There can be no doubt that the current heavyweights in Android Wear are the Huawei Watch and the new Moto 360. These watches are top of the line in feature, performance, options, and of course price tag. It's not going to be easy for everyone to choose between these two watches, especially if you don't mind Motorola's display shelf in exchange for a good auto-brightness sensor.
We've already had the Huawei Watch on our wrists for a couple of weeks, but with the Moto 360 recently crossing our desk the decision between the two hasn't gotten any easier. For most people, choosing between the two is going to boil down to the overall experience. Here's a quick rundown of the big differences between the Huawei Watch and the Moto 360 2015 to help you fully grasp what these watches are offering.
Motorola and Huawei have approached the always-on display from wildly different hardware for their watches. The Huawei Watch is using a 1.4-inch 400 x 400 resolution AMOLED display measured at 286ppi, while the Moto 360 2015 is using a 1.56-inch 360 x 360 LCD display measured at 233ppi. When the displays are actively showing color, there's not really a noticeable difference in quality between them. Text looks nice and sharp on both, and roughly the same amount of information is displayed when comparing these screens side by side. The AMOLED display is noticeably punchier with color, which is expected, but otherwise these two watches are fairly similar when the displays are active.
When the watches slip into ambient mode as part of their always-on feature, these two displays stop being quite so similar. As you can see, Motorola's display is downright pixelated when compared to the Huawei Watch. You'll also notice a brightness difference. What you see on the right is the darkest setting Huawei allows, which isn't bad in daylight but will probably have you reaching for Theater Mode far more often than you would with the Moto 360 2015. Depending on your watch face, this may not be particularly noticeable, but seeing the two side by side the differences couldn't be more obvious.
Wake on wrist
Arguably one of the most important parts of the Android Wear experience is the ability to switch from the ambient display to the color display without prompting from the user. In a perfect world you would lift your wrist and by the time your eyes made contact with the screen you'd see the color display, but when you're tryoing at your computer or driving in your car there's no distracting switches back and forth between modes. It's a tough balance to maintain, which is why Motorola and Huawei lean on opposite sides of this particular line right now.
When lifting your wrist to see a color display, Huawei regularly delivers on the ideal experience while Motorola tends to lag a little behind. Additionally, due to Motorola's LCD display there tends to be this slight flicker effect when switching from ambient to full color, where the Huawei Watch quickly and subtly animates into place. The flip side to this is the Huawei Watch frequently misfires, delivering that color display and consuming precious battery life when it doesn't need to. This is something both companies can and probably will fix with software tweaks as the hardware matures, but depending on your usage preference these behaviors could be significant.
Motorola's wireless charger continues to be one of the big things that set this watch apart from the others, not only for using an industry standard to power their watch instead a proprietary cable but also for including a dock that can double as a bedside clock for many people. This year's update brings much of the same experience, including a charging indicator that can be flipped around and adjusted until you get the color you want on your indicator display. It's a trivial thing, to be sure, but compared to Huawei's efforts this can make a big difference.
Huawei has no full-screen charging indicator, instead opting for Google's spartan charging indicator as the only confirmation that the watch is connected to its proprietary power pins. This small lightning bolt symbol, which depending on your watch face is nearly impossible to see, lasts for a few seconds and then goes away. If you're connected to power but the watch isn't on a flat surface or is bumped, there's no real way to tell the watch has slid slightly off its magnetic connector.
There's no clear conclusions to be made here about one experience being noticeably better than the other, but looking at the differences between these two watches side by side you can see where Motorola and Huawei clearly placed focus. Choosing between these two watches will ultimately come down to how each watch performs over time, and we'll have more to talk about here once our Moto 360 2015 review is ready!