Chinese electronics manufacturer Huawei has released images and an ad for its first wearable, the Huawei Watch. The touchscreen timepiece intertwines a classic design, with the latest in GPS trafficking for outdoor adventures. Google Now functionality asserts the watch’s position as a viable option in a ever-growing market of technologically driven smart watches, while its three colorways of silver, gold and black are sure to match most consumer tastes.
Many smartwatches have a tendency to look like a tiny computer on your wrist. But Huawei‘s first shot at the wearable looks more like a classic timepiece.
The Chinese manufacturer announced its entry into the smartwatch market on Sunday at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. The Huawei Watch is an elegant circular watch that runs on Google’s Android Wear software. The company is targeting both men and women with the product, allowing users to personalize it based on colors (silver, black and gold), a variety of band options (for example, leather and stainless steel) and 40 different watch faces.
The Huawei Watch will launch by mid-2015, likely in June.
The AMOLED display is 42 mm in diameter, which, according to the company, is the most compact design that exists. This was to make it more appealing to both genders; typically, smartwatches skew more masculine-looking because of the limited size and style options. The display is protected with a sapphire crystal covering to prevent scratching, which is a nice touch. Many existing smartwatches on the market are protected with Gorilla Glass, but traditional watches typically come with sapphire crystal glass, which has a different look.
Like other smartwatches, the Huawei Watch will let wearers receive text messages, check email, receive phone call notifications, play with apps and view their calendars directly from the touchscreen. The device is powered by a Qualcomm 1.2GHz processor and syncs up with smartphones running Android 4.3 and higher. Under the hood, the Huawei Watch includes 4GB of storage, 512 MB of RAM and Bluetooth 4.1 compatibility.
The watch can also function as a fitness tracker; its sensor can tell whether a person is running, biking or sleeping, and tracks those stats, including calories burned, distance traveled and heart rate via its built-in heart rate monitor.
Huawei added that it will be building a “health and lifestyle ecosystem” to help users stay on top of their goals and progress, with the help of partners and app platforms like Jawbone.
The circular shape and the stainless steel frame is a nod toward traditional watches and a design that most consumers already consider more appealing. As we’ve noted previously, many smartwatches — including the Apple Watch, slated to be released in April — have square or rectangular-shaped designs, because it’s difficult to fit so much technology into a smaller, curved case. But Huawei does a striking job.The arrival of the Huawei Watch doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Manufacturers with roots in the smartphone industry like Apple, Samsung, LG and Motorola have already invested big money and resources into developing a wearable, so it makes sense for Huawei to follow suit. The look of the watch isn’t a huge shocker, either; two promotional videos leaked online earlier in this weekend, which were pulled shortly after. A promotional ad for the watch was also spotted at the El Prat airport in Spain.
This isn’t Huawei’s first attempt at wearables. Last year, it launched the TalkBand 1, a fitness tracker and Bluetooth headset hybrid.
The Huawei Watch has the potential to inch out competitors also banking on the circular look, like the Moto 360. However, unlike other competitors like the Apple Watch, the Huawei Watch runs on Android Wear, which has gotten shaky reviews.
The Huawei Watch will launch in 20 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Norway, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
Pricing and availability has not been announced yet and will vary depending on the market, the company said.
There isn’t much choice among 7-inch Android tablets with high-resolution screens — the Nexus 7 is frequently the only practical option. However, it’s about to get a proper challenger. China‘s TENAA has certified the Huawei MediaPad X1 7.0, a small slate with a 1,920 x 1,200 display. It’s not clear that the X1’s 1.6GHz quad-core Hisilicon processor will outperform the Snapdragon S4 Pro inside the Nexus, but the device will be a featherweight at just 8.4 ounces and 0.3 inch thick. There’s also 3G inside. About the only clear setback is the use of Android 4.2 — where’s KitKat, Huawei?
The company hasn’t said when it might reveal the new MediaPad, but certification raises the possibility of an announcement in the near future.
The jury’s still out on Android gaming (exhibit A: OUYA), but that’s not stopping Huawei from taking a dive into that niche corner of the industry. Its Tegra 4-based Tron mini-console, announced here at CES 2014, pairs a cylindrical-shaped hub with a Bluetooth controller that hews quite closely to the Xbox 360 mold OUYA also went after. Before we get your hopes up though, take note that Tron’s for China only — at least, for now anyway. A Huawei rep did say that the company’s looking into further market expansion, but given its track record with smartphones in the US, we have a hard time believing Tron will see these shores anytime soon.
The Tron console itself runs a half-skinned version of Android JellyBean (version 4.2.3) that presents a clean menu overlay with feature tiles for access to games, Huawei’s store, video, application, settings and featured titles. That slick menu selection comes to a screeching halt, however, as soon as you attempt to select anything other than games, bringing you face-to-face with Android’s ugly underbelly — much like on the OUYA.
Storage-wise, the Tron will come in 16GB/32GB configurations, but that space can be expanded up to 64GB via a microSD slot at its base. There’s also support for Ethernet, USB 3.0, audio out, WiFi a/b/g/n/ac and 2GB RAM to aide the Tegra 4 chip inside. The Tron console, of which there are black and white versions, is housed in a glossy plastic shell (sorry, no flashing strips of neon light) with a large power button that nearly occupies its entire top. Overall, it’s an underwhelming design — something more than one Engadget editor referred to as “wastebin-like.” You can judge for yourself in the gallery below.
The Tron controller is an Xbox 360 controller by way of OUYA. So much so, that the button placement is nearly identical save for that giant, circular touchpad smack dab in the center. Users that pick up the controller will be greeted with four actions buttons (X, Y, A, B), four shoulder triggers, as well as buttons for home, mute, view and menu. There’s even a headphone jack just tucked beneath the front face. The controller is actually incredibly light, but that lightness comes across as a con rather than an asset. It just makes the whole thing feel cheap and disposable, an impression not helped by the materials used.
Gameplay was good, not great. There was a slight latency noticeable when effecting button presses, but nothing that seemed like it’d get in the way of the onscreen action. We weren’t able to get much clarity on the openness of the platform — a Huawei rep told us games would need to be optimized for Tron before appearing in the Store — but we assume side-loading Android games wouldn’t pose any problem. 4K playback is also supported on the console and was demoed from within the video submenu.
Huawei hasn’t locked down final pricing on the Tron just yet, but we’ve heard the Android mini-console should arrive with a sub-$150 price point. Again, it’s destined for China-only in Q2 of this year, but if you really need to get your hands on it, there’s always the option to import.
Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, is notorious for its traffic jams, and it’s just a waste of time getting stuck on the road as you head to your next meeting. One taxi fleet recognizes this problem and wishes to put a smile on the face of its passengers by offering free wi-fi.
Express Group has free wi-fi installed in 400 of its taxis in Jakarta, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi areas. These special cabs will have a Huawei wi-fi hotspot logo on the back of each vehicle. Yes, these cabs are using Huawei E5520 routers, which explains the Huawei logo.
The free wi-fi program is run jointly between Chinese phone-maker and telecoms hardware giant Huawei, IT product distributor Intertec, and local telco Telkomsel. This pilot program will last for six months and might be extended if the company gets good results out of it. Express Group is the second largest taxi fleet in Indonesia, commanding about 11 percent market share in the country.