Huawei Watch 2 Classic review: A rather surprising turn of events

Android / Mobile / Reviews / Wearables Reviews
Huawei Watch 2

My first thought based on the look was that this watch was going to be a dog given how much I loved the first generation. I was wrong.

TA-ratings-91Alright, I will be the first to admit that I bashed the look and design of the Huawei Watch 2 before I even held it. Being the owner of a first generation Huawei Watch, I had expectations. From the first leaked renders and photos, it didn’t appear that Huawei lived up to them. So when the company reached out and asked if I’d like to review the Huawei Watch 2 Classic, I said yes. I fully expected to hate this new iteration of the Huawei Watch but I was rather surprised at my reaction. Read on for the full review of the Huawei Watch 2 Classic and see why I had a change of heart.

Specifications

The Huawei Watch 2 Classic has the following features and specifications:

  • Watch Case: Stainless Steel and plastic
  • Watch Strap: Ships with leather strap that is replaceable
  • Display: 1.2″ AMOLED 390×390 pixels with a PPI of 326 and coated with Gorilla Glass
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100
  • OS: Android Wear 2.0
  • Memory: 4 GB Flash + 768 MB RAM
  • Working Frequencies (4G edition): LTE: B1, B3, B7, B8, B39, and B41 (2555–2655 MHz) / UMTS: B1, B2, and B8 / TD-SCDMA: B34 and B39 / GSM: 900 and 1800
  • Connectivity: 
    • Bluetooth: 2.4 GHz Bluetooth 4.1 BLE + BR / EDR
    • WiFi: 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n
  • Sensors:
    • 3-axis A + G sensor, Gyroscope and Compass
    • Heart Rate Sensor (PPG)
    • Barometer
    • Capacitive Sensor
    • Ambient Light Sensor
  • NFC
  • IP68 Water and dust resistant
  • GPS+ Gionass
  • Speaker for phone calls
  • Length: 48.9mm (excluding crown)
  • Width: 45mm
  • Height: 12.6mm (from bottom of screen)
  • Weight: 47g (excluding strap)

What’s In The Box

  • Huawei Watch 2 Classic
  • Power adapter
  • Charging cable/puck
  • Documentation and Warranties
Huawei Watch 2

Yes, I was one of the people who made fun of the watch design before I even had hands on it. I was wrong.

Design

When the first Huawei Watch debuted it was one of the best, if not arguably the best, looking Android Wear watches on the market. When the Huawei Watch 2 leaked I was shocked to see a drastic redesign that stepped away from the clean lines of the original. I wasn’t the only one. Many users threw a lot of hate at the new design, even though we hadn’t yet touched or used it. I was prepared for the worst when Huawei sent along the Huawei Watch 2 Classic for my review.

That being said, I have to now admit that I was wrong. Yes, the design steps away from what the first generation was but it does it in a good way and maintains build quality and looks. The materials used to build the watch are all top notch. I do feel that I lean toward the first generation’s look and build more but that isn’t to discount what Huawei has done here.

On the back of the watch, you’ll find your heart rate sensor as well as the charging pins. The new charging puck is much improved over the old one, that’s one thing I think everyone can agree on. The old puck had a tendency to lose its placement and you’d often wake up to a dead watch. The new puck is more like a cradle and it keeps the watch in place and I love that Huawei fixed that issue.

The left side of the watch houses the microphone and over on the right is are two buttons. The top button calls up the menu screen to get to apps and other functionality while the bottom button calls up your workout tracker. The rim around the screen is nice, but I do wish it were thinner allowing for more actual screen. I think this design element was the biggest reason many first scoffed at the Huawei Watch 2. While it’s still not my favorite, it is nice, it just needs to be thinner.

The watchband is 100% leather and extremely comfortable — just as the first generation watch is. The Titanium Grey color is also very attractive and lends well to both casual and formal type wear. Overall the design is far better than I ever expected and has made me eat crow as I didn’t give it credit when I first saw it.

Huawei Watch 2

Change watch faces as often as you want.

Software/Ecosystem

I’ve already talked about Android Wear 2.0 in other reviews so there’s nothing much to add here. Wear 2.0 is most certainly a great improvement over the 1st generation and I don’t think there are many who would disagree. Complications added to watch faces is by far the best addition to 2.0 that I’ve seen. Easier navigation of the user interface, as well as better notifications, have made Android Wear a real gem. I have run across other Android Wear watches who have had issues with the software.

