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HomeReviewsHuawei Watch Buds review - Unusual smartwatch with folding display and integrated headphones

Huawei Watch Buds review – Unusual smartwatch with folding display and integrated headphones


With the Watch Buds, Huawei takes a thoroughly innovative approach by integrating removable, wireless earbuds into the smartwatch’s casing. What may seem unusual at first glance could revolutionize the wearable market – at least if the Chinese manufacturer has its way. The smartwatch itself is equipped with a stainless steel case including a hinge and a 1.

43-inch AMOLED display that resolves with a pixel density of 326 PPI. According to Huawei, the folding mechanism has been tested over 100,000 times. Besides the special case design, the Huawei Watch Buds offers ECG, heart rate and SpO2 measurement as well as sleep tracking.

The special feature of the Huawei Watch Buds is the integration of the True-Wireless headphones, which also affects the smartwatch’s haptics. The watch’s center of gravity is unusually high due to the hinged display, to which the in-ear headphones are magnetically attached in two recesses on the bottom. Thus, the Huawei Watch Buds moves more distinctly on the wrist than other smartwatches.

The high weight of almost 67 grams (~2. 4 oz) also has a negative impact. Due to the mechanics, the case yields a bit under pressure and wobbles minimally.

However, the push button needs quite a bit of force to open the screen and release the headphones. Inadvertently opening it is therefore almost impossible. The 15 millimeter (~0.

6 in) deep stainless steel case is bulky even on large wrists, but looks well-made and of high quality – with the exception of the crown. The knurled button-like control element does not have any resistance when turned and the pressure point could also be tighter, which makes the crown look quite cheap overall. The Huawei Watch Buds also has a Clous de Paris bezel around the OLED display, but it turns out to be very difficult to read in everyday use.

The included full-grain leather strap has a width of 22 millimeters (~0. 9 in) and is suitable for wrists with a circumference of 140 to 210 millimeters (~5. 5 to 8.

3 in). The strap feels pleasant, but could be a bit softer and less stiff. However, both should still improve over the service life.

Due to the hinged lid design, the Huawei Watch Buds is not waterproof – at least not officially. We asked Huawei Germany and got the answer that both the headphones and the watch itself comply with the IP54 standard. If water enters the opened smartwatch, it should not cause any problems, just like rain or sweat.

The Huawei Health app, which can be accessed and downloaded via a QR code on the display of the Huawei Watch Buds, is required for the setup process of the wearable and the subsequent operation. Devices with Android cannot get the application via the in-house app store and have to be installed manually – the user has to agree to an installation from insecure sources. The smartwatch is paired with the smartphone via Bluetooth 5.

2 and worked well in the test with a Galaxy S23 Ultra worked without any problems. Numerous watch faces can be viewed, firmware updates downloaded, and settings for the smartwatch can be made via the Huawei Health app. However, some functions can only be adjusted via the smartwatch itself, which is a bit incomprehensible.

For example, we do not find an option for the always-on display in the Health app. The capacitive touch screen is mostly operated via swiping gestures. A swipe to the left opens the configurable widgets, a swipe down opens the settings, and a swipe up opens the notifications.

If the user wants to access the menu, he has to press the crown on the left casing edge once. Pressing the dial also returns to the home screen. The operation works reliably in everyday use.

The processor’s performance is also fast enough to display the changes between missed messages or home screens smoothly. However, the fact that turning the crown has been assigned without functions is incomprehensible. A wrist gesture can be used to activate the screen.

A palm-up gesture is also available to put the display into stand-by. When the user activates the Always-On display, the Huawei Watch can be woken up with a double tap, otherwise the Watch Buds does not support this gesture. Huawei does not include a speaker or a microphone in the Huawei Watch Buds, which is disappointing considering the smartwatch’s pricing.

Incoming calls are displayed on the wearable and can be rejected, but nothing more. Third-party calls, like from WhatsApp, are also displayed. However, the premium smartwatch from the Chinese manufacturer offers the option – if the situation allows it – to remove the integrated headphones from inside the watch and use them to make a call.

As soon as the in-ears are removed, the call is automatically accepted. Callers from the call list can also be actively called back, as long as a connection to the cell phone can be made. The small True Wireless headphones have AI noise cancellation and a built-in microphone.

However, active noise cancellation is not possible with them. We also used the in-ears of the Watch Buds for making calls, but that is not one of the headphones’ strengths either. During our calls, the microphone of each earpiece provides decent voice output, and our call partners attest to the TWS’ clean reproduction in quiet surroundings.

