- Well-built and good-looking smartwatch
- Great display, Sapphire glass
- Voice dictation accurate
- Android Wear still limited
- No ambient light sensor
The Huawei Watch looks great and has a superb display. It's missing some features, though, and Android Wear is still too limited.
Smartwatches basically suffer the same fundamental limitations across the board, especially Android Wear devices. There is not much more the most expensive Android Wear watch can do that the cheapest cannot thanks to Google’s wearable OS. This leaves smartwatch makers with only hardware options for differentiation, which Huawei took to the heart with its latest, the Huawei Watch.
“Inspired by the classic design of luxury watches,” the Huawei Watch is built for “smart, stylish people,” according to the company. Its price tag, ranging from $350 to $800, matches this pitch, as the Huawei Watch is one of the more expensive Android Wear watches available.
Huawei hopes this focus on quality watch hardware will be enough to pull potential buyers away from competing devices, including the LG Watch Urbane, which is going after the same upscale demographic.
Is it enough? Read on to find out.
Build & Design
This is a well-built watch. We’ve dinged Huawei in the past for its wearable design choices, but there is nothing to complain about here. The 42mm watch face consists of cold-forged 316L stainless steel, and juts out about 11.3mm from the wrist. It feels solid, and a bit heavier than expected, which suggests a quality build.
Our review unit felt great when worn, both well balanced and snug. To be fair, we tested the black stainless steel link band, and can’t speak to the comfort of the steel mesh or leather bands. Given those are typically the more comfortable than metal links with traditional watches, we’re confident that all Huawei Watch options wear well.
While it’s obvious Huawei is marketing the Huawei Watch to men, it’s still too bad it’s only available in this size. It’s large enough that we suggest anyone looking to buy try it on first.
The Huawei Watch sports a crown on the upper-left side of its round display, which only functions as a button, toggling the display and apps/settings access. It presses well and serves its purpose.
It’s IP67 rated, meaning it can deal with dust and water splashes, and even an accidental submersion. Just to be safe, don’t take it in the shower or pool, but if you wear it while washing your hands or get caught in the rain, it will be fine.
The Huawei Watch charges via a magnetic sphere that attaches to the bottom. But unlike the Apple Watch charger, this one has four pins that align to receptacles on the back. Overall, it’s not a bad charger design, but it’s not as good as the Apple Watch or Moto 360, given the pins require specific placement.
The Huawei Watch display is fully round, unlike the Moto 360 smartwatches that have the “flat tire” look owing to a small section on the display bottom. It’s a 1.4-inch full-circle AMOLED display with a 400 x 400 resolution, resulting in 286 pixels per inch.
It looks great and further proves AMOLED is the only smartwatch display tech worth conisdering. Colors pop, contrast is deep, and it’s sufficiently bright at the highest setting.
The display glass is sapphire crystal, making it extremely tough. That, coupled with a display bezel that slight extends above the watch, add a sense of security in knowing this watch face won’t nick or scratch easily.
Unfortunately, it’s also a reflective display, and here’s where the display praise ends. The Huawei Watch can be really hard to see outdoors in bright light. Max brightness offers a passable experience, but the Android smartwatch does not have an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust. Users have to manually boost the brightness in order to cut through any glare. Android Wear offers shortcuts to the setting, but it’s extremely difficult to access when you can’t see anything. There should be a voice command for this, but we couldn’t find one.
To be fair, this has been a constant problem with many smartwatches we’ve tested, and it’s illustrative of the limits. In fact, only high-end tablets and smartphones have been able to reasonably address glare.