Huawei Watch 2 Sport smartwatch review: better, but it’s still not that good

PROS: 

  • An appreciable 4G compatibility.
  • An autonomy a bit better than that of the competition.
  • Android Wear 2.0 offers an experience to refine, but enjoyable.

CONS:

  • No scroll wheel.
  • Screen too small for the size of the watch.
  • A thickness a little too imposing.
  • Bracelets not completely standard.

CONCLUSION

If the experience offered by the Huawei Watch 2 is a few notches above the competition because of its 4G compatibility and Android Wear 2.0, it is hard to better note than its mates. The lack of a navigation wheel, an element almost indispensable on Android Wear 2.0, and its screen too small too often make the use frustrating. One would almost regret that the fashion of the borderless did not arrive on the watches.


24 months after a first smartwatch who had tried to pose as a true technological and aesthetic jewel, Huawei has suddenly changed course with its new model, more carved for the sport than to be a fashion accessory.

The market for the smartwatch was divided into two camps in 2016: that of fashion brands such as Guess, Swarovsky and Tag Hueuer, which produced, among other things, watches connected to Android Wear, and that of manufacturers all of which have gradually concentrated on the sports watch market. Logically, Huawei is part of this second category and proves it with Huawei Watch 2. A rather radical choice compared to its first watch that had tried to seduce by its look that by its sporting functions, although one does not prevent not the other.

The data sheet changes little compared to most other connected watches: 1.2-inch Amoled screen displaying 390 x 390 pixels, Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 chip, 4 GB memory, 768 MB RAM, 420 mAh, gyroscope, compass, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11b / g / n, Bluetooth 4.1 and heart rate monitor. Only small difference compared to the competition, the presence of a SIM site, since certain declinations of the watch are compatible 4G. The “sport” side is manifested by the presence of two silicone bracelets, the IP68 certification and the presence of a GPS chip. The dial, on the other hand, is made of ceramic and the plastic outline.

The watch is already sold at a price of 216$, while the “Classic” version, more urban, will be sold for 326$, but will not be equipped with 4G compatibility.

ERGONOMICS

With more and more sensors and functionalities embedded in his watch, Huawei has mechanically had to make some sacrifices on the finesse. Like many other “top-of-the-line” connected watches, the Huawei Watch 2 is therefore overweight (almost 1.3 cm thick). In other words, it is noticeable on the wrist. Especially since the 45 mm dial is not really suitable for all wrists. As is often the case, Watch 2 should be reserved for those who love the imposing machines or who have wrists capable of hosting such an animal. Faced with a watch more light as the Asus ZenWatch 3, for example, shows Huawei seems monstrous.

But contrary to what one might think, Watch 2 is not too unpleasant to wear. Its bracelets are rather light and allow to breathe the wrist. On the other hand, if they can be replaced easily due to their size (20 mm) and their standard pump hangers, not all bracelets will necessarily be as good as those by default, thickness of the watch; the others appear tiny on the beast.

The sides are slightly curved, but the shape matches the shape of the wrist, which removes the side of the “hockey puck on the wrist”. In addition, the construction is rather clean and the materials used are of good quality. Nothing to say on this side therefore, the finishes are impeccable, although for three hundred and a few dollars would have liked something else than plastic on the case, but bet that the aim is to strengthen the “sport” side, since the box of the classic version is made of metal.

In the end, the Watch 2 looks like many other sports watches and does not really make any effort for originality. A choice that will appeal to some and not to others.

The real ergonomic concerns are rather felt in use. First, the screen looks ridiculously small, engulfed in this large camera with imposing telescope. Faced with other devices, like the Moto 360, the Watch seems very poorly optimized. Sure, the Samsung Gear S3 displays roughly the same ratio, but its navigation technique with the rotating bezel alleviates the problem. Moreover, we will come back to it, Android Wear 2.0 being cut to be used with a swivel crown, the absence of such a button on the Watch 2 is quite incomprehensible. The frustration of having to use this tiny screen is only reinforced.

Finally, the charger is not really the most practical and unfortunately it can not be used as a charging stand for night table.

INTERFACE AND USES

On the old continent, the Huawei Watch 2 is the first watch to arrive natively under Android Wear 2.0. The fault of LG Watch Style and Sport whose release in Europe is still outstanding. So it is the Huawei Watch 2 that serves as flagship for the new Google system. And as much to say it right away, once you manage to get rid of the old browser reflexes inherited from Android Wear 1.0, this new version of the OS gains simplicity and ease. Exit the 3 horizontal navigation panels, only the notifications are here accessible with a gesture from the bottom to the top on the screen. This reinforces the idea of ​​the watch as a machine of notifications rather than accessory to everything.

The list of applications is of course still accessible by pressing the top button, while the other is a shortcut for a specific app. The navigation is fluid and the sliding effect on the corner of the watch is more aesthetic than a simple list horizontally. We find all the mini versions of the apps installed on the mobile, in addition to the Play Store, the little novelty made in 2.0. Indeed, the new version of Android Wear opens the door to independent apps.

This means that it is no longer necessary to go through the phone to install apps, everything is feasible directly on the watch. Obviously, navigation is a bit painful – especially without a swivel crown – but the ergonomics is surprisingly well thought out for a screen of this size. The same is true for the keyboard input method which, thanks to a good dose of artificial intelligence, proves rather effective for those who want to bother to pat on this tiny screen.

The only real problems of Android Wear 2.0 are small defects of youth. The lists are not all presented in the same way, the action of the buttons is not always the same according to the place in which one is in the OS, certain functions beasts like extinction are to be fetched at the parameters. But beyond these few micro-concerns, the grooming that operated Google is a success. This does not make watches fundamentally more useful, but at least this makes the whole simpler, although design efforts are still needed to make it all a bit more readable and pleasing to the eye.
Finally a word about 4G compatibility. Watch 2 is not the first Android watch to qualify as truly “stand-alone”, because LG G Watch Urbane 2 3G steals this title, but Android Wear 2.0 is better pruned for this kind of use. And if the interactions are fairly limited due to the device itself, being able to go out running, shopping without having to take away his phone is truly practical and liberating. Especially as the screen takes advantage of a brightness sufficient to remain legible under most circumstances.

AUTONOMY

Not surprisingly, the Watch 2, its plethora of sensors, and its 4G compatibility do not revolutionize the autonomy of smartwatches. Even with all these energy-consuming elements, the Huawei watch still manages to get out a little better than the others, thanks mainly to its mode of energy saving. Indeed, in “normal” use, the Chinese tocante does little better than the others (15% after a day and a half). Fortunately, at this level of battery activates an effective mode of energy saving that allows the watch to hold until the evening to be recharged. This makes it possible not to have a dead accessory on the wrist for half a day.

The recharging takes little more than an hour.

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