Not too long ago we took a look at a similar high-end Wear OS option in the form of the Armani Exchange Connected. But for anyone not wanting a massive watch face, the Emporio Armani Connected might be a much more palatable option.
Another quality Fossil-made smart wearable, the Emporio Armani Connected is a slightly older model but one that still offers a refined look and feel when compared to much cheaper Wear OS-powered alternates. Not all Wear OS smartwatches are created equal and the Emporio Armani Connected is most definitely a testament to that.
As I said in my review of the much larger Armani Exchange Connected, like an Armani watch, the Connected is meant for a specific niche. A smartwatch that looks good in professional or formal settings. It just happens to have all of the benefits — and downsides — of being powered by Wear OS.
- Armani Exchange Connected review: A high-end Wear OS smartwatch that somehow feels out of place [Video]
One area that immediately lets this watch down or raises eyebrows might be the inclusion of the slightly older Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset, but that shouldn’t be a reason to dismiss it. Part of that is thanks to simple improvements over the original and part of it is down to Wear OS getting a pretty big overhaul in the past 12 months.
Hardware & Design
The entire package is utterly superb. From the unboxing experience to the carrying case that comes included. This feels more like jewellery than what we might consider a piece of tech.
My review unit came in a silver and stainless steel color combo which is always a classic look that ages well. Coming directly from the 48mm Exchange Connected it instantly felt tiny by contrast. The crown is much smaller, which does mean a smaller display.
That 1.9-inch 390 by 390 pixel AMOLED display is superb in almost all lighting conditions. Like most smartwatches from Fossil, the display has that small black border that gives space between the edge of the casing and the touch-sensitive portion of the display. I’ve praised it before and will do so again as it eliminates any sort of phantom touch if you happen to grasp the edges of the crown.
There are a couple of models to choose from in the Emporio Armani Connected line. My model came with the stainless steel strap — which I avoid as much as humanly possible. You can get replacement straps in different materials that range from leather to silicone.
If you’re looking for a watch that you can wear everywhere, then I would most definitely recommend picking up another strap. I’m not a particularly hairy bloke but the number of times my wrist hairs were caught by the links was almost unfair. In my experience, it was the worst watch strap I’ve worn for an extended period. Get a cheap replacement leather strap and it will no doubt change that instantly.
Despite that pretty minor issue on my end, the rest of the watch is sleek and refined. I do love a dial on a smartwatch and the Armani Connected duly delivers a superb dial. It has that signature Eagle stamped upon it and the ridged edges give you exceptional grip given how small the dial actually is.
There are two buttons either side that activate Google Fit and the Emporio Armani Featured Looks apps. They are nice enough and have a nice clicky feel when pressed that, if I’m honest, would prefer to be a little more spongey.
The overall design bears the signature Armani style. Expect clean lines, a refined understated look that will fit with any and all outfits — especially in a professional or business setting. I think the inclusion of NFC for mobile payments might help aide that professional look and feel that little bit more.
Software & Performance
Wear OS is what it is. To me, the biggest benefit is the seamless integration with all things Google but also the ability to switch hardware but always retain the same core software experience. That could be considered a negative too but I think at this point it time we should probably embrace how stale it sometimes does feel.
My model actually came with Wear OS 1.3 out of the box. A quick update and it runs the most recent release. I can’t say performance dipped or changed massively between to two versions but the newer interface is most definitely lightyears ahead in terms of usability.
Yet another smartwatch not opting for the Snapdragon Wear 3100 and instead utilising the older 2100 chipset is one key disappointment with the Armani Connected. That aside, it still manages to get through what little you can really throw at it. This smartwatch can do everything you expect of it, and it does so well. It does come with 512MB of RAM too, which results in reasonably solid overall performance.
Yes, you do get the occasional slowdown at certain points. It’s not perfect but it doesn’t affect the overall experience. For reference, as I have noticed with other Wear OS options, the only real slowdowns tended to appear shortly after powering on.
Wearing as a fitness-oriented smartwatch will no doubt be more plausible than it is with the massive Exchange Connected. The included 4GB of internal storage means that pairing with a pair of Bluetooth headphones might be a great option for those wanting a wireless workout tracking experience.
The biggest differentiator — besides the hardware and cost — is the series of exclusive watch faces. There are 23 Armani exclusive options to choose from. You get a really good mixture of classic-style watch faces and they all suit the overall aesthetic.
Always a sore point on many smart wearables, the Emporio Armani Connected isn’t the best in the battery life department. That’s not to say that the battery capacity is bad, but it’s simply not brilliant.
The integrated GPS and heart rate monitoring will no doubt affect the lifespan of the watch. Your heart rate being measured every few minutes clearly has a negative impact on the overall battery life.
If you plan on wearing the Emporio Armani Connected extensively it will manage a full day with some time for GPS tracking without too much difficulty. Beyond that, it will struggle with two days of extensive usage. I would end the day with around 20% left.
The Emporio Armani Connected sits in a weird space. It’s a well designed and good looking professional smartwatch option that has all the hallmarks of being a great purchase. My biggest problem is that you can get similar looking smartwatches which bridge the gap between high-end and everyday option much better.
I do love the look of the crown and the overall experience is as good as it gets with Wear OS — through no fault of Fossil or Armani. The hardware is really difficult to fault bar the strap comfort conundrum.
Performance is about what you can expect given the Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset. We know the limitations of the hardware and that does result in a familiar overall experience. With the Emporio Armani Connected priced at around $400, I think personally the Ticwatch C2 at $199 provides a much better overall value.
Although the Ticwatch C2 doesn’t have that same refined look, it does provide the exact same experience in a gorgeous package. That said, if you want a slimline professional watch option or a watch for special occasions, the Emporio Armani Connected is a superb choice.
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