Huawei Watch GT 3 review: Endurance, refined

Huawei’s GT series of smartwatches are all about endurance. Historically, they dispensed with some common advanced features and used a super cut-down OS in order to achieve epic battery life. But recent Huawei watches have added more of the features you’d expect to compete with more mainstream offerings from the likes of Samsung, Garmin, and Apple. But how does the latest GT’s stack up against the best of the best? Find out in Android Authority‘s Huawei Watch GT 3 review.

About this Huawei Watch GT 3 review: I tested the 46mm Huawei Watch GT 3 Classic edition for 10 days, synced with Huawei Health version 12.0.10.365. Throughout the Huawei Watch GT 3 review period, it was running Harmony OS version 2.1.0. The GT 3 was paired to either a Pixel 6 Pro or a Huawei P40 Pro. The unit was provided to Android Authority by Huawei for this review.

What you need to know about the Huawei Watch GT 3

Huawei Watch GT 3 download watch face

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

  • Huawei Watch GT 3 (42mm)
    • Active edition (black case, fluoroelastomer strap): €229 / £209
    • Elegant edition (gold case, white leather strap): €249 / £229
    • Elegant edition (gold case, gold Milanese strap): €299 / £279
  • Huawei Watch GT 3 (46mm)
    • Active edition (black case, fluoroelastomer strap): €249 / £229
    • Classic edition (silver case, brown leather strap): €269 / £249
    • Elite edition (silver case, stainless steel bracelet): €329 / £299

The Huawei Watch GT 3 is the latest in Huawei’s long-life smartwatch line. Its predecessor, the Watch GT 2, was released way back in September of 2019. The GT 3 runs Harmony OS, Huawei’s primary new operating system for everything from smartwatches to TVs to smartphones. It comes in two sizes — 42mm and 46mm — and an assortment of strap styles. It also comes with a wireless charger in the box.

Huawei Watch GT 3 view of sensors on back

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

The Watch GT 3 looks and feels very similar to previous GT series watches, but it features a new sensor combo on the back. It now has double the photodiodes (now eight) and double the light sources (now two) for improved heart rate tracking and SpO2 monitoring. Huawei has also replaced its old third-party algorithms with in-house versions which it says are more accurate. Both sizes of Watch GT 3 have a larger display with a higher resolution OLED screen than their predecessors.

The Huawei Watch GT 3 looks and feels very similar to previous GT series watches, but it features a new sensor combo.

The Huawei Watch GT 3 is currently available through Huawei’s website in a variety of different case colors and strap options (see at the top of this section). It will be available via Amazon and other major e-tailers soon in Europe. There’s no word on a US release, but don’t get your hopes up due to the Huawei-US trade ban. You can expect a Pro version to be released eventually, as we saw with the GT 2 Pro last year, featuring more expensive build materials like sapphire glass, ceramic, and titanium.

Related: The best Huawei watches

What’s new in design and hardware?

Huawei Watch GT 3 side profile showing crown and button

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

The Huawei GT 3 looks a lot like all of Huawei’s other watches, so if you’ve liked those, you’ll like this. The GT 3 refines the same classic watch design of its predecessor the GT 2 but adopts the new rotating crown and function button from the recent Huawei Watch 3.

I like the new button setup personally but the functionality is pretty similar to past Huawei watches barring the ability to scroll through menus with the crown. You can also click the crown to go back to the home screen but you can’t double click it for recent apps like you can on the Watch 3. Huawei tells me this is because the Watch GT 3 doesn’t support background apps (there’s currently no plan to add the hand-washing feature from the Watch 3 here either). One major benefit of the crown is that you can adjust volume, alarms, and navigate settings while your hands are wet.

Huawei Watch GT 3 lug and button detail vs Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

The Huawei Watch GT 3 review unit I got is the larger 46mm Classic edition with a brown leather strap. The calfskin leather band is pretty nice if you don’t mind its non-vegan origins. It’s not ideal, however, if you plan to exercise a lot with the Watch GT 3. Fortunately, both models allow you to swap out watch straps; the 46mm version uses 22mm straps, and the 42mm version uses 20mm straps.

