Emporio Armani Connected

If you are looking to buy the Emporio Armani Connected smartwatch, then you have already bought into the brand. Your expectations will be high that Armani’s first foray into the world of proper smartwatches (it previously launched a line of hybrid offerings) will be as fitting as its haute couture, and for good reason – this is a fashion brand that’s precious over its label, so it’s to be expected that it wouldn’t put its name to any old piece of gadgetry. That’s why it’s teamed up with watch giants the Fossil Group for this one. 

The smartwatch is the inevitable place where fashion and technology intersects. More fashion brands are releasing smartwatches because they know that, if they manage to get it right, this is a highly lucrative area for them. 

Watchmaking is a billion dollar business, if a smartwatch can slice off a fraction of that money then everyone is happy. But with the Apple Watch as desirable a timepiece as anything currently in the market – smart or otherwise – competition is fierce. When it comes to looks at least, the Emporio Armani Connected has a fighting chance.

Emporio Armani Connected price and release date

The Emporio Armani Connected launched toward the end of 2017 around the world, and the price started at £339 / $345 / AU$549 when it was first released. We've yet to see the price go much lower, but you may find one or two deals around.

Some models of the Connected watch are slightly more expensive depending on the type of strap you opt for, but the top-end price is £389 / $395 / AU$649.

Design and comfort

  • Fashion-focused
  • Great, solid link-based strap
  • A good-looking, water resistant smartwatch

The Emporio Armani Connected smartwatch is a head-turner. It’s a great-looking smartwatch, sleek but also made to be a statement on the wrist. We are reviewing the Black Steel Display variant (also known as the Touchscreen Smartwatch 5005), there is a leather strap version (the Touchscreen Smartwatch 5003) available as well. 

As you can probably deduce from the Black Steel description, this is one is black in color, made of steel and undoubtedly means business. 

The Emporio Armani Connected looks great on the wrist.

With most fashion brands, the logo is key to the product. For this smartwatch, there are two places you will find the logo on the actual body of the device. 

The first is on the underside of the watch face. It’s big, taking up most of the surface flanked by the initials EAC (Emporio Armani Connected). It’s clear Armani want EAC to become an important part of their makeup going forward. The second is a lot more subtle: it’s stamped on the top of the rotating crown.

Emporio Armani Connected: logo

The Armani logo is on the back, not that you could miss it.

The other place you find the logo is on the selection of faces you get with the smartwatch. They have all been created to make sure the logo stands out and there are myriad color options to choose from – this is a smartwatch that’s been made, digitally at least, to go with whichever outfit you happen to be wearing that day. 

As we mentioned this is a watch made from steel, so the strap (like the face) is big, solid and IP67 rated. That means you can have it on your wrist in the rain without fear that the water will degrade the strap in any way, but don't wear the watch into the shower as it's not fully waterproof.

The strap is link based, which means you'll need a good watch repair shop if you want to take out links to get the smartwatch to fit the size of your wrist. This is a common thing with fashion-focused smartwatches, though, as their makers want them to be seen as watches first and smart second – things like straps are treated as they would be on traditional watches. 

The strap complements the Emporio Armani Connected’s fascia, which is fully round. There is a speaker grille on the left side of the device (yep, you can talk into this watch but more on that later) and three buttons on the right side. The middle one is the aforementioned rotating crown, which is handy for quickly digging into the features of Wear OS

The thickness of the face is 13mm which may sound a touch bulky but it never felt that way on our wrist. Make no mistake, this is a solid smartwatch – one that could do some damage if knocked against anything fragile – but it’s fashion conscious and looks good whether you are showing it off wearing a t-shirt or if it’s half-hidden under a shirt cuff. 

What the linked strap isn’t good for is anything fitness related, but then that goes for this watch as a whole. Yes, it makes use of Android Fit, but a lack of a heart monitor, no GPS and being only really splash proof means that while its design might get the heart racing, it’s lack of fitness features certainly do not.

Screen 

  • Super AMOLED
  • Full circle
  • Could be brighter

Back to the display and it’s a full AMOLED rounded touchscreen, with nary a flat tyre in sight – which isn’t a surprise given how far smartwatches have come in the last few years. 

The diameter of the screen is 46mm (around 1.8 inches) and big enough to get all you want out of a smartwatch. It’s an always-on display (if you choose it to be) but one that gets brighter when you move your wrist to your face to read the time. 

While the brightness was decent, we would have preferred the adaptive brightness to be a touch brighter and had to go into the settings to tinker to our tastes. 

Emporio Armani Connected: brightness

You may want to tweak the screen brightness a little as it struggles in direct sunlight.

When it comes to watch faces, the Armani branded ones are endlessly customizable. We spent ages in the settings, changing the hand color, the digits and the backgrounds. As the watch uses Wear OS, you can also choose from an array of other watch faces on offer. 

Other than the faces, Armani hasn’t done much else to customize the software of its smartwatch – what you get is pretty much stock Wear OS and all the nuances and niggles that come with it. 

Emporio Armani Connected: strap

Specs and performance

  • Snapdragon 2100 CPU running at 1.2Ghz with 512MB RAM
  • 3GB storage
  • Latest version of Wear OS

Using the touchscreen on the Emporio Armani Connected soon brings you to the realization of how smooth performance is when a watch has a Snapdragon 2100 inside. There was no lag swiping from screen to screen, to speak of, and every button press brought your back swiftly to the menu or home screen.

The only real letdown in performance was from the build of the watch, something we didn’t see coming, given how well made the watch is. Our biggest concern was the digital crown, we kept wanting to pull it out a bit as you would a traditional watch, if you wanted to change the date or time. 

