Given how young Android Wear is as a platform, it's not terribly surprising that a new "best" Wear device pops up every six months or so. But the Huawei Watch, announced way back in March at MWC in Spain, has all but stolen the proverbial show since it was first unveiled. Let's get the important parts out in front: pre-orders start today at GetHuawei.com, Google Store, Amazon.com and BestBuy.com, and ship beginning September 17th. The Huawei Watch will start at $349 for the stainless steel body and basic black leather strap and go up to $799 for the rose gold version with matching links.

We've now had a chance to spend more than a few moments with the device (that aren't early engineering units) off a tether, and Huawei's new product is probably the pinnacle of Wear device design and quality to date.

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Side by side with two Watch Urbanes, the Huawei Watch's bezel looks tiny.

The circular 1.4" AMOLED display is large but lacks the bulky metal bezel of LG's Watch Urbane or the flat tire of Motorola's Moto 360. This allows you to have the uninterrupted, full circle of the Urbane, but a bezel that is much closer in profile to the upcoming 2nd gen Moto 360 - it really lets those digital watchfaces shine through. A display resolution of 400x400 also makes it the most pixel-dense Wear device yet (though not as dense as the Gear S2), so those faces are also sharper and crisper than previous devices. All in all, it adds up to a visual experience that is probably the pinnacle of Wear hardware to date. You know, for what that title is worth.

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The body comes in three styles - stainless steel, black, and gold. The stainless is the base model, and you can have that with a leather band, a mesh loop, or steel links. The leather is the cheapest ($349), with the steel links and mesh loop adding a $50 premium ($399) for the standard polished stainless body. Moving up to the black version - only available with black links - you're looking at another $50 on top of that, at $449. The rose gold with alligator texture leather band is $699, and the rose gold with gold links is an eye-watering $799. I realize this isn't expensive for a watch, but for a smartwatch, there's no enhanced functionality there - it's the same watch in a different color with a different band. It will be interesting to see how many buyers Huawei can find for the rose gold versions with those MSRPs.

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The versions you and I would probably be considering are the standard stainless and maybe the black. The black body adds analog tickmarks along the bezel, which I'm not a huge fan of, but it is coated in a highly durable black carbon finish that Huawei claims is extremely scratch/scuff-resistant, so it'll stay perfectly black as long as you don't actively abuse it. It's definitely quite striking, perhaps striking enough for Huawei to justify that $50 premium over the stainless model with links. The stainless body is perfectly attractive, and I actually quite like it with the mesh loop band - the links are a bit formal for my taste, and the leather seems slightly out of place. But those are personal opinions, and your mileage may vary.

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The rose gold versions add some decorative stamping around the bezel, in a "coin-edge" pattern that, frankly, I'm not a fan of. Considering how sleek and "flat" the face of a smartwatch looks in ambient light, this texturing creates a busy look that draws attention to the comparatively flat, smooth display, which then further draws attention via contrast to the fact that it surrounds a screen, not a real watchface. When your goal is plainly to make a smartwatch that looks like a real watch, this seems potentially counterproductive.

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All versions of the Huawei Watch feature a sapphire crystal glass display that should resist all but the most abusive scratching (i.e., don't take a hacksaw to it), though I've not seen many scratched-up smartwatches out there at this point. The metal body of the watch also extends fully around the case, instead of reverting to plastic on the back, something Huawei was keen to point out. Aside from adding a bit more "premium" feel, though, I'm not really sure what this accomplishes. The rose gold version also isn't shipping until later this year, suggesting it was a more recent development.

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Speaking of the back, you'll find a pogo-pin charging interface that couples the watch to a small, disc-shaped charger via magnets. Unlike the LG G Watch R or Urbane, you don't have to center the Huawei Watch on the charger - there are no ridges or alignment points, and the magnets seem strong enough to simply snap it into place on their own. The charger itself is kind of a mixed bag - the USB cable is permanently attached to it, and that's almost definitely going to get some jeers from the internet at large. Huawei's logic is that without the cable attached, the puck portion would be too easy to misplace. I don't disagree with the basic premise there, though I also find the notion that these "pucks" cost any significant amount of money to produce quite silly. Just make spares cheap enough that we don't have to worry - that should be the real goal. That, or use wireless charging standards. Huawei's solution here does solve one problem (lost pucks), but it creates another (a failed cable means a failed puck). I'm not sure which is preferable.

