Smart watches were meant to be the next big thing, but it hasn’t really developed into a massive category in consumer electronics. That hasn’t stopped manufacturers from continuing to evolve their products. Over the past couple of months I’ve been using the Huawei Watch GT 2 Sport, a device that builds on the good work done in the first-generation, but makes some important improvements.
One of the biggest knocks on first-gen devices was the battery life and thankfully this time round, the GT 2 has killer battery life. Huawei claim you can get up to 2 weeks of day/night use which in my experience is not far off reality. In part this improvement is thanks to their use of the Kirin A1 chip to power the experience, but it also a result of a watch that’s focused on tracking your health and sporting activities. While the GT 2 Sport doesn’t run Android Wear, it does offer all the features you’d expect, like the ability to change the watch face, pair with bluetooth headphones, make and receive calls.
Charging even once a week is a significant difference to the original watches which ran out of battery in as little as 1-2 days. Having an extended battery life gave me confidence that when I put it on, it was ready to go. This is a real shift from my experience with smart watches in the past which felt like every time you wanted to use them, it was flat. In an ideal world, you’d have a charging bowl on your bedside that you simply put your phone, wireless headphones, smart watch and more wireless devices in to charge. Unfortunately that doesn’t exist, so we’re left docking our devices individually.
Huawei’s number includes having heartrate monitoring on and expects around 90 minutes of exercise, as well as 30 minutes of music per week. If you’re like me, you’re always listening to music or podcasts on walks etc. so assuming you’re not also carrying your phone, you can expect the watch to get a little less than that advertised 2 weeks, still it’s seriously impressive.
A watch that looks like a watch
When it comes to the design of a smart watch, I think most people want a watch that looks like a watch, not a piece of technology strapped to their wrist. The design of the Huawei Watch GT 2 Sport answers that desire perfectly, with a deliberately understated design, the watch and band is black, with it broken by just the white notches of the 24 hour increments around the watch face.
The Huawei Watch GT 2 comes in both 42mm and 46mm variants, with the range including Sport, Classic, Elite and Elegant models. These are differentiated with design elements including different bands in different materials, including plastic, leather and metallic straps. The choice between these will be a personal decision, but the Sport version reviewed would be my pick.
On the right of the watch, there are just 2 simple physical buttons. The top button wakes the device and opens the menu, which you can then interact with using the touchscreen. The bottom button is actually programmable using the settings menu, which allows you to set your favourite app to launch when pressed. If you’re someone who works out regularly and want to launch stright into tracking a run, this is an excellent design detail.
The back of the watch features sensors to monitor your heart rate, while also including the wireless charging plate that magnetically attaches to the dedicated dock. Being magnetic, it’s often easier to find in the dark, like when you’ve gone to bed then realised you want to take off your watch and charge it.
Stand out features of this display.
The watch is actually packed with features that I’ve listed below, but my favourites are definitely the massive battery life and music playback controls.
Calls from your wrist
Huawei’s Kirin A1 chip supports the ability to make and receive calls over Bluetooth (46mm version). This is really convenient, especially when you have your hands busy or wet you don’t want to risk taking your phone out of your pocket, so a quick tap to receive the call and you’re away.
One of the best parts of the watch is the impressive battery life, which can last of up to two-weeks (with around an hour of use per day.)
Sport and health features
This watch is firmly targeted at those who care about fitness. From workouts, to heart rate, stress to breathing exercises, it’s clear who the target market is here. Those who are into fitness, have all the features you could want from a watch, including music, weather, timers, alarms and even a flashlight.
All Day Activity Tracking
Track your fitness progress all day like your step count, calories burned, the number of times you stand up, and periods of medium to high intensity activities.
Despite not running Android Wear, the watch does support notifications from SMS messages, Email, Calendar, and other social media apps. Unfortunately many of these require you to get out your phone to reply. You can also use other apps like the Weather, Alarm, Timer, Stopwatch, Flashlight and Find your phone from the watch.
The watch feature an AMOLED display, this means it features a highly accurate touch response and great brightness and colours, even in direct sunlight. As you know with your phone, the brighter the screen, the more battery you consume.
During my time with the watch, I switched between a variety of built-in watch faces and many of these have customisations. Some watch faces just display the time, while others display a combination of the time and health data.
Precise Positioning System
The watch has GPS built-in and uses a GLONASS satellite positioning system. Keeping track of where you are in the world is important when tracking runs, rides, hikes and other types of exercise.
Real-time Heartrate Monitoring
Huawei have a technology known as TruSeen. Now in version 3.5, it provides an efficient and accurate real-time measurement of your heart rate. Coupled with the intelligent AI heart rate algorithm, it monitors your heart rate throughout the entire day, even while you are sleeping. This differs from many health tracking gadgets that you manually have to switch between active and sleeping modes.
Swimming Heart Rate Monitoring
As you’d expect for a fitness watch, the water resistence allows it to be used while swimming. Not only that, but you can monitor your heart rate while you are swimming as well as the distance, calories burned and your speed.
Personal Workout Guide
The watch comes preinstalled with 10+ running courses and offers voice guidance during workouts. These courses help users with different running goals: new runners, people who are running to lose weight, or runners who are looking to improve their endurance.
The watch has internal storage that’s good for as many as 500 songs, great for running without your phone. You can also pair the any bluetooth headphones, but naturally Huawei would like you to go for the FreeBuds 3. You can enjoy the music from your favorite list without the phone when running or jogging.
Better Sleep Monitoring
Huawei TruSleep 2.0 offers the ability to track and diagnose 6 common types of sleep issues while providing suggestions for better rest. And, while you sleep, the watch monitors your heart rate, analyses your breathing and awards a score on your overall sleep quality.
Release Your Stress
All-day stress monitoring, all day care for your health by Huawei TruRelax. The breathing training releases stress and adjusts state at the right time.
Not everything’s perfect
In terms of issues with this watch, there’s nothing technically wrong with it, it works as advertised. Perhaps the big thing to be aware of is its limitations. Often we buy products in certain categories just expecting they’ll have features we can get elsewhere but in this instance, the devil is in the detail.
While the list of things you can do and monitor with this watch is impressive, there are some fairly big limitations created by the platform not being Android Wear. One of my biggest misses is the lack of tap and pay support, along with the lack of notifications from social apps.
While some people may like to excape their connected lives when they workout, personally I’m after a solution that ensures I’m connected all the time and can quickly screen notifications from any app on my phone. Basically an email is as important as a Facebook message or a Twitter DM. Without full mobile notification support, you will likely get back to your phone and learn you have missed some important conversations that may have been time sensitive.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
In terms of smart watches, the Huawei Watch GT2 Sport goes a long way at answering the needs of potential buyers. The hardware is well designed and feels robust, like you’ll get years out of it, before having to look for a replacement.
The battery life on offer here is some of the best we’ve seen from a smart watch. The success of wireless devices really depends heavily on great battery life. I’ve had far too many devices that are flat when I want to use them and have always struggled to build that routine to charge nightly.
With the seriously impressive battery life on offer here, it feels like the watch is always ready to go.
Given the lack of Android Wear, the watch does lack some common features you may be looking for, including Google Pay. When you consider the scenario of buying food or drinks after exercise, it’d be really handy to have this in a watch and not have to take your phone or wallet.
All things considered, this is a really capable watch, one that looks like a watch, not a piece of technology on your wrist, which is something I think most potential owners will really appreciate.