This Huawei smartwatch comes with hidden earbuds – but is it worth it?

The earbuds are stored and charged in a compartment under the watchface (Huawei)
The earbuds are stored and charged in a compartment under the watchface (Huawei)

Once a big name in the UK smartphone space, Huawei has been severely hampered by a Trump-era trade embargo that limits the company’s ability to do business with US brands, including Google. Huawei’s smartphones have suffered, as it has to use the open-source version of Android stripped of useful apps such as Gmail, YouTube, Chrome and the Google Play Store.

But the restrictions are less of an issue for wearables, where operating systems aren’t a deal breaker, and Huawei is back with the most unusual wearable we’ve seen in a while: the Huawei Watch Buds.

The strange-looking device combines two wearables in one. It’s a wrist-bound smartwatch where the face opens up to reveal two wireless earbuds. When docked, the buds will charge to ensure that, theoretically, your earphones are always on your person and fully charged.

That’s the main selling point of the device, but it has a few clear drawbacks that could sink its appeal.

Huawei Watch Buds (Huawei)
Huawei Watch Buds (Huawei)

The first is the sheer size of it. Smartwatches are already usually on the bulky side, and moonlighting as an earbud-charging case does nothing to help matters. Huawei says the watch is 14.9mm thick, which is nearly twice as thick as the iPhone 14 at 7.8mm.

The second issue is related. The reason that smartwatches tend to be chunky is that they have higher battery requirements than traditional analogue wristwatches. As a crude rule of thumb, the thicker a wearable, the better its battery life. Only in this case, that extra space isn’t reserved for a substantial battery, but for earbuds.

In Huawei’s defence, the Watch Buds do okay on this score. The company says the 410mAh battery powers “the entire device” for up to three days, which is triple what the Apple Watch (Ultra aside) has managed in eight generations. But it’s worth noting that another wearable from Huawei — the Watch GT3 — promises a full two weeks.

Earbuds drinking up the limited battery capacity clearly has impacted that, although the buds only have a capacity of 30mAh, which is good for three-to-four hours of playback at 50% volume, depending on whether ANC is engaged.

The unconventional design comes with another big issue — water resistance. The fewer openings for water to seep in, the better a device’s water resistance, and a smartwatch that flips open is naturally going to be weaker than a wearable that’s designed with swimmers in mind. As such, Huawei gives it an IP54 rating, which makes it merely splashproof, and advises care when washing your hands.

None of these are necessarily deal breakers on their own, but when combined with the high price of £449.99 — £42 more than buying the cheapest Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Buds 2 together — some buyers may be inclined to look elsewhere.

For those who aren’t, you can pre-order the Huawei Watch Buds now with a release date of March 1. The company will even throw in a set of smart scales with an RRP of £70, and you get £30 off if you pay £30 upfront, too.