Also on the back is a heart rate monitor, which Huawei claims is the best such monitor on any Wear device to date. We didn't receive any information or numbers to back up that statement, though, so I'm not even really sure what it really means.

Powering the watch is the same ultra-portable version of the Snapdragon 400 processor we've seen on most Wear devices to date, with the same 512MB of RAM and 4GB of built-in storage, using a 300mAh battery for power.

The straps slot in via a standard 22mm pin mechanism, so swapping bands is, in theory, quite easy. We didn't try it on the units at the preview event we shot these photos at, so I can't comment on how simple swaps are in reality. Huawei will supposedly make all the band styles available for standalone purchase, too, so you'll be able to mix and match (exact availability of all band styles is unknown). The bands, for the record, are black leather, steel links, steel mesh loop, black links, gold links, and brown (alligator pattern) leather.

The 45-degree offset of the main function button is a more ergonomic positioning according to Huawei, and I agree - it was definitely more natural in my experience. How much it really matters in the grand scheme, though, I'm not certain - I rarely find myself using the button on my Urbane, and I doubt changing the orientation would make me want to use it more, either.

We'll save further thoughts for our review, which you can expect in the next week or two.

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Press Release

Classic Watch Design and Smartwatch Function Come to the U.S. with Introduction of the Huawei Watch

 

Huawei Watch pre-orders start today with mid-September availability

 

PLANO, Texas [September 2, 2015]: Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology solutions provider, today announced U.S. availability and pricing of the highly-anticipated Huawei Watch, a new smartwatch that redefines smart by blending timeless, uncompromising design with the functionality of Android Wear™.

 

Starting today, consumers can pre-order the Huawei Watch on GetHuawei.com, Google Store, Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. General availability and pre-order shipments begin September 17th. Six models with stainless steel, black and rose gold-plated watch bodies will be available in the U.S. with prices ranging from $349 to $799 USD. Stainless steel and black models are available for pre-order today, with rose gold models available later this year.

 

"Designed first and foremost as a watch, the Huawei Watch is unlike any smartwatch available today,” said Zhiqiang Xu, President of Huawei Device USA. “We are committed to meeting U.S. consumers’ demands for premium products and the Huawei Watch is a step in that direction. It embodies Huawei’s technology innovation heritage, pursuit of premium design and integration of useful functionality that we strive to develop in each product.”

 

Timeless Design

The Huawei Watch is inspired by classic, high-end wristwatch design and executed with the most sophisticated materials. In keeping with traditional wristwatch design, the Huawei Watch has a round face and body, standard lugs and a 42mm diameter. Improving on classic design, the physical crown is in the 2 o’clock position on the watch body, making it ergonomic and easy to use on either wrist.

 

Sophisticated Craftsmanship with Premium Materials

The craftsmanship of the Huawei is evident in the materials chosen and the attention to detail throughout the manufacturing process. Both the scratch resistant, two-layer sapphire crystal and the 316L cold-forged stainless steel body construction are details usually found in premium and luxury watches.

 

Style and Personalization

Just as a classic wristwatch is a symbol of personal style, the Huawei Watch provides customization options to let individual style and personality come through. With six watch body and band combinations, consumers can choose the watch that’s right for them. The lug design makes it easy to swap standard 18mm bands for a classic, modern or eclectic new look. In addition, the Huawei Watch comes with a variety of watch faces that users can switch for different settings, moods or activities.

 

Rich Functionality

Running the latest version of Android Wear, the Huawei Watch offers the rich functionality consumers expect in a smartwatch. Features of the Huawei Watch include:

· 300 mAh battery offers up to two days of battery life with regular use, and fast charging offers 80 percent battery life in just 45 minutes, or 75 minutes for a full charge.

· Always-on watch face gives immediate access to the most important information a watch can provide – the time.

· Wi-Fi connectivity for instant notifications when the user’s phone isn’t in Bluetooth range.

· Bluetooth 4.1 LE enables users to pair directly to Bluetooth headsets and speakers to enjoy music on the go with or without a smartphone. 

· 6-axis motion sensors automatically identify activity and provide accurate tracking.

· Enhanced heart rate monitor provided by the world’s most advanced heart-rate detecting sensor manufacturer delivers measurable health tracking.

· 1.4-inch AMOLED screen offers the highest resolution display of any Android Wear watch at 400 by 400 pixels with 286 pixels per inch.