(Pocket-lint) – We’ve seen Huawei release plenty of smartwatches with a fitness focus in recent times, but none have arrived with the same emphasis on design as the Watch GT 3 Pro models.
In its latest return to the Watch GT 3 well, Huawei has produced two models to pick between – a 47mm titanium edition and a 43mm device built using ceramic. We’ll be covering both in this review.
On the surface, the duo boast many of the same features and tracking capabilities as the other two variations in the family, the Watch GT 3 and Watch GT 3 Runner.
So, just how much of a difference do those design tweaks make? And are these GT 3 Pro models a good alternative to the industry’s other sporty smartwatches? Let’s find out.
Like the Huawei watches that have come before it, the Watch GT 3 Pro is a very good fitness and health tracking watch. Even if it doesn’t feature many interactive elements, its overall tracking experience is far superior to that offered on most other smartwatches.
The battery life also sets it apart from other full-colour rivals, as do the luxury design and materials. And that’s really what you’re paying for with the ‘Pro’ model. Here, Huawei gives you a fitness and health experience comparable to a sports watch and puts it into what we think is probably the most attractive device in the category.
In function and performance, however, it’s not too different to the Watch GT 3. And this is a big reason to give it a miss. Though you do get a very different watch in feel and design, this may not be a huge priority for everyone – especially with the emphasis on using it for exercise.
It’s difficult not to recommend the GT 3 Pro if you do value looks, but keep in mind the likes of the Garmin Venu 2 and Apple Watch Series 7 as alternatives – particularly if you want to use plenty of third-party apps.
- Stunning design and materials
- Great durability
- Advanced tracking abilities
- Long battery life
- Not too different from the standard Watch GT 3
- Limited third-party app selection
Titanium edition design
- 46.6 x 46.6 x 10.9mm
- Wrist size: 140-210 mm
- Case weight (without strap): 54g
- IP68 and 5ATM water/dust resistance
As mentioned, there are two different models of Watch GT 3 Pro, and the larger of the two is the titanium model. It’s similar in size to previous ‘Pro’ models, which means that it does feel larger on the wrist than others.
Being titanium means it’s not that shiny, polished mirror finish you’ll see on the stainless steel non-Pro model, and the case design is a bit more substantial, too. Its angled, chiselled look is very attractive, minimal and timeless, just as a traditional watch would be. It also doesn’t look or feel as thick and chunky as some of the older ‘Pro’ models, which is a big plus.
The completely flat, round display is covered with sapphire glass, which typically results in a more scratch-resistant and durable watch. The underside is finished with ceramic, meanwhile, with the domed optical centre rising out of the middle.
As for straps, there’s support for 22mm quick-release straps and bands of all types. However, when you buy the watch, you’ll get the choice of three ‘editions’.
The ‘Active’ edition comes with a fluoroelastomer strap, the ‘Classic’ will ship with leather and the ‘Elite’ comes with a titanium link band. This titanium band was the version we were sent to review, as you can see. And, as link bands go, it’s very nice, although it does suffer from the usual problems that arise with this style of bracelet.
Firstly, if you have arm hairs, they will get caught in the gaps and pulled, especially when putting the watch on. Secondly, metal doesn’t stretch, so getting a good fit isn’t as easy as it would be with leather or silicone. It’ll inevitably be too loose or too tight when you first put it on, and you’ll need to remove or add some of the links to get a good fit.
The good thing about Huawei’s approach to adjustment, however, is that you don’t need any special tools to make the strap longer or shorter. The removable links have a quick-release system so that all you need is your hands. It’s still a little fiddly to do, but it’s as easy as it gets for this type of band.
Our only issue in testing was that – even here – we struggled to get a fit we were 100 per cent happy with. It was either a tiny bit too loose or – when we removed another link – just that bit too tight. We were caught in something of a middle ground, and so resorted to using Huawei’s leather and fluoroelastomer bands, instead.
