When Huawei launched its original Watch in the UK it was in association with GQ, the men's lifestyle brand. The Chinese maker's desire to push its fashion-forward smartwatch to an image conscious crowd was clear. Thing is, the Watch, despite its glitzy image from afar, simply felt too chunky to wear and lacked all the mod cons when it came to features.
It's no surprise that Huawei is back for round two with the Huawei Watch 2, but the approach has changed: the new wearable comes in Classic and Sport varieties, with the focus being a little more fitness-forward than before.
We got the briefly handle both versions of the Watch 2 ahead of the official unveil at the Huawei conference at Mobile World Congress 2017 to see if they're the Android Wear 2.0 devices to desire.
Huawei Watch 2 review: Design and features
- Classic and Sport options
- 45mm diameter
- 1.2in round screen
- 18mm standard band
What we always did like about the original Huawei Watch was its round display. There was none of the “black bar” nonsense slicing through the bottom of it, like with the Moto 360, for a truly round appearance. That carries through into the Watch 2: with a 1.2inch, 390-pixel square resolution panel leading the way.
The obvious difference, as we outlined at the beginning, is that the Watch 2 comes in Class and Sport flavours. The former comes with a leather strap, in grey or black, and looks suave in its stainless steel finish; the latter device comes with a sports strap, its plastic shell dressed in orange, and looks altogether more budget for it - it's the one for the runners out there.
The strap is flexible, but we're not sure why it's only available in orange. The clasps on the underside ought to mean other options are available - it's the same quick-release, 18mm standard strap mechanism as per the original Watch - but you'll still be stuck with the orange main shell finish with the Sport version.
Huawei Watch 2 review: Fitness focus
- GPS tracking
- IP68 weather-resistant
- 4G option (for Sport)
- Built-in heart-rate sensor
Both the devices, however, are fitness focused: their ‘Fat-burning' and ‘Cardio run' exercise modes are focused on exactly what they say, with the built-in heart-rate sensor acting as the main measure for fitness. We hope it's more accurate this time around, as we didn't get on with the one in the original Watch that well.
Key to the Watch 2 is its meatier specification. With GPS on board you needn't faff about with a phone to record your exercise, which was a major criticism of the original device. The Sport will also come in an optional 4G flavour for on-the-go mobile connectivity (the Classic doesn't offer this). Both offer 2GB internal storage so you can listen to music - the 4G connection of the Sport will mean you can install relevant Android Wear apps for live streaming too.
The modes focus on calories burned, speed, step frequency/cadence and heart-rate, which can be viewed in real-time, plus shown in training reports after. Such reports, we were shown, can plug into your personal training plan, so you can create your own targets, calculate recovery time, training affect (TE, as Huawei calls it) and VO2 max. It's all rather detailed and all rather sporty.
Huawei Watch 2 review: Software and battery
- Android Wear 2.0
- NFC built-in (Android Pay)
- Two-button design (no crown control)
- 420mAh battery capacity
Android Wear 2.0 is making inroads in 2017; the latest version of Google's wearable operating system adds more accessible methods of control - with the inclusion of rotational crown-based operation being one obvious new interaction.
But not with the Watch 2. For some reason Huawei has opted for a two-button design, positioned on the right side, to make selections when not using the touchscreen. There's no rotational crown like with the LG Watch Style. More bizarre is that the Classics two buttons both rotate - but doing so does nothing (and Huawei couldn't tell us why). Early product, we suspect, so will be interested to see how this evolves.
The big deal about Android Wear 2.0 is the ability to add individual apps, so we expect both Watch 2 devices will be highly personalisable. There's also Google Assistant for voice control, plus built-in NFC means Android Pay will be available this time around from the off.
In terms of longevity the on-board battery will last for 11-hours when being used non-stop with GPS and heart-rate tracking, so it's marathon-ready. Huawei expects two days of life for normal users, including exercise sessions, or three days for the non-4G version.
There's also a special ‘More' mode which simplifies the device to display only time and step-tracking, with other features disabled, which can last for 26-days. Wear it how you will.
Huawei has been sensible with its Watch 2 choices. The boost in features means its potentially perfect for runners or smartwatch seeking fans alike, with Android Wear 2.0 allowing far greater control and personalisation without digging in quite as deep as, say, an Apple Watch.
The key thing that will either make of break it, however, is how it feels to wear for longer periods of time. The fully round screen and style are on point, but the chunky design, once again, be the point that presses the wrong button for people. We’ll have to wait and see.
The Huawei Watch 2 has no official price or release date just yet. We’ll be updating this preview with the latest information from Huawei’s press conference at Mobile World Congress 2017.