Huawei's jam-packed HarmonyOS launch event on 2 June also played host to a plethora of hardware announcements, including the all-new Huawei Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro.
While the Watch GT line has served Huawei well over the last few years - spanning multiple models since its debut in 2018, this new numerical change made with the Huawei Watch 3 feels like a deserved and overdue leap forward.
The Huawei Watch line started on Google's Wear OS (originally Android Wear), moving to Huawei's own Lite OS - a wearable-specific platform - for the GT line and now, with the Watch 3 Series, we see the debut of HarmonyOS.
The Watch 3 offers up a robust and familiar feature set, dressed in a stylish design and boasting strong performance, while the Pro model ups the ante in terms of materials and longevity (with a few other extras thrown in - more on that later).
When will the Huawei Watch 3 be released?
The Huawei Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro were unveiled as part of Huawei's 2 June HarmonyOS launch event.
In markets including the UK, pre-orders run from 2 June to 17 June, with the Watch 3 going on sale on 18 June. As for the Pro model, pre-orders are active between 2 June and 27 June, with the watch becoming available on 27 June.
Those who place a pre-order with a deposit - £20 for the Watch 3, £50 for the Watch 3 Pro - will get that money off their watch of choice at purchase and will be able to redeem a pair of the company's FreeBuds Pro true-wireless earphones at the same time.
How much does the Huawei Watch 3 cost?
Huawei has priced the Watch 3 at £349.99 in the UK - making it one of the brand's most expensive smartwatches to date (excluding Porsche Design variants), while the Watch 3 Pro costs from £499.99. Both models are available from the Huawei Store and 'selected retailers'.
For reference, the Huawei Watch 2 and later, the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro cost around £329/€329/US$299, so we’re expecting something similar from the Huawei Watch 3 line.
The jump in functionality over the base model doesn't feel so significant that pricing would approach Porsche Design-levels of premium (the Watch GT 2 Porsche Design cost approximately £300/€365 more than the standard GT 2 Pro at launch), however, the addition of more luxurious materials, enhanced location capabilities and superior longevity still adds £150/€150 to the asking price.
What features does the Huawei Watch 3?
We'd best start with the design, which Huawei teased in posters it shared in the lead-up to the 2 June HarmonyOS event where the watch(es) actually launched.
The biggest departure from any previous Huawei Watch is the addition of a '3D rotating crown' - similar in design and implementation to the digital crown located on the side of every Apple Watch. Paired with haptic feedback, interaction on the Huawei Watch 3 is now a matter of touch, button presses and rotation - by way of this new crown.
The overall design of the Watch 3 appears similar to that of the rounded form of the 42mm Huawei Watch GT 2; with a circular form factor, sporting a pillowed glass front, paired with tapered lugs that accommodate 22mm quick-release straps. It also shares in the GT 2's 5ATM swim proofing.
Design-wise, the Pro model trades out toughened glass for sapphire crystal, while the casing moves from 316L stainless steel to titanium alloy - similarly to the Watch GT 2 Pro.
The 1.43in circular AMOLED display totes the same 326ppi pixel density as rivals like the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Oppo Watch, while on the back sits an optical heart rate sensor that's also equipped to measure oxygen saturation (SpO2) and constant skin temperature - something only really found on the Fitbit Sense.
Software is arguably the biggest departure, moving from the aptly named Lite OS to HarmonyOS 2.0, which looks and feels not dissimilar to Wear OS as it currently appears on rivals from the likes of Fossil and Oppo.
It's a richer experience compared to Lite OS, helped by smoother, more responsive silicon running things inside the Watch 3.
Select watch faces feature customisable complications, a voice assistant (Celia) to relay weather details or place calls is a swipe or long button-press away, a widgets carousel lies to the right of the watch face and notifications are a swipe up.
While Wear OS is the most prominent influence on HarmonyOS' wearable guise, the apps grid that appears when pressing on the crown, looks and feels decidedly like Apple's WatchOS. Huawei has even purloined the action of rotating the crown to zoom in and out of the app icons too.
Speaking of apps, the Watch 3 also serves as the debut device for standalone App Gallery support, meaning on-wrist downloads of apps without the need to browse via a paired smartphone (again, similarly to Wear OS) are an option.
Connectivity takes the form of Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC and eSIM functionality, so buyers don't have to fork out extra for cellular support, should they wish to go phone-free from time to time.
Along with constant heart rate, SpO2, sleep, stress and skin temperature monitoring, the Watch 3's fitness chops carry the torch from the GT 2 line, with support for over 100 activities, including advanced tracking for 17 of those (called "professional" workout modes).
While integrated GPS is present on both iterations of the Watch 3, the Pro model is the first smartwatch to boast dual-channel GPS - a feature that broke onto Huawei's smartphone back with the Kirin 980 chipset inside the Mate 20 series. In essence, users can expect more accurate and reliable phone-free location data when working out.
The final big divergence between the standard and Pro models falls to battery life, with the Watch 3 promising three days wear in normal mode or 14 in 'ultra-long battery life mode' (closer to that of Huawei's Lite OS-powered GT watches), while the Watch 3 Pro promises up to five days of regular use that extends to 21 days in power-saving mode.
Huawei Watch 3 specs:
- 1.43in circular (466 x 466 resolution = 326ppi) 60Hz AMOLED touchscreen
- 316L stainless steel casing
- Ceramic back
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB storage (Not all user-accessible)
- Geomagnetic sensor
- Optical heart rate sensor
- Ambient light sensor
- Temperature Sensor
- Microphone (supports phone calls + voice commands)
- 100+ workout modes: 19 'pro' modes, 85 custom modes, automatic workout detection for 6 modes
- 5ATM water resistance
- eSIM (LTE)
- Bluetooth 5.2 + BLE
- WiFi (2.4GHz-only)
- Battery: Up to 3 days (smart mode), up to 14 days (ultra-long battery life mode)
- Wireless charging
- 5V 2A magnetic USB wireless charger
- 54 grams w/o strap
- 46.2mm x 46.2mm x 12.15mm
- Colours: Black (Active Edition), Silver (Classic & Elite Editions)
- Included 22mm straps: Fluoroelastomer (Active Edition), leather (Classic Edition), stainless steel (Elite Edition)
- Compatibility: Android 6.0/iOS 9.0 or later
And here are the key differences that set the Huawei Watch 3 Pro apart from the standard model:
- Titanium casing
- Battery: Up to 5 days (smart mode), up to 21 days (ultra-long battery life mode)
- 63 grams w/o strap
- 48mm x 49.6mm x 14mm
- Included 22mm straps: Leather (Classic Edition), titanium (Elite Edition)
We discuss HarmonyOS 2.0 and our impression of the user experience it delivers on the new Huawei Watch 3 in episode 68 of our weekly podcast, Fast Charge: