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Huawei Watch Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Beautiful design
  • Best-in-class display
  • Respectable battery life

The Bad

  • Expensive
  • Average performance
  • Only one size
4.5

Huawei Watch Review: It feels like we’ve been talking and hearing about the Huawei Watch for months since its MWC unveiling, but now we’re finally able to review it.

Design

Right from the unboxing experience you can see what Huawei is gunning for here. The company is going big with its first entrant into the world of Android Wear and that’s most apparent in the watch’s design (along with, perhaps, its fashion-centric marketing).

Huawei Watch front and back

Just as with the Apple Watch and to a lesser extent the new Moto 360, you’ll be able to pick up one of these high-end wearables up in a myriad of different strap and body combinations, but which variant you opt for can dramatically affect the price tag.

We were testing out the Active (£329) – a lightly brushed black 316-L stainless steel frame with a minimalist straight-edged leather band. The watch’s 42mm body (the Huawei Watch only comes in one size) is modelled on traditional watch dimensions, so the screen to bezel ratio feels just right.

Huawei Watch docks

The bezel itself features a high chamfer to keep the screen out of harms way when face down and the arms that accommodate the quick-release straps curve along the wrist, giving it a notably more elegant aesthetic than the likes of the flat-faced LG Watch Urbane, an obvious parallel.

Screen

Huawei has also managed to give the Watch a fully circular display whilst retaining that narrow bezel and the result is stunning.

The Huawei Watch is the first Android Wear device to pack a 400×400 resolution display and utilise AMOLED technology. It really is beautiful and thanks to the wealth of colourful watch faces available out-the-box and from the Play store, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see how vibrant it is for yourself.

Huawei Watch screen

Viewing angles aren’t perfect, but if you use the watch experience as intended; with brief glances for quick access to bite-sized pieces of information, you’ll have little issue with it.

To round things off, the company has taken a leaf out of Apple’s book and protected the screen with a layer of toughened sapphire crystal that based on our time with the watch hasn’t shown any signs of scratches or scuffs yet,

OS

Along with the likes of the Asus ZenWatch 2, which was also on display at IFA 2015, the Huawei Watch forms part of the new wave of Android Wear devices that can fully utilise the latest 1.3 build of Google’s wearable operating system.

This most obviously manifests itself in giving the Huawei Watch both Android and (partial) iOS compatibility (Android 4.3 and iOS 8.2 or newer respectively), which is a huge advantage over the most influential smartwatch currently on the market, the Apple Watch.

Huawei Watch OS

Huawei hasn’t customised the experience as heavy-handedly as it does with its Android smartphones, which we appreciate. You can swipe or flick your wrist to navigate through your notification cards, issue voice commands from the main watch face with the ubiquitous “OK, Google” command and enjoy always-on watch faces some of which include colour elements.

Rather than replace the stock Android Wear fitness apps, Huawei’s simply added its own on top (some of which feed into the fitness-centric watch faces the device packs too). The Daily Tracking app can log your steps and movement when walking, jogging or climbing in the background, whilst the Fitness Tracking app is geared towards actively working out.

The Huawei Wear Android app also supports the Watch if you prefer to analyse fitness from your phone as opposed to your wrist, although it doesn’t offer anything significant beyond the Watch’s native experience.

Performance

Along with almost the entirety of the Android Wear crop thus far the Huawei Watch packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of inbuilt storage. As such you can expect almost identical performance to its most like-minded rivals.

The interface stutters very slightly when swiping around from time to time, typically when you initially wake the watch up, but beyond that performance is smooth and consistent.

Charging takes place via a magnetised dock and whilst fairly small, the 300mAh cell performs admirably (relative to the rest of Android Wear-kind). We managed between one and two days of use per charge (switching it off at night), which matches up with Huawei’s quoted 1.5 days of use. The other benefit is that the watch can be charged back up to full in an hour. 

Verdict

From where we stand the first-generation Huawei Watch is easily the best looking smartwatch on the market right now and a strong offering from the Chinese manufacturer out the gate.

Huawei Watch verdict

From where Huawei stands it’s pushing the Watch as a bridge device between the worlds of fashion and technology, evident from its partnerships with GQ and Selfridges in the UK as well as Vogue China and Barnaba Fornasetti for Milan Fashion Week. It feels similar to the strategy employed by the Apple Watch, except Huawei isn’t Apple and consumers don’t see it as such, which might be a problem.

With a starting price (£289) that hits the top end Android Wear space, you have to be sure that this is the smartwatch you want to invest your money in, that’s not to say it’s not worthwhile, but if form isn’t the driving force behind your purchase, there are plenty of other options with the same level of function for less.

Specification

TypeSmartwatch
Screen size1.4-inches (circular)
Screen resolution400x400
OSAndroid Wear
CompatibilityAndroid 4.3 (or newer), iOS 8.2 (or newer)
Bonus featuresSapphire crystal, IP67-certified, heart rate sensor, quick release straps

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