On the whole, it’s a really good-looking watch and doesn’t feel too obtrusive, thanks to its sleek profile. Having IP68 water and dust resistance, and waterproofing to 5ATM (50 metres), too, means you can rest easy if you forget to take it off in the shower or before swimming.
Ceramic edition design
- 42.9 x 42.9 x 10.5mm
- Wrist size: 130-190 mm
- Case weight (without strap): 50g
- IP68 and 5ATM water/dust resistance
The second version of the GT 3 Pro, meanwhile, is a very different proposition from what Huawei would usually release. What’s more, it looks very different to the titanium model.
The ceramic model is – as the name suggests – made from ceramic. It’s a similar material to what we’ve seen used in some smartphones – like the Oppo Find X5 Pro – and some older editions of the Apple Watch.
It’s a round watch, but the shaping – in particular, the gold scalloped bevel around the edge of the watch and the metallic accents around the crown and button – ensure that it has a very real sense of individuality in Huawei’s lineup.
The watch is smaller than the titanium model – featuring a 43mm case – and is designed to fit on smaller wrists. And, while the case itself is technically lighter than the titanium model, it’s definitely heavier once you take the ceramic strap into consideration. It’s quite a weighty watch.
However, we should also note that Huawei will also be selling this smaller model with a white leather strap, which is handy for those who want something lighter.
Buttons and control
- Rotating crown with haptic feedback + click function
- Back button/shortcut button
As with Huawei’s previous efforts, the watch features a basic two-button control system. One of those is the rotating crown, and the other is a standard clicky button. Press the crown and you’ll launch the app grid view, or press it from within an app or widget and it’ll take you home to your watch face.
In any view where a list scrolls up and down, you can rotate the crown to navigate. Likewise, it can be used to zoom in and out of the app grid. And, when you do rotate it, there’s subtle feedback from the haptic motor inside the watch. It’s a nice touch and reassures you, along with the screen animation, that there is something happening.
Otherwise, the interface is very much geared towards touchscreen control. For instance, once you press the shortcut key to dive straight into a workout, you’ll need to tap the option on the touchscreen. And, if you ever want to actually select something from a list or app grid, you still need to tap it on the display. There’s no button to select it.
Display and software
- Titanium: 1.43-inch AMOLED display
- Ceramic: 1.32-inch AMOLED display
- 466 x 466 resolution
- Dynamic watch faces
It’s when you move beyond the design that the two watch models show their similarities. And, just like previous versions, they both have round, bright, sharp AMOLED displays. Resolution is 466 x 466 on both, but the smaller model naturally has a smaller display to match – it’s 1.32-inches versus the larger model’s 1.43-inch screen.
Huawei has also loaded them with new dynamic watch faces that adapt and change through the day, and will be launching new themes specifically for the Watch GT 3 Pro. So, you’ll find some watch faces perfectly suited to the white ceramic model, and others for the grey titanium.
In fact, its ecosystem of watch faces is one of the Huawei Watch’s biggest strengths – if only because there’s so much choice. The Huawei Theme gallery has thousands of first- and third-party options to choose from, with a plethora of both free and paid-for premium options.
Huawei itself launched a new range of ‘Sense’ watch faces, too, which have a lot more detail than previous/other faces. With it, the company is attempting to create traditional-style watch faces.
An issue we found with having so many watch faces was that navigating the available options can be a little overwhelming at times. What’s more, once you install them, you better be happy with them because – unlike other platforms – there’s not much you can do in the way of customisation. Some will let you change what data appears in the complications, but they won’t let you adjust background or accent colours at all.
Otherwise, it’s much the same software that was on the Huawei Watch GT 3. HarmonyOS still features the ability to download apps from the App Gallery and is compatible with iPhone, Android and Huawei phones.
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In some countries, you’ll also get contactless payment support. However, in the UK, no banks support Huawei’s Wallet efforts yet. At least, not on the wearable, anyway.
Crucially, you don’t get support for any offline music, either, whether you’re streaming from Spotify, Apple Music or Deezer. You can load music onto the watch manually, but this is still a real bummer.
