One of the most anticipated Android Wear devices this year has been the Huawei Watch, officially announced at Mobile World Congress. I've spent the last five days using the Huawei Watch with my Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and wanted to share some of my initial impressions.
The Huawei Watch arrived in a sturdy dark brown box with the Huawei logo embedded on the top and Huawei Watch on the front. Lifting the top off the box revealed another box with a flip-up lid. After lifting the lid you find the Huawei Watch resting in the center of a light tan leather-looking lined compartment. The words "Timeless design. Smart within" are embossed in gold ink under the lid.
Lift out the watch block and you will find a small folder with the manual and warranty info inside. Below these documents is an A/C adapter and the magnetic USB charging dock. The charging dock looks a lot like the round Apple Watch dock, except this one has four gold connection points that fit into the back of the Huawei Watch. One charging cradle is included, but you can also buy a spare for $39.99.
The retail packaging is very well designed and gives you a sense that you purchased a rather expensive piece of modern jewelry. The stainless steel and black leather band model I am testing out is sold for $349.99 on Amazon. The stainless steel models with link and mesh bands are $399.99 while the black stainless steel with black link band is $449.99.
At first the Huawei Watch appears to be a next generation Moto 360 with the round watch face and thickness reminding me of an Oreo cookie. Unlike the Moto 360, the display on the Huawei Watch is a full circle with no bottom "flat tire" sensor area.
The Huawei Watch has a 1.4 inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 400 x 400 pixels and 286 ppi. The watch is 42mm in diameter and 11.3mm in thickness. It's powered by a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. Sensors include a gyroscope, accelerometer, vibration motor, and heart rate sensor. The Huawei Watch is made of 316L stainless steel with sapphire crystal glass on front.
There is wireless support for WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 LE, but there is no GPS receiver for run tracking or mapping without a smartphone connection.
The display is set down from the circular bezel just over a millimeter with the round bezel tapered down to the display to give it a professional look. The watchband lugs are not as prominent as those on the LG Watch Urbane, thankfully, and support a black leather strap with quick release pins.
The leather strap is stamped with the words Huawei and genuine leather. A glossy stainless steel buckle with two leather securing straps helps you keep the watch in place securely on your wrist. There are nine available holes to adjust the band length and it is very comfortable.
The heart rate monitor is centered on the back with the center of the back having black plastic construction. The rest of the back is stainless steel with a small opening for the four contact charging points.
There are also four small screws underneath the two strap lugs. These appear to provide access to the internals of the Huawei Watch.
On the upper right side, 2 o'clock position, is where the single physical button of the watch is positioned. Pressing the button allows you to toggle the display on and off. Double pressing turns the screen completely off. Pressing and holding takes you to the app launcher.
Huawei Watch image gallery
The Huawei Watch runs Android Wear 1.3.0.x software, based on Android 5.1. This is the latest version of Android Wear that also works with iOS devices so the Huawei Watch can be used by either Android smartphone or iPhone owners.
My favorite features are the always-on screen, which is something I personally find very convenient and distinctive from my Apple Watch. I also like the app launcher and new notification method.
Daily usage experiences
The Huawei Watch looks great and feels good on my wrist. The leather band is comfortable and fits me well. The watch is a bit thick, but with a 42mm diameter it is sized to fit many wrists. The 18mm lug width is narrower than many bands in my collection so this watch may appeal to those looking for something a bit smaller than most Android Wear watches.
I tried a few apps to capture my heart rate and tighten the strap as tight as I could stand, but have still not been able to record a single heart beat using the Huawei Watch. Fitness is not really a focus here with no included GPS and a focus on fashion, but the heart rate monitor should work for those who want to track their daily activity. I will continue to test it out and try to find out what the problem is here.
Update: I performed a hard reset of the Huawei Watch and now the heart rate monitor works perfectly.
The Huawei Watch is priced at the high end of the Android Wear market, which I did not expect given that Huawei has competitively priced Android smartphones. However, it's less than Apple Watch models with leather and steel bands while offering a more traditional watch design.
My new Apple iPhone 6s Plus arrives this Friday so I plan to test out the Huawei Watch with iOS at that time. I'll continue to test out the Huawei Watch, but I'm not yet convinced it's the best Android Wear smartwatch for me. There's another one I'm testing that appeals a bit more to my tastes so stay tuned for those details tomorrow.