In a market with so much choice, are Huawei’s smartwatches worth a look? In this guide, we’ll cover the PROS and CONS of Huawei smartwatch ownership…
But given the sheer volume of competition in the wearables space, with strong options from Apple, Samsung, and Garmin, are Huawei’s range of smartwatches worth a look in 2021?
As someone that currently uses a Huawei smartwatch (I’m wearing the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro right now) and has plenty of experience with Apple Watch and Wear OS devices, as well as Garmin smartwatches, I thought it was high time to do an overview of what makes Huawei’s wearable platform tick – warts and all.
On the whole, I am a big fan of Huawei’s smartwatches. But there are some things you need to be aware of…
Huawei Smartwatch PROS
As always, let’s kick things off with the positives of owning a Huawei smartwatch – of which there are many! Huawei is very good at a lot of things and, despite its current issues with Google, the company is still well up there in the top 1% when it comes to software and industrial design.
Huawei makes great-looking phones. The company knows what it is doing in this regard, so it comes as no surprise that its wearables also look very good too. I’m currently running the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro at the moment and it is a stunning wearable. It looks like a proper watch, meaning it looks expensive, and it is super comfortable to wear.
Huawei makes a bunch of smartwatches too, from the ultra-premium Porsche Design Huawei Watch GT 2 (£629) to the Huawei Watch HT2e (£109.99) which is the most accessible with respect to price. My watch, the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro, sits just below the Porsche designed one at £249.99. If you want the non-Pro version of this watch, you can pick it up for £199.99.
From a pure design perspective, Huawei’s smartwatches are all great-looking devices, honed from premium materials. They’re all also designed to look like actual watches, unlike the Apple Watch. This means you get a circular display, proper straps, and side-mounted buttons that finish off the “traditional watch” aesthetic perfectly. If you want the best, with respect to design, go with the Porsche Design Huawei Watch GT 2 or the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro. Prefer value for money? Get the Huawei Watch GT 2.
Internally, they all run on the same software, so the features and what you can do with them – from the most expensive to the cheapest model – are more or less identical. More on this in a bit though. Like Samsung’s smartwatch devices, Huawei has designed its wearables to look like actual timepieces so as to appeal to those that currently wear a watch but also want the added bonus of smartwatch functionality.
From a design perspective, I think Huawei makes some of the best looking wearables on the market right now. It is certainly up there with the best of them, including Samsung, Fossil, Apple, and Garmin. You’re also covered for most of the usual fitness tracking stuff too, though Huawei’s platform isn’t quite as sophisticated as Garmin’s in this regard. It is, however, more than equal to Wear OS.
One area where Huawei smartwatches really shine is battery life. My Huawei Watch GT 2 will last me for around a week off a single charge. And that is with all the tracking features switched on. I’ve had the Huawei Watch GT 2 for a while now, maybe six or seven months, but I swapped it out for the OPPO Watch, a Wear OS-powered smartwatch, but after a month of using it I decided to switch back to the Huawei Watch GT 2. And the reason? Battery life.
With the OPPO Watch, I was getting about a day’s worth of usage from it. This is the same as the Apple Watch and most other Wear OS smartwatches. Having used the Huawei Watch GT 2 before the OPPO Watch, I just couldn’t go back to less than 24-hour battery life, even though Wear OS devices tend to sync-up better with Android phones. At first, I thought this trade-off was something I could live with (more features and better integration versus battery life), but in the end, it turned out to be the opposite – I’d rather have good battery life.
If battery life is important to you as a smartwatch user, you simply cannot use Apple Watch or Wear OS wearables. They suck in this regard. If you want good battery life, meaning up to a week on a single charge, your only options are Huawei smartwatches or dedicated fitness trackers from Garmin and FitBit. In this context, Huawei elevates itself way beyond nearly of all its “true smartwatch” peers – nothing else in the watchOS/Wear OS/Tizen space comes even remotely close to week-long battery life.
With respect to fitness tracking and fitness in general, Huawei’s wearable platform is very good. You have built-in exercise programs for running, walking, swimming, and golf to name but a few, as well as heart rate monitoring, sleep monitoring, stress levels, breathing exercises, and spO2 support, so you can keep tabs on your blood-oxygen levels.
In this context, you’re basically covered for all eventualities. I use my Huawei Watch GT 2 to track and log my runs. With it, I can keep tabs on my pace per KM, my calorie burn, and my heart-rate. Basically, all the things you need when running. The display is large and bright enough to see everything at a glance and I find Huawei’s on-the-go metrics to be far superior to Wear OS’s.
It even does VO2 Max! And, if that wasn’t enough, as soon as you start your workout, the watch will automatically start tracking your progress.
To access any of the above fitness and/or health settings, simply click the top button on the side of the watch and it will present you with a list of all the options. You can even program the second button to do whatever you like. On my Huawei Watch GT 2, I have it set to record my runs, so as soon as I get going I just click it and the Huawei Watch GT 2 starts tracking my run, while displaying all the information I need on the display.
You cannot link the Huawei Watch GT 2, or any Huawei smartwatch with Strava, sadly, but Huawei Health is more than adequate for tracking your runs and monitoring your progress. Given how popular Huawei products are, I am surprised that Strava hasn’t added in support for them. Finger’s crossed this happens sooner rather than later, as it would make the wearable almost perfect.
Android & iPhone Support
All Huawei wearables, including the Huawei Watch GT 2, will work with both iPhone and Android phones. All you have to do is download either Huawei Wear or Huawei Health and then follow the steps to pair the watch with your phone. With the watch paired, you can select what comes through to your watch from your phone – things like text messages, WhatsApp, and more.
