Calling a watch magic when we’ve all seen what Bernard’s could do is a brave piece of marketing from Honor, but what the brand’s first wearable lacks in time-rewinding abilities, it makes up for in bang for your buck.
The £179 smartwatch looks a lot like parent company Huawei’s Watch GT, but while also running LiteOS, the Watch Magic has a smaller 1.2in AMOLED display. There’s built-in GPS, NFC, waterproofing up to 50m, a heart rate monitor and a promised seven days of battery life. If you own an Apple Watch, that last bit will definitely sound like a kind of magic.
We went hands-on at the launch event in Paris and the Honor Magic looks very promising...
Design and build: Slim shady
Hey wait, this looks familiar. Just like the Huawei Watch GT right? Well, half right.
The Watch GT, which we were thoroughly impressed with was 10.6mm thick whereas this sheds a few mm at just 9.8mm. When smartwatches are getting chunkier than Hulk Hogan on a Harley-Davidson, this is a move in the right direction.
Because of the slimmer and slightly smaller body, the side buttons sit closer together. Some might find that a touch fiddly.
The ceramic circumference with embossed numbers gives it a whiff of fanciness. The Magic comes in blue, black and silver and then it’s a bit confusing as the Dream comes in coral pink, apricot white and a special edition Vivienne Tam version.
It’s essentially the same watch, but with smaller straps. The need for a different name is befuddling. Keeping it versatile however, there are a myriad of difference straps on offer, made of either silicone for a sportier aesthetic or leather for a touch of luxe.
Again, borrowing Watch GT elements, it’s got two buttons on the right to navigate around the interface and heart-rate sensor on the back. The sensor sits closely and comfortably to the wrist, this is important to generate accurate pulse measurements.
When you’ve fallen out of favour with buttons you’ll have a lovely AMOLED display to swipe at. On paper 390 x 390 seems a puny resolution, but when it comes to a smartwatch this surely isn’t the most important factor, since no one is using them to stream Blue Planet II. We found it to be perfectly adequate and it was super responsive when flicking between menus and settings.
Features: Deep sea diver
It's an absolute delight to see built-in GPS, because who wants to run with an armband-like phone protrusion?
It’s hard to test the accuracy of this during the short time we spent with it, but as we elbowed our way to demo area to take some pictures, we did see the number creep up as frustration levels rose, and going on that, we’ve got high hopes.
Another winning attribute is that this watch is swim-proof with the ability to keep on ticking up to 50m deep. It even comes with stroke tracking to show it’s fully committed to swim sessions.
Using Huawei’s LiteOS there’s a healthy haul of apps on board; track almost any sport, use it as a torch when you’re opening your front door at night, use it as a timer when you’re trying to hold a plank for 1min 30 secs.
Problem is you can’t download any third-party apps, which is a shame as it limits the possibility to unlock new fun things to do with your watch.
Also with no storage, music listening is a no-no. But guess that won’t really matter when you’re getting in your lengths at the leisure centre.
The battery (178mAH) is half the size of the Huawei GT’s, but it’ll still endure an entire week according to Honor. We’ll be finding out if this holds true when we come to review it in full.
Honor Watch Magic Early Verdict
Built-in GPS, swim skills and a rather sleek design for £179, yep – that's a pretty good deal.
We’re willing to get over the lack of third-party app options and on-board music abilities, but that’s only if it’s as good as it seems to be.
We’ll find out if it is a little bit of magic as soon as we get to spend a little longer with it.