The HONOR MagicWatch 2: Gorgeous, Intuitive, and Functional
In a world where everything is increasingly connected, it makes sense that our watches should be smart too. I had the pleasure of trying out the HONOR MagicWatch 2 over the past few days, and I'm pleased to report that my overall experience was extremely positive.
Sleek design, sturdy build
The unit we received was the 46mm variant with the Flax Brown genuine leather strap. I was delighted to find that the package included a second fluoroelastomer (basically a fancypants way of saying 'synthetic rubber') strap in Charcoal Black.
Material-wise, it is made of aerospace-grade 316L stainless steel, which was just hefty enough at 41g to feel premium without weighing your arm down.
The face is round with a bevelled glass surface, under which a tachymeter is subtly inscribed. I really like the shape, which is more reminiscent of traditional watches instead of the squarish designs that smartwatches tend to adopt. To be frank, I think the only people who look acceptable with a square smartwatch are yuppie entrepreneurs and middle-aged fitness junkies who wear athleisure 24/7.
The 2 crowns - or buttons, as they're no longer used to wind the watch like in the olden times - sit within comfortable reach at 2 and 4 o'clock respectively; the top button has a red stripe running through it, giving it a subtly sporty accent.
You can easily exchange the straps, which are secured by a quick-lock mechanism. The leather one is great for everyday use - coupled with the solid build and sleek design, it exudes sophistication and won't look out of place at a business meeting (unlike a FitBit). If you're a sporty person are someone who just sweats a lot, the black rubber strap is the way to go unless you enjoy damp, smelly leather chafing against your wrist.
Beneath the hood lies the all-new HUAWEI Kirin A1 chipset, which promises higher efficiency with less battery consumption.
Apart from that, you'll be enjoying Bluetooth LE 5.1, dual-frequency GPS, 32MB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage - 2GB of which can be used to store your favourite workout music so you can listen to Eye of the Tiger on repeat without bringing your phone along on your run. You can also store photos, which can be used as wallpaper for your watch display in Gallery mode. Sadly, it appears that Malaysia is one of the regions still excluded for this particular feature; ah well, at least you won't have to deal with your girlfriend or boyfriend uploading an entire gallery of selfies to use as your watchface.
If you're planning to take this watch to a Songkran festival or even just the shower, its 50m water-resistance will come in handy. Admittedly, I was too chicken to try out this feature, but they claim that it's perfectly fine to swim or wash hands with, so do with that info what you will. You should probably avoid hot water or the sauna though.
Setup is easy and intuitive
For Android users, all you have to do is download the HUAWEI Health app from the Play Store, install the latest version of HMS (HUAWEI Mobile Services), pair the MagicWatch 2 to your phone, and you're good to go! Updates are also done via the phone app and automatically synced to the watch, so you don't have to fiddle with the tiny screen to do so.
Navigation took a short while to get used to, but the intuitive layout became clear just a few minutes of experimentation.
Hold down: Browse and select watch faces
Swipe down: Opens quick settings menu
Swipe up: Opens notifications
Swiping sideways: Cycles through heart rate monitor, stress level monitor, weather, music, and exercise summary
Top button: Opens app menu / returns home
Bottom button: Can be bound to any menu you want
Additionally, swiping from the left edge will take you back to the previous screen of whatever menu you're on.
All-day battery life? Try all-week
While HONOR's marketing material boasts up to 14 days of battery life, it didn't really last me 2 entire weeks, but it was pretty damn good all the same. More than a week after the initial charge, the 455mAh battery still had ample juice to keep going, which means that I could set a routine of charging it every Sunday and know that I'll be good til next weekend.
Charging is quick and easy - the magnetic charging dock snaps on to the back of the watch satisfyingly as soon as it comes close enough. A full charge takes less than 2 hours and lasts for more than 10 days of use. Do note that unlike the watch itself, the dock is NOT waterproof, so please wipe down your watch if you've just come out soaking wet from the shower, pool, or a wet t-shirt contest.
Unlike the 'all-day' battery of the Apple Watch, the MagicWatch 2's battery gives you enough battery to sleep with the watch on at night so you can track your sleeping patterns without having to worry about your battery dying midway through your wet dream about genderbent Cloud from Final Fantasy.
