Generally, smartwatches aren’t worth the time it takes to charge them.
But when Huawei handed me a review unit of their new Huawei Watch 2, which has pretty much all the tech you can stuff into a smartwatch these days, and runs the new Android Wear 2, I decided to give it a chance.
Unfortunately, while both the watch and the new version of Google’s smartwatch OS do have a few redeeming qualities, after a few weeks of usage I still can’t recommend either.
On paper, the Huawei Watch 2 is everything a modern Android smartwatch should be: A powerful, versatile wearable watch that’s great at tracking your fitness activities. It’s got LTE and GPS chips, so you can untether it from your phone. It’s water resistant. It has a speaker and a microphone, so you can make calls without ever pulling out your phone. It can even store and play some music while you run.
And while the design is generic and plasticky, the watch is very light and more comfortable than any other Android Wear device I’ve worn.
New interface + Android Wear 2 = confusion
The screen, at 1.2 inches, is 0.2 inches smaller than that of its predecessor, the Huawei Watch. And here, the issues begin. The watch has a crown that looks like it should rotate, but it doesn’t. And since the screen is already quite small, the crown gets in the way when you swipe on the watch’s face.
It wasn’t a dealbreaker, but when you add Android Wear 2 into the mix, the experience becomes pretty awful. Simply put, the combination of Huawei’s idea of user interface and Android Wear 2’s new commands is an absolute mess.
For example, when you swipe right or left, you now change the watch face. Nearly a month in, and I still haven’t gotten used to that. I expect the swipe gesture to bring me apps, or anything that’s actually useful, as opposed to something that I do fairly rarely.
Or take Huawei’s two hardware buttons. Press the top one, and it launches apps; but press it again, and it’s an exit/back button. But the…