Huawei has been a fairly consistent participant in the smart watch race since they launched the Huawei Watch running Android Wear in 2015. The classic design of the Huawei Watch saw it become a favourite of many, and they’ve carried that attention to design through to their current Watch GT range, which is now headlined by the Watch GT 2 Pro announced in September last year.
Priced at $449, the Watch GT2 Pro isn’t cheap but it does carry the aesthetic appeal of a high-end analogue watch, using Titanium and Ceramic for the case, with sapphire glass covering the watch face protecting it from everyday scratches and bumps.
It’s not just looks that are premium, Huawei has included a host of smart functions including GPS, heart-rate and Sp02 monitoring with a 2-week battery life which means you don’t have to charge the watch each day. Huawei has again included tracking for a multitude of activities – 100 in total – which range from running to surfing and almost everything in between.
Huawei sent their new watch for us to check out, and I’ve been using it, and training with the watch the whole time and here’s how it went.
Hardware and Design
From the first look, you can tell the Watch GT 2 Pro is a premium device. It looks just like a premium analogue watch, though it’s hard to ignore the lovely bright 1.39-inch AMOLED display when it lights up.
The touch sensitive display is bright enough indoors, though could be a little brighter when outdoors. The screen lights up with the raise-to-wake function letting you check the time easily, though this remains on even overnight meaning your partner may get an eyeful of a bright watch face when you move at 3am – a quick setting to disable the watch face would be great Huawei.
I am again disappointed in another smartwatch that doesn’t have a rotating crown around the watch face but it does give markers for timing which is handy.
The case for the watch is chunky and feels solid but it’s lightweight thanks to the Ceramic and Titanium used in construction. There’s two buttons on the watch including one at the top for accessing the menu, while the bottom button gives you fast access to workouts. The buttons themselves are easy to find without looking, but don’t automatically depress when you’re doing overhead lifts at the gym.
Huawei includes a 22mm Grey Brown Leather Strap in the box which has quick-release pins, but it’s a standard size so you can pick up replacement bands fairly easily if you’re not that into the leather. If you do keep the standard band, it is fairly comfortable however I personally prefer something silicon for working out and you can check out different options at the Huawei Store.
There’s an optical heart rate sensor on the rear which has a 6-LED setup including four sensors to read your heart rate accurately. The watch can also track your heart-rate 24 hours a day which give you an idea of your heart health over time.
There’s also an SPo2 monitor for reading your blood oxygen saturation, while I’d not use it for a medical reading it certainly gives you an indication of where you’re at.
Obviously a smartwatch with a focus on health needs GPS, and of course it’s on-board the Watch GT 2 Pro. It is slow to lock onto a GPS signal though. I use the same walk to test out GPS and it took around 15-20 seconds to lock onto a signal before I could begin my walk/workout…apparently this is an eternity to a dog waiting to go for a walk. The watch does auto-detect if you’re doing a common workout, so you can just start and then begin tracking on the way if you want.
While it’s slow to lock on, it is accurate and correctly recorded my track. Huawei also does some neat stuff with the recording of your workout in the Health app – see below – letting you share a sped up version of your workout which is pretty neat.
Charging the watch is easier than ever, with Huawei including support for wireless charging.
There’s no pogo pins on the rear to mar the look of the watch, and it’s also much more convenient to not have to line up pins or worry about the pins not aligning properly and not charging the watch.
While it comes with a magnetically attached charging puck which connects with the included USB-C cable, the Watch GT 2 Pro can also charge from any wireless charger – or if you have a phone that supports reverse wireless charging – like the Huawei Mate 40 Pro – you can use that too for a sneaky top-up.
It takes about 2 hours to fully charge the battery on the Watch GT 2 Pro. If you forget to charge and simply need to get through the day though, a quick charge of just five minutes can get you up to 10 hours use.
You don’t generally need to emergency charge your watch – it has up to 14 days life with regular use. The ‘regular’ use actually does include a range of use cases including GPS workouts (90 minutes), music playback and more which is good to see being accounted for.
I got just under 2-weeks of battery life, though this included a few more GPS tracked walks than is included in their regular usage, so it’s still very good. I’ve grown used to charging a smartwatch daily, so getting almost 2 weeks out of it was impressive.
Software and Setup
As we’ve seen with the last few generations of Huawei products, the app situation for installing the Watch GT 2 Pro isn’t exactly straightforward.
The Huawei Health app you’ll need can’t be nabbed from Google Play – so don’t download the one on there. Instead you’ll need to download the APK from Huawei’s App Gallery and side-load it to your Android device, while Apple users are encouraged to just search ‘Huawei Health’ on the app store, and then update the app.
