Huawei just released its Huawei Watch 2
, alongside a Classic version of it. This adds another strong competitor to the smartwatch market, but how strong exactly? With the Apple Watch
Series 2 and Samsung Gear S3
being the main competitors for the smartwatch throne, can Huawei and Android Wear 2.0 try and topple them?
In order to find out, we pit the Huawei Watch 2 against the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
, and only one will emerge victorious.
Design and ergonomics
When it comes to the looks of the device, the Gear S3
Frontier is definitely the winner here. Despite being a tad thicker, it looks sleek and well-made. The buttons on the side blend perfectly with the shape, and the stainless steel body just screams “premium”.
On the other hand, the Huawei Watch 2 almost feels cheap, with its rubberized body and simple shape. And despite being the thinner and smaller device, it looks bulkier at a glance. This is, in no small part, thanks to the cruder shape and the painfully obvious buttons on the side. There's a lot of room for improvement in the design here.
Ergonomics paint a different picture, though. It is up to personal preference, really, but when I tried both watches on, the Gear S3 Frontier felt weird. It was way too big for my wrist, and the strap was extremely uncomfortable. It bugged me the whole time I wore it and I just couldn't get used to it.
As for the Huawei Watch 2, it did feel the same at first. Considering I am used to slim mechanical watches with metal bands, though, this is was not a surprise. But after a few minutes of use, I got used to the feeling of having it on my wrist, and after a few hours it just felt natural.
Someone with bigger wrists might find the Gear S3 more comfortable, but for me, the Huawei Watch 2 is the undisputed winner when it comes to ergonomics. However, do keep in mind that both devices will probably look out of place when worn by women, as they're bulky and rough.
Both devices do very well in the display department. Both employ AMOLED panels for better battery life and sunlight visibility, and they do their job rather well. The display on the Huawei Watch 2 is slightly smaller, but I wouldn't consider this to be neither a disadvantage, nor an advantage over the Gear S3. Just like with smartphones, display size is largely a personal preference, and for me both worked just fine.
Interface and functionality
Here's the big one, guys – Tizen versus Android Wear 2.0. Quite honestly, both operating systems feel unfinished. On both the Huawei Watch 2 and the Gear S3, I found things that shouldn't be where they are, for example changing watch faces and font size on Wear 2.0 is under Display, for some reason, instead of Customization.
However, the user experience with the Gear S3, while not perfect, is still superior. First, there's the rotating bezel. It helps a lot in navigating the watch, instead of using the tiny touch screen all the time, and it keeps the display relatively smudge-free. Second, it has multitasking, as opposed to the Huawei Watch 2, which closes your open app if you want to open another one.
And since watches are largely a fashion statement, we can't ignore customization. Both the Gear S3 and the Huawei Watch 2 offer a large variety of watch faces, but Tizen is a bit more flexible, when it comes to customizing fonts and backgrounds in the menu. Both support standard watch bands, the Frontier – 22 mm ones – and the Huawei Watch 2 – 20 mm ones. Sound customization, though, is a one-horse race, as the Gear S3 has far more options and easily takes the win there.
The Gear S3 comes with Samsung's Exynos 7270, which is a dual-core 1.0 GHz processor. The Huawei Watch 2, on the other hand, employs the quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 2100, so it should work better on paper. In reality, you won't feel the difference, as there's only so much you can do on a watch.
When it comes to memory, both devices come with 768 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage. But you will be able to make better use of the Huawei Watch 2 here, as its system files take less space. In reality, you can only use 1.6 GB of the storage on the Gear S3, while Huawei left 2.3
GB for users to fill up.
Both devices come with GPS, heart rate sensors, gyros and all other sensors you could want. The LTE variants of the devices feature a minor difference, though. While the Huawei Watch 2 comes with its own SIM tray, the Gear S3 only has an embedded SIM card. This severely limits the flexibility of the Gear S3.
The call quality on both watches is passable, but it's not what you'd get with an actual phone. However, with smartwatches it's not the call quality you should be worried about, but the environment during a call. If you're in an extremely noisy area, you will either have to answer via your phone, or a Bluetooth headset if you left your phone at home, because you're essentially on a speakerphone, which is not as loud as a regular one.
Both devices seem to hold enough charge for a day or two of regular use. Of course, using LTE connectivity on both of the watches lowers their battery life significantly, so don't expect any miracles. Still, we've seen phones that do worse in this regard.
When it comes to charging the watches, though, there is a significant difference. While the Samsung Gear
S3 is quite slow to charge, taking around two hours to fill up, the Huawei Watch 2 charges up to 100% in less than an hour. So, the Chinese company definitely wins in that regard.
Watches are a very personal thing. What works for one, won't work for someone else. I am used to wearing slim mechanical watches, and the Gear S3 is too bulky and uncomfortable for me. So, I find the Huawei Watch 2 far more comfortable to wear, but if you want a more premium smartwatch and own a Samsung phone, there's no excuse for not having the Gear S3.