Review: Honor MagicWatch 2 – more than just a timepiece
A feature-rich fitness companion for less than 150 bucks.
Up until fairly recently, I had, by my own admission, kinda dismissed the whole concept of “wearables”. I thought of it as a bit of a fad. I never really saw the point in having a watch that can do a bit less than my smartphone. Boy, I was so wrong. But then, the Honor MagicBook 14 impressed, so there is no reason their smartwatch wouldn’t.
The Honor MagicWatch 2 has been my wrist-based companion for the past month. I have to say, I really don’t want to remove it. It has spurred me on towards a fitter lifestyle, among other things. Currently retailing at only $149.99, this is an excellent option if you’re looking for a feature-rich first smartwatch.
Having spent this time with the watch, putting it through its paces, let’s see what I discovered on this new wearables journey.
Such a pretty face
The Honor MagicWatch 2 comes with either a 42 or 46mm face. We tested the latter and, despite having a relatively large face, found that the MagicWatch 2 was very comfortable. It doesn’t feel heavy on the wrist and the AMOLED full-color screen is large enough to be able to read easily. The colors across the 390 x 390 display are bright and vibrant. This makes the display easy to read and pleasing to look at.
One feature that I like is the ability to change the MagicWatch 2 display. This is a fairly standard feature of a smart-watch, admittedly. Think of it as changing the wallpaper on your smartphone. Except, here, the wallpaper has actual functions such as telling the time or displaying your heart-rate. I chose a standard face that displays only the time, with other features easily reachable with a quick press of the menu button or a swipe of the screen.
The MagicWatch touchscreen is very responsive. I never noticed any lag when I was swiping between the various screens and functions. This makes it easy to operate the watch, allowing access to all of the watch’s functions with a deft flick of the finger.
In terms of the hardware, a sturdy rubber strap holds the large circular screen against your wrist. You can easily swap out the straps. This is thanks to the quick-release latch to the back of each strap. The rear of the face carries the heartbeat sensors which monitor your workout during exercise. It also has the two charging ports which sit against the charging pins when you need to boost the watch with some juice.
Fantastic fitness friend
As mentioned, the Honor MagicWatch 2 has given me a real push toward a fitter lifestyle. This is partially down to the fact that I can’t test and review it without giving it a proper run for its money. So, that I did. In the month since I first started using the MagicWatch 2, I have become significantly fitter. Obviously this is also partially down to will-power. However, the watch gave me that kick up the ass that I needed to start getting active. I have noticed I become breathless a lot less easily and I can now run 5k without stopping – great going considering I hadn’t done ANY consistent exercise for almost three years.
The watch comes with 14 fitness modes, meaning you can monitor a whole load of lifestyle aspects to ensure you’re in tip-top condition. Indoor and outdoor exercise are supported, so you can monitor most workouts. Indoor modes include running, cycling, swimming pool, elliptical training, and rowing machine. For outdoor pursuits, the MagicWatch makes use of GPS+GLONASS to track your movements. This enables the watch to record outdoor runs, walks, and cycle rides. In addition, it can monitor open water swimming, triathlon races, hiking and climbing, and trail running. For hill or mountain-based activities, it even has a built-in barometer!
I used the Honor MagicWatch 2 to monitor all of my activities during the day. For exercise, I dedicated specialized monitoring for my outdoor cycles, walks, and runs. Thanks to the satellite link-up, my watch can track every step I take. Once a workout is complete, I can then review my activity and see how hard I have worked. I can see my workout in a detailed breakdown on my smartphone using the Huawei Health app. This is awesome, as it maps out your run, for example, with information broken down for easy viewing.
Note: due to Covid-19 restrictions I was unable to test all of the fitness functions.
A helping hand
Another thing I really love about the Honor MagicWatch 2 is the little nudges it gives you if you need to get your ass out of your office chair. It will vibrate and tell you if you have been sat down for too long. As a writer, the problem of leaving the laptop can be an ever-present one. Sitting writing for hours while I shove biscuits into my mouth does NOT do wonders for the waistline. To be told to get up and do some moving acts as a perfect reminder and makes it more difficult to ignore the fact that you need to take a break.
During a workout, the watch will chime in with little nuggets of encouragement. It will inform you if you are ahead of your “smart training partner” (basically the previous lap of, say, your run, a la the ghost car in time-challenge modes on a racing game) or if you are trailing behind. It will also tell you off if you have skipped a run or will encourage you if you have been consistent with exercise. Honor clearly knows that not everyone likes to exercise. So, these little touches go a long way to pushing you into getting active.
The watch is also excellent for monitoring other activities (or lack thereof). It includes a stress monitor, which I can confirm actually works, having been dumped square into a difficult situation and subsequently checking stress levels. A significant spike occurred at the exact moment of the ‘altercation’, so I know it was working as it should. It also features a sleep monitor that measures REM sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, and waking states. This is a great addition if you feel your sleep isn’t fulfilling enough; you can monitor why and take steps to alleviate this.
Staying on track
The MagicWatch 2’s battery life is excellent. Honor claim that you can get 20 days out of the watch in “time mode” (i.e. without GPS in constant use). I found this to be true, as I only had to charge it on day 19 (having used GPS every day during testing). According to Honor, the watch can give you 30 hours with GPS in constant use, although I have been unable to test this claim for obvious reasons. This extensive battery life means you can keep on track with your exercise without interruption. The watch takes about an hour to charge fully (using the bundled wireless charger from 0%, so no time at all.
The watch also has a small amount of storage space. This means you can pop some music on there for listening as you exercise. I loaded two DJ mixes onto mine and, while the transfer over Bluetooth took a little while (about ten minutes for a 1 hr 45-minute mix). That way I can have music on my run without having to take my smartphone with me. I simply paired my watch up with some wireless earbuds and off I scooted! The watch even has built-in speakers in case you forget your headphones.
Literally my only problem with the Honor MagicWatch 2 is the inability to load additional apps onto the device. This would make a nice feature and would really give the watch that additional edge over similarly-priced competitors.
The MagicWatch 2 is great starter smartwatch
If you are looking to get fit and want to upgrade from a fitness band to a smartwatch, then the Honor MagicWatch 2 is the model for you. It is inexpensive, so you are getting plenty of fitness features for your money. It looks the part too and the ability to change the screen display makes for a nice customization element.
If the only complaint is the inability to load extra apps, then there is really no reason why you shouldn’t plump for this watch as an upgrade or first model. I’m not really sure what else I would want from a smartwatch, so this isn’t a big deal to me. In all, I would recommend the Honor MagicWatch 2 to anyone. It is a great little device and, given my prior dismissal of the wearable concept, I’m a changed man.
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