Huawei has a surprisingly long pedigree in wearables, from fitness bands through to smartwatches. Last year Huawei ventured away from Google’s Wear OS, launching their Watch GT line. This year they’re back with the Huawei Watch GT 2, available in two sizes: 42mm and 46mm, with the 42mm currently on my wrist for review.
The original Huawei Watch GT was lauded by Trevor for its excellent battery life, and the design of the Watch GT was both classic and functional. There were some rough edges on the original, and Huawei is looking to fix some of those with the Watch GT 2. The specs for the Watch GT 2 promises a similarly long battery life, and it certainly delivers in the looks department.
The Huawei Watch GT 2 42mm specs are similar internally to the 46mm model, with 2 GB RAM and 4 GB storage, it supports GPS for tracking your run, ride, walk etc. and Bluetooth as well so you can pair some headphones to it.
The differences between the models are mostly in the screen size and also the battery life. The 42mm sports a 1.2” 390×390 resolution OLED and comes with a 7 day battery life, while the 46mm uses a larger 1.39” 454×454 resolution OLED display, with Huawei spruiking a 14-day battery life on the larger model.
The watch display is bright and easy to see, even in the glare of bright daylight. There’s options to have the watch display the time all the time, or only when woken with the watch warning you of a substantial battery hit for the always on display. In practice the battery life took about a day hit when this was turned on with a solid 7 days of use with it off, and just under 6 with it on.
The charging is easy though when you’ve depleted the battery simply attaching it to the circular puck included in the box will top you up in a fairly short period of time. It’s slightly annoying you can’t charge with a wireless charger, but that would add additional bulk, cost etc. and you charge the watch so rarely that it’s easy to give this a pass.
While the original Watch GT was free with the purchase of the Mate 20 Pro phone last year, the Watch GT 2 has options for either a Sports or Classic designs and is priced from $399 depending on what size, and band you want.
The Watch GT 2 case is made up of a mix of Stainless Steel and Plastic, with different colour options between the sizes. The 42mm is available in either Night Black or Gravel Beige, while the 46mm comes in either Matte Black or Pebble Brown.
The Night Black 42mm supplied for review looks classic, though is probably a little small for my wrist, though smartwatch users have been screaming for years about needing smaller options so if you have small wrists this is a great option for you.
The black ‘Fluoroelastomer’ strap supplied with the watch is very comfortable to wear, even when exercising. The leather option may be nicer, but I tend to prefer the less formal option.
The watch is rated for 5 ATM (atmospheres) or about 50m water resistance. This means you’re good to go for showering, and you can swim with it – there’s even a swim tracking mode in the health tracking.
There are two buttons on the Watch GT 2 – the top button able to wake up the watch and open the menu to access the apps. The bottom button gives you fast access to fitness tracking functions.
On the rear of the watch you’ll see some LEDs which are used for the heart rate monitor. The heart rate tracking is fairly accurate – at least it matches up with other trackers I’ve used while exercising, and with the in-built heart rate tracking on the machines at the gym.
On hardware I have a final note, and that’s the lack of NFC. I am absolutely addicted to tapping and paying with my watch (Google Pay on a TicWatch Pro) and the lack of NFC on the Watch GT 2 is a sore point.
A range of settings, fitness, heart and sleep tracking and more can be accessed on the watch, with the data synced with the Huawei Health app – available for both iOS and Android – on your phone. It’s in this app that you set up the watch, and you can review your steps, heart-rate tracking, stress tests as well as set and download more watch faces, and transfer music to the watch.
The app is fairly well laid out with the main focus on health and fitness. You can see your work out history, step counts and more here. There’s workouts in the app, but for most fitness focused people you’ll probably ignore these workouts – but if you’re looking for some hints to get a bit healthier, there’s some good options there.
The watch comes with some pre-installed watch faces, or you can download a few additional ones from Huawei. There’s a pretty decent selection available ranging from classic analogue looking watch faces through to more comprehensive watch faces with complications (the little widgets on your watch face) to cover battery life, step count and much more.
I like the more comprehensive watch faces, but the classic, simple analogue faces supplied are also pretty good.
I’m not a fan of the music transfer options on the Watch GT 2. There’s no option to link in your favourite music streaming service, instead you have to download actual MP3s to your phone, then transfer them across. That said, the process of transferring MP3s is fairly easy – if you’ve been hoarding your music files. If you have to get the MP3s it can be a chore.
The glaring omission from the Huawei Watch GT 2 is an app eco-system. There’s a bunch of pre-installed apps on the watch which cover most of what the average user will do on a smart watch, but that’s it – there’s no app store to get more apps, and no SDK for developers to add apps to the eco-system.
With Wear OS, Fitbit etc. on their watches I’m used to installing apps which can expand the functionality of the watch, but the lack of any app store seems like a glaring omission to me.
Should you buy one?
For the average user, a Huawei Watch GT 2 offers a decent smartwatch experience. The insanely long battery life, health tracking and ability to see your phone notifications on your wrist are the big bonuses for the Watch GT 2. For more advanced smartwatch users however the Huawei Watch GT 2 is probably not going to give you the experience you want.
The price (starting at $399) puts the Huawei Watch GT2 into a more premium category than your average fitness band, but when it comes to smart watches it’s unfortunately not offering much more than a lower priced fitness band.
While the hardware is premium, comfortable and comes in a range of looks that should fit almost everyone, the lack of apps are a real problem for Huawei. The introduction of an app ecosystem is something a Huawei Watch GT 3 should address, that is if Huawei continues the line, which I hope they do as serious competition in the smart watch category is severely lacking and Huawei’s watch design is very much on point.
If a good looking smartwatch with great battery life is what you’re after, then the Huawei Watch GT 2 is definitely worth looking at.