Review of Huawei Watch
Having taken the smartphone world by storm, Huawei is now turning its attention to the growing wearable market with a series of fitness trackers and bands. To the surprise of some, Huawei also announced it own premium Android Wear watch, named simply the Huawei Watch.
Positioned much more as a fashion accessory than a tech one, Huawei’s watch has been spotted in the high end GQ and Vogue, going toe-to-toe with Apple in the battle to convince you to strap a mini-computer to your wrist and make it seem cool.
So how does Huawei’s first smartwatch fare off the fashion mag pages and in the real world?
If you’re looking for an Android Wear smartwatch then this is probably one of the best you can get in terms of looks. Huawei have clearly spent huge amount positioning their new watch as a fashion accessory much closer to the Apple Watch than to some of the more techy looking smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Gear series. It’s much more like something you would see at a dinner party of the future than in the movie Spy Kids. The design and construction of the watch is nice and it didn’t feel too bulky – although it does sit much further out from your wrist than a ‘normal’ watch, it should still fit under your sleeve. Other than the pretty impressive AMOLED screen, Huawei’s watch positions a single button at 2 o’clock which I found to be more comfortable to use and less likely to result in accidental button presses. The watch is also waterproof enough so that you won’t need to worry about wearing it in heavy rain – but I’d leave this one off while in the shower or at the pool.
Best of all from my perspective, this is a round smartwatch (and unlike the Moto 360 series, there’s no cut out at the bottom of the screen). While wearing a square smartwatch to me often feels like strapping a small smartphone to your wrist, this actually looks and feels like a watch – and a premium one at that. We tested out the version with the black casing and black leather strap – although silver and gold looks are also available – and loved how it looked equally at home both at work or at the gym. Although it may not have made me look any more like Huawei’s (and Taylor Swift’s) model of choice Sean O’Pry, I was keen to show it off to my friends.
Huawei’s watch is also packed with features, and doesn’t skimp on the innards. The watch runs Android Wear and sports 512MB of RAM which keeps the experience pretty zippy, although be warned that when it comes to loading apps, it still won’t match up to the speed of your phone. There’s also 4GB of internal storage, primarily for music, so if you’re hitting the gym then you can load your watch up with music, sync your Bluetooth headphones, and leave your phone at home. There’s also a heart rate sensor on the back of the watch (where you’ll also charge the watch from). The only major feature missing for us is GPS which means that if you’re looking for a serious running watch which tracks your route, you’ll either have to bring your phone along with you or go for the new Moto 360 Sport instead.
Clearly then, this is a beautiful smartwatch, but how does it stack up as a fitness and health wearable? As a pedometer either for running or walking, the sensors seem pretty accurate, so if you’re looking for a smartwatch which will help you to move around a little more then this should be fine for you.
I was slightly less impressed with the heart rate monitor, which I didn’t feel to be hugely accurate. On multiple occasions I was given results which were wildly inaccurate and would have to measure again. You’ll also have to stand pretty still to get a reading and make sure you have the watch strapped on with just the right tightness. This means you won’t be able to get any readings on the go which makes results more of a curiosity than a training tool. If you’re someone who really understands how heart rate affects your workouts, this won’t be what you want. After my first few workouts, I actually stopped using the heart rate monitor altogether.
As an Android Wear smartwatch, you’ll have access to a huge number of apps from the Google Play store, some of which are very good. This includes familiar apps like Google Maps, Podcast Republic, and even BBC News, alongside most of your fitness favourites. Huawei also pre-installs a few apps of its own for fitness tracking and heart rate monitoring.
My personal favourites are Runkeeper and Google Fit, using Runkeeper to keep track of my runs while Google Fit tracks everything at a top level, from walking to running to cycling. Although Google Fit might be a bit basic for some, it’s a really clear and easy introduction to measuring your activity. Plus, alongside the fancier Huawei watch faces are ones which integrate Google Fit, so you know exactly how you’re doing against your goals whenever you look you check the time.
The Huawei Watch’s big, bright, and beautiful screen makes the device usually quite easy to use, although like most other smartwatches it’s still a bit fiddly, particularly if you have bigger fingers. Android Wear’s auto-dimming feature also works really well, and allows for the screen to be ‘always on’ without (totally) ruining battery life.
Android Wear does still feel slightly clunky in places – it’s probably the best smartwatch OS out today, but I can’t say I love it yet. Notifications can take a few seconds to dismiss and apps can be frustratingly slow. All in all, you’ll often find yourself wondering if it wouldn’t sometimes be quicker to just take your phone out.
Considering the sheer number of things this smartwatch is trying to do, the battery life you’ll get from this 300mAh battery isn’t terrible. It’s not good either though.
If you use apps sparingly then even with the always on screen you’ll probably manage to stretch most the of the way through 2 days, although it probably will die towards dinner time on that second day. Therefore to guarantee your fancy watch doesn’t become nothing more than a wrist-mounted black mirror, you’ll probably want to charge this watch every night. Consequently, you almost certainly won’t be using this watch to track your sleep regularly.
If you don’t mind charging your watch every day though – and I found that I really didn’t – then the Huawei Watch is still a good choice for you.
This category is a difficult one to judge. If you’re looking for a fully featured fitness wearable or running watch then this isn’t particularly good value. But let’s be honest, that’s not really why you’d want it, is it?
When you consider that this watch looks good enough to wear every day, it’s starting price point of £289 is actually pretty good.
If you’re serious about your in-depth fitness tracking, then this is not the watch for you. If, however, you’re like me and want a great looking wearable which you’ll actually want to wear, this could be just what you’re looking for.
The Huawei Watch feels like a premium product, bringing you the glanceable notifications of Android Wear and simple activity tracking of Google Fit, all in a watch which looks as smart as it is.