on this watch. And frankly it was the only complaint about it as graphically, things were fine. As long as you can see what you're looking at and interacting with, the screen on the Smartwatch 3 leaves little to be desired.
However, keep this one complaint in mind. It was a little more than inconvenient to have to shield the screen from sunlight anytime I wanted to check my heat rate or any other stats. As most of the time I want to use the watch, I'm outside where viewing anything isn't really as simple as it should be.
For better or worse, the screen on the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3 is certainly functional, but by no means optimal. It misses the mark.
Battery life? Forget about it
I could say battery life is awful and leave it at that, but I feel a little more of an explanation is warranted.
Now, a lot of smartwatches will have pretty awful battery life. That isn't unique to the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3 or in our review for that matter. However, more and more smartwatches have launched as of late that will last for around a few days before needing to be put back on the charger.
If you use them how I use them, then they last even longer. As I noted in my Galaxy Watch Active 2 review, I could leave it off the charger for the better part of a week because I would only wear it every other day at the most. Sometimes I went two or three days without using it.
In those times, it wasn't on the charger as I would always toss it my on desk anywhere as long as it didn't really need a charge. That isn't possible with the Smartwatch 3. If left off the charger for a day or two, in my experience it will die. Even if only used minimally.
This isn't a good thing especially with how much the watch can do and how much Google and Fossil want it to be a part of your everyday life.
This sort of battery life is also another reason why I shied away from smartwatches for the last few years. Because I could just as easily get the fitness tracking features from an actual fitness tracker and only have to charge it once a week.
In the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3's case, you'll probably need to charge it every night. And honestly that isn't appealing. This day and age in the wearables industry, smartwatch battery life should be better and batteries should last longer. And, some do. Just not this one.
The speaker works as intended
To be honest I expected the speaker to be down right abysmal. To my surprise (and my delight) it actually works as intended.
More than that though, it works pretty good. This isn't a speaker I would tell people to use for music or even phone calls (though calls do work just fine, at least on your end). For listening to responses from Google Assistant though, it's great.
Sound is crisp and loud. And the audio is more than clear enough to hear anything Google says. That might change a little if you're in more of a public space with busy foot traffic, as the surrounding ambient noise might drown the speaker out a little.
I didn't find that to be too much of a problem though. The times where I used the speaker the most was usually when I was outside. Even in some stores with other people around it was easy enough to hear what was being said.
The only time I did have an issue with the volume was in a mall where there was just too much else going on. Even then I just had to hold the watch up to my hear and it was mostly audible.
Wear OS watches didn't use to come with speakers. Back when the platform was still called Android Wear. They're pretty standard now though, and that's a good thing. Because it's an invaluable hands-free function. And being hands-free is the core for having a device like this.
Use the crown button for navigating
This was one of my favorite features about the watch. The crown button. It made navigating the menus a whole lot easier than scrolling with your finger by touching the display.
Plus, it minimizes the amount of times you actually have to touch the display. Which is just going to gunk it up more than it already is after you've been touching it for other functions.
This also seems to work with just about anything where you can scroll up and down. It doesn't work for scrolling side to side though. So keep in mind that you'll still need to touch the screen for sliding through things left to right.
That aside, this is the way you should want to interact with any menu that will accept the input. It's way simpler. The crown button also serves as your button to enter the app drawer menu and as your back button from it.
If you're already in an app, tapping the crown button will instead take you to the main home screen. Still, twisting the crown button for navigation is the main star here. If you have this watch or plan to pick it up, definitely try it out.
Is this watch worth your money?
Overall, I would say no. It's not. Buying it will set you back nearly $400 ($375 exactly). For that price, you really can find something that will work better.
Through our review of the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3, I was able to use the watch for a fair amount of time and it was nice to see how Wear OS has evolved. The addition of the speaker since the last time I used a watch on this platform is a wonderful feature add.
And the crown button with the scrolling function was extremely useful. And of course there's the design. This is a very stylish smartwatch. All those things don't cancel out the negatives though. For me at least, and likely for some others too.
While this isn't a completely terrible smartwatch, the overall experience I had with it was not as great as I thought or hoped it would be. Perhaps it's mostly Wear OS, or perhaps it was mostly the way that it was implemented in this particular watch.
In either case, this isn't a smartwatch I would recommend. Not unless you love the Emporio Armani brand, want something that is first and foremost stylish, and or/don't mind paying the higher amount for something that works no better than something that can be picked up for less.
If you could find this watch on a sale where it was at least $75-$100 off, then it would be a pretty decent buy. If not, and if you don't need to have Wear OS as the platform, go for something like the Galaxy Watch Active 2 instead.