Don’t have time to read the full review? Go to the Conclusions section to find out what I liked the most and what I liked the least about the new HUAWEI WATCH Buds.
More and more people wear a smartwatch on their wrist and a headset in their pocket, so HUAWEI had a great idea: Why not merge both devices into one? Said and done, HUAWEI has launched a smart watch that houses a pair of headphones inside.
The HUAWEI WATCH Buds have a 1.43″ AMOLED screen, a multitude of health functions (heart rate, SpO2, sleep, stress), exercise monitoring, and up to 3-day battery life. In addition, it incorporates very compact headphones inside, which are charged while they are in their compartment.
The new watch is for sale starting at €499 (see offers at Amazon)
- Health App
- health and sport
Unlike other watches from the brand, HUAWEI WATCH Buds is available in a single size, which corresponds to the largest of other models, so it is not the ideal watch for those who have small wrists or flee from bulky watches.
The case is made of stainless steel and is 15mm thick (excluding the rear sensor area), making it quite a bit thicker than other smartwatches on the market. Similarly, its weight (without strap) is 66.5 grams, which also exceeds many other watch models.
For reference, the Apple Watch Ultra, which is one of the bulkiest watches around, is 14.4mm thick and weighs 61 grams. The Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro stays at 10.5 mm thick and weighs 46.5 grams.
That said, the watch doesn’t feel overly large on the wrist, though it obviously doesn’t go unnoticed. If possible, I would advise you to try it in a store before buying it.
The watch is worn on a good quality leather strap, but I would have liked a smaller second strap for those with a slightly slimmer wrist.
HUAWEI WATCH Buds feature 3D glass that covers the face and curves at the edges, just where the glass meets the case. It is a highly resistant lithium aluminum silicate glass. In fact, according to HUAWEI, this glass is thinner than that of the HUAWEI WATCH GT 3 and 25% more resistant.
On the right, we find a button that can be pressed (it does not rotate like the crown of the HUAWEI WATCH GT3), which allows you to turn on the screen if it is off, return to the home screen at any time or, if we are already there, open the page with the list of all available apps. If you keep the button pressed for a few seconds, you can turn off or restart the watch.
HUAWEI claims this button features the 710 Clous de Paris pattern, but it’s so subtle that if they don’t tell you (or take a close-up photo), you won’t notice it.
Unlike some HUAWEI watches, it is not possible to double-tap the crown to view recently opened apps.
On the back of the watch we find a sensor that includes eight photodiodes arranged in a circular fashion, together with two light sources that allow the wrist to be accurately scanned. As we will see later, the watch can track heart rate, blood oxygen levels, number of steps climbed, stress level, hours and phases of sleep, and physical training.
The newest aspect of this watch is that it has a button at the bottom of the case that, when pressed, causes the lid with the screen to open to give access to a pair of headphones. These headphones are quite small (22 × 10 × 10 mm) and light (4 grams each), and come with three sizes of ear tips.
When you open the watch, the headphones are attached to the lid that opens by means of magnets, making it very easy to remove them. To store them, simply open the watch and insert them into the two interior compartments designated for this purpose. There they charge their battery through the clock.
If you’re worried that the opening mechanism might eventually break down, HUAWEI says it’s been put through 100,000 open and close tests and a 5kg stress test, making it robust and durable.
The earbuds are IP54 rated, but since the HUAWEI WATCH Buds have a flip-top cover, it’s not waterproof, so you’d better not use the watch underwater. It is important that you keep the headphone compartments dry and away from wet areas. If water does get in, you should blot it up with a cotton swab or paper towel.
HUAWEI WATCH Buds feature a circular AMOLED screen with a diameter of 1.43″ and a resolution of 466 × 466 pixels, which implies a pixel density of 326 ppi.
The screen looks very sharp, as you would expect thanks to its pixel density. The individual pixels are indistinguishable and the viewing angles are wide enough to allow viewing of the watch from extreme angles, which is essential in a watch.
Screen quality is good and in line with what you’d expect from AMOLED screens: deep black, high contrast, and vibrant colors.
Using an X-Rite colorimeter and Calman Ultimate software, I have measured a maximum brightness of 415 nits. Other smartwatches get higher values, but this level of brightness is enough to make the screen visible outdoors.
