Honor Magic Watch 2 full review
Honor, the Huawei sub-brand, is becoming more and more popular in the UK market. It doesn’t just offer high-quality smartphones though, with its smartwatches becoming increasingly competent.
Like its phones, the smartwatches it launches aren’t quite as popular as the Huawei models. That’s not necessarily a bad sign, as Honor has become known for its ability to create high quality products for an affordable price.
In this review, we’re focusing on one of the most recent products the company has launched, the Honor Magic Watch 2. This smartwatch comes in two different sizes (42mm and 46mm), which Honor claims will provide up to 14 days of battery life.
We’ve been testing the Magic Watch 2 for a few days, in order to tell you all about its design, quality, specs and performance. Does this new Honor wearable really last as long as advertised? We’ll tell you all this and more in our full review of the Honor Magic Watch 2.
Price and availability
The Honor Magic Watch is available now, with the 46mm variant at £159.99 on Amazon. You'll save £10 if you opt for the 42mm model.
Honor has also unveiled special editions of the Magic Watch 2, a collaboration with various artists and designers. The Magic Watch 2 is curiously not available on its UK site, so we'd recommend going through a third party.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s not available in the US, but that translates to around $210 if you're thinking of importing.
Design and build
If we compare it to the original Honor Watch Magic, we can clearly see how the Watch 2 has refined its design, with a larger screen and more varied aesthetic. There are four different models in all: Agate Black and Sakura Gold with a 42mm face, and Flax Brown and Charcoal Black with the larger 46mm front panel.
The 46mm watch also has a higher resolution (454x454 as opposed to 390x390) and of course a larger screen (1.39 and 1.2in). All variants come with AMOLED technology, though, which we’re pleased to see.
The sizes of both models does have an effect on battery life, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.
Both sizes offer a sporty and elegant model. For the purposes of this review, we’ll be focusing on the 46mm Black model which we were able to test.
We enjoyed wearing the watch: it feels like a quality device, complete with a nice 361L stainless steel finish and black rubber strap. Its design clearly has sport in mind, but its simplicity makes it suitable for a number of purposes.
The fact it’s made from 361L stainless steel makes it so much more resistant to corrosion. This means the exterior of the watch should last much longer than other watches without this certification.
The aforementioned water resistance means the Magic Watch 2 can be submerged up to 50 metres, making it perfect for those who like to track their swimming in the pool.
It feels particularly light when you wear it, due in part to it weighing just 41g. It’s comfortable to wear to the extent that we soon forget it’s on our wrist.
Just like the previous model, on the right there’s two distinct navigation buttons. These will take us to two different menus, or they can be customised as shortcuts to specific applications. From an aesthetic point of view, we feel they protrude too much, and we often started exercises or opened applications by mistake.
Its design is very similar to the Huawei Watch GT 2, and we also think it bears a few similarities to the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, especially if you look at the 42mm model.
However, we shouldn’t think of these likenesses as a negative, in fact quite the opposite. The Huawei and Samsung watches have achieved great success, which proves that this a tried and trusted design which pleases the majority of smartwatch owners. Why wouldn’t you imitate what other devices do well, particularly if you can undercut them on price?
As you may be aware, AMOLED screens such as the one on the Magic Watch 2 is able to use less energy and show greater levels of contrast than other types of screen, something you can really notice on this watch.
The screen looks and feels quality, responds perfectly to touch and looks great in bright environments.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that you can choose between a number of different watch faces. In truth, they all have quite a similar, sporty style. We found that the more basic designs still allow you to see everything you want at a glance.
However, if you use the Huawei Health app on your phone, there’s a much more varied selection of faces which you can install whenever you like.
The powerful battery on the Magic Watch 2 is surely its most remarkable feature. Honor claims the larger 46mm model is able to last 14 days before you reach for the charger, while the 42mm variant promises 7 days.
One of the main drivers behind this is the Kirin A1 chip, which we will talk about in more detail later. The combination of a 455mAh battery and AMOLED screen means the battery life is truly outstanding.
When compared to the original Magic Watch’s 178mAh cell, Honor has been able to more double the battery capacity.
This all sounds great on paper, but how did it perform in reality? We were very pleased with the watch’s battery life, but it fell some way short of the 14-day figure that Honor claims.
In our testing, the battery lasted 7 days, 22 hours and 30 minutes, despite using the larger 46mm model.
We feel our usage was pretty typical, too. We tracked some of our walks, answered some calls and received some WhatsApp notifications (the only app we had turned on).
While it’s disappointing to get little over half the battery life Honor states, a whole week without having to charge is still a very positive figure.
Charging time is also pretty good - in half an hour the Magic Watch 2 charged 52%, while it took just under an hour to be fully charged and ready for another full week.
In addition to the slight refinements in terms of design when compared to the previous Magic Watch, a more substantial improvement is the new Kirin A1 processor, which was developed by HiSilicon exclusively for wearables. This chip works in tandem with the LiteOS operating system, which we’ll go into more detail on later.
