A 4G variant of the Huawei Watch 2 will launch locally on August 16, making it the first SIM-enabled wearable to see a release in Australia. Retailing for $599 outright, the Watch 2 will launch with Vodafone and Vaya. Vodafone will have the Watch 2 first on August 16, with Vaya following on August 31.
Since the Watch 2 has a 4G connection, it can be used without the need for a constant Bluetooth connection to a smartphone. For example, if you don't want to take your phone to the gym, the Watch 2 will still be able to display text messages and calls you get while you're out. Huawei says apps such as Uber, Facebook Messenger, and Foursquare are all usable on the Watch 2 when it is worn independent of a phone.
Powered by the latest version of Google's Android Wear software - Android Wear 2.0 - the Huawei Watch 2 offers a 1.2-inch display, 768MB of RAM, 4GB of storage that can be used for music, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an optical heart-rate sensor. In addition, there's NFC for Android Pay, and GPS which can be used for fitness tracking and navigation.
Other key specifications include IP68 water-resistance, and a battery that will give you two days of normal usage, or seven hours of active heart-rate monitoring and GPS workout tracking.
Vaya will sell the Watch 2 either outright, on a 12-month contract, or a 24-month contract. The actual SIM component of the plan has no-lock in contracts, so you could technically change your telco while keeping the watch. Over a 12-month period, you'll pay $60 per month for the Watch 2, as well as upfront $60 payment. Over a 24-month period, you'll pay $33 per month, as well as upfront $33 payment. Both of these options are more expensive than buying the Watch 2 outright.
If you pre-order the Huawei Watch 2 through Vaya, you'll get six-months of free service, including unlimited talk and text and 1GB of data per month.
Vodafone has confirmed that it will sell the Watch 2 on a plan, but has yet to confirm pricing.
Given that the Watch 2 is available on Vaya and Vodafone, it should work on telco powered by the Optus or Vodafone networks. It remains to be seen as to how it will handle a Telstra SIM.
The Huawei Watch 2 is compatible with both Android and iOS, but will offer tighter integration with Android smartphones.
While the Huawei Watch 2 is the first 4G smartwatch to launch in Australia, it's not the first of its kind. Manufacturers have typically avoided release cellular wearables in Australia due to antenna issues. Many smartphones now support enough cellular bands that a single configuration can be released worldwide, but smartwatch size means manufacturers have to be more specific about which frequencies the wearable supports. This can necessitate region specific models, which may be hard to justify given how small a market Australia is, and the niche appeal of smartwatches.
Apple is expected to add 4G connectivity to the third generation Apple Watch, which could very well end up being Australia's second cellular wearable.