Zeblaze is a Chinese company founded in 2014 that specializes in wearables and already has several devices in its portfolio. With the Zeblaze Thor Pro, we took a closer look at one of their top models and checked whether the euphoric naming is really justified.
Zeblaze provided the Thor Pro with an MTK6580 quad-core processor with 1.0 GHz clock rate as well as with 1GB RAM and 16GB ROM. As it is so often the case with classic smartwatches from China, the operating system is a fully-fledged Android 5.1 (including the Play Store), which has been supplemented by some in-house apps. In terms of connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi and a SIM card slot provide all the necessary interfaces that are even more reminiscent of the features of a budget smartphone. The watch also offers a pedometer, a GPS module, a heart rate monitor and a 2-megapixel camera.
The scope of delivery includes the watch, a manual, the charger cradle, and a screwdriver.
Design and build quality
The Zeblaze Thor Pro has a noble, black stainless steel casing, which ends at the upper edge in a bezel with a white 360-degree compass inscription. On the right, there are two nice looking buttons and the 2MP camera. Unfortunately, the camera is unfavorably positioned at the crown position, which makes taking images rather difficult. Also, the below-average image quality makes the camera no more than a nice gimmick.
On the left side of the casing, the SIM card slot is secured with two screws. The heart rate monitor, as well as the contacts for charging the watch, are integrated on the bottom. The black silicone bracelet feels pleasant on the skin and is closed with a classic thorn.
All in all, the build quality seems to be very high – you won’t find any too big or uneven gaps. The watch makes a discreet, but high-quality, sporty impression and is definitely an eye-catcher on the wrist.
The 1.53-inch IPS touch display is protected with Gorilla Glass. The resolution of 320×320 pixels is completely sufficient for this size and reaches the retina value with 298ppi. Both scrolling and swiping movements to the left and right etc. are implemented smoothly by the touchscreen. Even at low brightness levels, the displayed contents are still very easy to read.
The real highlight of the IPS touch display, however, is its behaviour in direct sunlight: even at the lowest brightness level, the entire screen can be read perfectly at all times, even from a very flat viewing angle, when the watch is in direct sunlight. The colors “disappear” and it now looks like a very sharp gray-scale display. If you consider how many smartphones have serious problems even at the highest brightness level in this lighting situation, you can simply praise the Zeblaze Thor Pro!
Operating system and apps
With Android 5.1, a fully-fledged Android operating system is available. This means that any app can theoretically be downloaded and installed from the pre-installed Play Store. Of course, not all current app versions are compatible with the specifications of the watch. In that case, the installation of an older version via an .apk file can help. The operating system was supplemented by apps such as music, weather or health. Therefore, it is possible to make the watch a smartphone replacement with common apps. However, since the apps are not optimized for the round screen of the watch (there is no Android Wear available), the operation of most apps in full-screen mode is, unfortunately, limited. Fortunately, there is a reduced-display mode in which the apps are displayed in the usual format (but much smaller) and can, therefore, be used normally. Unfortunately, it is still a bit tricky and just doesn’t look as mature as the apps on Android Wear smartwatches. The same basically also applies to the display of texts, e.g. in the browser or to the keyboard. Here you simply need a little patience or you better use the voice input for text input.
With its design and the silicone strap with the inscription “Sports”, the Thor Pro makes the impression of being a good companion when doing sports. Unfortunately, however, it has no “fitness apps” for recording sports activities, although all technical requirements are met with the heart rate monitor and the GPS module. We were able to install the Runtastic App and then track a run with activated GPS (the accuracy was truly very good compared to the Garmin Fenix 3), but the data of the heart rate monitor cannot be recorded. However, we were very happy about being able to use Spotify on the watch and thus being able to do without the smartphone in order to listen to music while running. A bluetooth headset could easily be paired with the Thor Pro and played the offline music from Spotify without any problems. Using the Zeblaze Thor Pro during sports activities is therefore only limited recommendable.
Connectivity and telephoning functions
Generally, the Zeblaze Thor Pro can be used in two “modes”. If you connect the watch via bluetooth and the “WiiWatch” app to your smartphone (in our case a Xiaomi Redmi Note 4), all notifications can be read directly on your wrist, however without being able to reply to WhatsApp messages, for example. The watch signals with a vibration even if the connection to the smartphone is lost. Unfortunately, the re-connection of the devices did not always work properly and therefore had to be repeated manually more often. The “WiiWatch” app is rather simple and does not have a wide range of functions, which is certainly because the standalone mode is probably much more popular in China than in other countries and no smartphone app is required for it. New apps can be installed via WiFi also in “Bluetooth mode” and you can synchronize different accounts. Unfortunately, we also had problems to get a stable connection – the WiFi connection simply stops over and over again and then has to be restarted.
By inserting a Nano-SIM, the smartwatch can basically be used independently. You can make normal phone calls, send SMS and also use Facebook, WhatsApp and the like via 3G mobile Internet. The voice quality of calls is absolutely fine as long as you do not move too far away from the microphone on the left side of the clock. The loudspeakers also clearly reproduce the sound of the caller. This standalone mode has not yet really established itself in Europe, which is probably due to the limited usability of the apps. But if you are looking for a watch for exactly this purpose, you should definitely consider the Zeblaze Thor Pro.
The Thor Pro has a 500 mAh battery, which is one of the largest batteries in the top smartwatches in terms of capacity. The manufacturer specifies a standby time of 48h. In the test, the battery lasted approx. 36h with moderate use in bluetooth mode. With active GPS, WiFi and heart rate monitor, however, the battery power is consumed very quickly. The watch is charged via a charging cradle and it takes quite a long time until the watch is again fully charged (2.5h).