While the focus of Mobile World Congress is undoubtedly on mobile, there are some announcements in related fields, and wearables remains a hot topic of conversation amongst tech enthusiasts like us, and among many of the attendees at MWC that I’ve been talking to.
Huawei made a bit of a splash — though it wasn’t really a surprise — with the announcement of the Huawei Watch 2 yesterday afternoon, and as far as we’re aware, that seems to be the only major announcement of wearable tech at the conference this year. However, earlier this month, we saw LG announce two new watches in partnership with Google, and they happen to be on display here at LG’s booth (behind rows upon rows of LG G6 demo units).
So, with time to kill, and a camera to use, I took some photos of the new watches and had a bit of a play.
LG Watch Sport
For many, this was probably the more appealing of the two watch announcements from LG and Google, because not only did it have LTE functionality for phone-less operation, but perhaps more interestingly, it featured the required hardware for use with Android Pay.
Sadly, for Australia, the watches are all but confirmed not to be coming, but there was a lot of interest from some segments in importing the watch and using it in Australia anyway. I was fortunate enough to have a nice conversation with a staff member at the booth who removed his own watch so I could play with an un-tethered Watch Sport, and so I got some better photos than I otherwise might’ve done.
First impressions? Plastic, plastic and more plastic, with a really cheap feeling band. This is undoubtedly a sports watch, and — having used a few — I’d say one that simply doesn’t feel very nice on my wrist. The band materials just felt cheap to me, and while the appearance from face-on was alright, from other angles the Watch Sport was just less appealing. It’s very thick, and all the surfaces are (or look) plastic and not especially durable or high quality.
I think with so many watches that either are more premium or that at least look more premium, the LG Watch Sport might well be one to avoid. To me, a watch should look elegant and somewhat valuable; they are generally classed as jewellery items, after all. The LG Watch looks neither — it looks and feels cheap, and with the inability to swap out watch bands for a leather option to dress it up, or a higher quality silicone band … it just isn’t appealing.
LG Watch Style
As we know, the LG Watch Style is intended to be the more stylish of the two LG smartwatches this February, and while it most certainly is that, it is still principally constructed of the same kinds of materials as the Watch Sport; the watch face/body itself feels lighter than perhaps a watch should, and though it has a metallic colour/look, I’m pretty sure it isn’t.
The saving grace, though, is the replaceable watch bands. As you can see in the last photo, they’re easily changed with the quick release pins, meaning no fiddly screw drivers to put in your own leather, silicone or other bands to make it your own.
To me, the Style suits a smaller wrist; on my tree trunk arms it just looked ridiculous (hence I didn’t try it on), but it wasn’t of a size that it would suit the larger arm. It would, however, look much more at home on a lady’s wrist.
Software-wise, Android Wear 2.0 carries on where Android Wear left off; the experience is universally the same on any AW2.0 watch, though watch-faces will undoubtedly vary by OEM. A quick flick through the menu system confirmed what we know — that AW2.0 is a bit different from the original Android Wear, and time will tell whether that proves to be an improvement or a hindrance.
Huawei Watch 2
Unlike the two watches from LG, the Huawei Watch 2 builds on the quality established by the brand with Huawei’s first generation eponymous watch. Here we have a clear metal construction, and components that simply feel to be of a higher quality.
While I would prefer a contactless charging option, like the Qi charging stands used by Motorola and Samsung with their watches, the Huawei Watch 2 continues the pogo-pin option established by the previous generation, though they didn’t have these on show at least where I could see.
Pictured above is the Huawei Watch 2 LTE edition, which is visually similar to the non-LTE Classic edition. The Huawei Watch 2 (without qualifier) is the sportier of the two, and while it undoubtedly has a sporty look and feel, it does so without looking like or becoming a cheap plasticky watch with a tacky cheap strap. Though I couldn’t photograph it (I couldn’t get a clear shot amongst the crowds gathering around it), it shares the Classic’s quality construction and feel, and has just enough heft to feel comfortably planted on your wrist, without floating around.
Further, because it is slimmer than the LG Watch Sport, it feels quite a bit more comfortable to wear; with my wrists, the LG Watch Sport sat out quite a bit, and I can guarantee it’d readily bang into things with me walking around. I don’t see that being a problem with the Huawei Watch 2 variants.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Huawei have confirmed that at least some variants of the Huawei Watch 2 will be coming to Australia in the next few months — around May / June — so there won’t be the need to import and muck around to get hands on with one.
In case it’s not already clear, my pick of this season’s Android Wear is without question the Huawei Watch 2. It looks and feels high quality, and the company wants to bring it to Australia. In short, they want us, and I want their product. I’d love to say that LG’s watches were better, but in my hands, they just didn’t feel it. This, I must say, is quite a shame, as the previous watches from LG in the Urbane line were suitably constructed and looked quite nice. These watches feel like a step backward.