This hands-on Z-Smart massage gun review deeply examines Zarifa’s unsung massage gun.
Zarifa seems to push their Health+ model a lot more, and it’s basically their star player. But we were a little curious about the Z-Smart, especially after checking out the Health Plus model (for the record, they also offer a mini massage gun, reviewed here).
Is this Z-Smart gun not as fancy because it’s not as good? (Spoiler: the Health Plus isn’t exactly a home run based on what we’ve seen). Plus, we wanted to find out what you’re really getting from this HSA/FSA-approved massager.
So, let’s jump right in!
- Zarifa Z-Smart Massage Gun Review
- Best Zarifa Z-Smart Alternatives
- ZarifaUSA Z-Smart Massage Gun Review Conclusion
Zarifa Z-Smart Massage Gun Review
ZarifaUSA Z-Smart Specification
|Stall Force||~60 lbs* (advertised: 20 – 30 W)|
|Stroke Length||9.59 mm* (advertised: 12 mm)|
|Percussions Range||1610 – 2640 rpm* (advertised: 1680 – 3500 rpm)|
|Battery Life / Capacity||~4h / 2600 mAh (non-removable)|
|Noise||51 – 55 dB* (advertised: 40-50dB)|
|Main Pros||Powerful Motor|
Variety of attachments
|Main Cons||Bulky design|
Max. percussions and amplitude lower than advertised
(at the time of review)
|Discount Code||MGA |
|Where to buy with discount||Get it at www.zarifausa.com|
First impressions and What’s Included
Our Z-Smart showed up in a box. Not really a big surprise there, but seeing the box had us thinking, “Great, another gizmo with no case to lug it around in!”
But we let out a big sigh of relief when we popped open the box and – boom – there’s a carrying case right there. It’s pretty big compared to a lot of others we’ve come across. We could tell right off the bat that the gun tucked inside was gonna be a big one.
We zipped open the case and, inside, we found the gun, 8 cool attachments, a wall charger, some extra gaskets, and a leaflet that looked like an instructions manual – but it didn’t really tell us much. There was nothing on it about how to use the device to get the best results (TIP you can learn that from our dedicated guide here).
But what’s the gun look like?
Well, at first glance, it seems like it jumped out of a time machine from the year 2015. Doesn’t seem like they tried to come up with anything new here.
The gun looks old-school (we’ll get into the design in a bit) and chunky. The top is made from a combo of aluminum alloy, PP, and ABS stuff. The handle’s got a rubber grip.
To us, and from what we’ve seen with newer models, this gun looks like yesterday’s news. We would’ve been stoked for a more up-to-date vibe.
But hey, unless you’re planning to stick it on a shelf like a museum piece, what it looks like doesn’t really matter as long as it does what it’s supposed to do, and does it well.
The design of the Z-Smart massage gun didn’t exactly blow our minds. We’ve always been pretty vocal about not liking the T-shape design that reminds us of the Hypervolt models. We’ll break down why in the ergonomics section.
The gun looks and feels large, bulky, and heavy. You are not going to enjoy carrying it with you on your travels that’s for sure.
Also, if you have small hands (ladies look away!) this one is a little out of hand – literally. We’re not small guys by any means, but even we struggled to keep the handle within our grasp. But maybe the rubber on the handle slightly remedies things – Rubber helps to keep the grip firm.
The handle here is about half an inch or an inch longer than the Health Plus model’s – note that the Z-Smart Health Plus has a removable battery.
This design is barely impressive. It looks like the product designers at Zarifa weren’t really trying to wow us here. In fact, if you put this device side to side with the Health Plus model it turns into a game of “spot the difference.”
Weight, Size, and Ergonomics
We measured the weight and it clocks in at 2.28 pounds, or 1038 grams. That’s not lightweight at all. The Health Plus model weighs about the same.
The size of the device is 10.43 x 7.28 x 2.75 inches. This is like Achedaway Pro (at least in terms of size) if not more. And Achedaway Pro is one of the biggest guns out there.
What about ergonomics?
As we already mentioned, the gun has this T-shape, which, in our experience, is a wrist-wrecker. Especially if you’re using the gun for longer massage sessions.
