In the mobile phone market, Chinese brand Huawei is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. Ten years ago, Huawei’s products were clunky and imitative. Now it’s a world player, making beautiful phones under its own name as well as for top-brass clients like Google.
This, the Huawei W1, is not the first Chinese smartwatch, but it’s the first classy one. It spans fashion and technology beautifully and quirkily, but above all brilliantly. I currently have four smartwatches on my desk: the Apple Watch is lovely, but after less than a year looks oddly dated; the Withings Activité from France I loved for its classic Swiss looks and simple functionality, but it failed terminally after a few months; the TAG Heuer Connected, which I reviewed on Technopolis TV, is superb and magnificently made, but on the big side for me; and now there’s the Huawei, which is the most fun and – I think – stylish.
The Huawei does all the Android watch stuff I demonstrated with the TAG: it offers glorious voice access to Google’s ever‑expanding world of apps, mapping, email and other notifications. It also has a few extra features, such as a heart‑rate monitor and an easy-to-use Huawei-designed (as opposed to standard Android) fitness app.
Its build quality is not far off TAG Heuer’s and its AMOLED screen is of considerably higher quality at 286 pixels per inch, which makes it more Apple Watch-like than the rather grainy TAG. Like the TAG, but unlike the Apple Watch, you can see the time on screen constantly. A fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset and Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU make the most of the ever-improving Android Wear operating system.
But it’s the style of the stainless-steel Huawei that I like the most: sophisticated with the black leather strap or sporty with the link strap shown here. It’s a size smaller than the TAG and a little thinner, with a playful touch to the design. Indeed, some of the watch faces it comes with are colourful and kitsch, but in an amusing way.
One thing, if you go for the Huawei, please make an effort to learn the brand name. It’s not “hughey” but “who‑ah‑way”. Now how hard was that?