Huawei Watch Unboxing
- Great hardware design
- Looks like a reah watch
- Full circle AMOLED display
- Battery lasts all day
- Performance is suitable for a watch
- “OK Google” command hard to initiate
- Hard to feel vibrations
- Random red screen issue
- Charging puck can’t be separated from cord
- Expensive for a short-lived accessory
The Huawei Watch: the year’s most anticipated Android Wear powered smartwatch. This is Huawei’s first smartwatch, and it’s a great first try. Some have been skeptical about how this smartwatch would turn out, but once we got a glimpse of it, we all wanted it. I was able to get a Huawei Watch, and after using it daily for a few weeks, I have to say, I’m thoroughly impressed. Even the packaging on this is amazing. Every detail in the box says that this is a premium product (see my unboxing linked at the end of this review to get a good look at the packaging).
Before I dive into the watch itself, I wanted to answer one of the biggest questions about smartwatches: why? What does a smartwatch do for me that I don’t already have? The answer to that is that it does what you already can do on your phone, but easier and more convenient. The biggest plus I’ve found to this is when I get a notification, I don’t have to pull my phone out, I can simply look at my watch and see what it is, and take care of the notification quickly. That’s the main reason for smartwatches, staying connected while still being in reality.
To start off this review, I’m going to do it with the strongest thing this watch has going for it: the hardware. Android fans were won over by the premium look that no other smartwatch had to offer. When it was first announced, the only other watch to even compare was the Moto 360, but that had its drawbacks (flat tire, LCD display). Months later, the Moto 360 v2 still has a flat tire. The LG Watch Urbane has a fully round display, but has a massive body in comparison to the screen. That is what is truly remarkable: Huawei has given us not only a smartwatch, but one that looks and feels like a real watch.
The Huawei Watch boasts a 1.4-inch full circle AMOLED display, a 400×400 screen resolution with 286 ppi. With only a thickness of 11.3mm, no one will notice that it does so much more than can be seen from the outside. The display itself is made of sapphire crystal, and the watch is built from stainless steel, with several color choices including a stainless steel look, black plated, or rose gold plated. There are several bands available for the watch, or you can choose to buy your own. There is a slight raised bezel around the display, and although some will find it annoying, I find it to be quite nice as it protects the display from scratches and overall gives the watch a more ‘watch like’ look. On the black model, there are even subtle hash marks on the bezel, which makes this watch look all the more real.
As far as sensors and the technology inside go, the Huawei Watch packs a 300mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.1, and WiFi. The sensors included are a 6-axis motion sensor (gyroscope + accelerometer), a heart rate sensor, a barometer, and of course a vibration motor. As for memory and storage, there is 512MB of RAM and 4GB of ROM built right in.
The Huawei Watch will work with both Android and iOS, although there is less functionality on iOS. I’m using it with my Nexus 6P running Android 6.0. My configuration of the watch is the black body/black metal band model, selling at a price of $450.[ad id=”2764″]
As far as the software on the watch, there isn’t a huge amount to say here. It runs the latest version of Android Wear based on Android 5.1.1. There’s no modifications to the software besides preloading watch faces in the software (many of the included watch faces are great!). The main concern with Android watches is how the hardware interacts with the software, so I’m going to cover each major hardware component individually.
First off is the battery. The 300mAh battery provides plenty of power for such a small device. At first, I saw some poor results, and so did many other people, but after a few days of use and draining the battery fully, I now can get a full day on one charge with light to moderate usage. This is with the watch in ambient mode (scaled down version of the watch face to conserve battery) most of the time and with a watch face with lots of black values in it. The brightness was set at level two or three.
Next is the touch screen. Now, this being my first smartwatch, I don’t have anything else to compare it to. Regardless, it works excellently – it is responsive, has vibrant colors thanks to the AMOLED display, and it can get considerably bright in the day while still being nice and dark at night. It is quite easy to view the screen at all angles (a necessity for a watch!) While the Huawei Watch is not equipped with an ambient light sensor, it is still easy to change the brightness level. While I haven’t encountered any issues, some users have reported that in a dark room they are seeing a red tint on the watch when the pixels should be off. Some research revealed that there are possibly two different makes of displays, thus leading to the issue. I’m not concerned about this issue as I don’t use the watch in an extremely dark situation, and I don’t care if it’s a little red. Regardless, it shouldn’t work that way so it is a type of an issue.
One of the reasons many buy smartwatches is for fitness. While there are other watches dedicated to fitness, some may prefer something that has multiple uses. Again, I don’t have anything to compare this to, but from what I’ve heard from other users and from my own experience is that this works great for fitness. Many have found the step counting to be quite accurate (compared to other fitness trackers) using the Daily Tracking app. There is another app included for recording other forms of fitness like runs, cycling, etc. Additionally, there is a heart rate sensor built into the watch, and of course an app to compliment it. The heart rate sensor works great as there are two lights/sensors included to improve the accuracy.
The primary tool for communicating from the user to the watch is via the dual microphones. It is in this area where there seems to be some issues. A few users have had negative experiences with the microphone not picking up the “OK Google” command when speaking quietly. While it doesn’t happen often, I have encountered this issue. Once the microphone is actively listening, it picks up my voice perfectly at low levels. There is not a fix for this yet, but it seems like the sort of issue that can be fixed via a software update. The results in this area are mixed, as some have reported the watch picking up the hotword in 90dB music, while some struggle with it picking up the hotword in a 30dB setting.
When you get a notification on your watch, the watch will only vibrate as there is no speaker support for Android Wear at this point (although the Huawei Watch does have a speaker built in, so it can be activated at any point). Thus, the haptic feedback motor is very important. Again, there seems to be some issues here. I have found in my own use that I hear the vibration more than I feel it. One might not realize that this is a problem until there is sufficient noise to drown out the vibration sound (and possibly miss a notification), but many users have reported that they don’t feel the watch vibrate. The good news is that like the microphone issue, this could possibly be fixed via a software update, as an XDA user who rooted the watch found that the vibration intensity was only at 80%.
The crown on the watch is very nice. I find that it has a good button press to it, while not being too mushy. The crown isn’t like what you would find on a phone, with lots of clickiness to it, but it isn’t hard to press either. It is a well set medium. The functions of the crown include returning to the previous screen (one press), double press to go into theater mode (turns the display off), and a triple press temporarily boosts the display brightness.
WiFi and Bluetooth
As far as the Bluetooth signal goes, there isn’t much to say. I’ve had a few disconnects on it, but I think they might be more phone related issues than watch issues. Range is about what I would expect for a smartwatch.
While I think WiFi on a smartwatch is not 100% needed, it is nice to have. I’m not using it currently, although I have used it several times. I can’t exactly figure out what it does, but it appears to not be an essential or a completely useless feature.