ZB

The Watch that Saved My Life

Author
glennzb,
Publish Date
Thu, 14 Jul 2022, 2:29pm

The Watch that Saved My Life

Author
glennzb,
Publish Date
Thu, 14 Jul 2022, 2:29pm

Okay, a bit dramatic. Let me explain.

I'm a 48 year-old dude with the usual bad habits; I eat too much, don't exercise enough and on top of all that, because I work in breakfast radio, I get a lot less sleep during the week than most other people.

As a result, slowly but surely my body's started falling to bits, one bit at a time.

As a typical bloke, I mostly ignore the aches, pains and stiffness and have just accepted these days the simple act of getting out of bed is more of a mission that requires a certain amount of planning and careful execution in order to avoid total disaster. Kind of like a space launch.

Unfortunately, there's a point where the complaints get a little more serious - or at least annoying enough to be moaned about to family members.

Then you get told to go to the doctor of course. Like that's ever going to happen.

Sometimes that should definitely happen. So how can a smartwatch let you know it's time to swallow your pride and book that appointment?

 


Huawei has actually just launched three new wearables; the Band 7, Watch Fit 2 and the totally new Watch D. Over the last couple of weeks I've been testing out all three - starting with the Band 7.

 

While it would be easy to class the Band 7 as a simple fitness tracker rather than a fully-fledged smartwatch, the line between the two has been seriously blurred here. It's light and thin like a fitness tracker but the 1.47-inch display is full colour AMOLED and surprisingly easy to navigate - even with my clumsy digits. 

The Band 7 comes in Graphite Black, Nebula Pink, Wilderness Green and (YES!) Flame Red. What other sports band offers more than 4000 different faces for download? And of course, it does do a splendid job tracking all kinds of stuff - not just 96 different forms of exercise but also sleep, heart rate, blood oxygen and even stress.

Like any other Huawei wearable, this is all set up and monitored via the Huawei Health app - straight-forward if your on iOS, just install the latest version from the App Store. It's a tad more complicated for Android users - for boring technical reasons you'll need to install the App Gallery app first. The latest Health app is then easily downloaded from there.

What you might not be expecting is the Band 7's more interactive features - not only will you receive notifications from any app you select on your phone, you can even set up quick replies to messages and control media playing on your handset.

See? Sports band or smartwatch? Hard to tell. You get great battery life either way - well over a week and closer to two if you don't use all the features on offer.

As for the Watch Fit 2, there's no doubt this is a proper smartwatch, which is why it's the one I keep coming back to for everyday use. 

 


While a casual glance might fool people this is a slightly more well-known watch with a square face, the Watch Fit 2 is a fraction of the price of that other watch, yet with a lot of its functionality. Obviously it can do everything the Band 7 can do but on a much grander scale - also on a bigger 1.74-inch screen.

Aesthetically, you have an almost unlimited selection of colour and style choices - although the base model Active Edition is Sakura Pink, Isle Blue or Midnight Black, there's a Silver Frost Elegant Edition too - along with an incredible range of swappable bands available which are easy to change over.

While the display is quite a bit larger than the original Watch Fit, the whole device is feather-light and definitely comfortable enough to wear to bed for sleep-tracking. The raft of sensors underneath each of these new watches has also been upgraded into a module that nestles more snugly into the wrist, thereby avoiding any annoying light leakage in the dark of night.

The genuine premium smartwatch features really stack up here; you can take bluetooth calls on the watch itself, you can control music on your phone or load music onto the Watch Fit 2 and play from there if you want to leave your phone at home.

Like the Band 7, the Watch Fit 2 carries a 5 ATM water resistance rating so you can track your swims in complete confidence. This combines well with guided Quick Workout animations and Huawei's classic, super-clear layout of workout stats.

Unfortunately, as I've found with previous Huawei devices, auto-detecting workouts is not to be relied on. I tried it with all three of these devices and for a start, none of them ever realised I was walking - even after considerable time and distance. Runs were recognised but only after about 1km in and there's no route-tracking before then. It's a shame because manually activated workouts function brilliantly.

Once again, there are literally thousands of watch face options and you can load your own photo to use as a background too.

And yes, battery life is standout on the Watch Fit 2 - I can cruise through a week even working out every day. What's more, it charges very quickly via the two-pronged magnetic USB dongle.

Unfortunately, I hate the two-pronged USB dongle. This is the same charging cable the Band 7 and other, previous generations have also relied on.

The problem is the magnet is not very strong and it only fits on the watch in one direction. This means you have to position the watch in just the right way on just the right angle or the charger will just pop off again. Time for an upgrade here Huawei - preferably to something far more wireless and universal.

Something like the charger for the Watch D perhaps.

 

The Huawei Watch D is unique among all smartwatches right now, not because of its much more user-friendly wireless charging cradle but because it measures blood pressure. Of all the health metrics modern wearables provide, this one is truly a potential lifesaver - in fact, it genuinely was for me.

The sheer engineering genius involved in building a blood pressure sensor into a wristwatch deserves an award - if not all the awards. Basically, if you picture that inflatable armband thing the doctor uses to take your blood pressure, that's what Huawei has built into the strap of the Watch D. I know it sounds hard to believe and I was certainly incredulous when I first heard about it but take it from me, it works and works well.

After ensuring you've adjusted the Watch D's band correctly so it's snug but not too tight around your wrist, you simply press the red "Health" button, select "Measure" on the screen, support your arm at heart level and over the course of about a minute, the airbag inside the strap inflates as if by magic, giving you a genuine blood pressure reading which then appears in shareable form in the Huawei Health app.

It was with considerable trepidation I took this test repeatedly over a few days, only to be told my pressure was indeed on the high side - indeed, some readings were "severely high."

This indicated it was time for me to stop talking about visiting my GP and actually visit my GP. Although he seemed skeptical about my fandangled new piece of wrist-wear, sure enough, his "official" blood pressure readings matched up with the Watch D's and he immediately prescribed some medication to bring my pressure down.

This may sound like a minor health concern but it really couldn't be more serious. According to research carried out by the New Zealand Stroke Foundation, 9,500 strokes happen every year in this country and there are currently over 64,000 people living with the after effects. Hopefully now, thanks to the Watch D, I've taken some important steps towards staying out of those statistics.

And that's before you even get to the heart attack side of the equation.

The Watch D also has ECG functionality and monitors for unusual changes in body temperature too.

When I'm wearing it, I feel a bit like I'm carrying my GP around on my wrist for protection.

For around the same price as any other premium smartwatch, the Watch D offers unprecedented health monitoring which, while it doesn't replace professional medical advice, certainly prompted me to do something about issues I was in denial about.

Oh, and yes it does sports tracking and yes it receives notifications and yes it has media controls and yes the battery life is also amazing - all the more so given the battery is powering the mini-pump that inflates that little airbag.

You actually get two material covers for the airbag in the box, so you can wash and dry one while you're wearing the other. The airbag itself is also removable if you're planning on doing any really full-on exercise - you literally just unplug it from the watch and insert a water-resistant cover in its place. I fear I have already lost that little plug though - I knew I should have kept it in a dedicated box.

What I no longer fear though is a severely high risk of stroke or heart attack - thanks to my prescribed meds my blood pressure is already down considerably and now I can monitor it regularly I have real peace-of-mind.

I wholeheartedly recommend this device to others who might be high-risk too. None of us should ever put off going to the doctor and this watch might be the catalyst that gets you there just in time.

 

 

 

Click here for more information and pricing on the Huawei Watch D.

 

Click here for more information and pricing on the Huawei Watch Fit 2.

 

Click here for more information and pricing on the Huawei Band 7.