Tech review: Honor Watch Magic does fitness tracking at a steal

The Honor Watch Magic has a 1.2-inch circular Amoled touchscreen display with a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels.
The Honor Watch Magic has a 1.2-inch circular Amoled touchscreen display with a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels.PHOTO: HONOR

Along with the local launch of Honor's new View20 smartphone last month, Honor also introduced its smartwatch, the Watch Magic.

In terms of design, it looks like a smaller version of the Huawei Watch GT. Not a surprise since Honor is a subsidary of Huawei.

It has a 1.2-inch circular Amoled touchscreen display with a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels, compared with the Watch GT's 1.39-inch, 454 x 454-pixel display. The Watch Magic is also a wee bit thinner (9.8mm versus 10.6mm).

The review unit comes in an all-black design with the shell of the smartwatch made of nylon plastic with a scratch-resistant ceramic surface. There are two buttons on its right.

The bezel has nice numerical markings with a red "tachymeter" wording, scoring brownie points with the sporty crowd. The silicone watch band is black on the exterior and red on the interior. It looks like an analogue timepiece if you pick the right watch face option.

Like the Watch GT, it uses Huawei's Lite OS mobile operating system. This means only a few apps and watch faces are available. There are 13 watch faces to choose from. And there is currently no third-party support for Lite OS.

The Watch Magic comes with a barometer, digital compass and a built-in heart rate monitor that provides all-day tracking of the wearer's heart rate. It has built-in GPS to track runs.

It is water resistant to a depth of 50m, so you can go swimming with it. It is also able to monitor your sleep.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $199

    COMPATIBILITY: Smartphones running Android 4.4 and higher or iOS 9.0 and higher

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Near Field Communications, GPS

    WEIGHT: 51g (with silicone watch band)

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 3.5/5

Navigating through the watch's menu is a breeze, but I find the button functions to be a tad illogical. Usually, the back button is sited at the bottom. But with this smartwatch, the top button is the back button. So it will take some getting used to.

Its fitness-tracking performance is average overall. For step tracking, readings are 6.5 per cent off from the readings of my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4. But when using GPS to track a run on my usual 5km jogging route, its distance measurement is off by around 400m.

For sleep tracking though, the Watch Magic uses the same sleep algorithm as Huawei's Watch GT, which is fantastic.

It produces sleep cycle graphs that break sleep patterns into deep, light and rapid eye movement sleep. It also provides insights to deep sleep continuity and breathing quality during sleep.

Furthermore, it scores your sleep - from 0 to 100 points - and provides tips on how to improve your sleep. For example, it tells me I do not have enough deep sleep and that I should refrain from strenuous exercises close to bedtime for better deep sleep.

Battery life is rated at seven days with heart-rate monitoring turned on. With the Watch Magic constantly paired to an Android smartphone and with a 5km run tracked using GPS, it showed a battery life reading of 50 per cent at the end of four days. So, battery life is pretty much as advertised, though not as good as the Watch GT's two weeks' battery life.

The biggest attraction about the Honor Watch Magic is its cheap price. At $199, it is nearly $100 cheaper than the already-affordable Watch GT.

Verdict: The Honor Watch Magic is an incredibly affordable smartwatch that does its job competently.