The screen has a sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness to the surrounding lighting conditions.
If we go to sleep or enter a place where we do not want the clock to interrupt us, we can activate the do not disturb mode that deactivates the vibration and keeps the screen off.
Luckily, there’s an Always On Display (AOD) option, which keeps the face visible at all times, with dimmed brightness and a simplified interface without widgets, while you’re wearing the watch. The screen is not limited to displaying black and white images, but also makes use of colour.
Although this functionality reduces autonomy, AMOLED screens have the advantage that the black pixels do not light up, so only the illuminated pixels consume power.
The watch automatically recognizes the gesture of turning the wrist to turn on the screen. It is possible to select if we want to see the design of the full sphere or the AOD screen when making the gesture. The gesture works fine, although from time to time the screen turns on accidentally.
HUAWEI has not revealed the type of processor, the amount of RAM or the storage that the watch incorporates. Typically if a manufacturer includes a next-generation chip or powerful specs, they openly advertise it.
In any case, the watch responds easily to keystrokes, navigation through menu options is smooth and apps open quickly. However, HUAWEI WATCH Buds cannot leave apps in the background, but as soon as you exit an app, it closes — with exceptions such as the Music app that continues to play.
As I mentioned, we don’t know how much storage it has, but there aren’t too many third-party apps to download from the App Gallery, so this storage is almost entirely dedicated to storing music.
In terms of connectivity, it is compatible with Bluetooth, but does not allow WiFi or cellular connection, which means that the watch must always be close to the phone to receive notifications or use functions that require Internet access.
For precise, phone-independent positioning, the watch is compatible with GPS, Beidou, GLONASS, Galileo, and BDS satellite systems, allowing you to record location when exercising without your phone in tow.
The watch is accompanied by a good number of sensors, such as accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate and Hall effect. Does not include barometer, compass or temperature sensor. It is also not capable of detecting falls or car accidents.
It does not have a microphone and speaker, so we cannot use the watch to interact with a virtual assistant or, of course, make or answer calls. Now, since it incorporates headphones inside, this is not as necessary as in other watches.
HUAWEI does not publish the battery capacity in the spec sheet, but according to some sources, it has a capacity of 410 mAh. To put it in perspective, the HUAWEI GT3 Pro has a 530 mAh battery.
HUAWEI promises a combined autonomy (watch + headphones) of three days, which is well below what other watches of the brand offer. The reason must be found in the interior space that the headphones now occupy, which cannot be used for a battery, and that the battery is shared between the watch and the headphones, which are charged when they are inside.
In my tests, I have obtained a range of six days with heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen level and sleep tracking activated, but without using the headphones. By the time you use headphones to listen to music or make calls on a daily basis, the autonomy is reduced to the promised three days.
The headphones themselves offer about three hours of battery life off the clock with active noise cancellation, which isn’t bad given their small size, but clearly falls short of other wireless headphones.
The earbuds are automatically charged within the watch, consuming around 10% of the watch’s battery on a full charge.
If you don’t want to waste watch battery, you can activate power saving mode through battery settings. In that case, the earbuds only charge when you put the watch on charge, so you’d better charge it frequently or you’ll run out of battery. Without power saving option, when the watch battery goes below 10%, it stops charging the earphones.
The watch is charged via a contact charger in just over an hour, and it is also possible to charge the watch with a conventional Qi wireless charger. This is really helpful, as it’s much easier to find a wireless charger than the proprietary chargers most watches usually carry.
HUAWEI WATCH Buds are compatible with Android 7.0 (or later), iOS 9.0 (or later) and EMUI 12 (or later) phones. If you don’t have a HUAWEI phone, you need to download the HUAWEI Health app to pair the watch with your phone via Bluetooth.
In iOS it is very simple, since the Health app is in the Apple App Store. However, on Android, the app is not on the Play Store, so you have to download it from the App Gallery (if you have installed it on your phone) or directly from the HUAWEI website.
The pairing is quite simple, since it is enough to scan the QR code that appears on the screen with the camera of the phone to synchronize it.
In my case, I have tested it with a Pixel 7 without problems, except to enable app notifications on the watch, which was not possible. To solve it, you must go to Settings> Apps> HUAWEI Health, click on the More option in the upper right corner, then on Allow restricted settings and finally on Allow. You can then go back to the HUAWEI Health app, enable Notifications and follow the instructions.