I like how unobtrusive the new Watch GT 3 series is compared to some of Huawei’s chunkier styles. Its low profile feels more appropriate for a fitness watch than the chunky aesthetic of the Watch 3 Pro. The Watch GT 3 is also much lighter. The 46mm Watch GT 3 weighs 42.6g without the strap, a notable difference from the 63g Watch 3 Pro I was recently wearing. If weight is a concern for you, the smaller 42mm model weighs in at just 35g, not including the strap.

I like how unobtrusive the new Watch GT 3 series is compared to some of Huawei’s chunkier styles.

The Watch GT 3 is powered by an unspecified ARM Cortex-M chipset. Typically if a brand is using the latest and greatest, they’ll be happy to tell you. I asked Huawei to clarify which chipset the GT 3 uses and they refused to say. Make of that what you will. Likewise, the battery capacity hasn’t been listed (and Huawei isn’t commenting) so I can only assume it’s the same 455mAh cell used in every GT series watch since the Watch GT 2. We’ll talk specifically about battery life a bit later.

Memory comes in the form of the usual 32MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. This isn’t a lot of space but there are unfortunately not many good third-party apps available in Huawei’s App Gallery to fill it with anyway. You’ll most likely use it for storing up to 500 songs on-device, which you can stream to Bluetooth headphones if you leave your phone behind while on a run.

Huawei Watch GT 3 racing stripe watch face standing on table

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Both Watch GT 3 models use a 466 x 466-pixel AMOLED panel, producing 326ppi on the 1.43-inch 46mm version and 352ppi on the 1.32-inch 42mm version. With 800 nits of peak brightness, both get plenty bright enough for outdoor legibility, auto-brightness is responsive, and there’s a torch mode as well as an always-on display option. To manage screen-off behavior, you can set do not disturb schedules, adjust screen shut-off times, and turn off the display by covering it with your palm.

The Huawei Watch GT 3 is water-resistant to 5ATM, has Bluetooth and NFC support, and has both a speaker and microphone for making and receiving phone calls via a paired smartphone. These work just fine for calls in most settings but if you have your phone in your pocket I’d suggest just using that. You can also play music over the speaker if you really want to, including in the shower or on your bike. When paired to a Huawei smartphone you can also use the Watch GT 3 as a remote shutter for your phone’s camera.

Related: The best fitness tracker deals

The final big change on the Watch GT 3 is the redesigned TruSeen 5+ sensor on the back. It doubles the number of photodiodes from previous GT watches and adds an additional light source for more accurate and noise-resistant readings. All-day SpO2 monitoring is also now possible but it is not enabled out of the box. I found my SpO2 readings matched the Apple Watch Series 6 well, always hovering around 97% or above. Keep in mind that the GT 3 is not certified as a medical device so take these readings as a reference only.

Software and health features

Huawei Watch GT 3 modern watch face laying on table

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

The Huawei GT 3 runs the wearable version of Harmony OS which we first saw on the Watch 3 Pro. It’s heavily influenced by Huawei’s original Lite OS but adds more features and greater depth than its predecessor. With that said, there are still some glaring omissions. Like the lack of widespread third-party app support or the ability to easily export health data or sync with most mainstream fitness apps. To be clear: unless you are willing to put in the work to take advantage of some workarounds, your fitness data is essentially going to stay in Huawei Health.

There are 10 stock watch faces and you can upload your own photos to use as watch face backgrounds. Some watch faces are customizable to provide shortcuts to your favorite apps or add additional timezones. Depending on where you live, you can access hundreds more downloadable watch faces (both free and paid) through Huawei Health.

Not all features are available in all countries or on all devices.

Regional dependency is a weird tic of Huawei watches, with not all features being available in all countries. Still more features are device-specific, so you’ll get different features depending on whether you’re pairing to a Huawei phone, another Android phone, or an iPhone. Huawei sometimes shares compatibility sheets like this for the Watch 3 series so you know what you’ll get with your phone (one for the GT 3 is not available publicly yet).

Some device- or region-specific features are pretty critical, like NFC payments via Wallet, the new Healthy Living Shamrock, MeeTime calling, or even Huawei’s voice assistant Celia. I’d strongly advise you to try to find out which features are supported in your country and on your particular smartphone before investing in the GT 3 — if a Huawei Store exists anywhere in your country they should be able to tell you. A weird example: iOS users can only download free watch faces but not buy them.