This wasn’t because we have a predilection for all things analog, it’s just that the crown is a bit too flush with the side of the watch. Having used the watch for a few weeks now we would have loved it if the designers had just taken as much care of the ergonomics as they did the aesthetics. 

As it stands, our not-too chunky fingers slipped a number of times when using the rotating crown and the metal surrounding it just juts out that bit too far, encasing the crown a little too much.

Emporio Armani Connected: rotating crown

A little Armani logo is present on the middle, rotating crown.

This is a shame as the best use of the watch is with the crown. Roll it forwards and backwards and it gives you a really smooth intro to all the features of the device, flipping to whichever app you are using at the time. So, if you have Spotify on, a scroll up will have you on that face and so on. It’s intuitive – mainly thanks to Google finally getting its software right – and makes navigating the watch a breeze. 

Hold the crown in for a second or so and Google Assistant appears. Click the bottom button and this is where you can search for apps, watch faces and complications. As always, you have to click the middle button to get back to the home screen. The top button houses a quick way into the Featured Looks part of the watch, given fashion is key to this device that makes a lot of sense. 

If you fancy swiping and not using the buttons, then a swipe up on the homescreen will get you to whichever app you are currently using. More swipes let you see notifications and a swipe down is quick access to the smartwatch’s settings.  

Apps, fitness and speaker capabilities

  • No GPS, no heart tracking, no Google Pay, no LTE
  • Activity tracking on board
  • Equipped with speaker

When it comes to the apps that are on board the Emporio Armani Connected, you of course get pretty much all you want from the Google Play store but there are a lot of things that this watch unfortunately doesn’t do. 

Again, the Emporio Armani Connected is for the fashion not fitness conscious. It doesn’t have GPS so you can’t track your runs. It doesn’t have heart tracking so that rules most fitness-based apps out. It does, however, have activity tracking but the lack of GPS means that this may not be the most accurate around. 

It’s also a watch that is without Google Pay, which just doesn’t seem right. The lack of NFC on the watch is a real bugbear given that you will want to be seen using this device. There is nothing better than a bit of conspicuous consumption to show off your posh smartwatch. 

Emporio Armani Connected: crown

We wish the rotating crown stood out a little more.

One thing it does have, which a lot of smartwatches are lacking is a speaker. So, you can speak into the watch for things like Google Assistant. While most people will do this with a pair of Bluetooth headphones on, it’s still a good option to have. There’s no LTE, though, so you won’t be making calls from it without relying on your smartphone.

Battery life

  • It'll last the day, just
  • Charger is cheap looking
  • It takes around an hour to charge

Battery life is okay. We’ve definitely tested watches with much better battery life (something like the MyKronoz ZeTime offered us a few day’s juice on a single charge) but you will get a whole day out of the Emporio Armani Connected, as long as you are constantly prodding it.

This is a smartwatch that will need to be charged overnight, however. If you don’t do this then it will run out of battery before the next day’s morning commute is finished.

This is a little frustrating, but charging only takes around an hour and is simple to do: just place the watch on the included plastic tab. The charging device does look a little cheap compared to the rest of the setup. 

Given you also get a nice travel case with the watch, that’s embossed with the Armani logo and houses a number compartments, we would have expected a better charger but it just looks a little throwaway. Saying that, it does the job. 

Verdict

The Emporio Armani Connected has a lot going for it. It looks great on the wrist and while the Armani flourishes are small, they are welcomed. 

There is enough here to make sure the watch isn’t just a fashion statement, but not enough to make this a must-have purchase. 

A lack of true fitness functionality and no Google Pay lets down what is one of the smartest-looking smartwatches around. 

Who’s this for?

Emporio Armani Connected: watch face

You can choose a number of Armani-branded watch faces.

The Emporio Armani Connected is for those who want their smartwatch to stand out on their wrist, from a fashion and not tech point of view. 

This is a smartwatch that takes its looks from traditional watches but has enough smarts inside to satiate a casual gadget user. Wear OS works well on the device, but dig too deep into the features and you will be disappointed. 

Should you buy it?

If you are buying a smartwatch on looks alone, then you should definitely consider the Emporio Armani Connected. 

It’s a lovely looking, well-made smartwatch that does the Armani brand justice on the outside. It's not cheap by any means, but compared to something like a Tag Heuer smartwatch you are getting fashion for a modest price.

On the inside, though, it’s lacking too many things for it to be a must buy. Google Pay is a big loss, as is GPS and heart rate measuring (though we’d question if whether these were on board, whether you would consider wearing this to the gym). 

First reviewed: May 2018

The competition

The Emporio Armani Connected is great looking but there are other options out there:  

Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45

The pricier option for the more fashion conscious, the Tag Heuer Connected Modular is a fine-looking smartwatch that has some smarts but, again, there’s not enough there to pull you away from the might of the Apple Watch…

Read our Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 review

Apple Watch 3

It’s the best smartwatch around now and for good reason. The Apple Watch 3 offers out-and-out functionality and raw power – there is just so much you can do with it. And those who are after something fashionable, the endless straps you can buy for the thing, will certainly be a bonus.

Read our Apple Watch 3 review

Mont Blanc Summit

If you want premium looks and not much else when it comes to the features department, then the Mont Blanc Summit may well be for you. Mont Blanc Summit is a statement. It’s meshes art and technology. Yes, it's a device from Mont Blanc that’s expensive for the normal user but not for those who already have a Mont Blanc on their wrist!

Read our Mont Blanc Summit review

Marc Chacksfield
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