Huawei Watch Fit or Honor Watch ES? The smartwatch review shows more differences than expected
Features - Honor Watch without GPS
Already with the case, regardless of the colors, there are the first differences. Honor relies on plastic and the silicone straps sit between conventional clasps.
Huawei mentions two versions of the Watch Fit on its website: While the case of the Active Edition is made of plastic and the straps of silicone, the display and plastic back of the Elegant Edition are held together by a metal frame. The strap connector is integrated here. All cases are waterproof to 5 ATM.
Huawei uses OLED for the display and Honor uses a Samsung AMOLED. Both resolve on a diagonal of 1.64 inches with 280x456, resulting in a pixel density of 326 PPI. Both have a light sensor for automatic brightness regulation and a sensor for measuring heart rate and blood oxygen saturation. Despite 4 GB internal memory, they cannot store music. Part of the memory is occupied by animated exercise instructions for the new fitness workouts.
Both wearables support assisted GPS via the smartphone; only the Huawei Watch Fit has GPS integrated internally. Neither have NFC, loudspeaker nor a microphone.
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Software - On the iPhone and third-party smartphones with limitations
The connection with an iPhone requires the app Huawei Health, and on the Android smartphone the app Huawei Mobile Services. The latter has been out of date in the Play Store for some time. One way to install all components is to use the Huawei App Gallery, which can be found on the website consumer.huawei.com/en/campaign/mobile-services.
Via the health app you can install additional dials and set the parameters for health monitoring.
The system is closed, so you cannot install additional apps. The functions focus on tracking workouts and health factors such as heart rate, stress levels and sleep analysis as well as various tools such as appointment reminders, timers or using the screen as a flashlight. Incoming messages show calls, but you can't answer them and incoming calls can only be rejected or you have to use a smartphone as an alternative.
Not everything can be used without restrictions: For example, remote control of the smartphone camera only works with smartphones with Huawei's Emotion UI (EMUI 8.1 and higher) or Honor's Magic UI (2.0 and higher). iPhone owners in particular should take a look at the small print at the end of the manufacturer's website before buying. The exceptions there are, for example, the control of music playback, not surprisingly, and also the availability of additional dials and the cycle tracker for women. Huawei also excludes the alarm function in connection with an iPhone if the heart rate is too low.
Health and Fitness - Extensive Tracking
Both fitness trackers measure steps, distance and calorie consumption during the day, and they monitor sleep when worn at night. Nearly all analyses, including nightly sleep duration and quality, can be read directly from the wrist.
The corresponding diagrams on the smartphone take longer periods of time into account. The heart rate is determined by the Honor device correctly both at rest and under stress; however, during longer recordings, such as during a workout, the measurement on the test device was repeatedly interrupted for a short period of time, resulting in a drop in the average value at the end. The Huawei Watch Fit did not reveal any dropouts but recorded the average heart rate under stress in several runs with about eight beats fewer than a chest strap, which is considered the most reliable method of measuring heart rate. The blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), on the other hand, determined both with high accuracy, as a medically certified measuring device in the test proved.
Guided breathing exercises are designed to help you to cope better with a stressful everyday life, with Huawei TruRelax as an option to continuouslydeterminethe stress level. However, the algorithms for stress analysis are only available on Android smartphones and not on the iPhone.
A highlight of the two smart fitness trackers is prepared workouts with animated instructions. The 12 fitness courses focus on different goals:
- Energy resources
- Neck and shoulder relaxation
- Sport at the workplace
- Fat burning
- Full body extension
- Strengthening the heart and lungs
- Extended breast workout
- Abdominal muscle-toning
- Abdominal muscle-ripper
- Body center-workout
- Leg and bottom toning
- Leg workout
Before you start, you can go through the exercises and watch the instructions so that you don't have to stick to the display during your workouts.
Besides time-based exercises there are also repetition-based ones. In practice, however, the workouts are always time-controlled: Before each exercise, the watch briefly shows the instructions and then signals the start and end of the exercise by vibration. Soft keys can be used to jump back and forth between exercises, for example to extend or repeat them, or to skip exercises that are not suitable for you.
Honor Watch ES: No running courses, no swimming, cycling outside only with EMUI
While the fitness courses are available on both smartwatches, albeit with the Honor device only after an update, only the Huawei Watch Fit offers more courses: 12 running courses at different levels are aimed at beginners and advanced runners. The company's subsidiary is not excluded in principle from the running courses and can also be found on the Honor Magic Watch 2 and the Honor Watch GS Pro. Therefore it is theoretically possible that Honor will also supply them for the Watch ES.
But there are more peculiarities: Since Huawei advertises the Watch Fit with 96 workout modes and Honor only with 95, we counted: In fact, the Watch ES lacks outdoor swimming, whereas indoor swimming is on board. According to a footnote on the Honor website, Honor also offers outdoor cycling only in conjunction with the in-house user interface, EMUI or Magic UI. Indeed: After we disconnected the already set up Watch ES from the Honor smartphone and connected it to a Pixel smartphone, outdoor cycling disappeared from the already set up Honor Watch. Huawei's Watch Fit remained unaffected.
It is able to record routes outdoors without smartphone support thanks to its own GPS. However, it does not have a barometric sensor and therefore does not record altitude information. What is good about both fitness watches is the speed at which the display lights up when you raise your arm during outdoor workouts. The fact that it darkens in between those times in an energy-saving way almost goes unnoticed.
The following protocol of a Huawei Watch Fit differs from that of an Honor Watch ES by the last three watch screens (last line 1-3): The Honor Watch ES does not show Training Effects, Recovery Time and VO2max. Also in the app (last screen) the specification VO2max would be missing in the Honor watch.
Battery life - Endurance
Despite nominally the same battery capacity of 180 mAh, Honor indicates that with permanent monitoring of the heart rate and activated TruSleep sleep tracking the runtime is up to seven days, while with the Huawei device it is up to 10.
We consider a service life of five to seven days to be realistic. In the test, both devices remained online for about five days despite frequent measurements and function comparisons of the two watches in connection with several smartphones. Furthermore, the runtime of the Huawei smartwatch depends on how often one trains with activated GPS.
Verdict - Huawei with the greater range of functions
The test shows that the differences between the two wearables are not just price and appearance, and that the range of functions also varies with the smartphone. In short: Without a suitable smartphone, both smartwatches lack the camera remote. With an Honor Watch ES, athletes will go without the sport mode outdoor swimming and running courses, and with a smartphone that is not from the company's range, they can also go without the sport mode outdoor cycling.
With an iPhone and at least iOS 9, the cyclists are back on the road. The restrictions there concern the dials, the menstruation tracker, the control of the music player and the stress analysis TruRelax. The hint that the iPhone does not support the low heart rate alarm was only found with Huawei and we can't say if it also affects the Watch ES.
Most of the functions are therefore offered by combining the Huawei Watch Fit with a smartphone from Honor or Huawei with at least EMUI 5.1 or Magic UI 2.0.
Honors Watch ES and Huawei's Watch Fit are an alternative for those for whom a fitness band is not enough and a normal smartwatch is too big.
Visually, the elongated watches by Honor and Huawei fill a format gap. Features such as a loudspeaker and microphone or NFC are missing, but both remain below the typical smartwatch prices, at least those of the well-known manufacturers.