Smartwatches aren’t new, by any means. Companies such as Samsung and Pebble have offered smartwatch options for years. However, until 2015, and the release of the Apple Watch, smartwatches were designed for a very specific kind of user, and you just didn’t see very many of them outside of TV commercials, Best Buy stores or other electronics retailers.
In other words: Until recently, only nerds wore smartwatches.
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The market is still composed mostly of full-on nerds and partial geeks. However, 2016 is shaping up to look like a new and different year for smartwatches, thanks once again to the consumer-friendly Apple Watch [ Find it on Amazon – *What’s this?* ] and a few other fashion-forward options, such as the new Huawei Watch. (In case you’re wondering, the correct pronunciation of Huawei is “wah way,” according to this video from the Chinese gadget maker.)
Research firm Strategy Analytics predicts the already mounting global smartwatch sales will increase by an additional 60 percent in 2016. During the holiday season, and the following weeks and months, lots of folks who formerly scoffed at the idea of wearing a smartwatch (“Why would I buy a watch that doesn’t do anything my phone can’t?”) will slowly begin to explore their options. And both the Apple Watch and Huawei Watch [ Find it on Amazon ], two of the best smartwatches available today, will sit atop many wish lists.
I spent the last few weeks using these two watches side by side — yes, I did on occasion wear two smartwatches at the same time, though I didn’t enjoy it. (OK, maybe I did a little.) After weeks of use, some clear strengths and weaknesses emerged for the Huawei Watch and Apple Watch. Here are four things the Huawei Watch does that the Apple Watch can’t. And because I’d be remiss not to tell the other side of this story, I also wrote a companion post, “4 Things Apple Watch does that Huawei Watch can’t.”
4 reasons to pick Huawei Watch over Apple Watch
1) Huawei delivers more watch for your buck than Apple
The cheapest versions of both the Huawei Watch and Apple Watch costs $350. However, though the price of entry is the same, what you get for the money varies widely, at least when you compare hardware.
For example, the $350, smaller 38mm Apple Watch Sport’s case is made of aluminum, it comes with a silicon band, and its face is composed of “Ion-X” glass, which is reportedly durable but less scratch-resistant than the pricier Sapphire glass that’s used to make the Huawei Watch face, as well as the displays on the pricier Apple Watch models.
All of the Huawei Watch versions come with 42 mm stainless steel cases and premium leather or stainless bands. A comparable 42mm Apple Watch with stainless case, Sapphire face ($599) and a leather strap (sold separately, starting at $150) will run you a minimum of $750, or more than double the price of the similarly equipped Huawei Watch.
And that’s not all. Huawei Watch has a larger battery, and a higher-resolution display. Of course, Apple Watch also “out-specs” the Huawei Watch in a few ways (check out my companion post for details), but in general, Huawei delivers higher quality materials and more impressive tech specs than Apple for less money.
2) Huawei Watch has way more watch face options than Apple Watch
One of the best things about Android Wear, Google’s smartwatch OS and the software that powers the Huawei Watch, is the wealth of customizable watch faces available in the Play Store, many of which are free or cost just $0.99.
[Related Feature: Why Apple Watch is a business traveler’s best friend]
Apple, however, does not allow third-party watch faces in its App Store. That means Apple Watch users are stuck (for now) with the 13 watch face templates available in the latest version of watchOS 2.0, its smartwatch software. A few of those watch faces are customizable, and you can pick and choose which “complications,” or modules, you want to display, including complications from select third-party apps. But you’re still restricted to that specific, and relatively simple, set of faces.
Honestly, the vast majority of Android watch faces I tried on the Huawei Watch aren’t particularly polished or impressive, but the seemingly endless selection on Google Play means you don’t have to stick with any face you don’t like.
3) Huawei Watch battery outlasts Apple Watch
As previously mentioned, the 42mm Huawei Watch has a larger battery (300mAh) than the comparable 42mm Apple Watch. (Though Apple hasn’t specified the 42mm Watch battery capacity, a “teardown” of it smaller, 38mm sibling revealed a 205mAh power pack, and other reports suggest the 42mm battery is 250mAh.)
Specific capacity specs aside, my own experience and the manufacturer claims for both devices suggest Huawei Watch lasts longer on a single charge than Apple Watch. For example, Huawei says its Watch lasts “up to 2 days,” or 48 hours, which is more than double the “up to 18 hours of battery life” Apple claims.
In my experience, the Huawei Watch lasts more than a full, 24-hour day… but not much more. That’s significantly less than Huawei’s claims, but also significantly more than the roughly 16 hours of regular use I get from my Apple Watch.
4) Huawei Watch works with Android AND iPhone; Apple Watch doesn’t
Thanks to the Android Wear iOS app from Google, the Huawei Watch works with iPhones in addition to Androids. No comparable iOS app or other option exists for the Apple Watch, so it can be used only with Apple smartphones.
In other words, if you want to use an Apple Watch, you have to purchase an Apple smartphone. However, you can use the Huawei Watch alongside many different Android devices, as well as any iPhone 5 or newer, running iOS 8.2 or higher.
Once more, this is only one side of the Huawei-Watch-vs.-Apple-Watch tale. For the rest of the story, read, “4 things Apple Watch does that Huawei Watch can’t.”
You can learn more about Huawei’s Watch on the company’s website, and Apple.com has all the goods on the Apple Watch.