Huawei Watch GT 3 (46mm) full review

The Huawei Watch GT 3 is the latest in Huawei’s wearable line, offering a high-end wristwatch design with smart features focused mainly on tracking health and fitness and impressive two-week battery life.

It’s a tempting option then, but does the lack of smart features like rich notification support and third-party apps mean it’s more of a fancy fitness tracker than a fully-fledged smartwatch? Well…

Design & build

There’s a sea of smartwatches and fitness trackers on the market in 2021, but you’ll still be able to spot a Huawei-manufactured wearable from a mile off.

The company’s smartwatches tend to look the part, more so than most smartwatches, and that’s especially true with the Huawei Watch GT 3. There’s a level of polish unmatched by most manufacturers that makes it not only feel like a real watch, but a high-end wristwatch at that.

There are two models of Watch GT 3 – 42mm and 46mm – but we’ll focus mainly on the larger 46mm model as that’s what was supplied for review. The larger Watch GT 3 features a high-end glass finish with an angled bezel that’s completely flush with the polished stainless steel case, resulting in a precise, luxurious look and feel that’s satisfying to run your finger over.

At the heart of the Huawei Watch GT 3 you’ll find a bright, detailed 1.43in circular AMOLED display that’s more than bright enough for use in direct sunlight, and the 466 x 466 resolution makes the variety of watchfaces available on the wearable pop with detail. The nature of the large display also means it’s much easier to read small text, like incoming notifications, at a glance than smaller rivals.

The only downside is that the combination of a 46mm case and a 1.43in circular AMOLED display means it’s quite a big smartwatch. I don’t mean thickness – it’s only 11mm thick – but in terms of general proportions. It’s fine for larger wrists like mine, but those with smaller wrists might prefer to opt for the smaller Watch GT 3.

The small 42mm variant sports a slightly different look, with a curved glass display providing a much rounder appearance akin to that of the Huawei Watch 3.

Design elements of the Watch GT 3 hark back to old-school wristwatches, including the second markings on the exterior bezel, the rotating crown and a single side button – a change from the Watch GT 2’s two-button setup.

The side-mounted rotatable crown borrowed from the Huawei Watch 3 allows you to scroll through messages and menus without tapping the screen for an unhindered scrolling experience and it works about as well as you’d expect. The side-mounted button provides quick access to workout functionality and Huawei’s smart assistant, but it can be changed if you’d prefer.

That’s paired with a luxurious soft-touch brown leather strap on the Classic Edition that’ll produce a unique look as it ages. There’s also a fluoroelastomer strap in the Active Edition for exercise, and for the ultimate premium look, there’s the stainless steel link strap with the Elite Edition.

All are standard 22mm straps by the way, making the Watch GT 3 compatible with a range of third-party straps, and the quick-release strap system makes switching straps a breeze. That’s ideal, because even though the Classic Edition’s leather strap looks great, it’s not the best material for exercise – one of the Watch GT 3’s key features – but more on that later.

Smart features

The Huawei Watch GT 3 runs Huawei’s own HarmonyOS 2.1 out of the box, and while it might not be as capable as the likes of Wear OS and watchOS, there’s something to be said for its simplicity and ease of use.

There’s a level of familiarity if you’ve used any recent smartwatch. Let’s start with the watch faces; there are a few pre-installed on the Watch, ranging from the traditional to the exercise-focused, with some offering live complications displaying data like steps taken, current weather and recent heart rate data.

If there aren’t any to your taste, you can head to the Huawei Health app and browse from a huge library of third-party watch faces – although many of the best come with a price tag.

But while there are plenty of designs to choose from, there’s not much in the way of watchface customisation. Huawei’s own watchfaces offer very limited customisation options – like changing the data displayed in complications – but not the ability to change the colour scheme or design as with high-end alternatives like the Apple Watch Series 7 or Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

Cards, or widgets, can be found to the left and right of the watch face. Accessible with a swipe left or right, the cards range from weather to heart rate and even the current moon phase, providing key information at a glance in a nicely designed UI.

