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Monday, March 8, 2021

Huawei launches new headphones, watches, laptop, but no new phone

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Andrew Hoyle

Huawei may not be ready to show off its latest Mate 40 superphone, but it’s still got a raft of new gadgets to show off, including two new wireless headphones, a skinny laptop and two slick smartwatches.

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I’ve been hands on with the whole range ahead of their unveiling during the company’s keynote on Thursday Sept. 10.

No pricing details have been given for any of the new products ahead of launch, but this article will be updated as pricing information becomes available. While all products are expected to head to the UK and Europe, Huawei’s ongoing restrictions from the US government means that they won’t be available in America.

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Andrew Hoyle

Watch GT 2 Pro

With its all-metal body and large round face, the GT 2 Pro has a classy aesthetic. It looks like an everyday watch, rather than something you’d only wear while working out. It offers continual heart-rate monitoring, blood oxygen level monitoring and tracking for a variety of workouts. 

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It’s comfortable to wear, provides notifications for incoming messages, emails or calls and the battery lasts for multiple days between charges. 

Although Huawei hasn’t given specific pricing for any of its new products, it said the Watch GT 2 Pro will be “reasonably priced.” Given the current Watch GT 2 is on sale for around £160 in the UK, I’d hope to see a price somewhere around the £200 mark for the new one. (That’s about $260 or AU$360.)

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Andrew Hoyle

Watch Fit

Joining the GT 2 Pro is a watch that’s much more exercise-focused. Its square glass and metal design is reminiscent of the Apple Watch ($399 at Apple), but its small and light construction makes it comfortable to wear while working out. 

It’s waterproof and can track workouts including outdoor runs or walks, swimming, cycling, rowing and elliptical training. It’s expected to be cheaper than the GT 2 Pro.

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Andrew Hoyle

FreeBuds Pro

Challenging Apple’s AirPods Pro ($249 at Apple), Huawei’s wireless earbuds are entirely wireless small buds that come with their own charging case. Personally, I prefer them to Apple’s headphones if only for the reason that Huawei’s use rubber ear tips that form a tight seal in the ear. Not only does this help block out external noise but it helps improve sound quality too — helped by the active noise-cancelling features.

I’m impressed by the sound quality for both music and speech-based podcasts, while the headset function allowed me to be easily heard while making phone calls while outside on a reasonably windy day. 

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Andrew Hoyle

FreeLace Pro

The FreeLace Pro are Bluetooth neckband-style headphones offering both active noise cancellation and up to 22 hours of music playback on a single charge. They’re reasonably comfortable and the neckband design means they can dangle round your neck like a piece of weird jewellery until you’re ready to pop them back in. 

Sound quality is good, the built-in USB-C charging means they’re convenient to charge (no external charging dongles here!) and I even like the dusky pink colour of my review pair. 

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Andrew Hoyle

MateBook 14

Huawei’s latest MateBook 14 packs an AMD Ryzen 7 4800H processor, 16GB of RAM and a 14-inch 2,160×1,440-pixel touch-enabled display. It’s wrapped in a solid-feeling metal chassis which gives it a professional look that wouldn’t be out of place on a boardroom table. Both the keyboard and trackpad are comfortable and responsive while the fingerprint scanner built into the power button is quick to recognise my prints and grant me access. 

Huawei EMUI 11 updates

Huawei hasn’t shown off any new phones as of yet, but it has made some updates to its Android-based EMUI 11 software, which will come as standard on the upcoming Mate 40.

The new version includes updated (and customizable) always-on display options, a new photo gallery that aims to provide a “magazine-like” experience, as well as new transition animations that Huawei says give a more natural feel, thanks to the input from Huawei’s not-at-all-scary-sounding Human Factor Research division. 

The update also brings new ways of multitasking: You can resize different apps to make it easier to focus on the main task at hand, while the notepad now lets you scan in text by taking photos of a document. 

It looks like a clean and easy-to-use interface, but due to the ongoing restrictions imposed by the US government, the software will not make use of any Google services — including the Google Play Store and apps such as Chrome, Gmail or Maps.

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