This is the same chip as can be found in the Huawei Watch GT 2 and the Huawei FreeBuds 3. It might sound ambitious, but this processor is aiming to catch up to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 3100. In truth, its performance on the Magic Watch 2 doesn’t put it in a bad position.
A headlining feature of this chip is its Bluetooth 5.1 technology, which means you can even receive calls using the Magic Watch 2 when your smartphone is 150 metres away.
In our experience, this worked really well. When you receive an incoming call, the clock vibrates on your wrist and prompts you to either accept or decline. The built-in microphone means you can talk via the watch without having to raise it towards your mouth.
This means you can continue with whatever you’re doing, even moving your hands, while the call remains clear and easily audible.
Of course, this works like a loudspeaker, so you probably won’t be interested in using this function if there’s lots of people around or you’re in public.
It’s also compatible with Bluetooth LE 5.1 and capable of supporting bandwidths up to 6.5Mbps, although it will only use 2.3Mbps for regular quality sound.
There’s 4GB of storage on board, of which you can use 2GB to save and play music directly from the watch. Unfortunately, you can’t install other apps, so this will be the only way to use up this capacity.
The processor also has dual frequency GPS, which allows a more advanced location tracking with reduced error margin.
The Magic Watch 2 also comes with various sensors that sports fans will enjoy using. This comes in addition to all the software dedicated to physical activity and health, making this watch a very good device to use as a fitness tracker.
As with many state-of-the-art smart watches, it comes with heart rate monitoring, atrial fibrillation reader, accelerometer, gyroscope and barometer. In the following section we’ll talk in-depth about how the Magic Watch 2 takes advantage of all these sensors.
As mentioned in the previous sections, the Honor Magic Watch 2 comes with a Kirin A1 chip, which powers its wearable operating system, LiteOS.
It has a simple and easy interface for navigation, with everything controlled through the two physical side buttons. The top one allows you to access the entire library of apps, while the one below gives you options for different types of physical activity.
These can be customised, so you can use these buttons to directly trigger apps you use more frequently.
When using the watch, we did find ourselves starting exercises by mistake, as the side buttons were pressed accidentally while taking off our coat or walking.
Both buttons allow you to scroll through the list of applications in order to choose the one you need. The system is very responsive to the touch, making navigation simpler and less frustrating than in other smartwatches.
As you might have come to expect with a Huawei-owned device, there are no Google applications installed. However, what’s more disappointing is that there’s no option to install any other software on the phone.
You are at least able to choose which applications you’d like to receive notifications from on the watch, but you won’t be able to respond to them in any way directly from the device.
To get the most out of the watch, you’ll have to download the Huawei Health app on your phone. In our case, we used an Honor 20 Pro to ensure maximum synchronicity between devices. However, in truth any Android or iOS device should work fine.
Pairing for us was fast, simple and very intuitive. It should be the same for you, provided you follow the steps that appear on the phone and the watch.
The Magic Watch 2 allows you to record up to 15 different activities; 8 outdoor and 7 indoor. You can measure different aspects of each physical activity, including blood oxygen saturation.
In testing, we used it to measure some long walks around London. As you can see from the image below, the information is arranged in a very intuitive way.
You can also activate a setting which allows you to receive motivational voice commands while training, which should definitely keep you going. Speaking of motivation, the Magic Watch 2 is able to detect when you haven’t moved in an hour, and will encourage you to stand up.
One of our favourite features was the sleep monitoring, thanks to Huawei’s TruSleep 2.0. All you need to do is keep the watch on your wrist at night, and then open the Health app the next day to see a detailed breakdown.
In the app, once you create a profile all your physical activity is recorded, alongside data about your sleep. The information is impressively varied; you’ll get plenty of detail on the length of different sleep cycles and overall sleep quality, amongst others.
Huawei is able to identify up to 6 typical patterns of sleep disorders, as well as offering tips, suggestions and extra information to help you get the best possible night’s sleep. What’s more the 7-day battery life means it should be able to track your sleep without you even noticing.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Magic Watch 2 can be used as a stress measurement sensor. This tool can be used to better understand your stress levels, and monitoring them can give a good indicator of your mental health.
The Honor Magic Watch 2 is an excellent watch with great performance and impressive battery life. While there is nothing remarkable about the aesthetics of its design, this is something we liked - it’s classic, simple and sporty, all at the same time.
The hardware screams quality and durability: this is clearly a device designed to last a long time, helping us to maintain a healthy lifestyle over a longer period of time.
We enjoyed the variety of data it is able to provide on physical activity, as well as the other measurements on the likes of sleep, stress and heart rate. This can all be found within the Huawei Health app, which is intuitive, easy to use and very useful.
However, it’s not perfect. As a Huawei device, we cannot install any of our own apps so have to stick with how it is out of the box, which greatly limits its potential. There’s also no ability to respond to messages directly from the watch, while we definitely miss the lack of NFC and therefore support for contactless payments.
If you can look past these small inconveniences, the Honor Magic Watch 2 is an excellent smartwatch, which greatly improves on its predecessor and offers very good value for money.
Note: This story was originally published in Spanish on our sister site, PC World Spain.