Last year when I checked out the Huawei Watch GT, I was a bit upset at how poor it handled smartwatch duties especially as it was so good as fitness tracker duties, and I came to the conclusion that the Watch GT was a fitness tracker cleverly disguised as a watch. After a year of Software improvements and a few hardware changes, has the GT2 become the Watch I want?
- Gorgeous Screen
- Lovely elegant design
- 2 Week Battery
- Simple charger
- Fast software
- Notifications still kinda suck
- Fitness first, everything else secondary
Disclaimer – Huawei provided me (Dom) with this GT2 unit for the purposes of review. Huawei will not see this review before it goes live, nor will they have any bearing on the outcome. No money has changed hands between either company. This Watch GT2 is the 46mm variant, used on my Huawei P30 Pro smartphone for 3 weeks.
- 46mm watch face
- 1.39” 454x454OLED screen
- Kirin A1 SoC
- Bluetooth 5.1
- Optical heart rate scanner
- 2-week battery life (1 week with AOD)
- Stainless Steel chassis, Plastic base, Leather Straps
- Silicone straps also included in-box
- Watch straps are standard 22mm
For a more complete list, head on over to the Huawei site to check out the Watch GT2.
I need to say this first and foremost, the Watch GT2 is pretty it, for the most part, looks like a normal masculine watch. Do I wish It were a bit smaller? but Huawei thought of that, and released a 42mm version as well, though that is a more curved version of the watch. My Version of the Watch GT2 is the polished stainless steel version with the tan leather straps and I adore it. It’s big without being G-Shock huge, it’s remarkably slim for all the tech packed inside as well.
Up from Upfront is the absolutely gorgeous 1.4″ AMOLED Display, this fully circular screen has a super high resolution, nice anti-aliasing (unlike last year) punchy colours and the screen gets really quite bright, meaning that daytime viewing when you’re out in Marbella or Ibiza isn’t going to be an issue. Gone this year is the raised bezel, there is a single sheet of glass covering the face of the GT2 this year, and right on the edges, perhaps a millimetre in there is a chamfer, on this chamfer is where Huawei placed the legends for the clock face. I think this doesn’t look too bad, but I would have rathered Huawei not include analogue markings on a digital watch, for instance, what if I want to use an Analogue watch face? I’d just have those markings wasting space.
On the right hand of the watch are the 2 buttons, unlike other watches like the Apple Watch and the newer Fossil watches, there is no scrolling crown wheel here, and whilst I am upset, the user interface Huawei has developed here wouldn’t really benefit from it anywhere. From the main watch face pressing the upper button opens the “app drawer”, pressing it anywhere else in the OS takes you back home to the Watch face. The lower button is actively remappable to a small selection of applications but I have chosen to keep it as the default which is to start a workout. In between these two buttons in the part of the chassis between the steel and plastic ou see the slits for the speaker, yes the Watch GT2 has a speaker, and it actually sounds really quite nice. On the left-hand side there isn’t anything on the steel portion, but on the plastic meeting again there is a hole, this time for the microphone, yup, through this watch you can take and make phone calls I was shockingly impressed at the call quality here, with people not even knowing I wasn’t coming from my phone, absolutely insane.
On the rear of the watch in the raised dimple in the middle is the optical heart rate scanner, pogo pins for charging and the green LED used for the heart rate scanner. In the four corners, there are some absolute minuscule Torx Screws to remove the plastic back cover, I assume this is for battery replacement or back panel repair, but I’m not taking the rear off of my watch just yet. The Watch Straps are just standard 22mm watch bands, mine are leather, and they have quick release pins on them to quickly let you swap out your bands, a nice touch that I actually utilise weekly, I swap the leather bands out for the silicone ones for when I’m Swimming, because swimming with a leather watch strap on is not fun.
Much like last year, the Watch GT2 doesn’t run WearOS, in fact, it runs Huawei’s own watch platform called LiteOS. There were rumblings before the GT2 launched that this might, in fact, run a version of HarmonyOS, but It does not, it uses an RTOS (Real-Time OS) light enough to run on the Kirin A1, an SoC with a Cortex M7 Microprocessor as it’s CPU instead of the larger, more powerful Cortex A-series chips.
LiteOS though is rather full-featured and is quite nice to use. do not get it confused with WearOS, WatchOS or Tizen, this is more like the FitBit OS or the OS on Garmin watches, it’s fitness first and foremost with some other features. It’s funny how so many of the wearable operating systems have centred around a few core ideas. The “home screen” is the watch face, it makes sense, it is a watch, after all, swiping down from the top tends to get you your quick settings, swiping up from the bottom tends to get you to notifications, and a swipe left or right usually has widgets of some sort, and that doesn’t change here.
The main screen is your watch face, easily changed within the app or by long pressing on the screen for a second or two. swiping down from the top gets you to the quick settings panel with toggles for Do Not Disturb, the AOD button, a button to make the connected phone ring, an alarm button to set alarm and lastly a button to get into the main settings panel, at the bottom of this is a panel that shows you the current date, the current battery percentage and whether or not you are actively connected to the watch. Swiping up from the home screen gets you to the notification feed, arguably one of the weaker aspects of the watch still, but these notifications are better than what was given on the Watch GT last year.
