Huawei Watch 2 LTE review: Your Apple Watch 3 alternative

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The Good The Huawei Watch 2 is one of few watches that supports 4G connectivity, though not in the US, and does fitness tracking as well as any other wearable.

The Bad No features that make this a must-have device for the average user. It's also a little too big and bulky, and its 1.2-inch screen is too small.

The Bottom Line Within the category of smartwatches, the Huawei Watch 2 is a great device. But that doesn't mean it's one you need to buy if you're not already sold on wearables.

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7.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Battery 6
  • Performance 8
  • Software 7
  • Features 9

The Apple Watch Series 3 ($199 at Best Buy) offers 4G support, meaning you can receive calls, notifications and more without the use of your iPhone ($188 at Amazon). That's great -- if you have an iPhone. Android users are left without though, as the Apple Watch is only compatible with iOS. That's where Huawei steps in… for some parts of the world, at least. It's one of the few cellular-equipped Android-capable watches on the market besides the Samsung Gear S3 ($474 at Amazon).

The Huawei Watch 2 with cellular will set you back AU$599 (which converts to roughly $470, £350). That puts it in the same price bracket as the Apple Watch 3  and Samsung's Gear S3. The 3G connectivity is restricted to Australia, as the Watch 2 sold in the US comes without the ability to connect to mobile networks (and sells for $299, £219).

Ian Knighton/CNET

The Watch 2 looks similar to Samsung's Gear S3 but without the rotating bezels: it's a classic, traditional-looking round sport watch. While it's too bulky for my personal tastes, I did get compliments from friends who found the Watch 2 to be stylish. I am, however, a tall man with fat wrists, so the device's heft is less noticeable on me than it would be on the average person.

The Watch 2's standout feature, like the latest Apple Watch, is cellular connectivity. But do you really need a cellular watch?

You think you want it

Smartwatches are coming along, but they've yet to deliver on their promise and become a truly essential piece of technology. In a similar way, a smartwatch you can slot a SIM card in sounds like a tangible step into the future. For me, however, it ended up not making a huge difference. I almost always have my phone on me, so I don't actually need a cellular watch.

But maybe that's just me.

To find the extra connectivity useful, you need to be doing activities where you're helped by having internet access and hindered by carrying a phone. The midsection of that Venn diagram is smaller than you might think. Running or cycling, where you want to listen to music and be contactable but don't want to have a fragile phone dangling around in your pocket, are the only situations that come to mind.  

Ian Knighton/CNET

The Huawei Watch 2 runs Android Wear 2.0. The only apps that currently offer 4G support on the platform are Uber, Google Play Music, Facebook Messenger and, for some reason, Foursquare. I can see Uber being useful; you'll be able to hail a car if your phone dies on a night out, for instance. Google Play Music will let you stream music without your phone, which is great -- but it's a letdown that the more popular Spotify doesn't offer the same.

You'll also be able to receive messages and make calls using the Watch. This worked surprisingly well, as people I talked to through my watch couldn't tell I wasn't using a phone.

Another connectivity addition is NFC, which enables Android Pay. The Huawei Watch 2 can pay for stuff with a flick of the wrist -- if your bank is supported. I'm with Commonwealth Bank, which is sadly an Android Pay no-go. Westpac and ANZ are both compatible, though. Check here for a full list of participating banks. Again, this won't be available on the U.S. version of the watch. 

Big bulky watch feel

Huawei's main smartwatch competition are Samsung, Apple and now Fitbit. All three brands have released slimmer watches in the last few months.

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