Huawei Watch GT3: A good all-round smartwatch for a keen price

It boasts premium good looks and a solid array of features – though it’s not perfect

Huawei Watch GT3
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Price: €229
Where To Buy: www.harveynorman.ie

There was a time not so long ago when people weren’t sure that smartwatches would catch on. In fact, there were plenty of articles that confidently asserted that the smartwatch was not only failing to grab consumer attention, but that they were dead.

But smartwatches have confounded expectations. From Fitbit and Garmin to Apple and Samsung, there are so many to choose from.

The downside? It can be hard to stand out from the crowd. So what is it about the Huawei Watch GT 3 that makes it worth considering?

As far as smartwatches go, the GT3 has good all-round appeal. It gives you a decent amount of health and wellness features, smartwatch notifications and a pile of sensors to measure everything from air pressure to altitude. It even has a personalised running coach, should you need such a thing.

It has a built-in microphone so you can make and take calls on your wrist should you need it, and, for Android users at least, music controls.

Huawei offers the watch in 42mm and 46mm sizes, catering for those who prefer a smaller watch face. That smaller version also has, as you might expect, a smaller battery; it last seven days with normal use and four with heavy use – which includes GPS tracked runs – compared with the 14 days you’ll squeeze out of the larger model. Seven days is still reasonable, though, and there are good reasons for choosing the 42mm model, including the design.

The version Huawei supplied for review is the 42mm, with a silicon band. It comes with a 1.32-inch colour AMOLED screen, with curved edges. The screen, which supports touch and slide gestures, is sharp and bright, so it is readable even in bright sunlight. On the side is a digital crown and a single button to interact with the watch’s menu.

The watch runs on Harmony OS 2.1, Huawei’s own operating system, rather than Google’s Wear OS. That isn’t unusual in itself; Samsung had its own Tizen operating system for its watches, too. However, it does mean there is a lack of third-party app support.

Up and running

To get started, you’ll need the Huawei Health app installed on your phone, which you can get for both Android and Apple users from their respective app stores – although the Android version required an update that came through the Huawei App Gallery. That allows you to pair the watch, add your personal details, choose your ideal watch face and set some goals.

The Watch GT3 can also be your key to healthy living, reminding you about everything from activity and steps to sleep and even smiling. It shows your progress on the healthy living shamrock on the watch and in the app.

That sets the general tone for the watch. The GT3 is fitness focused, with multisport tracking.

Some of the more popular sports are loaded on to the watch, including running, jogging, swimming and cycling. You can even track a triathlon out of the box. But if your sporting enthusiasm lies elsewhere – martial arts, dance, rollerskating, a sport of tug of war, even laser tag – you can add those to the watch through the custom option.

There are also AI running plans that come up with a training plan for you based on your goals and current fitness levels. There are also more generic running plans based on goals such as cardio fitness, endurance runs or fat burning.

It can also measure your running ability. It’s an arbitrary figure, but it gives you a base measurement to start from, and see how you progress.

On top of that running ability index, the Watch GT3 measures your blood oxygen, stress levels, skin temperature, VO2 Max and heart rate, giving you an all-round picture of your health.

The biggest appeal about the GT3? Its price. At €229 it offers the appearance of a more premium smartwatch without making too much of a dent in your pocket.

The good
The Huawei Watch GT3 has a range of useful sensors, including an accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, optical heart rate sensor, air-pressure sensor and temperature sensor. Team it with the sports tracking and AI running coach and you have a decent health-and-fitness wearable.

It also looks great. The curved screen on the 42mm version gives it a premium look and the screen is sharp and clear, even in poorer light.

The not-so-good
While it's not an essential feature, the lack of contactless payments is a disadvantage. You get this on most other smartwatches, and if you've been used to the convenience of not carrying your phone on runs, having to take it for contactless payments is a pain.

Music control and transfer is only available to Android users, and the necessity to go through the App Gallery is an extra step and a bit of a pain.

The rest
There aren't too many third-party apps available in the Huawei App Gallery – for Android users – that would be of use to Irish Huawei owners. But you can download an app to control your Philips Hue lights, a Google Maps viewer and some puzzle apps.

The verdict
If you are in the market for a new smartwatch but don't want to spend a fortune, the GT3 should be on your list.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist

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