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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Citizen Is Suspending Sales of Its New Wear OS Smartwatch

Citizen is temporarily suspending sales of its second-generation CZ Smart smartwatch, which it first announced at CES 2023 and subsequently launched on May 1. Although the smartwatch has been on the market for nearly three months, Citizen says it has “recently identified a technical issue that is negatively affecting the user experience.” 

The company’s statement, in an email, comes a few weeks after the watchmaker sent out test units to product reviewers, including myself. I have had a lackluster experience with the Gen-2 CZ Smart and have been cataloging the bugs I’ve run into. I shared my feedback with Citizen earlier this week. The issues include a laggy interface, poor battery life, inaccurate heart rate data, inaccurate sleep tracking, the watch freezing on specific screens, and Citizen’s proprietary YouQ features not working. The smartwatch starts at $350. 

I’m not alone. YouTube tech reviewer Michael Fisher (better known as MrMobile) has experienced many of the same bugs as I have and even introduced me to new ones, like the Pilot watch face that simply cannot tell the correct time. Scroll through Citizen’s CZ Smart product page and customers aren’t happy either. There are many complaints about poor battery life and laggy software, and some of these reviews were posted two or three months ago.

Citizen says it’s in the process of getting in touch with customers who have bought the watch to work out a solution. “We are investigating the issue, recalling review models, and will be temporarily suspending sales on touchscreen models while we pinpoint the source of the issue and the best path to a solution for our customers and partners,” a Citizen spokesperson said in an email. The temporary suspension of sales will take a week if not more to iron out. 

The company clarified that this issue only affects the CZ Smart Touchscreen models and not the CZ Smart Hybrid. The models impacted are the following, and you can find this number on the right side of the CZ Smart's box:

MX1003-71XMX1000-28XMX1000-01XMX1000-52XMX1005-83XMX1002-57XMX1018-06XMX1017-50XMX1010-59XMX1011-05XMX1016-28X

The Gen-2 CZ Smart is a successor to the original CZ Smart from 2020, and it runs Google’s Wear OS 3 smartwatch platform. It’s supposed to perform just like any other smartwatch—you can check and respond to notifications, control music playback, and control your smart home devices—but Citizen hyped up a custom app it built for the watch, called CZ Smart YouQ.

YouQ stems from a partnership with IBM Watson and NASA researchers. After you wear the watch for a period of time, it’s supposed to learn your physical and cognitive energy levels. Eventually, it assigns you a Power Score every day, and it can suggest “Power Fixes” to change the trajectory of your energy levels so you feel more wired than tired. These fixes can be as simple as having a cup of coffee, or they can be a little more intense, like lifting weights for 30 minutes. 

This concept isn’t new, as companies like Fitbit and Garmin have long had tools like Daily Readiness Scores and Body Battery that can be used to gauge how ready you are for physical activity. But Citizen’s approach is more focused on improving alertness and productivity throughout the day, not just for exercise.

The hardware in the CZ Smart isn’t the latest—it’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 4100+ processor, whereas newer Wear OS smartwatches like the TicWatch Pro 5 utilize Qualcomm’s newer Snapdragon W5+ chipset, which is faster and more battery-efficient. However, there have been Wear OS smartwatches with the same chipset as the CZ Smart that don’t have any of the same flaws. 

Citizen did not share a timeline for how long it expects to pause sales, but given the breadth of problems, it might be some time. 

Updated at 3:05 pm ET: We've clarified that CZ Smart Hybrid models are not affected and included the model names of the smartwatches that are having issues. 


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