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China's Huawei enters smartwatch frenzy with round-face models

BARCELONA Sun Mar 1, 2015 7:06pm IST

A man walks past a logo during the presentation the Huawei's new smartphone, the Ascend P7, launched by China's Huawei Technologies in Paris, May 7, 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Files

A man walks past a logo during the presentation the Huawei’s new smartphone, the Ascend P7, launched by China’s Huawei Technologies in Paris, May 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Philippe Wojazer/Files

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BARCELONA (Reuters) – Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei on Sunday launched its first smartwatch, a round-faced device that works with Android phones, joining a crowded market weeks before the introduction of the highly anticipated Apple Watch.

At an event tied to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the firm unveiled its Huawei watch line in classic, business and sporty versions, while at the same time across town, Korea’s LG Electronics launched a similar round-faced model.

Both are following the lead of Motorola, which has drawn favourable reviews for its more fashion-conscious alternative to the dozens of bulky, square smartwatches that characterised the first generation of these devices.

Wearables shipments are expected to jump 158 percent this year to 75 million, analysts at CCS Insight estimate. By 2018, almost 350 million wearable devices will be worn worldwide.

The Huawei Watch is 42 mm in diameter, slightly larger than Motorola’s futuristic rival, the Moto 360.

Pairing the device with a smartphone running Android, users can receive text-message notifications, emails, calendar reminders or incoming phone alerts.

It is not, as some analysts had hoped for, a watch which can operate independently from a smartphone, using its own SIM card.

Forrester analyst Thomas Husson said whether a smartwatch or wearable device can operate independently from a phone is irrelevant: “Smartwatches will complement, not replace smartphones” for at least the next two to three years.

Huawei also launched the second generation of a fitness tracking band, dubbed TalkBand B2, which allows the users to remove a wireless, Bluetooth earpiece to talk on their mobile phone.

(Reporting by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Eric Auchard)

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