We’ve recently covered Huawei’s charm offensive into the North American market, where the manufacturer currently has less than one percent of the smartphone market. Huawei are aiming to change this but rather than just release another batch of respectable and inexpensive smartphones backed up by sports team sponsorship – and they’re doing this too – Huawei have also produced a smartwatch that the business believes people will want to buy. How did they do this? By designing a watch that ordinary people want to buy. Huawei’s ambition is to have their Watch product sold alongside traditional watches rather than (just) in technology-type stores. Richard Yu, Huawei’s consumer division Chief Executive Officer, explained: “We’re trying to make Huawei a more fashionable brand. We’re trying to change our image.” Richard also went on to say that Xiaomi is an “ultra low-end brand for low-end people.” Richard Yu goes on to describe Samsung’s Gear Live watch as ugly and no one wanted to buy it. He rates Apple’s Watch as “good, it’s okay, but I think their smartwatch design is not a traditional, classical one. Our design is differentiated from them. Many people love this style; people have a loyalty to the tradition,” but concedes that he will be watching their sales closely.
The difference between their Watch and competing Android Wear devices, according to Huawei, is that their smartwatch is a circular device closer to a traditional watch. The Huawei Watch development team was led by Ben Norton, a watch designer with a track record that includes Fossil in the US and Emporio Armani in Switzerland. Ben says, “I had this opportunity to start designing smartwatches, and had a vision shared by many of my colleagues to have a smartwatch that was very much like a traditional watch. We just believe that the consumer wants an actual watch that feels like a watch.” His design objective was to make the Watch appealing for “your typical consumer that would also wear CK or Armani or many other of those brands at the mid-level.” The design team paid special attention to the size of the watch and settled on the 42mm size, described as “a typical size for a traditional watch.” Clearly, Huawei’s focus has been on building a smartwatch that is first and foremost a recognizable watch. Ben views the frame around the screen as the frame around the painting, or dial. “Because of the quality of our display, we’re able to show the details of each dial very strongly. And because it’s electronic we have a lot of openness in functionality of how far we can go with the dials.” The Huawei Watch will launch with over forty watch faces as standard and if customers want more, there is always the Google Play Store.
As for Huawei having their Watch on sale in traditional watch shops, the business is considering selling a model built from more expensive materials but with upgradeable internals, so that the watch mechanism does not become obsolete. This is a significant change from current Android Wear smartwatches, where presumably at some point the devices will no longer be receiving updated versions of Android and eventually, will no longer be supported by Android on our smartphones and tablets. This plan will also help mitigate the problem that smartwatches face at the entry level point, which is that they are necessarily more expensive than traditional watches built to the same standard, because the smart aspect of the device carries a certain price.
Certainly, Huawei’s Watch has been one of the more interesting at MWC 2015. The design is stylish, it is powered by Android Wear and it’s available in June, about a year since the original first generation Android Wear devices were released. Do you currently use an Android Wear device, if so, which one? Have you been considering upgrading your device to one of the new models and if so, what do you think to the Huawei? Let us know in the comments below.