The app has several tabs at the bottom — Health, Exercise, Discover, Devices, and Me — from which we can access physical activity and health information, start training sessions, or configure watch options.
The Health tab shows, first of all, information about our physical activity such as active calories, active minutes, the number of steps taken, the time we got out of bed and emotional stress. It is possible to switch between a view of activity rings and the most recent activity clover.
In that same tab, we also find cards with additional information:
- Exercise records, which shows the exercise sessions we have carried out. For example, if we have taken a walk, we can see the route traveled, the duration, the calories consumed, graphs with the evolution of steps/minutes and more.
- Health Clovers, which allows you to record activities that help us lead a healthier life such as drinking water, smiling, breathing, exercising, walking, etc. It is also possible to create personalized plans based on whether we want to combat stress, being overweight, lack of sleep, weak immune system, etc.
- Heart, showing the evolution of the heart rate throughout the day and the rate at rest.
- Weight, which allows you to record your weight and see its evolution
- Sleep, which shows the total hours of sleep for each day and the hours in each stage (deep, light, REM).
- Stress, which measures your stress level once you’ve calibrated the watch for the first time by answering certain questions about how you feel.
- Blood Oxygen Saturation, showing SpO2 measurements throughout the day.
- Skin temperature, showing skin temperature measurements throughout the day. It is important to note that this watch does not measure skin temperature, so no data will appear here.
- Activity rings, which shows the progress towards closing the rings (active calories, activity and active hours).
The Exercise tab allows you to select an exercise such as outdoor running, treadmill running, walking, or cycling. The app also gives advice on how to carry out the exercises.
The Discover tab displays promotions, health tips, sports tips, and events of interest.
The Devices tab allows you to configure various aspects of the clock such as:
- Select the watch face: You can choose free faces, although most of the options are paid. Some apps allow you to customize aspects of the design (wallpaper, style, widgets, etc).
- Headphones: Allows you to configure noise control, activate HD calls, configure gestures on the headphones, perform a test fit of the tips and more.
- Health monitoring: Sleep quality monitoring, continuous heart rate monitoring, automatic stress test, automatic SpO2 measurement and continuous skin temperature measurement.
- Music: Allows you to transfer and manage music from the watch.
- App Gallery: Allows you to install apps from the HUAWEI store, although the app catalog is quite small.
- Notifications: Allows you to select which apps we want to receive notifications from on the watch.
- Search device: Search for the watch or headphones.
- Alarm: Allows you to set an alarm and activate the smart alarm, which can sound at any time from 5 minutes before if the watch detects that you are not in a deep sleep phase.
- Weather Reports, which shows weather forecasts on the watch.
- Favorite contacts: Add up to 10 favorite contacts to the watch for faster access. Favorite contacts will be synced to the phone automatically.
- Wallet: Allows you to pay with your watch if you are in a country that has this service enabled (it is not in Spain).
- Quick responses: Allows you to set quick responses to send from the watch.
Finally, the Me tab allows you to check your profile, view weekly reports, check the medals you’ve earned and other information.
HUAWEI WATCH Buds run HarmonyOS 3.0, and their operation is done through the touch screen and the function button. It’s a pretty comfortable way to interact with the watch.
By default, when the watch is turned on, it shows the selected face, and if we click on it for a few seconds, we can select any other face stored in the watch itself.
During normal use of the watch, when a notification arrives, the watch vibrates and the screen turns on to display information about the notification. If we scroll on the screen we can read the entire notification.
Unfortunately, the watch hardly allows you to interact with notifications. It is possible to set default responses for certain apps, but only for some. Among them, there is not the Gmail app, for example.
During normal use of the watch, if we drag the home screen of the watch up, we access a view with the notifications pending to be read.
By dragging the main screen to the left we access information cards. We can select a maximum of six cards from the following:
- Moon phase
- heart rate
- resting heart rate
- Running ability index
- exercise plans
- activity logs
- call log
If we drag the screen down on the Home screen, we access the quick settings that allow us to activate the do not disturb mode, set the active screen, set the alarm, search for device, configure the noise cancellation of the headphones and access Settings.
