Huawei Watch GT 2e: Good for fitness fanatics; not so good for app addicts

Review: It’s got all you need on a smartwatch – as long as you don’t need all that much

Product name: Huawei Watch GT2e

Price: €169.0

Where to buy: consumer.huawei.com

Website: consumer.huawei.com

Wed, May 27, 2020, 17:00

   

Smartwatches aren’t supposed to still be around. The early versions were clunky, with poor battery life and very few functions people actually wanted to use. They were destined to be a niche product, loved only by a few diehards, if they didn’t eventually die out.

A few years on from these doom-laden predictions, and smartwatches are not only still with us, they seem to be growing in number. Sure, there have been some high-profile casualties (RIP Pebble) but, with Apple joining the fray and Samsung and other rivals upping their game, the smartwatch sector has become decidedly more interesting of late.

Huawei’s latest device is another addition to the Watch GT line. The Watch GT 2e is pitched at those who want the latest smartwatch, but potentially on a less extravagant budget.

It comes in one size, 46mm, so those who prefer a smaller watchface are excluded. That display looks great, though; it’s AMOLED and the colours really pop, particularly if you change the watchface from the default and go for the comic book style instead.

It’s also a little sportier-looking than the GT 2, and it comes with built-in GPS and continuous heart rate tracking, so if you are looking for something to track your workouts – including home ones – you will get a bit of use from this. There are some sacrifices to get that cheaper price tag, but on the whole, they are things you can live without.

Strips out

The newer version strips out the microphone and speaker, so you don’t get to talk into your wrist when your phone rings. But if you’re not looking for a hands-free kit as a must-have from your choice of smartwatch, you won’t miss this particular feature.

What you do get is a large touchscreen, two crowns to control the menus, and everything from breathing exercise to the weather and a flashlight. There are a number of sensors, including a barometer, the aforementioned heart rate monitor and a compass. You can also use the watch to track sleep through a dedicated app. The GT 2e does enough for a mid-priced smartwatch, but not so much that it’s overwhelming.

Part of the problem with some smartwatches is the battery life. Everyone starts out with great intentions for the wearables. But having to charge too often runs the risk of you firing the device into a drawer, resolving to charge it “later” and then waiting while the dust gathers on it.

That won’t be an issue here. The battery life is good (Huawei claims 14 days; real world conditions indicate more like six to eight days depending on what you ask of it), meaning you’ll get through several days before having to take it off. Change the settings to have a watch face displaying while the device is inactive, instead of a blank screen, and you will cut that battery life in half. It’s not worth what you lose, though; my advice is stick with the default settings and cling to your battery life instead.

The fitness tracking you get from the GT 2e isn’t quite as sophisticated as what something like the Garmin Fenix Pro 6S offers, but for the average person it will certainly tick all the boxes. Default workouts include indoor and outdoor running, training on ellipticals, swimming, climbing, even triathlon training. Workout tracking is automatic for six workouts, including running and walking; the rest you will have to trigger yourself. You’ll get heart rate data, pace, SpO2 (oxygen saturation) monitoring and stress data, but for anything more in-depth you’ll need a more expensive device.

Accurate

But the heart rate monitor is accurate as far as wrist-based optical monitors go. I compared it side-by-side with the Apple Watch, and they tracked each other to within a few beats during normal activity, and were only a couple of beats apart during cardio sessions.

Like Samsung and others before it, Huawei is using its own software here. This isn’t something that the current US-China conflict is influencing, though; the Chinese company has been using its own software on its wearables since long before Trump squared up to Beijing.

There are advantages to this. The software runs fast and under Huawei’s control, so if a feature is released for the watch, at least there’s a good chance that it will work as intended. But it also means there is a limit to what apps you can have on the watch.

On that last point, though, you have to wonder about how many apps are actually necessary for a smartwatch. Payments – yes. Fitness apps – of course. Maybe some remote controls for your smartphone would be nice. But beyond that? Messaging apps are torturous to use thanks to the screen, unless you are sending an emoji or a canned response. It’s likely that you will download apps and forget they even exist. So a limited selection of apps isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Huawei allows some third-party services to link in, such as MyFitnessPal. if you are using iOS, you can share your fitness data with Apple’s HealthKit.

The good

Good battery life, a great screen and some useful functions make this a solid smartwatch, especially if you are into fitness. Plus it comes in a couple of nice colours, including the green version that was sent here for review. Straps are swappable too.

The not-so-good

If you like to have a choice of apps on your smartwatch, this one isn’t for you.

The rest

There is small amount of space on the watch for storing your own music, which is handy as it doesn’t support apps such as Spotify or Apple Music. You can connect your earbuds directly to the watch via bluetooth so you can store and control your music on your device. The redesigned buttons are less prone to accidental presses too.

The verdict

A mid-priced smartwatch for sportier users.