Huawei has always been surprising for a few years now. Here on the market recently lacked a smartwatch capable of obtaining a greater autonomy than the classic day. The Chinese company with Watch GT has thought about it and succeeded. We explain why in the review.
Finally we have on the market a performing smartwatch in the classic notification operations or fitness tracker capable of keeping up for over two weeks and not for a classic day like the other devices do. Huawei Watch GT is not only this because it also reveals itself as a smartwatch with character thanks to its “calibrated” crown but also for its being always ready and effective in the notification functions, displaying fitness parameters but also measuring heart rate. And then? Its battery can last up to 30 days.
Huawei Watch GT has been designed to do three main things: look like a normal watch, last at least two weeks on a single charge and reduce functionality to basic but highly used features such as health and fitness monitoring and incoming notifications. On these three fronts, Huawei has really won the game. Huawei Watch GT may perhaps not be too complete compared to a smartwatch like the Samsung Galaxy Watch or even an Apple Watch but in fact it can be considered the winning object for many of the users who are not looking for a handyman smartwatch.
Design and Display
At the design level what Huawei has tried to set in the design concerns above all the resemblance as much as possible to a classic watch as users have known it for years now. Here, on an aesthetic level, it has chosen a circular version with the right dimensions for both small and important wrists. At the dimensional level it has roughly the same dimensions as the Samsung Galaxy Watch, although the thickness decreases to only 10.6 mm compared to the 12.9 mm of the Galaxy. Not only because lightness is certainly a focal point in everyday usability. Here its only 46 grams they manage not to make his presence on the wrist weigh especially above the 63 grams of the Galaxy Watch.
The dial is surrounded by a ceramic bezel that offers a partly sporty look even if the latter component is fixed and not rotating. The body, in 316L stainless steel, has two buttons on the right side to be used at best in the various functions of the smartwatch. As with most Huawei products, the design and build quality are meticulous as well as among the best ever.
Presumably to keep the weight low, Huawei has decided to use lighter metal for the case of the Huawei Watch GT which however remains very rigid and equally resistant to daily use on the wrist and therefore to external agents such as sweat or even water. Here Huawei has also placed sensors for the heart rate monitor and two pins for charging. In fact, the watch can be easily recharged using the accessory supplied, which is nothing but a small circular charging dock that uses a USB-C connection and where the smartwatch can be placed.
The display is a 1.39-inch AMOLED panel with a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels and is undoubtedly the real strength of the device. It is bright, colorful and clear, simply one of the best panels seen on a smartwatch. The brightness of the screen is really high especially when you are outdoors and therefore in direct sunlight where the colors are vivid and where everything is clear and legible. In addition to the manual setting, the Watch GT has an automatic brightness sensor that allows to have the display setting always active on every occasion when the external light changes.
The dial has the classic size of 46 mm which somehow makes it more important dimension and perhaps more addressed to a male audience. Although with important dimensions it is comfortable in everyday use thanks to the classic clock ergonomics. Excellent silicone strap well shaped for the curves of the wrist and take it every day does not “weigh” and you do not have feelings of heat or particular sweat.
Moreover, the strap is well packaged in terms of material resistance and even after days and days of extreme situations from dust to water splashes it does not undergo wear, a sign that Huawei has paid great attention to this aspect which many have neglected. Present the resistance to 5 atmospheres that guarantees a use to 360 degrees being able therefore to bring also in the swimming pool or in the shower.
Operating System: LiteOS and not Wear OS
Unlike the other smartwatches on the market and also unlike what has been done so far, Huawei decides with this Watch GT to change the cards on the table at the level of software and to abandon Google and its Wear OS by implementing a LiteOS owner in the smartwatch. We know very well that this is not the first deviation of the company from the Google Wear operating system – a platform that, while improving, is still surpassed by its competitors.
Huawei does not want to abandon Wear OS but is simply offering an alternative to all those who like to bring a smartwatch with something new to look at and use. As mentioned at the beginning Huawei focuses on the essential things and to do so eliminates many redundant and somehow useless applications. Watch GT therefore allows users to concentrate on the essentials and overall, the smartwatch looks really “new” compared to what we have seen today with the competition.
The interface is intuitive and moves within the various sections of the menu simply with a swipe and with the physical side buttons. Long press of the display allows access to the choice of dials, here there is no virtual store in which to choose watch faces but in fact Huawei has made complete, fun and nice ones that can still complete the needs of users.
Depending on the dial, it is possible to receive multiple information and, although not customizable, some are complete in detail with the clarification of parameters such as heart rate, steps or other. Unlike most smartwatches, it is not possible to turn off the screen by covering it with the palm of the hand, it is possible to reactivate it by touching the circular panel. If you don’t want to be bothered by the light of the screen every time you turn your wrist you can act on the Do not disturb mode in the settings.
Swiping up your finger from the Home screen quickly takes you to a menu that lets you activate the Do Not Disturb, lock screen but also “find your phone”. By scrolling down instead you can take a look at the unread notifications. Unfortunately, talking about the notifications we immediately clarify one thing: it is not possible to interact in any way with those received. They can be read the moment they arrive but it is not possible to respond to them via the smartwatch. A lack? In fact, Huawei’s willingness to maintain a truly minimal wearable in all respects.
Perhaps a different idea on how to communicate with a smartwatch, but overall this could be positive for many. The smartwatch never has software problems or delays in opening the various menus and, provided you understand these limits, Lite OS is indeed a “complete” system capable of guaranteeing a pleasant experience.
