Senior Entertainment Writer, Tech AdvisorJUL 14, 2023 3:34 pm BST
Image: Hannah Cowton / Foundry
At a glance
Wide range of tracking features
Long battery life
Heavy and cumbersome
Messy accompanying app
No Google-supported software
No contactless payment in UK
The premium Huawei Watch 4 Pro offers a wide range of tracking features, some of which you won’t find on rivals. However, the device is enormous and accompanying app is a thorn in my side.
Price When Reviewed
Not available in the US
Earlier this year, Huawei released its first headphone and smartwatch hybrid, the Watch Buds. Now, the brand is expanding its wearable tech with the next installment in its flagship smartwatch line.
There are two models in the latest generation: the Watch 4 and the Watch 4 Pro, the same naming convention seen on the Watch 3 series. I’ve got my hands on the latter, which is the more premium option equipped with a titanium build and a beefier battery.
Design & build
Leather and titanium strap options
5ATM water resistance
Huawei has stuck with tradition for this iteration of the Watch, with a large circular face remnant of a classic time piece. It has the same 3D rotating crown and accompanying button on the right-hand side for controls and navigation.
You can opt for three shades of bands on the Huawei Watch 4 Pro: a silver titanium strap, a blue composite strap or a dark brown leather strap. If you opt for the cheaper Watch 4, you’ll just get a rubber strap in black.
I tested out the leather version, which is paired with silver titanium casing. The straps are quick release, so you can swap them out for any compatible 22mm strap, should you prefer. Huawei sells its own range, with different colours and materials to choose from.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
This smartwatch both looks and feels worthy of its high-end price tag. You could very easily wear it in the office or out a drinks just as you could for a run in the park… if you have larger wrists, that is.
As a petite woman with pathetic spindly arms, the 65g weight and chunky design makes for an uncomfortable wear after long periods of time. The larger size makes space for a big battery and more sensors, but a slimmer design would have meant that I’d be less inclined to take this off throughout the day – defeating the point of a watch.
Aesthetics aside, the Huawei Watch 4 Pro comes with 5ATM water resistance (to 50m) and an IP68 rating. Under testing, it worked perfectly well under water, with controls nice and responsive after submersion. It’s also endured a few knocks and bumps with no trouble, so its durable and hardy.
On the back of the face, there is an assortment of sensors, including an optical heart rate sensor, an ambient light sensor, a temperature sensor, an ECG sensor and a depth sensor.
Not all wearables offer such a wealth of health tracking features, so this is a big plus for the Huawei Watch 4 Pro.
Display & audio
1.5in AMOLED display
Always on option
Speaker and microphone
Whilst the cumbersome build is an annoyance, it does mean that the screen is large, bright and impressive.
It’s a 1.5in AMOLED panel with a resolution of 466 × 466 pixels and 310ppi, covered by sapphire glass. I’ve been able to use it under bright sunlight with no issues – though the display is prone to some fingerprint marks.
Navigation is responsive, with no lag when swiping between various screens and apps. There is also an option to enable a basic always-on display which shows the time and date, but this can cut the battery life in half.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
The watch also comes with a ‘raise to wake’ feature, so when you lift your wrist to eye level, the screen will automatically light up. Brightness is set to automatic out the box, and it adjusts well to its ambient surroundings.
The Watch 4 Pro is equipped with a built-in speaker. As default, the watch will read out your stats after a workout. If (like me) you get second-hand embarrassment about this during an exercise class, you can turn it off in the settings menu – the voice on the wearable is surprisingly loud.
You can pre-load music from your phone onto the smartwatch. However, the speaker isn’t anywhere near good enough to replicate the depth and colour on a speaker or pair of headphones.
There is a built-in microphone on the Watch 4 Pro, so you can take calls on it and that’s really all the speaker should be used for. My voice was apparently quite clear on a call, except if I jostled around. I was also able to hear the other person easily.
Software & features
Harmony OS 3.0
The Huawei Watch 4 Pro runs on Huawei’s own operating system, Harmony OS 3.0, and is compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones. For this iteration, the interface has a series of new widgets, so you can have more on the large home screen.
The default wallpaper has planet Earth rotating, but I decided to download one of many from the accompanying app, so I was able to see my heart rate, exercise records, time and weather more easily.
The watch automatically displays apps in a grid format like the Apple Watch, but I use the list format so I can see the description of each feature more clearly. As this is a Huawei device, you won’t find any Wear OS apps like Google Maps or Spotify, but there is an abundance of other things to play around with.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
The watch supports a standalone e-SIM, so you could use it for phone-free navigation with Petal Maps if you’re out running or cycling. On top of that, you get Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC support – though the latter is redundant for UK buyers as it only works with Huawei Wallet which doesn’t yet support UK credit or debit cards.
For communication, Huawei has a phone log, contacts and messaging app, though you’ll need to enable permission for contacts in your smartphone. You can get notifications on the watch and respond to some messages on things such as WhatsApp with automatic replies and emojis.
There are also apps for daily organisation such as a notepad, alarms and the weather.
