The Huawei Watch (black stainless steel edition) was $100 off this Black Friday- Cyber Monday. Even with that discount, was that price tag enticing enough to warrant a purchase?
Presentation: Look. Look with your special eyes. Pay careful attention to the intricate details, the precise cuts and sporty notches all around the bezel, the angled cuts on the power button, and the smooth, perfectly curved lugs. Some may argue that this watch is a bit on the thick side, but I have a similarly sized (and awesome) limited edition watch from Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, so it’s size isn’t unordinary or unwieldy. Actually, this watch when worn simultaneously looks sophisticated, sleek, and sporty. Everything about this watch, from the substantial feeling stainless steel surrounding that beautiful Sapphire Crystal display, to the jewelry box this watch comes in screams high quality. You’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful smartwatch than this, though that may be subjective seeing as how on the moto 360 Gen 2, you can customize the band, the bezel, and the body to really make it suit your own specific style. Still, this watch may be the one to fulfil both ends of the sporty and classy spectrum.
Functionality: In addition to being a beautiful time piece, this watch also runs the latest and greatest android wear. This means that you’ll get notifications from your phone or wifi signal sent directly to your watch, so you don’t need to have this feeling of being “tethered” to your phone at all times. Make no mistake however, you still need a phone in order to take full advantage of this watch, as it connects via bluetooth & wifi, but you can leave your phone in one room on the charger while you’re in another room, and still access all of your notifications.
Here is the spec list, taken directly from Huawei’s website:
Display: 1.4-inch full circle AMOLED display 400×400 screen resolution, 286 ppi
OS: Android Wear.
Processor: 1.2 GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon 400
Memory: 4GB ROM; 512MB RAM
Dimensions:Body: 42mm diameter x 11.3mm thin
Band: 185mm x 20.5mm Weight:136 g
Compatibility: Android 4.3+ / iOS 8.2+*
Battery: 300 maH; Up to 2 days**
Sensors: Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Barometer, Heart Rate Connectivity:Bluetooth 4.1; WIFi
Materials: DLC Coated Cold-Forged 316L Stainless Steel, Sapphire Crystal.
All in all, it has a beautiful, resilient (sapphire crystal) high resolution screen with bright and crisp colors and shapes. If you look closely however, you can tell it’s a digital display. Many of the more classic watch faces can look a little cartoony as a result of the digital display, but most of them look truly magnificent. The rest of the specs are fairly standard android wear affair, with a 1.2 ghz snapdragon processor, 512 gb of ram, and a pretty decent 300 maH battery. Interestingly, there’s also a speaker hidden on this watch. While I haven’t been able to test that out for myself, I do know there is a microphone on this watch, so there’s reason to believe Huawei incorporated a speaker to allow you to make phone calls from this watch down the road, though Android wear hasn’t unlocked the functionality as of yet. The processor and ram are able to handle most tasks, and there were only a few instances where the watch was lagging behind my movements.
I won’t go through all of the detailed nuances of Android Wear, as there are plenty of guides available on how to properly use the OS. What I will outline in another piece here, is how this watch proved it’s worth to me from a functionality aspect as an artist and gamer. One of the ways smartwatches, and specifically the Huawei Watch, has made things a bit more convenient for every day life, was in my travel to and from work. At any point, I can pull up the transit app on my phone and watch, and walk down the street to see when the next bus is scheduled to come. Despite the fact that the busses are always late in the morning, I can see at a glance, without taking out my phone, when I can expect the next bus to arrive. Same applies for uber, though this works even better. Tell the Uber app to come pick you up on your phone, put your phone away or leave it on the charger while getting ready to head out, and get a notification on your watch when the driver is nearby, and when they arrive. You know right when your driver arrives so neither of you need to worry about the whole “Sorry, my phone was on the charger.” Smooth, and seamless, just the way the tech should be.
Additionally, I can respond to notifications using the watch, without fumbling around to grab my large phone in a packed area. I can swipe, or flick my wrist to see my notifications, and swiping from right to left, I can get more details, or read whole e-mails. I can respond by talking to the watch, and while the dictation hasn’t been perfect, it’s been fairly reliable. Just remember to say “comma” when you want to insert punctuation marks!
There were only two gripes I had when using this watch. For starters, I don’t like needing to have location services on for it to work at all (though as I understand, that’s a universal android wear scenario). I understand that for the fitness tracking, and location based apps, you need to have it active, but what if you aren’t looking to do any tracking? What if you just want to utilize the basic functions of seeing your notifications and responding to the more important things? I’d love to see an option that doesn’t bind you to using location based services in order to access basic online notifications like e-mails, tweets, or Instagram notifications, which can drain your phone battery.
The second gripe I had was in relation to what can only be described to as a hardware-software malfunction. There are a small number of users who have been affected by a “bug” that renders the watch useless for a short period of time before being restarted or taken into “theatre mode”. On the first day of using this watch, it crashed on me a total of 6 times. Each time I had to leave my finger on the power button and restart it. There were several times when I felt a notification come through, but it wouldn’t show up on the watch at all. Similarly, I never felt quite sure of the time because of the constant freezing issues I was having. They became a lot less frequent over time, and double tapping the power button (which puts your watch in theatre mode) usually slapped some sense into it, but it was a real bummer running into that issue so many times. I reached out to Huawei tech support, but haven’t heard back as of the time of finishing this review (14 days.)
Price: $450. That is not a typo; this watch costs $450. That’s a lot of money for anyone to spend on a wearable technological fashion piece. For that price, you could buy an unlocked phone or a game console (with games and accessories!). The thing about this watch is, it’s made for people who really like watches, and as such, may be used to mid-high tier time pieces. Similarly, the moto 360 2 costs $350 for a similar configuration, and the LG G watch R costs $358. It is a full $100 more expensive than most other android wear devices that have very similar specs (sans the screen type and resolution). While it has higher quality components, whether or not it’s worth the price to you is up to if you value the higher end feel, though I personally feel that it is a bit steep. To get the lower end model (silver stainless steel, black leather band, is $350 ($300 on sale as of the time of this review.) $250 at the base line would have been preferable!
Lasting Appeal: Have you noticed that I haven’t once referred to the Huawei watch as just “a device?” That was intentional- This watch prides itself in being a watch first, and a device second, exemplified by the way the watch is presented out of the box, and in its stylings. One often has to take a second look to see that this is actually a digital display, and not a classic time piece, and that was done on purpose. This watch turned heads when it was unveiled simply due to this being an actual fashion piece in addition to being functional. When wearing this at the office, or visiting family for the holidays, I got to witness this double take in person as people noticed the display activating when moving my arm up. “Wait, what is THAT? Is that an Apple Watch?” The biggest reason that I’m not particularly drawn to the Apple Watch (kudos to Apple for getting people to think all smartwatches were just called “Apple Watches”) was because it looks like a gadget. It looks like a device, and it has a tiny screen. Additionally, while it may work with my LG G3 phone, there are certain things about it that will not function quite the same way.
Travel is a little more convenient with it, I look really stylish while utilizing wearable tech (huge plus), and I don’t need my phone nearby while doing all of those things. What that’s worth to you will determine whether or not you buy this watch, but since my 30 day trial with this watch is up, I did indeed take advantage of the Black Friday sale and picked one up for myself. My main worries are how well this will hold out in the long run with only 512mb of ram, and how Huawei support will be, as I still haven’t heard back about my issue.
- Beautiful watch with great display quality
- Future proofing with microphone and hidden speaker
- Quick release straps make for easy strap swapping
- Dat price doe
- Iffy customer support
- Freezing issues with my unit