The Huawei Watch is great, and with just a couple of tweaks, it could be spectacular.
Wearables were quite the novelty device when they first launched; not close to having a smartphone, yet still may be useful on your wrist. Of course, we’ve come quite a way since the likes of the watch-only Moto 360 and the fitness trackers previously available. Hybrid wearables are now the key USP in the wearables department, and the Huawei Watch epitomizes that fact.
It’s a sleek device, able to compete with some of the classiest brands in simple elegance. A circular face with stainless steel casing, and genuine leather straps are the defining look for the watch of class. None of those silicone rubber straps here, this is a smartwatch that wants to be shown off. Pair that with one of the many classy watch faces available online for free, and maybe stainless steel straps instead of the leather, and you’ve got yourself a cool looking watch, albeit one that hides more features under the surface.
The Huawei Watch only has the stainless steel casing and black leather straps available in India.
It’s unfortunate though that, while many casing and strap options were available when the Huawei Watch launched internationally at MWC 2016, the Indian release only featured the model with stainless steel body and leather straps. Of course, that’s still a classic look that just can’t go wrong, but we’re hoping Huawei brings more options to our shores soon. It’s a unisex design, with a 42mm diameter, and though slightly on the thick side at 11.3mm, the addition of heart rate sensors makes up for that, not to mention it’s still not uncomfortable to wear.
The Huawei Watch features a vibrant 1.4-inch (400×400) AMOLED display but, thanks to a cool 286 ppi, app icons, pictures and text all appear in sharp focus. You can also manually adjust the brightness, between 5 levels of intensity. The screen itself is Sapphire Crystal, able to withstand even the clumsiest of us accidentally scuffing it along walls or corners as you walk (guilty as charged I’m afraid) without sustaining any damage. Finally, a Home button is placed at the 2 o’clock position, letting you turn the display on or dim it (or double press to turn it off), and swap out of menus straight to your watch face home. Unfortunately, it doesn’t function as a scroll crown, which just seems like a wasted opportunity.
On the rear panel is a contact point for the charger, as well as a built-in heart rate sensor. In addition, the charging cradle is fitted with a magnet, so you won’t have to fiddle with the watch when you’re low on battery and trying to save it. Which, we just have to mention, is not likely to happen at all. The Huawei Watch has a 300mAh battery that the company says delivers between 1-5 days of battery life. It also has fast charging, giving you 80 percent battery on just 45 minutes of charge. As far as our testing went, both those claims are absolutely true. If you’re one to turn off your smartwatch at night (because why would you need the quick access notifications in your sleep), the Huawei Watch will comfortably take you through slightly more than two full work days with standard usage. If you prefer to run it constantly, you’ll still get about a day and a half before you have to charge the watch, which is spectacular. And if your charger ever dies, it’s important to note you can get a replacement adapter, but the cradle itself is attached to the cable.
Of course, some of us like to take a slightly different route with that whole “showing off business”.
The Huawei Watch packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB RAM and 4GB internal storage. Your standard WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity is available, as well as a Low Power mode, and an accelerometer, gyroscope, and barometer in addition to the heart rate sensor. This makes for a truly versatile device, with smart gestures to turn the display on and off (just raise your wrist as though looking at the time to power up and cover the face with your palm to power down). It runs Android Wear 6.0.1, which is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. To sweeten the pot, Huawei ships the watches preloaded with over 40 watch faces, that feature different information on your screen in various styles. Honestly, the only time you might have to download a watch face is if you’re looking for something quirky, of which the Play Store has plenty.
Starting up for the first time is a breeze, even if you’ve never owned a smartwatch before. Power up the Huawei Watch, and it prompts you to download the Android Wear app on the device you want to pair it with. After that, sync via Bluetooth, maybe put add a WiFi connection, and you’re set. You get call, message, and app notifications on your watch but, though you can technically make calls from the smartwatch with the microphone, the low speaker volume forces you to stick to using your phone on that count. However, voice searches on Google work just fine, or rather as well as Google and its fickle voice recognition works.
But aside from the time and notifications feature, the Huawei Watch is also your fitness tracker. It comes preloaded with the Google Fit app and a simple step tracker, though you can download other apps of your choice. And while the step tracker can be a little inaccurate on occasion, the heart rate sensor seems to work just fine.
There are a number of the expected apps available, like timers, reminders and alarms, and even an app to help you find your paired phone. In addition is a Together feature, that lets you pair with nearby watches and send emoji, activity updates or messages straight to their watch face.
When it comes down to it, you may really not need a smartwatch. Let’s be honest, this isn’t a device for everyone, in terms of actual usage. But if a smartwatch is what you’re looking for, you can’t really go wrong buying the Huawei Watch. Of course at Rs 22,999 it’s a little steep, seeing as Samsung’s Gear S2 is in the same price range, with the addition of a Back button (as well as Home), and a rotating bezel. It’s definitely a looker though, and we can only hope Huawei’s next iteration can make some improvements to justify the price.