Huawei’s $199.99 Watch GT looks and sounds like a smartwatch, but it’s really a fitness tracker in disguise. Running Huawei’s barebones LiteOS operating system, there’s no support for third-party apps. Instead you get activity and sleep tracking, continuous heart rate monitoring, and GPS. It’s well suited for outdoor exercise, thanks to its scratch-resistant case and sport modes like trail runs and climbs. It’s a solid choice if you want the functionality of a fitness tracker in the style of a smartwatch, as long as you aren’t expecting too much in the latter department.
Design and Display
The Huawei Watch GT is surprisingly rugged given its sleek design. Its stainless steel case and ceramic bezel are wrapped in a carbon coating, making it resistant to scratches even in extreme environments. With a 5 ATM waterproof rating, you can wear it in the shower and in the pool. It comes in two color combinations—black stainless steel with a black silicone wrist strap, pictured here, or silver stainless steel case with a brown leather strap ($229.99).
I find the Watch GT comfortable despite its large size. Like Mobvoi’s TicWatch E2, the Watch GT is clearly designed for men. The 46mm case looks great if you have a larger wrist, but it takes up a lot of forearm real estate for those with smaller wrists like mine. But at 0.41 inches thick, its slimness helps to offset the size somewhat. Regardless, there’s no denying that it’s an attractive smartwatch that looks more expensive than it actually costs. It’s easy to pair with casual outfits and is a great addition to evening wear, with plenty of watch faces to match your desired setting.
On the right side of the case are two crowns for navigation—the top triggers the menu and acts as the power button, while the bottom brings you to workout mode. Neither crown rotates, so you have to manually use the touch screen to scroll through menu options and notifications.
The 1.39-inch AMOLED display is responsive and smooth. With 454 by 454 pixels, all content looks very vibrant and sharp.
Features and Battery Life
The Watch GT is powered by an ARM Cortex-M4 processor and features an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a heart rate sensor, a magnetometer, an ambient light sensor, a barometer, and GPS. There’s no NFC or Wi-Fi.
As mentioned earlier, the watch runs Huawei’s LiteOS, which is compatible with Android and iOS devices. It allows you to view text messages, app alerts, and reject calls from your phone. The OS runs smoothly for the most part and apps load quickly. There’s only a slight lag when scrolling through the menu, but it doesn’t ruin the experience. While the operating system is easy to use, it looks outdated and there’s really not much you can do with it as far as smartwatch functionality is concerned.
Navigating the watch feels similar to Google’s Wear OS—swipe down for shortcut tiles for Do Not Disturb mode, Find Phone, Lock, Show Time (which turns the screen on for five minutes), and Settings. Swipe up for notifications, and scroll up to view all of them. Swipe to the left or right to access the heart rate monitor, weather app, and activity stats without having to go into the menu. As far as gestures go, you can flick your wrist to turn the display on and place your wrist down by your side to turn it off.
Unfortunately, with no ability to download third-party apps, you’re limited to Huawei’s basic apps like the barometer, compass, flashlight, stopwatch, weather, and a few others. You can, however, link your watch to MyFitnessPal and Apple’s HealthKit.
Unlike the Fitbit Versa, you’re limited when it comes to music. There’s no onboard music storage and no ability to download Pandora, Spotify, or other streaming apps. And even when using your phone for music, the watch doesn’t offer playback controls.
Thanks to the spare operating system, the 420mAh battery on the Watch GT can last longer than most smartwatches and fitness trackers on the market. Huawei says you can get up to two weeks of use; in testing I was able to get a little over a week, which is still better than most of the competition. With continuous heart rate monitoring, app notifications turned on, sleep tracking every night, the display set to maximum brightness, and two separate, long workouts, I was down to ten percent battery by the eighth day of wearing it.
Fitness Features and Accuracy
As for exercise, the Watch GT offers ten sport modes to choose from: outdoor run, indoor run, outdoor walk, climb, trail run, outdoor cycle, indoor cycle, pool swim, and open water. Any activity that isn’t listed can be tracked under “other.” You can also choose from a variety of running courses, with guidance on the display as you run.
While working out, the display shows metrics like heart rate, pace, distance, time elapsed, steps, calories, and cadence. Afterward, all of your activity syncs to the Huawei Health app. In addition to the metrics mentioned above, both the watch and app break down your performance into categories like aerobic and anaerobic training effects, along with VO2Max and recovery time.
See How We Test Fitness Trackers
In terms of accuracy, the Huawei Watch GT isn’t perfect, but it’s consistent. For step count, I measured the watch against a 3DTriSport pedometer. During a one-mile walk on the treadmill, the Watch GT logged 1,987 steps in comparison with 2,338 steps on the pedometer. During a one-mile run on the treadmill, the watch logged 2,299 steps while the pedometer logged 2,453. Across all my workouts, I found the Watch GT was off by an average of about 200 to 300 steps each time. It fared better during an outdoor run, logging 2,108 steps to the pedometer’s 2,145.
To measure how accurately the Watch GT tracks distance, I compared it with a Stryd footpod. During a one-mile walk on the treadmill, the watch logged 1.01 miles while the footpod logged 1.24. Results were better after a one-mile run on the treadmill, where the watch logged 1.08 miles and the Stryd logged exactly one mile. As with step count, the watch tracks distance far better outdoors, thanks to its GPS radio. After a one-mile run outside, the Watch GT recorded 1.15 miles while the Stryd recorded 1.14 miles.
The heart rate monitor is fairly accurate. I used a Polar H10 chest strap to compare results, and during a one-mile walk, the Watch GT recorded 132bpm to the Polar’s 135bpm. After a one-mile run, the watch recorded 160bpm to the Polar’s 164bpm. Results were a little further off during my one-mile run outside, in which the Watch GT logged 123bpm to the H10’s 131bpm.
The Watch GT also shows you your heart rate zones during workouts. Depending on your beats per minute, the meter at the top of the display will fluctuate to show you whether you’re in warm up, fat-burning, aerobic, anaerobic, or extreme mode.
If you wear the Watch GT to bed, you can also track your sleep quality. On the watch you can see how many hours and minutes you slept for. After syncing it to the app, you’ll see the percentage in which you were in deep, light, and REM sleep, and information on your deep sleep continuity and breathing quality. Based on these metrics, you’ll receive a score for your sleep quality, along with tips on how to improve on it.
When it comes to sleep tracking accuracy, however, the Watch GT is finicky. It logged that I was in light sleep when I was awake and scrolling through my phone in bed. Once I did get settled in, it identified the actual time I fell asleep, but didn’t record that I woke up in the middle of the night. To compare results, I also wore the Fitbit Inspire HR, which was only off from the Watch GT by about a minute in terms of sleep and wake times. But the Watch GT logged that I was asleep for six hours (adding in the extra hour it thought I was sleeping when I was on my phone), while the Inspire HR was more accurate, logging five hours.
The Huawei Watch GT is a smartwatch in name only. It tracks fitness metrics like heart rate, activity, and sleep, and also provides detailed insight on the physical state of your body, making it a solid choice if you’re looking for the features of a fitness tracker in the body of a smartwatch. But for the same price, we prefer the Fitbit Versa, which provides more precise fitness tracking than the Watch GT as well as a wide selection of third-party apps, making it our Editors’ Choice. Those with smaller wrists, meanwhile, might want to check out the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. Its lightweight and slim frame is practical to wear on a daily basis, while tracking activity, heart rate, sleep, and stress levels.