Hardware and health tracking
- Titanium: up to 14 days battery
- Ceramic: up to 7 days battery
- TruSeen 5.0+ sensing system
- Dual-band GPS, HR, skin temperature, SpO2, Sleep tracking
- Magnetic wireless charging cradle
Battery life has long been one of Huawei’s key strengths when it comes to its smartwatch platform, and the GT 3 Pro series continues that trend. With the larger model, you’ll get up to two weeks on a full charge, or up to 7 days on the ceramic model.
In our testing, we found that these figures are technically achievable when you have the always-on display switched off if you don’t do a lot of GPS tracking. Using it to track 2-3 activities per week, and wearing it every night for sleep tracking, we saw somewhere between 11-13 days on a full charge with the larger model. The smaller ceramic version would normally be about 5-6 days on a full charge, but that was without wearing it at night.
When it comes to fitness and everyday health tracking, Huawei is also strong. The watch features the same TruSeen 5.0+ sensor platform we saw on the GT 3, and that means extra diodes and lights for sensing heart rate, blood oxygen saturation and even ECG (in some markets). They’re joined by multi-band GPS support for accurate location and route tracking, plus the usual motion sensors and a thermometer for measuring skin temperature.
In everyday usage, we found it to be very good at tracking all of these. It didn’t seem to matter what type of activity we tracked, the sensors remained reliable and consistent. Even when attempting HIIT-type workouts, the speed and consistency of the heart rate sensor meant we didn’t lose data while waiting for it to catch up.
Similarly, the GPS data from runs was as reliable and consistent as anything we’ve seen from the likes of Garmin and Apple – even on the more expensive models from those two.
All the data is compiled and sorted into easy-to-use graphics and metrics in the Huawei Health app. This breaks all the data down from your activities and makes them easy to read and understand, and – particularly with running – it’s accomplished and thorough in the types of data you get. That includes an automatically generated dynamic 3D map that can play a short video of your route, as well as highlight some key points.
Like the GT Runner before it, the app also gives you a look at your overall running performance using the ‘Running Ability Index’ and the ability to start a training plan that adapts to your performance and ability.
Still, it wouldn’t be a new watch without some new tracking abilities, so Huawei has added a golf mode for measuring your swing, as well as a freediving mode, allowing you to use the watch to measure dives down to depths of 30 metres.
Even the standard daily activity tracking is great. It’ll track your steps and all-day heart rate, as well as monitor your sleep. You don’t need to manually enable a sleep mode, and, in fact, we’ve found it generally very good at automatically detecting when we lie down and providing good data on how well we slept.
This breaks down your sleep cycles and breathing cycles, time awake and even gives some generalised tips on how to improve. More importantly, however, it can use this sleep and rest data to feed into the holistic nature of Huawei Health to determine how well-rested you are, and how your daily activities and exercises affect your performance recovery. As fitness and health tracking go, it’s one of the most thorough and useful out there.
It’s not all plain-sailing, though. For instance, there’s no easy third-party data sharing with popular apps like Strava or MyFitnessPal. If you like the social element of the former, you’ll likely miss that when using Huawei Health.
For those who’d miss MyFitnessPal linking in, the good news is that Huawei Health+ is launching in the coming months – and is available in beta form in Germany and Italy. It’s a premium subscription service that also gives you access to food and nutrition tracking, along with all the other fitness stuff.
Of course, the other issue with Huawei Health is that – if you’re an Android user – the most up-to-date version of the app with the best features isn’t available in the Play Store. Instead, you need to either download it direct from Huawei, or download the Huawei App Gallery onto your Android phone, and then download it from there. It’s not too much of a pain, it’s just an added inconvenience, but they do start to add up with these watches.
Huawei is continuing its push into the health and fitness market, and this time it’s used its most advanced fitness tracking hardware and sensors and stuck them in premium bodies. The end result is a luxurious, top-tier fitness tracker that’ll last ages on a full charge and doesn’t cost the earth.
Writing by Cam Bunton. Editing by Conor Allison.