One glaring issue with a competitor was the tilt to wake feature. For whatever reason, the feature wouldn’t work as it should and it got increasingly frustrating. The Huawei Watch 2 Classic’s tilt to wake feature works every time so I have no complaints about it whatsoever. I will stress a point though, as I do with any Android Wear watch review. If your intention is to purchase this to use with an iPhone, don’t do it. Features critical to Android Wear are not available on the iPhone and you’ll be throwing your money away.

That being said, Android Wear 2.0 is a wonderful experience paired with an Android phone. The software and ecosystem have certainly matured and is continuing to grow and it shines on the Huawei Watch 2 Classic.

Huawei Watch 2

Heart rate monitor and charging pins.

Ease of Use

Pairing the watch to your phone is as easy as opening up the Android Wear app. The app has an easy to follow UI that will get you up and running in less than ten minutes. You can change watch faces and assign complications from the Wear app — all of which are very nicely explained in the app. If you’ve never used an Android Wear watch before, you will have a slight learning curve to contend with but if you have a smartphone before, you’ll pass with flying colors. Very simple to use and setup.

Performance

This thing is a very great performer. It’s responsive and Android Wear 2.0 runs great on it. The battery life is super awesome and better than many other Android watches. The heart rate sensor and fitness tracking are spot on. Those can be synced with Google Fit or you can use Huawei’s fitness app if you have a Huawei phone. I tested the heart rate sensor side by side against the Apple Watch and they both gave the same data so I am confident Huawei made some quality stuff here. I did not test the IP68 rating out other than a few splashes of water from washing hands and the watch survived that just fine. Overall a great performer and probably still one of the best Android watches on the market.

Reception/Call Quality

You can use the Huawei Watch 2 Classic to make phone calls when it’s tethered to your phone. Heck, they even make a 4G version so you don’t need your phone at all. Frankly, I don’t like the experience all that much. This isn’t a knock on this watch in particular either. I’ve used this same feature on other Android Wear watches and the Apple Watch and I dislike it all the way around. That being said, reception is fine and call quality, well you’re talking into a watch and you have a tiny little watch speaker to hear from. Let’s just say it’s not the best experience in my book but some may love it in pinch. I’m not faulting Huawei or others for adding the feature as many will find it convenient, I just don’t find it convenient or enjoyable.

Huawei Warch 2

Works great with Android phones but not perfect with iPhone.

Battery Life

Battery life is going to vary wildly here and is going to depend on how you use it and if you have the 4G version or non-4G version. The non-4G version was able to get an easy day and a half of battery life with most features being used. I didn’t use the workout feature, which I am sure will take up some extra juice. You may even be able to squeeze two days out of this watch if you’re very conservative in feature use and monitor your settings.

Price/Value

Priced with an MSRP of $369.99USD this isn’t a cheap watch but it’s got a lot of value. There are some online retailers selling it at a cheaper price, Amazon currently has it for $337USD and there are other models to choose from that may run a bit cheaper. I think the price is fair and competitive with the market and there’s tons of value here for those looking for an Android Wear watch.

Wrap Up

I was wrong. My first thought based on the look was that this watch was going to be a dog given how much I loved the first generation. This watch is really a stellar performer and it’s pretty damn good looking. It’s not the same design as the first gen and in some ways, I miss that. At the end of the day though, it is a great looking design… and sometimes change is a good thing.

*We were sent a review unit of the Huawei Watch 2 Classic for the purposes of this review.

Huawei Watch 2 Classic

$369.99USD
Huawei Watch 2 Classic
9.1

Design

10/10

    Software/Ecosystem

    9/10

      Ease of Use

      10/10

        Performance

        10/10

          Reception/Call Quality

          8/10

            Battery Life

            10/10

              Price/Value

              9/10

                Nailed it

                • Nicer design than I expected
                • Build quality is amazing
                • Improved charging puck
                • Android Wear 2.0
                • Good fitness tracking
                • Heart rate monitor

                Needs work

                • Some may find it pricey
                • I do wish the steel portion around the watch face was thinner
                • Call quality isn't the best
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