Lastly, the left and right swipes here are actually a carousel, so swipe right long enough you’ll get back to the watch face. Starting with the first panel, a live heart rate scanner feed next is the graph of your stress score monitored throughout the day. Next is the weather panel, after that is the music player control panel, lastly is the “activity rings” shamelessly inspired by Apple as so many have been, the next swipe takes you back to the home screen.
Pressing the upper side button opens the app launcher, a vertical scrolling list of built-in applications, as there is no app store on here, what you see is what you get. Lastly pressing the lower button opens up the workout menu asking you what type of workout you’re doing. This is actually one of the best things about the watch, because of the physical buttons when doing something that obstructs the touchscreen, such as swimming, you can easily and effectively end your workout without the faff of trying to get a touchscreen to work with wet fingers and a touchscreen covered in water droplets. Long pressing the upper button for roughly 5 seconds open the power menu giving the option to reboot or power down. long pressing the lower button does not appear to do anything
I expected to severely dislike the software on the GT2 as I did last year with the GT, but the bugs have been cleaned up, the software is more polished, it now has a more capable chipset behind it, and they’re slowly making notifications more useful with every update. Sure the notifications are still pretty crap and limited, if Someone sends me an email, I get a notification on the watch with the app icon and the header of the email, that is it, I cannot act on that notification, I cannot dismiss it, I cannot reply to the email, I can just swipe it away on the watch, which sometimes but not always dismisses it on the phone. With how polished the rest of the watch software is and the connecting Huawei Health app, the notification experiences is a bit upsetting, to say the least.
So how does this do at its main job? fitness tracking. well unsurprisingly it does really quite well. GPS is remarkably accurate, as is the pedometer and the Heart Rate tracker. My main exercise is swimming, I go to my local pool and swimming varying lengths depending on how my very broken body is feeling and the Watch GT2, just like the Watch GT last year is the most accurate swim tracker I’ve tested outside of professional trackers. It monitors everything from time, to heart rate, to breathing quality (I assuming it’s doing o2 Sats through the heart rate scanner) how consistent my lengths are, what stroke it assumes I’m doing from all the extrapolated data, and of course the number of lengths I’ve done and how many calories I’ve burnt. I have never had such a consistent, comprehensive swim tracker from a mass consumer piece of tech.
But it’s not just swimming, there are so many pre-programmed workouts on here it is dizzying, going through the list we have:
- Running (with 13 subcategories)
- Outdoor Run
- Indoor Run
- Outdoor Walk
- Indoor walk
- Outdoor Cycle
- Indoor Cycle
- Pool Swim
- Open Water Swim
- Trail Run
- Rowing machine
Holy crap, that’s a lot, I need to try out some of the other ones, maybe an outdoor walk, as I’m not much of a runner, but I walk about a fair bit.
When you are done with the workouts you can sync them back to the phone via the Huawei Health app, which is the hub for all Huawei wearables, you can find this workout data and share it on social media or to a logging application, so cool, so sleek, I love it
Something Huawei does really quite well is sleep tracking, with the partnership they have with a university, the Huawei TrueSleep algorithm can track your light sleep, deep sleep, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, how your breathing was, how settled you were. All of this is made possible by the sheer amoun.t of sensors on the watch You opt-in to all this, Huawei does not assume you want to give this data up, you have to explicitly tell it to track your sleep etc. and if you still don’t trust it, you could just turn the watch off or remove it from your wrist at night.
This thing is an absolute battery beast, especially being how slim it is. the rather large (for wearable) battery paired with the power-efficient Kirin A1 chip and the light software stack all accumulate into a battery life of over 2 weeks with all but the Always-on Display on, and with the Always-on Display I was able to get 7-8 days, still Impressive, but with how good the lift to wake algorithm is, I don’t feel I need the AOD on this particular watch.
The other benefit? rapid charging. the Watch GT2 doesn’t use Qi, which is very upsetting to me, but it has the next best thing. the charging puck used s not tethered to the cable needed for it, that’s great because the cable is USB-C! the puck is small and lights and because the cable is removable its a lot more portable, I love it. And because it has a small battery in real terms (in relative ones its large) it charges fast, a full charge in what feels like an hour, and a quick 20-60% top-up in about 20 minutes, I worry about the battery on the GT2, much in contrast to the TicWatch C2 I was using before the GT2 which got 2 days if I was very careful on the second day. So let it be said Battery on the GT2 is not a worry, and if you’re near the limit, toss it on the charger whilst you go for a shower or the loo and you’ve easily got enough juice back to last you another day or two.
in conclusion, the Watch GT2 is a refined version of what we got last year, It’s a fitness tracker that looks like an acceptable dress watch, and I love it. I wish it was more competent at notifications, and I wish there was a few more music controls, but I actually enjoy using the GT2 this year unlike last year, and I think a lot of it has a lot to do with the physical design, I don’t mind showing it off and showing people.
Should you buy it? that’s a bit more of a difficult question, Do you already have a fitness tracker you like? what about a watch, if the answer to either of those is yes, I’d leave it. It’s a nice watch and its areally nice fitness tracker, but if you’ve already got dedicated ones of each of those, this combined product might be a regression in some cases. but if you don’t have a Smartwatch, or don’t have a watch at all and want to track your workouts better, this is a great option that can be kept on at all times because it looks awesome and the battery just doesn’t die. £199 is not the cheapest watch on the market, nor is it the most expensive, and there are better smartwatches at this point, but I don’t think there are better smartwatches and better fitness trackers at this price point, either way, I’m keeping mine on and going for a swim.