In the smartwatch world, it seemed to be the case that you would either go with form, or function. Up until the recent slew of next-gen smartwatches, just about the only watch you could get that both looked good and performed well was the Moto 360, but even then it was clearly a first-generation device with not-so-great battery life, alright performance, and an OK resolution.
The new Huawei Watch looks to fulfill both form and function. Yet, there still were things that I missed from the Moto 360. How does that work, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
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The first thing that strikes you about the Huawei Watch is its design. When glanced upon someone’s wrist, most wouldn’t even notice that its a smartwatch. However, more people seemed to comment on my wearing the Huawei Watch than the Moto 360, oddly. Perhaps because Huawei managed to make the watch normal enough to look like a watch, but out-of-place enough to still recognize it as one of their products. Smart move, on their part.
I was sent the model that has a silver body with a black leather band. The band was the first smartwatch band I’ve come across to look like a normal watch-band. Maybe this is because of my lack of experience. I think what’s more likely is manufacturers haven’t thought to pay much attention to the band. Instead of just a length of leather, the Huawei Watch’s band has the familiar stitching on the sides, with that slight curve on the top and bottom that is really only seen on quality watches. This makes the band not only durable, but comfortable.
The body is 42mm in diameter, and 11.3mm thick. I’m used to the first-gen Moto 360, so the Huawei Watch felt smaller by comparison, which at first was nice, but also slightly odd to me. However, I quickly got used to it, and most who don’t like the size of smartwatches are sure to appreciate the difference. Some who are wondering will want to know that the Huawei Watch has a full-circle display, with no “flat tire” that you see on the Moto 360. This makes the bezels on the Huawei Watch a little bigger than Motorola’s offerings but it’s not noticeable enough to really comment on.
[blockquote author=””]…golly, what a beauty we have here[/blockquote]
There isn’t really anything else that’s overly noticeable about the body, other than it looks good, is comfortable, and is stainless steel. Considering I usually review tech and not clothing accessories, I’m not sure what else to say about it. I suppose if there’s something specific you want to know, shoot off the question in the comments.
The display is the next aspect of the watch you’ll notice. And golly, what a beauty we have here. The display is a 286 ppi, AMOLED, sapphire-covered, bright and crisp wonder. The first-gen Moto 360’s display looks like an old tube T.V. compared to this watch, making it like a new plasma flat-screen. Text is crisp and clear, and the notification cards are sharp against the watch face. At full brightness, the display is easily seen in direct sunlight. I may not be watching videos on this watch, but a watch is all about what it displays, and this doesn’t really leave any room for doubt.
[df-subtitle]Performance and Battery Life[/df-subtitle]
Using the Huawei Watch was wonderful when it came to performance. I never had the watch so much as hiccup. Animations were fluid, voice recognition was quick, calling up apps was seamless, and notifications came in almost instantaneously with the phone. Swiping through my cards was easy, and even using wrist-gestures seemed to work better on this watch than my previous experience with smartwatches. For the geeks out there, this watch is running a Snapdragon 400 at 1.2 GHz.
The other phenomenal aspect of this watch is its battery life. The Huawei Watch could run circles around the first-gen Moto 360 with its stamina. When you first power on the watch, the always-on mode is enabled by default. At first I turned it off, since that seemed to run any other watch I tried that on dry before I’d get home for the day. However, after a few days of the Huawei Watch being at around 60-65% when I’d get home, I gave it a shot.
After I enabled the always-on mode, I’d get home with around 50-55% battery left. This is pretty incredible, as it means that difference between always-on and the normal gesture-activated display mode is about 10%. I never tried it, but in theory most casual users would likely get two days worth out of the Huawei Watch.
Now for the things I’d like to change. And, really, these are only things I missed from my first-gen Moto 360, but I think they’re important features nonetheless.
The first, probably not-as-big feature is automatic brightness. Many comment on the “flat tire” that is on the Moto 360, but that black area holds two things: the display drivers, and the sensor that controls automatic brightness that is also present on smartphones. I ended up placing the brightness at 3 or 4, and that seemed to be a fairly good balance. However, when I walked in a theater and glanced at my watch, I was momentarily blinded, and a few times I walked outside and look down and had to turn up the brightness (via the three-button press). I eventually got over it, but it was certainly something I wish was there.
The second thing I missed was wireless charging, and is something I missed every night I went to charge the watch. For perspective, the first-gen Moto 360 was $249, and included a wireless charger. The Huawei Watch starts at $349, and goes up to $449, and yet there is no wireless charger present. The charger of the Huawei Watch was at least magnetic, so as long as you placed the pins in the right place you would get it charging on your first attempt 3/5 times. But that’s the thing – with a device where I’m already compromising on the length of battery (meaning a regular wrist watch vs a smart watch), the charger should be something I don’t even have to think about.
In this mobile world, we already worry about our laptops and phones, and at times even tablets. Just one more device to charge could be a headache for some. So really, this is a plea not just to Huawei but all smartwatch makers: please make all smartwatches wireless-charging compatible. (*steps off soap-box*).
Other things of note on this watch are a heart-rate monitor, Wi-Fi, and easily swappable wristbands.
Overall, the Huawei Watch was a joy to use, with snappy performance, a great screen, and a nice profile. It seemed that Huawei focused too much on the design rather than the day-to-day of using the watch, but experienced smartwatch users (the few out there) are likely to get a handle on things just fine.