If you are currently buying a smartphone, you have to choose between iOS and Android. In the (not too distant) future, HarmonyOS could be another option reserved exclusively for Huawei devices. As you may know, HarmonyOS has been in development for almost two years. After dozens of beta releases and countless rumors, Huawei finally removed the covers from its new mobile operating system on June 2, 2021.
HarmonyOS is a pivotal start for Huawei as it finally brings the contested Chinese company the long-awaited independence from Google. In recent years, Huawei has been banned from shipping its phones with Google services. In fact, phones like the Huawei P40 come with Android but without Google services. Needless to say, the user experience was pretty limited and complicated.
Moving to HarmonyOS can be a big deal in China – Huawei’s own smartphone market where the lack of Google services isn’t really a disadvantage. For other markets, however, the outlook is different, as the Google services will not be available on HarmonyOS either.
Now let’s take a look at all of the major announcements Huawei made today.
- What you need to know about HarmonyOS
- Huawei Watch 3 (Pro)
- New MatePad tablets
- Huawei FreeBuds 4
What you need to know about HarmonyOS
One operating system to connect them all – this is how HarmonyOS can be summarized. Huawei’s goal is to transform HarmonyOS into a scalable operating system that can adapt to different use cases.
From wearables to tablets, smartphones to TVs and IOTs to smart home platforms, HarmonyOS will be the driving force behind these deployments. Huawei has also coined the term “super devices”, which will use the capabilities of HarmonyOS to bundle software and hardware resources from previously physically independent devices into super devices.
In practice there is a new control center from which these connections can be controlled. An example of the Super Devices concept from Huawei would be like this: You can first play mobile games on the tablet and then continue watching on your TV without interruption.
Huawei has also renamed Huawei HiLink to Harmony Connect, bringing more devices such as televisions, washing machines, and coffeemakers into the ecosystem. The scalability of HarmonyOS is evident in the fact that Huawei claims it can even be used on devices with as little as 128 KB of RAM!
With HarmonyOS, Huawei has also introduced a new font called “HarmonyOS Sans” and introduced service widgets that allow users to access data from apps in real time. Of course, the standardization of the user experience across all devices is also addressed here.
Last but not least, there is some information about software updates and security. HarmonyOS should guarantee a long-lasting experience even after 36 months. HarmonyOS carries out user data security through a tiered system. With certain security thresholds for “super devices”, the most important user data should only be shared with the most secure devices. This is to keep the data safe despite the strong link between the devices.
While we still believe privacy is a myth, the fact that HarmonyOS is detached from the Google ecosystem makes it an interesting contender for the privacy paranoid. But the fact that Huawei finds itself in this mystery because of its Chinese origins and privacy concerns makes its situation quite complex. That said, we still believe that HarmonyOS may have a real USP if Huawei plays its cards the right way.
Now let’s take a look at some of the devices the company announced earlier today.
Huawei Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro
The first devices to run HarmonyOS include the Huawei Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro. Both models support eSIM and can be used without a connected smartphone.
Both watches come with Huawei’s own Hi6262 SoC and, in addition to LTE, also support Bluetooth 5.2 and WLAN. There is also 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. Oh, and so we don’t forget. You can use both watches with Android, iOS, and HarmonyOS.
Both watches have the same OLED display with a diameter of 1.43 inches and a PPI of 326. Typically for Huawei, both watch models are round. As you might have expected, the Pro version has a larger battery that takes up to 21 days of use compared to just 14 days for the standard model.
Both smartwatches are equipped with a heart rate sensor that can measure the oxygen level in your blood at the same time. Huawei also wants to be able to measure the temperature of your skin, which enables stress monitoring and precise sleep monitoring. For older people, the devices also support fall detection with an emergency call function, very similar to the Apple Watch.
Another interesting thing about the Pro version is that the display is made of sapphire crystal. This variant also uses titanium, which is more durable. This also shifts the weight by 10g from 54g to 64g.
The Huawei Watch 3 will cost £ 349.99 ($ 496) in the UK and will be released on June 18. The Huawei Watch 3 Pro will set you back at £ 499.99 ($ 700) and be available in the UK on June 28th.
New MatePad tablets
While HarmonyOS is only used as a companion version on the smartwatches, you can try out the new operating system on the new MatePad tablets in full bloom! The new models are called MatePad 11 and MatePad Pro 12.9. Let’s take a closer look at both of them.
The smaller of the two models announced today, the MatePad 11, has a 10.95-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels and a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. The tablet is powered by … surprise .. . a Snapdragon 865.
The tablet runs on HarmonyOS and has 6 GB of LPDDR4X RAM and either 64 or 128 GB of internal storage. We’ll try to get our hands on the tablet for the first HarmonyOS test.
The battery capacity also looks promising thanks to the large 7250 mAh battery. The camera setup includes a single 13-megapixel camera on the rear and an 8-megapixel front camera. If that’s not enough for you, we’ll quickly get to the MatePad 12.9, right?
But just a few words about the accessories. The 11-inch MatePad is also compatible with Huawei’s “M-Pencil” pen. There is also a keyboard housing that is reminiscent of Apple’s MagicKeyboard. The official prices for Europe will be announced soon. The converted process from China looks like this:
MatePad 11 (64GB) – € 399 ($ 480)
MatePad 11 (128GB) – € 499 ($ 609)
MatePad Pro 12.6
The MatePa Pro has a larger display measuring 12.6 inches. This is also an OLED panel with a refresh rate of 60Hz and a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels.
The camera setup for the Pro model also provides for an upgrade. While the main camera stays the same, there is also an 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera with a 120-degree field of view.
Instead of a Snapdragon SoC, Huawei uses its own Kirin 9000E SoC for the MatePad Pro 12.6, which was used in the Huawei Mate 40, among other things. The tablet gets 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal storage. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6, and GPS.
The MatePad 12.6 also gets a massive 10,000mAh battery. This, in combination with the 60 Hz OLED display, should ensure an excellent battery life for the device.
In addition to the second generation of the input pen called M-Pencil, Huawei also sells a keyboard case to match the MatePad Pro. As you can see in the photos, it reminds me a lot of Apple’s Magic Keyboard
You can buy the MatePad Pro 12.6 in a single configuration that will set you back around € 799 ($ 976).
Huawei FreeBuds 4
Since the FreeBuds 3 did quite well in our test with four stars, I would also like to briefly introduce the FreeBuds 4. It’s a mix of in-ear headphones and earphones. What is meant is that the headphones are plugged into the auricle and fire specifically in the direction of the ear canal. However, Huawei still does without silicone tips.
Despite the open-fit design, Huawei offers ANC in the headphones, and a transparency mode is of course also on board. In terms of sound, the true wireless headphones cover a frequency range from 20 Hertz to 20 kilohertz and have 14 mm drivers. Three microphones ensure clear conversation quality.
Apart from the support for Bluetooth 5.2, the battery life is noticeable, and it doesn’t even look that promising. With activated ANC, the game time should be 2.7 hours, without noise suppression at least 4 hours are possible. How often the earphones can be charged using the supplied charging case is currently not clear.
The FreeBuds 4 cost 149 euros and will be available in stores from July 9th. In addition to the above products, Huawei also introduced two monitors. The two new models are called MateView and are aimed at business and gaming audiences. These are unlikely to make it out of China, however.