Positioned within the budget smartwatch category, the HONOR Watch 4 brings back the square form factor reminiscent of the impressive HONOR Watch ES. Building on the success of its predecessors, including the Watch ES and the round MagicWatch and GS 3 smartwatches, the HONOR Watch 4 promises extended battery life and a robust set of fitness features.
These include advanced workout algorithms, fitness age calculation, and comprehensive metrics monitoring such as heart rate and stress levels. Does the HONOR Watch 4 prove to be a worthy successor to HONOR’s previous budget offerings? Read on for my assessment.
Introducing the HONOR Watch 4
The HONOR Watch 4, available in two distinct colors, boasts an AMOLED display and a 5 ATM water-resistant design. While this isn’t the first time HONOR has embraced the square look for its watches, the HONOR Watch 4 distinguishes itself with a design that could easily be mistaken for an Amazfit smartwatch.
The watch is offered in black and a gold version, both featuring aluminum cases and a silicone rubber strap. The strap, which can be removed, utilizes a watch buckle with the strap tucking underneath to ensure a secure fit. Despite the limited color options, the HONOR Watch 4 stands out with its commendable build quality within the constraints of a budget-friendly device.
The HONOR Watch 4 boasts a generous 1.75-inch AMOLED touchscreen display with a resolution of 450 x 390, surpassing the screen dimensions of its predecessor, the Watch ES. Although the colors on this display tend to be slightly saturated, the screen compensates with impressive brightness levels, ensuring clear visibility both indoors and in brighter outdoor conditions.
Furthermore, the watch offers an always-on display mode, a feature that might not be immediately apparent but can be uncovered by delving into the settings. For users who choose to disable this mode, the HONOR Watch 4 provides an alternative with its responsive raise-to-wake support, a convenient feature that not only maintains user interaction but also conserves battery life.
Physical Features and Functionality
Situated on the right side of the case is a solitary physical button, serving as the primary means to access the main menu screen. Notably versatile, this button can be pressed for navigation but also held down to facilitate the shutdown or restart of the watch, providing users with convenient control over its operations.
Turning the attention to the back of the device reveals the optical sensor responsible for delivering real-time data on both heart rate and SpO2 levels. This crucial sensor underscores the watch’s health monitoring capabilities, offering users valuable insights into their physiological well-being. Additionally, when the watch battery reaches 0%, the circular charging cradle comes into play as the designated platform for recharging, ensuring a seamless and user-friendly charging experience.
For those inclined to take a plunge, the HONOR Watch 4 boasts a 5 ATM rated design, indicating its capability to withstand submersion in water up to depths of 50 meters. This robust water resistance extends to both pool and open water environments, offering dedicated swimming modes to meticulously track movements while submerged.
Performance and Software Capabilities
Compatible with both Android and iOS platforms, the HONOR Watch 4 provides a versatile user experience. Noteworthy features include Bluetooth calling support and a built-in music player. The watch operates on HONOR’s proprietary operating system, presenting a user interface reminiscent of Huawei Lite OS/Harmony OS.
While functional with both Android and iOS devices, users leveraging Android phones gain access to enhanced features. This includes the utilization of the built-in music player, necessitating audio syncing from the paired Android device.
Syncing the watch with a Google-powered phone unlocks additional benefits, such as access to premium watch faces for a fee. However, it’s worth noting that the HONOR Watch 4 offers a range of free watch face options, encompassing creative designs and a diverse mix of analogue and digital faces. This variety provides users with ample opportunities to customize and refresh their watch interface without incurring additional costs.
The software embedded in the HONOR Watch 4 operates smoothly, devoid of any noticeable lag. Its user-friendly interface is easily navigable, providing a seamless experience that appears meticulously optimized for the square AMOLED display.
Efficient notification support is seamlessly integrated into the user experience, accessible with a simple swipe from the main watch screen. However, it’s important to note that, while generally reliable, there were occasional instances of discrepancies where app icons from incoming notifications did not precisely match the corresponding apps. Despite these sporadic quirks, the overall notification management system serves as a convenient and effective hub for staying informed.