Huawei Watch GT 3 Healthy Living Shamrock

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

The Healthy Living Shamrock, if you can access it, is a simple digital wellbeing widget that provides a “healthy living” version of the activity ring’s visual encouragement. The Shamrock’s leaves grow as you take steps, drink enough water, get enough sleep, or otherwise meet your healthy living goals each day. You can also set reminders to take a breath, smile, or go for a walk.

By default, automatic heart rate and sleep tracking are enabled but you’ll have to hop into the Huawei Health settings to enable automatic stress testing, SpO2 monitoring, or continuous skin temperature measurements. You can also sync your heart rate from the GT 3 to compatible fitness equipment like treadmills.

See also: The best heart rate monitors and watches

Celia is still fine for on-device voice commands like making or rejecting calls and setting alarms but it’s pretty limited compared to something like Google Assistant. You’re still unable to interact with most messages on the GT 3 barring a couple of basic short-form or emoji responses. These are defined by the messaging app on your phone and synced to the GT 3 and are not supported on iOS devices. Voice dictation would be a great addition here, as would the excellent keyboard that shipped on the Watch 3 Pro.

Huawei replaced all of its third-party activity tracking algorithms, including those related to VO2 Max, training effect, and recovery time, with in-house versions on this device. I didn’t notice any meaningful difference in caloric burn or recovery time estimations for my usual exercise routines. Huawei previously used Firstbeat metrics on its wearables.

The Huawei Watch GT 3 supports over 100 workout modes, from running, swimming, and cycling to yoga and ballet, jump rope, skiing, and triathlon. There are 13 preset running courses you can follow, a voice coach (just be sure to turn the volume down before starting your first public workout), and a series of training plans.

The running plans can analyze your progress over time to help you adjust your goals based on your fitness and running stats. Huawei calls this Running Ability Index but I was, unfortunately, unable to test it as it will only arrive later via an over-the-air update. Huawei tells me RAI is based on Jack Daniels’ VDOT running calculator.

Is the Huawei Watch GT 3 good at fitness tracking?

Huawei Watch GT 3 VO2 max screen on wrist

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Huawei talked a pretty big game when it shared details of the Watch GT 3 with journalists, claiming it could outperform the Apple Watch Series 6 — one of the most accurate and reliable wearables available — on heart rate tracking and GPS accuracy. In my testing, it’s close, but the Apple Watch is still more reliable.

To test Huawei’s claims I wore the Watch GT 3 alongside an Apple Watch Series 6 with a Polar H10 chest strap as a control. I ran, biked, did a gym workout, and a HIIT session to see how each tracked sustained heart rate, rapid spikes and drops in heart rate, and GPS. For almost all activities the Polar strap and Apple Watch matched extremely closely. For some activities, like runs and long bike rides, the Watch GT 3 was pretty on point. When my heart rate changed quickly, however, things started to break down.

In the heart-rate overlay graph above you can see how close the Watch GT 3 was to the Apple Watch and Polar H10 during an hour-long gym workout. Barring a few fluctuations, some of which were attributable to me physically moving the Huawei wearable, the GT 3 hung with the big boys.

This was all pretty encouraging until things took a turn for the worse on a HIIT workout. During that session the Watch GT 3 missed the heart rate spikes and was erratic on the downturn as well, producing min/max deviations of over 10bpm compared to the Apple Watch Series 6 and Polar H10. This is unfortunate considering Huawei specifically mentions HIIT as one of the Watch GT 3’s strengths.

 

Huawei Watch GT 3 vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Polar H10 heart rate HIIT workout

The Watch GT 3 couldn’t keep up with rapid heart rate spikes

Huawei Watch GT 3 vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Polar H10 heart rate ride

But the GT 3 did perform pretty well over a long bike ride

 

Huawei Watch GT 3 vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Polar H10 GPS run

All three devices had some rough patches of GPS tracking

Huawei Watch Gt 3 vs Apple Watch Series 6 vs Polar H10 GPS ride

But for the most part all performed well, including the GT 3

A similar story emerged with GPS tracking. Despite the Watch GT 3’s dual-band GPS, of the three devices, it was the one most often off-track compared to my actual route. It was close, to be fair, but across all of my GPS-tracked activities, the GT 3 was the least accurate. On a positive note, the painfully slow GPS lock I’ve suffered through on other Huawei watches was not present here.

