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Huawei Watch 2 review: No time for this half-baked sequel

The original Huawei Watch was a go-to choice for those who wanted an Android Wear watch that was a bit sleeker and better built than most other choices throughout 2016. It was a bit on the expensive side, and yes it was thick, but it had a slick exterior and lugs that could adapt to just about any sort of band you wanted to put on it. When Android Wear 2.0 was readying for launch, fans awaited a refresh of the Huawei Watch for 2017 that could carry on that good will.

And then, we got this: the Huawei Watch 2. A watch so clearly not designed in any way to be a successor to the original Huawei Watch, and unfortunately also not built to the same hardware standards. The Huawei Watch 2 actually had a last-minute branding change from "Huawei Watch 2 Sport," and had Huawei kept that name it would have made a bit more sense overall — but still, the more classically built Huawei Watch 2 Classic doesn't exactly follow the original Huawei Watch's design or quality, either.

This is a clean break from the original Huawei Watch in terms of everything but branding. This is a big, feature-packed watch, but unfortunately one that takes a different direction in quality while retaining a high price. Does it have enough to stand out from what is already a growing crowd of 2017 Android Wear 2.0 watches? Our full review covers all the bases.

About this review

I (Andrew Martonik) am writing this review after 11 days using the Huawei Watch 2, connected over Bluetooth to an LG G6. The watch arrived with pre-release software, and was not updated during the course of the review. It was provided to Android Central for review by Huawei.

Huawei Watch 2

New big watch

Huawei Watch 2 Hardware

From a distance, the Huawei Watch 2 looks like a typical big sport-focused watch not too different from the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier. But when you pick it up, strap it on your wrist and interact with it, the watch feels much more like a toy than anything else. The so-called "mixed plastics" that make up the body range from thin textured panels around the side to faux metal buttons and a polished glass-like (but undeniably still plastic) bezel.

It looks decent from a distance, but doesn't feel anything like it should.

That bezel, which is gnarled like the Gear S3's, evokes the feeling that you should be able to rotate it ... but alas, it is fixed in place. Incidentally, the back of the watch that rests on your wrist is the best-feeling part as it's a solid piece of milled metal — an interesting reversal from most other smartwatches that use metal primarily and cheap-feeling plastic on the back, but disappointing nonetheless. Despite all of the apparent openings around the case, the Huawei Watch 2 is also IP68 dust and water-resistant, which is important to offer on any smartwatch today.

The included sport-styled rubber band is perhaps the cheapest feeling piece of the entire watch. Even though it is plenty thick and feels relatively robust like it could survive some damage over time, it is super glossy and slick feeling — befitting of a $25 Timex from Walmart, not a $300+ smartwatch. Look no further than the quality of band you can get on the Gear S3 to see how to do this type of band right at the same price. Huawei's band certainly looks the part, but in no way executes on the quality.

The Huawei Watch 2's thick bezel stands up tall over the circular display that clocks in at just 1.2-inches across, which is definitely on the small side compared to the overall size of the watch case. The 390x390 AMOLED display looks pretty good, but isn't to the level of what Samsung and LG are doing on their wearables today — thankfully it has automatic brightness without a flat tire, and is covered with Gorilla Glass.

A bunch of specs with absolutely no design direction or execution.

Internally the Huawei Watch 2 has the same story we're going to see time and time again in 2017 Android Wear smartwatches. A Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, 768MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, a heart rate sensor, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC and optional LTE. Perhaps the only impressive part of this hardware is that Huawei managed to fit everything listed previously inside a case that is 49 x 45 mm, and just 12.6 mm thick, while retaining a removable 20 mm watch band — a solid improvement from the much larger and heavier LG Watch Sport.

This dovetails into the only other redeeming quality of the Huawei Watch 2: it is so much lighter than the competition. It's made out of plastic, so it darn well better be lighter, but the Huawei Watch weighs just 59 grams — a full 30 grams lighter than the LG Watch Sport. So even with its 12.6 mm thickness and relatively large case size, it doesn't feel as large. And for a watch that is undeniably styled to be a go-anywhere, do-anything type of wearable, that's very important.

