Smartwatches are the perfect combination of an activity monitor, notification centre, speakerphone, and more all in one. These new Citizen smartwatches with voice control and heart rate monitoring are a great way to get a lot out of a tiny little device. Let’s talk design, functionality, and Citizen’s new YouQ platform that helps you optimize your day for peak performance.
What is Citizen CZ YouQ?
Citizen is a watch brand that most people will recognize. With over 100 years of history, the brand has been designing classic timepieces for longer than I or anyone reading this has been alive. They’ve even pioneered some major watch technologies, like the first solar watch.
But the CZ line is new. It’s a line of smartwatches that comes with a whole spiel: Citizen calls it “CZ Smart with IBM Watson®” and it features an element that the brand has named YouQ. Unlike other smartwatches, which are typically designed to help you access your body’s raw data throughout the day, YouQ is a gamified approach to wearable technology. It combines your aggregate alertness scores and sleep data to create your personal Power Gauge. The Power Gauge graph shows you when your body is anticipated to peak and drop in alertness, giving you a window of time when you’re likely to be at your most effective and alert. Along with the gauge, YouQ will give you an Hourly Power Score plus Power Fixes to help you target your tired or unfocused periods.
So, instead of just being a push notification centre or step tracker, these CZ smartwatches are an AI-powered way to optimize your performance throughout the day. You can use all of these smartwatches with or without YouQ, but I thought it would be an interesting place to start off this review. As far as I know, it’s pretty unique. Every smart monitoring device has the data it needs to give you this type of info, but most brands either aren’t re-processing it or are presenting it in a different way.
I think this is a pretty cool technology. However, because it’ll present such different results for every individual, I’m going to focus this review more on the day-to-day capabilities of this range of Citizen smartwatches. If you buy one of these smartwatches to use YouQ, keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for the watch to form these graphs and suggestions—so purchase early if there’s a specific event or project that you’re trying to get into peak mental state for!
What’s in the box of a Citizen CZ Smartwatch?
In the box of each of these smartwatches, you’ll find a watch packed tightly on a foam base. It comes with a magnetic charging cable, a quick start guide, and product literature. What I really appreciate about these boxes is that they’re totally reusable: The foam is packed in really securely, but nothing is glued. So, you can reuse these well-made boxes really easily.
(Hey, a good box is a good box!)
Note that while all of these magnetic charging cables look the same, some have two prongs while others have one. If you purchase his & hers watches, make sure to remember that your charging cables may not be interchangeable. They’ll each magnetize to every watch, but won’t necessarily charge other models.
Citizen smartwatch compatibility
These smartwatches turn on by holding their large centre dial for three seconds. They ship charged, or generally ship charged, so I recommend charging them when they arrive but you may be able to get away with setting them up right out of the box. Citizen designed these watches to be both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatible and they work with iPhone and Android.
Citizen CZ Smartwatches are built on Google’s Wear OS 3. Some models (Smart Sport and Casual Touchscreen models but not Hybrid designs) contain a speaker and microphone so you can take calls right from your smartwatch. They’re voice compatible with built-in Amazon Alexa.
Sport vs Casual touchscreen watch features
There are three subcategories within the Citizen CZ watch line. Sport models offer silicone, leather, or stainless steel traps while Casual models come with a mesh bracelet-style watch band, stainless steel links, or silicone straps. Both of these options have a full touchscreen face and all three of these smartwatch designs use the same three-dial design. From the Sport and Casual watches, you can expect to find customizable watch faces, resizable watch bands, and a bevy of downloadable apps. Both of these watch types can track your heart rate, pulse oxygen levels, and sleep quality, and can push notifications and alarms to your wrist.
The Citizen CZ Smart Sport watches in this review are the PQ2 Sport 45mm in Black Bracelet (black on black bezel with a metal bracelet) and Black Strap (black bezel on silver lugs with a silicone strap). They charge in 40 minutes and run for 24 hours per charge. The PQ2 is not water-resistant, features an OLED screen, and is finished with Gorilla glass. It contains a gyroscope, an altimeter, a barometer, and an accelerometer.
The Citizen CZ Casual Touchscreen watches in this review are the PQ2 Casual 41mm in Silver-Tone Bracelet and Rose Gold-Tone Mesh. They’re built on the same software and hardware as the Sport watches, so they have the same capabilities and charge time.
Hybrid Citizen smartwatch features
Citizen Hybrid Smartwatches look and function a little differently from the brand’s Sport and Casual lines. While the other watches reviewed here are built on Citizen’s PQ2 watch, these hybrid watches are built on the Smart Hybrid Extreme.
If you sacrifice the OLED screen of a full touchscreen watch, you can gain a lot: In this case, an extra 17 days of battery life. These hybrid smartwatches have a MIP Display instead of an OLED watch face (still finished in Gorilla Glass). That means the display reloads slightly more slowly and does so in a finely pixelated fashion, and it looks seamless and matte—when they’re not in motion, these displays look like they’ve been printed, not projected.
Citizen’s Hybrid line of smartwatches can still push notifications to your wrist, scroll through messages, play music, control your smart home, monitor your blood oxygen levels, and more. They just go about their tasks slightly differently.
My experience with these Citizen smartwatches
Overall, I was really happy with these Citizen smartwatches. They’re well-built, stylish, and offer a ton of features with excellent app integration. On my smaller frame, I prefer the 41mm Casual design, but all three of these styles can be worn as unisex/genderless products.
My favourite feature in these watches wasn’t the new YouQ (though I admit that it’s very cool) but was, instead, the integration of pulse rate and pulse ox monitoring. Citizen advises you not to use their smartwatches as medical devices, but based on simultaneous readings from this watch and my actual pulse rate and blood pressure monitors, they’re spot on. For smaller wrists, I found I got a better reading with the watch face on the inside of my arm, but if you want to be constantly monitoring I’d recommend just wearing your watch slightly higher so it never loses contact during wrist motion.
These smartwatches are a great way to optimize your focus throughout the workday, track your daily activity levels, and stay on top of any irregularities in your body. Shop this line of Citizen smartwatches online at Best Buy today.