Huawei Watch review

Ignoring the launch shenanigans, the Huawei Watch is finally here and you can go buy the stylish Android Wear smartwatch. Here's our full and in-depth Huawei Watch review. Read: The best smartwatches 2015.

The firm certainly could have, and probably should have, come up with a better name for the device but when it looks this good we don't really care. Perhaps the Chinese tech company wants to compete directly with Apple by simply branding it with the name and the type of device it is.

Huawei Watch review: Price and competition

Our prediction price for the Huawei Watch was pretty close at £300 and, in fact, you can get it for less if you go for the model we took a look at which is £289. However, the more impressive models with metal straps cost a chunk more at £329.

That's more expensive than an Apple Watch Sport which comes with a rubber band but more importantly, the Huawei Watch is the most expensive Android Wear smartwatch around.

This is a bit of a problem because although it's arguably the best looking, it doesn't offer anything which rivals don't when it comes to hardware or software. It does have the nicest box of any smartwatch we've had in for review but that doesn't really help after you've taken it out.

Huawei Watch review: Design and build

We got a good fondle with the silver model but the Huawei Watch will also be available in a nice looking black model and a shiny gold one for those after a more bling finish. There are also two straps to choose from, either leather or stainless steel. Interestingly, Huawei has places the physical button at 2 o'clock rather than 3 and this seems to make sense meaning you don't need to twist your wrist as much to push it (the wrist not wearing the device).

Like many smartwatches, the Huawei Watch is big so you've got to be prepared for this. It seems only some vendors are following Apple's lead of producing two sizes for those with smaller wrist which is a shame.

The stainless steel case and sapphire crystal front look great, even if the device is a bit chunky at 11.3 mm. We're used to some Huawei devices being cheap and made from plastic but this couldn't be further the other way.

Huawei Watch review design and build

It's easily one of the most premium and desirable Android Wear wearables around, in fact smartwatches in general – it can pass a stylish regular wrist watch. Those tiny bezels play a big part in the wow factor and the Huawei Watch is definitely a head-turner.

As well as looking great, the Huawei Watch has an IP67 rating so is dust-proof and will survive being dunked in up to 1m of water for a maximum of 30 minutes.

With specs matching other Android Wear watches, the design is hugely important in differentiating from rivals.

Huawei Watch review: Hardware, specs and battery life

Talking of specs, the Huawei Watch fits in with the standard set of hardware for Android Wear devices. This means it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 4 GB of internal storage, 512 MB of RAM and Bluetooth 4.1. It also has various sensors like an accelerometer, barometer and heart rate monitor.

Huawei Watch review hardware

The screen, however, is a little larger than rivals such as the LG G Watch R at 1.4in but this is smaller than the Motorola Moto 360 so it's not the biggest around. What's notable is the resolution of 400x400 means it's has the highest pixel density of any Android Wear device at 286ppi.

Round screens are quickly becoming the norm for smartwatches with a few exceptions like the Sony SmartWatch 3. Huawei's is fully round so doesn't have the 'flat tire' effect found on Motorola's which is still a sticking point even with the new 2015 version.

It looks great with plenty of brightness on offer should you need it and it's also nice and responsive. The issue is that how you choose to use the screen has a big impact on battery life.

By default, the screen is set to always on – although it will dim and change the watch face to a stripped back version – and like this it will last you roughly one and half to two days which is what Huawei claims. However, switch the screen to switch off and you'll get double or more the battery life.

Leaving it set to always on wouldn't be so bad if the charger was easy to use, but it's not. It's not a stand and although it attaches magnetically, the metal contacts don't always sit properly so occasionally we though the watch was charging when it wasn't.

Huawei Watch review heart rate monitor

Moving onto fitness tracking and the Huawei Watch comes pre-loaded with Google Fit as you'd expect but also the firm's own offering, Daily Tracking. This does the same job but with a nicer interface.

As mentioned there is a heart rate monitor and like pretty much every watch with one of these, it's hit and miss as to whether it can take a reading successfully. We often found we had to push the watch into our wrist to achieve success. You'll want a dedicated fitness watch if this is important.

That's a shame but perhaps not as much as the fact it doesn't have GPS so those wanting proper tracking for running will need to look elsewhere. However, the Huawei Watch is compatible with Jawbone Up bands if you don't mind wearing a second device.

Huawei Watch review: Software

As we mention in all Android Wear watch reviews, the experience is essentially the same across them all. It's not like skins which get added to Android phones so you get pure Android Wear no matter which one you pick.

Huawei Watch review software

Price, hardware and design are all important when it comes to choosing then but it's worth pointing out that the Huawei Watch comes with the latest version of the software. This means you get Wi-Fi support to use the device without a companion phone and the new layout which provides a proper app launcher and contacts list.

You can also do things like draw emojis if that's your kind of thing (it actually works really well if you can think of what to draw) but more important is support for iOS compatibility. That's right, you can use the Huawei Watch with your iPhone - just bear in mind that it's by no means the same experience compared with using it with an Android phone.

Other than the usual Google Now card  style system of notifications, the Huawei Watch comes with a huge range of watch faces built-in and of course you can download more as well as the apps you want to use.

Huawei Watch: Specs

  • Android Wear OS
  • 1.4in screen 400x400
  • 1.2GHz processor, 512MB RAM
  • 4GB storage
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • IP67
  • 11.3mm
  • Android Wear OS
  • 1.4in screen 400x400
  • 1.2GHz processor, 512MB RAM
  • 4GB storage
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • IP67
  • 11.3mm

OUR VERDICT

Although it's pricy, the Huawei Watch is best Android Wear smartwatch on the market with its absolutely stunning design and exquisite build quality. There's still work to be done though as the watch lacks GPS, the heart rate monitor doesn't work very well and the charger is bit fiddly.

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