Huawei Watch 2

Wear 2.0 is still good

Huawei Watch 2 Software and experience

An important quality of Android Wear from the perspective of someone who will use multiple smartwatches over the course of the year is how similar the experience is from model to model. With near-identical internals and software, the core experience of Android Wear 2.0 is consistent across watches — and indeed the Huawei Watch 2 handles notifications, navigation, Google Assistant and fitness tracking the same as the LG Watch Sport I reviewed less than a month ago.

One of the best parts of Android Wear is its consistency across devices.

The only places that Huawei can differentiate itself is with pre-installed watch faces and apps, which in both cases — at least on this pre-release software — it hasn't executed dutifully.

Many of the pre-installed watch faces are not well-styled to match the Huawei Watch 2's hardware, and don't integrate with Android Wear 2.0's new watch face complication API. Thankfully there's a growing number of good watch faces in the Play Store, but I just wish I had the same great ones available on my LG Watch Sport (and perhaps it will in final firmware). Huawei's integrated fitness app is also a hot mess, with a subpar design and annoying reminders to do stretches throughout the day, but thankfully you can bypass it in favor of the revamped Google Fit (which can do daily step tracking and workouts) and a cadre of third-party fitness apps.

Our complete Android Wear 2.0 review!

Android Wear 2.0 is a complete overhaul of Google's wearable platform, from interface and design to apps and functionality. For the complete breakdown of everything that's new in the latest release, be sure to read our complete Android Wear 2.0 review.

Read our complete Android Wear 2.0 review here!

Skipping a rotating bezel or crown is a big miss.

One of Android Wear 2.0's optional features, the aptly named "rotational input," is unfortunately not here in any form. At one time I would have balked at this as a superfluous addition, but my time with the LG Watch Sport and Samsung Gear S3 has completely converted me to wanting a rotating bezel or crown on a smartwatch. It's a clean and fast way to navigate the interface — particularly on Android Wear 2.0 — and would have been extra helpful considering the Huawei Watch 2's small 1.2-inch display and large bezel that gets in the way of precise edge touches.

Two of Android Wear 2.0's new features — mobile payments and independent cellular connectivity — have made their way here, though, and work as they do on the LG Watch Sport. The Huawei Watch 2's SIM card tray is easily accessible without tools, and though U.S. carriers have yet to announce formal support for the watch (which hasn't yet launched stateside) there's no reason why it couldn't integrate with their number sync systems just as any other Android Wear 2.0 watch. Android Pay on a watch of this size is table stakes going forward, but again it's great to see it in a watch that's smaller than LG's and has a removable band.

Huawei Watch 2 charger

Battery life

After using the LG Watch Sport and needing to charge it each and every night, I was surprised to see Huawei claiming two days of use out of its 420 mAh battery. Thanks to its smaller display and perhaps some software tuning, the Huawei Watch 2 absolutely can handle two days of use — at least in my usage with an always-on watch face, automatic brightness but not using LTE. A typical day of light usage would leave me with upwards of 60% battery when I went to bed. I would guess that with LTE turned on and always-on watch faces turned off, you could maybe eke out two full days depending on how much you hit the mobile data.

This is definitely a two-day watch, even without special configuration.

More realistically for those who are expecting to charge their smartwatch every night right where they charge their phone, the Huawei Watch 2 offers plenty of head room in terms of being able to hit the watch hard with app use, fitness tracking and even GPS for runs without worrying about it dying in a single day.

Huawei's clip-on charger feels just as cheap as the watch, and while it isn't as elegant as the stand-up inductive chargers that you find on other watches it definitely gets the job done and is far preferable if you need to travel. The charger can easily be wound up and stuffed in a bag, and for a lot of people that's a bigger feature than being able to nicely display the watch on your bedside table in a cradle. It also clips on satisfyingly with magnets, so you know it will always charge when it's attached.

Huawei Watch 2

A disappointing round 2

Huawei Watch 2 Bottom line

Huawei unfortunately squandered the good will it built up over the past two years with the original Huawei Watch. The Huawei Watch 2, while retaining a sequential naming convention, is in no way a worthy step up from the original. To its credit Huawei did execute on the core feature set we expect in order to recommend an Android Wear 2.0 watch: good performance, a full spec sheet and solid battery life.

