There was a time when Huawei was really unsettling Samsung. It was before the Chinese giant ran into troubles with the United States. Huawei was pushing the envelope, making bold decisions, and trying to think outside the box to capture Samsung’s market share. The strategy was working, particularly in emerging markets where Huawei could also compete aggressively on price.
It quickly went downhill for the company as the US dropped a giant banhammer on Huawei. The company became focused on its survival above all else and that worked well for Samsung. The Korean conglomerate was able to establish its dominance in the foldable smartphone market. Its conventional flagships also got more breathing space as Huawei’s flagships were cut off from Android and the latest chips, meaning they couldn’t quite offer the same level of functionality.
During its glory days Huawei made it seem that Samsung was scared to take risks. It felt that Samsung wasn’t willing to stray too far from the formula that had worked well for the company over the past decade. Huawei was better able to capture the market’s attention with the bold moves it was making, leaving Samsung to often catch up instead of leading the way.
We’re seeing somewhat of a repeat of this with the new Huawei Watch Buds. This new hybrid product from the Chinese giant offers the best of both a smartwatch and wireless earbuds in one package. One can certainly debate the merits of the product but Huawei at least gets props for thinking out of the box here.
The Huawei Watch Buds look like a standard smartwatch and at first glance, you may not even notice that they have a dual purpose. Flip up the circular display and you’ll find two tiny but truly wireless earbuds inside. So instead of having to carry a separate case for your earbuds, they are housed inside your smartwatch itself. An interesting yet fairly simple idea.
It’s pertinent to note that this isn’t just a concept. It’s an actual product that Huawei is going to sell across the globe. Pre-orders are open today in several markets, including the United Kingdom, and they’re priced at 449 GBP or approximately $530. Not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but Huawei is basically giving you two products for the price of one.
Not that I consider this to be a groundbreaking product or an idea that Samsung should replicate. It’s just refreshing to see something so different being done for smartwatches after a long time. This is a proper smartwatch with a 1.43-inch AMOLED display that can lock magnetically over the earbuds. It offers IPX7 water-resistance and doubles as a charging case for the buds.
Samsung hasn’t thought about a similar expansion of the form factor with its Galaxy Watch smartwatches. Perhaps the biggest change in years was made a couple of years ago when Samsung switched the Galaxy Watch from Tizen to Wear OS (Android). Last year’s Galaxy Watch 5 was a more iterative update and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro primarily focused on offering better battery life and a couple of GPS-assisted activity tracking features.
Not really what you’d call out of the box thinking as far as reimaginging what a smartwatch can be goes. Huawei has at least made a risky move to see where the chips fall. Perhaps this idea turns out to be a hit and people prefer the idea of a smartwatch and wireless earbuds hybrid. It could also flop entirely so much so that Huawei discontinues it. The fact remains that at least it’s trying something different.
Calculated risks have worked well for Samsung, particularly with its foldable series. From timing its entry into the market perfectly to advancing durability and enhancing functionality, Samsung has established itself as the market leader in foldable smartphones. I’m sure many Samsung fans would want to see the company adopt that same attitude for other products.
Can we have such expectations from the new Galaxy Watch smartwatches that will be released this year? Probably not, there are no indications to suggest that a radical reinvention of the Galaxy Watch is planned for 2023. One can still hope that Samsung doesn’t keep playing it so safe and shows us what it can really do.