In addition, we can see the remaining battery level of the watch and headphones, the date and the status of Bluetooth connectivity.
HUAWEI WATCH Buds are also useful for not missing calls. If we receive a call, the watch vibrates and on the screen we see the name of the person who is calling. From the watch itself we can accept the call, but we will have to put on our headphones to answer it.
It is possible to start a call by clicking on one of our favorite contacts, provided that you have put on the headphones beforehand. It is not possible to initiate a call by manually dialing the phone number, as there is no Phone app as such.
The watch allows you to control the playback of music, either the one that is played on the phone or the one that is stored on the watch itself. Unfortunately, it does not have an option to activate the remote shooting of the camera from the watch.
If we click on the side button, we access all the applications installed on the watch:
- search device
- Breathing exercises
- exercise status
- heart rate
- call log
- activity logs
- exercise records
- Healthy life
It is possible to download new applications from the App Gallery, although the catalog of available apps is quite limited. At the time of this analysis, there are only 30 apps available.
In general, the apps are of little interest and some are even in languages other than Spanish and English (for example, there is an app in Arabic). Perhaps the most interesting app is Petal Maps, which allows you to start a route and get navigation directions right on the watch.
health and sport
The built-in heart rate sensor on the back of the watch can take regular measurements while you’re wearing the watch and send them to the Health app for later reference. However, unlike some watches, it is not possible to record an electrocardiogram.
When it comes to monitoring sleep, HUAWEI WATCH Buds records your REM cycles, deep and light sleep phases, and total sleep time, measuring and scoring the time you spend sleeping and helping you improve the quality of your sleep.
The watch can also estimate SpO2 levels (the concentration of oxygen in your bloodstream), which should always be above 90%. Measurements are taken throughout the day and not just when you sleep, which is an improvement over some watches and fitness trackers.
Another feature is stress monitoring, which calculates from time to time the level of stress to which you are subjected. For the measurements to be accurate, it is necessary to initially calibrate the watch by answering a questionnaire about your stress level at that moment.
If you are an athlete, you will be happy to know that HUAWEI WATCH Buds allow you to monitor more than 80 types of training:
- Martial Arts
- fixed bar
- Parallel bars
- Mountain’s race
- Running outdoors
- treadmill running
- Walk outdoors
- walking indoors
- jazz dance
- Latin dance
- Urban dance
- dance in square
- Dance (general)
- dragon boat
- elliptical bike
- Static bike
- body combat
- BMX cycling
- Obstacle race
- cross fit
- Belly Dancing
- Horse riding
- Rock climbing
- Physical exercise
- functional exercise
- group exercise
- interval exercise
- core exercise
- strength exercise
- Rock climbing
- stair climber
- Cross country ski
- Beach Soccer
- Ice Hockey
- hula hoop
- rope game
- kick boxing
- laser tag
- Rowing machine
- ride a sleigh
- jet ski
- swimming in pool
- open water swimming
- Ice skating
- bungee jumping
- jump rope
- Parachute jump
- mountain hiking
- sepak takraw
- Climbing stairs
- stand up paddle boarding
- Tai Chi
- Table tennis
- Steering wheel
- Beach volleyball
- To fly kites
For certain exercises such as walking, running, rowing machine, and elliptical trainer, the watch can automatically detect that you are doing sports after several minutes of physical activity, and records information such as type, duration, and calories burned.
When you stop exercising for a while, the watch automatically recognizes that you have stopped and turns off that feature.
Thanks to monitoring indicators such as pace, heart rate and distance covered, the watch analyzes your running rate, training stress and load, recovery level and recovery heart rate. Based on this data, it provides tips to better plan the intensity and time of your exercises and thus improve the quality of training.
When you finish certain workouts, your run paths are automatically generated in the Health app so you can share them with your friends and invite them to join, or save them for the future.
HUAWEI offers 13 running routines that are made up of various stages and are guided by voice messages. For example, the Easy Run routine lasts 28 minutes and combines a brisk walk (3 minutes), jog (22 minutes), and brisk walk (3 minutes). This routine is indicated to get used to running long distances and is good for recovery.
Data collected by HUAWEI Health can be synced with third-party sports apps.
