Huawei Watch 2 review: a aptness concentration that falls flat

May 30, 2017 - running watch

The strange Huawei Watch was one of my warn favorites. It didn’t have an overabundance of features, yet it ran Android Wear simply and it looked good doing it. With a new $299.99 Huawei Watch 2, a association pivoted hard. It put an importance on duty over form in an try to make it some-more of a aptness device rather than a infrequent conform piece. That’s accurately what a series of other companies such as Apple, Samsung, and LG have finished with their new smartwatch attempts, yet in a box of a Huawei, a outcome is a churned bag.

To exam a watch, we related it with my primary Google accounts and wore it constantly, solely when charging it or swimming. we wore it while hiking, running, personification basketball, and doing a confederate of at-home workouts. we used it as a second shade for my phone, as an activity tracker, and even for tracking my nap (via a third-party app) — we know, a things that smartwatches are typically used for. But before we get into how it did, let’s speak about what’s new in this model.


The large new underline is that a watch now has a possess GPS radio. This means we can leave your phone during home, afterwards go for a run or float and all your important, brag-worthy stats will be recorded. It also has a built-in visual heart rate guard that marks your ticker 24/7; it should broach a good demeanour during your resting heart rate over time, that is an critical metric for your altogether fitness. It’s one of a few Android Wear watches that has a built-in speaker, that we can use for notifications and alarms, as good as personification song directly from a watch. You should, theoretically, be means to make phone calls by it, yet a app crashed on me each time we attempted it. The tellurian chronicle of a watch has LTE as an option, yet unfortunately that indication hasn’t nonetheless done it to a US.

To accommodate these additional components, a physique of a Huawei Watch 2 is 1.3mm thicker than a strange (12.6mm vs. 11.3mm). That doesn’t seem like a lot on paper, yet on a watch, we notice each tenth of a millimeter. One of a things a strange had going for it was that it was sincerely unobtrusive. It laid some-more or reduction prosaic opposite your wrist, and it wasn’t overly disposed to throwing on your cuff. The Watch 2 juts out some-more and creates it feel closer to a corpulent GPS watches we associate with movement — yet during slightest those are typically waterproof to 50+ meters. The Watch 2 tops out during IP68, that means it’s H2O resistant adult to a scale for adult to 30 minutes. In other words: we can showering with it, yet swimming is out.


The physique of a watch is now cosmetic instead of metal, that gives it a decidedly cheaper demeanour and feel. The biggest loss, however, is that a shade has decreased from 1.4 inches to 1.2 inches. At initial we suspicion Huawei did this to revoke a altogether distance of a device, yet notwithstanding a smaller shade a new chronicle is incomparable than a strange in each dimension. The Watch 2 has a thicker, some-more utilitarian-looking bezel surrounding a shade (again, substantially to make room for a additional sensors and such), so it’s probable that timorous a shade was how it kept a watch from being even incomparable than it is. If so, it wasn’t value it, as a arrangement is unequivocally tough to read. Icons get tangled together and it’s intensely easy to over-scroll when swiping, or name a wrong object by mistake. For context, a Apple Watch has a 1.65-inch shade (square), and a incomparable Moto 360 has a 1.56-inch shade (round). Both are most easier to use. The Watch 2 also lacks a rotating bezel or crown, so all of your communication happens on that little screen. The exceptions are a dual buttons on a side: one is used to open apps and launch Assistant, and a other launches examination tracking.

The Huawei Watch 2 runs Android Wear 2.0, that is a large alleviation over progressing versions. It can run native, standalone apps and even download them directly from a Google Play Store on a watch. Watchfaces can arrangement distant some-more formidable information fields, and a notifications are easier to correlate with — or they would be if they weren’t so little on this petite screen. we indeed encountered a startling volume of bugginess: apps incidentally frozen on a confederate of occasions, and a watch generally being delayed to respond to input. The shade times out all too quickly, that army we to navigate all a approach behind to a thing we usually had adult (though this might be an Android Wear issue).

While Google Assistant is built in, it seems that not all Google Assistants are combined equal. we can ask my Pixel XL “What time do a Warriors play tonight?” and it’ll tell me they are personification a Spurs during 6PM tonight. When we ask a watch a accurate same question, Assistant tells me, “Sorry, we couldn’t do that.” Go figure. Also, Android Wear still won’t let Google Voice users trigger an SMS review from their possess Google Voice phone number, that stays irritating for me.

Android Pay is another new further with Wear 2.0 and it works smoothly. Once we have your credit cards installed into a watch (you’ll need your phone for that, too), we can use a watch to compensate for products flattering most anywhere NFC payments are available. You contingency have a close shade enabled on your watch, yet once it’s unlocked, we usually open a compensate app, name a label we wish to use, and daub your watch’s shade to a point-of-sale machine’s NFC reader. This could come in accessible if you’re using though your phone and we find yourself in unfortunate need of a splash or a cab behind home.


