Huawei’s latest offering is massively customizable, but does it live up to its promise as a one-stop shop for wellness?
This new watch from the Chinese phone brand offers enhanced diving abilities and more sports and wellness apps than ever, plus the world’s first all-ceramic smartwatch.
I tested it in the standard titanium finish, a 46mm watch face that’s 10.9mm deep. That makes it chunky, the size you’d expect from a dive watch historically aimed at men (as if our poor lady wrists can’t cope…). The watch’s large AMOLED color display is lush, responsive and has a wide viewing angle. Another advantage of the size is that it can accommodate a big battery with a 14-day life (or eight days of heavy use).
It’s also available in white ceramic – in fact, that version is the world’s first all-ceramic smartwatch. At the time of writing, this was £200 more expensive than the titanium. The GT 3 Pro Ceramic is a bit smaller, at 42mm, and has a shorter battery life of seven days (four days of heavy use).
The ceramic watch looks and feels remarkable, thanks to seven days of kiln firing at 1,500°C and diamond powder polishing.
You can differentiate between the two in photos, not just because of the white ceramic material but also because the ceramic model has a bezel with a scalloped design, in a contrasting silver or gold color, whereas the titanium watch’s design is a simple circle with no bezel.
Both versions offer similar features and are waterproof to a depth of 50m, with a depth sensor especially designed for free diving. The app handles more sports than ever, with more than 100 options. These include on-your-watch-face maps that can guide you home if you get lost on a hike or let you plan runs in advance.
Being waterproof, charging is wireless. You take the watch off and sit it on a small, round dock. A magnet pulls it into place. It’s impressively fast and charges 30 percent faster than the Huawei Watch GT Pro 2.
Health and fitness features include apnea training (breath-holding) for freediving and 30-second ECG tests. The watch/app combo also promises better nutrition logging and can track breathing, sleep, heart rate, oxygen saturation, menstrual cycle, skin temperature and more. It’s a one-stop shop for wellness.
Phone pairing and the Huawei Health app setup were a breeze. I expected the app to be a trial version but it’s actually free, although you can pay for add-ons like watch faces (more on that later). The app is just called Health on your phone, which is annoying if you have countless other smart devices with apps also called Health.
The app is impressive. It does basic activity tracking out of the box but you can set goals for everything from relaxation and sleep to blood pressure and weight – obviously you need other devices to measure these, but your watch gives you tips about your step count, breathing, sleep and more, to keep you on track. There’s even a holistic plan for boosting your immune system.
Use the Health app to download mini apps to the watch. There were only around 40 of these at the time of writing but the variety showcased the device’s potential. They included maps, puzzles, a medicine reminder, a calculator and an Islamic call to prayer with Azan time reminder.
On the plus side, mini apps like mapping and calculator have the same look and feel as your phone’s stock Google apps. On the downside, there is a lack of mini apps from big names. So the watch has the ability to play music directly from your wrist, and it sounds pretty good, but I don’t have my favorite music downloaded onto my phone, it’s all in Spotify. I wanted a Spotify mini app.
The watch’s built-in speaker and mic mean you can take calls on it too. And if you lose your phone (within Bluetooth range) you can simply tap on an icon and your phone says “I’m here!” loudly.
There are two mini app options for navigation: G Maps and Petal Maps. Both are impressive but, once downloaded, neither of them automatically worked with my phone’s Google Maps. Each demanded that I point my phone camera at a QR code on the watch screen to download yet another phone app. It would have been better to download everything I needed in one go. Or better still to just work seamlessly with popular and stock apps I already use.
According to Huawei, 40 percent of users change their smartwatch’s face monthly and this is one of the Huawei app’s strengths. There are dozens of free watch faces to download and many more that you can pay for, ranging in price from 99p to £4.99. There’s potential for even pricier designer watch faces. Like apps, the potential for collaboration is infinite. It would also be great to design your own.
You can download all your favorite watch faces, via the app, to the watch. Then it’s easy to flick between them on the watch itself.
Navigation on the watch uses a touch screen, a single button (at the bottom-right) and a crown (top-right) that you can click or turn. So you navigate on-screen menus either by swiping or by turning the crown.
The controls feel designed for right-handed people: I couldn’t find a way to rotate the user interface to make it work well on the right wrist (ie with the watch rotated so the buttons are on the left-hand side, to be more easily used with your left hand). This feature would be easy to add and make the watch better for 10 percent of people.
The watch faces look stunning. It’s hard to tell they’re not ‘real’, so the result is like having an infinitely customizable high-end watch. Tap the screen to go from a dive watch to a classic look for a black-tie dinner, or from fitness metrics to a cool design for clubbing.
The only annoyance with the snazzy watch faces is that, to achieve its impressive battery life, the screen goes dark after five seconds. The watch face returns when you move your wrist, but what’s the point of a watch when it doesn’t even tell you the time at a glance?
In settings, you can turn on an always-on display. With this activated, you instead get a lower-energy watch face (more simplistic, less bright) after five seconds, which is perfect. Some watch faces come with a matching AOD, so you barely notice the transition. The AOD stays on unless it senses you’re asleep or have taken the watch off for five minutes.
In all, the watch is elegant and its sports and activity tracking is great, but I want partnerships with popular apps. Apple Watch and some Android smartwatches get this right. The perfect smartwatch would put favorites like Spotify, Audible and Google Maps on my wrist with minimal setup.
From £299.99 consumer.huawei.com
Garmin Forerunner 255
This new multisport watch, in 41 and 46mm, is slim and lightweight with a bright, always-on color display. A good mix of sporty and smart features and up to 12 days of battery life (up to 26 hours in GPS mode). Spend a little more for the ability to pre-load music. 50m waterproof.
From £299.99 garmin.com
Coros Vertix 2
A large (50mm), rugged multisport smartwatch with a ridiculous battery life. 140 hours with GPS, 90 hours with five satellite systems for superior positioning, and everyday battery life is an incredible 60 days. The battery lasted for weeks when we reviewed it in January 2022.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
The gold standard in Android health-tracking smartwatches. Choose from 40, 42, 44 or 46mm. With many options for size, finish and strap design – plus customizable watch faces – there’s something for everyone.
From £199 samsung.com
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