Huawei Watch GT review: Advanced sleep tracking, GPS, and long battery life in a traditional watch form factor

  • Editors' rating
    8.3 Excellent
  • $199.99

Pros

  • Lovely high quality design
  • Bright and clear display
  • Lightweight and comfortable for 24/7 wear
  • Long battery life
  • Detailed sleep and heart rate data
  • GPS for run tracking
  • Decent price for activity capability

Cons

  • No ecosystem to challenge friends and family
  • Very limited smartphone notifications
  • No 3rd party app support
Huawei shipped more smartphones than Apple in Q2 2018: IDC Samsung maintains a comfortable lead in the global smartphone market, while Huawei shipped 54.2 million units in Q2 2018, more than Apple's 41.3 million. Read more: https://zd.net/2mYV7cz

Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin's efforts over the past few years are finally seeing mass adoption for the use of wearables. More advanced monitoring, including key health measures, are helping further interest in wearable technology.

Huawei has been in the wearable game for a few years, but its latest device, the Huawei Watch GT, is my personal favorite. It's not much of a smartwatch, but it excels at fitness and sleep tracking while launching at the $200 price point in the US.

Fitbit, Samsung, and Garmin have compelling options in the activity band segment, but many prefer a watch form factor. The Fitbit Versa is a very popular device with a massive community of supporters, but the Huawei Watch GT actually offers more for the same price.

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Specifications

  • Display: 1.39 inch AMOLED touchscreen with 454x454 pixels resolution
  • Materials: Stainless steel, ceramic, and plastic with silicone band
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2
  • Water resistance: 5 ATM
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, barometer, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo, optical heart rate monitor, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, magnetometer
  • Battery life: Up to 22 hours with GPS, 14 days of standard usage
  • Dimensions: 46.5mm diameter and 10.6 mm thickness, 50 grams

Hardware

The Huawei Watch GT is one of the best looking and well-contructed wearables I have ever tested with a ceramic bezel, stainless steel shell, and DLC coating. The ceramic bezel underwent a 23-step process that creates a hardness six times that of stainless steel. I was sent the Watch GT model that is all black in color with a two-tone black and gray silicone watch band. There is also a Watch GT Classic model with stainless steel and leather covered band.

The vibrant 1.39 inch AMOLED is gorgeous with a touchscreen that is responsive to swipes and taps. Two buttons are also found on the right side to that serve to go back and jump into the various activities.

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On the back you will find the heart rate monitor sensor lights in the center on a raised round piece. The back is high quality plastic material with four screws out near the watch band mount. The band has quick release pins too so you can easily swap out the bands.

The Huawei Watch GT weights in at 49 grams without the band and the included band is very light. It feels great on the wrist and feels fine even when using to monitor sleep.

Watch software

The Huawei Watch GT runs LiteOS, not Google Wear, which is perfectly fine with me since I'm not much of a fan of Google's wearable platform. Samsung's Tizen is optimized for its wearables and Huawei's LiteOS appears to be the same. There is currently no third party application support so there are limits on functionality, but the experience is solid.

When the display first lights up, the selected watch face is always shown first. There are currently 14 choices for watch faces on the Watch GT, including one that has three exercise rings similar to an Apple Watch. There is quite a breadth in choices so you should be able to find one your are satisfied with.

Swipe up from the watch face to view notifications. Both Android and iOS are supported by the Watch GT. Notifications are very basic with no ability to respond to notifications and a limited amount of text that appears when a notification appears. This is clearly not a smartwatch and I personally found the notifications to be more annoying than useful so just turned them off after a few days of testing.

Swipe down from the top on the watch face to reveal some quick controls, including do not disturb, screen always on toggle, find phone, lock, and all settings. The battery life, connection status, and date are also shown.

Settings managed on the watch include those for the display, do not disturb, system, and about. There are very few settings available on the Watch GT as the LiteOS is optimized for the watch.