Bluetooth Calling Features
When it comes to making calls via Bluetooth, the HONOR Watch 4 provides a familiar experience by seamlessly importing your contacts. The inclusion of a call log and a built-in keypad further enhances the calling functionality, offering users a comprehensive set of tools for managing their calls.
While engaging in calls, the call quality on the HONOR Watch 4 is not crystal clear, and occasional crackling may be experienced. Despite this, the watch compensates by delivering sufficient volume, ensuring that users can adequately hear conversations even in louder environments. This dual observation presents a balanced perspective on the watch’s calling capabilities, acknowledging both its strengths and areas for potential improvement.
Companion Health App
Beyond the confines of the watch, users can leverage the HONOR Health app, which unsurprisingly bears resemblance to Huawei’s Health companion app. The app is organized into four primary tabs, with the first being the dashboard, presenting key metrics at a glance.
The Exercise tab offers a comprehensive array of workout options, complemented by workout videos for users to follow. The Devices tab serves as a control center, allowing users to adjust watch settings and explore the watch face market. Lastly, the Me tab provides access to personalized workout plans.
While reminiscent of Huawei’s app, HONOR’s Health app distinguishes itself by not offering the capability to sync workout data with third-party applications. However, HONOR’s proprietary app compensates for this limitation by effectively presenting workout statistics both within the app and on the watch itself. This approach ensures that users can seamlessly track and analyze their fitness data, albeit within the Honor ecosystem.
Comprehensive Tracking and Features
The HONOR Watch 4 stands out with a remarkable array of fitness and wellness tracking capabilities, especially considering its cost-effective nature.
In terms of optical sensor capabilities, the watch provides continuous tracking for key metrics such as heart rate, stress (evaluated through heart rate variability), and SpO2 levels. This multifaceted approach to health monitoring enhances the user’s ability to gain comprehensive insights into their overall well-being.
A notable addition to the HONOR Watch 4’s feature set is the incorporation of built-in GPS, a feature that has traditionally been absent from HONOR’s more budget-friendly wearables. The inclusion of GPS functionality enriches the watch’s tracking capabilities, allowing users to benefit from accurate location-based data during their activities. This addition demonstrates a commitment to enhancing the overall fitness tracking experience and elevating the value proposition of the Honor Watch 4 in the wearable market.
Exploring the workout tracking screen on the HONOR Watch 4 unveils a series of fitness and running “courses,” essentially curated workouts tailored for various fitness goals. Whether aiming to burn fat, embarking on an endurance run, or seeking step-by-step instructions and visual guides for desk-induced stretches, these courses cater to diverse user needs, particularly benefiting beginners.
Dedicated Workout Modes
Delving into the specific workout modes reveals options tailored for running, cycling, swimming, and indoor activities like cross-training and indoor rowing. Each mode offers activity-specific metrics, enhancing the precision of data tracking. Notably, the running mode introduces engaging features such as virtual runner challenges and distance pursuit, providing an interactive and motivating dimension to the running experience.
In practice, the workout tracking functionality of the HONOR Watch 4 proves commendable. Testing it across indoor rowing, pool swims, and outdoor runs yielded satisfactory results. While GPS signal acquisition initially exhibited some delay, subsequent runs saw improvement in signal lock times. Comparing GPS accuracy against pricier competitors like the Suunto Race and Garmin Forerunner 265, the HONOR Watch 4 performed well, with minor deviations in GPS tracks.
An advantageous feature for outdoor enthusiasts using the HONOR Watch 4 is the ability to track back to the starting location, providing practical navigation support. While the navigation feature is basic and doesn’t offer a detailed map view, it proves valuable for guiding users back to their initial point if they deviate from their path.
Comprehensive Fitness Insights
HONOR prioritizes delivering comprehensive fitness insights, offering users valuable data such as VO2 Max estimates, recommended recovery time, training load assessment, and the generation of Fitness Age. The Fitness Age is determined based on cardiovascular endurance and a 25-minute outdoor test, a methodology reminiscent of the fitness age feature found in Garmin watches like the Venu series.