This feels like a small company's first smartwatch.

Unfortunately, it's the fringe decisions that don't give you the feeling that this is a complete product. The Huawei Watch 2's design seems fine from a sport watch perspective, but the build quality and materials are far from great. The display is a bit on the small side and is just middle-of-the-road in terms of quality. The Huawei-added watch faces and software aren't compelling, and the lack of a rotating bezel or crown feels like a missed opportunity.

For less money, it may be easier to accept the Huawei Watch 2 for what it is. But at €329 for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi or €379 with LTE, Huawei is asking way too much money for this low level of design and hardware execution. As a complete product, the Huawei Watch 2 feels befitting of a small company making its first smartwatch, not a massive global consumer electronics maker aiming to improve on what was one of the best smartwatches of the last generation.

If you're feeling nostalgic about the original Huawei Watch, or just enjoy all of the specs and features that Huawei is able to push into the Huawei Watch 2, but (understandably) don't like its exterior, there's a good chance that the metal-and-leather Huawei Watch 2 Classic will be a better one to consider. Its more understated case, metal construction and more typical lugs will fit with more styles of clothing — but at €399 is even more expensive than the Huawei Watch 2.

See at Huawei

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

34 Comments
  • Well at least we have another option and that is the at the very least a "win" for three industry. Not spoiled for choice.
  • "Well, at least it exists."
  • Yep. Still infinitely more aesthetically pleasing than LG's horrendous AW2.0 offerings.
  • disappointing. now if only AW2.0 will come to the first watch... getting impatient...
  • For real. I thought we would of had it already... Haha Hopefully within the next month.
  • Sad. I loved my original Huawei watch(had to sell for family) I put a custom rom on it and lowered cpu frequency still was blazing responsive and 3 days battery life. I got so many compliments on that watch I miss it. Sad the newer version is so lack luster
  • Guys the choice is easy gear S3 checks all the boxes. Longest battery by days not hours ,best looking by far my opinion of course. Most complete OS and Samsung pay . Want something smaller gear s2 just as good but cheaper.want fitness...Gear fit 2 Samsung's has got you covered. AW ... Pass maybe next year
  • Tizen has a distinct lack of apps.
    The S3 doesn't have a SIM (it has an eSIM that you can't change, so no switching carriers.) Those two reasons are the biggest ones that meant it wouldn't work for me.
  • Obviously you haven't owned a smart watch long the app advantage is smoke and mirrors . Most see it as a novelty after first two weeks , including my Apple watch friends. And it hasn't did a thing for AW watch sells ......
  • Really? It was one of the things that I found really disappointing with my Gear S3. Using AW I can start my car, control my lights, and run my thermostat and garage door from my wrist. On the Gear S3 I just really used it for mobile payments and fitness tracking, while mobile payments was a big plus it wasn't something that I relied on and honestly once the nostalgia wore off I could care less about it.
  • Maybe you need to get the word out more then, cause most have turned there backs on AW watches . Matter of fact a good many that purshased the gear S3 where former AW users . That right there should tell you something
  • Source? Sounds like you're talking out of your ass here. Smartwatch sales are on the decline and even for those that are getting them, Samsung's offerings are third fiddle to AW and Apple Watch.
  • Sorry for your downvotes, Ducati916. AW Moto 360 guy here who switched to the Gear S3. I love absolutely everything about this watch. And, I don't care about the lack of apps. It's just not what I use it for. I had access to my alarm system and thermostat on my AW watch, and I never used it. I was honestly surprised how much I would like this watch. I only wish I could set different vibration patterns for different types of notifications.
  • Idk man. I bought the Gear S2 Classic and I absolutely hated Tizen. I hated trying to navigate through it. Especially it's God awful notification system.
  • Agreed. Had the Gear S2 and just got the Gear S3 Frontier last week. I absolutely love it.
  • This is where huawei went wrong with the idea of copying samsung on everything. They should of refined the look of their first watch instead of going for a g3 frontier copy. But then again, wasn't the first watch designed by an outside company?
  • I wish Huawei legitimately copied the Gear S3 ... then this watch would be worthwhile.
  • It definitely does have that cheap knock off drug store watch look to it.
  • Exactly^^^^ gear S3 kills it
