Huawei's press event at Mobile World Congress just finished, and among the new hardware it had to show off was the Huawei Watch 2, featuring a bunch of standalone connectivity options and Android Wear 2.0. New Atlas was in Barcelona to take a look.
The Huawei Watch launched back in 2015 is still one of the better Android Wear smartwatches out there, so on paper an upgrade sounds like something we'd be interested in. At first glance, the 2017 successor seems to deliver in all the key areas.
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Crucially for a wearable, and for a first impressions hands-on, it's sufficiently attractive. For the most part, we think it's a smartwatch you'd be happy to wear in public, without repeatedly trying to cover it with your shirt sleeves.
The outer bezel is more substantial this year, but this is still one of the lightest and most unobtrusive smartwatches we've ever strapped on (and we've tried a few). In fact Huawei says this is the lightest "sports" smartwatch out there, and we can well believe them, though it's definitely not the thinnest.
It's more sporty than the original Huawei Watch (which was considerably more jewelry-like), perhaps targeting fitness fans rather than the fashion-conscious. Although the strap is a simple plastic one, it doesn't feel cheap or lacking in toughness. We'd be very happy to wear this for a jog in the park or even a more energetic workout.
And that's where Huawei Watch 2's connectivity options can help: It is available in an LTE-equipped variant, along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS and a heart rate monitor. You can install apps and make calls without help from your phone. The LTE model can even answer calls made to your normal mobile phone number, which is helpful if your main handset loses battery power halfway through an afternoon.
The Watch 2 comes rocking a 1.2-inch, 390 x 390 pixel AMOLED display which we're also impressed by. It's not particularly groundbreaking in terms of specs but it's sharp, responsive, and perfectly capable of showing off everything Android Wear 2.0 has to offer, including better handwriting support and the Google Assistant.
There's a lot that excites us about the Huawei Watch 2 but most of it we can't test in a brief hands-on – the fitness features, for example, including the advanced VO2 Max oxygen-measuring metric, and battery life that can apparently last three weeks if you're just using the basic step counting and timekeeping functionality.
Assessing those features will have to wait for a full review but from the time we've spent with the wearable already, we'd say it gives the LG Watch Sport some very strong competition.
Note that these observations are based on the Huawei Watch 2, and not the Huawei Watch 2 Classic, its slightly-less-sporty counterpart. In terms of specs, the Watch 2 and Watch 2 Classic are nearly identical, excepting the fact that the Classic is not offered in an LTE variant. The Classic has a stainless steel case and a unique hybrid strap with a leather exterior and a rugged synthetic interior.
The Huawei Watch 2 is coming to select countries, including the US, in April. At present, Huawei has only confirmed the European pricing: €329 (about US$345) for the base model, €379 ($400) with added LTE, and €399 ($420) for the Classic edition.
Product page: Huawei Watch 2