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Hands on: Huawei Watch

Not too big, not too small, Huawei might have the first smartwatch that fits us all

With its classic good looks and sharp screen, the Huawei Watch is one of the best Android Wear watches you can buy at the moment.

Android Wear smartwatches have come a long way since the first LG G Watch. So far, LG’s been at the front of the pack with its round-faced LG G Watch R and the Urbane, but now others are joining in. Huawei originally revealed its round smartwatch at Mobile World Congress in February, but held off on releasing full details until IFA in August. After months of delays and teasers, the Huawei Watch is finally coming to stores this September.

The first time we saw the Huawei Watch it was stuck running a demo loop of Android Wear. Now we’ve tried the final product. How does Huawei’s first true smartwatch compare with the LG Urbane and the Apple Watch?

It’s among the best-looking smartwatches

Ever since the first tantalizing glimpses of the Apple Watch, other manufacturers have tried to step up their game. Although LG’s Urbane and G watch R both incorporate many aspects of high-end watches into their designs, but both devices skew heavily toward men. Huawei’s Watch reaches a middle ground between looking too masculine or too feminine. It’s neither too bulky, nor too slim to grace either sex’s wrist, and the different straps, metal options, and watch faces help the device work as a unisex watch.

The 42mm watch casing is chunky, but no more so than the LG Urbane. It’s slightly thicker than the Apple Watch, but it’s not too noticeable. Huawei’s Watch incorporates elements from traditional watches, and gets it right. It has a crown for a power button, a sleek, stainless steel case, and a variety of straps. You can even use your own standard watch straps if you don’t like the leather, metal mesh, and metal link options Huawei offers. The watch face is made from scratchproof sapphire crystal, which is supposedly even more impressive and hardy than sapphire glass.

More importantly, the Watch has a round watch face that’s actual the correct size for the average human wrist. Huawei came up with the 42mm diameter and 1.4-inch AMOLED screen combination by actually measuring real wrists and looking at the size of traditional watches.

The result is an attractive, round watch that settles comfortably on even my petite wrist without sticking out over the edge or digging into my wrist bones, like most other smartwatches. It’s still a tad thicker than most ordinary watches, and it’s certainly not as dainty as the 38mm Apple Watch, but it can grace a woman’s wrist without looking too outlandish. On men, the Huawei Watch looks even more natural, and thanks to its always-on display, you could easily mistake it for a normal wristwatch.

Of course, that could be because the watch casing curves to fit your wrist more comfortably, and also helps hide the thickness. It’s a trick that many traditional watches pull off regularly.

The Huawei Watch is unisex in the best way possible; it’s not masculine or feminine until you customize it.

Related: These were the five best Android Wear smartwatches

The casing comes in black, silver, and gold, as well, to accommodate most styles. Regardless of the color, the casing is always stainless steel underneath. The most expensive versions of the watch can run you north of $700, but that’s because Huawei actually plated the watch casing with rose gold. The only other smartwatches that are this customizable are the Apple Watch and the Moto 360, which has the Moto maker store.

Gorgeous high-res screen and the latest version of Android Wear

In addition to its good looks, the Huawei Watch is also pretty powerful. Its 1.4-inch AMOLED screen has a very high-resolution of 400 x 400 pixels, which gives it an impressive pixel density of 286ppi (pixels per inch). The screen looks crisp and bright, rounding out the overall impression of an attractive watch. The watch face is always on, and you can change it for any one of the dozens Huawei made or those you download from the Google Play Store.

It’s certainly not as dainty as the 38mm Apple Watch, but it can grace a woman’s wrist without looking too outlandish.

The watch sports a built-in heart rate monitor, too, so you’ll be able to keep tabs on your health, estimate calorie burn more accurately, and make sure your cardio workout is going well. It’ll track your activity, thanks to a 6-axis accelerometer, and your sleep, as well.

The watch comes with 4GB of storage built in, 512MB of RAM, and Bluetooth 4.1. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, running at 1.2GHz, so it should be pretty speedy. During our short tests, it performed well, and we don’t imagine you’ll get delays or a laggy experience with the Huawei Watch.

It’s running the latest version of Android Wear

Although Android Wear is still not our favorite operating system for a wearable, the latest version of the software adds some cool new features and major improvements. It’s easier to navigate than before, offers Wi-Fi support, lets you draw emoji, and has an ambient mode to prolong battery life.

Huawei Watch

Huawei lets you choose which fitness app you want to use, but didn’t really interfere with the OS otherwise. We’ll need to do more testing of Android Wear on the Huawei Watch before we make any final judgment.

Huawei claims two-day battery life, but we’ll see

Huawei claims that the 300mAh battery inside the watch will last you up to two days, which would be a solid achievement for a smartwatch at this stage. The battery pack is smaller than the LG Urbane’s 410mAh battery and the 320mAh battery in the Moto 360, which had notoriously bad battery life. It’s unclear how Huawei’s watch manages to eek out two days of use with a smaller battery pack, but we’ll investigate for our full review.

Conclusion

The Huawei Watch is certainly built to impress with its sleek design and attractive style options. Like most smartwatches, the true test will be battery life and usefulness on a daily basis. Huawei’s other sticking point that may give would-be buyers pause is the price tag. The stainless steel Huawei Watch with a leather band costs $350, which is the same price as the LG Urbane and the Apple Watch Sport.

If you want a metal band, the price goes up $50 to $400. Should you want the black version, you’ll pay $450, and if you like rose gold, you’ll pay the premium price of $700 for the model with a leather strap or $800 for the one with a metal link strap.

Apple undoubtedly inflated the price of smartwatches with its pricing scheme, but it’s unclear whether Android users are willing to pay that kind of premium for a smartwatch – especially when it’s from a relatively unknown company like Huawei. That said, until LG and Motorola pop out new smartwatches with even better designs and spec sheets, the Huawei Watch is one of the best Android Wear smartwatches you can buy at the moment.

We’ll keep you updated with a full review later this month when the Huawei Watch arrives at our office.

Highs

  • Stylish look suits men and women
  • Latest version of Android Wear
  • Several material and strap options
  • Sharp high-res screen

Lows

  • Battery life is unknown
  • Expensive for a smartwatch
  • Android Wear still has kinks