What makes HUAWEI WATCH Buds unique is that they store a pair of small earbuds inside, solving the problem of forgetting or losing earbuds during daily use.
These headphones are true miniature pieces of technology, as they have sound drivers integrated into an extremely limited space. Compared to traditional headphones, they are 50% smaller and take up 90% less space. With a net weight of only about 4 grams, they feel very light.
As I have already mentioned, to facilitate access to the earphones, HUAWEI WATCH Buds use an array of magnets, which allows the earphones to be attached to the top of the lid when the lid is opened. Plus, they recharge when put back in the box, with two charging rings on the surface of the earbuds that allow you to recharge at any angle.
Both earphones have the same octagonal cylindrical design and automatically detect which ear they are inserted into solely by the movement of our head. Thus, you can wear, take off and return the two headphones without having to distinguish between the left and right headphones.
If worn in the wrong orientation, the headphones intelligently correct the left and right audio channels. In addition, they are equipped with Ear Canal Adaptive technology to adapt to the structure of your ear canal.
The headset also offers Wide Area Earcup Touch controls. This means that the touch controls not only cover taps on the ear cups, but also on the pinna and the area in front of the ears. Multiple functions can be accessed simply by touching your ears, facilitating more accurate touch recognition:
- Double tap to answer or reject a call, or play or pause a song.
- Triple tap to turn noise cancellation on or off.
HUAWEI allows customization of gestures, making it easy to program what you need.
When it comes to sound quality, the headphones are equipped with a full-range planar diaphragm and deliver quite powerful, full-frequency, high-resolution audio, especially considering their small size.
They support AAC, SBC and L2HD (proprietary HUAWEI) audio codecs. They also include an equalization setting in the Health app itself to fine tune the audio output.
In addition to listening to music, the headphones incorporate two microphones with audio pickup and a bone conduction sensor. The two microphones can pick up both voice and ambient sound, while the bone conduction sensor identifies sounds through reverberations in the user’s bones and absorbs their voice, distinguishing it from ambient noise.
The captured audio is processed using a noise reduction algorithm that cancels out noise and enhances voices to deliver clearer sound on calls. In practice, active noise cancellation works well, although it falls short of the isolation achieved with full-ear headphones.
One drawback of the headphones is that they only connect to the watch and the paired smartphone, not being able to connect it with other devices you use, such as a laptop, tablet or television.
The new watch is on sale for €499 (see offers on Amazon), which is a bit high, but it must be understood as a combination of watch and wireless headphones.
There is no watch on the market (that I know of) that offers a similar proposition, so its competitors are conventional smartwatches and wireless headphones.
A good alternative is the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro, which has a 1.4″ Super AMOLED screen, Exynos W920 processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, 590 mAh battery and IP68 water resistance. It is on sale from €339 for the Bluetooth version.
HUAWEI WATCH Buds is a stylish-looking smartwatch with a circular face design similar to a conventional watch. It has a stainless steel case on which the sphere covered by a 3D glass curved at the edges is located.
With a thickness of 15 mm and a weight of 66.5 grams, this is one of the most voluminous watches that we can find on the market. The reason must be found in its most unique feature: the watch houses a pair of wireless headphones inside that can be accessed by lifting the screen cover.
This unusual cap construction has unfortunately meant that the HUAWEI WATCH Buds do not offer great water resistance, so you cannot use them for water sports or wear them in the pool or shower.
The HUAWEI WATCH Buds’ screen looks great and achieves reasonably good brightness values (although not as good as other rivals), ensuring proper visibility outdoors. In addition, it has a lighting sensor that adjusts the brightness of the screen to the ambient light automatically.
Its AMOLED panel offers deep blacks, vivid colors and wide viewing angles. HUAWEI offers the possibility that the screen remains always on, with a dimmed brightness level and a simplified interface to hardly consume battery, but showing relevant information even in color.
As for the hardware, HUAWEI does not give information about its internal components, but the watch is capable of moving the interface and apps smoothly and, in daily use, I have not experienced stops or slowness when opening or closing apps. Now, one aspect that I don’t like so much is that, once you exit an app, it closes and the next time you enter it doesn’t remember where you left off.
HUAWEI also does not reveal the capacity of the battery, but claims that it offers 3 days combined autonomy watch + headphones. It is a lower value than those offered by other watches of the brand, as expected since a good part of the interior space is occupied by the headphones, instead of by a battery, since this battery is shared by the watch and headphones .
