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Huawei Watch Review: A Gorgeous Smartwatch That’s Sure To Turn Heads

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We review Huawei’s Watch!

The biggest conundrum of manufacturers today when coming out with a smartwatch is differentiation. How do you make your product stand out when you and your competitors are using the same OS and the same hardware? The answer, obviously, is design – the prettiest and nicest one of all usually stands out over the sea of other smartwatches. That’s exactly what Huawei has done with their new Android Wear-powered smartwatch, dubbed simply as the Huawei Watch. The company has spared no expense in making their own implementation of Android Wear the most luxurious of the lot, and while it may be incredibly expensive, it’s one of the nicest and prettiest Android Wear timepieces out in the market today.

Huawei Watch specs

  • 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor
  • Adreno 305 GPU
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 4GB of internal storage
  • Stainless steel cold-forged 316L body
  • 1.4-inch AMOLED display, Sapphire crystal glass protection, 400 x 400 resolution
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, heart rate sensor, barometer
  • 300mAh battery

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A smartwatch that won’t look weird on your wrist

One of the biggest problems with early smartwatches was that they looked terrible and out of place on people’s wrists. First generation Android Wear smartwatches had square faces and even the ones that had round bodies had borders on the top and bottom of the display. Huawei’s offering has none of those – it’s been designed to look as a watch first, connected device second and that design philosophy is very apparent in both the packaging and design of the watch.

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The Huawei Watch has an overall size of 42mm which is standard for most watches. The display is a round 1.4-inch AMOLED panel that has a resolution of 400 x 400. The body is made out of a stainless steel cold-forged 316L material and the strap is a regular watch strap that you can change to a different style if you feel like it. The display is a touch-enabled display, and there’s a single button you can press at the 2 o-clock position that brings up the menu whenever you need it. The Huawei Watch is also IP67 rated, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking when you get it wet.

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The Huawei Watch comes in two configurations: Classic which has leather straps and Active Black, which has the metal links that we reviewed. We like the Active Black variant more simply because we like metal bands over leather, though most people will prefer the cheaper Classic version because of cost constraints.

Overall the Huawei Watch looks amazingly premium for a smartwatch, and would probably be the Android Wear device of choice of both fashionistas and high-power execs. It feels at home on our wrist during casual night outs and important meetings, though it does feel a little weird wearing it when we’re jogging or biking, which limits the usefulness of fitness apps that you can run on it.

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A display that’s bright – sometimes too bright

One of the challenges of making a smartwatch is making a display that’s completely readable in sunlight without draining too much power. The 1.4-inch round AMOLED panel on the Huawei Watch certainly does its job and then some, and is very bright and visible under direct sunlight even on the lowest brightness setting. The Huawei watch is also one of the few Android Wear smartwatches out in the market today that has an always-on mode that won’t drain the battery, though the display is dimmed down and the colors on the watch face are made black and white to reduce power consumption.

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Our only gripe with the display of the watch is that it’s too bright, which can be distracting if you’re having a nice, cozy dinner or driving during the night. Sometimes the interpreted our arm movements while driving as us trying to check the time, which turns on the display, blinding us momentarily. Since the watch is so bright even on the lowest setting, you can see how that can be a problem, especially for people who drive everywhere. Our fix was to turn on theater mode until we got to our destination.

One nice thing about smartwatches is that you’re not limited to a single watch face. There’s a ton of options to choose from once you get the watch running, and there’s even more (both paid and free) on Google Play.

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Incredibly useful, thanks to Android Wear

Huawei’s Watch benefits from all the tricks made possible by Android Wear. You can immediately see who emailed, messaged or texted you without opening your phone, for instance, which saves you a phone unlock when you’re talking to someone. You can even reply quickly to people using the Huawei Watch via the voice recognition powers of Google, though you’re limited to both Facebook and Gmail for this feature as we couldn’t get it to work with text messages. You can also see where you need to go via the watch if you decide to navigate via Google Maps to certain place which is helpful if you’re driving and don’t want to take your eyes of the road and fumble with your phone. Unfortunately this feature is limited to Google Maps only and not Waze, which we found was more accurate.

The hardware that powers the Huawei Watch is pretty much the same as in other smartwatches: Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage. Navigating through the menus of the smartwatch is fast and fluid, and we didn’t have any issues at all with slowdowns or lag. The voice recognition on the watch is typical of what you’d expect from most Android Wear devices and performs well, though it will have trouble understanding you when there’s a lot of ambient noise.

One thing that we like with Android Wear is that it’s not brand specific, which means that the phone will work with any Android smartphone as long as it’s Android 4.3 and up. It’s also available to download from iTunes as well, and the watch will work with iPhones as well.

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Marginally better battery than other smartwatches

Battery life is one of the biggest headaches of Android Wear devices, though Huawei’s Watch has it a little better than other devices out there. On a full charge our battery life was usually around a day and half, though we could push that a little more with WiFi turned off, brightness turned down and the always-on feature turned off. One thing that we hated though was that the Huawei Watch used a contact-type charger instead of the wireless Qi charging that other watches used. While the contact charger was faster, the magnet in the base of the charger didn’t always line up when you place the watch on top of it, requiring you to finagle the thing in place to ensure that the watch charges properly.

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Verdict: one of the better Android Wear smartwatches out in the market today, but it is a little expensive

At Php 19,990 for the Classic Variant and 23,990 for the Active Black version, the Huawei Watch isn’t for everybody. It’s priced at the upper portion of the smartwatch spectrum though to be fair, you are getting probably the best looking Android Wear smartwatch in the market today. It’s definitely not for everybody, but for people who want to take the leap with Android Wear, the Huawei Watch is the nicest looking smartwatch that you can buy in the PH.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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