The Huawei Watch GT 3 can’t quite compete with the accuracy and reliability of the Apple Watch Series 6 but it’s close.

The Huawei Watch GT 3 can’t quite compete with the accuracy and reliability of the Apple Watch Series 6 but it’s close. Considering Apple’s device is mostly on par with the Polar H10 chest strap, that’s not an easy battle to win anyway. The fact that in the majority of activities the GT 3 held its own, not just against the Apple Watch but also the Polar H10, is still admirable.

One thing I do need to point out is that in order to get the comparison charts you see here I spent several hours troubleshooting and fiddling with settings in Huawei Health, Google Fit, and a third-party app called Health Sync which allows you to extract your fitness data from Huawei Health Kit and either export it or get it synced elsewhere.

While Health Sync does the job, it’s a relatively convoluted process to perform a basic function that really should be enabled by Huawei natively. Until Huawei gets around to enabling simpler data sharing between more third-party apps, Health Sync is worth checking out if you like Huawei wearables but not Huawei Health.

See also: The best health apps for Android

How good is the battery life on the GT 3?

Huawei Watch GT 3 wireless charging

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

The Huawei Watch GT 3 has the battery life to go the distance. Huawei claims the 46mm model will last up to 14 days with normal usage and up to eight days with heavy usage. I made it 10 days with the 46mm on what I would consider normal usage for me. According to Huawei’s definition of normal and heavy my usage is right about in the middle, so the math checks out. The 42mm model is rated for seven days of regular and four days of heavy usage.

I achieved 10 days with out-of-the-box settings. That means only TruSleep and heart monitoring were enabled all the time while the always-on display, automatic stress testing, SpO2 monitoring, and skin temperature measurements were all left off. Turn all of those on and you’re going to get significantly less battery life. The always-on display alone will cut your battery life in half in my experience.

The Huawei Watch GT 3 has the battery life to go the distance. I achieved 10 days with out-of-the-box settings.

In my usage, I wore the watch around the clock except when bathing because I don’t like a wet leather strap. I manually ran a SpO2 test and skin temperature check daily and tracked four hours’ worth of activities with about two and a half hours of GPS tracking. If you exercise outdoors more often than me over the course of a week and a half you should expect a further ding on battery life. I listened to more music than Huawei’s estimates but I received fewer calls each day.

As with previous Huawei watches I’ve used, I gave up on automatic activity tracking and eventually turned it off. Huawei claims its watches can automatically detect four different activities — walking, running, elliptical, and rowing — but it is so unreliable it hardly ever kicks in at all and if it does, you might be a half-hour or more into your activity. If you actually want a record of your activities I’d recommend manually tracking.

Fortunately, the bottom button on the right-hand side of the Watch GT 3 is customizable. It defaults to launching activity tracking but you can set it to several other functions if you prefer. Using the included wireless charging puck, the 46mm Huawei Watch GT 3 charges in less than an hour and a half, hitting 50% battery in just over a half-hour. The Watch GT 3 can also charge via reverse wireless charging if your phone supports it.

Anything else?

  • Other features: The Huawei Watch GT 3 includes a menstrual cycle calendar, contactless payments via Huawei Wallet, automatic stress testing, notification management, and severe weather warnings.
  • Route Back: Huawei’s offline GPS navigation feature is also available on the Watch GT 3. It relies on the wearable’s dual-band (L1+L5) precision Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) positioning chip. When you track an activity outdoors the GT 3 creates a GPS route you can use to retrace your steps to your starting point if you get lost. It works well and could be a literal lifesaver in the great outdoors, especially when matched with the GT 3’s excellent battery life which will easily outlive your smartphone if you lose your way.
  • GPS issues: as you will have seen in the GPS screengrabs in this review, despite the GT 3’s dual-frequency GNSS with support for GPS, Galileo, Beidou, GLONASS, and QZSS, it wasn’t always perfect. It was, at times, just as accurate as the other two devices but it was also the one most likely to go off track, especially around inner-city buildings which dual-band GNSS is supposed to improve. All satellites currently in orbit are supposed to be supporting dual-frequency signals by now, so I may have just been unlucky.