Pressing the crown will take you to the main app menu, with a range of pre-installed apps to choose from. The icons are bright and colourful, but without any naming visible, it’s a little hard to work out what each app is initially – especially when some icons look very similar. The apps include heart rate monitoring, stress monitoring, workout tracking, blood oxygen monitoring, barometer and compass.

You might notice a lack of third-party apps from that list – and that’s because there isn’t support for any. That means you won’t be able to download popular watch apps like Spotify or Citymapper, and that does limit just how capable Huawei’s smartwatch can be compared to the competition.

That’s apparent in other ‘smart’ areas of the Watch GT 3, including notifications. You’ll get notifications mirrored from your smartphone, but these only display text, with no way to interact without getting your phone out of your pocket – and that kind of defeats the object. There’s also no emoji support, meaning any emoji in text messages or WhatsApps will come through as stars on the smartwatch.

In many respects, it seems the Huawei Watch GT 3 is more a fitness tracker in smartwatch form than a fully-featured smartwatch. That’s fine if you don’t want to spend all your time interacting with a smartwatch, but if you want a wearable that’ll actively reduce how much time you spend reaching for your smartphone, there are more capable options available.

Fitness & exercise tracking

Design aside, it’s the health and fitness tracking capabilities of Huawei’s wearables that make them stand out from the competition – and I’m not just talking about the sheer number of sensors that allow it to capture such detailed information.

The Watch GT 3 will monitor your fitness levels throughout the day using the blood oxygen monitor and HR monitor, providing you with key metrics like active hours, calories burnt, and steps taken, as well as more advanced metrics like heart rate, blood oxygen levels, stress levels and sleep. It’ll even record small naps automatically where most rivals require at least 3 hours of sleep to produce data.

That’s combined with Huawei’s Healthy Living app, available as a standalone app on the Watch GT 3 itself, that lets you create daily routine goals. That can range from a consistent wake and sleep time to hitting a certain number of steps or drinking enough water, with the aim of improving general life quality.

The Watch GT 3 truly excels in the workout tracking department, with over 100 forms of exercise available to choose from within the dedicated Workout app, accessible via a press of the side button. These range from standard exercises like jogging, running, swimming and yoga to more niche workouts like cross-country skiing and mountain hiking, with each providing different metrics depending on the exercise in question.

It's arguably runners that get the best experience though. There’s a range of running courses available both on the Watch GT 3 and the Huawei Health app, ranging from beginners to those running marathons, designed to improve your running capability.

That’s paired with an AI Running Coach that’ll shout key metrics at you during your run (it’s loud enough that I heard it over my headphones!) and encourage you to speed up if you’re a little slow. Just how helpful it is will likely depend on the individual, but I found it useful to note when my heart rate was getting too slow or too fast for the run.  

The tracking performance is phenomenal too, with dual GPS capabilities providing a signal almost instantly – no waiting around in the cold – with an impressively accurate heatmap, providing peace of mind that the Watch GT 3 is correctly tracking everything I’m doing.

You’ll get a bunch of running-specific metrics on-screen (heart rate zones, distance, pace) with the physical side buttons doubling up as controls to pause and resume tracking – a handy feature that stops you from fiddling with the smartwatch too much mid-run.

Post-run you’ll be provided with a range of data on screen, including skin temperature, blood oxygen levels, cadence, and you’ll even get a ‘Running Ability Index’ that takes all the data and determines just how strong a runner you are. It’s presented in number form, providing a tangible metric that helps you understand just how much you’re improving over time.

If you want even more data, you’ll have to head to the Huawei Health app.

Huawei’s companion app for iOS and Android, Huawei Health, offers an Apple-esque breakdown and analysis of all kinds of metrics as well as some of the most in-depth and helpful sleep tracking results I’ve got from any wearable, offering genuinely useful advice that can make a difference to sleep quality.

It even works with Apple Health on iOS devices, allowing you to export key data like sleep tracking for a more holistic overview of your current health trends.

