Given the enduring popularity of fitness trackers and the muted reaction to the first generation of smartwatches, it’s not that surprising that the latest offerings of the latter have made significant steps to appeal to the sporty crowd.
Apple added GPS and waterproofed its Series 2 smartwatch, while the LG Watch Sport now has unrivalled tracking of strength training. Following this trend, the new Huawei Watch 2 has added some impressive features squarely aimed at fitness fans.
The Watch 2 comes in two flavours – Sport and Classic – which are distinguished not only by the materials used (silicone straps and a more sweat-friendly watch body on the Sport), but also by the 4G connectivity on the Sport model which allows it to be a phone-independent device. It has a slot for Sim cards, so you can respond to texts and calls, and even stream music via the Google Play Music app on the watch.
With all that and built-in GPS, the Sport is already an intriguing proposition for runners and cyclists in particular, since it means there’s no need for a phone to track outdoor activities or stay in touch with the real world.
Then there are the dedicated fitness features to consider. As well as heart rate tracking and sensors like a barometer and altimeter, there are apps designed to make the Huawei the ideal workout companion and even coach you in real time.
Guided running modes include “fat burn” and “cardio”, with on-the-go feedback from a virtual coach that advise you on things like pace, distance and heart rate – telling you to get into the right heart rate zone in certain modes, or to slow down if it thinks you’re overdoing it.
At the end of a workout, the Watch 2 also gives an estimation of your VO2 max and advises on how long your recovery time will be. It can also set up training plans for standard running events like 10K, half marathon and marathon.
Many of the features revealed so far will especially appeal to runners, but of course the Watch 2 does offer tracking for other activities like cycling and gym workouts too.
It also keeps tabs on your everyday activities, tracking steps and overall active time (both medium and high intensity), as well as continually monitoring your heart rate to work out your resting heart rate.
The battery life is also good enough for long-lasting outdoor activities, lasting ten hours with GPS and all sensors running, and two days when in normal use. There is also a battery-saving mode that keeps the Watch 2 going for three weeks. It only shows the time and tracks steps in this mode – but still, three weeks!
What we don’t yet know is how well integrated the Watch 2’s workouts will be with other apps, like Strava and Runkeeper. You’d hope the impressive amount of data it collects could be ported to a user’s favourite existing apps, rather than confined to a Google or native Huawei app.
One downside is the lack of full waterproofing. The Huawei Watch 2 won’t be troubled by showers when out running, but shouldn’t be taken swimming.
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The bulky design is also going to turn some people off, but it shouldn’t be a problem for the runners and cyclists who are used to wearing larger GPS watches.
The Huawei Watch 2 will launch in the UK in April and will cost around around £320 for the 4G version and around £280 for the Bluetooth version. Go to consumer.huawei.com for more info.
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