Huawei’s Watch D smartwatch literally a life-saver

10/10

Summary

Huawei Watch D REVIEW

Huawei’s new smartwatch could save your life, and its long-life batteries are a marvel in themselves, writes PAT PILCHER.

$749

A few years back my heart began to beat incredibly fast at random intervals. If I’d been stupid enough to have done something to warrant such activity, this behaviour from my ticker would be understandable. The worrying thing was that my heart would go apeshit for no reason, and it’d stay that way for up to an hour before it finally settled down.

Because it happened at random intervals, my heart would always behave itself when I was visiting my doctor, leaving them more than a little perplexed. After months of feeling exhausted and miserable, my heart finally went berserk while I was at my medical centre. My GP attached an ECG (electrocardiograph). After a referral to a cardiologist, it was determined that I had paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, which in plain English, means my heart goes nuts at random intervals.

It took far too long before I was able to find out what was wrong with my ticker. With Huawei’s Watch D, I’d have found out in days without having to stress out my ever-patient GP. This is thanks to a built-in ECG, which gives me detailed feedback on my faulty sludge pump.

The Watch D has a curved rectangular design with a 1.64-inch AMOLED display sporting 456 x 280 resolution at 326ppi. Its case is crafted in aluminium, and it has a silicone strap. It’s a nice-looking timepiece whose curved corners and edge-to-edge screen help give it a pleasing look. On the wrist, its adjustable strap is also a comfy fit.

Where my GP’s ECG was bulky and complex, the Watch D is both simple and tiny. By pressing my finger to its bottom button and sitting still, it takes an ECG reading, which is saved to the Huawei Health app on my phone so I can share the data with my cardiologist.

An ECG-equipped smartwatch might not be a big deal nowadays, but the Watch D has another trick up its sleeve that you won’t find on many other smartwatches. It’ll accurately measure your blood pressure.

This magic happens thanks to a small airbag built into the Watch D strap. When you take a blood pressure reading it inflates like a cuff you’d normally have on your arm at the doctor, only it’s much smaller.

The engineering behind this is, frankly, boggling. A tiny micro air pump inflates the airbag and a raft of sensors checks your blood pressure. While this approach means that the Watch D won’t continuously measure your blood pressure, it’s far more accurate than other smartwatches. Comparing its measurements with a medical-grade blood pressure cuff, I found the results were close and within the error margins stipulated by Huawei.

 

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Getting a blood pressure reading from the Watch D is an odd sensation. Its watchband airbag inflates and squeezes your wrist. For an accurate reading to be taken you must first sit and have your arm positioned across your chest with the watchband airbag at the same level as your heart. The test takes around 45 seconds as the airbag inflates, giving you your systolic and diastolic blood pressure once it deflates.

As a smartwatch, the Watch D also comes with all the goodies you’d expect from a Huawei watch. On the health front, it’ll continuously track blood oxygen, stress levels, skin temperature and heart rate.

It’s also full of workout tracking modes, packing an astonishing 70 of them under its hood. These include running, walking, rowing, cycling, swimming, yoga, and even skipping rope (which I’ve yet to try).

Joggers will like the running guide. It maps the route as you’re running, providing information such as your pace per kilometre, the distance you’ve travelled, the time elapsed and your heart rate.

Add to this all the other tricks we’ve come to expect from Huawei watches (these include music playback, weather forecasts, stopwatches/timers, alarms, a flashlight and compass), and there’s plenty to like. However, the killer feature to my mind is its incredible battery life. Where most smartwatches conk out after just a day (rendering their sleep tracking capabilities useless), The Watch D will run for up to seven days before needing time with its charger.

There are, however, a few gotchas. Firstly, It’s a bulky wee beastie. This is understandable, given the innovative tech packed inside it. It’s also not water resistant with its blood pressure tracking airbag attached. The airbag can be removed and its port plugged, but you’d need to be planning on a swim ahead of time. The airbag setup also means that you’re limited to Huawei straps and the supplied silicone strap initially irritated my skin. None of these is a deal breaker, especially if tracking your heart activity and/or blood pressure is a priority.

Given you not only get all the usual smartwatch stuff but also gain cutting-edge medical tech, for the relatively affordable sticker price of $749 it isn’t hard to see why the Watch D earns a well-deserved 10 out of 10.

https://consumer.huawei.com/nz/wearables/watch-d/

 

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