Importantly, Huawei hasn’t gone down the route of competitors like Fitbit that have locked some data/features behind a monthly subscription. You get access to all data and features without having to spend a penny on a monthly subscription – a big plus for fitness fans.

Charging & battery life

Most smartwatches tend to run out of power after around 24 hours of use – or even less if you’re rocking an Apple Watch Series 7 – which means you’ll likely need to charge your wearable daily. It’s not a huge inconvenience, but depending on when you charge it, you might miss out on sleep tracking functionality.

That’s not the case with the Huawei Watch GT 3 though, oh no. Huawei claims that the smartwatch will last around two weeks (14 days) on a single charge, although with the caveat that the always-on display tech must be disabled to achieve such lofty heights.

I haven’t quite hit the full two weeks with what I’d describe as average use – constant health tracking with blood oxygen and HR monitoring, and two dedicated outdoor runs – but I did come very close at 11 days. If you were more conservative with your blood oxygen monitoring, you could easily squeeze two weeks out of it.

Having a two-week battery life is an incredibly freeing experience when wearing a smartwatch. You no longer need to take it off once a day to charge, and while it doesn’t sound like much, it means you focus less on the maintenance of the watch and more on how it helps you.

It also means you have the flexibility to enable battery-draining features like the always-on display while still getting true multi-day battery life.

Charging times are decent too, with the Huawei Watch GT 3 achieving a full charge in around 90 minutes via its magnetic charging puck that snaps securely into place when nearby.

Price

Released on 10 November 2021, the Huawei Watch GT 3 46mm is now available to buy in the UK starting at £229.99 for the Active Edition. That goes up to £249.99 for the Classic Edition, reviewed here, and goes up to £299.99 for the Elite Edition.

The smaller Huawei Watch GT 3 42mm has a slightly cheaper price tag, starting at £209.99.

As you might expect, there’s no US availability right now, and it’s unlikely that’ll change anytime soon.

Both variants of Huawei Watch GT 3 are available to buy directly from Huawei, and at the time of writing, you’ll get a pair of Huawei FreeBuds 4i Red Edition and a 22mm watch strap free of charge too. It's also available from Currys and Argos at slightly cheaper prices, but without the bundled goodies.  

To see how it compares to the competition, take a look at our selection of the best smartwatches and the best fitness trackers too.

Verdict

The Huawei Watch GT 3 46mm, first and foremost, looks like a stunning wristwatch with a level of precision in design and build simply not present on most rivals at a similar price. It’s stunning, with a genuine ‘wow’ moment as you take it out of the box for the first time, and you’ll find yourself momentarily captivated as it sits on your wrist.

That’s paired with a bright OLED display that looks fantastic, with a range of watchfaces to compliment it. Though the preinstalled watchface selection is limited, there are thousands available to download via Huawei’s companion app – although some are paid. The only downside is the lack of watchface customisation available.

While the smart features are fairly limited compared to the likes of the Apple Watch Series 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, lacking third-party app support and offering basic notification support, it makes up for it in fitness tracking.

The smartwatch offers one of the most in-depth exercise tracking apps I’ve used, with dedicated courses for outdoor runners, metrics that come with explanations and helpful advice and support for a range of niche exercises – over 100 in fact. Pair that with equally in-depth sleep tracking and you’ve got a wearable that’ll give you an impressively detailed overview of your current health and fitness levels.

It might not be as smart as some smartwatches, but if fitness tracking is your thing, the Huawei Watch GT 3 is a good-looking and capable option.

Specs

Huawei Watch GT 3 (46mm): Specs

  • 45.9 x 45.9 x 11mm
  • 46.2gl 1.43in AMOLED display (466 x 466)
  • Power/function button, rotatable crown
  • 5ATM water resistance
  • Black/Steel case
  • 100+ workout modes
  • Dedicated running programs
  • In-depth health and sleep tracking
  • GPS
  • Bluetooth
  • Optical heart rate sensor
  • Air pressure sensor
  • geomagnetic sensor
  • Temperature sensor
  • HarmonyOS 2.1
  • iOS and Android support
  • 14-day battery life
  • Wireless magnetic charging

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