Honor MagicWatch 2 Smartwatch Review: The Huawei clone convinces with graphical fitness charts
Within the close family circle, two new watches are added to the first MagicWatch from Honor: A larger one with the same sporty design of the predecessor, and a visually more delicate version with the smaller size of the first version. Huawei has also followed the same script, only earlier. We already took a look at the larger 46-mm version of the two Huawei Watch GT 2 models in October. Both models lack the main functionality of what makes it a real smartwatch: The option to add functions individually to the wearable by installing your own apps. So we can already say that you cannot install bidirectional messaging apps or something like Strava. On the other hand, the Honor Watch shows a high-quality workmanship, and in the health and fitness arena, the onboard functions deliver a lot of information that is clearly presented by the good display.
Case and Equipment – The Honor watch has a speaker
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At a first glance into the box, the round magnetic charger already confirms the parallels to Huawei. It is small and handy, and you do not need to take an additional cable on your trips, as long as you already have a USB-C cable for your smartphone with you. Beginning with the storage sizes that are specified above on this page, continuing with the always-on display and the high-quality workmanship, and up to the operation using the touch display and the two buttons on the sides, the hardware is exactly the same as described in the review of the Huawei Watch GT 2.
The few differences are only of a visual nature: The top button offers a more sporty design with its red accent, and instead of the 24-hour bezel that had been engraved more elaborately into the watch glass, Honor has moved the tachymeter scale of its own series below the watch glass. Honor also moved the scaling to the transition area between the outer bezel and the display, causing the areas to blend well into one another.
You can optionally get the 46-mm stainless steel case either in silver with a brown leather watchband or in black with a black silicone band. All the watchbands have a quick-lock mechanism. According to the manufacturer, the silver watch with the leather watchband, which costs 20 Euros (~$21) more, also includes an additional silicone band.
Honor has placed a mini speaker on the bottom between the two buttons. When a Bluetooth headset is not connected, coaching announcements during the workout as well as music are output via the speaker directly. In combination with the smartphone, you can also use it to make phone calls. The optical heart-rate sensor is placed at the bottom.
Setup and Operation – A wearable with buttons and touchscreen
The connection is created via the Huawei Health app, which allows you to set up the required account. This works fairly easily with the smartphones from Honor and Huawei, and the app can also be installed simply on an iPhone from the App Store. The only limitations on an iPhone become apparent in the lower amount of additional watch faces and in the lack of support of transferring music to the watch.
Those who want to install the Health app on a different Android smartphone also have to install the Huawei Mobile Services in version 4 or higher. At the time of our testing, the latest version in the Play Store is version 3.0.3 from December 19, 2019. So here, you won't get around having to download and install an APK, which can be found on some APK platforms on the Internet.
The watch is operated via gestures and the two buttons. The top button opens the main menu and the bottom button directly opens a freely configurable menu item, so it functions like a shortcut. A Quick Panel that opens from the top edge of the display offers additional direct access options, such as access to the DND mode, activation of the always-on display, and the function to "find my phone." It also shows the connection status and charge status of the smartwatch. While you can open the notifications from the bottom, you cannot respond to them. The Honor also includes the same bug as the Huawei Watch GT 2, where notifications are often listed multiple times.
Swiping from the side will show the music player, which can optionally either control the smartphone or play music that is stored on the smartwatch directly. Continued swiping will then show the weather, the activity display, heart rate, and stress diagrams. You can view the charts of the activities and fitness information collected during the day directly on the wearable. These demonstrate a high quality, because not only do they look good on the app, but they already look very good and not the least bit unclear on the large and sharp OLED of the 46-mm test unit.
There are 13 preinstalled watch faces, which, in the case of an Apple smartphone, can only be changed on the Honor wearable. In Android smartphones, you can also change them using the app and also download additional watch faces. In terms of their color, some of them follow the Honor corporate design, which was refreshed in 2018, representing another detail where the MagicWatch 2 differs from the Huawei Watch.
The Health app offers some settings for 24/7 monitoring of the heart rate and tracking of activities and sleep, which you should take a look at and configure.
Training – A fitness tracker with graphics rich in detail
The Honor offers 15 training modes to athletes, which include cross trainer, rowing ergometer, swimming, training run, and triathlon, as well as 13 training programs for runners of different levels.
Thanks to independent locating via GPS and GLONASS, the outdoor activities can be recorded independent of the smartphone, and this also includes the elevation. While the position is not always located accurately, the locating at short intervals still captures some smaller loops, as you can see in the image below.
If you like, you can get some announcements about the tempo and heart rate during training, or even about the current effect of the training. The announcements are in English. German was not available during the time of our testing.
After the training session, and even for days afterwards, you can view the details directly on the fitness tracker. The clear charts on the small display area are also convincing here.
The smartphone also displays some more data, such as the times for each round during the running training. In particular, the app allows you to consolidate up to three parameters in a single chart. Using the Health app, you can also share the data with Google Fit and MyFitnessPal. At this point, the app does not offer any additional import or export functions, such as for the GPS routes or training data.
According to the manufacturer, the MagicWatch 2 is waterproof down to 50 m according to the ISO 22810:2010 standard, but it specifically states that it should not be worn while snorkeling, or under hot water, in the steam bath, or sauna.
Battery and Runtime – Comparable with fitness trackers
Honor specifies a battery life of up to two weeks for the 455-mAh battery of the 46-mm watch. Our practice test scenario consists of about three hours of active fitness tracking with GPS but without music, two nights of wearing it constantly to test sleep tracking, and otherwise an average amount of use. With this mix, it lasted for 10 days. The fact that the Honor wearable recognizes when it is taken off and then does not send notifications or incoming calls generally has a power-saving effect. Huawei specifies a battery life of seven days and battery size of 215 mAh for the 42-mm smartwatch.
The Honor Magic Watch 2 is a great watch whose quality is primarily due to the good display. Without the sharp OLED, not only would the enjoyment of the informative charts be diminished, but the watch faces would literally also pale. With the help of the training coach, athletes can analyze and improve their performance. However, they have to be content with an isolated system. This should particularly impact those who like to share their athletic successes on platforms such as Strava.
In terms of its price, the MagicWatch 2 falls between the similarly equipped Huawei Watch GT 2 and the watches from Huami (that are valuated higher in the manufacturer's own portfolio).
The Honor smartwatch is a more affordable alternative particularly to the Huawei Watch GT 2, which has a similar format. Depending on the watchband and case, its suggested retail price lies between 199 and 249 Euros (~$213-$266), while Honor only asks for 179 Euros (~$191) for the version with the silicone band and 199 Euros (~$213) for the version with the leather watchband. On the other hand, the street prices have already dropped more for the Huawei than for the Honor smartwatch. For example, you can already get the Watch GT 2 starting from 179 Euros (~$191), while the price of the MagicWatch 2 has not dropped much at currently about 164 Euros (~$175). Smartwatches like the Amazfit GTS from Huami are even more affordable. The street prices for the upper price segment in the manufacturer's own portfolio currently lie between 100 and 140 Euros (~$107-$150), depending on the model.