Until recently, if you used an iPhone you had only two real choices in smartwatches: Apple Watch or the Pebble line. Android users, on the other hand, had multiple companies vying for their business including Sony, Samsung, LG, Acer, Huawei, Motorola, Alcatel and others. Android Wear for iOS has given iPhone users options; now there’s a real smartwatch selection.
I’ve tried on many of the current Android watches, and while I have found much to like about many of them, my favorite by far has been the Huawei Watch. It’s large without being too large on my wrist, it’s round (which I prefer over square), it’s got fantastic build quality, it doesn’t have the “flat tire effect” that other round Android watches have, and although it is a little thicker than I’d prefer, I still think it looks great. Starting at $349.99, it’s not the least expensive smartwatch available, but it is far from the most expensive.
There are several Huawei Watch models available, starting with a stainless steel case with black leather band like I was sent that sells for $349.99. In the mid-range, there’s a black stainless steel model with a black stainless steel link band for $449.99; at the top of the line is the rose gold-plated stainless steel watch with rose gold-plated stainless steel link band version for $799.99.
Even though I have the least expensive version, you’d never know it by the presentation.
The unboxing experience is pretty magnificent, and I say that as someone who has unboxed a Rolex or two as well as several Vertu phones; it’s first class all the way. Does great packaging make it a better watch? No, of course not. But it does add to the experience of buying one.
Inside the box are the watch, a magnetic USB charging disk, a charger (in my case, for the EU), a manual and warranty information.
The watch face minus the bezel is 36mm across; with the bezel it measures 42mm, and it is 12mm thick.
There is a single button on the upper right side. I like the look of a traditional crown that serves as the power button and screen dimmer.
On the back side, there is a heart-rate sensor in the middle, and a charger port on the right side (bottom in the picture)
Setup on either iOS or Android is a matter of making sure that the watch has a full charge, choosing your preferred language, pairing the watch to your phone, downloading and installing the Android Wear app, and then following the on-screen instructions.
There are plenty of pre-installed watch faces to pick from, or you can download even more.
So some things to know about the watch. With a single long press on the crown, you can pull up settings, stopwatch, agenda, alarm, daily tracking, fit, fitness tracking, flashlight, Google, and heart rate.
Every single notification that comes through on your phone will pop up on your watch — unless you swipe left to block the app; swiping right will dismiss the notification. I wore the Huawei for two weeks in conjunction with my Apple Watch (because I am that dork).
I was continuously surprised by how much quicker the notifications rolled in on the Huawei and how much better they looked.
Notice how there is no “flat tire” at the bottom of the screen? I love that. As a matter of fact, the only time you will see anything resembling the “flat tire” is when you pull down the screen to reveal the mute/battery, theater mode, brightness boost, or settings options. You can tell by looking that the original watch face is underneath the pull down screen, showing at the bottom, so it isn’t a true “flat tire”.
Battery life on the Huawei Watch is slightly better than the Apple Watch – even with the screen set to ‘always on’.
If you turn the ‘always on’ screen setting off, you’ll get significantly better battery life.
So here’s the only real issue I ran into while running an Android Watch on an iPhone: when doing so, I lost the ability to answer calls from my watch (something I have only done once to see if I could), and you can’t reply to texts from your watch (something I tend to only do when exercising).
If you are on an Android phone, you can do both. Is that a deal breaker for you, though? It wasn’t for me
Other than the fact that I have loads more “pretty” watchbands for the Apple Watch, and I did grow tired of the plain black Huawei band, I found myself wearing the Huawei watch more than I did the Apple Watch.
If I had it to do over, I would have bought the Huawei Watch instead of the Apple Watch, and that pretty much says it all.
The Huawei Watch starts at $349.99, and it is available directly from the manufacturer, from Best Buy, and from Amazon [affiliate link]
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample on loan
What I Like: It’s round (which I prefer), good-looking, and well made; Works perfectly with an iPhone or an Android phone; Notifications look great and are easy to block or dismiss; Excellent battery life; no “flat tire”!!
What Needs Improvement: I wish that there were a way to answer calls and texts when using an iPhone with Android watches in general, but it’s not a deal breaker