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Huawei Watch Review – Slickest Looking Android Wear Smartwatch so far?

Over the past few years, Smart watches have come a long way. From Pebble to Apple Watch, we have seen a plethora of good looking watches and even a few which might not be very appealing. Talking about the first smartwatch to be introduced, Pebble did a great job by kickstarting something unusual and bring it to the masses. Following that, the software giant, Google started exploring the lanes of smartwatch and offered us Android Wear. As an operating system for wrist watches, Android wear was easily adopted by many and that’s how the trend of smartwatch became more mainstream.

Soon after, different manufacturers came up with their own watch. The Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei also decided to launch their own variant and the result? The Huawei Watch. The company originally presented the Huawei Watch for the first time at Mobile World Congress in March 2015. But it wasn’t until IFA 2015 in September, the company was able to give us the final details on the availability etc. So now that the watch is officially available for anyone to go pick one up, the ultimate question is, where does the Huawei Watch stand against the competition? Let’s find out.

Design

The Huawei Watch is a beautifully crafted piece of wearable, which is not just beautiful from the outside, but it also packs some serious power from within. When it comes to design, Huawei offers a whole variety of them to choose from. You don’t have the luxury of selecting your own custom ones like Moto 360 with the Moto Maker, but the preset inventory offered by the company by itself is far better. You can select from a range of premium casings and fine leather or stainless steel straps. And for all the ladies out there, Huawei has got your back here. They also introduced the two Rose Gold-plated Swarovski Zirconia & Clous De Paris Pattern variants with the Huawei Watch Jewel and Huawei Watch Elegant respectively.

All the variants pack a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass and stainless steel unibody design that comes in the all the Silver, Gold or Black color options as discussed earlier. The watch screams quality and it will definitely turn some heads; the moment it is taken off the shelf. The regular variant has a 42mm diameter and 11.3 mm thickness. It is not the thinnest thing in the world, but it won’t make you feel uncomfortable by any means. The Huawei watch looks more like traditional analog watches than a smartwatch. Hence it won’t fetch you the “Geek” impression from others when you rock one of this outside.

When you compare the Huawei Watch with a classic watch face, there is very little to distinguish here. The small bezels around the 1.4-inch AMOLED display feel like home for all the classic watch lovers. When compared side-by-side with any other smartwatch like the Pebble Steel or the Moto 360, this will certainly feel more elegant with that polished and brushed aluminum frame. At the back, there is heart rate sensor for tracking all the data along with the charging pins. The back plate also feels sturdy and well put together.

Experience

When it comes to Android wear software experience, there is not much to expect. If you are coming from another Android Wear watch, then you already know what to do. If not, then the only thing you need to know here is that it is Google Now on your wrist. Yes, that’s what it is. All your notifications will stack up on the screen, which can be viewed by swiping up and down or alternatively you can use the wrist gestures. So it all comes down to how well you can get along with the Google’s software here. One thing to be noticed here is that Android Wear is still a work in progress and it is still evolving day after day with all the software updates etc. But with that being said, the software experience will not stop you from admiring the watch for what it is. It runs on the latest Android Wear version 1.4 based on 6.0.1 Marshmallow and it comes with all the bells and whistles of the latest software like Wi-Fi connectivity etc.

And when it comes to hardware experience, there is a lot to talk about. Right out of the box, when you power it for the first time, you will feel premium quality here. The touch feels responsive with absolutely no lags. Coming from a Moto 360 1st gen, this felt way better to use. You can select from a variety of different watch faces or you can go crazy and download a bunch of them from the Play store etc. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth 4.1 in low energy mode to consume less battery. The Android Wear application on your smartphone is the key here for tweaking other settings, even though it doesn’t offer diverse settings. The Huawei Watch also have Wi-Fi support to stay connected to the internet.

In terms of specs, it has a 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor and 512MB of RAM and also a 4GB of onboard storage option. Over the course of time, the watch has faired pretty well. The leather strap, which I initially expected to wear off easily, is surprisingly holding just fine. But again, that is something to look out for on a longer run. The stainless steel casing is still as new as the first day of usage. Huawei has indeed taken time with this one. The IP certification will keep it safe from dust and you can dunk it up to 1 meter of water for half an hour.

There is a hardware button on the right side, which can be used to quickly turn off your display or to jump to the menu when you long press it. The heart rate sensor is again a hit or miss here. It gives me different reading when I compare it side by side with a fitness band like Fitbit Blaze, but again both of them are not accurate anyway. It also has a bunch of other sensors like a six-axis motion sensor, etc. to monitor your activity.

Display & Battery

The Huawei watch has a 1.4-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 400 x 400 giving it a pixel density of 286 ppi. Well, that’s the highest of any Android Wear device period. It has a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, hence colors are nice and vibrant with crisp looking texts. It does comparatively well under brightly lit conditions. There is an always on display and it works well since it is an AMOLED display. So select the watch face you love and stop worrying about running out of juice because of it. The Ambient light sensor is missing here, hence no ‘flat-tyre’ display on the front, unlike Moto 360 variants. You can leave the brightness at 4 for most of the time and if you are under direct sunlight etc. then you can use the brightness boost option when you swipe down from the watch face.

Now when it comes to battery life of the smart watches, it has always been below average. With most of the devices in this category in the market offering only a day worth of battery life, it was hard to expect more from this one as well. But surprisingly, the battery life of the Huawei watch is not that bad if not excellent by any means. You can definitely make it through a day or maybe more with moderate usage without any complaints. And moderate usage in my case was getting all the notifications from social media, WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc. all day, using Spotify and glancing it throughout the day like this. If you are a heavy user and want to use Google Maps on this and go for a bunch of WhatsApp replies drawing emojis and stuff, then you might end your day with less than 10 percent battery.

But hey, there is only so much that you can do with a watch so it is hard to kill it this way. Luckily, charging the 300 mAh battery inside is fairly quick and hence it is not an issue to complain about. Note that, if you disable ‘Always-On’ option, then you might get even 2 day’s worth of battery life with moderate usage. It completely depends on person-to-person. No wireless charging dock here unlike its competition from Motorola, Samsung etc. But with a price tag starting from about 20,000 INR we expected it to come with better charging solution than a magnetic dock that connects to the back.

Recommended:Pebble Time Steel Review – What’s New in Pebble after 4 years of R&D

Verdict

The Huawei Watch is the first and the best attempt of the company in this segment and to be very honest, they have done an exceptional job. Yes, definitely it is not the best one we have seen so far, but truly it is not the worst either. The classic watch design coupled with all the goodness of Android Wear gives it that edge it needs over the other options in the market. Aesthetically, Huawei Watch is arguably the best looking Android Wear smartwatch, but the classic design comes with a premium price indeed. Huawei is clearly aiming to bring the best in the market. Even though it feels premium and classy, but it is still nowhere near the Luxury time pieces from Tag Heuer or other similar brands. So if you are in the market for a premium offering in the smartwatch segment then this one is at least worth taking a look at. But on the other hand, if you just want a simple smart watch with basic functionalities, then this is not for you as there are other pocket-friendly options out there.

By Karthik Iyer on Monday 1st of Aug 2016


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