After returning to the smartphone market, Huawei debuts in the wearables segment in Brazil. The Watch GT is the first sports watch by the Chinese manufacturer in the country, promising long battery life, high definition AMOLED screen, and a lot of focus on fitness, with resources to monitor physical activities and provide detailed information about your sleep.
With a suggested price of R $ 1,499, the Huawei Watch GT even looks cheap compared to smartwatches sold by other brands in Brazil, which are usually launched for two or three thousand reais. But is he really good? I’ve run dozens of kilometers in the past few weeks with the news from Huawei and will count my impressions in the next few minutes.
What is legal?
The Huawei Watch GT is very impressive at first glance: it looks more expensive than it is. The company took great care in the quality of construction, with a mixture of ceramic and metal that gives a feeling of robustness. In the Active version, the precision in recording the numbers and the details on the side buttons show that Huawei paid attention to the details.
The rubber bracelet proved to be comfortable throughout the test days, which is important for a device that aims to monitor your sleep. It fits on wrists of various sizes and can be replaced without the use of specific tools. And, as the fitting is standard 22 mm, unlike the Apple Watch and Garmin QuickFit, the customization possibilities are endless.
If the Huawei Watch GT makes a good first impression when you take it out of the box, it remains when you turn on the product. The screen of the 46 mm version is one of the best I’ve seen on a sports watch: the definition is great, the colors are vivid and the brightness is strong enough to allow viewing even with the sun falling on the display. The touch sensor is very responsive, recognizing touches and gestures with precision.
A positive point is the high compatibility of the Huawei Watch GT: it can be used on both Android and iOS phones with almost all features. On the iPhone, I just missed being able to install new displays, but the app itself says that the feature is already in development. Despite the visual differences between mobile platforms, all data is available for access on Huawei Health.
Among the information shown in Huawei Health, the one that draws the most attention is sleep monitoring. The level of detail is much higher than normal: you can know the total duration of sleep, the division between light sleep, heavy sleep, and REM sleep (!), The number of times you woke up, and even the quality of your breathing. In the end, the app even generates a note for your sleep.
The interesting thing is that Huawei bothered to explain what each piece of information means, instead of just throwing a bunch of random numbers in the user’s face. With a touch, I can learn what a good level of REM sleep percentage is (between 10% and 30%) and understand what happens in this phase, with references to scientific articles at the end.
Still, about data, there is a multitude of them for those who exercise. On the run, Huawei Health shows graphs of heart rate, pace, cadence, and altitude throughout the activity, including allowing overlapping graphs, so you know how your number of steps per minute is affected during an uphill stretch, for example.
The performance section is almost a plagiarism of the Garmin platform (which is a good thing). The application shows the effect of aerobic and anaerobic training (from 1 to 5), estimates your maximum VO 2, predicts how long you would finish a half marathon, and suggests a recovery time, based on the effort made so that you are ready for the next activity and avoid overtraining.
Finally, the battery surprises. I confess that initially, I didn’t believe in the promise of up to 14 days of autonomy because of the high definition and the brightness of the screen. In general, a duration of “weeks” is only possible on more basic devices, with monochrome or washed color screens, low resolution, and without a touch sensor. But the Huawei Watch GT was no exception.
I filled the battery on the Huawei Watch GT on a Monday night. The watch was on my wrist the entire time, showing cell phone notifications and monitoring my sleep and heart rate. During that period, I ran or walked with the GPS activated for 3h30min. As of Friday morning, the battery was still at 30%, which is something exceptional.
Without monitoring physical activity, battery consumption was between 7% and 9% every 24 hours, with the heart rate reader always on and sleep monitoring enabled, which would easily result in more than 10 days of autonomy.
What’s not cool?
The problem with giving an impression that is too good at first sight is that it cannot always be maintained over time. The Huawei Watch GT has an expensive smartwatch design and screen but does not offer the same functions as one. And despite bringing a lot of data, which is usually only found on more sophisticated sports watches, the accuracy of the information disappointed me.
