Good news, everyone: the second generation of smart watches has arrived, and they’re smaller, sleeker and a little bit smarter.
Huawei’s Watch (please don't make this naming convention for smartwatches stick, tech manufacturers!) is first out of the blocks in the Android Wear camp, and first impressions suggest it’s an incredibly strong start. We couldn’t try it out properly - it was running demo software - but there’s already much to like, from the crisp, circular screen to the beautifulm spun stainless steel case back.
Is the Huawei Watch our new favourite wearable? Read on for our considered thoughts.
The wheel has not been reinvented
The Huawei Watch is delightful round the back, too
The Huawei Watch joins a list of Android Wear smartwatches that want to ape the devices we’re already used to wearing on our wrists. The difference is that it’s a whole lot more successful at it.
It has a round face that doesn’t have a notch in it like the Motorola Moto 360 does, and it doesn’t have a fat bezel like the LG G Watch R's. Instead its bezel is skinny and demure.
The 42mm body is made of cold-forged stainless steel that feels expensive (Huawei says it’s made up of 130 separate pieces, although they wouldn’t let us take it apart to see), and the face is covered with genuine sapphire crystal - a bold move, as it's the first smartwatch to feature that almost unscratchable material.
The case back is also stainless steel, with a hole cut out for the heart rate sensor. This makes it feel a much more premium device than the plastic-backed Moto 360. In fact, that's the general impression you’ll get when holding a Huawei Watch: it’s an expensive piece of kit. Our one reservation is that the design is somewhat traditional next to the more iconic Moto 360; that will suit many, but it’d be good to see Huawei expand the Watch range with a jazzier or sportier version in the same materials.
No info yet on if it's splash-proof or properly water proof (it says 'water resistant' on the case back, but there are no specifics). One thing we do know is that the pictured 18mm-wide snakeskin strap can be swapped out for alternative designs. That's very good news.
This is the best smartwatch screen yet
Yes, it is crisp
Around the front is a 1.4in, 400x400, 286ppi AMOLED screen. Although not quite Retina-standard, it’s hard to make out individual pixels, and the screen is bright and colourful enough to make you not really care anyway. It definitely feels like a step on from the slightly fuzzier screens that adorn last year's models, while its AMOLED technology should allow it to display information all the time without decimating battery life (LCD-faced watches such as the Moto 360 pop in and out of life in order to preserve milliamp hours).
Android Wear functionality
Note the bonky (sorry, ergonomic) button placement
As with all Android Wear devices, the Huawei Watch offers notifications and social media updates from connected Android phones, as well as Google Now-powered context-sensitive data and voice search. It also takes advantage of Wear's health-tracking capabilities with that built-in heart-rate monitor, and has a barometer to measure altitude.
We couldn't try any of the above out, mind you, and we're in the dark about battery life, too. Within the boundaries of limited demo software, it seems a speedy device, but no promises on that until we get a fully working sample.
Huawei Watch initial verdict
Just look at it, will you?
It's impossible to make any worthwhile judgements on the capabilities of the Huawei Watch until we've seen a version that works properly and found out more about the tech that makes it tick. We also need to know how much it's going to cost; sapphire and stainless steel probably won't come cheap.
What we know for now, though, is that it's a new benchmark for Android Wear watches in terms of the way it feels to hold and the quality of its screen. All else being equal, it'll be our favourite Android wearable - so don't let us down, Huawei.
Huawei was cagey on launch dates, too; rumours suggest it'll be out around June, but the 'middle of 2015' is all Huawei would be drawn on. Rest assured, we'll be testing the device just as soon as it arrives.