AMOLED display is great, helps with battery life
Two-day battery life
Watch Mode further saves battery
Nearly all new Wear 2.0 features leveraged well
Lack of an extra navigation method (rotating side button)
Design needlessly sporty
Watch strap feels cheap
The original Huawei Watch is one of the most popular Android Wear devices to date, and for good reason. While it may be a tad on the chunky side, users flocked to the Huawei Watch because of its classy design and solid performance.
But things have changed quite a bit in the Android Wear landscape. We now have the LG Watch Sport and Style, which feature rotating dials for easy navigation, water resistant designs, and, most notably, Android Wear 2.0. So in a world where Google and LG are teaming up to create new smartwatches to showcase the updated operating system, where should your hard-earned money go? And does Huawei have what it takes to clear the bar it set for itself with the original Huawei Watch? Find out, in our full Huawei Watch 2 review!
For anyone that was hoping for a followup to the original Huawei Watch, this might be a jarring change. Gone is the gold and silver on the watch’s body, and in is the sporty plastic build. That’s not to say it’s a bad looking watch, but our first few days with the Watch 2 left us wanting for the previous generation that wasn’t so sport-oriented.
The large bezel has minute designations that shine nicely under lighting, but also make me feel obligated to use analog watch faces. That is admittedly a little nitpicky, but those markings end up being little more than cosmetic additions to the body.
The side of the device houses two buttons – the upper button opens the app drawer or Google Assistant, while the bottom button can be customized but starts workouts by default. Altogether, the watch body is pretty reminiscent of sporty Timex watches, and the look has grown on me gradually throughout the time that I have used it.
The only part of the body that I really don’t like is the lack of an extra method of navigation. The screen is of good quality and there is little to dislike about it, but relying on taps and swipes to get everywhere is so Android Wear 1.0. The LG Watch Sport and Style both have rotating side buttons for navigation, and I really do wish that was present on the Watch 2.
The Watch 2's strap feels too cheap and rubbery
For all that the watch body has done to slowly look better day by day, it’s the watch strap that I just can’t stand. It is the one part of the Huawei Watch 2 that feels cheaper than the price leads on. Granted, the watch strap can be swapped out with any other standard 18mm band, but finding ones that fit with the body could prove a little tough. That’s a challenge I may end up taking because the included band is simply too rubbery and flimsy to do the price point justice.
Those not a fan of this design will certainly appreciate the availability of the Classic edition that takes on a less sporty construction overall and brings a metallic body. However, the intrinsic problems of the lifeless cosmetic bezel and the lack of extra navigation method still stand.
See also: LG Watch Sport and Style review
As previously mentioned, the 1.2-inch AMOLED screen with 390 x 390 resolution is a good quality display and there is very little wrong with it. In fact, having an AMOLED screen (as opposed to LCD) seems to help a great deal with battery life, which we will cover in a bit. Swiping and tapping across all the newer elements of Android Wear 2.0 is a breeze – as it should be – but after having features like the Samsung Gear S3’s rotating bezel and the rotating crown of the more recent LG Watch Sport may have spoiled me enough to view this as a detractor.
Always-on screen options are available, and the included watch faces leverage it quite well. I actually like to turn off the wake gesture so that the watch face doesn’t change to its full version until I hit the button. Not only does this save a little bit of that precious battery life, but it also keeps the watch looking uniform until I need it to do more than tell time.
Performance and hardware
Android Pay on the Watch 2 works great
Underneath that surface, the already tried and true Snapdragon Wear 2100 powers the Huawei Watch 2, backed by 768 MB of RAM. 4 GB of storage is available for loading up music and all of the different sensors for various applications are present, including NFC, GPS, Bluetooth, and a heart rate monitor.
The inclusion of NFC helps bring Android Pay into the mix, which works as well as ever. All you have to do is select the card and hold it up to the terminal until you feel the vibration, and you’re good to go. A SIM card can also be installed for mobile network connectivity, and the Huawei Watch 2 can be used for calls when connected.
