The Honor Magicwatch 2 is a fitness-first smartwatch that impresses with good design, excellent build quality and outstanding battery life.
It comes in two sizes, 42mm and 46mm, and is almost an exact replica of the more expensive Huawei GT2. Apart from a smaller selection of colours and straps, there is very little functionality that would justify the additional £40 of the GT2.
MagicWatch 2 with the standard black rubber strap and charger
Out of the box, the MagicWatch comes with black silicone straps and magnetic charger dock with USB-C cable.
We tested the 46mm version, which despite the very "masculine dimensions", feels comfortable despite its 11mm thickness.
Compared to the smaller 42mm, the bigger version has a marginally higher resolution screen, a built-in speaker and microphone, and most importantly a larger battery that promises 2 weeks of battery life.
Two weeks battery life and from zero to fully charged in two hours. When it comes to battery life, the Honor smartwatch has little to fear from its rivals
The standard strap is made from a silicone-like material that feels incredibly soft on the skin and copes well with sweat and dries up quickly when getting wet.
There is also a flax-brown leather model however, that is not likely to age well if immersed in water so best to stick to the silicon version when swimming, and maybe consider an extra strap for smarter occasions.
When it comes to functionality, the MagicWatch is based on Huawei's LiteOs, a proprietary operating system with very little to fault apart from the very limited option of watch faces.
In order to access the full fitness reporting data, you'll need to install the Huawei health app and create a Huawei ID. Pairing is straightforward and takes seconds
Huawei's LiteOs has one notable disadvantage as a closed system compared to the more widespread WearOS.
Unlike Google's operating system for wearable devices, you won't be able to download and install any third party utilities apart from the ones offered directly from Huawei.
This is not necessarily a deal-breaker, especially if you're new to the smartwatch game or are upgrading from a more basic fitness band. More seasoned and demanding users, however, will be disappointed by the missing option of using the watch for map navigation and lack of specialised sport tracking utilities.
Workout mode is one of the best-implemented features of this smartwatch.
The MagicWatch 2 is powered by a very fast and reliable GPS and can track your movements and location independently from your smartphone. It supports Glonass and Galileo as well as the traditional GPS, and we found it pretty accurate.
24/7 heart-rate monitoring (right) is enabled as standard and does not affect battery life in any meaningful way. The intensity of any exercise is also recorded giving users an additional incentive to work a bit harder
When used for hiking and running, the watch will record your route, your pace, changes in elevation and heart rate throughout the exercise.
It also includes an air-pressure monitoring app that can be of great help when looking out for changes in weather.
The weather app itself is disappointing, however, as it is limited to reporting the current weather conditions and not future variations.
The 46mm model includes a speaker that will also alert you at the start of the workout and announces your metrics regularly. These voice announcements have limited usefulness, and the novelty might wear off quickly, not to worry though as they can be easily switched off in the settings.
This is a well built device that I am happy to be seen wearing.
As well as walking and running, the MagicWatch 2 workout mode includes cycling, elliptical, hiking, climbing, triathlon and swimming.
The continuous heart-rate monitoring is an excellent feature of the MagicWatch 2. While I wasn't able to check its accuracy using specialist equipment, the variations match the different activities I do during the day accurately. Despite running 24/7, the HR monitor effect on battery life is negligible, which is impressive.
The Huawei branded charger charges up the MagicWatch in record time
If you're interested in monitoring your sleep with a view to improving it, this watch has a sleep mode that will record your sleep and then report it using the Huawei health app. While the report appears accurate, the shape and size of this watch plays against its suitability as a sleep monitoring device.
Media and calls
When it comes to music, the MagicWatch lacks the flexibility of devices running WearOs.
There is no way to sync an Amazon or Spotify playlist, and instead, you'll need to manually transfer the mp3 files to the watch, something not many people have the time or inclination to do.
If you keep your phone near you during your workout, the MagicWatch still makes for an excellent companion though. It allows you to control media playing as well as answering calls without picking up your phone (46mm model only).
Call quality is impressive and if you're in a quiet, private environment, is a good way to have a quick phone exchange without having to get your phone out of your pocket, or the other side of the room.
Display and watch-faces
The display does support an always-on mode; however this needs to be enabled in the advanced display settings, and the different watch face options are limited.
Enabling the always-on display will cut battery life by about half, down to one week, in the case of the 46mm model. It is still a decent level of battery life. Still, this and the jarring feeling when jumping from the static to the fully-featured display, make this a bit of a sticking point, and one of the significant flaws in this otherwise pretty good smartwatch.
As already mentioned, the option of watch-faces is limited, and of the standard eight pre-installed designs, only one offers that right level of readability while clearly displaying all the essential information.
*The default watchface is well-designed and perfectly functional but if you prefer something different there is little on offer and designs are nothing to shout about *
The breathing exercise app is simple but well design, you can choose the rhythm and total duration and it will give you a start and end heart rate measure
The Honor MagicWatch 2 is a genuinely great looking smartwatch that stands out even when compared to expensive rivals like the Samsung Galaxy Watch.
It is an accomplished workout companion thanks to its accurate and detailed monitoring, while the Huawei Health app gives you access to your data in an easy to use and well-designed interface.
And while it may lack versatility when it comes to customisation, it's a well-built and feature-packed device for people that are primarily looking for a good fitness watch.