NNot for everyone, but original in every respect: the Chinese manufacturer Huawei is marrying two products that have very little in common. Will this result in a happy relationship? The Watch Buds are a combination of earphones and sports watch. Huawei has miniaturized the former and provided the latter with a flap so that you can lift the display lid to stow the earphones inside the watch. The smartwatch charges the earplugs, which weigh only four grams, so a separate charging case for the earphones is not necessary.
What’s the point? The scenario is that the earphones are always with you. If a long phone call is pending during a walk, the plugs are within reach. You don’t have to pack anything beforehand. The tiresome search for the earphones in the backpack has also been done with it.
We tried the Watch Buds. To set up the clock and plugs, you need the Huawei Health app, which is available for both smartphone platforms. Bluetooth is only paired once, then the watch and earplugs are connected to the mobile phone. The watch measures 47 x 47 millimeters and is 15 millimeters high, so it’s a rather larger smartwatch. The case is made of black stainless steel, the underside is not quite flat, but has a small bump with a heart rate sensor in the middle. The missing plug contacts already indicate it: The battery can be filled inductively, which not only works with the included charging cradle, but also with many QI stations for smartphones. A very nice detail that one also wishes for the Apple Watch.
Our test device came with a black leather strap that can be changed. To open the watch lid, you press a button on the bottom edge of the display, and the top then jumps up a few millimeters. To remove or insert the earbuds, you have to manually move the cover to the vertical. The hinge makes a solid impression, Huawei promises at least 100,000 opening and closing operations.
The two buds attach magnetically to the top of the cover, and you’ll be surprised how small they are. They look like a bullet and it doesn’t matter which one you wear in which ear because the earplugs identify their location themselves.
The acoustics of the small plugs are surprisingly good for music playback and telephony. Even the bass is amazingly crisp and deep. We were pleasantly surprised, even though their larger colleagues offer significantly more acoustically. However, the active background noise suppression is disappointing, which does almost nothing. Huawei is usually better at that.
You can listen for around three hours with one battery charge, after which the plugs are refueled in the watch. If you want to save power for the clock, deactivate the corresponding setting. You can also choose whether the earplugs should play music from the watch, smartphone or another Bluetooth device. Overall, the earphones are a good mid-range.
But how does the associated clock beat? Anyone who knows the Huawei sports watches will find their way around immediately and will be happy about the bright, high-contrast Amoled display, which is magnificent with a lush 466 x 466 pixels over a diagonal of 1.43 inches. It can be switched to an always-on mode and then permanently shows the time in a reduced format. Depending on the setting, the watch’s battery lasts from a few days to a week.
Not suitable for swimming training
However, some limitations compared to other Chinese sports watches are quickly recognizable. According to protection class IPX7, the housing is only protected against temporary immersion in water. The watch is therefore not suitable for swimming training and all sports that require complete water protection. Furthermore, the payment function and some sensors such as barometer and compass are omitted, and the watch does not write a single-channel ECG to detect atrial fibrillation. The heart rate, both at rest and during sport, is measured very precisely. There is a stress and sleep recording and of course the GPS recording of the distances covered during sporting activities outside.
As usual, Huawei draws from the full here and offers a considerable data analysis in the app, which is even more powerful with Garmin or Polar. What is also missing is the ability to export the fitness data of individual workouts, for example to have them evaluated in another ecosystem. Assistants and training plans in the app are chargeable. Huawei Health Plus costs eight euros a month or 60 euros a year and is unmistakably based on Apple’s Fitness Plus subscription, which, however, offers more for the money with elaborately produced training videos.
Overall, the Watch Buds is an interesting combination of two products. However, both components have to give up and do not reach the level that results from two separate individual products. A Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro in the more elegant and durable titanium case with more features costs 300 euros, and the Freebuds Pro 2 earplugs with better sound and more effective background noise suppression have an official retail price of 160 euros. The Watch Buds, meanwhile, starts at 500 euros and is the winner in terms of ideas, but not the winner in terms of equipment and sophistication.
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