Because Huawei’s watches do not run on Wear OS or Watch OS, the integration isn’t quite as deep as it is with Apple Watch and Wear OS-powered wearables. The downside to this is that it isn’t quite as feature-packed as Apple or wearables running Google’s operating system. But the upside is that you get way better battery life, as there are less intensive tasks performed by the watch’s CPU.
In this respect, Huawei’s Lite OS – aptly named – is less functional than Watch OS or Wear OS. You do not get third-party applications, as you do with Apple and Google’s platform, and it doesn’t integrate quite as deeply with your phone either. Again, the upshot of this is week-long battery life, something no wearable from Apple or Google’s Wear OS partners can match. If all you want is a great-looking smartwatch with killer fitness tracking features then the Huawei Watch GT 2, or any of Huawei’s other wearables, are great options.
They Can Do Basic Notifications
Apple Watch and Wear OS devices are great for screening calls and notifications. You can basically pull through everything from your phone to your wrist, a feature many users like. However, if you’re not bothered by this, or you don’t want dual-notifications, one on your phone and another on your wrist, then Huawei’s wearables will be a good match for you.
I use a Pixel 5 at the moment and, inside Huawei Health, I can set up notifications for most of my core applications on my phone, so when I get a WhatsApp or a Skype or a Teams message, it pops up on my wrist. You can also take calls on the Huawei Watch GT 2 too, and the speaker is surprisingly loud and clear.
Notifications are basic at best; you cannot respond to messages or emails on a Huawei smartwatch, so it is more of a secondary notification. This, again, is where Lite OS loses ground to Wear OS and Apple’s WatchOS platform. If you want these kinds of features, you have to sacrifice battery life and go with a watch that uses either Apple’s or Google’s operating systems. This goes for Samsung’s Tizen platform too.
Huawei Health is Good
If you use a Huawei smartwatch, you’ll need to install Huawei Health on your phone. This software is where all your fitness and health data is tracked. It is also where you control the watch’s settings from. Inside Huawei Health, you can change your watch’s settings, download and set new faces, and customize what notifications come through from your phone to the watch.
As the name suggests, the app is focused primarily on your health metrics. Once you have everything set up, Huawei Health pulls in a myriad of data from the watch, covering steps, activity, stress levels, quality of sleep, your blood-oxygen levels. Is it better than Google Fit? I think so, yeah – it is simpler to use and it has more features.
I tend to use my Huawei Watch GT 2 as a fitness tracker. That’s the #1 reason I use it – that, and I really like the way it looks and its battery lasts for 7-8 days at a time. For me, the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro looks better than most Garmin/Fossil smartwatches and, while it might not be quite as adept at tracking and logging data as those, it is certainly more than adequate for basic and novice users that are looking to get some feedback on their activity.
For instance, when I’m running – and I’ve paired some headphones to the Huawei Watch GT 2 – it will update me on my speed, distance, and heart-rate. Every time you complete a kilometer, the Huawei Watch GT 2 will tell me how fast I was and my current heart-rate. It’s super handy. And if you don’t want vocal notifications, a quick glance at your wrist mid-run tells you everything you need to know about pace and times.
Huawei Smartwatch CONS
OK, that’s all the good stuff out of the way. What about the CONS of owning a Huawei smartwatch? Well, there are a few, as we’ll get to below. But on the whole, I think the PROS significantly outweigh the CONS.
- No Third-Party Apps – Huawei’s Lite OS (the operating system used on its wearables) does not support third-party applications which means you’re basically stuck with the out of the box functionality of the smartwatch. Comparatively, Wear OS and Watch OS (Apple Watch) have full support for third-party apps and integrations.
- Limited Integration With Phones Compared To Wear OS – with Wear OS or Apple Watch (if you use an iPhone), you get deep integration with your phone. You can respond to notifications, use Apple/Google Pay, and access Siri and Google Assistant. Huawei smartwatches cannot do any of this.
- Limited Third-Party App Integrations – Huawei watches are also fairly limited with respect to third-party integrations. Strava is missing for one, and that’s a real kicker for me. I just hope this is something Huawei can improve in the coming months and years.
Huawei Smartwatch Models: All Current Options
- PORSCHE DESIGN HUAWEI WATCH GT 2 – £629 (VIEW PICTURES)
- HUAWEI WATCH GT 2 Pro – £249 (VIEW PICTURES)
- HUAWEI WATCH GT 2 – £119 (VIEW PICTURES)
- HUAWEI WATCH GT 2e – £109 (VIEW PICTURES)
Wrapping Up: Should You Buy An Huawei Smartwatch?
Given all of the above, Huawei’s smartwatches do have a lot going for them. I am a huge fan of the way they look, their latent fitness and activity tracking abilities, and the fact that I do not need to worry about battery life for over a week at a time. For me, that’s all I need from a smartwatch. Sure, Wear OS is smarter and has more features, but you’ll pay for this with rubbish battery life.
If all you want is an easy to use smartwatch with great fitness tracking and monitoring abilities that looks utterly badass, I think Huawei’s range of smartwatches are some of the best, cross-platform options you can buy right now. Are they better than Garmin smartwatches? Not really. But that’s beside the point; for 80% of users, a smartwatch like the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro will be the perfect wearable device.
It will track all your core health metrics, show you progress and charts inside Huawei Health, and it gives you minute-by-minute updates during your workouts. Add in killer industrial design and week-long battery life and you’re in a very good place. Yes, the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro lacks some functionality but it is exceptional at what it does – and what it does is all most people actually need.
This is why I ditched by Wear OS-powered OPPO Watch and came back to the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.