Stunning display, underwhelming touch response
The 1.39" screen boasts 326 pixels per inch (PPI), and it looks as good as it sounds. Everything from text to visuals is crisp and vivid, and has stunningly deep blacks thanks to its AMOLED display.
The interface is also laid out in an extremely aesthetically pleasing and efficient way, and does not waste a single millimetre of the round display. Information is packed in an easily readable and uncluttered manner, mirroring the efficiency of the HUAWEI Health phone app's layout.
Earlier on, we mentioned about being able to use your own photos as your watch face, but that's not all - the watch comes pre-loaded with 13 different watch faces to suit your taste and the occasion, and Android users can download even more via the HUAWEI Health app. Unfortunately, iOS users are stuck with just the 13 default faces.
While the display is an absolute joy to look at, the touch response and refresh rate could stand to be improved. It just lags ever so slightly, especially when swiping - not enough to be a true hindrance, but it lacks the fluidity that we're so used to with our smartphone displays. But then again, it's just a smartwatch with a tiny 1.39" display so perhaps I'm just being a picky little snob.
Software - all the basics you need, and more
A large section of smartwatch users are fitness junkies, and the MagicWatch 2 has a wide plethora of features to cover all the bases.
There are 15 fitness modes - 8 outdoor and 7 indoor sports - as well as popular activities such as running, hiking, cycling, and more. On top of that, it also supports 13 professional indoor and outdoor running courses, so you won't run out of options (heh) to choose from when selecting a routine.
As covered before in our previous article, the MagicWatch 2 also has 3 features that give real-time advice on how to improve your health:
HUAWEI TruSleep™ diagnoses 6 common types of sleep disorders and has 200 suggestions to tailor your sleeping habits
HUAWEI TruSeen™ monitors your heart rate 24/7 and sends you an alert during abnormal activity
HUAWEI TruRelax™ detects stress levels and suggests breathing exercises
It also supports GPS and the GLONASS tracking system which supposedly works well even in dense forest areas, but since I'm pretty much stuck at my desk due to the CMCO, you'll just have to take HONOR's word for it. Not that you'd find me anywhere near Mother Nature even before COVID-19 effectively put an end to our social and outdoor lives - that is if you had one in the first place.
The notification system works well - you can receive notifications from a wide variety of apps, including Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp, Twitter, and more. Unfortunately, receiving is all you can do - you cannot reply to messages as there's no voice-to-text feature or any sort of digital assistant whatsoever.
Long messages won't be truncated though - you can scroll through the entirety of your friend's 3am essay about their latest lover's quarrel with no issue. Another perk is being able to read messages stealthily without blue-ticking your boss on WhatsApp. *wink wink*
However, you CAN answer calls directly from the watch - it has a speaker and a mic, so instead of pulling out your phone, you can talk straight into the watch like a spy out of a cheesy 90s flick. The audio is alright, and the mic is pretty decent for something so tiny.
In addition, your sleeping habits, heart rate, activity, blood oxygen levels and more are automatically synced to your phone app, so you don't have to fiddle about with manual syncing. In addition to all that, you also have all your basic functions such an alarm, stopwatch, phone locator, flashlight (which basically turns your entire screen a blinding white), and more. For the more adventurous, there's also a barometer, altimeter and compass, but you won't catch me testing those out any time soon.
You can't add additional apps or features to the MagicWatch 2, but it's unlikely that you'll even feel the need to, as the existing offering already feels very complete.
The HONOR MagicWatch 2 looks and feels delightfully premium, with a long battery life that would put Apple Watches to shame. The software plays well with my Android phone, and the interface and phone app are equally well thought out and easy to navigate.
If you're a looking for a new smartwatch that strays from the modern, angular aesthetic, the HONOR MagicWatch 2 is definitely a device you should consider.
The 46mm Flax Brown leather unit we have retails for RM749, while the Charcoal Black rubber version retails at just RM699. In my opinion, you should just spend the extra 50 bucks for the Flax Brown, as you'll get the Charcoal Black strap in the package as well.
As it so happens, the Hihonor website appears to be running a special Raya promotion right now, offering RM50 off both versions of the HONOR MagicWatch 2 - if that isn't a sign to buy one now, I don't know what is.