However, a reduction of ambient noise is less good or even non-existent in everyday use. The background acoustics are very present in the in-ears. Besides street noise, bright background noises, such as birds chirping, are particularly audible.

We found the voice reproduction a bit tinny and filled with reverb. The Huawei Watch Buds displays notifications reliably and without much delay in the test room. However, only the subject of emails can be read, which does not really offer any added value.

In messengers, such as WhatsApp, emojis & co. are displayed correctly and a reply function with predefined texts or emojis is offered – but custom replies cannot be used. Which applications are allowed to appear on the screen can be set exactly in the Health app.

Health and fitness functions are displayed on the 1. 43-inch OLED screen as well as in the Health app. With the help of the 6-axis inertial sensors (accelerometer and gyroscope sensor), the user’s steps are determined and personal data, such as the calories burned, is calculated.

Biometric data is measured optically using the PPG (photoplethysmography) method by means of a light pulse. This includes all-day monitoring of heart rate, stress level, and oxygen saturation (SpO2). SpO2 measurement is the percentage of total hemoglobin volume bound to oxygen in the blood.

The Huawei Watch Buds is not a medical device and the manufacturer emphasizes that the monitoring data and results are for informational purposes only and are not suitable for diagnostic or medical purposes. Although Huawei advertises an ECG function for its Watch Buds, the electrocardiogram measurement did not work during the test period. The Huawei smartwatch informs the user about the heart rate, number of steps, stress level, blood oxygen as well as calories burned and sleep behavior.

An overview of these values is provided by both the watch itself and the Health app. The wearable supports a whole range of sports activities with 80 sports modes, but no water sports are listed due to the lack of IP certification. The sensors of the Huawei Watch Buds enable permanent monitoring of heart activity in real time.

The stress level is also based on the heart rate variability and is indicated on a scale from 1 to 100. In addition, the SpO2 measurement can be measured continuously. To test the plausibility of the blood oxygen saturation and heart rate readings, we compare the generated data with a Braun pulse oximeter 1 and a Polar H10 chest strap as a reference device.

Blood oxygen saturation is a crucial indicator of oxygen supply and necessary for muscles to be adequately supplied with energy. In our measurements, the smartwatch deviates a maximum of two percentage points from our medically certified reference. Take note – the Huawei Watch Buds tends to overestimate the oxygen saturation.

We take the wearable on a bike ride to verify the heart rate data. The fitness tracker still detects performance peaks quite well; there are only two beats per minute between Huawei’s Watch Buds and our reference. However, the smartwatch’s rates are quite different at the beginning and end of the workout – we measure deviations of up to over eleven percent here.

In total, there is about a 6 percent difference between the wearable and the Polar H10 at the end of our series of measurements. The Huawei Watch Buds is very accurate in terms of resting heart rate – we cannot determine any deviations here. The Huawei smartwatch reliably detects sleep phases and waking times and seems basically plausible.

A distinction is made between light, deep, and REM sleep. The quality of sleep breathing is also determined. The sleep data can be used for a smart alarm function if desired, and sounds like voices or snoring can optionally be recorded during sleep.

Huawei’s Watch Buds displays a compact overview of the sleep data, but only the Health app provides more detailed information about the sleep phases. Ambitious or even competitive athletes are certainly not the target group of the 2-in-1 smartwatch, but the watch still offers numerous training modes. Some sports can be called up directly in the menu, and the activity list can also be customized.

Depending on the selected workout, the Huawei Watch Buds informs about the most important parameters. While the heart rate is actually always displayed, sport-specific key figures are also added. The number of strokes is displayed for rowing, and the distance or speed is displayed for running.

The Huawei Watch Buds has a GPS module and can thus establish its own GNSS connections, independent of the connected smartphone. The satellite connection is established with a few seconds delay when starting a workout outdoors. However, the Huawei Watch Buds cannot establish a location indoors.

The Huawei smartwatch reveals great inaccuracies especially in curves during a short bike lap with our comparison device, the Garmin Venu 2. The route guidance of the Huawei Watch Buds is often off the route we actually chose. Routes can be exported via the Health app and imported via common file formats (gpx, tcx, and kml).

Huawei’s Petal Maps app can also be installed on the Huawei Watch Buds, but navigation cannot be started directly from the smartwatch without the connected device. Huawei installs a 1. 43-inch AMOLED panel with a resolution of 466 x 466 pixels in its smartwatch, which results in a high pixel density of 326 ppi.