Battery life, I’m happy to say, is a big highlight for the Huawei Watch 2. First off, a sort of hybrid mode included in the watch allows for an ultra low power mode where the device is little more than, well, a watch. This is a mode that can automatically activate when the watch is at very low battery, at which point you will still be able to tell the time for a very extended period of time. This sure beats having a weird glorified wristband on.
As for general longevity, the watch got to two days consistently, which is something most Android Wear watches aren’t able to boast. I’m not a big fan of the magnetic charging clasp, though. Charging up the watch doesn’t take too long, thankfully, so certain tasks like sleep tracking are more possible with the Huawei Watch 2 than it has been with some recent wearables.
The Watch 2 was constantly able to achieve two full days of battery life
Which brings us to the software, and Android Wear 2.0. Much of what we didn’t like in the previous Wear interface has been changed for the better, and that starts with notifications. No longer shown as cards, every notification is shown as their own screen that can be expanded with taps and scrolled through with every actionable option.
The app drawer is now more easily accessed and is easier on the eyes, with apps taking on new life as standalone local installations on the watch itself. Android Wear 2.0 is less dependent on the paired smartphone as a result.
The fitness capabilities of the Huawei Watch 2 are quite robust, especially for distance-based active users. GPS tracking will show runners and hikers exactly where they’ve been and how far they’ve come. Meanwhile, the heart rate sensor will monitor one’s cardio throughout, providing a little more insight into how much the user has done.
Related: The best fitness trackers
|Huawei Watch 2||Huawei Watch 2 Classic|
390 x 390 resolution
390 x 390 resolution
|Processor||Snapdragon Wear 2100||Snapdragon Wear 2100|
|Storage||4GB (2.3GB available)||4GB (2.3GB available)|
|Battery life||Up to 2 days of normal use|
|Up to 3 days of normal use|
|GPS||Yes, GPS + Glonass||Yes, GPS + Glonass|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 4.1 BLE+BR/EDR|
Wi-Fi 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n Cellular: GSM/WCDMA/TDS/CDMA2000/TDD-LTE/FDD-LTE (only for 4G version)
|Bluetooth 4.1 BLE+BR/EDR|
Wi-Fi 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n
|Sensors||Accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, heart rate sensor (PPG), CAP capacitance sensor, ALS/ambient light sensor, geomagnetic sensor||Accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, heart rate sensor (PPG), CAP capacitance sensor, ALS/ambient light sensor, geomagnetic sensor|
|Software||Android Wear 2.0||Android Wear 2.0|
|Size||48.9 x 45 x 12.6mm||48.9 x 45 x 12.6mm|
|Weight (without band)||Watch 2 (Bluetooth): about 40g|
Watch 2 (LTE): about 42g
|Colors||Dynamic Orange, Carbon Black, Concrete Grey||Titanium Grey|
Pricing and final thoughts
Overall, the Huawei Watch 2 is another good showcase of the capabilities of Android Wear 2.0. However, that comes with its own innate pitfalls.
Wear 2.0 has a focus on high features, most of which have a focus on fitness. Unfortunately, Huawei managed to simultaneously move too far in this direction and also fall short of it. Without an extra method of navigation input, Huawei automatically positions itself behind any other Wear 2.0 devices that take advantage of this capability. With its great battery life and stellar feature set otherwise though, the only real detractor from the overall Huawei Watch 2 experience is its design.
Why not have a watch with all of these capabilities that makes more sense worn outside of the gym or off the hiking trail? If the LG Watch Sport and Huawei’s follow up attempt are any indication, we may not get a positive answer to that question just yet.
For a starting price of $349, the trade-offs make the money a little harder to part with. There is a lot to like about the Huawei Watch 2, but there is also enough to make even excited users take pause. Unlike its predecessor, conforming to a specific general purpose for smartwatches takes away from what could have been a wonderful, proper Wear 2.0 follow up.
What are your thoughts on the Huawei Watch 2? Are you thinking of buying one? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!