+ Sunday February 24th, 2019
Huawei Watch GT Hero Image

Whenever a company launches a new smartphone, it invariably launches something else to go along with it. Apple started the “one more thing”, and manufacturers like Samsung, LG and even Huawei have followed suit.

When the Huawei Mate 20 Pro was launched last year, one of the “one more things” was the Huawei Watch GT. Visually appealing, and yet offering a reduced feature-set compared to most smartwatches, it was always going to be a tough sell.

Nonetheless, Huawei promoted the Watch GT as a long-life smartwatch capable of handling a variety of fitness and health-related goals. It features a timeless circular design, looking much more like a traditional watch than smart. That might be somewhat prophetic, because the Watch GT is a lot more like a traditional watch than smart.

What are the features?

With a 1.39-inch AMOLED display, the visual impressions are striking. With a dual-button design, ceramic bezels and a DLC diamond carbon coating to provide durability, there’s promise here.

The Watch GT isn’t especially thick – just 10.6mm – and comes with a dual-colour silicon band or a leather/rubber hybrid (which is what we’ve reviewed).

Besides looks, the Watch GT is promoted as a smart wearable, offering selectable notifications from your phone, as well as tracking health, steps and various exercise activities including walking, running, cycling and even open-water swimming (using a combination of GPS tracking and inertial sensors).

Combining TruSeen 3.0 heart rate monitoring with frequent measurements, the Watch GT keeps a fairly accurate record of your heart’s activity throughout the day, and in the paired smartphone app you can see a graph of your heart’s performance over the day. It’s quite neat.

There’s a fairly standard-sized battery inside, but because the Watch GT doesn’t run the resource-heavy Wear OS (and doesn’t do all that much smart stuff) Huawei claims the battery can easy last into two weeks. Having no option for an always-on display is a guaranteed way to save battery life, and having lost just 12% battery life over 48 hours use, the claims definitely stack up.

So, that’s what’s inside, how is the Watch GT to use?

I have to admit to being a bit underwhelmed. For as good as the Watch GT looks great, to use it just .. well .. isn’t.

When Huawei announced the Watch GT, I immediately checked my expectations when it became clear it wasn’t running Wear OS. The fear of another sluggish Wear OS device was replaced with the fear of a smartphone platform that worked less well, and sadly that’s what the Watch GT has kind of delivered.

Aesthetically, it works well. The design is simply beautiful, and easily belies its $399 value. Even the digital watchfaces look nice, and work a lot better than the Wear OS equivalents (and yes, a lot of the designs come straight from the Huawei Watch 2).

However, once you start to interact with the Watch GT you quickly get the impression that this is a fitness tracker first, with some “smart watch” features throw in for good measure. While the fitness features work pretty well from my limited testing, the rest of the features do not.

 

The activity tracker, for example, works rather well. The sleep tracking I find quite accurate (though, I’m asleep, so I probably can’t comment with authority there). The tracking of movement, walking and more is good – and it exports to Google Fit as well, should you move on to a different device later.

On my review unit, the Watch GT doesn’t consistently respond to touch, often detecting a click instead of a swipe. There’s as often as not a perceptible delay in activating something you’ve clicked on, and the settings are very minimal; you really can’t do much.

The feature which really let me down was notifications. This is one of the main reasons I wear a smartwatch, and while call notifications worked extremely well (they came up immediately, no delay, and told me the caller’s name and number), message-type notifications were hopeless.

Besides allowing you to see the title and content of a notification, you can’t do anything else. You can dismiss a notification, but it doesn’t dismiss the notification on your phone to match. You can’t reply to an SMS (for example), or archive an email in Gmail.

In short, you can do very little, and seeing as these are the smartwatch features I use a number of times per hour, not having them was very noticeable.

Would I buy a Watch GT?

Initially I thougth no, probably not … but on the flip side, there’s a certain appeal to this watch.

If you’re after a fitness tracker that doesn’t look like a square block on your wrist (think most Fitbit devices) then the Watch GT from Huawei might meet your needs. It does all those things, Huawei Health syncs everything to Google Fit (so you can take your data with you to different devices), and offers the minimum smartwatch features.

If you’re after a full-featured smartwatch, then this might not be the watch for you. You’re probably looking for a smartwatch that’s a bit more smart. For $399, you can get watches from Fossil brands, Mobvoi and others which will do more.

If you’re after a decent fitness tracker that looks like a very decent watch, then the Huawei Watch GT might meet your needs.

Ultimately the question of whether I’d buy one is moot. You can’t actually buy the Watch GT. It’s not sold in Australia, and is only available as a giveaway with Mate 20 Pro purchases before the end of February.

Unfortunately this means you can’t really try it out before you ‘buy’, but as its essentially free with a Mate 20 Pro, that mightn’t matter so much. If you’re in the market for a Mate 20 Pro, now’s the time to get one, because a free smartwatch (however useful) is better than no smartwatch.

Pricing and Availability

This Huawei Watch GT promotion is included as part of Mate20 Pro post paid plans available with Huawei’s carrier partners:

  • Optus customers will receive 30GB of data for $74 per month for 24 months, available until 31 March. See more information here.
  • Vodafone customers will receive 30GB of data and handset for $64.91 per month for 36 months on the Vodafone $35 Red Plan, available until 4 February. See more information here.
  • JB HiFi is selling the Mate20 Pro for $1399 (save $200 from RRP $1599) as part of the promotional offer, available until 28 February. See more information here.

The Huawei Watch GT is not available for separate purchase. The gift promotion is available from the following retailers: Optus, Vodafone, JB Hi-Fi, Kogan and Mobileciti.

The promotional offer is available from 24 January 2019 to 28 February 2019. The Huawei Watch GT can be claimed through www.huaweipromotions.com.au until 24 March 2019.

Huawei Watch GT 3.75 / 5

Chris Rowland   Managing Editor

Chris Rowland

Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag.

Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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