Pressing the top right button takes you to the app launcher where you will find workout, workout records, workout status, heart rate, activity records, sleep, barometer, compass, weather, notifications, stopwatch, timer, alarm, flashlight, find my phone, and settings.Pressing in on the lower right button takes you to the workout options. Exercises you can choose from include outdoor run, indoor run, outdoor walk, climb, trail run, outdoor cycle, indoor cycle, pool swim, open water, and other. Next to each exercise option is a gear icon that you can tap and then customize that particular workout.

I only used the outdoor running option and settings include target distance/time/calories, training effect reminder toggle, display, and smart companion. The smart companion shows a ghost on the display of a person at a target pace that you enter. This gives you a quick visual to let you know if you are ahead or behind the companion.

Huawei has partnered with Firstbeat, Garmin and others have too, and this brings training effect analyses such as VO2max Fitness Level, Training Effect (Aerobic), Training Load, Training Status, Recovery Time Advisor, Personalized Plans (Running), Calories Burned, and Race Time Predictor.

Smartphone Software

Huawei Health is available for Android and iOS, serving as the conduit between your phone and the watch. There are three tabs in this software for home, exercise, and me. Tap the me option to add the Watch GT to your phone. The display with your added phone lets you manage sleep settings, activity reminders, continuous heart rate option, alarms, notifications, weather reports, and more. A summary of steps, calories, and distance are also shown here.

Tapping on the home option will show you all of the details for the data captured by the Watch GT. Tapping on parts of this screen will open up many more details, including the various graphical plots shown in my image gallery. It is very impressive how much data is captured by the watch and available to view.

Sleep is very interesting with one of the most advanced sleep analysis tools I've seen on a wearable. Huawei has worked with Harvard Medical School to provide a sleep quality number that you can use to gauge your sleep quality. Scroll up on the sleep page to view how your sleep matches up to standard recommendations in more than 10 different areas.

Exercise results are fun to explore on the phone, but the one downside that will keep me from using the Watch GT for myself is the inability to export the data manually or share it with popular services like Strava or Runkeeper. I like to capture my run data and compare it over time so I can use it with training plans and also track improvements or failures. I was expecting to see Strava integration since just about everyone has that capability and if Huawei would add that to the Watch GT, then I could wear it as a daily watch and GPS sports watch.

Pricing and availability

The Huawei Watch GT is available now at Amazon and Newegg in the Graphite Black I tested for $199.99. It is also available for $30 more with a leather/silicone strap in Saddle Brown for $229.99.

Conclusions

Modern smartwatches typically last two days while activity bands tend to last a week, or more. The Huawei Watch GT two week estimate is what I have seen over the last several weeks with the GPS burn rate equaling the estimated 20+ hours in GPS mode. It's great to have a watch you can wear 24/7 for more than a week while obtaining a vast amount of useful fitness and activity data.

The LiteOS interface is intuitive and simple. There are no third party apps, but honestly the Watch GT provides all the essentials needed for 24/7 activity tracking.

I personally prefer to customize my running screens to one or two that show the data I want to see while running. These data screens are setup as defaults, but they do offer plenty of useful information. For outdoor running you get a main display with heart rate, current pace, distance, elapsed time, and clock time. Swipe up to the next screen to reveal steps, cadence, total calories. Swipe up again to view your altitude climbed and current actual altitude. Another swipe up reveals just your heart rate on the screen itself. Yet another swipe up shows you your running companion with a ghost of you in comparison. The companion is blue and you appear in red. Your current training effect is shown with the next swipe up on the last available display. As you can see, a ton of data is available to you, but this order and the data fields cannot be altered.

The advanced sleep metrics are very interesting and I believe sleep can be as important as exercise to staying healthy. I have been trying to get more sleep recently and using something like the Watch GT should help motivate me to achieve these sleep goals.

The hardware is fantastic, battery life is great, sleep tracking may be the best available on a wearable, and GPS has shown itself as fast and accurate. Overall, the Huawei Watch GT is a great choice for $200, but I would like to see the ability to export or share data with other services since the ecosystem is pretty closed with little help from family and friends to help motivate you to achieve your goals.

Specifications

Style
Product type Smartwatch

Where To Buy

Price
$199.99

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Where To Buy

Huawei Watch GT (saddle brown)

Part Number: 55023263
Price
$199.99