Huawei Watch GT 3 specs

Huawei Watch GT 3
Display 46mm: 1.43-inch AMOLED, 326ppi,
466 x 466 resolution42mm: 1.32-inch AMOLED, 352ppi,
466 x 466 resolution
Dimensions and weight 46mm: 45.9 x 45.9 x 11mm
42.6g w/o strap
Fits wrists 140-210mm42mm: 42.3 x 42.3 x 10.2mm
35g w/o strap
Fits wrists 130-190mm
Colors and materials 46mm
Color: Black/Steel
Material: Stainless steel and plastic
Watch straps: Black fluoroelastomer strap, brown leather strap, stainless steel strap42mm
Color: Black/Gold
Material: Stainless steel and plastic
Watch straps: Black fluoroelastomer strap, white leather strap, gold Milanese strap
Battery 46mm: Up to 14 days of “typical” use, 8 days with heavy use

42mm: Up to 7 days of “typical” use, 4 days with heavy use

Wireless charging

Processor ARM Cortex-M (unspecified)
RAM 32MB
Storage 4GB
Hardware Speaker
Microphone
Connectivity Dual-band GNSS
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, and QZSS
Bluetooth
Sensors Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Geomagnetic
Optical heart rate sensor
Air pressure
Temperature
Durability 5ATM
Software Harmony OS
Compatibility Harmony OS 2 or later
Android 6.0 or later
iOS 9.0 or later

Value and the competition

Huawei’s best smartwatch made even better

The Huawei Watch GT 3 is for fitness and casual users. It comes in a variety of color options and sizes, so most people will find one that suits their style. Huawei also touts the GT 3’s upgraded heart rate sensor, which it claims rivals the best out there.

With €80 separating the cheapest version of each model from the most expensive, it’s all about the strap when buying the Huawei Watch GT 3. Personally, I’d recommend the cheapest one because the fluoroelastomer strap is the best for working out. You can then just buy different straps if you need them or re-use them from other watches. The baseline price for each model is actually pretty competitive considering the excellent battery life and pretty solid fitness tracking.

Competitors at the lower end include the recently discounted 46mm Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro from last year (€179/£179). The GT 2 Pro offers a lot of the same hardware and better build materials but lacks the improved heart rate sensor array on the back, dual-band GPS, and has a slightly smaller, lower-resolution screen.

At the even higher-end, the Apple Watch Series 7 ($399/€429/£369) and Garmin Venu 2 ($399/€399/£349) provide the stiffest competition of all. The main choice will likely come down to ecosystems and how much you want to export your health data to apps other than Huawei Health or Google Fit (in my region Huawei also supports Adidas Runtastic but nothing else) without jumping through the hoops Health Sync requires.

Huawei Watch GT 3 review: The verdict

Huawei Watch GT 3 quick settings

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

I can confidently say the Huawei Watch GT 3 has the most accurate heart rate and GPS tracking I’ve experienced on a Huawei wearable. It’s still not quite up to the reliability of the Apple Watch but given the price differential, this is acceptable. Huawei has a fine smartwatch on its hands here and the GT 3 and Apple Watch don’t really target the same audience.

Great battery life, accurate fitness tracking, stylish good looks, affordable price — the Huawei Watch GT 3 nails the basics.

The expanded feature set and additional detail in Harmony OS are better than Lite OS to my mind, and I’m glad to report the GT series’ two-week battery life remains a possibility on the new platform. I’m not a fan of the amount of region- or device-specific features, making a Huawei watch a bit of an unknown quantity until you set it up, but the basics work pretty much everywhere.

Great battery life, accurate fitness tracking, stylish good looks, affordable price — the Huawei Watch GT 3 nails the basics. If Huawei would get around to supporting more third-party apps and allow easier exporting and sharing of fitness data there wouldn’t be quite so many asterisks to my recommendation. If, however, you’re aware of them and are OK with the limitations, the Watch GT 3 is an excellent smartwatch for the price.

Above article first published by Source link . We curated and re-published.

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