Huawei Watch D review: smartwatch and blood pressure monitor in one device

Huawei’s smartwatches are already among the most popular on the market, thanks to their capabilities to monitor health and sports activity, quality construction, and especially long battery life. They’re already equipped with most everything you could need from a smartwatch, but the new Huawei Watch D seems to take this product category to a new level, turning a simple watch into a true medical device, the first model we’ve tested to integrate a blood pressure monitor.

Huawei Watch D includes more accessories than we’re used to from smartwatches

Since the Watch D is primarily a medical product, made to allow users’ blood pressure to be monitored at all times, it differs significantly from the Watch GT models we’re used to seeing from the company. It adopts more of a utilitarian design, resembling what would be an oversized fitness bracelet. We get a large, rectangular OLED display, a metal case, and a large silicone strap with a mechanical Z-shaped clasp.

Huawei Watch D accessories

At first glance it doesn’t look anything strange, but as soon as you turn the bracelet inside out, you notice something we haven’t found on any other smartwatch: a textile area, extending halfway down the strap, that connects to the watch. Therein lies the secret of the Watch D, underneath the textile is hidden an air bag that inflates and deflates when the blood pressure monitor function is used. The fabric is soft and pleasant to the touch, so as not to be uncomfortable in long-term use.

And to provide comfort in use for as many users as possible, Huawei has included two sizes of straps in the package. The standard one is the large one (size L), while a smaller size strap (size M) with an additional air pouch is found in the box along with the magnetic charger. Huawei also offers spare textile covers for the two air bags (it’s recommended to wash them from time to time), a cover for the air pump in the watch, and a piece of graph paper to help you fit your wristbands correctly to your hand.

Huawei Watch D airbag M

So, depending on the gradation indicated on the paper, you can tighten or loosen the strap lock. The aforementioned cover is included to cover the pump when removing the airbag, the watch can also be used without it.

Compared to other watches that only come with a strap and charger, Huawei’s Watch D seems to deliver a complete package.

Huawei Watch D buttons

Health app connects watch to HarmonyOS, Android and iOS phones

Huawei’s Watch D is compatible with both the company’s phones, already equipped with Huawei App Gallery and Huawei Mobile Services, and Android or iOS devices. On Android, the Huawei Health app can be downloaded after installing HMS and AppGallery, while on iOS there is Huawei’s Health app directly on the App Store. It even communicates with Apple Health for syncing monitored data.

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The pairing process with your phone is simple, but you should know that updates on this model are very slow. For a package of just 40 MB, available when I first set up the watch, I had to wait almost an hour for the transfer to the watch. Most likely, Huawei transfers this data via Bluetooth. The downside of this process, however, is the need to keep the app running on the update page, as other activities could cancel the process.

The Health app also serves as a configuration app, being able to download new watch faces from here, or enable or disable features like sleep monitoring, weather updates, or viewing the watch’s recorded statistics.

Even though there’s a pretty extensive supply of clock faces, most of the built-in ones are pretty uninspiring, with only the default one being really useful. The rest of the clock faces in the app store are mostly community-made, have childish or downright obnoxious designs, and are also counter-cost, without the ability to even test the design before paying for it. At least the prices are relatively affordable, between 2 and 15 lei for the most part. Personally, I recommend using the default face.

The blood pressure monitor function is the primary one for the Huawei Watch D, the others are somewhat secondary

Being a watch from Huawei’s “premium” area, I had no doubt that we’re dealing with a well-built device. Despite appearing to be built on the same hardware platform as models in the Watch Fit range, the Huawei Watch D is significantly larger and thicker, but also heavier. This is certainly due to the extra integrated hardware, especially the air pump. So if you’re not comfortable wearing a watch that’s quite large and quite heavy compared to other models on the market, the Watch D is not for you.

Huawei Watch D voltage

Incidentally, the Watch D is not for the general public, but is made specifically to be worn by someone who really needs a portable blood pressure monitor. People with heart problems will enjoy carrying a slightly larger and thicker watch than a standalone blood pressure monitor in their luggage, especially when travelling. And this watch is not just a blood pressure monitor, but a well-equipped smartwatch. It integrates pretty much most of the sports and health monitoring features like other Huawei models, and offers pretty much all the sensors you need: EKG, pulse oximeter, heart rate, skin temperature, as well as dedicated software functions for monitoring sleep and stress levels.

There are a few things missing, however, that we’ve seen on other Huawei watches in the past. For example, an altimeter is missing. Then, the watch is not equipped with a speaker nor a microphone. That means you won’t be able to answer calls. It’s understandable, however, why these components have been dropped, as the space inside is limited. Like other Huawei models, the notifications are for informational purposes only and are non-interactive, so you won’t be able to reply to text messages or open apps on the watch. Besides, you can’t install other apps on the Watch D, despite it being equipped with the HarmonyOS operating system. Also, for a watch with a fairly high price tag, the fact that it doesn’t integrate a contactless payment system is a disadvantage.

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Huawei Watch D pump

The interface is simple in design and use, offering exclusively vertical navigation between watch functions, but I found some things a little unintuitive. From the main screen, for example, you can access notifications from the bottom and quick settings from the top. I would have seen these capabilities completely backwards. On the left and right you have quick info cards like weather, pulse, and other stats recorded by sensors.

The Huawei Watch D is also equipped with two physical buttons, yes not a digital crown. The top button is the one that accesses the main menu, while the bottom button, called Health, is by default set to turn on the blood pressure monitor. You can change this function if you wish, as it’s a fully customisable button.

Huawei Watch D textile

In case you’re interested in learning how the blood pressure monitor works, the function description is pretty trivial. Once you enter the dedicated menu, you have on-screen instructions on how to proceed. You hold the watch at heart level, try to move as little as possible and not talk for a few seconds while the watch’s air pump and sensors are operating. Then, just like a medical blood pressure monitor, the air pump inflates the cushion on the wristband, and you feel the pressure rise on your wrist. Then, for a few seconds the watch records the necessary data and immediately starts deflating the cushion. The data is then displayed on the screen. This data is recorded on your personal Huawei ID account, but you can also take a measurement in “guest mode” if someone else wants to check their blood pressure with your Watch D. This data will not be recorded anywhere.

Huawei announced earlier this year that it had received approval from authorities to sell this product as a medical one, suggesting that the information it records is very close to reality. Of course, there can always be human error in the way the product is used.

Huawei Watch D front on

Huawei promises a 7-day battery life on the Watch D, which is easily achievable with regular use. Surely though, the more voltage measurements you take, the more the battery life should decrease. The good news is that the Watch has very good standby battery life and doesn’t consume as much power when you’re not doing anything active with it. Sports activities will consume the most though, activating most of the sensors simultaneously.

Conclusions

The Watch D appears to be made specifically to fill a gap in Huawei’s watch offerings and a first step into the company’s medical-function product area. It’s priced similarly to other models in the Watch GT 3 series, but has both advantages and disadvantages over those. If you don’t necessarily need an ultra-portable blood pressure monitor, the other watches in the company’s offering would be easier to recommend and more “fashionable” in terms of design.

Huawei Watch D front main

I can see the Watch D as the type of product to give as a gift to someone older, who already uses a blood pressure monitor for health monitoring anyway, or for those who are really concerned about their health so much that they monitor their condition closely to prevent possible problems that may arise over time.

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