Huawei has dedicated most of its MWC showing to its growing presence in the world of wearables, and along those lines it’s announced its first smartwatch, the aptly named Huawei Watch. Huawei’s slogan for the round wearable is “Timeless Design, Smart Within,” and that gives you an idea of what the Chinese firm is driving at here – the Watch masks the software and feature set of an Android Wear smartwatch within the look and feel of a more traditional, yet wonderfully elegant, wristwatch. We were able to go wrist-on with the device in Barcelona this week.
Like many classic wristwatches, the Watch is composed of stainless steel and comes in silver, black, and gold. The timepiece itself has a 42mm diameter and is 11.3 millimeters thick, making it exceptionally compact relative to other smartwatches and just about in line with most normal watches in general. It’s built in a way that makes it look slimmer than it actually is, with the edges of its timepiece curved slightly inwards.
Thankfully, the Watch feels as good as it looks when it’s actually on your wrist. The only thing that’s thick here is a bulge on the back that stores various fitness tracking sensors and monitors, but that wasn’t too much of a nuisance in practice.
The watch comes with a leather or metal strap, which both look nice and fit snugly against the Watch’s body – you shouldn’t feel any nagging pinches when bending your wrist with this thing on. The rest of the watch avoids the clunkiness of most current smartwatch builds, although the crown is a little too far up on the upper right edge of the device, meaning that it might be annoying to reach if you’re wearing the device on your right wrist.
The Huawei Watch comes with a 400 x 400, 1.4-inch AMOLED screen which looked sharp (at 286 ppi) and has supremely thin bezels, but wasn’t particular bright in our time with it. Huawei’s prepared about 40 analogue watch faces for when you just want to see the time, and most of the ones we saw looked remarkably similar to those you’d see on a standard timepiece.
Huawei deserves big credit for making the panel out of sapphire crystal, which is far more protective against scratches and knocks than the usual Gorilla Glass fare. The drawback here is that sapphire is usually not as responsive to the touch, and indeed the Watch forced us to redo some swipes during our demo time.
On the technical side, the Watch comes with six-axis movement sensor, a barometer sensor, and a vibration sensor. It’ll run the Android Wear OS we’ve seen on various other wearables, and it’ll be compatible with anything that runs Android 4.3 or higher and Bluetooth 4.1 or higher. It’ll run on a Snapdragon chipset, with 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage.
It holds a 300-mAh battery, however, which is a little small compared to those in its Android Wear companions. Considering all the tech it’s packing, that may not allow the Watch to last all that long, but we’ll need a more extended hands-on period before confirming or denying those fears.
With no clear leader emerging in the smartwatch space, Huawei has picked a great time to drop such a gorgeous wearable on the masses. There are still plenty of questions to be answered here – Huawei didn’t have the device’s full software on display, and it hasn’t announced a price or release date for the whole thing yet – but judging solely in terms of style, the Watch just may be the best-looking smartwatch we’ve seen to date.