Huawei has consistently delivered impressively smart wearables over the last few years, and it’s no wonder we welcomed the Watch GT3 with high expectations. After spending most of a month reviewing it, we are now ready to share our impressions with you.
Spoiler alert: it’s very good to have a 2021 smartwatch for too many users. Read on to find out if you are among them.
Design and build
Huawei Watch GT3 adopted the rotating top button from its more premium Watch 3 siblings, down to the neat detail with the engraved brand name. The frame has small partitions, which look much better than a 24-hour solution, but which still serve no purpose with the vast majority of dials. We must mention that it is only available on the 46mm option, while the 42mm variant has a slightly more rounded 3D edge – a solution many will prefer purely aesthetically.
There’s also an actual black frame at the edge of the circular screen, but it’s not too big to take much away from the viewing experience.
The 1.43 “AMOLED (466 x 466 pixels) looks vibrant and smart. This is one of the most impressive screens we’ve seen on a Huawei laptop and supports all the familiar sliding, touching and squeezing motions.
A classic 22 mm rubber strap attached to the laptop was in our retail box, which looks great when combined with the black metallic body. The Watch GT3 weighs exactly 42.6 grams (without the strap) and fits comfortably on a larger wrist – thinner should stick to the 42 mm design.
Other options include “Steel”, which is both a color and the material the body is made of. The back is always made of plastic, but it houses a new set of sensors underneath that provide even more accurate heart rate, blood oxygen, stress levels and sleep patterns.
Hardware and software
The larger number of sensors is only the first step to better tracking. Watch GT3 also brings an improved AI algorithm updated to filter erroneous readings more efficiently. Huawei also brought some features that appeared on previous wearables – 24/7 SpO2 and body temperature measurements and the ability to draw your track with extreme details, thanks to the dual-band Five-System GNSS.
Huawei was all about sports activities and racing when they introduced the Watch GT3, and one of our team members, who is a long-distance runner, wanted to test how accurate the new navigation system is.
In theory, it receives signals from L1 and L5 – two satellite frequencies that work together to provide accurate positioning, and smartphones have been using this dual-band GNSS for several years. In practice, as our dear-if-a-little-crazy colleague found out, it’s much more accurate than any Huawei laptop we’ve ever had in the office, and is among the best smartwatches for casual athletes. The Watch GT3 was tested in mountain valleys with poor mobile coverage and steep rocks on both sides, and the signal was just as accurate as any professional navigation device.
The biggest problem with smart wearables from big companies that want to build a massive ecosystem (such as Huawei and Samsung) is that they have a hard time taking care of professional athletes. Huawei tackled this issue with a brand new “Personal AI Running Coach”. It is a software feature that can “assess your athletic ability based on your historical running data and provide a scientific and professional running schedule for daily running and race preparation”.
Behind all these clever words hides an algorithm that we had already trained because our eager runner already had some data logged into his account through the Huawei Health app. The feature offers live support during races, based on past results.
The biggest problem with the feature is that it only works with one sport mode – Outdoor Run; it does not work with Trail Run or Indoor Run or any of the hikes or walks. There are more than 100 activity modes for tracking, including several types of dancing, roller skating, darts, kite flying and even laser marking.
When the personal trainer works, it does a good job. It tells you when to slow down, when to speed up, and if you do a quick interval workout, navigation helps with distance and timing to prevent the runner from overtraining. We would have loved to have this, at least for Trail Run too. Still, we understand that it is difficult to calculate actual denivelation – the biggest variable when running in nature, therefore the Watch GT3 may not be as accurate as on the track.
We would suggest that you stick to preparing for more popular distances, such as your first 5K, 10K, half marathon or full marathon distance – this is where the Watch GT3 excels.
The most crucial difference between Huawei Watch GT3 and Huawei Watch 3 (and Watch 3 Pro) is the lack of SIM support. While the more premium 3 Series works with eSIM (available in select markets), here, calls via the watch are only available when connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
There is also no Wi-Fi connection, but we always found that it was inconvenient in sports-oriented watches – it just drains the battery more without doing anything extra. We also found that the operating system is generally overwhelming – HarmonyOS 2.0 for laptops has just been renamed Lite OS with the ability to set up apps in a grid (they can also be a list that is a switch).
With so much discussion about the performance of the Watch GT3, the question of battery inevitably arises. Huawei says it can last 14 days of normal use. The capacity of 46 mm unit is 455 mAh, while 42 mm has a small 292 mAh cell.
In our experience, the Huawei Watch GT3 battery can last between 7 and 10 days. We certainly did more than the 90 minutes of GPS-tracked training Huawei counts as typical, but then most GT3 owners probably will too.
So we believe that active athletes will need to charge the portable device weekly – this includes constant sleep tracking, stress tracking, heart rate, blood oxygen and even body temperature while connected to Bluetooth.
This is a unique result in real life. No other laptop on the market can offer all of these features, being as accurate as the GT3 is and lasting an entire week.
Disabling the constant SpO2 and body temperature tracking significantly improves battery life and a single charge can give you up to 11 days of life.
Fortunately, Huawei introduced wireless charging for its wearables some time ago, so there is no need for proprietary chargers – slap the Watch GT3 on any Qi charger and you’re ready to go. It takes up to 3 hours for the whole cell to fill up, but this is a figure for our 46 mm unit – the 42 mm unit should take less than 2 hours.
There is a small circular charger in the box if you do not have one of your own – it has the added advantage that it is more compact and snaps magnetically to the back of the Watch GT3.
Huawei accepts hits from several sides, but we’m glad to see that it does not affect its smart wearables at all.
The Watch GT3 does everything we want, from a smartwatch to casual athletes and more. Finding problems with the laptop would be nitpicking – the screen is bright, the battery lasts a long time, and the software features are as many as they have ever been. The watch looks elegant on the hand and is light enough not to get in the way.
We would love to see the AI trainer turn it into other activities and a wider selection of free dials.
Prices for the 42 mm variant start from € 209, and the 46 mm version can be found for as low as € 229, but the price increases when a more exclusive color is chosen. Huawei will offer discounts on some products if purchased in a Watch GT3 package, but all promotions are market-dependent.
But even without the extra treats, the GT3 is one of, if not the best value for money, smartwatches in 2021. If you need a companion for your runs, it would also not look out of place in more advanced environments, you should definitely have this on your shortlist.