wearables

Honor MagicWatch 2 review: A budget smartwatch meant for health-conscious users

While the ‘simple look and feel’ works for many, Honor MagicWatch 2 misses out on what gadget reviewers describe as ‘premium’. Read our review to find out more.

Honor MagicWatch 2 review.
Honor MagicWatch 2 review. (Honor)

 Brand:Honor
Product name: Honor MagicWatch 2
Key specs: 1.39-inch AMOLED display, 5ATM water resistance , Bluetooth calling, 14-day battery life
Price: 11,999 (base model)
Rating: 3/5

It is difficult to find a quality smartwatch that isn't an Apple Watch. Sure, there's Tizen-based Samsung Galaxy Watch lineup, and they're good as well. But, you have to really look very hard to find a good alternative. This is why I had great deal of expectations when I began using Honor MagicWatch 2. I'd hoped Honor MagicWatch 2 will be as good as others, if not better.

Honor MagicWatch 2 looks like your traditional watches with circular front and leather straps. It's ironic how 'smart' watches want to look like traditional watches. Sarcasm aside, MagicWatch 2 has a very simplistic look and feel. At first glance, you may not think of it as a 'smartwatch'. And it's not negative at all. Let's dive deeper into the design.

The Honor Magic Watch 2 comes with 42mm/46mm dial. The display is a 1.39-inch AMOLED touch panel with 454 x 454 resolution at 326ppi. The circular dial has two elements - first the display and a metallic bezel around it that has time notations. On the sides, you have two buttons. We had the "Flex Brown" color variant which essentially has metallic (stainless steel-like finish) while the strap is of brown leather.

While the 'simple look and feel' works for many, Honor MagicWatch 2 misses out on what gadget reviewers describe as 'premium'. In simpler words, MagicWatch 2 doesn't look expensive enough (in case you wanted to show it off to your friend who always showed off his/her Apple Watch). At 11,999, I think Honor wasn't even trying for that elusive premium factor. The leather straps are slightly dull. After using it for several days, the shinewent away. The wrinkles on the strap became more prominent. Any commentary on looks, however, is quite subjective.

Another thing I have always wanted from my watches, or in this case a smartwatch, is comfort. The MagicWatch 2 does well here. I have used it continuously for almost 24 hours (except for shower breaks) on many days and it never felt uncomfortable.

Smart things

Since it's a smartwatch, let's talk about the smart things you can do with it. First, you need to pair the watch with your phone. We paired it with our Android smartphone via Huawei's Health. You add the device through the app and rest you can set as per the instructions or features within the application.

There are a few preloaded watch faces and if you want some more, you can always download it from Huawei's store. Note you need to create a Huawei ID to get started with the app store. I didn't create one.

You can preview SMSes and respond to calls from the watch. HonorMagic Watch 2, when paired, also lets you talk through the watch. The audio quality over the watch is average if not the best. The thing it works is a great addition to a 12,000 smartwatch.

Interface & Features

One of things I liked about the Galaxy Watch was the rotating bezels. Bundled with reliable Tizen software, Samsung Galaxy Watch series is a fine example of hardware-software balance. I really missed this ease-of-use on the Honor MagicWatch 2. The wearable runs on a propriety software "LiteOS."

The interface is just about okay. It's not difficult to get around things (features) but on some occasions I found it to be slightly sluggish. The two-button structure is a fine setup to navigate for features. For instance, the top button summons apps and settings. The bottom one lets you enter fitness-based features.

Honor MagicWatch 2 relies on Huawei Health app which can be further amplified with several third-party app integrations.

Fitness

The biggest strength of Honor MagicWatch 2 is the fitness features. The device comes with 15 goal-based fitness modes and 13 different running courses. Those who gym, swim trek or run, Honor MagicWatch 2 is definitely worth checking out. The 5ATM water resistance is also an added advantage for fitness enthusiasts. Here's the thing, I don't exercise much (actually, not at all), yet the Honor MagicWatch 2 still managed to make me think/care about my health.

The first thing that lead to that was the real-time heart rate monitor. The Health app has a detailed dashboard that shows your heart rates for the day, week and even a month. Another thing is the sleep tracking. The sleep section shows your average sleep time. Metrics such as the deep sleep time and a number of times you were awake during the night really encouraged me to alter my daily routine to get more quality sleep. The stress data is another feature I used extensively on the device. It takes a minute to give you your report. If you've high-stress levels, the smartwatch also encourages you to seek help.

There's calorie counter, step counter and more which you can find in any entry-level fitness band. The watch also alerts you to get up and stretch in case you've been sitting in one position for a very long time.

Verdict

Overall, Honor MagicWatch 2 is a fine wearable with a few hits and misses. I liked the battery life in particular. It's not 14-days backup as claimed but managed to squeeze up to 10-11 days on a full charge. At 11,999, it's not very expensive either. Unlike me, fitness enthusiasts have a lot more to look forward to from the watch. The wide range of health features makes it a compelling proposition for them. But those, who're looking for just a "smartwatch" as an accessory, probably more premium smartwatches like Galaxy Watch are more suitable.