The first thing that comes to mind when you think about Haier may be microwaves, but the company actually makes a number of smartphones and wearables. The firm’s latest creation is a weird hybrid device that looks a whole lot like the Huawei Watch, but actually runs full Android 6.0 Marshmallow underneath Haier’s proprietary user interface.
We took it for a spin at MWC 2016 to see how full Android works on our wrist. Of course, it’s a pre-production concept right now, so the software was a little buggy and our watch wasn’t connected to the Internet.
A classic round smartwatch
There’s no way around it — the Haier Watch looks just like the Huawei Watch in almost every way. It’s a 42mm, 316L stainless-steel-encased smartwatch with a fully round screen. It even comes with a black leather strap or a mesh metal one, both of which look like the ones Huawei offers. It looks and feels premium, and it’s a good copy of the Huawei Watch that looks pretty decent on male or female wrists, provided you get the right strap. It is chunky, but so are all smartwatches at the moment.
Haier placed the power button on the side in the form of a smooth, round watch crown. It adds a touch of style and makes it look more like a regular wristwatch. There’s a speaker of some sort between the lugs on the watch for audio playback. It has a microphone, too, for voice commands and dictation. The watch charges on a disc and connects magnetically. Haier will offer different bands and different colors for the casing.
High-end specs and full Android
Haier’s 1.4-inch round screen boasts a very high resolution of 400 × 400 pixels. The company made a number of watch faces for the device, including a cool one that appears to show a rising sun. It’s somewhat like the one on the Apple Watch.
Since the watch is running full Android 6.0 Marshmallow, it should be capable of some unorthodox actions that Android Wear watches can’t do yet. Haier told us it’s using an early version of the software, but right now, it looks a lot like Android Wear. Swipe down to see notifications, swipe up from the bottom to bring up the music controls, and swipe side to side to go back and flip through menus.
There were some apps on the demo unit we used, including messages, weather, health, and a calendar. While some were optimized for the round screen, others looked awkward and out of place. We expect they’ll be fixed before Haier actually launches the device.
The watch supports Bluetooth 4.0, but it doesn’t offer Wi-Fi or NFC connectivity. It packs 8GB storage, so you can load lots of apps and some music on the device. And since it has a speaker, you can actually play music on it — even without headphones — though we’re really not sure why on earth you’d want to. You should be able to make calls with it, though we weren’t able to demo that feature.
Haier added heart rate and activity tracking, of course, and made the watch IP56 water resistant. It’s unclear if it will ever come stateside, but Haier says it should hit some markets in April for about €200 ($220).
- Sleek, round design
- Premium materials
- Sharp screen
- Buggy software
- May not reach the U.S.