So you’ve been in a steady and committed relationship with your Apple Watch for a few years now, and although you may love it, you can’t help but wonder what else is out there. Well, you’ve come to the right place, because I’m about to break down the new HUAWEI Watch GT3 Pro and compare it to my experience wearing an Apple Watch SE.
Those who follow me know I’ve tested my share of wearable technology: Whether it’s strapping on a Muse headband to meditate, or wearing augmented reality glasses to a conference, I’m always game to try on the future of fashion. But this is my first time specifically reviewing a smartwatch, so let me know what you think about this type of content. Before we get started, I want to disclose that while HUAWEI has sponsored this article, I committed to a candid and honest review. So let’s dive right in:
Aesthetics & Design
The first thing I noticed straight out of the box was the weight of the GT 3 Pro. This is no plastic wristband or activity tracker. It’s much heavier than the Apple Watch and is more comparable to a Rolex or a classic timepiece. This can be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it. If you like the lightweight feel of the Apple Watch for running or working out, you may not love the weight of the GT 3 Pro. But if you’re accustomed to a luxury watch, you may already be used to this weight. In fact, you may actually like this weight even more because it feels more substantial.
Speaking of luxury watches, the overall look of the GT 3 Pro is giving Chanel J12 vibes, which is a ceramic and steel watch from Chanel that costs between $7,000 to $20,000. The HUAWEI Watch GT 3 Pro is made of nanocrystalline ceramic, which is a material that’s known for its durability. It has diamond powder polishing, which makes it super shiny and high quality. I’ve worn this watch for over a month now and it still looks brand new despite the fact that I’ve bumped it a few times. It’s definitely more scratch resistant than you’d expect and stays a lot cleaner than some of the fabric bands I’ve used in past.
The design features a round face, which is not like the square face we’re used to, but I never really liked the square face. I think the round face is more classic, and it actually allows you to see information more clearly. It’s a 1.43-inch AMOLED high-definition colour display. According to HUAWEI, the watch got its name from the automotive industry. GT is short for Gran Turismo, which means long-distance travel. They chose this name because the watch is made with longer battery life and is designed to keep up with your busy lifestyle.
Before I get into talking about battery life, I know the straps and the faces are one of the first things people want to customize on their smartwatch, so if you’re looking to purchase this one, you should know that the straps are limited compared to the choices you have with an Apple Watch. Both the titanium and ceramic model can be changed to leather straps, and you can choose from limited styles of free watch faces in the Huawei Health app, with others available for purchase.
Compared to the Apple Watch SE, the battery life on the GT 3 Pro does last longer, but the length of time depends on how heavily you’re using it, which for me makes it a little unpredictable. With my Apple Watch, I charge it routinely each night with my phone. When I started testing out the HUAWEI Watch I fell out of the nightly charging routine because I really wanted to see how long it would last, but what ended up happening was I found myself running out of battery in the middle of the day. So just like any new relationship, it may be a switch-up to your routine, but pretty soon you’ll figure it out. While I love the idea of going on vacation and not having to pack the cable for my smartwatch, I think realistically if I was going anywhere for more than 3 days I would be worried about it running out of battery life. I know extended battery life is something Apple just announced in its new Ultra series watch, so it seems that industry standards are going towards longer battery life.
One thing I use my Apple Watch for all the time is to take hands-free phone calls when I’m on the fly, and I can confidently say the speaker is much better on HUAWEI’S GT 3 Pro. The Apple Watch speaker on the SE is very tinny and I’ve found that if I’m on an Apple Watch and the person I’m speaking to is also on an Apple Watch, the quality isn’t great. The calls that come through on the GT 3 Pro are crystal clear, so that’s definitely a benefit. On the “con” side—and this is something you should know if you’re going to buy this watch—the Huawei watch is more chatty than the Apple Watch, meaning that by default it would give me workout broadcasts, which were useful but sometimes disruptive in my yoga class, so you have to set these notifications to silent.
The GT 3 Pro works with both iOS and Android, which is great, but it also plays well with your other Apple accessories. This means you can answer the phone on your watch and then pass off the call to your Airpods for example. I know some people who use exclusively Apple products are used to having everything within the same ecosystem, but I didn’t have any issues with compatibility that is until I wanted to download other apps outside of what the watch comes with. In fact, I find the Huawei Health app cleaner and easier to understand than other companion apps.
When it comes to using your smartwatch as a fitness companion, I think the HUAWEI Watch GT 3 Pro has it all, but not at first blush. What I mean by that is when I first opened the workout app, I didn’t see the activities I normally do such as yoga, strength training, and horseback riding. But when you download the Huawei Health app, you can actually add more than 100 workout modes. It does seem that there are a lot of features geared towards runners as a default, so if you’re a runner that’s a plus. Once I found out how to download workout types from my app to the phone I was a lot more ready to use this watch as a fitness companion. I stressed tested the watch’s heat resistance in a hot yoga class as well as its water resistance in the pool. I can confirm this watch can handle anything you throw at it from a fitness perspective. One feature I really like is that you can customize the down button as a shortcut to your workouts, which makes it a lot easier to record activities while on the go.
In addition to fitness support, there are a number of apps to support your overall wellness, including a meditation app that guides your breathing exercises and cycle tracking. There’s also a sleep monitor that can detect if you’re in deep sleep, light sleep, and REM so you can get a better understanding of your sleep and how to improve it. The only thing is because of the weight of this watch you may not be comfortable wearing it at night when you sleep, so that’s something to consider. You can also enable features like continuous skin temperature measurement and heart rate monitoring. The watch will alert you if your resting heart rate is abnormally high or low, and it will also monitor the amount of oxygen in your blood with its state-of-the-art SpO2 monitor.
As with relationships in real life, the relationship with your smartwatch is becoming increasingly important as it fulfils the role of fitness companion, wellness tracker, and personal assistant. I went into this experience really not convinced that I needed anything outside of my Apple Watch, but what I’ve found is that you don’t know what you’re missing until you try it. The standout features for me are the larger screen, the longer battery life, the improved speaker, and I think most importantly, the luxury look and feel. I recommend this watch if you’re looking for something that feels more like a classic timepiece with smart features. The biggest downfall in my opinion is the weight, which can be a positive thing if you like a heavier watch, for me, it was just a bit too dense on the wrist.
Of course, this wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive review but I hope I’ve given you enough information so you now understand how the GT 3 Pro compares to the Apple Watch SE so you can make a more informed purchase decision. What’s clear to me is that Huawei made a luxury-looking watch that can compete with any adventure watch out there, and it will be interesting to see how the GT 3 Pro compares to the Ultra, which is Apple’s newly announced watch.
What do you think of the smartwatch landscape today? Any favourites I should know about? Let me know in the comments or you can @Electric_Runway on Twitter.