Honor Watch GS 3 review

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Scarlette Lennon19 June 2022Last Update : 1 week ago
Honor Watch GS 3 review

Introduction

Honor’s most premium-looking smartwatch to date – the new Honor Watch GS 3 is with us. With its € 220/ £ 210 price tag it’s not exactly in premium watch territory, but it’s not an entry-level device either. Key specs include a spacious 1.46-inch AMOLED display, the usual list of health and fitness tracking, and 4GB of built-in storage along with a microphone and speaker, meaning hands-free calling and local media playback are a breeze.

While lacking third-party app support and smart response to messages, the Honor Watch GS 3 is rated for up to two weeks of typical use, which is well ahead of some premium watches. In addition, the Honor boasts a new eight-channel optical sensor for heart rate and blood oxygen measurements, all covered by a premium-looking cabinet.

I strapped a control unit of the watch to my wrist and carried it with me day and night for over a week. Let’s see how the Honor Watch GS 3 performs in our real-world testing, and whether it’s worth considering.

Design

Our Honor Watch GS 3 review unit comes with a gold-colored stainless steel case and brown Nappa leather strap. The design really looks like a vintage watch and will definitely fit in on more formal occasions. Despite the large 46 mm case, the Watch GS 3 measures only 10.5 mm and weighs 44 grams – seriously impressive given the property of the large screen.

Honor Watch GS 3 review

The 1.43-inch AMOLED on the watch is excellent with its sharp resolution of 466 x 466 px and 326 ppi. The curved 3D glass that covers the screen is a really nice touch and adds the first-class aesthetic feeling. Since you are an AMOLED panel, you also get Always-on Display (AoD) functionality, which is quite nice, as you can always check the time and your health / sports measurements depending on the dial.

The watch feels comfortable on the wrist and is solidly built. The leather strap is an added advantage here, but if you are not a fan, you can easily replace it with any 22 mm matching strap to your liking.

Honor Watch GS 3 review

The retail package consists of the watch, a proprietary two-pin magnetic charger and a USB-C to USB-A cable. The watch GS 3 is 50 m waterproof (5ATM) and can track your swimming sessions, although it would be advisable to change up to a silicone strap before going to the pool.

Features

Honor Watch GS 3 brings heart rate, SpO2, sleep and stress tracking. Honor claims that the new eight-channel PPG sensor used on the GS 3 must provide 97% minimum accuracy for heart rate measurements along with 24/7 blood oxygen measurements. As for the activity tracking page, you get access to over 100 sports modes.

Honor Watch GS 3 review

Running, hiking and biking get the added benefit of the dual-band GNSS receiver with support for all five major global positioning standards. Unlike the Chinese version of the Watch GS 3, our international variant does not support NFC for contactless payments, which is a drawback.

You can receive notifications from apps even though you can only answer incoming calls with a few pre-written answers. Thanks to its built-in microphone and speaker, the Watch GS 3 can receive calls from your paired phone via Bluetooth. The watch also boasts 4 GB of local storage (2.2 GB available), which can be used to store music on the watch.

Honor Watch GS 3 review

You can even pair a Bluetooth headset directly with the watch, which is ideal if you do not want to have your phone with you during training. The vibration motor is a bit overwhelming here, though it’s probably due to the limited space inside the thin and light clock profile.

The 1.46 ”AMOLED screen comes with auto brightness functions, although you can also set one of the five steps of manual brightness at any time. See GS 3 pairs via Bluetooth and you need the Honor Health app, which is exclusive to Android at the moment. You get 13 preloaded watch styles as well as 11 AoD options, and the Honor Health app lets you download even more styles to suit your needs. Some dials support customizable complications, and there is also an option to create custom dials with images from your gallery.

Honor Watch GS 3 review

The GS 3 watch also boasts an air pressure and altimeter readings as well as a compass. You also get up to 100 sports and activity modes including 12 fitness tracks with step-by-step voice and animation instructions directly on the watch. These range from simple stretching exercises to full-blown upper and lower body training with carefully timed training instructions with voice-assisted coaching.

The Honor Health companion app provides a clean design with fairly detailed information on all the health and sports tracking measurements you need. There are quickly available maps that show you exercise history, health measurements and other information such as steps and calories burned in an instant. You can also start activity tracking sessions directly from the app and adjust clock functions such as setting alarms, transferring music and downloading new dials.

