Huawei has consistently delivered impressive smart wearables for the past few years and it’s no wonder we welcomed the Watch GT3 with high expectations. Having spent the better part of a month putting it through its paces we are now ready to share our impressions with you.
Spoiler alert: it’s very good, and the 2021 smartwatch to have for many a user. Read on to find out if you are among them.
Design and Build
The 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 bezel has minute partitions, which looks way better than a 24-hour solution, but still serve no purpose with the vast majority of watch faces. We should 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 in terms of aesthetics.
There’s also an actual black bezel at the edge of the circular display, but it’s not too big to take much from the viewing experience.
The 1.43” AMOLED (466 x 466 pixels) looks vibrant and snappy. This is one of the most impressive screens we’ve seen on a Huawei wearable and supports all the familiar slide, touch and pinch gestures.
A classic 22mm rubber strap attached to the wearable was in our retail box, which looks well when coupled with the black metallic body. The Watch GT3 weighs exactly 42.6 grams (without the strap) and fits comfortably on a bigger wrist – thinner ones should stick to the 42mm design.
Other options include “Steel”, which is both a color and the material the body is made of. The back side is always made from plastic, but it houses a new set of sensors underneath that offer even more accurate heart rate, blood oxygen, stress levels and sleep patterns.
Hardware and software
The bigger number of sensors is just the first step for better tracking. The Watch GT3 also brings an improved AI algorithm updated to filter erroneous readings more effectively. Huawei also brought some features that made an appearance at previous wearables – the 24/7 SpO2 and body temperature measurements and the ability to draw your track with extreme detail, thanks to the dual-band Five-System GNSS.
Huawei was all about sports activities and running when it introduced the Watch GT3, and one of our team members, who is a long-distance runner, wanted to test how precise the new navigation system is.
In theory, it receives signals from L1 and L5 – two satellite frequencies that work together to provide precise positioning, and smartphones have been using this dual-band GNSS for several years. In practice, as our dear-if-slightly-crazy colleague found out, it is a lot more accurate than any Huawei wearable we had in the office ever and is among the best smartwatches for casual athletes. The Watch GT3 was tested in mountain valleys with poor mobile coverage and steep rocks from both sides, and the signal was as accurate as any professional navigation device.
The biggest issue with smart wearables from huge companies that want to build a massive ecosystem (such as Huawei and Samsung) is that they have a tough time catering to 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 with a scientific and professional running plan for daily running and race preparation”.
Behind all these smart words sits an algorithm we had already trained because our avid runner already had some data logged into his account through the Huawei Health app. The feature offers live support during running, based on previous results.
The major problem with the feature is it works only with one sports mode – Outdoor Run; it doesn’t 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 dances, roller skating, darts, kite flying and even laser tag.
When the Personal Trainer works, it does a great job. It tells you when to slow down when to speed up, and if you are doing a quick interval training, the navigation helps with the distance and timing to prevent the runner from overexertion. We would’ve loved to have this, at least for Trail Run as well. Still, we understand it is hard to calculate actual denivelation – the biggest variable when running in nature, therefore the Watch GT3 cannot be as precise as on the track.
We would suggest sticking to preparation for more popular distances, like your first 5K, 10K, half-marathon or full marathon distance – that’s where the Watch GT3 excels.
The most crucial difference between the Huawei Watch GT3 and the Huawei Watch 3 (and Watch 3 Pro) is the lack of SIM support. While the more premium 3 series work with eSIM (available in select markets), here calls through the watch are available only when hooked to your smartphone over Bluetooth.
There’s also no Wi-Fi connectivity, but we always found that to be impractical in sports-oriented watches – it just drains the battery more without doing anything extra. We also found underwhelming is the OS in general – HarmonyOS 2.0 for wearables is just rebranded Lite OS with the ability to line up the apps in a grid (they can also be a list, there’s a toggle).
With so much discussion on the performance of the Watch GT3, the question about the battery inevitably pops up. Huawei says it can go 14 days typical use. The capacity of 46mm unit is 455mAh, while the 42mm has a tiny 292mAh cell.
In our experience the Huawei Watch GT3 battery can lasted between 7 and 10 days. We certainly did more than the 90 minutes of GPS-tracked workout Huawei counts as typical, but then most GT3 owners probably will too.
So we believe active sportspeople will need to charge the wearable weekly – this includes constant sleep tracking, stress tracking, heart rate, blood oxygen, and even body temperature while connected to Bluetooth.
This is an outstanding result in real life. No other wearable on the market can offer all these features, being as precise as the GT3 is and last an entire week.
If you disable the constant SpO2 and body temperature tracking the battery life improves significantly, and a single charge can give you up to 11 days of life.
Huawei thankfully introduced wireless charging for its wearables some time ago, so no need for proprietary chargers – slap the Watch GT3 on any Qi charger and you are good to go. It takes up to 3 hours for the entire cell to top up, but this is a number for our 46mm unit – the 42mm device should take under 2 hours.
There is a small circular charger in the box if you don’t have one of your own – it has the added benefit of being more compact and snapping magnetically to the back of the Watch GT3.
Huawei is taking hits from multiple sides, but we are happy to see it’s not affecting its smart wearables at all.
The Watch GT3 does everything we want, from a smartwatch for casual athletes and even more. Finding issues with the wearable would be nitpicking – the display is bright, the battery lasts a long time, and the software features are as plentiful as they ever were. The watch looks elegant on the hand and is light enough to not get in the way.
We would love to see the AI coach make it to other activities, and a wider choice of free watch faces.
Prices for the 42mm variant start from €209, and the 46mm version can be found for as low as €229, but the cost grows when a more exclusive color is selected. Huawei will discount some products if purchased in a bundle with the Watch GT3, but all the promos are market dependant.
However, even without the extra goodies the GT3 is one of, if not the best value-for-money smartwatches in 2021. If you need a companion for your runs, that also wouldn’t look out of place in fancier environments, you should certainly have this one on your shortlist.