Honor Magic Watch 2 Review: Mimics Huawei's GT2
, by Nams, 8 min reading time
Design and The Screen: Bigger yet Better
The similarity between The Honor MagicWatch 2 and Huawei Watch GT2, launched in the fourth quarter of 2019 is not surprising. Huawei, which owns Honor, seems to have influenced the watch design, operating system and build.Like GT2, MagicWatch 2 is a sports-focused smartwatch, and available in two sizes. Familiar looks can also be credited to Huawei's LiteOS powering MagicWatch 2.Behind the scenes, both watches are powered by Huawei's newest Kirin A1 chip, light on the battery and smaller than Huawei's own Kirin 990 series and Apple's H1 chips.One of the catches is the price: at 21,000 INR it is one of the most cost-effective alternatives to its elder brother, Huaweis Watch GT2.
That is also only a small rise from the first edition of MagicWatch.Comparable features make it one of the cheaper alternatives to the costlier industry leaders in the segment like Apple Watch Series 5 and the Fitbit Versa 2 as well. Is it worth the penny? Here is a detailed comparison, based on the build, screen, software, battery expectancy among many other factors.The MagicWatch 2 may be a little bit bigger and heavier than its first edition, but that adds to an element of elegance, a sporty new look to the second installment in Honor's smartwatch series. This watch is offered in two casing options: 42mm and 46mm.The familiar circular frame is made of stainless steel and plastic. The tachymeter bezel outlines the 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen.The watch offers a resolution of 454 x 454 with a 326ppi pixel density - making the display a sharper visual experience. The display brightness also fares well in bright sunlight as well as at night time. In fact, the screen was visible at less than maximum brightness in sunlight, which is commendable.
The 9.8mm thickness makes it one of the thinnest watches in the business, thinner than many other competitions including the Apple Watch Series 5. Both 42mm and 46mm versions come with interchangeable bands.The pin mechanism helps you easily swap the bands to your liking. The Leather and Silicone bands were easy to wear, smooth against the skin, flexible and pleasing to the eye. The design, as mentioned earlier emphasizes a lot on streamlined and minimal look.A break in the flow is two physical buttons to the right, aiding the navigation through Huawei's LiteOS. The bottom button is customizable to the user's liking, though Workout Tracking is the default shortcut assigned. While both the buttons twist, disappointingly they cannot be used to scroll through the screen.
Tracking Sports and Fitness: The New spO2 Sensor
Well, when it comes to sports and fitness, the new MagicWatch 2 mimics many features of good old Huawei's Watch GT2. You get to choose from 15 goal-based fitness modes and also includes swim tracking and heart rate monitoring. The device also includes guided breathing exercises through the TruRelax app, to destress oneself if the sensor data looks anomalous.The top physical button launches the interface to choose between on spot heart rate and spO2 reading, stress level measurements or view recent sleep data. The quick widget summarizing the daily step count and active minutes is very Apple watch-like. In short, it pretty much has all the basic health and fitness tracking features you would expect in any popular smartwatch these days.
As for tracking workout, goal-based targets keep you motivated. You can set targets based on various metrics such as distance covered, time or calories burnt. There is an option to set alarms based on heart rate as well.To a runner's delight, there are some additional modes like "Running Courses", offering structured sessions like Easy Run, HIIT Run etc. You can enable voice-guidance to avoid peeking into the screen during a workout. For all kinds of workouts, there is a neatly laid out screen designed for touch, easy to absorb with text and icons, showing real-time data from different gauges in the device.MagicWatch 2 comes with support for three Satellite Positioning Systems (USA's GPS, Russia's GLONASS and European Union's Galileo). It does a good job letting you review your workout data on the watch itself, better than Samsung's counterparts.Now for the swimmers; MagicWatch 2's performance in the pool!
The display is clearly visible underwater even in an open pool. The watch offers ample data for analysis post-swim, through the Huawei Health app, from stroke recognition, pace stroke rate to SWOLF. From a snapshot of the swim to detailed data broken down neatly into segments making it concise and easy to digest - this watch is a reliable swimming companion.The watch as a fitness tracker does not come with any surprises in the box, with all the sensors you would expect in place. Step count was in line with Garmins fitness trackers, proving its reliability. This may not be the best in the segment to motivate you to get going when you get lazy, but the inactivity alerts pop up with some animations that should help you get back on track.The sleep monitor saw a major upgrade compared to its first edition, enabled by the new spO2 sensor. The new sensor enables the detection of sleep apnea and help provide more reliable sleep quality measurements. Honor adopts a point-based system to measure the quality of sleep in this watch.
Heart Rate Monitor
The MagicWatch 2 comes packed with an optical heart rate monitor, readings are displayed on a dedicated screen in the watch. The page summarizes real-time resting heart rate, and also the highest and lowest heart rates measured on that particular day.The sensor also powers a stress test and contributes to workout insights by estimating VO2 Max which helps the device calculate training load and time needed for recovery between two workouts.The accuracy of the optical heart rate monitor is dependent on how tightly it is wound to the skin. The device shows measurements well within the spectrum under normal circumstances.
Software and App: Huawei Health and LiteOS
MagicWatch 2 pairs with Huawei Health app, available both in Google PlayStore and Apple's App Store. It lets you view synced data from the device as well as manage the watch's settings including notification support and personalization options like choosing watch faces. Huawei health looks like an intersection of Samsung Health and Withings Health Mate app, with more features similar to the latter.You are welcomed with a summary of your health and fitness data in the Health tab by default. The Exercise tab lists options to track GPS-based activities. The Devices tab houses the watch settings. The settings are fairly granular and it will help you further extend your watch's already amazing battery life.
One of the downsides is that you are locked into the Huawei Health app and the watch will not sync data to any other fitness trackers like Google Fit or Samsung Health. The lack of third-party app support and app store makes it impossible to sync data from the watch to any other app. As mentioned earlier, the watch is powered by Huawei's own LiteOS.It has grown into a healthy competitor to Google's WearOS since it first appeared in fitness devices by Huawei. Huawei has done a wonderful job, learning from the best watch operating systems out there like Garmin, Apple and Samsung. The interface feels very intuitive and unique. The learning curve is simple as the features you are looking for is a swipe or a button press away, with a lot of customization and personalization options as discussed already.
The Magical Upgrade: Battery life
As pointed out, the 46mm variant packs an onboard mic and speaker, which is absent in the 42mm variant. The battery life marks another one of the major differences between 46mm and 42mm variants. The 46mm variant packs a 455 mAh battery - ample enough to keep you running without a break for two weeks (14 days).Honor also promises a 24hrs music playback in a single full charge. On the other hand, the 42mm variant retains the 178 mAh battery that powered the first edition of MagicWatch, sustaining you for a week (7 days). Whether you choose a 42mm or 46mm variant, there is a huge improvement in battery life compared to Apple's Watch and other Wear OS/Fitbit devices trending in the market now.
Unlike many other devices, this watch delivers the claimed battery life. Of course, that is unless your daily activities are heavily reliant on sensors like GPS and heart rate monitoring which are battery heavy, in which case you might see slightly lower battery life. On a typical day, an hour of outdoor running that utilizes GPS and other sensors drains 10% of battery on an average.Even with intensive training every day, the battery will comfortably get you through a week. That is a feat many of the big names in the market in this category could not achieve yet. While many smartwatches take hours to charge, the MagicWatch 2 charges swiftly from zero to 100 in just an hour once it rests on the charging dock.
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