The thick handle just adds to the whole hard-to-handle issue. It’s definitely not easy to get this gun to move how you want it to.
There might be a silver lining if the weight of the thing is balanced. We’ve learned this from messing around with big, heavy guns like the Achedaway.
But the weight of the Z-Smart massage gun doesn’t spread out evenly. The top part is heavier than the handle. Even the battery in the handle doesn’t help to even things out. After using it for a bit, we felt like it was getting heavier every minute.
Just like its fancy sibling, the Z-Smart massage gun comes with 8 attachments.
Again, from our experience, when looking at a massage gun, the more the number of attachments doesn’t always equal a quality device. Unless these provide real value, you’d probably be okay if you had about 5 that you really need.
So here’s what we found:
- Durable Foam Ball, made of EVA foam and is minimally soft. EVA foam tends to stick on fabric, so watch out when massaging over clothes with this one.
- Hard Dual Prong, which we like to call the fork attachment. This one is made of standard hard plastic.
- Hard Angled Head, which you can also call a wedge attachment. It’s also made of hard plastic – basically what you’d expect.
- Hard Bullet Head also made of hard plastic. It’s ideal for targeting joints, knots, and trigger points in your treatments1.
- Hard Flat Head that is also nicely made out of plastic. This is often our favorite head because of its versatility2.
- Soft Air Cushion Head that looks like the top end of a baseball bat. This one is made of rubber. It’s pretty hard rubber and beats logic why they’d call it “Soft Air Cushion.”
- Hard 5-Pronged Head that has 5 tiny heads sticking out like dwarfed fingers holding on to some imaginary tennis ball. Zarifa says you can use it to hit the muscle at different angles. It probably offers something new but nothing the bullet head won’t do.
- Hard Multi-Point Head that looks like a fancy flat head. It has a large circle protrusion with 6 tiny ones surrounding it.
We already saw the same number of attachments with the Z-Smart Health Plus model. Surprisingly, Zarifa didn’t trim down the number of attachments for their less-highlighted device.
Regardless, having 8 attachments could’ve been fantastic if the extra heads, beyond the usual ones like ball, flat, fork, bullet, and wedge, offered something unique.
The 5-pronged head comes off as a gimmick and doesn’t seem to add anything you can’t achieve with the bullet head. The Multi-Point head is essentially a jazzed-up flat head.
All in all, we noticed these are also interchangeable with those from the Z-Smart Health Plus model.
Being the more affordable option in the Z-Smart massage gun line, we didn’t anticipate it to outperform the Health Plus model, which didn’t quite meet our expectations.
However, our curiosity about what this model could bring to the table remained undimmed. So, let’s dive in and discover what it has in store…
The term amplitude, also known as the stroke length, refers to the distance the massage head travels during its percussive motion.
Zarifa claims a 12mm amplitude for this device. But could this just be another inflated claim, similar to what we observed with the Health Plus model?
We decided to investigate using our caliper (here you can read more how we test massage guns). The measurement showed a lesser 9.59mm.
As suspected, Zarifa seems to have inflated the amplitude of this device as well. What surprised us further was that this is roughly the same (9.71mm) amplitude as the Health Plus model.
It leaves us wondering: was Zarifa’s intention to make this a scaled-down version of the Health+, or did they simply overlook adjusting the amplitude?
Either way, a 9.59mm amplitude falls close to the 10mm mark, which is certainly acceptable if you’re seeking a decent massage. However, to truly elevate your experience, this needs to be coupled with effective percussions and sufficient stall force.
Let’s examine whether the percussions fare any better.
Percussions and Speeds
Zarifa’s claims regarding the Health Plus model’s percussion range were found to be inflated. Is this model any different?
Intriguingly, the listed specifications are identical here too; 1680-3500 RPM. Quite fascinating!
Naturally, we needed to verify this, so we turned to our trusty laser tachometer. It registered 1600RPM at the first speed and 2600RPM at top speed. Unsurprisingly, this mirrors the performance of the more premium Health Plus model.
As we’ve consistently maintained, if a device doesn’t deliver at least 12mm of amplitude, it must compensate with highly intensive percussions.
