Huawei finally comes out with a decent smartwatch, but is it a world beater?
Huawei is one of a number of firms chasing the growing wearables markets and showed off its first real smartwatch back at Mobile World Congress.
The device has now launched in the UK and its obvious to see the Chinese manufacturer has spent a lot of time and effort to make the Huawei Watch a luxury item.
Our version, which came sporting a black real leather strap, which costs £349, definitely feels high-end, and not just because of the luxury padded box it arrived in.
As opposed to other smartwatches with a metal or plastic strap, the leather option makes the Huawei Watch feel like a classic wristwatch, and blends in well with the range of body builds and watch faces available.
The screen is bright and colourful, even at a small size, and is set as always-on at default, although this can be turned off, as we did during the course of our review in order to monitor battery life.
However the screen never feels crowded, even when running a watch face with several different complications, such as multiple time zones or weather information. Alongside the 15 or so default watch faces, more can be downloaded from the Android Wear store, allow you to personalise for any mood.
The Huawei Watch features a fully circular 1.4-inch touch-sensitive AMOLED 286ppi display, scratch-proof sapphire crystal lens, cold-forged stainless steel frame, and comes with a built-in heart rate monitor and 6-Axis motion sensors.
These are ideal for health tracking and fitness apps, but also help with motion-sensitive functions such as lighting up the watch face when you lift up your arm.
Compatible with smartphones running Android 4.3 or higher, the Huawei Watch boasts a powerful Qualcomm 1.2GHz processor, 4GB of storage, 512MB of RAM and Bluetooth 4.1, putting it pretty much on the same level as Lenovo’s Moto 360 2, probably the closest competitor on the market today.
Providing the juice is a 300mAh battery that over the course of our test averaged around 14 hours battery life, although this varied according to usage levels or screen brightness. Recharging is done using a magnetic charging station that can be connected to mains or a PC using USB, and is a fairly painless process.
Where Android is traditionally ahead of the Apple Watch platform is in apps, and the Huawei Watch comes packed with some of Google’s most useful offerings, with Maps, Weather, and Google Fit all included. When synced with your devices, the Watch will download and install applicable apps, which can then be tailored to provide notifications to your smartphone or display them via the Watch itself.
Largely, these worked very well, with Citymapper and WhatsApp operating better than expected, linking well when synced to a smartphone but also able to perform well on their own.
Interestingly, the Watch also comes with voice control (pictured right), meaning you can act out your childhood spy fantasies by speaking into the device using Google’s Voice Search. We tried this with calling, messaging, and mapping features, and found it worked the majority of the time – although understandably in loud or windy situations performance was affected. Still, it’s a nice addition to have and could be useful in a pinch.
Like the wearable market itself, Huawei has come a long way in recent years, moving from identikit Chinese manufacturer into a true technology titan capable of producing beautiful products.
The Huawei Watch is undoubtedly the best wearable it has produced yet (although this isn’t saying much) and gives a strong platform to build on for the future. Android Wear’s performance is useful and effective, providing everything you should need, and ultimately, if you’re in the market for an Android smartwatch and don’t like the look of the Moto 360 2, this is definitely the device for you.
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