Huawei did build some of a possess apps to take advantage of a Watch 2’s new hardware features. Simply press a earthy symbol on a bottom right of a watch and we can lane running, walking, outside cycling, treadmill, indoor cycling, and “other,” that we can use for ubiquitous workouts. There are also modes for cardio and “fat-burning,” that will assistance we stay within a fixed heart rate section while running. If we also use a phone-based Huawei Health app, it can assistance we sight for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or full marathon formed on your stream aptness turn and your goals. Huawei Health can also confederate with Google Fit, MyFitnessPal, and (strangely) UP by Jawbone so your stats won’t languish in a silo, alone forever.

The examination app is unequivocally flattering decent. It has an embedded Google Map that we can use to see your plcae (though usually if we have preloaded a map or have your phone with you), and it can arrangement your using intonation (i.e., stairs per minute), that is an critical metric and a flattering singular one for a watch to display.

Unfortunately, this is rather neutered by a little screen. Cadence is displayed on a page with 5 other information fields. When congested into a 1.2-inch screen, those information fields are wholly unreadable while running. If we wanted to see my intonation we had to stop and look, and afterwards we usually had a few seconds to see it, since it changes when your feet stop moving. This could simply be solved by separating some of these information fields onto other pages, so a incomparable rise could be used. Of course, we can usually as simply implement Runkeeper, Strava, Runtastic, and other favorite mobile aptness apps, yet even afterwards a little shade is disposed to slicing off content during a corners.

Wrist-based visual heart rate monitors are scandalous for carrying correctness problems, that is because we was astounded to learn a peculiarity of this one. we did a examination with a Huawei Watch 2 on my left rest, and on my right we used a Garmin Fenix 5X interconnected with a unequivocally infallible chest tag HRM. we found that a Huawei tended to be 5–10 seconds behind a Garmin when it came to displaying changes in my heart rate, yet once it held adult it was roughly always within 5 beats per minute, and some-more mostly it stayed within two. That’s unequivocally utterly good! The loiter was unequivocally annoying, yet in a context of a prolonged examination we wouldn’t call it a deal-breaker.


One of a things a watch does best is duty as an activity tracker (a la Fitbit and co). When we open a built-in Daily Tracking app, you’re greeted with a ton of information that’s laid out unequivocally nicely. It tells we how many stairs you’ve taken, how many feet of betterment you’ve gained, how many times you’ve stood up, how prolonged you’ve spent standing, how most time you’ve spent in opposite heart rate zones, how many calories you’ve burned, and even your resting heart rate for a day (and a graph for observation all a spikes and valleys over a final 6 hours). Many of these information fields can be integrated into your favorite watchface, too. It will also advise we to get adult and pierce if you’ve been dead for some-more than an hour, and it will even uncover we some stretches we can do.

Unfortunately, battery life is intensely non-static and unreliable. The Watch 2 has a 420mAh dungeon in it (up from 300mAh on a prior model), and there were times when we used a watch to lane a confederate of activities with GPS and it still done it scarcely dual full days. The subsequent day, we used a watch unequivocally easily and it emptied to 12 percent after 24 hours. The day after that, it was down to 12 percent after usually 18 hours. There doesn’t seem to be most rhyme or reason to it. You can use it in a low-power mode — that Huawei claims will get we 21 days of battery life — yet a usually thing it can do in that mode is tell we a time of day and how many stairs you’ve taken. This kinda defeats a indicate of wearing a massive smartwatch.

Maybe “bulky” isn’t fair, during slightest not when compared to behemoths like the LG Watch Sport, that during 45.4 x 51.2 x 14.2mm is handily wider and thicker than a Huawei Watch 2 (48.9 x 45 x 12.6mm), yet it’s not accurately svelte, either. It seems that Huawei was anticipating to lean some daintier-wristed people with this iteration, yet we don’t consider they’ve utterly burst a formula here. we consider it looks excellent on me, personally, yet my wrists are on a incomparable side of a spectrum. On thinner wrists, it protrudes a bit awkwardly, and we can’t see it bringing many fashionistas into a fold.


Overall, we found that a Huawei Watch 2 was one of my some-more frustrating Android Wear experiences. Trying to review a little shade while sportive done me wish to gnaw off my possess hand. (It was even worse when we was wearing polarized sunglasses.) we indeed found a watch to be flattering comfortable, and it was surprisingly accurate for a things it could track. That said, for a watch this large and sporty-looking, we wish it to be, well, sportier. we wish it to be waterproof and able of tracking my swimming or kayaking. And if it’s perplexing to be a smartwatch, afterwards it simply needs to work improved —without glitches or steep dives in battery life.

Ultimately, it feels like Huawei was perplexing to make a watch that could be right for everybody, and it finished adult with a watch that isn’t unequivocally right for anybody.

Photography by Brent Rose for The Verge

Brent Rose is a freelance writer, actor, and filmmaker, now roving a US vital in a high-tech van, looking for stories to tell. Follow his adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and at ConnectedStates.com.

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