This already presents an issue with this device. It lacks the necessary thrust and the vibrations don’t deliver the desired intensity. This leads us to our last possible saving grace: a powerful stall force.
But, just before delving into testing the stall force, we observed that this model boasts 20 speed settings. That’s quite a hefty number to sift through. It led us to ponder momentarily how Zarifa found itself in the realm of budget Amazon massage guns.
Typically, lower-priced brands pack their devices with an abundance of speed gears to bolster their sales. However, such a multitude of speeds isn’t essential on a massage gun.
Moreover, the percussion range isn’t sufficiently broad to justify this plethora of speeds. In comparison, the 9 speeds on the Health Plus model seem rather minimal.
Stall force refers to the massage gun’s capacity to withstand pressure without stalling or coming to a halt.
Once again, there aren’t any universally recognized methods to gauge this characteristic. So, we resorted to our tried-and-true method of comparing this gun to others with established stall force (like Theragun Pro, Ekrin B37S or Achedaway Pro).
It’s worth mentioning that Zarifa rates the motor strength at 20-30W, suggesting it should have the same stall force as the Health+ model (which proved to be on the strong side). But does it really?
Well, yes, this device holds its own in terms of power, matching up to its more upscale counterpart.
When we compared it to the Theragun Pro, which boasts a 60lb stall force, this gun held its ground. It proves significantly challenging to stall. Even at lower speed settings, it packs a considerable punch.
So, what’s the implication? Essentially, this gun is capable of delivering a profound deep tissue massage, as it can withstand significant pressure when pressed against the body.
Zarifa appears to have a penchant for inflating the amplitude and percussion-per-minute figures for their devices, and this one is no exception. Despite this, the actual values aren’t poor and can indeed provide a satisfying massage.
Is this the pinnacle of what a device can offer? Far from it, as there are guns that better exploit these performance aspects. While this device may suffice for most people, superior alternatives exist in the market.
Zarifa might falter when it comes to accurate specifications, but they certainly excel at engineering a quiet massage gun.
Regarding noise, we can assertively declare that this gun operates smoothly. During our tests, we didn’t detect any unsettling crackles or rattles. The operation was seamless.
Zarifa promotes the noise levels at 40-50dB, but our decibel meter registered slightly higher readings of 51-55dB, which is still impressively quiet.
The high-end Z-Smart Health Plus model featured a notably large battery, setting a record with its 5200mAh capacity.
However, this model has a trimmed-down capacity. Zarifa states it’s approximately 2600mAh, which is roughly half the capacity of their premier model. It’s also non-removable battery this time.
A full charge takes about three hours. Our unit arrived partially charged and required approximately half that time to reach full charge.
Zarifa estimates a battery life of around four hours. We believe this might be a little ambitious, particularly when the device is used under pressure – a condition that tends to deplete the battery more rapidly. We wouldn’t discount the possibility of the device lasting for about two and a half hours.
The charging port is found at the bottom of the device next to the activation switch. The charger is a wall charger. So no USB charging here as well. USB charging is great for convenience and many brands are adopting it for their devices.
Warranty and Price
The Z-Smart massage gun comes with a 12-month warranty, which is generally adequate for a device of this nature.
The gun is priced at $199.99, already reduced from its original price of $249.99. But the deal gets even better – you can enjoy an additional 5% off by using our MGA code at checkout on zarifausa.com
Despite the discount, it remains on the pricier side. Nonetheless, it matches the power of the Health Plus model and is about $50 less expensive. For us, there’s no question – choosing this one and saving $50 is the way to go.
It’s also HSA/FSA eligible, which could be a deciding factor for some potential buyers. However, it’s worth exploring the alternative options we outline below.
So Is It Worth It?
First, this is an FDA Therapeutic Class II device3 considered to be moderate or high-level risk to the user.
Nonetheless, it’s a good HSA/FSA eligible massager – you can read more about HSA/FSA eligible massage gun in our article.
Rather than splurging on the Zarifa Health Plus gun, we’d suggest considering this device instead. The only features it lacks are the Health+ extras, which aren’t particularly remarkable, and perhaps the less exciting matte red finish.
So, is it worth investing in?
Our evaluation isn’t entirely objective in this case. Why?
