Huawei launched its smart watch at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. This was expected, but what has surprised most people is the impressive quality of the watch and the branding that goes with it. The device is called the Huawei Watch, taking a cue from Apple. Huawei is also using Android Wear for the operating system, but provides more than 40 customized watch faces of their own.
The Huawei Watch has a stainless steel finish and comes in three colors – gold, silver, and black. Huawei has chosen to go with a round watch that is 42 mm in diameter, which is similar to the LG G Watch R but smaller than the Moto 360. It has an AMOLED display, with one of the highest resolutions found in smart watches today at 286 pixels per inch (ppi). The Moto 360 has a resolution of 205 ppi, and the LG G Watch R has a resolution of 240 ppi. The Apple Watch, expected to release in a few weeks, has a resolution of 290 ppi for its 38 mm model and 302 ppi for its 42 mm watch. The Huawei Watch display uses Sapphire Glass, similar to the Apple Watch.
Huawei expects to start selling the watch by June 2015, and while pricing hasn’t been revealed, it is expected to be competitive with the Apple Watch. Huawei is known to have pulled forward the announcement and release of the watch to rival Apple’s. Huawei is positioning the watch around exquisite craftsmanship and design, but unlike Apple it also hopes to kickstart a new market for female smart watch customers. Most smart watches to date have been male oriented. Even the Apple Watch has a masculine look and feel, with the exception of the gold Edition watch.
The Huawei Watch is welcome news for the Android Wear ecosystem. The Moto 360 has been the best-selling Android Wear watch so far, with LG, Sony, and Asus making up the rest of the market. Overall sales for Android Wear have been disappointing. Android Wear needs more flagship watches to help it compete with Apple, but also with Pebble, which recently announced a brand new watch called Pebble Time. While we still expect Apple to outsell Android Wear watches in 2015, the Huawei Watch gives it somewhat of fighting chance. Huawei has around 1% market share of the U.S. smartphone market, and therefore is still a very niche player. While Huawei plans to expand its marketing and advertising in the U.S. in 2015, lack of brand awareness could impact its watch sales. Huawei has a better chance of competing and selling its watches in Europe with better brand recognition and presence compared to the U.S. There are also suggestions that Huawei is working with Google and the Chinese authorities in getting a Chinese version of Android Wear. If that happens, it could represent the opening of a whole new market for Android Wear.
In addition to the smart watch, Huawei also launched a new version of its activity tracker cum Bluetooth headset, B2 TalkBand. It also launched the N1 TalkBand necklace, which is a set of smart earphones that can act as Bluetooth ear buds and can track activity as well. At MWC 2015, Huawei didn’t launch any smartphones but chose to focus on wearables. The company is hoping to expand the sensor capabilities on its devices, both smartphones and wearables so that people use their devices for longer periods. Most likely, the hope is that their companion wearable devices like the watch, talkband, and necklace will in turn drive their smartphone sales.