  • Only if it was Android Wear or worked well all the superior Google services.
  • Considering how beautiful and elegant the first one was, this one is ugly and derivative..
  • The photos are absolutely stunning! What a great job. But ... the word is "knurled" or "knurling" not "gnarled." Them photos tho!
  • I believe both words work in this context, but I see what you mean by using knurled as that's a manufacturing/design process typical in metal. Glad you appreciate the photos.
  • People still wear smart watches?
  • The dedicated few.
  • Very disappointing. Any chance you'll give the classic model its own review?
  • Paying for a debt, she never owed....
  • So sad, I just wanted the original with uodated specs.
  • I haven't seen a smartwatch yet that's worth the asking price. Not in terms of workmanship or in terms of lifespan. $300 for a watch that's good for two years? Which, really, I can replace by taking my phone out of my pocket? No thanks. If I want I watch, I will spend that $300 and get a decent, mid-level dumb watch that will last 30 years or so. Or I'll buy a nice Casio atomic/solar (althpough my 10 year old one is still going) for about $100 and spend the rest on beer.
  • Yea very surprised by Hauwei to go this route with there new watch they were better off just making this a sport model and staying with the same design as the original just with better specs and wireless charging. I have the original and got it for a good deal with the mesh band. I feel like they went backwards in design department bigger bezels smaller screen less classier even on the classic but by no means would I rush to go by another smartwatch soon my OG Huawei watch does its job and couldn't be happier since I got it. The battery life is good I usually prop it on the charger when I jump in the shower and it's fully charged by the time I get ready so it's not as bad as I expected it to be. Only thing i wish it had was wireless charging but not the end of the world. I have to say the OG Huawei watch has held up really good the sapphire glass makes a big difference to me because in auto body industry your watch usually takes a decent beating. Just waiting for AW 2.0 and I hopefully will have this watch for as long as it stays alive and for 250$ plus 50$ for the insurance I can't complain
  • On another review about this watch I read the following details I miss here: Huawei Watch 2 has one specific feature not found on any other Android Wear watch today: Integrated FirstBeat analytics for advanced training metrics.
    And it’s really of interest. Most other watches will use generic metrics for calorie burn. Really basic stuff that rarely leverages heart rate (Polar is an exception here). But Huawei goes way further than Polar. For example, you’ll get a Training Effect score as well as Recovery Time and even VO2Max.
    And the real kicker here is that in theory all of these should actually match what you’d get on a Garmin device. That’s because Garmin licenses the exact same technology from FirstBeat
    It’s an impressive and important step forward – especially since recovery time is set to be aware of past workouts as well, thus being cumulative.
  • How does this FirstBeat work? With all health apps or just the Huawei apps?
  • Yea very surprised by Hauwei to go this route with there new watch they were better off just making this a sport model and staying with the same design as the original just with better specs and wireless charging. I have the original and got it for a good deal with the mesh band. I feel like they went backwards in design department bigger bezels smaller screen less classier even on the classic but by no means would I rush to go by another smartwatch soon my OG Huawei watch does its job and couldn't be happier since I got it. The battery life is good I usually prop it on the charger when I jump in the shower and it's fully charged by the time I get ready so it's not as bad as I expected it to be. Only thing i wish it had was wireless charging but not the end of the world. I have to say the OG Huawei watch has held up really good the sapphire glass makes a big difference to me because in auto body industry your watch usually takes a decent beating. Just waiting for AW 2.0 and I hopefully will have this watch for as long as it stays alive and for 250$ plus 50$ for the insurance so i can't complain
  • I think you are dead wrong. This watch is a sports oriented watch, and the first android watch to take on garmin ond suunto, in that segment.
    It offers Integrated FirstBeat analytics for advanced training metrics - the excact same as garmin, to measure TE, Recovery time and vo2max - so it does nearly everything a garmin watch does and so much more - NO other android og apple watch an do this, and samsungs are a joke as fitness watches. This is a VERY interesting fitnesswatch, and in my oppinion the first real smartwatch, because it is not just af second screen to your phone. Future real test of this watch will tell.. You didnt even mention these features.