Even though it boasts a robust stall force, the rest of the features are somewhat lackluster. The amplitude falls short, the number of percussions is limited, and the overall design isn’t as user-friendly as we would have preferred.
Nonetheless, this is one of the few HSA/FSA eligible guns with respectable power.
We encourage you to explore the alternative options listed below for other potential choices.
Best Zarifa Z-Smart Alternatives
Ekrin B37 – Best Alternative
Before the concept of an angled handle for a massage gun was widely adopted, the Ekrin B37 had already introduced this feature. The angled handle significantly reduces strain on your hand, a stark contrast to the T-shaped handle Zarifa employs for their Z-Smart gun.
However, the handle design isn’t the only factor that might sway you towards Ekrin’s debut gun.
It boasts a professional design and superior materials. Our unit, despite frequent use over nearly two years, remains in excellent condition.
If you’re seeking a gun with superior performance features, the Ekrin B37 offers a 12mm amplitude, a percussion range of 1800-3200RPM, and a stall force of 56lbs. These standout features make it ideal for deep tissue massages4.
The B37 is currently priced at $229.99, but you can snag it for under $200 with our special code – MGA20. Use the code at ekrinathletics.com
Please note that the Ekrin B37 is not yet HSA/FSA approved. More detials in our dedicated Ekrin B37 review here.
Theragun Prime – Premium Option
If you want a formidable, proven HSA/FSA approved massage gun that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, then you must consider Theragun Prime.
It’s the last in the pecking order of the bigger Theraguns, but it’s just as powerful and as feature-packed as the Z-Smart if not better.
Theragun Prime has a 16mm amplitude that will deliver deeper hits than the Z-Smart. It will also provide at least 30lbs. of stall force – good enough for a deep tissue massage.
It’s also a better ergonomic gun compared to the Z-Smart thanks to it’s patented triangular shape.
It has better attachments and comes with the Therabody app with guided massage routines which we’ve found extremely beneficial over time.
Theragun Prime costs around $250 and is and is eligible for HSA/FSA coverage. We recommend buying it from the official Therabody.com website, where you can enjoy an additional 10% discount by using the code X8YZF10. If you prefer, you can also find it on RecoveryForAthletes.com, which offers a 5% discount with the code HEALTH5.
Read More For an in-depth analysis and user experience, read our comprehensive Theragun Prime review.
ZarifaUSA Z-Smart Massage Gun Review Conclusion
As we conclude our ZarifaUSA Z-Smart massage gun review, it’s clear that it fits into the entry-level bracket, with Zarifa seemingly overhyping its capabilities.
The design isn’t our favorite, but if choosing between this and the pricier Health Plus model for HSA/FSA eligibility, we’d steer you towards the Z-Smart. It delivers similar performance at a lower cost.
However, remember the market is filled with other potential alternatives that could better serve your needs.
Zarifa USA Z-Smart Massage Gun Rating
The ZarifaUSA Z-Smart Massage Gun stands out for being HSA/FSA eligible, offering financial flexibility to many users. While it lacks the additional features of the more expensive Health+ model, it makes up for it with a robust stall force, positioning it as a solid alternative. However, potential buyers should consider that its amplitude, percussion range, and design may not suit all needs or preferences. Despite these limitations, it remains one of the few HSA/FSA eligible massage guns with impressive power.
User Review( vote)
- 1.Moraska AF, Schmiege SJ, Mann JD, Butryn N, Krutsch JP. Responsiveness of Myofascial Trigger Points to Single and Multiple Trigger Point Release Massages. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Published online September 2017:639-645. doi:10.1097/phm.0000000000000728
- 2.Konrad A, Glashüttner C, Reiner M, Bernsteiner D, Tilp M. The Acute Effects of a Percussive Massage Treatment with a Hypervolt Device on Plantar Flexor Muscles’ Range of Motion and Performance. J Sports Sci Med. 2020;19(4):690-694. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/33239942
- 3.Classify Your Medical Device. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/overview-device-regulation/classify-your-medical-device
- 4.Koren Y, Kalichman L. Deep tissue massage: What are we talking about? Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. Published online April 2018:247-251. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2017.05.006
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