The manufacturer does not specify which protective glass is used. The OLED screen always remains sufficiently legible in direct sunlight thanks to the solid brightness. Our measurements reveal a maximum luminance of 477 cd/m² when the brightness sensor is enabled – we measured 415 cd/m² in manual control.

However, those who use the always-on display option in the settings will have to reckon with readability restrictions in bright surroundings. Otherwise, the brightness sensor regulates the display’s brightness convincingly. Like almost all screens with OLED technology, the panel of the Huawei Watch Buds uses pulse width modulation for control.

We measured flickering with a frequency of 131 Hz. The integrated battery includes a capacity of 410 mAh. According to the manufacturer, the power supply should provide a strong usage time of up to 3 days using the in-ear headphones.

We operated our test device with a permanent Bluetooth connection, continuous pulse and blood oxygen measurement, and sleep and breathing activity monitoring. However, the always-on function is crucial for stamina. With a permanent display of display content, the battery indicator is reduced by about 30 percent per day, which is a good value in view of the large display.

If we do without the permanent display, we get through the day with about 10 percent in the test, which is also very good. If you use the integrated headphones with a capacity of 30 mAh a lot, you will get a correspondingly higher consumption. After about two hours of use and a remaining capacity of about 50 percent, the two in-ears need about 15 to 20 percent of the smartwatch’s battery.

However, the smartwatch can be prioritized in the settings so that the headphones are not supplied with power. The Huawei smartwatch is charged wirelessly via the included charging pad, so charging via the paired smartphone is also possible if the latter supports reverse wireless charging. When the battery is completely drained, the Huawei Watch Buds needs about 1 hour and 45 minutes for charging.

The integrated true-wireless headphones of the Huawei Watch Buds are very light with a net weight of only about 4 grams (~0. 14 oz) and compared to the Huawei FreeBuds 5i are much more compact. As a result, the operating gestures are not supported on the octagonal and cylindrical casing itself, but with a control in the area around the ear cup via a bone conduction sensor.

A double tap on the ears can pause a music track or end a call. Inside the headphones, a planar speaker with four magnets provides solid acoustics, but no sound miracles should be expected here. The bass in particular is very weak in the in-ears and the tweeters also break in strongly.

Audiophile users will not have fun with the rather weak headphones due to the focus in the midrange, which exudes a certain boredom overall. In our measurements, the harmonic distortions are also higher than the cheap FreeBuds SE . The manufacturer does not specify which Bluetooth codecs are available for use besides the compulsorily supported SBC and AAC via Bluetooth 5.

2. Huawei states a runtime of four hours at a volume of 50%, which we can also confirm in the test with permanent music playback. We get a runtime of about 3.

5 hours. THD (Total Harmonic Distortion): Harmonic distortion quantifies the magnitude of the components that arise due to non-linear distortion (harmonic content) in relation to the original signal. THD only refers to the fundamental component.

The distortion factor is often mentioned in the same breath, but refers to the total signal. THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise): This value is comparable to THD, but in addition to the harmonic distortion, that of the noise is measured as an RMS value. For the measurement, a low-harmonic sinusoidal signal (1 kHz, > 0 dB) is reproduced via the headphones to be tested, which is recorded by a linear measurement microphone (measurement distance: approx.

1 cm) in an artificial head. Both values are given as a percentage. The lower the value, the better the signal fidelity.

The Huawei Watch Buds refreshes the wearable market with an exciting approach and shows how smartwatches could develop in the future. However, the 2-in-1 concept currently still requires some massive sacrifices, because individual solutions that are similarly priced offer a much better overall package – for example, the Samsung Watch 5 Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 in combination with the Galaxy Buds2 Pro or a Huawei Watch GT 3 together with the FreeBuds Pro 2 . Those looking for a special companion on the go will find an innovative concept in Huawei’s Watch Buds, which definitely attracts attention in everyday use.

We would like to see a more attractive pricing from Huawei for a second Watch Buds generation, because buyers make a compromise that is too big in our opinion with an MSRP of almost 500 Euros (~$552). While the smartwatch itself is mostly convincing, the quality of the integrated headphones still needs to be improved. However, we also miss features on the watch itself, such as an additional microphone and speaker as well as a more functional crown.

Furthermore, at least an official IPX certification has to be worked on. The minor weaknesses in the software are a bit of a pity. The rudimentary display of e-mail notifications, the lack of watch face customization or the absence of a tap gesture to wake the watch from standby are actually unnecessary points of criticism.


From: notebookcheck

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