The worst thing about smartwatches in 2019, you need to charge most of ’em every other night at least. For some, the answer to that frustration is the hybrid smartwatch, which can last months but sacrifices most smart features to get there. Walking the line between the two is the Huawei Watch GT, wearable with a big beautiful display that lasts about two weeks charges. But it’s not so much a smartwatch as a fitness band in disguise.
Huawei hasn’t built a truly striking smartwatch since its inaugural offering in 2015, but the Watch GT is the best-looking one since then. The stainless steel casing is water resistant to five atmospheres and accented with plastic and ceramic while the band sports silicone in the skin-facing side to protect the leather top layer from sweat. That’s smart.
The display is a bright 1.4-inch AMOLED panel with rich colors and high pixel density. It’s this element more than any other that gives the impression of a full smartwatch. See? You can scroll between watch faces and swipe in for settings and apps. You get notifications from your connected iPhone or Android with a buzz on your wrist.
Huawei Watch GT: Os
At a glance, it looks like a typical Wear OS smartwatch. But instead of going with Google’s wearable platform, Huawei built its own. It calls it LiteOS, and lite it is. It only takes a few seconds of scrolling to see just how jittery the animations can be. There’s none of the fluidity you see in a modern Wear OS or Samsung wearable, just saying nothing of the Apple Watch.
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Huawei Watch GT: Notification
Notifications are bare-bones. Most of ’em have the same nondescript blue bubble. At a glance, it’s tough to tell which app a message is coming from. There’s also no word wrapping. So, words just flow from one line to the next. It makes it hard to read. You can’t respond, archive, or really do anything else with notifications. In order to make sure you get those notifications from an Android phone, the companion app has to keep a service running, which necessitates this persistent notification up top.
Probably worst of all is the lack of customization or any prospects of such. There are only 11 pretty weak watch faces to choose from. Because Huawei hasn’t opened LiteOS to third-party development, that’s all you’re gonna get until the company builds more. Same goes for the app situation. You’re left with what’s installed on the watch and Huawei might want to give you in the future.
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Back on the hardware side for a second, there is no NFC, there is no WiFi, and there is no speaker or microphone.
So, what does it do well besides battery life?
There is continuous heart rate monitoring and step tracking. It’s fun to scrub through last week and see where CES happened. Always lots of walking at trade shows. If you winter time power walks, It tracked using the built-in GPS
they were accurately mapped as well. I do prefer hibernating to exercising during the winter though.
Here is where the excellent battery life comes in again. Not needing to charge every night means the Huawei Watch GT can track your sleep instead and not just how much sleep you getting but the quality of that sleep
based on movement and heart rate.
As I said at the top, great sleep and exercise tracking make the Huawei Watch GT more fitness tracker than smartwatch no matter how it looks.
Two weeks of battery life is an amazing accomplishment.
But if a fitness tracker is what you want, I still think you should buy a Fitbit. At press time, Fitbit’s Versa is on sale for 179, making it 30 to $50 cheaper than the Huawei Watch GT. The Fitbit Versa last four to six days between charges, not two weeks but still respectable. If a smartwatch is what you’re looking for, Samsung, Apple, and Google may only give you about two days between charges, but they offer many more features, hardware options, and most importantly huge ecosystems full of apps and watch faces.
The Huawei Watch GT will satisfy a niche of those looking for a basic wearable or fitness folks who want their tracker to look like a watch. But squeezed as it is on all sides by competitors who do everything but battery life better, I think it’s kind of a tough sell at this time.