In my experience, I have achieved a range of about 6 days, with heart rate monitoring, sleep phases, stress and SpO2 active, but without using headphones or GPS. At the moment when you start to use the headphones frequently, the autonomy of the set is reduced to the promised 3 days.
The battery is charged through a magnetic connector that is attached to the back and takes just over 1 hour. In addition, it supports standard Qi wireless charging, and if you have a smartphone with reverse wireless charging, you can charge it on its back.
HUAWEI WATCH Buds run HarmonyOS 3.0, the home’s proprietary operating system. Notifications coming to the phone are displayed on the HUAWEI WATCH Buds screen, but you can barely interact with notifications from the watch. Only some default responses are included for certain apps.
The watch connects to the phone only via Bluetooth, and connection via WiFi or eSIM is not possible, so the watch must be close to the phone for them to be connected
It does not have a speaker or microphone, so it is not possible to make and answer calls from the watch itself, but it is necessary to use the integrated headphones.
The watch incorporates a good number of standard applications to control music playback (stored on the phone or even on the watch itself), set alarms, measure heart rate, record workouts, etc.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to make mobile payments, since this functionality is not available in our country.
HUAWEI’s ecosystem of apps is quite limited compared to Google’s Wear OS or Apple’s watchOS. Apps such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook or the Google suite are missed (Google Maps is not available, for example). In fact, at the time of writing this review, there are only 30 apps available for download and many of them are in languages other than Spanish and English.
HUAWEI has incorporated sensors that allow you to monitor your heart rate, measure your blood oxygen saturation level throughout the day, record your stress level, and monitor your sleep hours and quality. It does not have a temperature sensor or barometer.
The HUAWEI WATCH Buds is capable of monitoring more than 80 workouts. For some exercises, the watch can automatically detect the start and end of the workout. For the rest, you have to start them manually from the watch. While you’re doing it, you can see useful information on the watch, and of course, when you’re done, all the information is saved.
The watch has integrated GPS that measures distances and records our routes when we go out for a run without having to carry the phone on our backs.
The differential aspect of this watch is that it has a pair of small wireless headphones that are stored and charged inside, under the cover that houses the screen. The two earbuds are identical and you can insert them into either ear as they automatically detect which side they are on and adjust the audio channel.
Despite their small size, they incorporate microphones for conversations and offer active noise cancellation. The sound quality is quite good, especially considering its small size and its light weight, only 4 grams.
One drawback to these headphones is that they only connect to the watch and the paired smartphone, not to other devices you use. Its autonomy is not the best either, since they offer about three hours of use with active noise cancellation before running out of battery.
In conclusion, HUAWEI WATCH Buds are an excellent option if you want to “forget to forget” your headphones when you leave home, record your physical activity, monitor your health, and not miss notifications. However, it has some limitations that are not present in other watches.
- Attractive design in stainless steel, resistant glass and leather strap.
- Circular AMOLED display with high resolution, reasonable brightness, wide viewing angles, deep blacks, vivid colors, and an always-on display mode.
- Good performance that makes the interface and apps move smoothly, without stopping.
- Qi standard wireless charging that allows you to use a conventional wireless charger or a smartphone with reverse charging.
- Health monitoring with recording of heart rate, blood saturation, hours and phases of sleep and stress level.
- Sports activity monitoring with more than 80 training sessions available. Automatic detection of the start/end of some exercises.
- Integrated GPS to measure distances and record routes.
- Compatibility with Android and iOS smartphones.
- It integrates compact headphones with good sound quality, active noise cancellation, automatic detection of left or right ear and touch controls on a large part of the ear.
- Compartment inside the watch to store the headphones and charge them automatically.
- Ideal for those who frequently lose their headphones or forget them when leaving home.
- Oversized watch, which does not suit people with small wrists.
- More limited app ecosystem than Wear OS by Google or watchOS by Google.
- Absence of ECG recording, blood pressure monitoring, fall/accident detection, or body temperature reading.
- More limited autonomy than other HUAWEI smartwatches.
- Not possible to interact with most notifications (except quick responses for some)
- It is not possible to make payments from the watch.
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