Health Metrics Beyond Exercise
Diverging from exercise-centric features, the HONOR Watch 4 extends its monitoring capabilities to continuous and resting heart rate readings. However, the Watch 4 tends to register higher readings compared to the reliable continuous monitoring of Garmin devices. The resting heart rate on the HONOR Watch 4 consistently reported a measurement 9 bpm higher, with real-time readings occasionally deviating by as much as 10-15 bpm.
The watch prominently displays daily step counts through an Apple Rings-esque widget. Comparing these counts with Garmin and Polar watches revealed a close alignment, with differences within the range of 200-300 steps. Additionally, the HONOR Watch 4 incorporates inactivity alerts, a helpful feature to prompt users to move and stay active throughout the day.
Sleep Tracking Features
Delving into sleep monitoring, the HONOR Watch 4 provides a detailed breakdown of key sleep stages, including REM. The watch captures essential sleep metrics such as duration, time taken to fall asleep, and generates a sleep score, accompanied by basic analysis of time spent in different sleep stages. When compared to other reputable sleep trackers, the HONOR Watch 4 delivers similar results in terms of sleep duration and sleep stage breakdown.
HONOR Watch 4 tends to be more generous with sleep scores, especially in situations where interruptions occurred during the night. Despite this, the core sleep tracking functionality proves to be reliable, offering users valuable insights into their sleep patterns and overall sleep quality.
Battery Performance Overview
The HONOR Watch 4 is equipped with a 451mAh capacity battery, with HONOR claiming a commendable potential of up to 14 days of battery life. However, it’s crucial to note that this estimate is derived from laboratory conditions and includes the use of features such as Bluetooth calls, GPS tracking, and music playback—conditions that may not align with daily or intensive usage patterns.
For users opting for the always-on display mode, it’s imperative to be aware that this choice will substantially reduce the anticipated battery life. The watch issues a warning, indicating that enabling the always-on display feature will cut the battery life in half, emphasizing the trade-off between continuous display functionality and battery longevity.
In my testing of the HONOR Watch 4, incorporating features like the raise-to-wake gesture, continuous heart rate monitoring, active notifications, and a mix of indoor and GPS-based workout tracking, the watch demonstrated an impressive capability to last around a week on a single charge. On days with lighter usage, the battery level saw a moderate drop of approximately 10%, suggesting the potential for the watch to surpass a week of use under such conditions.
However, activating the always-on display mode significantly alters the battery dynamics. When employed continuously, the battery life drops notably, falling well below the one-week threshold. HONOR provides users with clear warnings about this impact, and the watch visibly reflects the battery depletion.
To address this, the watch features a practical mode allowing users to schedule when the always-on display is active and turn it off during periods like bedtime, thereby optimizing battery usage and preserving power when the constant display isn’t essential.
It’s evident that the HONOR Watch 4 takes a thoughtful approach to balancing the desire for a standard watch experience with the need to preserve battery life. The scheduling option for the always-on mode exemplifies this approach, providing users with control over when this feature is active and ensuring efficient power management, especially during periods of inactivity or when the watch is not in use.
In my final assessment, the HONOR Watch 4 stands out as a commendable evolution from its predecessor, the HONOR Watch ES, which already demonstrated strong performance. The watch impressively caters to fitness enthusiasts, particularly beginners, offering robust fitness features at an exceptionally attractive price point.
Beyond its performance, the HONOR Watch 4 presents itself as a well-crafted smartwatch, defying budget aesthetics with its appealing design. The inclusion of GPS, navigation capabilities, and diverse fitness workouts further enhances its overall value proposition. This amalgamation of features, coupled with the commendable battery life, positions the Watch 4 as an enticing and affordable choice in the budget smartwatch market.
The new HONOR Watch 4 is now available for purchase on HONOR’s official HiHonor website at only RM499.