For the first Huawei Watch GT, we felt the device had a lot of potential and a great display and fitness tracking capability, but we felt it was lacking in some features versus rivals – like an always-on display for starters. Nonetheless, it was certainly Huawei’s most accomplished smartwatch effort to date.
This new version adds several new smarts and is still very much focused around fitness. Again two weeks of battery life is cited (without heart-rate tracking active), which is an impressive headline figure.
In reality, you’re unlikely to get that much, but it shows how frugal this watch is compared to key rivals such as the Galaxy Watch (maximum of a week) or the Apple Watch lineup.
- 42 and 46mm sizes available
- Waterproof to 50m
- Three Editions available
There are now two sizes in the range. Last year’s model was a 46mm diameter watch (with a 22mm strap) and this year’s offers the same size but a second version scales things down a bit, with a 42mm option available, too (20mm strap).
There are plenty of styles, colours and options– despite the fitness bent, Huawei is clearly pitching this device as an all-rounder with various styles. Each size has a Sport Edition, a Classic Edition (with a leather strap) and an Elite Edition with a metal strap.
Again the watches are waterproof up to 5 atoms – so around 50m in terms of depth for 10 minutes.
Specs and display
- Kirin A1 processor
- Display: 46mm: 1.39-inch OLED | 42mm: 1.2-inch OLED
- GPS and Bluetooth 5.1
The 46mm model has a 1.39-inch OLED with 454 x 454 resolution, while the 42mm cuts things back slightly – it’s a 1.2-inch 390×390 display. They’re incredibly crisp.
Huawei’s Kirin A1 runs the show – also to be found in the new FreeBuds 3 true wireless earphones that Huawei launched at IFA 2019 a few weeks back. And there’s also Bluetooth 5.1 on board as well as GPS of course.
You can now receive calls on the watch itself instead of just being able to answer and reject calls on your phone and there’s an integrated speaker and microphone. There’s no SIM on board the watch, everything is still done via your phone.
The company is citing 150m as the distance the watch can be away from your phone before the connection is broken, but we’re taking that with a pinch of salt until we can try it out. Of course, you get all the notifications you want from your phone when it’s connected.
In terms of battery life, two weeks is the headline figure, but you’d need to charge it after a day if you use it for a lot of calling. If you’ve got the GPS switched on, it’ll give you 30 hours. So if you’re using it for daily fitness tracking, you’re probably looking at, say, a few days before needing to charge. The watch’s battery is slightly bigger than the Watch GT from last year, for what it’s worth.
There’s a proprietary charger as you might expect, but it connects to the actual charger via USB-C so it’s easy to charge the watch from another USB-C device, for example.
- Based on Huawei’s LiteOS
- Always-on display
- 15 workout modes
- 4GB storage for music
Like last year’s model there’s no Google Wear OS – Huawei’s own LiteOS is preferred. One aspect of using its own operating system is that – the clue’s in the name – it doesn’t need a lot of RAM to operate. In fact, the watches only have 16MB (42mm) or 32MB of RAM (46mm).
That’s not a typo, we really do mean MB. And clearly it’s frugal on battery, too.
There are stacks of different watch faces now available on the Watch GT 2 while there are 15 different modes in the workout list covering everything from pool swimming to the treadmill.
As we mentioned GPS is on board, while there’s heart-rate tracking and sleep monitoring, too (Huawei calls it TruSleep). And a TruRelax mode monitors stress, while there’s also an equivalent of the Apple Watch’s Breathe app.
One disadvantage of Huawei Heath – the Android/iOS app that all your data syncs to – doesn’t have much third-party support – MyFitnessPal and the Apple Health app (on iOS, of course) is the limit of it.
Some people have even tried (successfully) to export data from the app, but it is convoluted to say the least. And there is a lot of user feedback on this topic – especially from those frustrated they can’t easily whack their data over to Strava.
Music playback is also supported as you’d expect and there is space for 500 songs in total (4GB) and naturally you can connect headphones directly to the watch if you want to go phone-free. You’re even able to listen to music through the watch’s speaker should you really feel the need.
The welcome always-on screen mode is not a default and, of course, there will be a knock-on effect on battery life if you enable it.
With plenty of colours, faces, fitness types, sizes and other features, there’s a lot to like about the Huawei Watch GT 2. And it’s well-priced, too – Huawei says the 46mm Watch GT 2 will cost €249 with the smaller 42mm set at €229.
It addresses our major criticism from last year’s GT in the shape of the always-on display and key rival Apple has also now decided it had to opt for this feature with the Apple Watch 5.
Really the only issue with this watch is in terms of third-party support for other fitness services. Until that is fixed, many fitness-obsessed would-be purchasers will look elsewhere.
The Watch GT 2 will be available in October.