Connecting different devices you own together wirelessly, whether to collaborate or just to transfer files between them, should be simple enough, but it’s often the opposite. Huawei announced its Super Device wireless connection system at Mobile World Congress 2022, which aims to solve the problems many of us have with synchronization between devices, and I tried it.
After a few hours I asked myself the question, why can’t there be only one way to connect things reliably without a cable?
What is a super device?
Go past all the buzzwords in the promotional material and eventually you’ll find that Super Device is, at its core, a way to connect multiple devices together without resorting to a cable. This is part of the Huawei ecosystem and therefore only applies to Huawei products, so you cannot use Super Device if you have a smartphone or computer from another brand. You need to be fully onboard with Huawei devices and own a Huawei smartphone, computer, tablet, true wireless headphones, etc., but that’s nothing new: Apple’s AirDrop only works with Apple hardware, for example.
What you can do with Super Device depends on the devices you have, but at its most advanced (and intensive) level it will link a tablet and a TV to take notes on a conference call, or a computer and a tablet for a collaborative document. screen creation and sharing. With a Huawei phone connected using Super Device, you can share files and interact with the phone’s operating system and applications on another device.
Super Device leverages the seamless sharing technology that Huawei has touted as a key benefit of its HarmonyOS platform since its introduction, and this is the first time we’ve really seen it in action.
Experiment with Super Device
I tried Super Device on the new Huawei MateBook E 2-in-1 tablet and Huawei P50 Pro smartphone. I also experimented with a pair of Huawei FreeBuds Studio in-ear headphones, a pair of FreeBuds Pro wireless headphones, and a Huawei M Pencil stylus. Super Device sits under Windows Control Panel and actively scans for nearby compatible devices when you open it.
On the main Super Device page, the P50 Pro appears as a floating bubble icon, and you click and drag it over the MateBook E icon to connect them together. Nice and easy. Once you accept the request on the phone, a copy of the phone’s home screen appears on the MateBook E’s display. From here, you can interact with the phone from your computer, open up to three separate windows and use certain applications.
The connection was found to be stable, but using your phone while connected to the computer means it slows down slightly, and also don’t expect to do anything complex on the screen of the mirrored phone. For example, you can’t pinch and zoom to get a closer look at images in the Gallery app, and there’s a frustrating pause between your request and the system doing something when you’re using the browser. Latency means you’ll accidentally close windows because you think it didn’t recognize your input. Playing games on the mirror screen would be useless because of this.
You can drag a file from the computer to the mirrored phone screen to transfer it, an action that takes a moment to complete. Oddly, when transferring photos from phone to computer, there’s no quick drag-and-drop method from the mirrored screen, and you use the same AirDrop-style menu from the Gallery app as you would do it from your phone. It’s unfortunate that the same drag-and-drop system isn’t repeated back and forth. By default, saved files are hidden in the Huawei Share folder, which is hidden in the computer’s Data folder. Why doesn’t it just go into downloads? It’s a mystery.
At this point it hadn’t revolutionized the way I connect devices together, and I could skip looking for the files I transferred instead of them being in a logical place, but at least it worked and worked quickly.
More than one way to connect
However, Super Device then got a little more confusing. It doesn’t work with all Huawei devices, at least I don’t think it does. FreeBuds Studio is not compatible with it, but FreeBuds Pro and FreeBuds 4 are. But when connecting the FreeBuds headphones, it made me wonder if Super Device was involved. Huawei has a Fast Pair-style system for linking the FreeBuds Studio to the MateBook E, and it works just fine. It instantly recognized the headset and presented a large, clear menu with a button labeled Connect.
I tapped it and the headphones were linked. It really doesn’t get much easier than this, and I didn’t use the Super Device menu at all, and no headphones showed up in the menu anyway. The same was true for the M Pencil, which connected, like headphones, apparently outside of the Super Device menu.
The P50 Pro connects through Huawei PC Manager and remains connected even when unpaired using the Super Device menu. Tap the multi-screen collaboration tool, and it reconnects with Super Device, in which case you can also use the quick access features to back up photos. That’s before trying the Huawei Share menu, another sharing feature, where the AirDrop-style system makes transferring files quick and easy.
I was not able to test Super Device’s mirroring function with a computer. I tried with a 2018 MateBook X Pro with the latest version of Huawei PC Manager (which is required), but neither it nor the MateBook E appeared in the Super Device menu. The P50 Pro is connected to it, however. I regularly use AirDrop and Sidecar on a Mac and iPad Pro, and found Super Device couldn’t quite match it in terms of speed, simplicity, or device compatibility.
Yet another sharing feature
There is considerable potential in a streamlined login system. Our working lives have changed and will likely continue to change, with the office environment no longer being everyone’s permanent workspace. A single, fast, simple and reliable connection between devices will only become more relevant for this reason. This is how Super Device seemed to be promoted, but in reality it joins several other Huawei sharing options, all doing something similar, at least from the user’s perspective.
There’s a lot of stuff in Super Device, but it wasn’t immediately obvious how to tap into it all, or if I was doing everything right due to the multiple options and menus. Compared to Sidecar and AirDrop, it felt more dense and confusing than necessary. It would have been great to see Huawei using Super Device to create a single, cohesive space for connecting devices together and managing them afterwards, simplifying the often tedious process of connecting devices, rather than what it appears to have done, which adds more , very similar characteristics above the others.
The name Super Device, and it’s advertised as a tool, seems a bit misleading, as it seems to be only part of the solution, not the whole solution. The tech works well, but the layout, multiple sharing options, all with different names, and incompatibility with older Huawei devices mean it hasn’t quite solved a serious problem yet.