Fitness & tracking
Over 100 activities
ECG and temperature sensors available
Uses the Huawei Health app
For this latest smartwatch, Huawei has put a huge focus on the health tracking features and making them easier and quicker to access.
The Health Glance feature is the headliner, where the watch does seven tests in quick succession (it takes around a minute). In this time the watch measures your average heart rate, your SpO2 levels, your skin temperature, ECG, arterial stiffness, respiratory levels and gives you a stress score.
Respiratory is a new measurement for Huawei watches in the West, which should allegedly detect whether you are having any breathing issues. To test this, you must cough into the watch a few times – I recommend doing this at home to avoid anyone thinking you’re gross.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I didn’t have a case of the sniffles during testing to see if this feature works as intended. All the other results I got largely matched the scores I’ve got from other wearables.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
Aside from the health monitoring, the Huawei Watch 4 Pro can also be used to track over 100 different activities. These include your typical sports like running, walking, cycling and swimming, as well as more specific sports such as pilates, core workouts and even golf driving range sessions.
During exercise, the watch tracks your heart rate, your route via GPS (if applicable) and a few other things depending on the sport. For example, during a session in the pool the watch broke down the different strokes I used – and it was pretty on the money in comparison to some other wearables like the Amazfit GTS 4.
The watch has some preset courses for running, with timers to determine your pace and when you should take breaks. For example, the walk/run course is an ideal one to follow if you’re just getting into jogging.
There is also an auto-detect feature for certain activities. I used this on a walk, and whilst it did activate it often didn’t count the first few minutes.
Wear the Huawei Watch 4 Pro throughout the night – if you can bare the size of it – and it will track your sleep. The score then shows where you had deep, light and REM sleep, as well as any periods of waking up. Again, all the data recorded seemed accurate to my experience.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
All your tracking data is recorded in the accompanying Huawei Health app. This is a pain to install. It isn’t available directly in the Google Play Store, so you’ll need to download it from your browser. I also found that the watch initially had trouble connecting during set-up, but a restart did solve the issue.
The app is full of ads, and not super intuitive to use, with some settings and features buried deep in many folders. If the layout was simpler and easier to navigate – and didn’t require such a convoluted installation process – it would make this smartwatch easier to use.
Data from your smartwatch can be carried over to apps such as Strava and Adidas Running, but you’ll still need the Huawei Health app.
Battery life & charging
4.5 days typical usage in standard mode
Up to 21 days in ultra-long mode
90 minutes to charge
Huawei claims that the Watch 4 can last around 4.5 days with typical usage in standard mode, which is in line with my testing. However, you can extend this up to 12 days in ultra-long battery life mode with typical usage or, if used very conservatively, this device can be stretched to a whopping 21 days.
Note that if you enable an eSIM, the watch will only last two days in standard mode.
As you would expect, ultra-long mode disables a good portion of the features to save on juice. However, with this turned on you still get heart rate monitoring, ECG, SpO2 monitoring, exercise tracking and sleep monitoring. The main things disabled are mobile data, Wi-Fi and respiratory monitoring.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
Therefore, if you only really use the watch when its connecting to your phone via Bluetooth, then you can pretty much use it in the ultra-long mode most of the time.
Huawei claims that it takes around 90 minutes to charge the Watch 4 Pro from flat to full, which is accurate. The box includes an accompanying magnetic charger.
Price & availability
The Huawei Watch 4 Pro is priced at £499/€549 for brown leather strap and blue versions, and £549/€649 for the silver titanium version. You can buy it from Huawei directly, or via Amazon UK. As with other Huawei products, the Watch 4 series isn’t available in America.
For £100/€100 less, you can opt for the regular Watch 4. Despite the price jump from the Watch 4 to the Watch 4 Pro, there aren’t many major differences between the models other than the build materials and the battery life.
Whilst the Watch 4 doesn’t look as expensive, it’s much lighter at 48g, so will be more comfortable to wear. Therefore, I’d suggest saving some money and opting for the cheaper model – you can always swap the strap for something more premium and still make a big saving.
The Huawei Watch 4 Pro is a versatile wearable. It includes health monitoring features that some brands don’t offer, reliable exercise tracking and a very impressive battery life when used in the ultra-long mode.
Whilst the build looks and feels premium, it’s only suitable if you have larger wrists or appreciate a chunky finish. Otherwise, it will likely be too big and heavy.
The app is also clunky, and you’ll have to make do without any Google apps and things like Spotify support.
If you’re not attached to the titanium casing and don’t mind opting for a slightly smaller battery, it’s worth considering the Watch 4 over the Pro version. It’s more affordable and lightweight, and doesn’t sacrifice on those impressive health tracking features.
Hannah Cowton is a Senior Entertainment Writer at Tech Advisor and Macworld, working across entertainment, consumer technology and lifestyle. Her interests and specialities lie in streaming services, film and television reviews and rumours, gaming, wearables and smart home products. She's also the creator of The London Geek, a geek culture and lifestyle blog.