The best-looking Android Wear watch is coming this summer, and it’s not made by LG, or Samsung, or Motorola. It’s from Huawei. Yes, the Chinese giant that is big overseas, but barely recognized at all in the U.S. (But don’t worry—the Watch is coming Stateside.)
I got to spend a little time with the new smartwatch, and instantly wanted one. Yes, like all Android Wear watches, it’s a little on the large side for those with slight wrists like me. But it has a simple understated appearance I really dig, and the size of the watch seems dominated by the big 1.4 inch 400x400 pixel OLED display, and not a bunch of extra casing. It didn’t feel especially heavy for its size, either. I could comfortably wear it all day.
The specs seem similar to most Android Wear watches. There’s a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and 300 mAh battery. A PPG heart rate sensor is found on the back, and it seems similar to that found in the Moto 360 and other watches. I don’t see any particular reason to think this one is finally going to be accurate and reliable. There’s a vibration motor, microphone, gyroscope and accelerometer—the standard set of equipment found in all Android Wear devices.
Huawei does have one new trick up its sleeve: a barometer. It’s sensitive enough to detect changes in elevation, so the watch can count vertical steps and running up or down a hill. The company uses its own activity tracking software on the watch, and promises that it can detect when you’re walking, running, sleeping, or cycling, and switch its activity tracking automatically.
But the real reason I want the Huawei Watch is the fantastic design. The simple and elegant stainless steel body strikes just the right balance between sporty and elegant. It’s appropriately unisex enough for women to wear. You can get it in plain stainless, anodized black, or gold—and the gold version contains 3 ounces of 24 carat gold, says Huawei, which means you can expect it to cost several thousand dollars at least.
There are black and silver mesh steel bands, a leather strap, and a gold link band for the gold version. You can see why the company wasn’t keen to let me put that one on my wrist.
I didn’t test the display outdoors, but indoors it was remarkably bright, so I expect it will do well in sunlight. It’s covered by sapphire glass to resist scratches. Touch response was fast and smooth, without the occasional hitching we’ve seen on some Android Wear watches.
I still have some unanswered questions. With that big bright OLED display, will the watch’s 300mAh battery prove equal to the task of making it last a full day? How much will it cost? When exactly will it hit the market (Huawei only says it’s in the middle of the year)? The answers to these questions could certainly affect my enthusiasm for this watch, but for now, the Android Wear high-fashion gauntlet has been thrown down, and it’s up to LG, Motorola, Asus, and Sony to catch up.