App compatibility is pretty good between Android and iOS, though iOS users won’t get the full functionality like low-heart rate monitor or music transfer. This is due to the access that manufacturers are given by iOS, so it’s not just Huawei that can’t provide some of these services.
Setup is fairly straightforward once you get the app and follow the bouncing ball to setup your watch.
Functions and usability
As above, I love the Watch GT 2 Pro sharing function which can show off a workout with a GIF but there’s a lot more to love about the GT 2 Pro.
For a start, it’s a watch so there’s a heap of watch faces to choose from. You can change the watchface on the watch by pressing and holding then selecting a watchface, or through the app which also has the bonus of letting you download from the multitude available.
There’s support for 100 sports modes on the Watch GT 2 Pro, including 17 professional sports modes covering indoor and outdoor walking, running, swimming etc., as well as a host of other exercises.
The ‘Professional sports coverage includes more data than you get in the other 85 tracked exercises, with Professional offering tracking of things like lap times and stroke when swimming, or pace and speed when running. It’s good feedback for athletes with a little bit of analysis showing your performance.
With a list of activities that numbers over 100, you of course get some ‘out of the box’ options including Bungee Jumping, ParaSailing, Tug of War, Kite Flying but really, it seems as if there’s a physical activity, you can get some stats.
While the workout modes are there to choose, there’s also auto-detect on the watch which can sense when you’re doing something. I went for a fairly decent walk between buildings, and the watch noticed a few minutes in and offered to start a workout.
The app layout is great, with all the stats you want to know up front and easy to find.
It’s not all just sport focused though, it’s overall health and a good part of that is ensuring you’re not stressed, are breathing correctly and of course there’s options to track those things. The breathing exercises are also good for centering yourself and helping that stress level go down.
Another big part of overall health is sleep, and you can find out how much (or how little) you actually get, as well as finding out just how ‘quality’ those hours of sleep were.
Inside the Huawei Health App you can see the sleep stats over the past day, week or month to give you an overall idea of your rest. The watch detects if you’re awake, or in light/deep or REM sleep and then offers a score based on the entire night, with suggestions on how to improve your sleep.
Of course as a shift worker, I’ve all but given up on good sleep but the Watch GT 2 Pro gave me an idea when I’m in a big sleep debt and how I can get back on track.
Limited third-party apps
Huawei has made a massive effort to offer all the features of a smartwatch, but there is a glaring hole in their eco-system: limited Third-Party app support.
Having limited third-party app support simply means you can’t grab apps like Strava or any of the alternatives to track your workout, sync Spotify or other services to get your music, or indeed install these third-party apps to make use of their services.
There are a few apps available to download from the Huawei App Gallery, but they’re not exactly from well known developers, so you’re still missing the big name apps.
Huawei has gone out of their way to offer most of the functionality of these third-party services, but it’s sometimes more than just having the function. For me it’s a social aspect, seeing your mates workout on Strava when they share them, or quickly checking in on FourSquare from your wrist etc. and I miss those things when they’re not there.
It’s not an insurmountable issue, but it is worth noting.
Huawei includes the Watch as part of the ‘8’ in their ‘1+8+N’ strategy, which combines all the devices and use cases in a complete product eco-system.
Through this strategy Huawei, like a number of companies offering vertically integrated product lines, are able to offer features you can only use on the Watch GT 2 Pro if you have Huawei devices. There’s options to use the GT2 Pro as a remote shutter for the camera or transferring pictures from a Huawei phone to the watch to use as a watch face with a simple tap, so there’s good usability benefits being offered for using all Huawei devices.
I’d like to see more features end up available for general Android use, but we’re in a weird area with Huawei and Android thanks to the ongoing US Trade ban, so we may just have to see how that plays out.
Should you buy it?
The Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro looks like a high-end traditional watch, yet offers you a lot of functions that those watches will never be able to match.
The Watch GT2 Pro just has so many features crammed into it that it makes a compelling case if you’re wanting something to help you maintain your health, get healthier or just look fantastic when you head into a business meeting or out for the night.
At $449 it’s a serious purchase, but it’s also fairly well priced in comparison to other fitness/smart watches on the market. There are missing features like the lack of third-party app support, which can be a big deal for some users.
All this said, I like the Watch GT 2 Pro. It adds a bit of class to your wrist, while still doing everything you need.
If you are in the market for a new smartwatch to help you get, or stay healthy, the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro can help and look great doing it.