Smartwatches have been around for quite some time now and we have seen multiple manufacturers trying to crack the segment. Google's Wear OS platform has not gathered as much traction as Apple has managed with the Apple Watch. Since software and hardware options are limited, some manufacturers including Samsung and Huawei have opted for their own proprietary operating systems. We've already tested Samsung's Galaxy Watch, and we were impressed with it. Honor is now taking a crack at this category, and the result is the Honor Watch Magic, which is priced at Rs. 14,999. Should you put your money on this device, or are there better smartwatches out there? We review it to find out.
Honor Watch Magic design
The Honor Watch Magic is designed to look like a traditional watch. It has a circular dial with a slightly raised bezel around it. This reduces the chances of the display getting scuffed with day-to-day use. The display on the Watch Magic measures 1.2 inches and the top half of the case is made out of metal.
Honor has managed to keep the thickness under control, and the watch measures an acceptable 9.8mm in thickness. It isn't heavy either and weighs about 50g. With the compact size and the low weight, you could forget that you are wearing this device.
The Honor Watch Magic has two buttons on the right side. Honor has machined the bezel and the buttons out of stainless steel, whereas the shell of the Watch Magic is made out of plastic. The bits that are visible look premium, but the ones that are hidden still feels as though they are made of high-quality plastic.
The Honor Watch Magic has a metal dial while the base is made out of plastic
The same principle has been applied to the strap as well. It's made of silicone but has a layer of Italian cowhide on the top. Since the back is silicone, you can wear it to the gym or during runs without worrying about damaging the leather.
You'll find quick release pins on the strap, and like with most other smartwatches, you can swap it out for any other band of your choice. We quite liked the band that came with our Watch Magic review unit, since it was different than what we usually see.
Turn the watch around and you'll spot the heart rate sensor as well as the pogo pin connectors to charge this device. The charger is disc-shaped and has a magnet to ensure that its charging pins make proper contact with the watch. We found this to be quite useful, and the magnetic pull is strong enough for the watch to stay connected. The charging disc has a USB Type-C port which is a good thing, since you won't have to carry an additional cable for charging the watch if you're using a reasonably modern Android smartphone.
Honor Watch Magic specifications, software, and features
Honor has opted for an AMOLED display for the Watch Magic. It measures 1.2 inches across and has a resolution of 390x390 pixels. It has a density of out 326ppi and is crisp to look at. When outdoors, we found the display to be bright enough to be legible.
Honor claims that the Watch Magic is the first device with a “dual chipset”, with one chipset optimised for power efficiency and the other optimised for performance. The Watch Magic has a 178mAh battery which is small compared to some of the other smartwatches in the market.
The Honor Watch Magic runs on a custom OS and not Google's Wear OS. It is compatible with Android phones (running Android 4.4 or higher) and iOS (9 or above). It has Bluetooth 4.2 LE and supports three satellite positioning systems (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo). The Honor Watch Magic also has NFC which is used for Alipay and a public transit cards in China, but these features are not supported in India.
You will need the Huawei Health app on your smartphone to pair the watch with. We paired the Watch Magic with a Google Pixel 3 (Review) during the duration of our review. The watch faces are customisable and you can choose between multiple options that come preloaded.
Since this device is running on proprietary software, watch faces are limited, and we couldn't download new ones. Different watch faces highlight the different types of data that the watch records. You can use one that shows your heart rate and the number of steps you've taken, while some others have VO2 Max readings or show your current altitude.
The Honor Watch Magic has a heart-rate sensor at the back
Honor has packed a lot of features into the Watch Magic. Apart from the usual step and sleep tracking, this device is capable of recording workouts, swims, and cycling, among other activities. It also has a breathing exercise feature that lets you set the intensity and the duration before it starts guiding you. A compass app helps you determine what direction you are headed in, and a barometer app uses the device's internal sensor to measure pressure.
The Honor Watch Magic is capable of measuring stress, and this feature is listed in the device menu. However, Honor told Gadgets 360 that this feature is only available in China at the moment. Continuous heart tracking is also available, and so is automatic sleep tracking. This smartwatch does not have a voice assistant like some others but it can notify you about incoming calls and messages via alerts.
Honor Watch Magic performance and battery life
The Honor Watch Magic has a crisp display and the screen brightness is adjusted automatically. The upper button brings up a list of features available on the watch, and you can swipe on the screen to go through the list. This button also acts as a Back button when you are in one of the menus. The second button brings up the list of exercise tracking options. If you hold down this button for a couple of seconds, it locks the screen of the watch, which is a nifty feature and can prevent accidental touch input.
We did not notice any lag when scrolling through the menus and trying out the features. We couldn't find any way to add apps or new features, so you will be limited to the ones that came with the watch and whatever Honor provides with software updates in the future.
The Watch Magic can track steps, and to put this to the test we counted 1,000 steps manually as we walked. The watch showed 995 steps, which is an acceptable deviation. As the Watch Magic has GPS sensors, you will be able to track a walk or a run without your smartphone. We tested its GPS accuracy by walking a distance that we know is exactly 1km. The Watch Magic measured 1.07km, which is also acceptable.
You will be able to track a treadmill run using this watch, but we found that accuracy was slightly off in our test, as the watch calculated 1.35km for a 1.5km run. The watch does give you the option to correct a reading before saving a workout. What was also interesting when tracking workouts is that the device shows different heart rate zones so you are aware of how you need to change your activity levels.
The magnetic charger latches onto the watch easily and has a USB Type-C port
We used the Watch Magic for a couple of weeks, and were happy with the sleep tracking function. It isn't too bulky, and we found it comfortable to sleep with this device strapped to our hand. Sleep tracking was accurate, and just like the Honor Band 4, the record of your sleep is broken down into Deep sleep, Light sleep, REM sleep, waking periods, and naps, using Huawei's Trusleep tracking algorithms. The watch did analyse our sleep quality and highlighted parameters that needed attention. You can also see suggestions on how to improve sleep quality, which are helpful.
Battery life was surprisingly good, considering that the 178mAh capacity on paper didn't inspire much confidence in us. Honor claims that the watch will deliver a week's worth of usage but we managed about four days. This is still good because we used it to track sleep and we had our heart rate measured continuously, all while buzzing and showing every notification for a WhatsApp message or an incoming call. If you aren't wearing the device, the battery will last longer, as all tracking functions will be disabled. If you are actively using the watch to track your workouts, you can expect lower battery life.
Charging is easy, and all you need to do is pop the watch onto the magnetic charger. We noticed that the device charged to 50 percent in 20 minutes, and it took close to 45 minutes to charge completely.
The Honor Watch Magic offers good features and is quite accurate when it comes to tracking. Its design will appeal to a lot of people, but we wish this device was available in different sizes. With its fitness tracking options, it is designed to appeal to those with active lifestyles.
If you are looking for a good smartwatch to track your fitness, the Honor Watch Magic will do that well. However, if you are looking for customisibility and app support on a wearable, then that is one area where the Honor Watch Magic is a little restricted. For better software support, you could look at the Misfit Vapor as an alternative.
Price: Rs. 14,999
- Accurate tracking
- Crisp AMOLED display
- Good battery life
- No app support
- Limited customisation options
Ratings (out of 5)
- Design and comfort: 3.5
- Tracking accuracy: 4
- Software and ecosystem: 2.5
- Battery life: 4
- Overall: 3.5