The smartwatch and fitness tracker markets might be in a race to the bottom, but that hasn't stopped Huawei, the Chinese phone maker, from tossing a watch-shaped tracker into the mix. It's an interesting tack for a company known primarily for its phones (and barely known at all in the US). If this thing takes off when it appears in Best Buy today, and other big box retailers later this year, then it's a whole new introduction to America for Huawei. And what a wonderful introduction at that. The Huawei Fit looks like the Pebble Round smartwatch, functions like a Fitbit Charge, and costs less than both.
All images: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo
AU Editor's Note: The Huawei Fit isn't available in Australia yet. We'll let you know when and if it does start shipping to an Aussie stockist any time soon. — Cam
Like the Fitbit Charge 2 , the Fit is waterproof, has a built-in heart-rate tracker, and can track multiple workout styles. Currently, it tracks five activities: walking, running, cycling, swimming, and treadmill workouts. It's just $US130 — $US20 cheaper than the Charge 2. The very reasonable price reflects the device's simpler feature set. For example, can't automatically determine what kind of workout you're doing or VO2 max levels.
That said, the Fit also looks a lot nicer than the Fitbit Charge 2. While Fitbit made big chunky wrist straps popular, they're still chunky wrist straps. The Huawei Fit actually looks like a watch from afar and even uses standard 18mm watch straps. That means you can choose whatever strap you want, be it Italian leather three times the cost of the tracker, or a fun nylon jam from a street vendor.
Up close, the Fit looks like a Pebble e-ink based smartwatch. It doesn't have all the apps available to a traditional smartwatch — the ability to notify you of texts its only real smartwatch feature. Instead of an e-ink display, it has a monochromatic LCD display reminiscent of a very old school digital watch. Opting for low-power display gives the Fit six days of battery life. Between that, its good looks, and it being waterproof, I rarely find myself taking it off.
It helps that the device is satisfyingly responsive. A major problem with wearables is that they all promise to respond to every swipe of the finger or twitch of the wrist, but they never actually make good. Instead you're furiously flicking your wrist to navigate menus or stabbing at the tiny screen with your finger. The Huawei Fit never has that problem. You flick your wrist, and the light comes on. Flick it again, and it switches to the next screen. You can navigate the screens that way, which is handy when you just want to check a text or see how many steps you've gotten in for the day, or you can use your finger and swipe through menus the old-fashioned way.
There's one unbelievable problem I've discovered, which appears to be a bug of the Fit's accompanying app, Huawei Wear (identical on iOS and Android). Sometimes, the Fit disconnects from the app, and you have to delete the device from the app and re-pair it. Fortunately, the re-pair procedure is little more than a tap of the phone screen.
When it is connected to the app you can dive deep into the data acquired from your exercises and sleep, customise alarms and heart rate warnings, and tweak your training plan — which is designed to train you for anything from a 5k to a marathon. You can also share the data acquired with three services: Apple HealthKit, Up by Jawbone, and MyFitnessPal. This is useful if you really need to share your steps and other accomplishments and miss the Fitbit app, which is far superior to the Huawei one when it comes to social engagement.
For $US130, the Huawei Fit is cheaper than the Fitbit Charge 2 and Pebble Round. If you don't need the robust smart watch features of the Round (it can tell you the weather!) or the social engagement features of the Fitbit Charge 2, then the Huawei Fit is a great alternative. It's the rare fitness tracker you won't be ashamed to wear outside of the gym and fitness challenge days at your office.
- Cheaper than the Fitbit Charge 2 and the same price as the Pebble 2, but lacks the extensive feature set of those devices.
- Actually looks like a watch.
- No, seriously, its so nice to have a fitness tracker that isn't a BAND.
- Speaking of bands, this one uses standard 18mm ones, which is so dang thoughtful.
- Huawei Wear app is available for iOS and Android and ties into other services, but the Fit sometimes disconnects. It can be annoying.