Hands on: Getting to know the Huawei Watch (with new Moto 360 comparisons)

Up close and personal with one of the year's most anticipated Android Wear devices -- and one of its main rivals.

Huawei Watch Hands On
JR Raphael, IDG

You know what they say, gang: When it rains, it pours.

Just yesterday, I strapped on the new Moto 360 smartwatch, which showed up in the midst of my Moto X Pure Edition review process. And now, what do we have here? Why, it's the other highly anticipated Wear device of the season -- the one and only Huawei Watch.

The Huawei Watch (and that's pronounced WAH-way, for the uninitiated) has piqued plenty of interest with its classic watch design and high-end vibe. It's also one of the smaller Wear devices out there, at 42mm -- the same size as the compact men's version of the 360 I'm currently checking out.

Every Wear watch has its own niche that sets it apart from the pack. For Huawei, style seems to be the main distinguishing point: The watch offers options ranging from a $350 stainless steel body and black leather band all the way up to an $800 (!) rose gold-plated body and gold link band. It also has a slightly higher resolution screen than other Wear devices, and the screen uses a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal material.

I'll be spending the next several days alternating between the Huawei Watch and the new Moto 360 to get a full feel for what each one is like to use and how the two compare. It'll take some time (get it?!) to formulate meaningful impressions and comparisons, but for now, let's take a quick peek at our latest sexy little minx.

Ladies and gentlefolk, the Huawei Watch:

Huawei Watch Box

Huawei's clearly going to great lengths to give off the impression of luxury with this device -- all the way down to the packaging.

Huawei Watch Wrist

Just like with Motorola's compact options, the smaller circumference of the Huawei Watch is a nice change for those of us who are, ahem, wrist-size challenged.

Huawei Watch, Moto 360

The Huawei Watch and Moto 360 are actually pretty similar in design, at least in their base forms (with both in the silver body/black leather combination and the 360 in its smaller men's model). Can you tell which is which?

Look carefully...

Last chance to guess...

Okay: That's the Huawei Watch on the left and the 360 on the right. Did you get it right?

Huawei Watch, Moto 360 (close)

When you start to look closely, you definitely do see some differences. The Huawei Watch (again, at left) has a raised angled bezel around its screen while the 360's display is raised slightly above the rest of its body for an "infinity pool"-like effect. The new 360 also has post-like lugs that attach the band to the body, while the Huawei Watch's main body actually extends out farther to create a bridge.

Huawei Watch, Moto 360 Stacked

The two watches are about the same thickness -- Huawei's is thinner by a thousandth of an inch, if you want to get precise -- but the setup of the lugs and bezels gives each watch's body a slightly different look and feel. (That's the Moto 360 on top in this picture.)

Huawei Watch, Moto 360 Wrist

Here are the two watches being worn together (for a super-stylish look!). The 360's on the left, the Huawei on the right.

Huawei Watch Charger

This is the Huawei Watch on its charger -- a small disc that attaches via pins and holds the watch in place with magnets. Unlike the 360, the Huawei Watch does not support any type of wireless charging.

Huawei Watch, Moto 360 faces

The Huawei Watch (left) and the new Moto 360 (right) with their faces fully illuminated. I used a third-party face called Skymaster Pilot for consistency here. You'll notice that the 360 has that "flat tire" effect at its bottom while the Huawei Watch gives you a fully lit circle.

The tradeoff there is that the 360 has an ambient light sensor squeezed into that spot, so the watch is able to automatically adjust its brightness based on your environment. The Huawei Watch has to be adjusted manually whenever you want its screen to be brighter or dimmer. Each arrangement has its own set of pros and cons.

Huawei Watch, Moto 360 - Ambient

The two watches with their screens in the dimmed ambient mode (again, Huawei at left and Moto at right). At first impression, Motorola's LCD display looks noticeably worse in this state than Huawei's AMOLED screen. But we'll have to see how the two panels stack up in different types of day-to-day use.

(Oh, by the way: For a closer look at the new Moto 360 and how it compares to the first-gen model, click over to my previous story: Hands on: Getting to know the new Moto 360)

Huawei Watch, Moto 360 Backs

Last but not least, the backside view (simmer down, fellas...). The Huawei Watch, at left, definitely has a more premium vibe here with its mostly (though not entirely) metal surface.

So there you have it: a first look at the Huawei Watch alongside the new Moto 360. As with most types of mobile technology, the true test will be what these watches are like to use in the real world -- and that's what I'll be focusing on next.

Stay close, my friends. Lots more good stuff ahead.

UPDATE: The full review is now online... 

Huawei Watch vs. the new Moto 360: A detailed real-world comparison

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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