At a time when the Apple Watch is miles ahead of any other smartwatch and Google’s Wear OS is struggling for relevance, launching a new smartwatch seems like a foolhardy idea. That’s why I like Huawei’s alternative approach of building a semi-smart watch, essentially a fitness-tracking wristband with the shape and look of a wristwatch, with its Watch GT. You don’t lose much relative to Wear OS, the Watch GT will still receive notifications from your phone, but what you gain with it is a hugely impressive battery life of two weeks under typical use.
Huawei did something similar a couple of years ago with the Huawei Fit, which was built around a monochrome touchscreen and was rated to last for six days on a charge. The Huawei Watch GT upgrades pretty much everything from that 2016 fitness tracker. The display is now a color 1.39-inch OLED panel with a DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating on the glass and a ceramic bezel. The case of the watch is made of 316L steel. The Watch GT also has GPS, which the Fit lacked, and it can track your sleep as well as runs, cycling, swimming, and, with the help of a built-in altimeter, hiking.
Like the Fit, Huawei’s new watch also supports continuous heart rate tracking. Huawei promises that its AI optimizations will help deliver more accurate heart rate readings, with the Watch GT being able to detect when it isn’t worn in an ideal position to get an accurate measurement and then correcting the readings it gets from the optical sensor.
Built around Huawei’s in-house LiteOS, the Watch GT is designed to be extremely power-efficient. It has a dual-chip architecture, with one chip tailored for low-power tasks when the user is sedentary and a more powerful chip responsible for keeping up with more dynamic tasks. Huawei says that you’ll get two weeks’ worth of battery life out of this watch if you keep heart rate monitoring on and exercise for up to 90 minutes per week. In a worst-case scenario, where you might decide to keep the screen and GPS constantly on, the Watch GT will keep up with your manic workout session for a maximum of 22 hours. And if you decide to be frugal with its use, avoiding GPS and only keeping the heart rate monitor and notifications turned on, you can go as long as 30 days before having to recharge.
There’s no shortage of fitness-tracking wearables on the market right now, so Huawei will surely be aware it’s entering a crowded market. Even so, the very familiar look of its Watch GT, along with the watch’s minimal thickness of 10.6mm, should prove enticing to people who want all that health data without having to wear an obviously sporty gadget on their wrist. Huawei’s market research told it as much, and that’s why the company’s answer to Fitbit looks so far removed from the usual Fitbit design.
The Huawei Watch GT will be available in two versions. The Sport version will retail for €199, while the classic model will be slightly more at €249. Release dates for the two watches are yet to be announced.