Huawei WATCH GT: Activity Tracker
The operating system created by Huawei therefore does not present the completeness that we could find with Google’s Wear OS or Apple watchOS. Some deeper elements have been removed compared to other smartwatches but in fact there are situations on which the company has decided not to skimp: the activities, heart rate monitoring and sleep monitoring are analyzed in a precise and in-depth manner by the Watch GT. Three pillars that characterize the watch and all can be explored further through the specific Huawei Health app on smartphone.
As for the activity tracking the interface on the application appears similar to that of any other smartwatch with Android. Present the various notches of different colors with the count of daily steps, calories consumed and distance achieved. In general the sensors present in Huawei’s Watch GT work well and using it with a Xiaomi Mi Band or even with the new FitBit Versa Lite the steps counted are the same. What often happens with other current smartwatches is sleep detection. This is because battery life may not allow it to be used in bed. Different, instead, what happens with Huawei’s Watch GT which will guarantee its operation even at night during sleep thus allowing its detection.
Huawei WATCH GT: Sport Tracker
Huawei Watch GT was born as a smartwatch designed for outdoor sports: it integrates as much a GPS as a heartbeat sensor, fundamental components to be able to trace any sporting activity in the best way. The accuracy of GPS integrated in modern smartwatches is very high overall: there are differences from one model to another but the margin is included in the 2% average. A gap that can reach a maximum of 200 meters on a 10km course is more than acceptable. The situation is different for optical heartbeat sensors, which at rest can cause very different detections depending on the product: in this case, however, the positioning on the wrist and the characteristics of the epidermis of the specific user who wears them is very important.
The accuracy of heart rate detection is generally valid, provided that the watch is positioned at a suitable distance from the wrist as indicated by the smartwatch itself. The measurement under stress reports values that are in line with those we have recorded with a Garmin HRM-Run chest band: however, by not carefully placing the watch on the wrist, we have always obtained beats higher than the chest strap, not corrected with an average excess of 15-20 beats per minute. The warnings are the classic ones of the pulse heart rate sensors: take care of the position and pay attention to the abrupt variations of beat as those that are recorded in intense repeated training, as there is always a certain latency in the measurement of the actual beat compared to as noted by a chest strap.
Huawei has implemented presets for different sports activities that can be recorded by Watch GT. We find guided, outdoor and indoor running, walking, mountaineering, cross-country running, outdoor biking, exercise bikes, indoor swimming, outdoor swimming and a generic activity different from those just mentioned. For each one it is possible to configure options both for displaying data during the activity and for the way in which the activity is carried out.
It was not possible to carry out a specific direct comparison with other sportwatches because, at least at the present time, Huawei Watch GT does not allow you to export training session data in any wayso that they can be loaded with a third-party application. Strava, Endomondo, Runkeeper and the many other platforms for sharing online workouts are not supported, nor is the export of a track in one of the classic formats used by this type of device. The use of a proprietary operating system therefore has the direct and major limitation of not providing data export of any kind: the sportsman will therefore only have to rely on the reporting service offered by Huawei on the watch or via the Huawei Health App via smartphone.
This is a real shame as Huawei GT offers numerous data that help the passionate sportsman not only to check his training, but to keep his condition and shape in check. Examples are the estimated VO2Max indications for the athlete, the weekly training load, the recommended recovery time between one activity and the next and the status of the general training in progress at the moment in light of the training performed. These are the parameters that enthusiasts have found in specialist sportwatches such as the Forerunner by Garmin, and which prove to be useful to better understand the level of condition achieved.
The summary information reported by the smartwatch at the end of the sporting activity is numerous and complete, but the same is true for the App. Huawei provides the unfailing graphic information on the track followed, with data that obviously include the cardiac trend, the step to km, cadence, altitude profile and cardiac profile. The sportwatch also measures the average stride length and indicates a training effect coefficient of the session, in addition to indicating the recommended recovery time at the end of the session before engaging in other sports activities.
Battery life is one of Huawei Watch GT’s strengths and is also confirmed by the intensive use of sports-related features. At the end of 5 days of continuous use, we detected a residual percentage of the battery by 25%, wearing the smartwatch day and night, using continuous monitoring of the heartbeat and running 5 running exits with GPS active for a total of just under 5 hours of activity. Compared to other sportwatches on the market the autonomy is therefore very valid, not far from that of more specialized proposals dedicated to sportsmen who however cannot certainly boast a screen like that of Watch GT.
Modern smartwatches usually last two days while Fitness Bands tend to last a week or so with the lack of many important data or even a heart rate monitor. The two-week estimate by Huawei Watch GT is actually the one measured in these days of use plus with the presence of GPS and perennial heart rate. It’s nice to have a “smart” watch that you can wear 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for more than a week, while you get a myriad of useful data for our body during our daily physical activity.
The LiteOS interface is intuitive and simple. There are no third-party apps, but honestly Watch GT provides all the essential elements necessary for monitoring daily activities. For outdoor running it has a clearly visible display even in direct sunlight and with the possibility to always have the heart rate, the current pace, distance, elapsed time and time always on top. Details not always present in other competitive devices.
Advanced sleep metrics are very interesting and knowing how to sleep in a meticulous and precise way can only be convenient for users. Observing not to get the right balance at night also allows you to improve yourself in this. The hardware is always optimal and the battery life is over the top compared to the competition.
Overall, Huawei Watch GT is a great choice for a price of $199, but can now be taken home (or on your own) for a price close to $170. We would like to have in the future the possibility to export training data with other services that are not only and exclusively the proprietary application. But it is probable that we should rely on more specialized products for that. In fact Huawei Watch GT is a “Mr.” smartwatch.