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Huawei Watch 2 Sport Review: Near-Perfect Android Wear Experience
Don't let the rather uncreative name fool you, though — pre-loaded with Android Wear 2.0, this device also packs extra features like NFC, stand-alone GPS, a built-in speaker, and heart rate monitor.
Let's take a closer look at the Huawei Watch 2 Sport, and see if it's the right accessory for today's smartphone-centric lifestyle.
Special thanks to Huawei for loaning us a Watch 2 Sport for this review!
Huawei Watch 2 Sport
- Built-in GPS
- Heart rate monitor
- NFC capabilities
- Long battery life
- Lightweight, simple design
- Small touch screen
- Awkward charging solution
Huawei Watch 2 Sport Specifications and Features
- Concrete Grey color (also available in Carbon Black)
- 45 mm width, 12.6 mm height (from bottom to screen)
- Approx. 40 gram weight (excluding watch strap)
- Ceramic bezel with plastic case
- Replaceable strap with a lug width of 20 mm; suitable for a wrist size of 140–210 mm.
- 1.2-inch circular AMOLED display; 390 x 390 pixels with a PPI of 326
- Corning Gorilla Glass touchscreen
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 CPU
- Android Wear 2.0; supports Android 4.4+ and iOS 9.0+
- 4 GB Flash + 768 MB RAM
- GPS + Glonass
- Built-in speaker and microphone
- 2.4 GHz Bluetooth 4.1 and 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
- 6-axis A + G sensor plus 3-axis compass
- Heart Rate Sensor (PPG), Barometer, Capacitive Sensor, and Ambient Light Sensor
- 420 mAh battery
- IP68 water and dust resistance rating
Thoughtfully Designed for Everyday Life
One of the main complaints about most smartwatches is that they look like, well, smartwatches. They're often big, bulky, and feature radical designs that attract a lot of unwanted attention.
Huawei's Watch 2 Sport, however, avoids these drawbacks with its thin case and a design language that echoes the feeling of traditional timepieces. Unless someone is really studying the watch face, it's difficult to tell that the display is all-digital.
And with it tipping the scales at a scant 40-ish grams, I'd often forget that I was wearing anything at all, which allowed for a distraction-free experience while I was at work, out on the town, or at the gym.
The trade-off for this more stealth-y form-factor, though, is a slightly smaller screen. This might be a concern for some as an additional swipe is required to read a large block of text, but so far, I haven't had any issues with the way information is delivered or managed on the vibrant touchscreen.
And as careful as I am with my wearables, I'd still inevitably bump a doorway or drawer with Watch 2, but my mind was at ease because scratch-resistant materials are used in the most vulnerable areas — Corning Gorilla Glass for the touchscreen and high-strength ceramic for the bezel.
The rest of the watch is also very durable, with the white-speckled case and replaceable wrist strap made from a high-grade plastic that's luxurious to the touch.
While Watch 2 Sport's overall look carries a more casual feeling, I found that its refinement and style seamlessly fit in with all but the most formal of occasions, even with the yellow highlights of my Concrete Grey review model.
A Natural Extension of Your Smartphone
Just like the other mobile devices that Huawei makes, Watch 2 Sport is fast and snappy, responding to swipes and wrist-flicks without hesitation.
I could feel the performance of the Qualcomm processor as apps started up almost immediately after I touched the screen, and the 4 GB of storage gave me the freedom to carry a bunch of music files for offline listening.
Having this much capability in one place also meant that I could use Watch 2 as more of a standalone device — with access to its own Google Play Store, I'm able to install a totally different set of apps, and use its many key features without having my smartphone nearby.
Bringing just a pair of wireless headphones and Watch 2, I went for a run, listened to my favorite playlist, and made a purchase at Walgreens using NFC and Android Pay. It felt liberating to not have to carry or worry about my bulky phone that's almost too big for my pocket.
For the times when I did need to interact with my smartphone — to answer a text message, email, or call — Watch 2 provided a variety of input options, like speaking to Google Assistant, typing on a tiny but surprisingly accurate and predictive keyboard, or drawing an emoji.
And because my car doesn't have Bluetooth capabilities, I went full-on "Dick Tracy" and took a call while driving using the watch's built-in speaker.
As today's smartphones become larger and more unwieldy, having quick access to the most pertinent info on my wrist is a much welcomed experience — the less I have to take my phone out, the better.
For Fitness Enthusiasts
Of course, most of the functions mentioned above are native features of Android Wear 2.0, something that all smartwatches running the OS will have. But what sets Watch 2 Sport apart from the crowd is its integrated heart rate monitor, standalone GPS, and accompanying Huawei Health app.
Everything I'd ever want to know about my fitness and movement could be found in the Health app: calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled, elevation, a history of my heart rate, a map of my run, and more.
There's also a "coach" that will create a custom training plan based on my experience and time constraints, to speed up the process of preparing for an event like a 5K or full marathon. The app recommends types and duration of exercises, as well as rest and recovery days.
The level of detail along with visualization options are some of the best I've seen from an activity tracking app, and is sure to satisfy even the most serious fitness enthusiasts.
Do More, Charge Less
As a seasoned smartwatch user (I wear the first-gen Fossil Q), I was expecting to charge Watch 2 Sport at the end of each day, taking into account all of its advanced functions and persistent activity monitoring. Much to my surprise, I was able to go over 50 hours on a single charge!
With the screen set to "tilt to wake," I removed the watch from the charger at 11 am on a Thursday, and went about my day, using the smartwatch as I normally do. A battery-saver option appeared at some point, but I quickly dismissed it to continue my experiment.
48 hours later, Watch 2 still had about 10% battery remaining. I decided to run it out to empty, except at some point below 5% battery life, "Watch Mode" activated and the only thing on the screen was the time and step count in simple numbers. By design, this last-ditch battery-saving mode disables all smartwatch functionality to prevent an unwanted shutdown that could potentially lose any un-synced activity data. It's a really thoughtful feature because we all know that horrible feeling of having a workout streak interrupted by a big, empty gap due to missing data.
Watch Mode's battery draw is incredibly low, and can maintain operation for a few days, giving you plenty of time to get to the charger. From empty, Watch 2 recharges in about one hour.
Is the Huawei Watch 2 Sport Right for You?
There's a lot to love about Huawei's Watch 2 Sport. In my opinion, it's a near-perfect Android smartwatch experience with the added bonus of a lightweight and fashionable exterior design. The only way it could be better is if it included built-in cellular service (a feature that Huawei omitted for the U.S. market).
Convenience and accessibility are Watch 2's best offerings — it automatically downloaded any song I thumbed-up on Google Play Music for offline listening, and let me customize the lower exterior button to launch practically any app with a single press.
But no device is flawless, and if I had to get really nit-picky, the default charging solution will drive most neat freaks crazy — the inability for Watch 2 Sport to lay flat means it needs to charge on its side with a twisting cable pointing towards the sky. It's a small issue, though, that's easily solved with an inexpensive third-party charging stand.
At its current price of $226 (at time of publishing), Watch 2 Sport offers a more robust suite of hardware features than the Fossil Q series, and better value than the similar-performing yet higher-priced Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Gear S3.
If you're considering upgrading your fitness tracker to a full Android smartwatch, set a Deal Alert for the Huawei Watch 2 because it's been seen on Slickdeals for as low as $180.
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