Smartwatches are getting weird again, and this time, Huawei is leading the charge. The company has given us a teaser of its next wearable, the Huawei Watch Buds. This one looks like another well-crafted smartwatch from Huawei — until you see its lid opening to reveal two wireless earbuds.
Yeah, you heard that right. The dial area lifts up and presents you with a pair of true wireless earbuds safely nestled in their magnetic cavities. As you might expect, these are not your bulky noise-canceling chunky earbuds or the AirPods-style earbuds with a stem.
These are bullet-shaped earbuds that are small enough to be fitted inside the smartwatch’s main housing. The design is not novel, though, as they bear a striking similarity with the Nokia True Wireless Earbuds and the Motorola Verve Buds.
What really stands out here is the smartwatch engineering. Huawei’s design team somehow managed to create enough space inside the main body to fit two earbuds, and also added a magnetic wireless charging system in there to keep these audio gizmos juiced up.
If you think that the teaser wasn’t enough, someone shot a video of the smartwatch in what looks like a retail store. As mentioned earlier, the exterior design doesn’t really stand out in terms of aesthetics, but once it pops open, it really takes you by surprise.
The Huawei Watch Buds were supposed to launch in December, but the event was postponed at the last moment. Huawei’s official Weibo channel hasn’t offered any explanation yet, and a fresh launch date hasn’t bee revealed so far, either.
This is the kind of gizmo wizardry that inspires me, and I’m definitely looking forward to it as my holiday season tech purchase. Will it launch in the U.S.? Highly unlikely. And if this Politico report is anything to go by, it is highly unlikely that you will find it across Europe either.
Bring back weird tech
Huawei’s earbud trickery is quite exciting, but Nokia pulled off a similar stunt earlier this year. The company somewhat revived the iconic XpressMusic lineup in July with the Nokia 5710 XpressAudio — a feature phone with a few smarts, this retro callback actually hid a pair of earbuds at the top.
You just have to slide the cover at the back to reveal a pair of stem-style earbuds. Is it cool? Hell yeah! And for a shelf price of just $90, why wouldn’t it be an impulse buy for a tech nerd? Or it could just be a burner phone for short-lived digital detox resolutions.
But hey, we’re talking about smartwatches, which makes me wonder — where did all the wacky experiments go? Let’s not forget the uber-stylish Calendar Watch, which was a ZTE subsidiary that really made a huge splash or the Nubia Alpha smartwatch from 2019.
That last one was far ahead of its time, thanks to a wraparound-style display that made it look like an Omnitrix inspired by the wonderful world of Spielberg’s Ready Player One. It had its kinks, but it was quite a promising project. It’s just a shame that Nubia never made an upgraded version, one that had more reliable contactless hand gesture support.
In 2018, a company named Shell launched a smartwatch that turned into a full-fledged smartphone. You just had to take the round main body off the strap, and two prongs popped out, each with a speaker and mic at the rounded end. In fact, its battery charged using the motion of your hands to generate electricity.
Want more weirdness? Well, in 2019, computing giant IBM filed a patent for a smartwatch that unfolds to become — wait for it — a tablet. Titled “Variable Display Size for an Electronic Device,” the patent schematics imagined a smartwatch with a foldable panel, in the same year when Samsung was still reeling from the disaster of its first foldable phone.
Right now, weirdness in the smartwatch segment is leaning more toward the innovation side. Take, for example, the Huawei Watch D, which cleverly has a pressure chamber system right inside the watch strap to monitor blood pressure levels without any calibration hassles.
Both Apple and Samsung are eying noninvasive blood glucose monitoring for their upcoming smartwatches. Blood alcohol level measurement and deeper chemical analysis of sweat are also on the evolution radar. A bit of mad smartwatch innovation never hurts, and even if it’s something not especially practical like the Huawei Watch Buds, it’s still exciting to see.