As a smartwatch, the Huawei Watch GT lacks very basic features. It shows notifications from the cell phone but does not allow you to do anything with them, nor to reply to a message. Instead of using Wear OS, Huawei opted for its LiteOS platform, which does not include any third-party applications. And perhaps one of the main uses is not available: there is no way to control the playback of songs through the clock (!).
In practice, it ends up being a simple fitness bracelet with a sophisticated smartwatch face. In the same price range, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, for example, even allows you to sync Spotify playlists, while Huawei’s doesn’t even have internal storage for music. Not to mention all the other smartwatch features and the possibility to connect with third-party services, such as Strava and Endomondo, which are not available on the Huawei Watch GT.
Another negative point: the translation is very bad. There are some excerpts in Portuguese from Portugal and others that were located incorrectly: words without a plural, “steps” translated into “steps” instead of “steps”, “duration” instead of “duration”, and so on. It’s something that reminds me of old Asus cell phones and that shows an image of disrespect. After all, if you receive money from consumers who legally buy the product in Brazil, paying all taxes to maintain the operation of a company in the country, the least you need to do is to hire good proofreaders.
And as a sports watch, the Huawei Watch GT has sinned for accuracy. Despite showing a lot of information, all of them are affected by GPS very “more or less”, which impairs the reliability of the information.
In a 10 km run, with a practically straight path and an unobstructed view of the sky, with a wide avenue on one side and a river on the other, the Huawei Watch GT did relatively well: it cut some curves, but nothing more than normal for a GPS watch.
But the clock is easily lost in the middle of the city. In the most “challenging” scenario, I ran 15 km in New York, passing by avenues with skyscrapers and lots of construction scaffolding along the way. Obviously, the quality of the track recorded by the GPS was very bad: he cut curves and invented sections that did not exist quite often. Through the map, I ran, flew, and swam at the same time.
Even in parks, the accuracy is not the best: even the trees in some parts of Ibirapuera Park, in São Paulo, were sufficient to impair the consistency of the GPS. And that was reflected in the data that was displayed in real-time: even running at a steady pace at around 5min45 / km, the clock even showed on the screen that I was below 4 min/km – and for almost a minute. I would be very happy, but that was not the case here.
The Huawei Watch GT is a product that had everything to be perfect, but that sins in very important points. The design pleases, the screen is one of the best on the market, the battery lasts too long and the Huawei Health app impresses by the amount of data displayed, losing almost nothing to market references, such as Garmin Connect.
But the good points end up being overshadowed by simple weaknesses. I didn’t expect a complete smartwatch on the Huawei Watch GT, with a voice assistant, multiple gigabytes of memory, and complex applications, but seriously, I couldn’t even include music control? And, if the focus was on building a sports watch, not a smartwatch, was there no way to put a better GPS?
Some of the downsides can be remedied in the future by software, and in fact, I received at least three firmware updates during the nearly two weeks of testing. However, despite being launched now in Brazil, this is a product that was announced in October 2018 – it is difficult to imagine what could have been corrected or implemented and has not yet been.
With these sins, the Huawei Watch GT turns out to be neither a great smartwatch nor a great sports watch, despite bringing many technological highlights and not costing your eyes. It should be an option for those looking for an elegant watch, are concerned about health, do not want to charge the battery every day, and, from time to time, practice physical activities. But there is the feeling of missed opportunity: it could be much more than that.
- Battery: up to 14 days (Active) or up to 7 days (Elegant);
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, Glonass, Galileo;
- Dimensions: 46.5 × 46.5 × 10.6 mm (Active) or 42.8 × 42.8 × 10.5 mm (Elegant);
- Weight: 46 grams (without bracelet, Active), 36.2 grams (without bracelet, Elegant);
- Platform: LiteOS;
- Sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, luminosity, barometer, optical cardiac sensor, a compass;
- Screen: 1.39 inch AMOLED with 454 × 454 pixel resolution (Active) or 1.2 inch AMOLED with 390 × 390-pixel resolution (Elegant).