Here’s a product you probably haven’t seen before. Meet the Huawei Watch Buds, a smartwatch with a pair of true wireless earbuds inside. That’s right, it’s a two-in-one solution to a problem you didn’t know existed.
But before you dismiss it as being a ridiculous gimmick, Huawei may actually be on to something here, and there’s no doubt this is a properly thought-out product, and not something sketched out on a napkin during a drunken night out.
You don’t have to worry about carrying around or forgetting to pick up your earbuds when you wear the Watch Buds. The screen flips up, and they are inside. The tiny earbuds aren’t marked left or right, as they intelligently understand which ear they are placed in, plus the symmetrical shape and lack of contacts mean they just pop back inside the smartwatch without fiddling around to make sure they’re placed correctly to charge. For someone who doesn’t use earbuds that often, hates the fiddly cases, and rarely remembers to even have them nearby, the Watch Buds could solve a few problems.
They’re also tiny at just 21mm long and 10mm across, and incredibly light at only 4 grams. Huawei says the Watch Buds earbuds are about 50% smaller than most other true wireless earbuds. This doesn’t mean they lack features, though. AI-powered noise cancellation is onboard and there are dual microphones, as well as wear detection, wind noise suppression, and even a clever gesture control system that responds to taps on the earbud, or your actual ear. It’s an important consideration considering how small the buds are. Huawei has chosen a pair of planar diaphragms with quad magnets for sound.
Then you’ve got the smartwatch itself. It has a 1.43-inch AMOLED screen that magnetically locks closed over the earbuds, and the special hinge has been tested up to 100,000 openings to ensure it remains durable. When it’s closed, the smartwatch has an IPX7 water-resistance rating, and the buds themselves have an IPX4 rating. On the back of the smartwatch’s case is a heart rate sensor, and the watch tracks all your activity as usual. It will connect to either Android or iOS phones using Huawei’s own app, and it tracks workouts and movement through the Huawei Health app.
The downside of squeezing a pair of earbuds inside a smartwatch is that battery life for both has been affected. Huawei claims the smartwatch will last for about three days with normal use, and the earbuds around three hours with the noise cancellation active. That’s not great when we’re used to seeing at least twice that number for both when they aren’t combined. The ease of charging does take away some of the frustration here, though.
Huawei knows what it’s doing with smartwatches, has a long history of producing headphones and earbuds, and has worked on hinges for folding smartphones from the very beginning. All the ingredients and expertise are there to make a product like the Watch Buds, but it’s still an open question as to how many people will see them as useful or not. Amazingly, it’s not the only recent device that hides a pair of earbuds inside, as HMD Global released the Nokia 5710 XpressMusic phone last year with the same trick. Maybe you can get both, and have a choice of earbuds?
Preorders open on February 15, with deliveries expected to begin on March 1 in the U.K., where they cost 449 British pounds. This converts over to about $545 U.S., and that makes them quite expensive. Huawei will argue you’re getting two products for this price, which is accurate, but you could get an Apple Watch SE 2 and a pair of third-generation AirPods for less, so you’ll really have to believe in the convenience of carrying earbuds around inside your smartwatch to consider them a good value.
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