Huawei Watch GT 2 review

2020-05-12

OUR VERDICT

The Huawei Watch GT 2 has excellent battery life coupled with health and wellness tracking features, but the software needs improvements in order to stand out from the competition.

+FOR

Great battery life

Attractive design

Excellent fitness tracking

-AGAINST

No third-party apps

No NFC support

Can't customize it much

The original Huawei Watch GT stood out largely thanks to an attractive design and a long-lasting battery, and now the brand is back with the Huawei Watch GT 2, a wearable that thankfully doesn't abandon those features.

It is - as you'd hope - also an improvement in a number of ways. Huawei is making a strong push into the smartwatch market, and it’s evident from the Watch GT 2 that it has put a lot of thought into the second generation. Having said that, the focus has been more on refinement than delivering a totally overhauled experience. 

We got the 46mm Sport edition in black for review, and it’s difficult to visually differentiate between this and the original Watch GT. However, once you’ve gotten it up and running, there’s plenty here that makes it stand out.

Huawei Watch GT 2 price and availability

Out now

42mm model starts at £179 (roughly $230 / AU$340)

46mm model starts at £199 / AU$399 / AED849 (around $260)

The Huawei Watch GT 2 is available now from £179 (roughly $230 / AU$340) if you go for the 42mm model, or for £199 / AU$399 / AED849 (around $260) in its 46mm size.

If you want a 'classic' leather strap rather than a sports strap it rises to £219 / AU$428 / AED949 (roughly $280) for a 46mm model, with the 42mm version of this seemingly not being widely available. Like most Huawei products, the Watch GT 2 is not available in the US.

Design and display

1.2-inch or 1.39-inch AMOLED screen

Attractive design

The Huawei Watch GT 2 is lightweight and at 10.7mm thick it doesn’t feel chunky on the wrist. The 46mm watch has a 1.39-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels and a brightness of 1,000 nits, which makes it decently bright and sharp.

It weighs 41g without the black silicone strap, which makes it lighter than the previous model.

The 42mm model (which we haven't tested) is 29g, 9.4mm thick, and has a 1.2-inch 390 x 390 AMOLED screen. So it's a little more compact than the 46mm model, but may also prove cramped if you have large hands.

For both models, Huawei has adopted a 3D glass screen to create a bezel-less design, with curved edges which merge into the casing. It's an attractive design, if similar to the original Huawei Watch GT.

The watch is also 5ATM rated, which means it can survive at depths of 50 meters underwater for up to 30 minutes.

There are two buttons on the right side of the watch. One is to select built-in apps, while the other is for health tracking and launching workouts. Swiping down from the home screen reveals quick settings such as do not disturb, find my phone, and alarms, while swiping up shows your recent notifications.

There’s a mono speaker on the right edge, which is quite loud when taking calls and listening to music, but really you should still just stick to using a headset. 

There's also a microphone on the left edge, which works well even in a crowded space.

Finally, the Huawei Watch GT 2 has a lot of sensors for detection and tracking, such as a gyroscope, accelerometer, optical heart rate, ambient light and air pressure - this is mostly fairly standard smartwatch stuff though.

Hardware and software

4GB of storage but only 2.2GB is usable

Lite OS doesn't support third-party apps

Includes GPS but no NFC

The Watch GT 2 is powered by Huawei’s home-grown Kirin A1 chipset, which includes intelligent power-saving technology. It has 2GB of RAM and 4GB of storage, out of which 2.2GB is usable space - enough to hold around 500 songs.

In terms of connectivity options, the Huawei Watch GT 2 offers Bluetooth 5.1 as well built-in GPS (along with Glonass and Galileo for more accurate, faster and precise positioning).

There’s sadly no NFC support though, so you can’t make payments using the watch. There’s also no Wi-Fi or LTE here, so you’ll have to always keep the watch paired with your phone to keep things up to date.

You get Huawei’s own Lite OS here, which feels good to use for the most part, despite not offering as many features as the likes of Apple’s watchOS, Google’s Wear OS, Fitbit OS, and Samsung’s Tizen. It can also sometime feel a bit sluggish.

Since Huawei's platform doesn’t have an app store, there’s no support for third-party apps. You also can't add widgets or customize the watch in any significant way, which makes the Watch GT 2 feel less like a smartwatch and more like a digital watch with GPS and fitness tracking.