Performance

Honor Watch GS 3 runs on LiteOS, which is a proprietary operating system used on previous Honor and Huawei watches. GS 3 packs an Apollo4 chipset, which handles daily tasks decently well without any major nicks or delays. The watch’s interface is quite straightforward and easy to use. Navigation in the interface takes place primarily via swipes, although the top button will always take you to the lock screen. You can wake up the screen via a double tap or from one of the two side buttons.

Honor Watch GS 3 review

The top button takes you to the apps page, while the bottom is by default assigned to the training app, though you can turn it into any app in the settings. You also get up to six app shortcuts next to the home screen by swiping left or right. The built-in music player is an interesting touch, but transferring tunes to the watch is a slow process performed via the Honor Health app.

The built-in speaker gets quite loud, which is useful if you plan to use GS 3 to answer calls. The microphone quality is adequate, but not on par with your smartphone or a decent pair of TWS earphones. Still, it’s nice to have the option to receive calls on your watch if you need it.

Health tracking on the Watch GS 3 benefits from the new eight-channel PPG heart rate sensor with frequency tracking and an additional AI heart rate algorithm. Honors website claims that heart rate accuracy is above 97% and in my test I found heart rate measurements in line with those on my personal Xiaomi Mi Band 5.

Honor Watch GS 3 review

SpO2 readings can be compared to any other smartwatch / tape – which means they are a good reference point, but certainly not medical in nature. In a direct comparison with a pulse oximeter, the Honor Watch GS showed 3 results that ranged between 95-100% compared to the oximeter’s 93-95% values. I also had to restart the manual SpO2 measurements on the watch several times as I had the “clock on incorrectly”.

You do not get direct access to detailed health measurements on the watch as you can on some other watches. To check your detailed sleep measurements or compare weekly data, go to the Honor Health app on your phone. Sleep tracking results showed accurate sleep and wake times and also offers a sleep breakdown by category with rapid eye movement (REM) included.

Honor Watch GS 3 review

Activity tracking appeared to be in line with other smartwatches and smartbands we have tested. Running data shows you the usual measurements such as average pace, speed and stride rate along with measurements of heart rate and calories burned. Enabling GPS tracking will also get your running maps mapped fairly accurately, though your smartphone receiver is likely to give you more accurate readings. The GPS sensor on the watch took about 10 seconds to lock my location.

I found the fitness course options quite useful. You get twelve different types of training ranging from 3-minute stretching sessions to full-body training, all with audio and training instructions. These guided workouts are a great way to change your workout routine or end a workout with a step-by-step stretching session.

Battery life

Honor Watch has a 451 mAh battery cell rated for 14 days of typical use and 30 hours of endurance with GPS turned on. During my test, I used the watch with manual brightness set at level 3, AoD turned on, 24/7 heart rate, SpO2, sleep and stress measurements along with notification synchronization and three to four workouts per week. With these usage patterns, I managed to squeeze in four days of use.

Honor Watch GS 3 review

With easier use, you could get to the requirements of the two weeks, but that would require sacrificing features and limiting the potential of the watch. A full charge takes just over an hour. The 5W charger can also give you a day’s power from a fast five-minute charge.

Dom

Honor Watch GS 3 is a versatile smartwatch with a comfortable and stylish design and lots of useful sports and health tracking features. You get reliable measurements thanks to the updated PPG optical sensor with a long list of activities to choose from, including voice-guided training with varying difficulties to suit the needs of both beginners and advanced users.

Honor Watch GS 3 review

The spacious 1.43-inch AMOLED screen comes with a decent amount of dials as well as AoD functionality and automatic brightness. The software experience on the watch is mostly smooth, though the absence of an iOS companion app is a failure in terms of compatibility.

Having a built-in speaker and microphone as well as independent GPS allows you to leave your phone in your pocket or drop it completely during your workout. The voice-controlled workouts and their animations are a great tool to have on your wrist and can help even the more inexperienced users into a regular workout regimen. Battery life is decent, but if you turn on all the advanced features and answer calls on the watch, you will need to recharge every three to four days.

Honor Watch GS 3 review

The lack of third-party apps, NFC, and the ability to respond to messages are the only downsides here, though watches that offer these features come with higher price tags. The Honor Watch GS 3 attaches the keyboards in a fantastic smartwatch and delivers it in a stylish form factor that can be easily adjusted thanks to the detachable 22 mm watch strap. If you’re in the market for a new smartwatch in € 220/ £ 210 range, then the Honor Watch GS 3 is worth a closer look.

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