Review: Hands-on with the Huawei Watch
You can look at the specs and features of a wearable device, but little gives you a sense of how it feels and performs day-to-day without using it. In this article, I'll go over my personal experience after spending a week using the Huawei Watch and exploring some of its unique features.
Earlier in the week I posted a review of the design of the Huawei Watch, which is superb. In this article we'll be focusing on features and how the device performs, but first we need to stress the part of the design which makes the Huawei Watch stand above other current smartwatches – the large, fully-round screen.
For the Huawei Watch, the Chinese giant opted for a glorious 1.4-inch display with a 400x400 resolution. The screen equals 286ppi which makes it close to impossible to distinguish individual pixels. Instead of the standard LCD used on most smartwatches, Huawei also decided to use an AMOLED panel for the deepest blacks available; which makes other colours stand-out beautifully.
Not content with offering just the best display on the market, Huawei went a step further and became the first Android Wear manufacturer to coat their display in sapphire. This process, used in high-end traditional watches, gives the display a wonderful gleam as well as making it scratchproof and offering water resistance (although be aware, the device isn’t suitable for underwater use.)
A watch should be made to last, and that's what most current smartwatches manufacturers seem to forget. You will need to wear a watch for longer than I have to truly comment on its long-term durability, but after a week of near-constant use it still looks brand-new and I have little concern this device would be able to handle your daily knocks.
Your parents would laugh in your face if you told them your watch lasted a day, but smartwatches are tiny computers and suck a fair amount of juice to power all their components. The biggest cause of battery drain is a high-resolution colour screen (which is why I'm still an original Pebble owner and will continue to brag about my 7-day battery life!)
There’s little dispute that a pixel-dense colour screen is more desirable to most consumers, and offers more impressive customisation options if you're ok with charging a device every night. Huawei's debut smartwatch packs a 300mAh battery which offers the best usage time of the Android Wear devices I've used thus far, but still only lasts around a day and a half.
For most people, charging their watch overnight isn't an issue and the Huawei Watch will comfortably get you through your day and into the next. For people like me, who use their watch for sleep tracking, you would need to invest in a second device for that purpose.
Android Wear doesn't offer OS-level customisation like its parent OS, which stops manufacturers from customising the core OS with their own differentiating features. This has the advantage of allowing for quicker updates, but has the disadvantage of a range of devices which are more or less clones of each other.
What manufactures can do is add their own applications to Android Wear. On some devices this can be frustrating as they are shipped full of bloatware, but Huawei fortunately keeps it simple with their device and has added useful applications for fitness tracking, daily tracking, weather, and checking your heart rate.
The fitness applications in particular impressed me with their design and ease of use, although most people will probably just use Google Fit which is also included. In order to track your exercise, open Fitness Tracking, hit 'Start', choose if you're aiming for a specific time or calories, and that's it.
Daily Tracking does exactly what it suggests, and will give you an overview about your fitness progress so far that day separated into walk, climb, and run categories.
Heart Rate will provide you with an idea of your heart rate. I'm careful to say your exact heart rate as it's difficult for a smartwatch to find with complete accuracy, but the Huawei Watch in my tests provided a result within 5 – 8 beats difference to my standalone heart rate tracker (which I'm giving the benefit of the doubt is more accurate!)
Weather displays the 5-day forecast in an interface similar to Google Now.
That's it for the built-in applications. Nothing here is going to blow you away, but Huawei provides you with just the features you need, no bloat, and leaves the rest up to you in regards to what you want to download and have on your device. Thanks to WiFi support, the Huawei Watch can also use most applications without being connected to a smartphone.
Huawei's debut smartwatch is the most impressive smartwatch out there, if you're willing to pay its premium $350 / £300 price tag. The round screen is glorious, its design is beautiful, battery is respectable compared to rivals, its fast to use, and it contains useful applications with little bloatware.
In fact, the Huawei Watch could have convinced me to ditch my Pebble if the device supported mobile payments. This isn't Huawei's fault as it's yet to be supported in Android Wear, but without NFC being added to these devices – to be enabled in the future – I'm finding it difficult to invest a significant amount of money to want a successor next year.
For a lot of people mobile payments won't be an issue, and for those I would highly recommend giving this smartwatch a go. I'm convinced the Huawei Watch is the best Android Wear smartwatch available on the market, if you ignore the price.
What are your thoughts about the Huawei Watch? Let us know in the comments.
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