For the most part all you can do is cycle between a watch face, heart rate monitor, stress levels, the temperature, music, and fitness tools. 

Though you can share data with Google Fit and MyFitnessPal directly from the watch, the Watch GT 2 is at its best when using the Huawei Health app.

This app is organized around four tabs - the home screen shows the daily health readings, the second tab shows various exercise modes, the third tab is for connecting other Huawei-supported devices, and the fourth tab is for settings, personal achievements, your profile, and weekly and monthly health and fitness reports.

It's fairly straightforward to use, with options to drill down and look at things in greater depth if you so desire.

The Huawei Watch GT 2 supports smartphones running Android 4.4 or higher and iOS 9.0 or higher, so it's likely to work with your handset - we used it exclusively with the Huawei Nova 5T.

Features and fitness tracking

Can track loads of different exercises

Also includes sleep and stress tracking

When it comes to fitness tracking, there’s a wealth of options available. Various workouts can be tracked via the Huawei Watch GT 2, such as running (indoor and outdoor), walking, elliptical, rowing (indoor and outdoor), cycling (indoor and outdoor), swimming (pool and open water), climbing, hiking, trail running, triathlon, and aerobics.

There’s also a personal intelligent sports coach to guide you through each exercise to make it better and safer. This system comes with an example workout made up of seven different phases. The digital assistant will talk to you through it and use voice prompts to tell you when to slow down and pick up the pace again. 

When you've completed the seven phases, you get a summary of your data such as calories, fat burned, distance covered, and what muscles you've worked on.

The Huawei Watch GT 2 also tracks general daily activities such as calories burned, steps taken, and floors climbed, as well as sedentary alerts and heart rate. The floor monitoring was a bit odd, giving us weird results when it mistook an elevator ride for us climbing floors. 

Heart rate tracking worked well though, and this also warns users by vibrating if their heart rate goes below or above the recommended level. Users can set the levels based on their doctor’s recommendation.

Huawei is seemingly trying to catch up with the Apple Watch 5’s ECG sensor, but the features here are nowhere near as advanced.

The Huawei Watch GT 2 also has a TruSleep 2.0 feature, which monitors your sleep, including how long you spend in light sleep, deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement), as well as real-time tracking of your heart rate, pulse, and breathing quality.

The app then uses this data to analyze your sleep quality using artificial intelligence, and can make recommendations to improve your sleep quality.

There's also a TruRelax feature that records your heart rate variability, and provides all-day stress level monitoring. If it detects that you're getting stressed out, there's a breathing exercise to help you calm down, which is a nice touch.

Battery life

Up to 14 days of life from 46mm model and 7 days from 42mm

Actual lifespan is likely to be less, but still impressive

Huawei claims the 455mAh battery inside the 46mm Watch GT 2 gives two weeks of juice on a single full charge, while the 42mm model will apparently offer 7 days, but this all comes down to how you’re using it.

For example, when real-time heart rate monitoring is selected, the battery on our 46mm model dropped by around 12% by the end of the day, as opposed to just 7% when in smart heart rate monitoring mode. 

If you are a moderate user you should be able to squeeze out around 10 days of battery life from this model, which is pretty decent. For fitness enthusiasts who work out close to two hours a day, the battery can last about 5 days, which is still impressive. This far surpasses offerings from both Samsung and Apple.

A full recharge from zero battery takes around 1 hour and 22 minutes, which isn't too bad either, though you need to use a proprietary charger.

Verdict

The Huawei Watch GT 2 offers a great value proposition with its internal and external hardware, and the fitness features are certainly quite impressive.

However, the software holds it back and needs to be fine-tuned further for Huawei to make a proper impression with future models. There needs to be more customization and there really, really needs to be more apps.

Who's this for?

With its focus on fitness and lack of apps, the Huawei Watch GT 2 is really for someone who primarily wants a fitness tracker, but one with the aesthetics of a high-end smartwatch.

Should you buy it?

If you’re in the market for a sleek-looking fitness tracker, then this is the one for you. For anything beyond that, it’s best you look elsewhere and find a more fleshed-out smartwatch, such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 or Apple Watch 5.