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Huawei Fit review: A stylish design isn't enough

Huawei's fitness smartwatch is stylish and has some noteworthy features, but the software falls short of the competition.

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Dan Graziano
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Dan Graziano

Associate Editor / How To

Dan Graziano is an associate editor for CNET. His work has appeared on BGR, Fox News, Fox Business, and Yahoo News, among other publications. When he isn't tinkering with the latest gadgets and gizmos, he can be found enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City.

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The Huawei Fit is like so many other wearables on the market. It's a good device on paper, but ultimately fails to dethrone Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung.

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6.7

Huawei Fit

The Good

The Huawei Fit is lightweight, comfortable to wear, and has week-long battery life. It can track daily activities, including heart rate, and can show notifications from your phone. It can be worn in the shower and while swimming.

The Bad

The display is dull and touchscreen is difficult to operate when working out. There's no GPS or automatic exercise detection. The Huawei app lacks any sort of social features.

The Bottom Line

The Huawei Fit is a capable fitness smartwatch, but the software falls short of the competition.

Why does that keep happening? Because the software doesn't live up to the hardware. The Fit can track all of the basics: Steps, distance, calories burned, sleep and heart rate, which it does automatically every 10 minutes. It also doubles as an entry-level smartwatch, and can display notifications from your iPhone or Android device. This includes calls, text messages, emails and any third-party apps.

The watch is also swim-proof and equipped with a battery that will last up to a week. But, it's not that simple anymore. The wearable market is changing and getting more competitive. There are a ton of devices out there that can measure your daily activities, more than anyone needs. It's not about the device, it's about the platform. Unfortunately the Huawei app falls short of the competition in that regard.

The Huawei Fit is available now for $130 (about £105 and AU$170).

Fitness first

Huawei is positioning the Fit as a fitness watch. It features workout profiles for running, walking, biking, treadmill running and swimming, but it doesn't include built-in GPS. If you want real-time (and accurate) data on your pace and distance, you will have to run with your smartphone.

Huawei calls this "connected GPS", but unlike from what we've seen on the Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Blaze, this feature doesn't actually show any information on the watch itself. The watch is able to broadcast your heart rate to the app, but it would have been better if you could actually see your running data on your wrist.

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The Huawei Fit (center) compared to the Samsung Gear Fit 2 (left) and Fitbit Charge 2 (right).

Sarah Tew/CNET

Another problem for everyday fitness is the lack of physical buttons. The Huawei Fit has a clean design, but this minimalist style isn't ideal for working out. The touchscreen can be difficult to operate with sweaty fingers. There is the option to flick your wrist to change screens, but this isn't even available in workout mode.

Oddly, the Fit's display is easy to read when outdoors, but dull and hard to read when you step inside. The Fit also lacks automatic exercise detection like we've seen in trackers from Fitbit and Samsung.

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The Huawei Fit can display a wide-range of notifications from your iPhone or Android phone.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Huawei app

The redesigned Huawei Wear app for Android and iOS provides access to all of your activity information and can customize which app notifications show up on your wrist. While I generally wasn't a huge fan of the app, it has one feature that's a pleasant surprise: training plans.

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Here's the training program the Huawei Wear app created for my upcoming half marathon.

Sarah Tew/CNET

You have the option to build a workout program for an upcoming race ranging from a 5k to a full marathon, tailored specifically to you. The program adapts if you start to fall behind. It's actually very interesting, especially to me as an everyday runner. These are the kind of things you usually have to pay extra for, but Huawei provides it for free.

But while the app is easy to use, it's far from perfect. You can't friend or compete with others like you can with Fitbit and Garmin. There are no challenges, no badges and no rewards. With the exception of the training program, there is nothing motivating you to keep using the watch. It's a solo experience.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Stranded in the middle

The Huawei Fit isn't a bad device, but it doesn't have its own identity. Is this a workout watch? I'm not sure. The lack of built-in GPS makes me say no. It is, however, a fully capable fitness tracker with some nice smart features.

Yes, it's lightweight and comfortable to wear. It also looks better on my wrist than a Fitbit does. As a fitness tracker, it performs well, and the week-long battery life is hard to beat. I guess if you don't care about social features or having to run with your phone, then the Huawei Fit is an appealing enough fitness tracker and/or entry-level smartwatch.

But most people are still better off getting a Fitbit Charge 2. It has a vibrant social community, and a very good app that keeps you motivated and coming back for more. Other options I like more include the Samsung Gear Fit 2, or for a waterproof design, check out one of Garmin's watches.

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6.7

Huawei Fit

Score Breakdown

Design 8Battery 8Performance 6Software 6Features 7