Huawei Watch GT 2 review: organic and gorgeous watch-like design is its biggest USP

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed anything made by Huawei. Of course, the ongoing tussle with the U.S. government is entirely to blame for this and truth be told I was missing the brand. While we still don’t have any update on the future of Huawei phones in India, the brand has decided to move its attention to the smartwatch space. 

The newly-launched Huawei Watch GT 2 comes with an upgraded design that looks attractive from the get-go. And, to top it off, it is priced well too. Let’s find out of the Watch GT 2 is the smartwatch you should be buying in 2020. 

Huawei Watch GT 2: design, display, and software

Let me say it outright, the primary reason why anyone should consider and buy the Watch GT 2 is that it looks almost like a regular watch. The new 3D glass blends beautifully with the tachymeter frame that bends slightly to eventually fall into the metal body. It is absolutely gorgeous to look at. Couple that with the crisp, bright, and attractive 1.39-inch AMOLED 454 x 454 display, you are bound to have a good time with the watch (all pun intended). 

Also read: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4G review: the best smartwatch for Android phones

My only concern is that there are limited watch faces for you to play around with compared to something like a Samsung Galaxy Watch or a Fitbit smartwatch. However, finally, Huawei has added an always-on display but it is a little different from other smartwatches. Essentially, the Watch GT 2 doesn’t give you a dimmed version of any pre-installed watch face. Instead, what you get is a couple of options – digital or analog – from the standby watch face menu. And, switching on the standby watch face means that you will also have to sacrifice on the ‘raise to wake’ feature. While that’s odd, having the always-on feature helps. 

Huawei sent across the 46mm Classic Edition for review and I must say that it is the classiest looking smartwatch I have had the privilege of wearing on my wrist. This variant costs Rs 17,990. Now, if you think the 46mm one is too big for you, there’s a 42mm Sport variant as well which is the cheapest of the lot at Rs 14,990. There are a couple of other variants: a 46mm Sport Edition priced at Rs 15,990 and the Elite variant which will set you back by a cool Rs 21,990.

The best part about the Classic Edition that I reviewed is the 22mm brown leather strap (finding aftermarket replacements of which are pretty easy). Just like its name, it is actually a classic design that will never go out of fashion just like a pair of good old Rayban Aviators. And moreover, it feels really comfortable on the wrist.

Also read: Amazfit Bip Lite Review: breaks your relationship with the charger

Talking about comfort, even the larger 46mm watch weighs only 41g and feels fairly lightweight for a smartwatch. Plus, it is not thick either. Now, while the upper portion of the watch case is made of stainless steel, the base is made of plastic. At the base rests the heart-rate sensor and the two pins to connect to the charging port. To the right are two slits for the built-in speaker, which is a new addition. And finally, there are a couple of bottoms on the right. Pressing the one on the top brings up the list of pre-installed apps and the bottom button is programmable. By default, it opens up the workout options and I doubt anyone will ever change that. 

Coming to the software, Huawei is introducing a new OS called Lite OS and it is exactly that – light and unobtrusive. The barebones approach means that you don’t have a third-party app store for apps like Uber or Spotify. All you get are a bunch of basic apps for the stopwatch, alarm, and the likes. Navigating through it is not much of a problem, though. Swipe left or right to get switch between the widgets, which cannot be replaced or moved by the way. Swipe down from the top to bring up the quick settings panel and swipe up to see all your notifications. It is all pretty intuitive and one can easily get a hang of things after an hour or so of using the watch. 

Huawei Watch GT 2: performance, smartwatch features, and battery life

Now, continuing that conversation about notifications, they are not actionable on the Watch GT 2. There’s also no Wi-Fi or LTE support either. However, Watch GT 2 makes full use of BT 5.0 and BT LE to do a whole host of other functions. For example, you can control playback from any music player/streaming service on your phone. You can also load songs on the 2.2GB of internal storage that is available for you — 2GB is used as RAM, by the way. And, the transfer can be made from the Huawei Health app. To listen to these songs, you can connect your Watch GT 2 to a pair of BT earbuds for a completely hands-free experience. I tested all of this out and it works seamlessly. 

