Rapid Review: Huawei Watch GT

Image: Huawei

Smartwatches still feel a bit like a solution in search of problem to me. Many are packed with dozens of features that we can easily live without or will never use. But there are some handy use-cases such as for encouraging us to be more active and for letting us know when something unusual is happening to us, like a fall or irregular cardiac rhythm.

The Huawei Watch GT lacks some of the fancier features of other smartwatches but ticks enough of the basics to make it an option worth considering.

What Is It?

With its round face and two-button styling, the Huawei Watch GT looks a lot like a classic analog watch when the face is visible. My review unit has a Saddle Brown leather Silicone Strap that complemented the black stainless steel bezel nicely.

Many other reviewers have pointed to what the Watch GT lacks as a sign that it's behind the times. But I don't agree. By focussing on a limited set of features, Huawei has created a competent device that will tick the right boxes for many users.

Image: Huawei

Rather than trying to be all things for all people, it's settled for doing fewer things well.

I've been a long-time Apple Watch user so, to some degree, my impressions of the Huawei Watch GT are influenced by that experience.

Specifications

Size and weight 46.5 mm x 46.5 mm x 10.6 mm, 46g (Wrist coverage range 14 to 21 cm)
Materials Metal, Plastic, Ceramic
Display 1.39 inch AMOLED colour screen, running at 454 x 454 and 326PPI with support for slide and touch gestures
Memory Internal ROM 128 MB, internal RAM 16 MB
Connectivity GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, BLE (no Wi-Fi)
Sensors Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, Optical heart rate, Ambient light, Barometer
Location GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO
Compatibility Android 4.4 or later or iOS 9.0 or later
Battery Up to 14 days use, charging in under two hours
Water resistance 5 ATM (50 m)
Row 5 Head Row 5 Content

What's Good?

Although the Huawei Watch GT is about 30% heavier than the Apple watch I've been wearing for the last few months, it actually felt more comfortable when I put it on. The round casing and leather strap felt comfortable from the first moment. I had to double-check the weights to ensure I hadn't made an error with the weight measurements.

Once I set the Watch GT up - I tested it with both an iPhone XS and a Huawei Mate20 Pro - I was able to track my activity, get notifications, receive calls via the phone/watch Bluetooth link and do most of the things I do every day with my Apple Watch.

Image: Huawei

The watch face is super clear. The AMOLED display is great. The watch face is very easy to read and is reminiscent of a traditional analog watch. But there's very little you can do to customise it - or in fact many of the watch's other features.

Unlike many of the other smartwatch's on the market, Huawei hasn't elected to use one of the established wearable operating systems. It runs its own bespoke firmware which is managed using Huawei's Health app, which comes in both iOS and Android flavours.

It tracks activity, sleep and the time as well as providing notifications.

From one perspective, this is a weakness as it limits what you can do to personalise the Watch GT. On the other, it makes the entire experience much easier as there's less to mess around with. It would be nice of, at the very least, there was an easy watch to switch watch bands as the leather strap would probably be OK if I took it for a swim.

By using their own software, and leaving out features such as Wi-Fi and cellular comms, Huawei has managed to squeeze up to 14 days of use between trips to the charger.And, even then, it only takes a couple of hours to go from zero to full.

Image: Huawei

In my testing, it barely used 10% over a weekend and a 5km run, with the sat-nav tracking my journey sucked 4% from the power cell. In comparison, a marathon went close to wiping my Apple Watch a while ago whereas I predict the Watch GT would lose perhaps a third of its total charge over that journey.

In my testing, it tracked run distances accurately and the heart rate measurement was accurate when compared to two other sources.

What's Bad?

The negatives for the Huawei Watch GT are easy to pick out. You're extremely limited in how it can be customised, it lacks easily swappable straps and there's no third-party app support.

If you're planning to use the Huawei Watch GT with an iPhone, be aware that the Apple Health integration is a little sketchy. For example, I went on a run and that activity, plus the calories burned and my step count for the day didn't;t sync to Apple's Health or Activity apps. But if you're simply relying on Huawei's app then that's not a big deal.

But, I'm not convinced those negatives are as big a deal as they sound. I think the number of apps you really want or need to run on such a small screen are limited.

Should You Buy It

The best thing about the Huawei Watch GT is that there's no need to actually buy it - it's free. Well, kind of free.

Huawei is currently offering the Huawei Watch GT smartwatch as a free bonus with every new purchase of a Mate 20 Pro.

You can’t currently buy the Watch GT as a standalone product in Australia but it's available from various online retailers including eBay.

But you can buy them online through Ebay for well under $300.

Find more great bargains at Lifehacker Coupons.


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