The Honor Magic Watch 2 has built-in GPS and a heart-rate monitor and offers an impressive range of sports modes including running, cycling and even open water and triathlon thanks to its 50m water-resistance. Leave it on at night, and it’ll also track your sleep in impressive detail, scoring your sleep pattern out of 100.
Because it comes with a microphone and speaker, you can answer phone calls on the Magic Watch 2 when you’re in range of your phone. Sadly, though, there’s no cellular version of the watch, and there’s also no NFC, so you can’t make contactless payments from your wrist. Because it runs LiteOS, there are also none of the Google apps you’ll find on the Huawei Watch 2.
The Watch GT 2’s design doesn’t differ drastically from its predecessor and that’s a good thing. Its stainless steel and plastic casing look great with sporty silicone straps, making it a watch that you can wear for any occasion.
It’s comfortable, too. With the larger model weighing only 41g without the strap and measuring 11.7mm thick, it’s 22g lighter than the equivalent-sized Samsung Galaxy Watch and 1.3mm slimmer.
One significant change is that the Watch GT 2 now has a bezel-less design. That’s more obvious on the smaller 42mm model, while the 46mm sample has second and minute markers printed around the edge of its glass front. Regardless of which size you choose, though, there are two crown-style buttons on the right edge; one of these opens the app list while the other can be customised to a function of your choice.
At the centre of everything is the watch’s always-on AMOLED screen. On the larger model, it’s a 1.39in 454 x 454 resolution panel, while the smaller watch has a 1.2in 390 x 390 resolution screen. With colours looked punchy with excellent contrast levels and the resolution is such that you can easily make out every minute detail on the device’s intricate heart-rate graphs.
Notification delivery is another area where the Honor Magic Watch 2 could be a little better. Although alerts normally appear in a timely manner with a vibration, there’s no option to interact with them in any meaningful way. That means for the likes of emails you’ll have to make do with just reading the subject line and, for messages, there’s no option to send canned responses, so you’ll always have to reach for your phone to reply. But this can easily be fixed with a software update
Fitness features and mobile app
Not everything about the software is bad, though. The smartwatch’s accompanying Huawei Health app, for instance, works very well. As with most such apps, it’s here that you see all your important metrics at a glance, including step counts, exercise, heart rate and sleep data.
Delve a little deeper, however, and you’ll uncover hidden depths. Sleep tracking, for instance, is especially impressive with Huawei Health providing a single overall score for your sleep, accompanied by a breakdown of time spent in deep sleep, light sleep and REM sleep. For each category, the app tells you what the normal range is and, if you’re having trouble hitting your targets there are heaps of tips telling you how you might improve.
Stress tracking is similarly detailed, showing charts for the last day, week, month or year accompanied by short canned summaries. Likewise, the Huawei Health app gives you no end of data to sink your teeth into when reviewing workouts you’ve recorded from the watch, from pace and heart rate info to average cadence and stride length, in the case of outdoor running.
Where many fitness wearables stop at heart rate zones and charts, the Huawei Health app helps you try to interpret your workout data by giving you scores for aerobic and anaerobic training effect as well as advising you how long you need to leave for recovery before your next workout.
If you’re new to running there’s plenty to help you out, too. From the mobile app and the watch itself, you can browse a range of running plans which take you through structured workouts to help you improve your fitness.
To elaborate, although you can link the watch with Google Fit and MyFitnessPal, there are no apps from Strava, Nike, Runkeeper or Runtastic, as you find on other platforms. That in itself isn’t a total disaster but there’s no option from the mobile app to export your workouts as GPX files or similar, either, and nor is there an accompanying web site where you can do so. As such, any running or cycling you track will remain locked largely within the Huawei Health app.
Performance and battery life
Honor claims the larger 46mm Watch GT 2 can last up to two weeks between charges and that feels pretty close to what you’ll achieve in the real world. After five days of using the watch with its “real-time” heart-rate monitoring switched on, and the always-on lock screen enabled for one of those days, it showed 40% battery remaining. Switch the heart-rate monitoring to “smart” and pick more conservative display settings, and it’s not difficult to see it stretching beyond ten days between charges.
Naturally, if you use GPS regularly, the battery will drain faster than if you don’t use it at all, but again Honor’s claims are impressive on this front. According to the manufacturer, the 46mm Magic Watch 2 will last for 30 hours of continuous GPS recording, while the 42mm model will still last 15 hours between charges.
The Magic Watch 2 has superb sports-tracking credentials for its price. As well as logging an impressive number of activities and offering handy insights into your workouts, stress, sleep, it’ll emphatically outlast any WearOS device and the Apple Watch when it comes to battery life.
There’s no option to export any of your workout data to other platforms, that’s something we’ve seen in the past with Huawei devices, and it’s something the company needs to fix in order to compete with fitness wearables from other manufacturers.
If Honor were to put this right, one could forgive the fact it has no app store of its own, the Honor Magic Watch 2 is an amazing fitness Smart Watch out there.
4.5 out of 5