Goodbye, AirPods and Apple Watch! Groundbreaking hybrid Huawei watch-buds give us the future now!
This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
First things first, I have to say… I haven't been so confused by the name of a device since… literally every Sony phone ever released. Wink, wink.
Huawei… Watch… Buds?! Is it a watch? Are they earbuds? Is it singular or plural? Give me a break, Huawei! Interestingly, unlike the name, the idea behind the Huawei Watch Buds is actually pretty straightforward:
- Make a smartwatch
- With enough empty space inside
- So it can fit a pair of wireless earbuds in it
Mission accomplished! Huawei did it - the Watch Buds is/are a real product that people (in China) can buy for CNY 3,000 or approximately $430. No other company makes "Watch Buds" right now, so let's go ahead and assume the price is… fair. But the price is quite literally the least important thing about this fascinating, innovative, and even… weird idea.
Anyway, here's why I feel like I can really get behind this weird idea!
Huawei Watch Buds aren't perfect but fitting a pair of earbuds into a smartwatch might be the only way to get me to wear one
Pixel Watch? No, thanks!
I never thought about it, but now that I do - the only way to get me to wear a smartwatch that (unlike a traditional watch) I have to charge several times a week might just be to put a pair of earbuds inside of it!
Huawei is breaking new ground, and just like the first few foldable phones, there's plenty to like and plenty to… question about the idea of a watch-earbuds hybrid. But before I talk about the smart design of the Huawei Watch Buds, I'd like to go over the compromises that, at this stage of this product's lifecycle, seem inevitable…
- The Huawei Watch Buds (sort of) lack water resistance - "sort of" because the earbuds themselves are advertised as IP54 rated while the watch part misses out on official ingress protection, of course, due to the opening mechanism; flawed by design, some might say
- The Watch Buds are quite obviously bulkier and heavier than traditional smartwatches (for context, the Apple Watch Series 8 (41mm) weighs about 42g, while Huawei's Watch Buds come in at 66.5g; the earbuds themselves contribute to only 4g each, which means the rest of weight is added by the parts that house and charge the earbuds
- Reduced battery life compared to other Huawei watches is the other noticeable trade-off here, as Huawei claims the Watch Buds (read: the watch and the buds combined) should last about three full days before you need to charge them; for reference, Huawei's traditional smartwatches can last up to two weeks on a single charge, while competitors from Apple, Samsung and Google usually struggle to make it past the two-day mark
The Huawei Watch Buds are a breath of fresh air; fix some major issues with traditional smartwatches and earbuds
Huawei brings the innovation!
Despite the compromises one might have to make, there's no denying that just like foldable phones (which try to combine two things into one), the Huawei Watch Buds are a product with the potential to redefine what we know as a smartwatch/earbuds today!
What stands out to me, as a Pixel Watch user, is that, unlike Google, Huawei seems to have managed to make the most (and, in fact, go far beyond the expected) out of a thick smartwatch here. For example, I don't know if anyone else noticed, but the display bit of the Huawei Watch Buds seems like an almost 1:1 copy of Google's circular, rounded, and surrounded-by-bezel screen of the Pixel Watch!
Of course, Google's wrist clock is just… a watch, and Huawei's is also... earbuds. In fact, a watch with a massive bezel and mediocre battery life that barely manages to get me through a day of regular use. So, to know that the Huawei Watch Buds are promised to last up to three days on a single charge (three times more compared to Apple and Google's traditional watches) is quite something!
Of course, as with every new category of product, Huawei had to come up with creative solutions to some obvious (potential) problems...
- Since they are flat on all four sides, the earplug-like Huawei Watch Buds (read: the actual earbuds) can be placed into their magnetic housing in any direction, which solves a problem with traditional earbuds that require more attention when put back into their case
- As both earbuds are perfectly symmetrical and capable of the same functionality, there's no real way to tell them apart, which is why Huawei used accelerometer sensors to determine which one is placed on your left/right ear
- Unlike traditional wireless earbuds, the Huawei Watch Buds seem less likely to be lost/misplaced, and that's thanks to three factors; for one, the watch that acts as your charging case is always on your wrist (unless it isn't?); then, Huawei's engineers were watchful enough (I worked way harder to get to this pun than you might think!) to create a mechanism that essentially crack-opens the watch lid, instead of lifting the whole upper part completely, making it very hard for the buds to fall out of place; and lastly, there's an alarm-like function that lets you know when the watch lid has been open (assuming by mistake) by vibrating
- As the top surface of the earbuds is rather small for any meaningful sensors that let you control your music, Huawei has implemented vibration sensors that let you tab your ears (yes, that's right), which then sense the vibration to send a signal through your bones (I know, it's freaky!), and pause/play, skip/rewind, etc…
Thanks to the fact that the smartwatch acts as both a watch and the earbuds' case, there's a tight software-hardware integration that lets you control your music directly from the watch, which comes in handy when you don't want to use your phone or the forward-thinking vibration mechanism
I really want the Huawei Watch Buds to catch on, but will Apple and Samsung ever make their own version?
Perhaps one day when making watch-buds that are fully water-resistant is possible, Apple and Samsung would jump on board?
- Adaptive brightness
- Wireless charging
- NFC support
- Acceleration and gyro sensors
- Heart rate monitoring
- Electrocardiogram capabilities
- Blood oxygen level measurement
- 80+ exercise modes
- ANC (earbuds)
- Transparency mode (earbuds)
But the focus here is the sheer genius behind the idea of earbuds watch or whatever you think that is… I'll admit that I'm not sure whether the whole Watch Buds thing will catch on and become "the next foldable phone," but it's certainly every bit as exciting.
I carry my Huawei FreeBuds Pro with me virtually at any given time and use them virtually every day. Hence, the idea that the smartly-designed Watch Buds could help fix some of the familiar issues with traditional wireless earbuds while (finally) giving me an actual reason to wear a smartwatch seems… unprecedented!
Is this the next big breakthrough in smart tech; would the big dogs like Apple and Samsung follow in Huawei's footsteps and give us their own version of this innovative product; will the Watch Buds ever leave China? I don't know!
But I sure hope so!