Using the power of BT 5, Huawei also lets you take calls on the watch itself but yes it has to be tethered to your phone. But I feel the speaker is not ideal for calls as it gets really tinny. I mean, I am glad the speaker exists, but it doesn’t sound very good.

So, how does it all perform? Well, the GT 2 uses a new Kirin A1 chip that makes it faster than the previous generation one. But yes, it is still sluggish if you ask me. For example, when you press the physical button to open the pre-installed apps menu it takes a while to respond. It is not very responsive. Smartwatches like the Fitbit Versa 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch, Galaxy Watch Active/Watch Active 2 are far more responsive. Heck, you can also play games on Samsung and Fitbit’s smartwatches. Therefore, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison really.

Also read: Lenovo Carme NA smartwatch review: should this be your first smartwatch?

All that said, you know why Huawei has gone this route when you look at the battery stats. Huawei claims that you can get 2-weeks of battery life. Obviously, that’s when you use it sparingly. I used the Watch GT 2 extensively with the brightness level set at 4, always-on display, sleep tracking on, stress monitoring on, heart rate monitor on, notifications being pulled in from multiple apps, controlling streaming music, tracking steps, and a couple of walking sessions. Yet, it lasted me 7 days on a single charge. That’s excellent considering Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartwatches can last 2 days with such usage. 

Essentially, what you need to see is what’s important for you: super-fast performance or an excellent battery life. Identifying the tradeoff is vital to make the right purchase decision. 

Huawei Watch GT 2: fitness features and app connectivity

While the design of the Watch GT 2 is great, the fitness features onboard are even more tempting. I’ll get to the workout features but apart from that, you get Huawei’s excellent TruSleep for sleep tracking and TruRelax stress monitoring. I absolutely loved the sleep tracking function considering it gives you such deep insights into your sleep pattern for the entire night. Plus, it also recommends how you can improve certain portions of your sleep, such as deep sleep for example. 

Unfortunately, I do not have a chest strap monitor but the heart rate monitor seemed pretty accurate too. So did the step tracker. Honestly, it is a pity that Huawei’s Health app is one of the best ones out there. It has a clean design that I like. Additionally, it bombards you with so much information. Now, it is a pity because it doesn’t sync with other third-party apps such as Strava or Runtastic. It syncs with Google Fit but who uses that app? The heart rate monitor now works underwater as well and that helps when you are tracking your swimming activity. So you can now calculate SWOLF, calories burnt, distance, and speed with ease. 

Also read: Mi Band 4 review: I dare you to find a better budget fitness tracker

Additionally, there is GPS tracking and GLONASS for accurate positioning as well. The watch can also give you VO2Max information as well. Overall, for all the outdoor and indoor activity tracking options present on the watch, you get a wealth of information that can easily improve your fitness by leaps and bounds. Trust me, all the stats that you get with your smartwatch is a good enough incentive for you to keep going with your workouts. 

That said, I would have really liked it if there was some sort of social feature where I can challenge friends and maybe a syncing option with other third-party apps. 

Should you buy the Huawei Watch GT 2?

I believe that Huawei has done a great job with the Watch GT 2. It ticks a lot of the right boxes for me when it comes to adjudging a smartwatch as a “good” option. The design is a classic. It has a crisp and clear AMOLED display. The battery life is great. And finally, the fitness features are aplenty too. These are going to be good enough reasons to make that purchase decision for most folks. 

Also read: Fitbit Versa Lite review: a solid smartwatch for beginner-level fitness enthusiasts

However, if you want a smartwatch with better “smartwatch” features – such as actionable notifications, LTE support, linking your activity tracker data with third-party fitness apps, and much, much more — Samsung clearly has the better options for you. Moreover, you also get excellent performance as an added advantage. 

Also, let’s not forget that Huawei’s sister company Honor is launching its Watch Magic 2 soon as well. It has a very similar design, and features, as the Watch GT 2. And rumor has it, the Watch Magic 2 could be a lot cheaper. So, you might just want to wait for our review of that one too. 

So, what do you guys think? Is the Watch GT 2 any exciting for you? Do let us know in the comments section below. 

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Ershad Kaleebullah
ershad.kaleebullah@u2opiamobile.com

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?