Last year, when Google and Samsung were disrupting the android smartwatch spaceHuawei also announced that it is launching the Huawei Watch 3 on a new proprietary operating system called HarmonyOS 2. It then followed that up with the Huawei Watch GT 3. So it’s no big surprise that Huawei is back with the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro.
Last year’s Watch 3 was a good attempt and reminded me a lot of Samsung’s Tizen smartwatches. And while I haven’t had the GT 3 Pro in a very long time, what I’ve seen so far continues that general vibe. The GT 3 Pro comes in two versions: a titanium model and an all-ceramic model. The former features a 46.6mm body with a 1.4-inch OLED display while the latter is smaller at 42.9mm with a 1.3-inch display. Both also feature sapphire crystal, have IP68 water and dust resistance, and are water resistant to 5 ATM (164 feet). Battery life is estimated up to 14 days for the titanium model and up to 7 days for the ceramic model.
Specs-wise, both watches also sport all the sensors you’d expect to see on a high-end smartwatch. This includes an optical heart rate sensor, SpO2 sensors, accelerometer and gyroscope. It also includes a barometer, temperature sensor and magnetometer. As for the new features, the watches have a new free dive training mode and built-in GPS. It also has ECG capability, but only in countries where Huawei has received the appropriate clearance from regulators.
Huawei is in a weird spot when it comes to its consumer technology. Thanks to an executive order issued by former President Donald Trump in 2019, the the company is prohibited from using American technology in his gadgets. This includes Android and Wear OS – hence the proprietary OS. So while I can test the Watch GT 3 Pro, it’s not a smartwatch I can actually buy in the US. (You can, however, if you live in Europe.)
It’s a shame because Huawei has been in the wearables space for a long time and has made some great smartwatches along the way. I played around with the titanium version of the GT 3 Pro, and it’s a nice smartwatch. The display is crisp, apps load quickly in HarmonyOS 2, and while the aesthetics of the watch aren’t my thing, it will appeal to people who like a more masculine, traditional watch. That said, I would get an alternative strap to train with. Metal link straps don’t handle sweat well and tend to be looser, which isn’t ideal for heart rate accuracy. Also, the links are a pain to adjust, and it took me an absurd amount of time to get the watch down to a size that fits my wrist.
But I can also say that it has some of the same problems as when I tested the Huawei Watch 3. Namely, I can see the bones of a good smartwatch, but, because of where I live, I can’t use its best features. For example, I can’t use the voice assistant. Indeed, HarmonyOS 2 does not use Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. It uses a proprietary assistant called Celia which requires you to have a Huawei phone – which I can’t buy either. Likewise, I’m stuck with proprietary Huawei apps because there’s no real third-party app support, making it more of a fancy fitness tracker than a proper smartwatch. It sort of looks like an elevated Fitbit with a a lot more premium build quality and a sleeker operating system to boot. Hell, I imagine if Fitbit did release something similar, it would be popular.
However, much of that won’t matter once Fossil and other third-party watchmakers bring Google’s Wear OS 3 on board. Tizen watches, Huawei’s wearables are locked into its own ecosystem. When Wear OS 3 becomes more widely available, other third-party watchmakers will have access to Google services and popular apps like Spotify. It will be great for Android users in general. But Huawei’s watches will always be the best for people with Huawei phones.
In a nutshell, Huawei’s watches are stuck in limbo. I could see a lot of people digging into the watch’s performance, health tracking, and analog aesthetic, even though the third-party app ecosystem is non-existent. But, at the same time, none of its watches are so groundbreaking that they trigger wearable FOMO. At the end of the day you don’t miss that a lot.
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