We recently reported that the launch of Huawei’s first smartwatch, simply called Huawei Watch, was expected to be delayed until September or October in China and perhaps abroad as well. A new story out from the WSJ speaking with Yang Yong of Huawei, however, has the launch in China pushed back as far as early 2016. The smartwatch is still expected to launch in the US and Europe in the coming months.
In our first post we cited a report attributing the delay to incompatibility issues with Google Play services in China, where most services are watered-down, blocked by the Great Firewall, or just unpopular, and the WSJ’s quotes from Yong seem to corroborate that, with him saying that Huawei is “experiencing some problems with Google’s Android Wear [the watch’s operating system] in China.”
By “watered-down” we are referring to censorship. Most of Google’s services including Gmail, Maps, Docs, Google+, and more are blocked in China and have been for over a year or more. Google’s search product is available in China at Google.cn, but faces censorship of sensitive and banned keywords, and includes a link to Google.hk right on the homepage through which visitors can bypass the country’s censorship laws. The outright banning of most Google services, however, has meant that Huawei has to build most of the key features of Android Wear from the ground up. Most of Android Wear’s apps for key features like music playback and proactive notifications are powered by Google’s proprietary services.
The Huawei Watch features a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage, a 300mAh battery, and a heart-rate monitor. This smartwatch in particular, though, has received tremendously positive reception from the Android community for its classic timepiece look, which we said in our hands-on looks to be one of the best designs we’ve seen on an Android Wear watch as of yet. Mr. Yong was quoted for the WSJ story as saying that the company is using this delay as an opportunity to improve even further on the design, and that customers in China should expect a much less bulky watch than what we saw at the unveiling of the watch during this year’s Mobile World Congress.